Without one key element, movements that emphasize signs, wonders and glory meetings are extremely dangerous.
I’m encouraged that we are witnessing a sense of awakening in parts of the church today. It thrills my heart that we are starting to move beyond the tired, predictable wine skins of yesterday and are yearning for a much deeper dive into the river of the Holy Spirit. There are meetings and movements that are enjoying a supercharged atmosphere. Some of these are extremely good, necessary and forerunners for the coming church.
The hunger is so overwhelming for some, however, that this current season is producing people who will run to any meeting that presents the hope of experiencing a supernaturally activated moment.
Of course, a deep desire to encounter the wonder of the Holy Spirit is not an indicator of impure motives. Quite the opposite, those who hunger for more of Jesus can be counted among the remnant—as long as their hunger is pure and their approach is stable.
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. Acts 8:18-22 (ESV)
IMPURE SPIRITUAL HUNGER AND THE CALL FOR REPENTANCE
Simon was more than intrigued by the invisible force he was experiencing. He was so zealous to function in that power that he actually wanted to pay for it! I know that seems absurd, but that spirit is at play very commonly today. The rush of the super power he was experiencing was so remarkable that he couldn’t help but to go after more of it. His sin was not his hunger for God. His sin was his motive. He had no option but to repent—or die in his sin of impure spiritual hunger. This sin that Simon the Sorcerer was overcome by, the sin of of impure spiritual hunger, is rampant in the church today.
To deal with this temptation, a key element that must exist within movements that are marked by supernatural power is repentance. Of course, repentance and the cross must be the primary driver of any church, movement or ministry. Sadly, today that is not always the case.
I was stunned when I heard about a pastor that no longer preaches the blood and the cross because, as he stated, they are pre-resurrection. His focus is now the benefits and the bonuses we can experience on this side of Calvary. While this may shock many of you, the truth is that many are abandoning a keen focus on repentance, the blood and the cross, though they may never be so bold as to announce it.
The last two places I ministered, in Dayton, Ohio and Greenville, South Carolina, I received strikingly similar comments from people as I was connecting at the end of the service. In both places I had preached a straight forward message on holiness, repentance, surrender, sin, the cross and eternity. It was nothing original, but the anointing was strong.
In one of the events someone said, “I haven’t heard preaching like that in 30 years.” In the next event I was told, “I haven’t heard preaching like that in 27 years.”
That almost brought tears to my eyes. It did bring righteous indignation to my spirit.
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 (ESV)
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:1-2 (ESV)
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, Acts 17:30 (ESV)
HOLY GHOST PARTIES
I love to dance in the river, jump in the river, swim in the river, soak in the river. If the river is rushing, I’m there. I’ve been transformed in glory meetings and I can’t wait for the next one!
I’m also extremely careful to discern the motive of my heart. The glory of God is not meant to be used as a high inducing narcotic. God is holy and we must approach and enjoy him from that reality.
When God moves, it’s not a playground, though there are times for wild celebration. We need to experience great fear just like in the days of old. Holy Spirit comfort and fear of the Lord must go hand in hand.
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. Acts 9:31 (ESV)
I’ve had the privilege of being in the midst of some extremely powerful and unusual river events where manifestations of oil, gold dust, gold teeth and a mist of God’s presence filled the auditorium. People were dancing, trembling and rejoicing throughout. It was impossible to deny that joy was in the place and that humanly impossible wonders were occurring. I was giving leadership in that church but was continually awestruck at the very real, very powerful things God was doing. I was laid out many times during that season, including in the parking lot at 2am one late night as God spilled out after a powerful prayer meeting. I was undone. Many others were as well.
We enjoyed a Holy Ghost party atmosphere that was wonderful and legitimate. The celebration was joyous!
However, what grieves me to this day is that among the dancers were a few who were living very dark lives—and they were convinced that God affirmed those lifestyles. This is why they could dance and rejoice with such “freedom.” None of this came to the surface until God hit me hard one day. He told me it was time to shift the message from rejoicing to repenting, from dancing on our feet to crying out on our knees, and to let the Holy Spirit move in a very different way. God had set us up and it was time to marry true freedom with brokenness and surrender. This was the only way faux freedom could be exposed.
While the revelation of unapologetic sinful lifestyles was troubling enough, the point I need to make here brings something else into the equation: the plumb line of the cross.
Holy Ghost parties, glory meetings and river experiences are not enough to rightly deal with our hearts and to draw us into freedom. They are insufficient. As overwhelming it can be, experiencing God’s presence and his love are not enough to deal with darkness and rebellion.
God instructed me to preach with great unction and urgency on what was: the cross, Hell, holiness and the blood of Jesus. This ended the Holy Ghost parties and opened the door to Holy Ghost conviction.
