The spirit of Absalom: How to respond to betrayal and strategic resistance against the church
The moment you advance with prophetic and apostolic focus is the moment the spirit of Absalom is awakened. That cunning wicked spirit specializes on feeding into the deeply felt frustrations of people whose desires go unmet in the church. Satan is a master at accusation due to the never-ending practice of his craft.
…the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. Revelation 12:10b
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. Zechariah 3:1
Satan intercedes “on our behalf” night and day, accusing us before the Lord. This is yet another reason why we must have a day and night prayer movement arise in every city on Earth!
Historically in our ministry it is when we take fervent, strategic intercession to the next level that we see the accuser begin to speak loudly and convincingly to the people who are running the race with us. He preys on those who are growing in their resistance to prayer.
MANITOU SPRINGS, COLORADO
When you take prayer to the next, critical level, you can expect schisms and disruptions to come to your ministry and your life. We have seen it in so many ministries, including our own in a variety of places and in a variety of ways.
I planted and gave leadership to Revolution Church in Manitou Springs, Colorado beginning in 2001. We experienced some extremely difficult seasons, each immediately after we shifted the church into a greater prayer focus. We weren’t only praying, but we were developing a prayer culture. Prayer was the main thing, and everything that we did, as the transition happened, was to support that emphasis.
Keep in mind that Manitou Springs is an extremely dark region right at the base of Pikes Peak. One national leader told me he believes it’s the darkest city in the nation. Witchcraft and the occult are extremely intense there, and there were no life-giving churches other than ours and a small Episcopal church that was led by a fiery, Spirit-filled pastor. In fact, I was told that since the mid 1980’s, fourteen churches had started and failed within their first two years.
It was in this environment where we experienced absolutely stunning supernatural manifestations. God was on the move, the enemy was feeling the assault against his kingdom and we had no option but to take prayer to a much higher level. There were many times that we’d take teams of intercessors deep into the cave systems in Manitou Springs, turn out our lights and pray for four to five hours in perfect darkness. I can’t begin to describe how powerful that was! In fact, one extremely significant day we took a prayer journey up to the top of Pikes Peak, and that evening we went into the belly of the Earth to continue our intercession. Prayer was on the rise—and the assault was about to land.
Two of the resulting challenges were directly initiated by the Absalom spirit.
My wife and I interviewed a man and his wife for a pastoral care position in the church. I am not a pastor myself, meaning, I don’t have the giftings of that particular office. Barbara Yoder who is a friend and the leader of the network that we submit to identifies me as a prophetic apostle. I don’t care at all about the title, but it’s helpful to know who you are and who you are not!
Since I was clearly not at all energized by the various demands of pastoral ministry, and I was focused on other important assignments, I really desired someone to step in to help carry the pastoral load.
I’ll never forget the slight check in my spirit that I had as we were interviewing this couple. God said, “No,” and I said, “You’re hired!”
The couple stepped right up and started connecting relationally to people. They seemed to be doing a great job! In fact, he would stand at the door every Sunday and hug people as they entered. In hindsight that should have been a red flag.
As time went by, I started to feel extremely unsettled in my spirit. Keep in mind, the prayer culture was starting to take form and, though I didn’t realize it at the time, this was the reason for the disturbance in my spirit. Resistance was increasing, though I didn’t know what the specific source was.
One day I called the staff together and shared with them the increasing trouble I was sensing and instructed them to pray. We went strong in prayer as a team—except for one. The new pastor was clearly struggling. The more intense the tongues, the more uncomfortable he appeared.
As we continued in that prayer storm I decreed that a shaking must come to our church. I shouted, “God, shake our church! Shake our church!” I prayed, in the fear of the Lord, for God to lovingly bring any necessary judgment to me and to our ministry—to make wrong things right. I knew only God, in his perfect wisdom, could resolve this trauma in the spirit.
A few days later I was sitting in the church with my Children’s Pastor and her husband, along with their baby who was sitting in a stroller. Our building was a 100 year old wooden structure with large beams along the top of the ceiling.
Suddenly the entire property started violently shaking! We looked around, wondering what was happening. It felt like an earthquake.
Then we heard a crashing sound above our heads as one of the large beams plummeted down and landed right between me and the baby. I didn’t connect the dots at that moment, but the shaking I had prayed for was manifesting. First in the natural, and next in the spirit.
Very soon after that happened I received an email from the pastor. He told me that he was resigning effective immediately. I was shocked. I emailed him back requesting a phone call or a meeting. He declined and I never saw him again.
He started his own church, took about 1/4th of our church—and then closed his church a month later and moved to Florida with his family. Everybody he influenced to leave was left to wander alone in confusion.
The Absalom spirit attacked with vengeance and it left destruction in its path.
God’s answer? Prune. We prayed for the shaking and the judgment, and while it was severe and difficult, it was necessary. Our ministry immediately became stronger and more unified after God swept through.
While I have extreme fear of the Lord on me when I feel it necessary to request the intervention of the judge, I always know that he is a good judge who loves deeply and who can be trusted fully.
There was another situation in Colorado many years ago that resulted in an underground “spirit of Absalom” situation that was fueled by offense.
I started to hear the rumors: John doesn’t love people. Amy and I felt like we were hit by a train.
