The church is suffering a crisis of faith as logic, experience, humanistic wisdom and emotional intuition are causing many to reject biblical truth.
5 …so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5 (ESV)
It's stunning to see how easily some Christians change their theologies to match their experiences, their compassion, their definition of love, their frustrations, their logic, their doubts, their temptations and their emotions.
Read the Bible. Believe the Bible. It's that easy.
I'll take the chaos of faith over the precision of facts any day. Common sense would tell us a beautiful painting of mountains, trees and a log cabin on the banks of a rushing river would be more valuable than an abstract splattering of colors applied by whipping streaks and smears of paint onto a canvas.
Jackson Pollock's abstract art simply titled No. 5 is currently worth $140 million. It's chaotic, nonsensical and it doesn't depict anything other than streaks, splotches and randomness. Yet it's currently ranked as the fifteenth most valuable piece of art in the world. This is how I see faith. It often doesn't make sense, and there are many other representations of reality that sure seem more worthy of attention. Yet, as Believers, we affirm what God values, and he deeply values great faith.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)
The bottom line is that we believe God, no matter how obvious altering arguments seem to be. While an imperfect application, might I suggest that left brained people, those who are given to facts, figures, logic and intellectualism, might struggle more with faith then right brained people, those who see beyond the obvious and into the mystical. Their spiritual canvas is filled with random streaks and blotches that depict glorious life. They know truth trumps facts and it actually excites them to trust God at that level. Of course, as I said, this suggestion is not at all perfect as there are many brilliant intellectually wired men and women of God who are giants in the faith. Yet, the point I'm making is that many struggle to trust God when smacked in the face with seemingly clear and undeniable factual realities. Faith in the invisible can be snuffed out by reason.
For me, the Bible comes alive when I approach it as a trusting child. I read it and I believe it. I'm not saying I'm not challenged by it because of course I am. Yet, the collision of biblical truth with natural facts invigorates me. I come alive as I reject all that contradicts the Word of God, no matter how naturally convincing, and watch in faith for God's truth to miraculously activate in my life. If God said it, I believe it and that settles it.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)
The world is currently cowering in fear over the coronavirus scare, and sadly this includes many Christians. In fact, churches are banning handshakes and laying hands on people at the altar! “Lay hands on the sick and they shall recover” has suddenly changed for many Christians. Now it's “avoid touching the sick so we don't catch it.” I wonder if they realize this is the exact opposite way Scripture instructs them to respond.
15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:15-18 (ESV)
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. James 5:14-15 (ESV)
In a recent article I dealt directly with the fact that coronavirus is embarrassing the church as supposed blood-bought Christians are freaking out just like the rest of the world, and faith is nowhere to be found.
Are you taking the opportunity to show the lost you are fearless, full of faith and joyful? Or do they sense your anxiety about coronavirus?
A crisis of faith has been exposed. Coronavirus is embarrassing the church.
Have you noticed any difference at all between the godless world and those who are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, the Healer? Bold decrees of faith, not confessions of fear and worry, should be exploding out of our mouths!
Instead, Christians are hiding in caves, running from the battle and trembling not in the fear of the Lord, but the fear of the enemy.
Sure, take precautions, but don't cower. Don't respond like the world. Don't allow the enemy to impact your life. Live! Be free! You are covered by the blood of Jesus!
Of all people, we should be the ones preaching faith not fear. Put the ridiculous spiritual face masks away. Your mouth is your weapon! Don't allow the enemy to muzzle you. Speak to the fear and command it to dissipate! Renounce the tactics of the evil one! Let the world see just how powerful Jesus is and how different his children are! We run to the battle! ~Christians are being embarrassed by coronavirus, John Burton
Universalism, annihilationism, false-grace, false-love and other heretical theologies are growing at record pace today. Why? People have traded truth for a golden calf. Emotionally, they can't reconcile how God is the perfect representation of pure love while also choosing to cast those who don't serve him into everlasting torment. Logically they have concluded that since no human father would ever punish a disobedient child in such a fashion, then, of course, God who loves at an exponentially deeper level than any human father wouldn't either. Common sense for them trumps biblical truth. In fact, I've heard some reject conscious eternal torment so ferociously that they foolishly equate such an act with the child sacrifices of Molech. That's venturing into blasphemy of the Holy Spirit territory. Be careful.
I believe it's a mistake to be limited to the realm of logic and emotion. We can't allow our sympathy and our compassion to define our theology. Simply trust that God's love transcends our understanding of how it functions. Judgment does fit within the construct of love. I have no need to force God to fit inside my limited definition of love, and in fact I hope that he never would. His justice and his mercy aren't competing realities. Love and wrath aren't mutually exclusive. The Bible has the final say and it reveals with clarity that those who die in their sins do in fact enter into never-ending torment. We can't rewrite Scripture. Just believe it and respond accordingly.
10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10 (NKJV)
15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15 (NKJV)
Born in Sin
Today it seems many have shifted from believing we are all born in sin to defending our various desires and temptations by declaring we were “born that way.”
Homosexuals, for example, are known for surrendering to feelings, emotions, yearnings and a strong pull to adopt what Christians know to be deviant lifestyles. They argue that the strength of their desires is evidence that we have been interpreting the Bible incorrectly.
Others believe it's ridiculous to suggest that a precious newborn baby is tainted by sin since they are innocent and have no capacity to commit sin. Still others suggest there's an “age of accountability” that must be crossed before sin becomes an issue.
The problem? The Bible suggests no such age of accountability. It clearly reveals that all are born in sin. It's also point blank obvious that certain lifestyles are in fact sin no matter how powerful the urges are. We were born wicked and every unholy desire must be crucified. We must surrender to Jesus if we hope to be saved.
Again, common sense, powerful desires, emotional cues, intellectual discernment and all forms of logic must submit to the truth of Scripture. Yes, it's truth that may at times seem contradictory and it is often mystical and too deep to grasp, but it's truth nonetheless.
Keep in mind that God has no obligation to explain himself to us. As harsh as it sounds, it's his way or the highway to hell. He is God and we are not. If you don't like that, don't follow him, but please don't attempt to redefine him to fit your perfect image of how a god should look and behave.
18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 8:18 (ESV)
Unbelief tends to consume people when it comes to finances. Remember, God is a very good God and he loves to prosper his children. In the age of certain greedy televangelists, it's common for many to renounce this pursuit as unrighteous, yet they are doing so in the face of clear Scripture to the contrary.
Common sense would say we can expect to lose money when we give it away, yet spiritual sense would agree with the Word. When we give, it's given back in much greater measure.