This led to many rushing to the altars to allow God to break them, heal them and set them free.
Sadly, and disturbingly, there were previous Holy Ghost, glory meeting dancers who soundly rejected that message. One supported lesbianism and was convinced that God would never send homosexuals to Hell. Another was involved in sexual New Age practices and rejected the theology of eternal separation from God entirely. Others told me they didn’t affirm a definition of God that included judgment or anything negative. One of the most passionate young people in the church said that she doesn’t know the God associated with that message!
That was like an arrow piercing through my heart! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!
In the midst of a true move of God, people were embracing deviant theologies and living in radical rebellion to the one they were dancing before!
As a leader, my heart was crushed. How could this have happened?
REJECTING THE MESSAGE
When I hit the messages of repentance and the cross with fervor, some people fled. Honestly, this shouldn’t have surprised me. In fact, I preach often that a true move of God will result in many being exposed and turning from God as deception and rebellion overtakes them. This is such a crushing truth that is hard to bear.
…they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 (ESV)
In Acts chapter two we see two responses to God moving. Some marveled. Some mocked.
The cross, when preached, will bring clarity.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34 (ESV)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 (ESV)
The truth of the cross of Jesus will always have that type of impact. It divides. It reveals the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Holy Ghost parties must be founded on the truth of the cross, and that message must be shouted continually if we want to avoid deception at party central.
It’s easy to dance and rejoice when the benefits and blessings are preached, but when the call for repentance is in the mix, suddenly the party may shift into a season of mourning.
“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Joel 2:12-13 (ESV)
Then, the mourning and freedom that comes from true, deep repentance, can lead to another season of dancing!
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever! Psalm 30:11-12 (ESV)
Today we have meetings that are focused intently on the glory, God’s presence and the river. Healings, signs and wonders are primary. They can no longer be primary if we want to avoid allowing darkness and deception to thrive in such an environment.
Calls to repentance must be sounded. A revelation of Hell must be had. The blood of Jesus must be foremost as the cross of Jesus is preached with unction.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret… 2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV)
Only then can we truly celebrate and dance in the river.
Run from the enemy and miss out on the dramatic, victorious promise God has in store for you!
We are in a generation of runners. At the point of crisis, God’s children tend to run from the battle instead of defeating the very enemy that has them fleeing.
People leave assignments. They quit jobs for the wrong reasons. They break off relationships.
People run from church to church, hoping to leave their past behind them. That never works. Their undefeated enemy, whether it’s a spirit of rejection or anger or outright rebellion, shows up the very first day they visit their new church.
Someone visited Revival Church in Detroit a couple of years ago. One of the first things this child of God said to me was, “I’ve been kicked out of every church I’ve been in. I’m determined that this won’t happen here too!”
That was a great plan, but, unfortunately, she was unwilling to battle the demons of old. Sadly, she didn’t last more than several weeks with us.
We so crave freedom from whatever bondage we are experiencing that we often demand an immediate yet premature resolution to our captivity.
In Portland, Oregon, a man was scheduled for release from prison in less than a week after 272 days behind bars. He couldn’t wait. He escaped with six days left on his sentence!
He was caught just hours later.
Sometimes the quickest route to freedom is not the most direct, or the easiest, or the most obvious. In fact, sometimes it’s to back up and entice our enemy to pursue us!
1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. Exodus 14:1-4 (ESV)
They were already on the borders of the desert, and a short march would have placed them beyond the reach of pursuit, as the chariots of Egypt could have made little progress over dry and yielding sand. ~Jamieson-Fausset-Brown
The Israelites could have continued in the direction they were heading, and they would have been out of the reach of Pharaoh should he decide to summon his armies and chariots to pursue them.
It surely seemed to be madness for Moses to direct the people to turn back!
Freedom was to be had! It was right in front of them! But, their mandate was to turn back and to face the enemy they fled from.
I propose we embrace leaders like Moses today—those who aren’t trying to lead us into the Land of Promise while avoiding the challenges, struggles and pursuing armies that God desires for us to defeat. We need leaders who lead into trouble for the sake of victory!
It is a valid question: Why would God cause freedom to be delayed? Why would he put people he loves in grave danger? Two simple reasons:
- God will get glory.
- They shall know God is the Lord.
God is interested in our freedom. He’s also interested in his glory.
6 “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Isaiah 42:6-8 (ESV)
This is such an important lesson for all of us. God’s primary motivation is not to make our lives easier, nor to give us immediate satisfaction as we pursue freedom. As it always has been, and always will be, God is focused on his name being known for the sake of the generations.