Someone on my staff had a false expectation about something I considered to be incredibly minor. I was unable to meet that specific request due to needing to be somewhere later that night. It wasn’t until months later that I put two and two together and realized that an underground movement of gossip was setting some on my staff and team against me. The accusation? I don’t love people because I wasn’t there for them that day. Further, since that situation, according to their analysis, revealed my true, unloving heart, and my motives in ministry were now compromised, there must be an effort to resist the ministry—and, for them, it was in the name of love!
My initial split-second reaction when I received knowledge of the situation was this: That doesn’t make sense! I love that person and the others so much. Of all things how could that be the accusation?
I was really saddened that those who I expressed love to by welcoming them onto our team, supporting them in their ministries, encouraging them to be free to lead with passion, etc. were rejecting my expression of love! Wow! Isn’t it interesting how it all works together—how the enemy can twist and turn things in such a dastardly way!
This was the same individual that had come to me previously with a dilemma. She had to deal with a situation in the church, but she didn’t want to make waves. She asked, “John, how in the world can I handle this explosive situation and convince the person that I love them?” I simply responded, “Why are you trying to attempt to convince them you love them? Simply love them.”
If we try to convince people we love them, we won’t actually love them when administering true tough love, biblical discipline and other challenges are called for. True biblical love at times does not feel like the love our culture has defined.
My heart breaks over situations like this. Can I love better? Oh man, YES! But, I also need to help bring this issue to the surface. Too many leaders are not living according to their calling, because they are so busy modifying their personality and mandate to match what others expect!
We must love according to how God designed us. The cross wasn’t welcomed, but it was the method Jesus was mandated to use. It didn’t feel like love then, but boy was it.
As the prayer culture continued to develop, the resistance elevated. Some people broke away, and I’ll never forget the tears I could hear when I talked on the phone with my wife one day. She was wounded and broken.
Though I was supposed to take my position for a prayer watch that night, I left. I went home. I gave up that night as well. We went to bed hurting and troubled. As leaders, we were doing our best to move at the sound of the voice of the Lord—but the resistance was nearly too much to bear. Great friends betrayed us and we didn’t know what to do.
In the morning she and I woke up startled. My wife had a dream. The earth opened up underneath Manitou Springs and the entire town was sucked into Hell. I had a sharp pain in my body that I knew was due to an open door to a specific demonic attack. We both knew we couldn’t give up. The mission was still on. We repented and the split second I did, the severe pain left my body. The open door of wrongful surrender to the enemy’s threats was closed.
I will never get over how God works. He is beyond amazing. Both my wife and I will admit that we were deeply wounded when this individual rose up against us. We instantly had to humble ourselves and allow God to work on our hearts. Though we feel we handled it well, God will always test us. That test is not for God, but for us—it will clearly show where we really are with a situation.
The coming Church is going to be jealously guarded by God, a loving Bridegroom. There won’t be room for bitter, unforgiving leaders, and we have to be willing to be continually tested by God. We must crave his involvement!
Our staff member finally decided to move from Colorado to another far away state. We thanked Jesus! What a wonderful moment that was! Though we had forgiven her, it felt good that the drama was over.
A year or so later, Amy and I were called to leave Colorado and move to Kansas City to join the staff of the International House of Prayer. Though we loved Colorado and the ministry there, we couldn’t deny that God was opening doors to Missouri, and we also couldn’t deny that a fresh new season was quite welcome.
We thought we’d only be there for the three month internship, but ended up staying for two years as we gave leadership to that very same internship as Directors. It was a very exciting time for our family—until…the crisis. I won’t go into the entire dramatic story, but please understand we were suddenly blindsided and the pain was real.
We lost an unborn baby (we’ve lost a total of seven) and were replaced as Directors of the internship in the same week. Suddenly, a lot of life and joy was replaced by very real, unexpected and confusing pain. Now, understand, though we were in another trial, we were processing very well. Being replaced in the internship did make sense, even though we enjoyed serving in that ministry so much! That role called for a very different personality type and gift mix, and I didn’t realize this when Mike Bickle offered me the position. They were so gracious in the entire process, and we love that ministry deeply!
However, again, the pain was legitimate. You might wonder how this story connects with the story of pain in Colorado. Get ready for this.
Remember, God will go to great lengths to ensure we are operating in love, and that we are humble and teachable.
At this time, God began opening doors for ministry in Detroit, Michigan. In those meetings he began to move in a very dramatic and powerful way, confirming his Word with signs following. So after much prayer, we felt led that we should move to Detroit. Now in the natural, this was not the best time to sell our house in Kansas City. The economy was bad and Forbes Magazine had recently called our city the eighth fastest dying city in America! So my wife put out a fleece: if God wants us to move to Detroit, he will have our house sell for our full asking price within seven days of placing it on the market.
Miraculously, God sold our home after being on the market for only six days!
Glory to God! We were in another exciting, miraculous season!
About thirty days before we were to move from Kansas City to Detroit I sat in my last all-staff meeting at IHOP. There was over a thousand people in that meeting, and I sat in the very back, on the floor, kind of bored and ready to get on with my day. Then it happened. The impossible happened.