Don't attempt to rewrite the Word of God to match your own struggles with faith. Don't oppose other people who are standing in faith and who are seeing God miraculously move in their finances.
Does God promise to supply every need or not? Does God promise to prosper or not? Does God give us the ability to create wealth or not? We need to put to bed every argument in opposition to God's Word, no matter how logical they may seem.
19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (ESV)
My article The Secret Sauce of Supernatural Encounter reveals several of the ingredients necessary to experience God. Answered prayer has a similar recipe.
It's grieving how quickly people give up on a life of intercession simply because they aren't seeing the breakthrough they are seeking. Natural proof has become their god and blind faith is deemed foolish.
Speaking of blind faith, I've heard it said that Heidi Baker prayed for every blind person she found for a solid year before the first one received their sight. This is critical to understand. God desires to heal. Period. He wants to move miraculously in every situation. The fact that we are experiencing breakthrough has nothing to do with God and everything to do with us. Heidi needed to learn how to see healing manifest. There was process. The fact that blind people weren't healed wasn't because of God, it was because Heidi was learning how to heal. To adopt a false teaching that says God doesn't always desire to heal due to our own delay would be a tragic decision. Unfortunately, it's a decision that many Christians have made.
There are usually several reasons why prayer goes unanswered, and few people are determined enough to wrestle through them. They prefer to blame God or to give up on the idea the healing is for today, that miracles are to be common and that we are to live in the supernatural realm.
There are multiple blockages to breakthrough including doubt, sin, a lack of fervency, misunderstanding of our spiritual authority, not engaging in spiritual warfare, misunderstanding the scriptural position on the matter, not hearing God's voice, not discerning his will, not praying in tongues, giving up too early, wrong motives and much, much more.
You see, you can't determine that God doesn't want to answer prayer just because he isn't doing so. We can't reject undeniable scriptural truths just because we can't break through. Prayer works when we pray correctly. It must be effective and it must be fervent.
16 …The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:16-18 (NKJV)
I could address several additional arenas of struggle when it comes to faith, but I think you understand the point.
The chaos of faith is immeasurably more valuable than the seeming stability of logic. Your life will become dramatically more thrilling, more powerful and more miraculous if you step beyond the limits of intellectualism and the bounds of emotional experience into the realm where common sense is regularly defied. It's the invisible realm where faith explodes, miracles are to be expected and the power of God burns through us.
I challenge you to read the Bible and to believe it without qualification or reservation. When the Word of God floods your mind and your spirit, faith will spike and the supernatural reality you are craving will be revealed.
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
Three simple yet powerful truths will help unlock your financial future.
Listen to the podcast here:
When my family of seven moved to Branson, Missouri, we were in uncharted territory after twenty years of local church ministry. We were excited to jump into this new season, yet we knew we'd have to get creative with our financial strategy. The Ozark Mountains have millions of beautiful trees, but money doesn't grow on any of them.
Super long story very short, we decided to start a new business in this tourist destination. Specifically, a new escape room attraction was our plan, and we had a lot work ahead of us in the next six weeks (yes six!) before we opened the doors.
THE SECRET SAUCE OF FINANCIAL FREEDOM
18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 8:18 (ESV)
Today, the escape room industry is quite saturated and it's difficult to start one in most cities. Competition is fierce. In late 2015, however, that was not the case. Nobody had started an escape room in Branson, and we felt it made sense to move toward being the first as being first to market in this industry is critical.
We believe this was a “God idea,” and we didn't hesitate in our planning for one minute. Time was of the essence. From that point on, we remained prayerful and diligent as we covered every base we could find, and then several we didn't even knew existed! We consulted with experts, researched (and visited) many other escape rooms in the nation and learned all we could about starting a business. We studied nonstop.
Understand, God absolutely has given us the power, the ability, to create wealth. What does this mean? He paved the way, but he's not going to do it for us. He has set us up for success. He's ready to move miraculously as we move obediently. He is the one who will bring the increase, yet, it's you and I who must move out and build the systems, do our due diligence and work smartly in the creation of wealth. Of course, we must be very careful to understand that it's God, and not us, who enables this wealth creating ability. (Wealth is simply financial resource, money and material goods that we can use in our lives and to advance the Kingdom Wealth and wealthy are not one in the same.)
For us, this step of applying wisdom also included hiring the best architect, consulting with the city's planning department, following every one of their rules perfectly, choosing the right colors and design for our logo and other branding, researching how to best market and how much to spend on ads and so much more. In fact, our diligence resulted in passing a state audit a few years later with flying colors. They were gladly surprised to see such honesty and attention to detail. Precise record keeping, among other disciplines is wisdom, and wisdom is one of the three keys to financial breakthrough.
When we understand God gives us the power to create wealth, it's important that we believe it, that we respond to it and that we do it rightly.
19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (ESV)
In the midst of learning how to relate to the fire department, the planning department and other city officials, it got a little scary. The little money we had was being devoured by the thousands, and if this didn't work, we were in trouble!
Even though the Branson, Missouri city leaders and employees are absolutely amazing, we were in the dark regarding approval processes and how much there was to do when opening a business here. At one point Amy, my wife, was in tears and ready to stop everything. It was too much. Today she shares that it was my faith that kept her on board. She's so thankful that we stayed the course!
As a side note, it's wonderful being in a relationship that exhibits such diverse giftings, strengths and weaknesses. Amy is absolutely brilliant in the wisdom department. Faith regarding finances specifically is a strength of mine. We both have to consistently monitor all of our various ventures in life to ensure both faith and wisdom are working together. Leaping out in faith without being wise is a recipe for disaster. Wisdom without faith will keep us hiding out in caves!
Knowing that God has promised to supply our every need makes it easier to keep moving forward. Faith is a result of trusting truth found in Scripture. God has gone before us and he understands we are fully reliant on him.
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way. Psalm 37:23 (NKJV)
This final ingredient in our secret sauce is one that may trigger financial breakthrough for many. Peace.
Peace is a manifestation of faith, and the above verse has been a very important one for the Burton family. God knows faith requires risk, and he doesn't want us holding back due to overreaching “wisdom,” which is actually fear. He wants us jumping, moving, shifting and advancing!
So, he makes it clear that, as we do this, he has our back. He's ordering our steps. As long as we are living rightly, moving ahead the best we can, trusting his voice and refusing to allow any measure of fear to keep us paralyzed, that he will keep us on the straight and narrow. Wisdom plus faith equals peace. If we aren't at peace, we need to evaluate why before moving forward. It may reveal a lack of wisdom or misguided faith.