We must trust God’s wisdom, his truth, if we desire to experience freedom. His truth will very often violate our own wisdom or common sense:
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (ESV)
Note how 250 years later Gideon had an important point of reference as he dealt with his own issue of captivity:
And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” Judges 6:13 (ESV)
Gideon heard of the of Moses and the Hebrews. That story would not have been the same if God hadn’t caused them to turn back and face a fierce enemy.
13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV)
Instead of taking matters into their own hands, devising plans and strategies and moving according to their own wisdom, God was instructing them to stay put and be silent. How hard this must have been for them! What a lesson in faith this was!
15 The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” Exodus 14:15-18 (ESV)
Quit crying and follow my instructions! Now it was time to advance, in the direction God revealed—right into an impossible sea. What kind of God was leading them? It sure seemed he was a monster, bent on their sure demise. How could any God presume to love anybody if he is pushing people to the limits of their sanity by toying with them as pawns on a great, seemingly demented game board. No wonder they would end up demanding to return to Egypt!
What they needed to understand, and ultimately would, is that freedom isn’t found at the place of safety. It’s found in God’s presence. Where he is there is freedom, even if that means turning back to face the enemy:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 (ESV)
19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. Exodus 14:19-20 (ESV)
The cloud that was moving before them moved to the back. It wasn’t simply a cloud, however. It was a mighty angel of the Lord!
We must learn to trust God’s wisdom as he leads us into threatening, deadly situations. There are angels. There is a Holy Spirit. There is a pillar of cloud and of fire that will go before us and guard behind us.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” Exodus 14:21-25 (ESV)
There it is!
The Egyptians acknowledged the Lord! That was one of God’s goals. It took a fearless heart on behalf of Moses and the Hebrews. It took radical obedience. It required a resistance to temptation to make a jailbreak prematurely. Faith was key. God’s name was made great among the Egyptians and the generations to come.
You and I will be much stronger, more free and God’s name will be glorified in our lives if we don’t run from the enemy. We must defeat the demons, the Goliath’s, the Egyptians, our fears, our rebellion, our rejection. Turn back and fight!
A young man named Gideon would pull on this amazing, ancient story at the foot of the Red Sea as God, again, encouraged someone to advance in obedience and in the power of God.
And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” Judges 6:14 (ESV)
Go in this might of yours and watch God receive the glory as you advance into supernatural freedom!
Join us in Branson THIS WEDNESDAY for a night of glory, fire and training!
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for directions.
I can’t wait to see you Wednesday at 7pm!
I had a dream, and afterwards I visited Detroit to minister, and then saw the mural of jumping whales which was a key part of the dream.
It’s a warning dream, and Detroit must respond in repentance and intercession—as must the nation. Here’s the picture I took last night at the game and also the dream. (This is taken from the chapter in my book The Coming Church titled Their Freedom is Your Mission.)
A Troubling End-Time Dream
Here is a clear example of a sharp, prophetic message. Will we respond to the call or casually watch from the sidelines?
It would be nice if all of our dreams, visions and communication from God had the feel of running and dancing through a field of daisies, but it’s more important that we receive accurate data than imaginary, feel good stories.
This dream was anything but candy canes and ice cream. To date, other than my encounter with Hell in the early 1990s, I’ve never received such an urgent and troubling dream of God.
The first scene in my dream represented a typical American day. I was in my basement in a really comfortable leather recliner, sitting in front of a large television. I was excitedly watching my favorite NFL team, the Chicago Bears, play in a nationally televised evening game. I was thoroughly entertained and was settling in for a great night of football.
The scene then suddenly changed. I found myself in the captain’s seat of the largest commercial airplane I’d even seen. In fact, this jet was capable of holding over 1000 people. Everybody in the airplane was excited and ready for the journey—and they were all blood-bought Christians. They represented an end-time remnant being prepared by God for the days ahead.
In the cockpit, I was overwhelmed by the magnitude and majesty of the airplane. I put my hand on the throttle as we were sitting on the runway, ready to depart. Simply touching it revealed a power that was sobering indeed.
I understood that, as the captain of the airplane, my responsibility was immense. I felt completely incapable of fulfilling my duties, but at the same time, I felt such an overwhelming confidence. I had the grace to do what I was called to do, even though I didn’t understand even how to take the first step.
In that grace, I gave the throttle a push. Every inch that I carefully moved the throttle forward it seemed that the power increased one hundredfold or more. The slight vibration that was caused by multiple jet engines kept increasing as I moved 1000 people down the runway.
Suddenly, we were airborne, and we were catapulted into our unknown mission.
Almost immediately, as I followed the flight plan, we were flying over an ocean. As I looked down, something unusual had caught my attention, and I yearned to move in for a closer look. I brought the jet down and flew just above the surface of the water. What I saw was remarkable. All around, sea life was leaping out of the water. Everybody in the airplane was glued to the windows as they were captivated by the same view. Dolphins and whales were jumping high into the air as were innumerable other creatures, many of which I had never seen before.