From the platform I heard the leader of the meeting say something like, “We would like to introduce a new staff member who will be giving leadership to a new ministry on our base. Everybody welcome…”
No way! No way! No way!
It was impossible! When I heard her very distinct, unusual name, and saw her welcomed onto the team, I was speechless. I think my jaw hung down for quite a long time. My head was spinning as I was witnessing an invasion into our fragile world.
There was simply no way that this person, who had done so much damage to our ministry in Colorado, who had moved to a far away state, could suddenly converge with our life in Kansas City!
I stepped outside and called my wife. I’ll never forget her response to my news. After I told her who was now on staff, all I heard her say, with defeat in her tone, was, “No.”
Do you realize what happened? God set up this encounter, this trial, to test our hearts.
When I got home that afternoon, we talked and resolved that it was indeed a test, and we endeavored to pray for this person and to ask God to bless her deeply!
I never did see her over the next month. Amy, however, had a very important chance encounter with her. The very last day we lived in Kansas City, as the moving truck was being loaded in the driveway, Amy went to the bank to close our account. You guessed it. Standing in line right in front of her was our former staff member.
My wife smiled big and gave her a huge hug! Amy felt so good that it was so easy to love this person!
That was the last time we ever saw her, and to this day we pray for her to be wildly blessed!
Love will certainly manifest in many different ways, but for those who are called of God, that love will be tested. The coming Church will be a love-bathed Church, and we must welcome the testing, no matter how painful it is. My wife would say the freedom and abundant life she feels regarding the Colorado/Kansas City crisis is well worth the trial she and I went through.
Though I will share strategies on how to deal with Absalom in a moment, the primary strategy must be love. We cannot react in bitterness or resentment. Love heals.
It’s very important to understand that betrayal and resistance are guaranteed to come if we are truly advancing as prophetic and apostolic leaders. Also, to de-spiritualize it just a bit, betrayal and resistance are guaranteed to come simply because we are weak, fallible humans. We will experience push back when we lead rightly and also when we struggle and fail. This is why humility is non-negotiable. Pride is not the right weapon to use against our attackers.
I find it very interesting that resistance and rejection cause so many people to leave ministry or to leave the church. When Jesus faced the same issues to a radically greater extreme, he laid his life down for the church. Betrayal was not enough to cause him to abdicate his responsibility to serve the church by giving his life. There was no gossip, no forcing his views on people and no attempt to be validated, affirmed or understood. He simply died.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 1 John 3:16
Is there a response to the Absalom assignment against churches? Yes.
Let’s look at some diagrams that will help bring great clarity to the necessity and power of holy agreement—which is what Absalom is attempting to destroy. There is a biblical process that we must embrace in the arena of differing opinions. As humans it is normal to have a variety of different ideas from those we are in relationship with–including leadership.
Just how we handle those differing ideas is the matter at hand. If we are holding strong to our own selfish ambitions (even if those ambitions are good!), and we refuse to place our will on the altar, problems will abound. Churches will split, gossip will flourish and division will actually be entertained as an optional method of resolution.
However, if we embrace integrity, humility, servanthood and the preference of others above ourselves, we’ll easily be willing to die to our own opinions for the sake of the body.
When we’re agreed, we’re strong. In the midst of different ideas, experiences, thoughts, opinions and concerns we simply agree to disagree for the sake of the mission.
Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? Amos 3:3
Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, With their voices they shall sing together; For they shall see eye to eye When the Lord brings back Zion. Isaiah 52:8
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. John 17:20-21
Agreement must be a mandatory and deliberate position that we all stand strong in, even at the cost of personal comfort and advance.
If God is releasing you from participation, make sure you follow through in the usually lengthy process of transition from this assignment to the next. Don’t go if there is hardness, bitterness or unforgiveness in your heart. Go blessed and free and sent by your pastor.
Healthy argument is OK. It’s a part of life. We simply have seasons where we disagree, and it’s important and appropriate at times to discuss it with the our leaders. Of course, we don’t involve anybody other than those directly involved (leaders, pastors, etc.). We don’t gossip or allow ourselves to become irritable. We agree to disagree and remain unified.
In Amos we see that God will reveal corporate instructions to some but not all. The rest of us are called to respond to the call of God as given through an imperfect human, and that can be a challenge for the best of us!
But, when we humble ourselves and surrender our right to cause a disturbance we can still move ahead in strength. The corporate mission is not threatened!
If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it? Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy? Amos 3:6-8
Here’s where the problems begin. We know that Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and he loves it when he finds allies in the fellowship of believers to help him with his schemes of destruction.
At this point, submission has failed. Honoring others hasn’t happened. Personal preference has turned into a personal mission of dominance.
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. Revelation 12:10
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8
These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:16-19
The sowing of discord among brethren is an abomination! Did you feel the weight of that? It’s not OK!
After teaching this to a class of interns one of them came to me the next day. He said that ever since he arrived a month ago he has had a heavy heart. He couldn’t break through it. After this class God convicted him of embracing a divisive and accusing spirit. He was assisting in his youth group back home, and he wanted to take the youth to a prayer and fasting event, even though he knew his leadership didn’t embrace that particular stream within the body. So, he secretly gathered the youth together and took them himself.