God is not waiting to crush us under the weight of his disapproval. He is cheering for us! Even if, after investing in the process that wisdom demands and after doing our best to respond to God's instructions in faith, we fail, he's got us! He will make things right. He will order our every step. We don't have to hesitate, delay or be afraid. God will take very good care of us, even if we stumble.
Miraculously, we opened Escape Code in Branson, Missouri six weeks after having the first thought about starting a new business. The sign was up, the rooms designed, the website published, marketing launched and the open sign turned on—and people started coming! Wisdom, faith and peace were the secret sauce that caused this to happen.
Since then we've received awards and recognition including being voted the fifth best escape room in the nation by USA Today in 2017! It's exciting to see God moving in a project from concept to implementation!
A NEW TEST(IMONY)
Tests are simply an opportunity for a testimony.
We believe it's important (and wise) to develop multiple streams of income. In addition to Escape Code I make a little (very little) selling my books and we enjoy producing travel videos on our YouTube channel that has recently become eligible for monetization (we can't wait for our first $100 check!). In addition to those endeavors, we decided to implement our wisdom/faith/peace strategy again by opening two additional businesses, both of then right next door to Escape Code in the same shopping mall.
The Axe Game's build out was more expensive than we had expected and Sagas Mysteries would have to wait an additional twelve months before we opened it, even though we were pouring money into the lease for an empty storefront (which we had to secure so we didn't lose it).
The investment and monthly expenses, even though we applied as much wisdom as we could have, and moved out in faith, with peace, resulted in a difficult season. It greatly impacted our overall financial situation.
The solution? This might seem insignificant, but it's what God prescribed: In addition to our regular tithe and our already established additional monthly offerings and other giving, in the midst of financial crisis, we were to start giving an additional one percent. We did that, and last month the entire investment in our new businesses was paid off! New seasons will have new tests, but if we implement wisdom, faith and peace, God will always be there!
It's wise to give. It takes faith to give. We should be at peace when we give. Add increased giving to the other strategies that also require wisdom, faith and peace and you'll start to see a new financial culture developed in your life and family.
Oh, and by the way, this secret sauce isn't really secret at all. It's all right there in the pages of Scripture.
Everything changes when we become radically devoted, raging on fire and deeply intimate with Jesus.
I’ve been asked countless times throughout my years of ministry, “John, how can I experience the miracles and wonders of God?”
People are so hungry and desperate for an encounter with deity! The zeal they have to escape the trappings of the world and to dive into the glories of God is intense, yet so many just can’t tap into that lifestyle. They find themselves gazing into the heavens and crying out, “God, where are you!”
My answer to these passionate people is not complicated. In fact, it couldn’t be more simple: Live holy and pray in the Spirit—a lot.
HEARING GOD IS THE GOAL
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 (ESV)
One of today’s greatest tragedies is being invited into to the depths of God and the supernatural realm he moves in—and declining. So many are crying out for God to manifest in the natural realm while he is calling us to manifest in his supernatural realm! There are wonders to behold when we live consecrated lives and pray on fire night and day!
Please hear me: You can begin your journey into the place where the Holy Spirit broods right now! In fact, I feel in my spirit as I write this to invite you to contend in prayer with me for just a moment:
Jesus, I decree in your magnificent name that the person reading this is free from disillusionment, disappointment and unbelief. I command, in Jesus’ name, that every haunting and taunting evil spirit to loose your grip and break away from them, right now! I declare wild freedom, joy and exuberant faith, NOW! Faith rise up! Zeal increase! Expectancy come! It’s time for them to step into the wonders of God! Amen!
As we eliminate anything that would hinder a walk in the Spirit from our lives, and develop a lifestyle of fervent, urgent and enjoyable intercession, both in our prayer closets and with other brothers and sisters, the heavens will open up over our lives.
It’s at this point that we will be able to start hearing God. I’m convinced the only way to consistently hear God’s voice is if we are living holy lives, walking in the Spirit and praying in the Spirit. However, the price is worth it. When God starts talking, everything in our live shifts dramatically! A prophetic force will radiate from within. Dreams and visions will become regular. We will be undone as a fresh revelation of the glory of God shocks and rocks us to the core!
Yes, when you start hearing God, everything changes. Read on for an important truth God revealed to me—a truth I could only receive because I had developed a life of supernatural prayer.
STOP! YOU’RE PRAYING WRONG!
That’s what God told me one day as I was in some deep prayer. I was currently working part-time at a call center. I had been fairly frustrated that I wasn’t able to leave that job so I could work full-time in the church I was planting in Manitou Springs, Colorado.
That day, I was praying from a place of frustration. “God, oh God, please grow the church! Let the finances increase! Please God!”
That was when, as clear as a bell, I heard God say, “Stop! You’re praying wrong!”
What? How could that be? I was praying so hard. As I walked around the 1000 square feet of sanctuary space in the early days of Revolution Church, I really felt like I was doing well. Didn’t God want the church to grow?
Then God said something I’ll never forget. “You are praying as if I’m resisting you. Don’t you realize I put those desires in your heart? Why are you begging me for a desire that I initiated? I gave you the desire in the first place!”
Wow! That ruined my whole perception of what prayer was! I had to think differently.
God then said, “There is one who IS resisting you though. The enemy doesn’t want these desires I placed in your heart to come to pass. It is the enemy whom you must fight.”
So, I launched into a new dimension of faith filled and violent prayer!
I felt impressed that God wanted me to practice this new revelation he gave me. He told me He wanted me to have more time to pray and initiate revival in the city. He wanted me to quit my job at the call center. I had captured the heart of God and I knew it was my turn to enforce His will. The enemy must move!
“In the powerful name of Jesus Christ, I command you devil to release! Get off of my schedule! I declare the heart of God is for me to quit my job and to advance His Kingdom full time in Manitou Springs! How dare you touch the plans of God!”
1 John 5:14-15 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
I prayed according to His will. He wanted me to work full-time in the ministry. One week later, as a church of about 35 people, we received a check in the Sunday offering for $50,000. The following week we received $25,000.
I was full time two weeks later.
That money was “more than enough.” We also used it to move into a 27,000 square foot building. God wanted us to have that all along. The enemy didn’t. I was praying wrong. I was praying as if the provision had to be coaxed away from God. In reality, God had already released it and I just had to go get it–and blast through the enemy’s resistance on the way.
Another story had an equal impact upon my life. I was again in a place of ‘frustration prayer’. I was crying out for needs to be met. I was banging on the doors of heaven in passionate prayer for finances, among other things. Once again I heard the voice of God deep within my spirit, “Your prayer is hindering you.” What? Did I hear correctly? God told me that my prayer in that moment was doing more damage than good. I should stop if I planned on continuing in that vein.