As I watched, my desire for greater revelation and encounter with this seeming other-worldly exhibition was rapidly increasing. I wanted more!
I then did what makes no sense in the natural—I nose-dived and took the giant airship under the water. The moment I did, the power of the engines rapidly increased. The deeper I went, the greater the power. Under the water, I saw things I had never seen before. It was dark, but all of the sea life was easily visible as they glowed in various brilliant colors. Needless to say I, along with my passengers, would never be the same again.
I then reemerged at the surface of the water and took the aircraft back up to cruising altitude. It was time to move on to our destination.
Just as we reached the appropriate altitude, I received an urgent radio transmission:
The airport you will soon arrive at has been overtaken by terrorists. When you land, you and your passengers will deplane and will be confronted by them. You have no option to divert to another airport. If you do, the missiles that are currently locked on to your aircraft will be launched and you will all perish. You have no option but to continue according to your original flight path and land.
I then passed that information along to the 1000 passengers. In a moment, our joyful awe of what we experienced just moments ago shockingly changed to sobriety. We were about to land.
When we did, my two older boys (who at the time were approximately 10 and 12 years old) and I left the plane and entered the terminal.
I expected to see mass chaos, but I did not. Though there were many thousands of people in the terminal’s various public areas, it was so quiet that you could hear someone cough from one hundred yards away. Fear had gripped everybody. They were scared silent.
Each public area looked the same. People were ordered to line up along the walls by a terrorist who was standing in the middle of the room. The terrorist was dressed fully in black and had a machine gun in his hands.
We were ushered into a room, and as we entered, my oldest son thought he saw someone he knew on the other side of the room. Before I could do anything, he broke away from me, oblivious to what was happening, and ran across the room to see his friend. I knew it was the last time I’d ever hold my son.
I then held my younger son closer than ever as we took our place on the wall.
The terrorist then started addressing people as he walked along the wall. He slowly, methodically moved closer to where we were standing. He then stopped and ordered the man who was standing next to us to move to the center of the room. The terrorist asked this terrified man a question, “Have you ever stolen anything?”
He didn’t know how to answer. Should he tell the truth and reveal that, yes, he had stolen something at some point in his life? Would that earn him favor with the terrorist? Or, should he lie and attempt to convince him he was pure and should not be executed?
I knew that it didn’t matter how he responded. He was about to take his last breath.
What I saw next was grisly. I shielded my younger son’s eyes as the terrorist pulled out a machete and started hacking the victim’s fingers, a half an inch at a time. He dismembered this man and was ready to move on to the next—us.
Then I woke up.
What did it mean?
Football. In America, football is one of the enduring symbols of passionate, cultural entertainment. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with watching a football game, but the game’s place in my dream was significant. It represented life as usual. I was happily distracted and nothing else existed on my grid that night.
The sudden shift to the cockpit is key. Vehicles often represent ministry when they occur in dreams. We must, as the remnant Church, be ready for a sudden move into critical end-time ministry. We have to be instant in and out of season. Our ears must be attentive to the prophetic voices that are sounding alarms in our nation.
Supernatural power and grace is coming to the true, remnant Church. The 1000 passengers represented the true Church—Christians who were ready to be carried by God and who were not doing so for their own enjoyment. The massive airplane and the immeasurable power that it produced was there for a purpose—to carry people into a mission. The coming Church will be marked by people, as in the first century Church, who are mission minded and willing to lay down their lives. They aren’t there for the benefits alone.
When the remnant Church is in position, the adventure will begin! As in the dream, the first phase will include such glorious, supernatural revelation that we will be forever transformed. Those who are distracted by the offerings of the world will miss out on this remnant call into the shock and the awe of the glory of God! There is a consecration that’s required for those who are interested in going into the deep places with God.
The deeper we go, the more power and wonder we will experience.
Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”
Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people. Joshua 3:1-6
God is raising up captains, leaders who will, like Joshua, call everybody into position. They will lead the remnant Church out of typical, deadly desert life across the water and into promise.
The end-time company represented by the 1000 on the airplane will be those who, as priests of the Lord, will carry the ark of his presence into the mission.
We have never been this way before. It is a mystery, but a mystery well worth the trouble to discover. We must consecrate ourselves on this side of the unknown as we, in faith, get ready to experience the wonders of the Lord!
As we emerge out of revelation of the glory of God, we will be functioning from a place of power and radical transformation. We will then be ready for the troubling warnings of God.
I believe the terrorists in my dream are less symbolic than we might hope. Fear is about to grip our land as the enemy puts his boots on the ground. We must stand firm in the grace of God, even when horrific trouble comes, as it did for me as a father, when in my dream, my older son broke away from my care.