So what happened? You can see it in the diagram on the right. Any idea what word should fill in the blank?
Agreement. Unholy agreement. He gathered people to himself, to his vision (a great vision) and away from his leadership. Even though his heart simply wanted God and he felt a prayer and fasting event would be entirely appropriate, his action against his authority was inappropriate. The agreement people had with his vision resulted in disagreement, disunity, with those who were their rightful leaders.
The enemy craves agreement. He knows the power of it. The alliance is so important.
So, this particular individual was in the prayer room here and immediately repented for his rebellion to his authority. He said immediately he was broken and experienced God for the first time in weeks. He cried and cried as the love of the Father rushed in.
He called his leaders in his church back home and repented. They forgave him entirely and thanked him for his heart to make things right.
How amazing is that! No matter how holy you think your purpose is, if you have to violate God’s established authority in your life to see it come to pass, you will have to align with the enemy in order to do so!
And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Genesis 11:4-7
Division will lead to unholy agreement. As we allow ourselves to align with others against leaders we are enhancing demonic unity. Unity and agreement is powerful whether it’s holy or unholy. Let’s endeavor for holy unity even if it’s at the cost of our own personal plans and dreams.
I’ve witnessed many people resist authority in their lives, and I’ve done it myself. The motives can seem pure and we may have the best interest of the body at heart, but it never produces anything good. The story of Absalom should speak clearly to us in regard to this issue.
Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, “What city are you from?” And he would say, “Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.” Moreover Absalom would say, “Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.” And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. 2 Samuel 15:2-6
Absalom disagreed with his leader, and embraced the others who shared in his disagreement. We see this occur time and again within churches. It has a ring of honor to it as people presume to have the best interest of everybody at heart. However, it’s rebellion in its purest form. The results for those who embrace this spirit are often devastating.
Then Absalom met the servants of David. Absalom rode on a mule. The mule went under the thick boughs of a great terebinth tree, and his head caught in the terebinth; so he was left hanging between heaven and earth. And the mule which was under him went on. Now a certain man saw it and told Joab, and said, “I just saw Absalom hanging in a terebinth tree!” So Joab said to the man who told him, “You just saw him! And why did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have given you ten shekels of silver and a belt.” But the man said to Joab, “Though I were to receive a thousand shekels of silver in my hand, I would not raise my hand against the king’s son. For in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Beware lest anyone touch the young man Absalom!’ 2 Samuel 18:9-12
Just as Absalom was met with judgment, I’ve witnessed over and over people enduring long seasons of struggle and frustration after rising up against God’s established authority–even if the authority is truly in error. It’s never acceptable to speak against the President of the United States, our supervisor at work, a teacher at school, our pastor or mom and dad. We always pray and support and love with abandonment! A differing opinion should never cause us to remove ourselves from a place of agreement with these people. We unite with them and serve as people who honor those God has placed in our lives.
Rebellion against any established human institution is a serious violation of God’s divine authority. We need to know and recognize the operation of God’s authority in all human institutions.
We never speak against or elevate our own opinions above God’s established authority. Pastors, prophets, apostles, politicians, policemen, bosses, etc. We humbly support them, unless, and only unless, they were to cause us to violate a CLEAR Scriptural truth. That’s it. If a leader is clearly corrupt and unrepentant then most certainly remove yourself from that person’s direct care.
Submit to God and be ready to serve Him through the process of love, prayer and encouragement for that leader. Watch what you say. Speak life always. Do not gossip.
It’s important to understand that to submit to God’s appointed leaders in our lives only to the point where we agree with the order is NOT submission at all. Submission is actually spotlighted when someone honors his or her authority when the order is contrary to their own opinions, experience or position. We can agree with our authority while not agreeing with the order or instruction or position. It is never appropriate to remove ourselves from a position of submission if the order given is inconvenient, bothersome or irritating.
In recent years the body has increasingly put demands on the very ones who they are to be receiving leadership from. This is sin, and it must stop.
The passage in Romans goes on to say this:
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. Romans 13:3
The enemy has caused millions of believers to be afraid of authority. It’s time to renounce the alliance with the spirits of Lawlessness and Self-government and do what is good. Many people who have been hurt by controlling pastors made a foolish decision by embracing that very same spirit for themselves–the spirit of control. We absolutely need to sever that alliance. God is our great Protector. Fear of authority will dissipate as the Holy Spirit once again takes up residence in the place where the spirits of Independence and Control once ruled.
Even when the church isn’t being run in what you would call an appropriate manner, it’s critical to support God’s government.
Gary Keiser said,
“It is better for us to live with a wrong system and uphold God’s authority than to destroy a system and thus destroy God’s authority in the process. We have to learn to submit to men and not to touch authority in a light way. In all these relationships we have to learn to know authority and practice obedience. We have to know that there are lords and masters in everything; we cannot assume to be the master as soon as we touch something. We have to learn obedience through many situations. One finds authority in the hospital. As soon as he works in a hospital, he has to obey the authority in the hospital. There is even authority in a restaurant. Some serve as managers, and we have to learn to obey them. If we touch authority in a genuine way, we will find authority wherever we go. In obeying the authority of earthly institutions, we are actually obeying God because all authorities are from God. We have to see that every authority is from God. Only a rebellious and proud man is blind to authority; only he will not submit to God’s deputy authority…. Titus 3:1 says that we should be “subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready unto every good work.” This is the proper attitude towards human government…. God’s authority in the universe is being carried out through human government.”