He then said, “Without faith it is impossible to please me.” He added, “Doubt in prayer will ensure that prayer goes unanswered.” Ok, He had my attention. I pondered this, and wrestled with these issues. I didn’t want to doubt. I wanted more than anything to be a man of faith. I wanted these pieces to fit together so I could arrive at some conclusion. God was telling me not to pray! Yet, I still had unresolved issues that demanded a miracle. Oh how alone I felt!
Then the answer came. God asked me why I was praying for something that was already promised in His Word. He has promised to supply all of my needs according to His riches in glory. The very act of asking God for my needs to be met revealed my lack of faith that it has already been done! I was attempting to convince God to do something that He already had resolved! My prayer evidenced my doubt which resulted in my prayer being unanswered!
The Bible reveals, as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Doubt was in my heart. It also reveals that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. I was speaking unbelief. Finally, the Bible reveals that the power of life and death are in the tongue. The unbelief in my heart was manifesting as decrees of death over my finances! It would have been better if I didn’t pray at all!
Mark 11:24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
No begging, no coercing, no convincing, no doubting allowed in prayer!
James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
I hear God and then declare how the situation must conform to His will. It turns us from a position of defeat and passivity to a position of victory and spiritual violence and powerful faith! We change from the afflicted to the afflicter!
Trust me, you will never look at the Burton family the same way again. Have we no shame?
18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him–for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God. Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 (NIV)
A bunch of you out there have an aversion to enjoying life. You can probably blame a good, old fashioned religious spirit on that. God does want you to enjoy the life he died to give you. Of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. We should die daily and live in resurrection power. We should give and prosper.
Recently, Amy and I had the privilege of hosting a team of high school business class leaders at our escape room business, Escape Code, and our axe throwing business, The Axe Game in Branson, Missouri.
Something I thoroughly enjoy is introducing and sharing Kingdom principles and other bits of life-giving wisdom in the marketplace. I know the bulk of our success comes from our radical devotion to promoting godly standards and living with integrity in the workplace.
11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? Luke 16:11 (NIV)
We recently “enjoyed” the opportunity going through a state audit for our escape room business. After hours, and hours, weeks and weeks of hard work, they met with us in person. Of course, we were nervous, wondering if our math would match with theirs. They reported that, aside from some very minor miscalculations, everything matched up. They were actually quite surprised and impressed at our honesty and integrity. My wife handles the finances, and if a single penny doesn’t match up, she will work hard correcting the error. She will pay that penny. That is not an exaggeration.
After the high school students played one of our escape games, we had an opportunity to address the team of future business leaders and engage in a time of questions and answers. In addition to discussing the issues of extreme integrity and honor in the workplace, we encouraged them in a critical plan of action: develop multiple streams of income.
When I was in high school, the only obvious option after graduation was to go to college. The question every junior and senior was asked time and time again was, “Where are you going to college?” It was college or bust.
It would have been extremely valuable to know that there are many additional options in our big, wide world! Trade schools, alternative learning, business incubators, internships, various prosperous jobs that don't require college and many additional choices are out there.
If our God loves to function outside the box, which he absolutely does, limiting our future and our income to a single, predictable track just doesn’t make sense. We made it clear that, yes, many would obviously benefit from a college degree, and, of course, many professions require it. I most certainly want our future doctors to have every degree and certification they need to operate. My oldest son, Skylar, is currently attending Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee as he prepares for a career in law. College, and more, is a requirement for him.
However, whether college is or is not a part of one’s track toward success and prosperity, developing multiple streams of income is a valuable move. In my opinion, a non-negotiable one.
For instance, people often criticize pastors who are financially prosperous, presuming they are immoral, thieves or greedy, when in fact they may have wisely developed multiple streams of income. They are appropriately creating wealth according to biblical standards. They have bought and sold real estate, written books, built businesses, consulted or initiated any number of other ventures that create wealth for them and their family.
18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth… Deuteronomy 8:18 (ESV)
Amy and I never want to rely on a single source of income—or rely solely on ourselves. We want to let God lead and develop new ventures through us understanding that businesses fail, people get fired, the economy can crash and tides can turn. On the positive side, we are entrepreneurial at heart, and we have a blast creating businesses and fresh income strategies. It’s fun!
We aren’t “rich,” but, then again, I believe we are. Our lives have been enriched in many ways. God has blessed us and we are thankful.
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV)
Over the years we’ve had many streams of income, most of them small, that have helped us grow financially.
In fact, when we leased space for The Axe Game earlier this year, two doors down from Escape Code, we also leased a storefront between the two businesses with plans to develop a third business at some point. It stands empty today as we give time to the praying and dreaming process. It is an exciting blank canvas for whatever big idea God drops into our spirit down the road.
5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. Proverbs 21:5 (NIV)
A HILARIOUS NEW POTENTIAL INCOME SOURCE—GET READY TO LAUGH RIGHT AT ME!
The reason I’m writing this article isn’t to bring attention to what the Burton family is doing, but rather to share how God is working in us so as to encourage you to dream big and break free from the stranglehold of poverty and lack.
In fact, Amy and I along with the younger kids recently ventured into a new business that many would call “cringy,” but I call “cringy cool!” It’s called Toys of the Realm.
But wait, allow me to back up a few weeks first. Another video project preceded Toys of the Realm.
Amy and I have been gifted in some specific ways, including communication, creativity, graphic design and video production. We also love to travel and do it often. Anything from short day trips to business trips to ministry trips to actual vacations keep us on the move regularly.
While we are about ten years late to the game, we decided to launch a YouTube travel channel. Many who started years ago are enjoying very large monthly checks. Today, the competition is much greater, but we will not be deterred! We spent a few hundred dollars for some basic equipment and then launched out to create travel videos. It’s so much fun! As I walk around with my gimbal, recording anything from donuts at Hurt’s Donut Company, to rides at Silver Dollar City, to cave systems to food on the table of our our favorite restaurants, people wonder what we are doing. We explain that we are travel vloggers and then offer them a business card that directs them to the YouTube channel that will soon have the very content they are watching us record, possibly that very night.
TPF! Travel Adventures is a fun, though time consuming, potential stream of income that we are taking very seriously. We understand that it may take anywhere from one to three years to see ad revenue from YouTube and our affiliate marketing to start trickling in. But, who knows, we may really need those paychecks at that time. We will be extremely thankful that we planned ahead and developed this stream of income.