Very troubling times are ahead of us. The enemy’s primary weapon will be the spirit of fear. God’s primary weapon? The shock and the awe of the glory of God. The coming Church will be a Church that has gone deep in God together and my friend, this is the only Church that will be able to stand against the wickedness.
Interestingly, I discovered after I had this dream, that it is known that Islamic terrorists will actually chop off the fingers of thieves just as I witnessed in my dream. I had never heard of this before and it was further confirmation that the dream was communication from the Lord and that we must be ready for an assault against his Bride.
“As to the thief, Male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allah, for their crime: and Allah is Exalted in power.” Quran 5:38
Perfect love casts out fear, which is why we know the kingdom of darkness cannot win. This is all the more reason for the Church to go deep into God! We need a revelation of Jesus! The coming Church will have that revelation of deep, glorious love, and the enemy knows this. This is why he is unleashing a false-love movement that is actually founded on fear…
An overwhelming experience in God’s presence is coming—and that is going to produce some issues in the church.
I often say that a 2 Chronicles 7 church is coming—and it is going to be shocking when it does.
As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
Now, that’s a good church service!
I am definitely wired to appreciate and crave encounters with Jesus that leave people wrecked and rocked. I’ve experienced visible glory clouds, manifestations of gold dust and oil and indescribable encounters that left me absolutely floored in the glory of God’s presence. I believe one second in God’s presence is enough to convince the most resistant skeptic and it’s enough to free people from years of demonic assault.
However his presence may not feel like what we think it might.
“I just want to feel Jesus.”
I was compelled strongly by the Holy Spirit in a recent season at Revival Church to call everybody back to the raw, elementary truths of Christianity. I shifted from teaching mostly on experience and encounter to the tenets of our faith for several weeks when I started to become troubled with the lack of maturity in the camp.
In fact, I was deeply grieved when I discovered one young lady who had connected with us and absolutely loved to worship and pray was actually steeped in extremely demonic New Age teachings. That was a wake-up call for me. How was it that we had a culture of experiencing God’s presence and someone could blend in who was so radically deceived? I knew I had to shock our culture with a fresh understanding of what God’s presence truly is—and it starts with his Word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
My experience there was priceless—I had to gain an understanding of the risk that will accompany the coming moves of God that will result in unprecedented manifestations of his presence. Many fiery Christians will shrink back when God’s true presence manifests.
When we shifted, I began preaching and teaching on the hard topics of salvation, Hell, repentance, the cross and the blood of Jesus. I have to admit I was stunned at the fierce resistance that came as I was communicating the elementary tenets of the Christian faith. I believe it’s possible to experience God’s presence and be so undisciplined and focused on personal experience that one isn’t even saved. This is the main reason this topic has to be addressed. Is it possible some of the most fervent worshipers and wildest dancers weren’t saved? I don’t know. I tremble at the thought of it.
In this critical season, instead of a careless, party atmosphere that had become common at Revival Church, the bar was raised as I called everybody into intentional steps of maturity, repentance and brokenness before the Lord.
What followed broke my heart—and confirmed my suspicions.
With the happy, dancing, party dialed down as we invited God to reveal himself to us in a deeper way, I saw sad faces and disengaged people.
Someone said, “I just want to feel Jesus again.”
What they didn’t realize is that Jesus was actually moving in greater power than he had previously, even though those prior encounters were something to behold. God was calling us deeper, beyond the entertainment and warm fuzzy feelings that are very much Holy Spirit initiated, but limited greatly. There was more—and for those who are addicted to happy feelings, more with God can feel like less.
“I want you to give me your life.”
I understand the struggle with feeling God’s presence removed.
In the early 1990’s God had absolutely overwhelmed my life day after day. I wish I could communicate how remarkable that season of my life was. God was overwhelming me with his presence and I became a different person literally overnight.
After work every day I’d go to the church, by myself, and pray for hours. That’s all I craved to do! God met me there continually, and I was rocked over and over again. My entire life revolved around the prayer room and enjoying God. Nothing compared.
One night my life changed forever. In the midst of my amazing daily encounters with Jesus, I found myself in a prayer room at a youth lock-in in Dayton, Ohio. While 300 students were playing volleyball and basketball I was alone in a dark, glorious room overlooking the skyline of the city. God was waiting for me when I waked in.
I paced around praying and worshiping as the presence of God swirled all around me. I never wanted to leave.
Suddenly, as I was enjoying God, walking back and forth in his manifest presence, I heard a voice, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
I was irritated. My focus on loving Jesus was interrupted by someone with what felt like a terribly different agenda. Little did I know, it was an agenda to grow me up and gauge my devotion.