A deeper, weightier revelation of God’s love is coming—and it will look much different than we realize.
Are you ready for a deep, heavy, absolutely overwhelming revelation of God’s love?
I’m sitting in a powerful session with Barbara Yoder, Cindy Williams and a ministry team from Catch the Fire (Toronto) at Shekinah Church in Ann Arbor. It’s all about encountering the love of God, soaking in his presence and preparing to serve in love in a revival atmosphere. I’m yearning for more of this presence! I love what this ministry is about!
There is a MASSIVE increase in revelation of the love of God and the experience of his presence coming, and much of it will fulfill the yearnings of our heart. I’m convinced that much of it will also be quite surprising to you at how it manifests.
In order for there to be a false-anything, there must be a true, pure reality. Those of you who are longing for a pure, love-driven move of God, get ready! We are about to have the opportunity to go deeper than we ever have. True love will change the world.
Philippians 1:9-10 (MSG) 9 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings 10 so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of…
We are to learn to love appropriately. This scripture is a critical exhortation! Why? It means there are inappropriate ways to love. There are deceptions that feel right, but are poor representations or even counterfeits of truth.
As God’s love begins to manifest in such amazing, deeper ways at the end of the age, we have to be aware that the enemy will work hard to redefine, misrepresent and twist true love. He has a castrated version to offer us.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s we saw the emergence of free love.
Free love is a social movement that rejects marriage, which is seen as a form of social and financial bondage. The Free Love movement's initial goal was to separate the state from sexual matters such as marriage, birth control, and adultery. It claimed that such issues were the concern of the people involved, and no one else.
Much of the free-love tradition is an offshoot of anarchism, and reflects a libertarian philosophy that seeks freedom from state regulation and church interference in personal relationships.
The free love movement was not a love movement at all. It was focused on self-satisfaction, personal experience and relational connections. The intimacy they sought after was never found as sexual promiscuity served as a destructive, unfulfilling counterfeit.
I believe we are experiencing a similar free love movement in the church today:
- Rejecting marriage—this speaks to a resistance to covenant. The desire is to control the love connection, the experience. When the emotional rush is gone, and relational intimacy is disappointing, so many of today’s Christians sever that connection and move on to more satisfying relationships. They move from partner to partner, driven by selfish ambition seeking to be served instead of to serve.
- Social and financial bondage—free love seeks after social and relational euphoria, and if this is not experienced, people tend to flee from the threat of bondage. True investment into others is resisted unless there is an exchange, unless what they are seeking after is given to them. The problem? This is relational prostitution. Many Christians will invest into others only if their friendship is given in return.
- Separation from the state—just as those in the free love movement several decades ago sought after liberation from governmental control, many Christians today reject biblical government. Government requires submission, and submission doesn’t feel like love—though it is. Kingdom order requires submission, respect of boundaries and a surrender of personal rights. This is love! We hear so much about human rights today, as if it’s the purest manifestation of love. It is not! The homosexual movement demands the government stays out of their intimate pursuits. The pro-choice movement demands the government stays out of their wombs. 1 Corinthians 13 reveals that love is not self-seeking! It’s not about human rights, it’s about serving God’s government, his purposes and his people.
False-Love Myths and Deceptions
Keep in mind that false or tainted love doesn’t flow mostly from an evil, debased heart. It also doesn’t mean that there is nothing about the argument or viewpoint that is true. A person who craves pure love can, in their zeal or in their weakness, allow impurities into their expression of love that twists and compromises it. The reason I needed to say this is to encourage you if you’ve been hit by the false-love spirit. Your desire for manifested love is very probably true, yet the enemy can come in and confuse the process.
With that in mind, here are some false-love (or tainted love) myths and deceptions that have hit the church:
- Expecting or demanding love from others—Remember, love is not self-seeking. Have you ever been wounded by someone who didn’t act in love toward you? It is normal to desire to be loved, but true love doesn’t expect or demand others to be the one to fulfill that desire. If we point our fingers at others who aren’t acting in love, then it’s an evidence that we ourselves do not love. If someone isn’t acting in love toward you, isn’t relationally close to you, won’t befriend you, how will you react? Will you refuse to invest into them unless you get something in return? You have actually fallen into relational prostitution. Jesus laid down his life for those who hated him and we must do the same.
- Focusing on God’s love is all we need—This is a disturbing trend in the church, but it’s actually not mostly incorrect. It’s mostly right! The argument is that when we focus on experiencing the pure, true love of Jesus, everything else in life just falls into place. If we focus on love, sin won’t be an issue. Maturity will just happen. Not so. What is mostly right? Well, the greater the revelation of God’s love for us, the more we want to be holy, respond in obedience and mature. Love is a great motivator! However, experiencing love is not all we need! The Bible is filled with instructions and mandates and focuses that we are responsible to respond to even if the love connection isn’t there one day.