27 Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. Proverbs 24:27 (NIV)
TOYS OF THE REALM—CRINGY COOL
Definition, CRINGY: Someone or something that makes you embarrassed to be a part of the human race. Usually classified by seeing something and feeling extremely embarrassed, throwing your head back and closing your eyes to block your view, and biting your lip to keep in your scream of utter disgust. ~Urban Dictionary
After Amy and I kept this next potential income stream a secret for the first four episodes, we decided it was time to let our pride go and let the world laugh with (at) us. I playfully posted this to Facebook last night:
I have to confess something… a hidden, secret part of my life.
You may never look at Amy or me the same way again…but it's time for the Burton family to come clean…
We can hear toys talk.
Yes, it's true. You might know me as a fiery preacher, an author and passionate revivalist… but, I couldn't keep this hidden part of our lives from you, our friends and family forever.
After you watch our first four videos about our wild adventures rescuing toys from the Toy Reaper, you are sure to lift an eyebrow, shake your head in wonder…and ask your kids to interpret just what is happening.
Some of you may start interceding for us. That's OK. We need it. If you could, say some prayers for the toys as well. They are in great danger.
The first video can be seen here…just don't say we didn't warn you: https://youtu.be/yz1Kt019KWE
The link to our channel where you can watch all four thrilling episodes is: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMqwOHxpg5vWTxHbjGW5GYA
Be sure to SUBSCRIBE so you can watch the adventure unfold multiple times each week.
Please don't unfriend us. We need you now more than ever.
John and Amy Burton and family
It’s OK. Laugh. Amy and I have busted up laughing with tears in our eyes many times as we recorded and watched the final release of each episode. Definitely cringy…cool! So far, the toys have led us to castle ruins, through tunnels, into the woods and into a dungeon! How can that not be thrilling?
Here’s the kicker. This channel may never bring us a dime, or some day it may bring in a truck load of dimes, but it has introduced something to our family that is exponentially much more valuable—we are having the time of our lives, together, as a family! The memories are more precious than all the gold in the world. In fact, there’s something to having fun as little children:
15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:15-16 (NIV)
You can definitely laugh and cringe along with us. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun we are having with both of our channels. Recently Amy and I took a day trip to Lake of the Ozarks and recorded an episode about a monster in Ha Ha Tonka State Park. It was just good ole’ fun! We loved hanging together, coming up with story lines and just having fun on camera!
Amy is a brilliant story teller. She develops all of our themes and storylines for our escape rooms. After playing, guests are regularly amazed at the fact that she designed them herself. She’s amazing! Now, with our children’s focused channel, Toys of the Realm, she uses that gift in another way.
I’d strongly encourage you to watch, and cringe, and laugh HERE.
DO WHAT YOU LOVE
Another piece of advice we gave to the high schoolers was: do what you love. What causes you to come alive? Don’t base your career path on the amount of money it may provide. Discover your passion and have a blast discovering how you can turn that into a career!
How often do we hear stories of people who have climbed the ladder and gained a six-figure income, only to burn out, quit and turn a hobby, something they are passionate about, into a career? It happens every day.
I believe God puts passions inside of us, and often he enables us to turn those passions into wealth creating opportunities. Understand, when I say wealth, I’m not putting a gigantic number on it. Wealth is simply resource that enables us to live the life God has called us to, and to enrich others around us. Each stream of income may only bring in a few hundred dollars a month, but all together, they make it possible to pay the bills, give extravagantly and continue dreaming and developing new streams!
Of course, those of you who know me understand that I’m all about revival and ministering in power. Laying down our lives and surrendering all should be our devotion every day. Many are called to venture into costly, challenging ministry assignments that don’t pay much at all. Definitely do that with your whole heart!
However, I also believe we can still develop streams of income in the midst of ministry. When Amy and I were called to spend a season at The International House of Prayer in Kansas City, it would have been impossible if I hadn’t already developed sources of income that would sustain us. We eventually received a small stipend at IHOPKC as I first joined the graphic design team and then was asked to direct one of the four primary internships. That stipend was not nearly enough to sustain us. It took the other streams to make our ministry there possible. In fact, we were able to buy a house. There was no one single source of income that made that possible. Many streams (I believe we had developed seven separate small streams at that time) were required.
So, we were able to do what we loved, what we were called to do and support a growing family! After our season there, we moved to Detroit with no job, no new income opportunities and even nowhere to live. We drove our moving truck there, rented a place the next day, started a church, developed new income sources and watched ministry and finances develop together!
DON’T BE LAZY!
25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' 26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Matthew 25:25-27 (NIV)
Friend, many people are in lack because of this very parable. Look at how it continues:
28 “‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. Matthew 25:28-29 (NIV)
Those who are lazy, those who don’t aggressively advance in their financial strategies will often find themselves losing ground while those who are prosperous and working hard will seem to gain with little effort.
While it’s true that doing what you love will result in a life where you don’t really work at all, as the saying goes, the truth is that you must work very hard. But if you choose your career and businesses wisely, the work will be enjoyable. While I understand that we may not see financial rewards from our two video endeavors for years, we are recording several times a week and I’m editing late into the night, several hours at a time, day after day. I love it!
However, it absolutely is work. Add that to running two extremely busy and demanding businesses, working often at those businesses personally to keep staff costs down, writing for Charisma and other publications, traveling for business and ministry, going to parent/teacher meetings, gymnastics and other soccer mom (and dad!) style responsibilities, and you have a lot of work!
This being said, as you work very hard, stay healthy, get rest and always know it’s God who brings increase, you will live in victory. A wrong heart will do you in. A right focus will bring great success. Your work and faithfulness will result in God ordering your steps.
Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Proverbs 23:4 (NIV)
GUARD YOUR HEART
15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15 (ESV)
The purpose of creating wealth is not for the sake of accumulating wealth. It takes a humble and zealous lover of Jesus to agree with the principle that God desires us to create wealth, and to have great resource to give extravagantly, while never, ever giving our heart to that wealth.
In fact, if you can’t grow financially and grow in Jesus at the same time, I’d strongly encourage you to do what the Rich Young Ruler was instructed to do. Give it all away! Your eternity is not worth a temporarily large bank account. It’s laughable that it would be.
So, guard your heart. Reject greed. Be a passionate, fervent lover of Jesus and allow the resources you develop to bring life to your family, to the church and to the Kingdom of God.
24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. 25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs 11:24-25 (NIV)
YOU CAN DO IT!
You absolutely have been given gifts and passions by God that can result in a joyful and very busy life that includes a strategic track toward financial prosperity.