I shook off that distracting voice, and attempted to enter back into the glory realm. I prayed and worshiped, but the presence of God was completely gone—or so I thought.
Again I heard, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
Though I clearly understood I was being asked to give my life for Jesus, my emotions were negative. I was distraught, irritated, lonely and even afraid. My enjoyment was gone. However, what I didn’t realize was this—my feelings were not sufficient to analyze the situation. God’s presence had actually increased exponentially in that room of destiny, not dissipated. The fearful judge had arrived and he meant business.
You see, the contrast in experiences was so stark that I actually wondered if the voice was coming from Satan! My lack of maturity in spiritual discernment and biblical truth resulted in a misdiagnosis! This is the risk of the presence movement!
I ended up rebuking the voice that was speaking to me! I was rebuking God as if he were Satan! The lesson is clear—our analysis of the situation must include sources much more comprehensive than feelings alone.
After all, would Satan ask me to lay my life down for Jesus? My feelings should have been shelved in that critical moment in lieu of applying the Word of God.
Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? Matthew 12:22-26
Though I tried to enter back into worship again, it was futile. I heard the voice one more time, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
I didn’t realize it that night, but the reason I couldn’t enter back into worship is two-fold:
- I wanted to worship a God of my own design. I wanted to enjoy God conditionally. I cringed when he decided to reveal another part of his self to me, and since it wasn’t what I expected, I rejected him, at least temporarily as I was wrestling that night. God demanded that I worship him as he is, not as I presumed.
- I was resistant to embrace the costly, troubling part of Christianity—potential martyrdom. I was all in when the glory was on me, but I was quick to hesitate when something negative was required of me—my death.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39
Finally, in a state of lonely desperation, I realized I couldn’t live my life without the fire of Jesus burning within me. I needed him. I wanted him, even if it meant the loss of my physical life.
Understand, I was convinced that I was going to physically die that night. It was very real to me.
I told God, “I can’t live without you. If my death will result in the advance of your Kingdom, I give you permission to take my life tonight.”
The moment I said that, his manifest glory flooded the room about one hundred times greater than I had experienced it before. I had experienced the glory and the severity of God, and I was forever changed.
When the person said, “I just want to feel Jesus,” they didn’t understand what they were asking for. In my experience I felt Jesus in a variety of ways. My problem was that I presumed happy feelings equaled Jesus and difficult feelings equaled Satan. Boy was I wrong. Happy feelings can be Satan and difficult feelings can be Jesus! We can’t discern emotionally, we must discern spiritually. Confirmation must come from the Word.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
Spiritual discernment bypasses feelings and our human senses and draws from the truth of Scripture.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16
The Rhema and Logos of scripture must drive us. We can’t allow ourselves to check in and out based on what we are sensing. Our commitment is unconditional and it can’t waiver based on what we perceive. We always return to the Word.
We must lean on Jesus and his revealed will in the Word of God.
Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Isaiah 40:13-14
The point is that our counsel must come from the Counselor. Our discernment must come through the spiritual truths found in the Bible. As we yield to the Word, the Holy Spirit can awaken revelation to us as it is needed.
We must move beyond the subjective statements about what we feel God is saying or doing and truly understand his revealed truth.
It’s all too common to hear personal opinions about what someone feels God is saying or doing, and how they feel led to respond, while their discernment is simply off or incomplete.
As we mature we become less reliant on nebulous senses and more reliant on both God’s clear voice and what he reveals to us in scripture.
This issue of leaning on feelings can impact us negatively in many ways. It’s easy to feel like God doesn’t love us due to the lack of, well, feeling him, even though the Bible makes it clear that he does love us. It’s so sadly common to hear about people who struggle their whole lives with this issue. Does God even love them? It’s a black and white question with a black and white answer. Yes. Their feelings have led them astray and it affects their entire life!
The answer is to simply believe! That belief doesn’t come from an experience or a feeling. It comes from reading text on paper (the Bible) and believing it. We don’t have to feel it to believe it!
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29
I often tell God that I want to worship him with my belief.
Back to the discussion about my season of teaching on the tenets of the faith. They didn’t result in a euphoric sensory overload. It wasn’t a glory teaching. So, some withdrew when the feeling wasn’t happy even though the information was truth. It was important truth. It was time to go to school and to the altar with tears in our eyes, and not a time of dancing.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” Joel 2:15-17
The risk of the coming presence movement is that people will reject anything that doesn’t feel like glory, even when it is God.