Additionally, the Bible is filled with stories of people who loved God, and who sinned. Being with Jesus, loving Jesus, being intimate with Jesus is worthy of most of our energy and focus. However, even in a deep, intimate place with Jesus, obedience can be hard. Flesh can rise up. Satan can tempt. We can be deceived. Our theologies can be off. This is why we must continually let God search our hearts for any wicked way in us. We must be in the Word! We must be submitted to authorities who watch out for our souls. We can’t just enjoy God and presume our job is done.
- Love initiated pride—There seems to be a rapid emergence of those who are going after love of Jesus, and who are resisting discipline and discipleship. The reason? Pride. The presumption is that their encounter with the love of God has elevated them to a point where they no longer need to be a student of the Word, to focus on the sin potential in their lives or submit to others. They wouldn’t say that they are above others, but their arguments reveal their hearts more than not. When the call for holiness, brokenness, study, obedience, etc. is presented to them, they become puffed up and in turn, while rejecting your “inferior focuses”, call you to come up higher and just focus on love. Their response very often is, “If you really understood the Father’s love, you would see what I mean.” It’s arrogance masquerading as spirituality. The very fact that this is happening is a revelation that they have not truly experienced love the way they claim.
- Love must always manifest a certain way—In scripture, we do have a great definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. I’d encourage you to read a recent article where I unpack it HERE. So, it is true that, for example, love is always patient. If you aren’t patient, then, that is a specific issue that you can analyze in yourself. However, there is a spirit of accusation in the camp that moves outside of this scriptural definition and declares that if you don’t function a certain way, then you don’t love the way God loves. For example, someone might say to an intercessor, “If you truly loved people, you would move out of your prayer closet and hit the streets and feed the homeless!” It’s an accusation against a child of God that they don’t love because they don’t fit into an imperfect definition of what love really is. Can you really imagine someone looking at a sweet, passionate grandma who prays with tears every day that she doesn’t love people because she isn’t street witnessing? On the flip side, an intercessor might say, “If you truly loved people you would spend hours a day praying from them!”
Additionally, in the article I linked to above I explain how love will manifest through the different offices. Love looks different when delivered through a pastor than it does when delivered through a prophet. As a church leader I have had to expend a lot of energy explaining to people what type of love and connection they might expect from someone like me. Most people think I’m a pastor when they first meet me (because church leaders in America are almost always called Pastor). If people presume that I will express love like a pastor, they can actually get very offended when that doesn’t happen. Accusations can fly. But, if we simply understood that, in addition to the 1 Corinthians 13 definition, different people, different offices and different cultures will express love very, very differently, it will be easy to honor and love them instead of making demands of them.
- Love always feels good—Oh boy, this one is big. When we encounter love, we will be presented with a view of God that is quite different than what we previously understood to be true. God’s love can be expressed in a very direct, uncomfortable way that breaks you and may even wonder how a loving God could act that way. God’s expression of love will often put you at risk, threaten you and trouble you. Jesus’ expression of love on the cross put Peter at risk of the same grisly death! How could Jesus do this? Peter was confused as he was presented with a side of Jesus he never saw—and he denied that expression of Jesus and his love for the world! I guarantee that Peter did not feel good as Jesus loved him by rescuing him from Hell by dying on the cross. Today, sharp, provoking preaching is rejected because it doesn’t feel good. They might say in their disturbed state, “That’s not the Jesus I know.” The risk is, like Peter, rejection of God when the feelings aren’t warm and intimate. This is one reason why being people of the Word is non-negotiable. We can’t afford to call good evil and evil good. We must learn about Jesus and how he functions so that our emotions don’t lead us astray.
- God is always in a good mood—Not true. Period. I’ve said it this way: If God is always in a good mood, he would be a monster, laughing and doing a happy dance as he casts people he loves into Hell. If we believe God is always in a good mood, we will reject messages and revelations that don’t result in us being in a good mood. We will associate the love of God with the hate of Satan. We know that God is still wrathful. He still gets angry. He is saddened. He is joyful. He is happy. He has moods, and the deepest place of love exists when we partner with God in his emotions. What is on God’s heart? How can we serve him and minister to him?
- Love requires that you are emotionally connected—Again, not true. Humans have the ability to love many but can only befriend a few. Different people have different capacities, but the principle remains the same. Don’t presume someone doesn’t love you if they don’t get close to you at a heart level. In fact, may I be so bold as to say, they might not like you! To love someone does not require that we like them. So we can love the masses and only connect at a close, friendship level with a few. Think about it. Do you want to be friends with everybody? Nope. Why would you expect the same from another? A rejection complex has really done a lot of damage to people—and they look for their healing to come from others loving them the way they want instead of dying to self and refusing to place that burden on them. They love them.
I remember a mega-church pastor that was extremely popular. He felt like your best friend though you really didn’t have a real personal relationship with him. People often wanted to get close to him, and they actually had a bit of a system in place to handle that! An associate would approach those who were a bit overzealous in their attempts to befriend the pastor. He’d say, “The Pastor will serve you well and express love by leading you, teaching you and helping you connect with Jesus. However, don’t expect him to be a personal friend of yours.” The same scenario is true for small churches. The pastor may be an introvert, may have limited emotional energy or simply may be called to focus on different things! Don’t presume that someone doesn’t love you just because they aren’t serving you the way you want. How potentially offensive and seemingly arrogant is this passage?