God isn’t going to drop the money into your lap. The Parable of the Talents should be enough to shake us all out of that mirage. Not only has God given us the power to create wealth, he has given us the responsibility to do so!
I’d strongly encourage you to read a powerful article on the subject that I wrote recently titled: Why giving large percentages of our finances to the church might require disobedience to God.
Here’s an excerpt:
Successful entrepreneurs and business people will understand this principle easily. Their money is simply a tool. It’s used to expand their business, make investments and multiply their resources so they can have greater and greater impact.
Don’t ever look at a wealthy Christian in judgment. Many of them are doing exactly what God wants them to do. They aren't suppose to give everything to the poor or to the church. Their gift is much better used by multiplying resources and giving extravagantly year after year then by simply giving away what they have a single time. The result would be lack of resources and an inability to do what God has called them to do. If you have one million dollars, don’t give it all away. Multiply it and give millions and millions away.
If we give all we have to the church, or more than God has called us to, we won’t have enough to put to work for the sake of multiplication. We must give the correct amount and invest the correct amount to see the greatest Kingdom impact.
Kick into prayer. Develop strategies. Dream. Plan. Move. Risk.
Maybe God will call you to develop something that has the world laughing at you…as you laugh right on over to the bank. Your pastor and ministries all over the world will certainly appreciate the upward spike in your giving receipts as well.
Jesse Duplantis is believing for a new airplane. The way we respond will determine our financial future.
As an introduction, I need to make it clear that I personally wasn’t raised in the Word of Faith movement. This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction from a Word of Faith member, as I am not one. That being said, I’ve known many phenomenal Believers who were deeply involved in Word of Faith, so I have first hand testimony of some pretty awesome fruit.
In fact, from one who has some thoughts on finances that may or may not be common in the Word of Faith movement, you might read a recent article that exposes the limits of giving to churches and ministries without considering other, very potent and very important, financial strategies in a recent Charisma News article: https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/70859-why-giving-large-portions-of-our-finances-to-church-might-require-disobeying-god. Giving to ministries alone will never unlock the wealth that God has for his people.
The reason I bring this up is so you understand this isn’t another article defending the faith message. I am making the focus more specific. Let’s talk about Jesse Duplantis.
In fairness, we do need to let Jesse speak for himself. After you read what he said, you have to wonder what exactly people think is so wrong with his intentions:
“I'm not asking you to pay for my plane,” the televangelist says in a new video posted to his ministry's website. “The Lord said, ‘I didn't ask you to pay for it, I asked you to believe for it.' That is what I said. So I'm believing, and I want you to believe with me.” (From CNN https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/04/us/jesse-duplantis-plane-new-message-trnd/index.html)
I’d be the first to defend him for fundraising if he were actually doing that. However, he is making it clear he isn’t asking for money. He’s asking for people to agree in faith.
The following ten points will at least give us a starting point when considering how to respond to Jesse’s bold request. Be warned, though. My stance resulted in a longtime Facebook friend blocking me this morning and declaring me a false prophet. (He should know I don’t consider myself a prophet at all, but I doubt that would have deterred him!)
ONE: The moment we embrace lack and limits for another is the moment we embrace lack and limits for ourselves.
Many years ago I was the youth pastor of one of the wealthiest churches in the nation. My wife and I were earning $24,000 a year, and the rumor was my senior pastor was earning well over $100,000. He was also given a new Cadillac every couple of years and he lived in a beautiful home. One day I was pondering whether my pastor really needed such a high income. I wasn’t complaining in the least. I was simply wondering. God heard my not-so-private thoughts and initiated a dialogue with me, though at first I didn’t realize it was him.
”So, would $40,000 a year be sufficient for your pastor?” That’s the question that dropped into my mind. My silent reply was something like, “Well, no. He’s been faithful in ministry for years. He’s surely worthy of more than that.”
”How about $50,000?” I replied, “No, that’s still too low. I appreciate all he has done and he certainly can earn more.”
$75,000?” At this point, I was keenly aware that I was in a fearful conversation with God. I didn’t even answer that final question. He didn’t wait for a response. What he said next struck me, and has impacted my finances and my ministry ever since.
”Don’t you ever again presume I should consult you when I decide how to financially resource and bless one of my children. The moment you make a judgment on another’s finances is the moment your finances will come under judgment. When you embrace lack and limits for another, you will not find success breaking through lack and limits in your own life. If you affirm lack for another, you will experience lack yourself.”
I’ve never questioned another’s financial situation again. I bless those who are financially blessed, period.
In fact, I’ve met many people who faithfully tithe and give who are always struggling financially. In addition to what I addressed in my other article referenced above, I believe this issue is very often a cause.
Deuteronomy 8:18 (ESV)
18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
TWO: It's not being used for personal pleasure. It's a tool to reach people with the Gospel.
If a pastor announced a fund-raiser for a new church van, would you protest? Of course not. It’s an important tool for ministry. Pastors regularly raise funds for important works including millions for new buildings, busses, missions and other ministries. Jesse is believing for fast transportation so he can reach more people. I find no fault in that.
In fact, what if Jesse stood in faith for a $54 million jet personally, instead of for his ministry? That way, he could use it any way he desired, including for ministry. You might consider that to be a strange point, but consider this: I use my car in the exact same way. I have a 501c3 ministry, but my car was not secured through my non-profit. I own it personally. So, I use it to go to Walmart, on vacation and to various ministry destinations.
The problem is that many are judging Jesse’s motive, which is radically irresponsible. They presume to know just what’s in his heart and, therefore, judge that his attempts to secure the airplane are immoral. They presume he’s coveting. They think he’s selfish. That judgment is out of line.
There is not one person alive, with the possible exception of those who are very close to him, who knows what his motive is. Biblically, we are mandated to judge fruit, but until we have clear proof of indiscretion, it’s foolish and irresponsible to say we know what his motives are.
THREE: Why is it any of your business?
As I sit back and watch people become unraveled about this, I have to wonder, why are you so uptight about someone you don’t even know? The truth is that this is none of your business. Stay silent. Nothing immoral has occurred. No crimes have been committed.
FOUR: If it is your business, what specifically has God told you to do in response?
While I doubt God chose to consult you about Jesse’s situation, let’s pretend he did. God doesn’t gossip. He doesn’t share information about someone else just so we can enjoy shaming them. If he reveals another’s immorality to you, I’d be shaking in my boots. The fear of the Lord should wreck you. His revelation means you have a sober responsibility to help bring restoration to the one in error. What would your first step be? For starters, implementing Matthew 18 protocol if you felt he sinned against you.