The cry of our heart must be for God’s true presence to be with us always, regardless of the form it takes.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:10-11
His presence will hit us with truth as our hearts are cleansed, as we are consecrated. His presence can be glorious and it can be fierce.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. Psalm 97:5
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, Psalm 114:7
God will be raising up key prophetic and apostolic leaders who will be leading people into the presence of God and into the missions of God. There will be many focuses that don’t feel like God (note my experience of being asked to die above) that God’s leaders will call the people to. Will the people respond? What if they don’t sense the Holy Spirit on it? Feelings and senses are wildly subjective. I personally value counsel that’s directly from scripture much more than I do personal, subjective experiences or supposed discernment. That doesn’t mean I don’t at all value personal discernment, but that revelation almost always ends up on the shelf as I await confirmation.
Keep in mind, I radically affirm prophecy. I promote encounters and experiences. I believe in dreams and visions. I have an intercession team that evaluates prophetic data on an ongoing basis. But, the point remains—we see in part. And, we can often see wrongly. It takes humility to admit that.
Sometimes we are so in tune with our own historic personal encounters with the spirit realm that we can lose sight that we are human! I’ve had a lot of amazing encounters and I have a high level of sensitivity in the spiritual realm. I also know that I’m human and that I’ve been wrong in the past. I much prefer to submit prophetic data for evaluation and for confirmation in scripture. Just because something feels right doesn’t mean it is right. Feelings sit on the lowest shelf of the confirmation process. More revelation and confirmation is necessary to trust our feelings.
Apostolic leaders will call you to action very often in ways that are contrary to what you are sensing. Are you ready to respond regardless? Or will you declare that God isn’t in it and hold back?
Read the following point from my article “Five Reasons NOT to Leave a Church.” The reason I’m including it is to highlight how important it is to promote scripture over feelings:
When NOT to leave a church? When God tells you to. OK, I’m sure you are awake now! Have you ever played the God card? As a leader I’ve heard many times, usually through the grapevine, that, “God told so and so to move to another church.” Really? That’s odd. I was entrusted as their leader, which is a very serious position, and God just forgot to tell me about this? He left me out of the loop? Maybe Hebrews 13:17 isn’t what we think it is? The church I’m leading isn’t important enough for people to honor the mission?
I hope you are getting the point.
We are called to submit to authority—even ungodly authority like judges, elected officials and our bosses at work. Certainly it makes sense that God would include our godly authority in a decision making process as important as leaving one family and one mission for another.
The point is this—God wouldn’t just tell you to leave without your leader being involved in the process. In fact, can I just be blunt? It’s extremely disrespectful, presumptuous, rude and self-serving to abdicate your responsibility in your current church by leaving without honoring the authority in your life. Your pastor has every right to participate with you in your process.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (ESV) 12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
Why was it important to include that portion of the article? To show how critical it is that we are biblical Christians. We can’t presume a feeling or a discernment exempts us from biblical protocol. I’ve felt on many occasions that a leader in my life wasn’t hearing God, and that I was, but in humility I had to surrender my opinion and follow my leader—and often I realize that my sense was in fact wrong or incomplete. We can’t gravitate toward what is easy, happy, glorious and enjoyable and away from what is troubling or negative by using the “God card.” God will often call us into his fearful presence, and we have to be unified with others who are being led in that direction.
Do you remember the Exodus? The Israelites were famous for analyzing their various situations based on their feelings. They felt alone and abandoned, so they crafted a new god made of gold. They presumed that the absence of God’s manifest presence meant something was off—yet, little did they realize one of the most astounding events in history was taking place up on the mountain! They then ended up dying in the desert when they presumed God was all about their comfort and happiness—and were indignant when he was asking them to put their lives on the line in a land of Giants—and a land of Promise.
I want to challenge you to get ready for a great outpouring of God’s presence. It will feel very different than you expect. It may be a glory cloud or it may be in the midst of a fiery furnace.
Ask yourself how you react to your feelings now. Do they drive you? Do you presume any negative feeling to be from the enemy? Do your feelings and emotions drive your decisions?
You need to wrestle with this now so you are ready to receive Jesus when he shows up. I am certain—he will manifest in ways we’ve never experienced before.
On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.” Exodus 19:16-22
7pm at Revival Church! Frank has ministered in power at some of the most amazing churches in the nation!
Tonight at 7pm at Revival Church, Frank Seamster will bring the glory and life of Jesus! You don’t want to miss this!
Watch a short video here:
Here’s a recent article about his trip to World Revival Church in Kansas City:
SEAMSTER BRINGS THE ‘FIRE’ ON 4TH OF JULY AT WORLD REVIVAL CHURCH
For the congregation of World Revival Church of Kansas City, Fourth of July evokes visions of fireworks, American flags and one very important thing…. A heart wrenching message from Evangelist and longtime friends, Frank and Naphtali Seamster. For almost 30 years, the Seamsters have teamed up as friends and fellow ministers with Pastors Steve and Kathy Gray, world renowned leaders of what was formerly known as “The Smithton Outpouring” and now, World Revival Church of Kansas City. “I have come to encourage you and to give you understanding,” Seamster was finally able to declare after a rousing welcome from the members of World Revival Church.