Acts 6:1-4 (MSG) 1 During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers—”Hellenists”—toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. 2 So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, “It wouldn't be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. 3 So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we'll assign them this task. 4 Meanwhile, we'll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God's Word.”
They were saying that they would not be connecting to people who needed help! They would focus on connecting to God and their very specific tasks! And, my good friends, that is love! They weren’t to feed the widows. They weren’t to make hospital visits. They weren’t to answer their phones every time someone needed them. They were to pray and preach, and that was deep, fiery love!
- You have to convince people that you love them—We are to be kind, without question. However, we aren’t to modify our messages, to soften our speech or to attempt to convince people that we love them. We should simply love them! How’s this statement of love:
Acts 2:22-24 (MSG) 22 “Fellow Israelites, listen carefully to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man thoroughly accredited by God to you—the miracles and wonders and signs that God did through him are common knowledge— 23 this Jesus, following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands, and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him.
You pinned him to a cross and killed him! He was in their grill! He was bringing correction with a bold, fiery spirit! He wasn’t worried about hurting their feelings—he was proclaiming the power of Jesus! His goal wasn’t to sit down and ask how their heart was, how they were feeling, if they feel OK. He was in another mode, functioning in love, and rocking their world and exposing their thinking that would lead them to Hell! I’m sure they didn’t feel loved, but if they responded to Peter’s message, they would have been flooded with the experiential, burning love of Jesus!
- Hard messages aren’t driven by love—This is attached to the above point, but it’s worthy of some extra attention. Jonathan Edwards’ message “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” is largely dismissed by today’s ultra-sensitive, thin-skinned culture as unloving. I’ve heard it said that he didn’t have a revelation of the Father’s love. This is not only wrong, it’s a violation of scriptural truth! We cannot avoid the hard messages of sin, Hell and repentance out of fear that we’ll be rejected by those who are offended. We can’t modify our messages to sound loving—we must trust that the Word of God is a message of love! Truth delivered in love doesn’t always feel great, and it will offend many, but those who receive it are changed forever!
We could go on and on for quite a while discussing myths and deceptions regarding love. The enemy is terrified of the manifestation of true love, and he’s offering a castrated version of it to those who are seeking after good, happy feelings. Castrated love feels good, but it has no ability to bring forth life!
It’s time for us to trust God as he is, not as we want him to be. It’s time to dive into the Word and embrace Jesus as he manifests a variety of emotions which are all rooted in love.
Revival might come.
We all know that it should come, but there is a lot that must come together if we hope to have a foundation strong enough to sustain it.
If we understand that revival isn’t defined by a powerful church service, or by life getting suddenly better, but rather that it’s a calibration—judgment—as God brings order to chaos.
This calibration to biblical normalcy will give a massive opportunity for offense and complaining to erupt as God, in love, begins to touch what’s sacred to us but a hindrance to him.
The church is God’s governmental structure to initiate, facilitate and give structure to the wild fire that revival will bring.
Simply, we must be together, connected to apostolic leadership, deeply organized and ready to advance. The church must be on the same page, must be ready to deal with the people that are going to be flooding to the altars, and simply must be unoffendable, teachable and full of the Holy Spirit.
This teaching addresses all of these issues. You can listen by going to www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/teaching.
Here’s the notes so you can follow along:
Order in the Church- Preparation for Revival
I. Order and government is critical
a. 1 Corinthians 14:12 (ESV) 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
b. Titus 1:5 (ESV) 5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—
i. People who handle the spiritual duties of the church
ii. 1 Tim 4:14 “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you”
iii. 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (ESV) 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
iv. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ must not settle for anything short of godly leadership. Where can we find such people? Jesus said: "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Matt 9:37-38).
II. Demands of revival
a. In the midst of revival we will have every opportunity to succumb to the pressure.
i. To understand this, we must have a clear picture of what revival is.
ii. It’s not simply an outpouring, but rather it’s a recalibration.
1. The challenge, the pressure, the rebukes, the refining will be constant.
iii. Those who are mostly looking for the refreshing (99% of the people) will very possibly find themselves bruised, discouraged and disenchanted.
1. Wow, revival can actually bring people to a worse place!
b. Moses went through this.
i. He was the deliverer, the OT savior of the Hebrews.
ii. He laid down his life, he risked everything to liberate people, to bring revival.
iii. But, there wasn’t the order necessary to handle it.
iv. In fact, Moses, the heroic leader, got so depressed that he wanted to die.
III. Numbers 11
a. Moses engaged in communication with God such as no man had ever before experienced.
i. He talked with God face to face.
ii. All 27 chapters of Leviticus and the first 9 chapters of Numbers record God’s words to Israel through Moses while the people were encamped at Sinai.
iii. The statement, “The Lord said to Moses” (or similar) appears nearly 60 times in these chapters.
iv. The day then came for Israel to move on, to leave Sinai and travel on towards the Promised Land.
v. The cloud that hovered over the Tabernacle suddenly began to move, and Moses and all Israel knew it was time to break camp and follow the Lord.
vi. Moses was optimistic when they broke camp and was highly motivated after his personal communication with God over the past 12 months.
vii. Numbers 10:35 says, “Rise up, O LORD! May your enemies be scattered; may your foes flee before you.”
viii. Moses was pumped!
b. But, it lasted all but three days.
i. The complaining began.
ii. Even though they were better off now then they were when they left Egypt, they complained.
iii. Numbers 11:1 (ESV) 1 And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.