Matthew 18:15 (ESV)
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
FIVE: If you gossip about Jesse, you are in the wrong.
God doesn’t gossip. Neither should we. When we speak negatively about someone without them there to defend themselves, we sin. Gossip and slander are serious violations that can bring swift judgment to us. Today with social media being such a powerful medium, supposed Christians are spending their waking hours spouting out their gossip and slander about people of all types without any measure of grace of love. There’s a way to honestly discuss issues with a heart of love and honor without bringing shame to the one being talked about.
Romans 1:28-30 (ESV)
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
James 1:26 (ESV)
26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
SIX: Why are you threatened by his faith?
Jesse is inviting people to join him in mountain moving faith. We need more people to believe for absolutely shocking, magnificent, world-shaking things! Celebrate when men and women of God are not only dreaming big but actually putting action to their faith. Visionaries have always threatened those with no vision for their lives.
Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
SEVEN: Those who have will be given more. It's a biblical principle.
So many miss this powerful biblical truth. The Kingdom isn’t governed by socialism. Financial equality doesn’t exist. Yes, we are to give to those in need and we are to take care of the poor. However, the truth remains, those who handle their finances rightly will always have more money than those who don’t. If this wasn’t the case, there would be no poor among us, but Jesus made it clear that the poor would always be with us.
I personally want to support and stay close to those who continually grow their financial portfolios. I’m not talking about manipulators or swindlers. I’m talking about true people of God who are so faithful with their finances that they can’t help but to prosper.
Matthew 25:28-29 (ESV)
28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.
29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
EIGHT: Don't let pride convince you that you have better ideas on how to use the money.
We would all use $54 million differently. Evangelists would use it to reach the lost. Pastors would build large buildings so they can nurture the saints. Teachers would create a media ministry so they could get the message out. Apostles might build many churches in different regions. Prophets would probably invest in the soap box and megaphone industry. Christians in business would develop new businesses and multiply the money. Those without biblical financial training would waste most of it.
Don’t pridefully presume your plans for the money are better than another’s. For Jesse, a jet is how he can most effectively minister. Again, we can’t judge motive. Let’s take him at his word.
NINE: If God told him to pursue this, he better do it.
Do you have any idea how much trouble we’d be in (and he’d be in) if we convinced Jesse to disobey God because we presumed our wisdom to be greater? If God spoke to Jesse about this airplane, we better get out of the way and keep our mouths shut, unless blessing and honor is all that would be spoken. How foolish Solomon must have been to use his wealth the way he did, right? Wrong. God spoke, and wealth was not all given away. It wasn’t used to eradicate poverty. It was used in ways that didn’t make much sense. But that’s the wonder of God. His ways aren’t our ways.
Added together, the gold and silver used along in Solomon's Temple was worth $216,603,576,000. This does not include all the precious metals, bronze, iron, ivory, or cedar wood used in the temple. (http://althistory.wikia.com/wiki/User_blog:PitaKang/Funday_Monday_1:_How_much_did_Solomon%27s_Temple_cost%3F)
TEN: If he missed God on this, extend grace.
If Jesse is wrong, let’s bless him, love him, honor him, pray for him and believe for great things in his life. Extending grace while also standing for righteousness is something we must do. But, again, not one single person reading this article knows whether he’s wrong or not at this point, no matter how much you might believe God is consulting you on the matter.
Revelation 22:21 (ESV)
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
Watch: Does fear grip your life? You can be free! Don’t let fear of loss rob you of the fire of revival!
Threat #10: Fear of Loss
If we fear loss of our our free time, finances, comfort and loss of command of our own lifestyle, schedule and plans, we will resist revival fiercely. Demonic fear must be replaced by a raging, shaking fear of the Lord!
The greater our fear of God which comes through intimacy with him, the less our fear that’s initiated by the enemy will be.
We won’t fear loss… we will understand that loss is a part of the process. Don’t protect what God may want to touch in your life.
Isaiah 8:11-13 (ESV) 11 For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
The catch is this: If we fear God, the result is boldness and intimacy and power and confidence.
If we have a spirit of fear, the result is timidity, reclusion, weakness and insecurity.
Proverbs 19:23 (ESV) 23 The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
Would I minister anywhere God led, regardless of financial benefit?
That was the question I had to answer when responding to the call to ministry over 24 years ago. If I ever allowed the thought that I was God’s “special chosen one” to enter my mind, I would be disqualified on the spot. My service must be just that—service. That’s what ministry is. It is a commitment to serve with no thought of personal gain. My passion must be for the transformed lives that are hanging in the balance! They are my motivation!
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment… Romans 12:3
The thought of analyzing just how financially beneficial a particular ministry opportunity might be is actually quite sobering for me—the fear of the Lord rests on me quite heavily. The idea that I may be tempted to choose one assignment over another based on money is enough to drive me to my knees in preemptive repentance, if there is such a thing! I can’t allow the enemy’s offer of material gain to weigh on me whatsoever.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Matthew 4:8-10
Snake oil salesman showed up in America’s historic towns on wagons filled with tonics and elixirs. Their motivation was not making sick people well. It was actually the exact same motivation the money changes in the temple had:
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:12-13
The money changers’ sin was simple—they attempted to use God’s temple for personal gain. They were focused on making a profit. This resulted in one of Jesus’ most violent reactions, and I believe a similar reaction is coming to a corrupt ministry scheme today. Notice how Jesus immediately restored the temple to it’s proper function in the very next verse:
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. Matthew 21:14
Snake oil ministers aren’t looking to heal the sick or save the lost as much as they are attempting to build their own ministries. For some it’s clear and intentional deception. For others it’s simple compromise that results in a focus on prosperity.
Brian Ming included the following lyric in one of his worship songs:
God forgive us for building kingdoms of man on doctrines of demons in your name.
That’s snake oil ministry.
Over the last few decades I’ve traveled to regions to launch local ministries and also as an itinerant minister, and the principle remains the same—go where God sends you. The decision on where to go is much easier when you eliminate irrelevant arguments against the move. Listen to God’s voice and respond immediately. Don’t think about money, don’t take the prosperous road. Just go.
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:6-10
If God tells you to go somewhere that will cost you instead of benefit you, will you go?
A year and a half ago I had scheduled a very important ministry trip. Their ministry was struggling and my assignment was to show up, rally support and encourage people to financially sow into their mission. I knew going in that I wouldn’t be receiving a cent, and I was thrilled to serve with that in mind. I actually rented a van and drove 24 hours with my team to this critical assignment. The mission was mine and God made that clear.