“This is my first time to hear him, said a visitor from California, “but there is definitely excitement about him being here, and I can hardly wait!”
To the hundreds streaming online from around the globe, Seamster delivered. Friday night, the Word of God pierced the souls of the congregations. “There is something about trouble that goes with glory.” Thus began the gospel presentation of the story of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. With depth of insight, revelation flowed from the spirited sermon hitting the softened hearts that had been prepared.
“God is preparing a people who have been through all manner of affliction and come through…for His glory!” exhorted Seamster.
Seamster perfectly described what the Bible defines as a “light affliction” and the consequence fullness of the weightiness of God’s glory that is promised to follow.
“He left no one out.” “He nailed me.” “It brought my hope back.” “I have never heard it like that before.” These were among the testimonies that followed after Seamster gave opportunity to respond. Hundreds rushed the altars. Tears swept through the congregation. Families prayed together. Hope was evident in the House.
With high expectation, the congregation returned Sunday morning which included two newly formed World Revival campuses in the North, Tiffany Springs, and the Johnson County Campus in the West. All 3 campuses gave their full attention to the fiery Seamster through the “Revival Wired” interactive capability.
“I want this congregation to prosper,” Seamster began. In typical Seamster style, the Word of God came once again in true revelation and anointing.
“You’ve got to give Him something to work with! Remember the water he turned to wine…..the fish that he multiplied…. Use what you’ve got to get what you want that will give God glory,” instructed Seamster. “You cannot rob God, however, of his tithe and then appease Him with an offering.” Seamster taught the WRC congregations.
The encouragement continued until one member could stand it no more….
Longtime member, Carol Gilpin interrupted the service with stating to Seamster, “I cannot let this go on without giving Him something.” Thus began a spontaneous move of the Holy Spirit to give. Men, women, children, singles, families one by one or holding an offering together, made their way to a makeshift altar where offerings of thanksgiving with understanding were given to the Lord.
After many minutes of unprompted giving in response to the anointed message, the congregation of World Revival Church did what they always do. The erupted in praise and worship.
Gray concluded the service, clearly overwhelmed with the tremendous display of generosity for the Lord. “We made no plans to take a special offering. The Lord knows all the work we have going on here to grow 3 campuses and prepare for the future. This is amazing.”
The lunch with Catherine Mullins is filling up! Register right away to secure your spot!
Then, Brian will be at Revival Church on Sunday, October 7th at 6pm!
In this series, Brian will be ministering on the three prophetic seasons represented in David's life, the three anointings, giant killing faith, worship/warfare in the tabernacle of David and the Glory that David walked in speaks to us of the greater Glory available for us to walk in!
This will be a significant time of equipping as the Lord is preparing His people for rapidly approaching assignments in the coming days.
Brian Simmons and his wife Candice, have been described as pioneers, prophets, and pastors. As a spiritual father and mother, their teaching and prophetic gifts have opened doors in many nations to take the message of authentic awakening and revival to many. For the last 35 years they have labored to present Christ in His fullness wherever God sends them. Brian is the author of numerous books which reveal depths of insight that the Holy Spirit has released for the last days.
Catherine Mullins song-writer and worship leader, longs to see the Bride of Christ come forth in purity and holiness. Inspired by this, her goal in life is to bring the world into a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ through worship. Since the Fall of 2008 Catherine has been traveling extensively releasing her heart for prophetic worship and the Body of Christ. Her desire is that all would come into a deeper revelation of Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives. While at home Catherine leads worship at Coweta Community Church in Newnan, GA.
Friday, October 5th – 7:00 PM
Worship with Catherine Mullins and teaching by Dr. Brian Simmons
Saturday, October 6th – 9:30 AM, 2 PM
Workshops with Dr. Brian Simmons and Catherine Mullins
Saturday, October 6th – 7:00 PM
Worship with Catherine Mullins and teaching by Dr. Brian Simmons
Sunday, October 7th – 10 AM
Sunday AM Worship Service with Catherine and Dr. Brian
Doors will open ½ hour prior to each session.
The Crossing Church
31590 Grand River Ave.
Farmington, MI 48336
Book John Burton for an event in your church and experience the fire and the glory of the Holy Spirit!
An event with John Burton will result in an atmosphere of freedom, fire, healing and joy!
John is currently scheduling meetings both nationally and internationally through the rest of 2012 and into 2013. He has a diverse ministry, has written six books and is ready to preach and train in revival, prayer, local church health, personal freedom and other powerful topics.
For more info and to book John visit www.johnburton.net/booking today!