1. In the OT and the NT when there is a move of God, there are also casualties among those who respond wrongly.
2. Acts 5:4-6 (ESV) …Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
3. Take note, if we are crying out for the fire of God, we must understand just what we are asking for.
a. It’s both a refining fire and a consuming fire.
4. Numbers 11:2-3 (ESV) 2 Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down. 3 So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them.
a. People died, yet the complaining continued.
5. Numbers 11:4-6 (ESV) 4 Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. 6 But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”
6. Numbers 11:10 (ESV) 10 Moses heard the people weeping throughout their clans, everyone at the door of his tent. And the anger of the LORD blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased.
a. Weeping and despair when life isn’t going as planned is not the right response.
b. Later in this story we see that God gave them what they wanted—more meat than they could eat, and a plague landed on them as they ate.
c. Numbers 11:33-34 (ESV) 33 While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck down the people with a very great plague. 34 Therefore the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had the craving.
d. They buried the people who had the craving!
c. The pressure of the people got to Moses.
i. He actually asked God to kill him.
ii. The revival was in process, the miracles were happening literally every day.
iii. But, the immaturity of the people resulted in a negative response to God’s move.
iv. These negative responses, the complaining will result in many people being impacted negatively right in the midst of revival if we don’t prepare for it.
v. These responses will land right in the lap of the leaders of revival.
vi. God has a plan to deal with this issue.
d. Numbers 11:16-17 (ESV) 16 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone.
i. He will take some of the Spirit on Moses and put it on them.
ii. They shall bear the burden of the people.
iii. Mike Bickle- “I don’t do anything!”
iv. This is both an OT and a NT plan of action.
v. Acts 6:1-4 (ESV) 1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
a. So, we are in the gathering phase at Revival Church.
i. Many must be in position and ready to handle the needs of the people.
ii. My primary role is to hear from God, apostolically advance and raise up leaders… to pray and be in the Word.
iii. The rest will be handled by those who respond to the call.
iv. Most megachurch leaders don’t know what the day-to-day operations look like in any of the church’s ministries. He delegates authority.
v. This is where we are at now.
THE CHURCH IS BREECH
If you have been following the ministry recently you know that I’m zeroed in on a critical issue—an issue, in my opinion, that can result in the further fracture of the church, or in a powerful reformation that will shock the world.
Sunday at our Revival Church staff meeting, there was a strong prophetic word that must be given attention.
The message was that the church is in a time of massive transition, much like you’d find in a delivery room. When the mother is transitioning into the process of birth the room is filled with chaos and even confusion for the untrained, nervous or unprepared.
We are seeing this same chaos and confusion in the church today. People are scattering, searching for traction, for fresh new life that they sense is near.
Then, the person who gave the message declared, “The church is breech! The church is breech!”
Of course, a breech delivery is a cause for serious concern. The chance of death to the coming baby is much greater than in a normal, head first birth.
Immediately, God revealed to me what the word meant. What the meaning of a breech church was.
The confusion, frustration and wounding that’s impacting so many Christians is resulting in an intentional divorce from pastors and leaders. It’s a movement that either greatly minimizes or even renounces governmental church leadership.
It’s a feet first movement. The church is breech.
A common cause for a breech delivery is prematurity. Premature babies tend to deliver breech, and we need to consider this for the church. We can’t allow our dissatisfaction and impatience to cause us to move out ahead of leadership.
Many believe this chaotic transition, this reformation in the church is the answer to their frustrations and pains that they experienced in the organized church. They feel it’s a transition out of body life and away from human leaders.
That is a devastating and terribly incorrect analysis.
The coming reformation will in fact highlight God’s established apostolic leaders and will call the church to rally around them in radical unity and advance into the darkness of the world.
Further, there’s an incorrect mindset that every Believer is identical. That we all have equal giftings and equal authority in every situation. Usually this idea is embraced as a defense measure after feeling slighted by Christian leaders. I understand the pain that this can bring, but the answer isn’t to artificially level the playing field. God loves us all passionately, but he does flow through us differently. Our abilities and responsibilities vary.
Those with a gift of healing have a greater grace to heal people. People with the gift of helps can function in that role much more easily and efficiently than others. If someone has an ordination from God into a prophetic office, he or she will be receiving information that most others won’t. Apostles have breakthrough ability that’s unique to that office.
As we embrace true biblical order, and understand that we can’t cut off the heads (small ‘h’ vs. the capitol ‘H’ reserved for God alone—God is the Head and he establishes heads of ministries) of God’s ordained leaders simply because they have disappointed us.
Man will always disappoint, but it’s God’s wisdom that has resulted in the establishment of significant responsibilities, anointings and missions through them. It’s always been this way, cover to cover in Scripture. God raises up men and women to lead. We can’t avoid it.
So, it’s time to gather together in love, passion and mission as God readies a massive advance of God’s government that lies just on the other side of our current birthing room season of transition.