Just after I made the commitment, I received, entirely out of the blue, a last minute invitation to replace another speaker (who had to cancel) at a large conference in an influential, sizable church in the UK. All expenses would be paid and I’m sure the honorarium would have been wonderful. That surely would have been a fun and powerful trip! I immediately replied with my regrets, thanking them for the offer. I had to decline.
The reason I share that story isn’t to trumpet my own valiant decision. I simply want to communicate just how easy that decision was. When God speaks, every other voice and every other invitation loses significance. If God is sending you somewhere as an itinerant minister, NEVER consider the financial reward, the accommodations, the size of the platform or other benefits. That is a prostitution of your service. We are called to lay down our lives, expecting nothing in return.
Might I suggest to other itinerant ministers, if you have lost the passion for investing into people and are thinking more about mesmerizing and entertaining the crowds, you should probably step away for a season. To grab the mic, shout your lungs out and then disappear into the green room just won’t cut it anymore. God won’t allow snake oil to replace the oil of the Holy Spirit.
When I travel it’s extremely important that I capture the vision that God has for that region. If I don’t own that vision, why would I even be called on to serve there? I have my strategic intercession team spend hours on conference calls where they pray together and receive prophetic direction from the Lord. They then forward that on to me just before I head out. They then shift to covering me in intercession as I travel and minister. They also own the vision, even they they aren’t on the trip with me. My team is amazing, and I believe a model for itinerant intercession. Their investment matches my own and I would suggest we need to even go further. The places I go burn on my heart before and after I leave.
If I lose that passion, it will be time for me to step away.
A pastor recently shared with me the experience his church had with a rather well known itinerant minister. The guest preached, received a large offering and moved on. There was no relational investment into the people. The report from the body was that they just sowed significant finances into someone who just preached at them for an hour. That’s it. That minister probably doesn’t realize it, but he apparently won’t be returning.
These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Matthew 10:5-14
I received an invitation to minister at a church in Houston recently. I listened to one of their young ministers teaching with unbridled passion out of my book 20 Elements of Revival. He was owning that message maybe even more than I was! I was provoked! Soon after, the pastor wanted to let me know something that he felt would cause me to cancel. They only had four members.
All I could think about was that powerful message by that young man. The numbers didn’t matter at all! He told me that they were yearning for some consulting and investment into their ministry. I told him that all he had to do was get me there, keep me there, feed me there and get me home. If they wanted to take an offering for me, that would be nice. My heart was to eliminate as many hurdles to a fulfilled assignment as possible.
I didn’t care if I slept on the floor, ate beans or had a small offering—I was craving to serve and pray with them! I was passionate for revival in a city that was not my own!
Again, I knew that if I allowed finances to make an entrance into my decision making process, I’d risk joining the ranks of the snake oil salesmen. I must believe that God is my provider, not the people I’m serving.
Might I suggest to all of you itinerant ministers a simple protocol:
- Communicate what your travel expenses are, and request that they are covered.
- Request a love offering of any size be received for you.
- Go at your own expense if God calls you to.
- Be willing to sleep on the floor, eat little and minister to any sized crowd without a minimum required honorarium.
If you’d like to take a look at my personal booking form, which includes a lot of specific communication, you can do so here: www.johnburton.net/booking.
LET’S TAKE A LOOK FROM THE OTHER SIDE
If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 1 Corinthians 9:11
I’m not saying I have mastered hosting out of town guest ministers—others have hosted me more elegantly than I have done so myself—but I have learned to value the importance of honoring them as well as I can.
As Paul stated in 1 Corinthians, material blessing is expected. We should do all we can to ensure guest ministers are leaving town honored and financially prosperous. The responsibility to provide financial blessing is to be handled by the host church, not by the itinerant minister. Paul knew this as well:
If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. But I have made no use of any of these rights… 1 Corinthians 9:12-15
We need to understand that a typical itinerant minister has four paydays per month, and they always fall on a weekend. What I mean is, if they are with you on a single Sunday morning, they have surrendered one fourth of their workable days to you. This means that they need one fourth of their monthly expenses to be covered by you. Paul also understood this.
On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come… 1 Corinthians 16:2-3
Itinerant ministers aren’t being paid for only one hour of preaching. They have given more than that. They have invested much by leaving their family, expending energy as they travel, paying for their food on the road, sleeping in unfamiliar beds and, possibly most importantly, stepping out in faith believing that God would provide their every need.
If their monthly family budget (you know, money to pay for their teenage monsters to devour entire sides of beef, braces for crooked teeth, Christmas presents, car payments, vacations, toilet paper, shoes, etc.) is $6000 a month, that means anything less than $1500 puts them in a compromised position. It’s usually their spouse who is handling the bills and taking care of precious and wild kids who gets hit the most when the finances aren’t coming in. Being an itinerant minister is an extremely challenging life and I want to do my best to relieve the financial pressure from them and their family.
If we have someone come in, and we aren’t confident a sufficient offering will come in, we will communicate very clearly before they commit to the trip that the finances may not be what is necessary for them to live on. I don’t want them to leave with a sad surprise.
I have found that people love to give, especially when I tell them 100% of the offering will be going to the guest speaker (after expenses are covered). If one million dollars comes into the offering, the church receives nothing and the guest is now a millionaire! I believe this approach deals with any scrutiny that may be in people’s minds when giving. They love the fact that they are able to have 100% of their gift go directly to the guest!
I also want to honor the guest’s time and other needs as they travel. If they are most comfortable being left alone most of the time, I will set them up in a comfortable place and leave them be. I find that most itinerant ministers prefer a lot of down time to re-energize and spend time with the Lord. Others may want to hang out for each meal and after the service. If that’s the case, I’ll be at their beck and call!
A gift basket is a great way to bless someone who has been traveling all day and, instead of heading out to eat after they get off the airplane, they can go to their room, jump in a cool, clean bed and chomp down on bananas, candy and nuts!
The point of this entire article is that we are to serve, to minister.
If we honor other well, and refuse to use them or withhold from them, the Kingdom of God will truly advance with great integrity and power.
We are going to need the circuit riders to hit the road again, completely unhindered.
For the circuit rider, they must head out without any excuse or hindrance.
For the host ministry, they must honor the man or woman of God with excellence.
Amy Burton will be teaching TONIGHT at 7pm on financial prosperity and debt free living!
Discover practical and spiritual steps that will bring your finances into order and set you up for financial breakthrough!
Revival Church is located at 26091 Sherwood, Warren, MI 48091.
If you aren’t local to Detroit, you can listen LIVE at www.thefurnace.tv/live at 7pm ET!
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