First, watch last night’s School of Prayer. It was a powerful night with practical teaching on how to have extreme success in prayer.
We then modeled what was taught in prayer. You are SURE to learn a lot! WATCH HERE.
Watch tonight’s service at www.thefurnace.tv/live!
theFurnace exists to gather forerunners who are united in the mandate to initiate reformation in the church and revival in the region. As carriers of the fire of God, we are single-minded in our mission to rally a generation that will embrace the cross of Christ, pursue radical holiness, engage in fervent prayer, live a life of repentance and experience both the freedom and the fear of the Lord.
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“The coming moves of God will require nothing short of a revolution of our current structures, models and mindsets. Not an adjustment or an enhancement, but deep reform. The resulting fire and presence of the Holy Spirit will cause us to marvel and wonder why we ever resisted at all.”- John Burton, based on his book 20 Elements of Revival
The Terror of Hell: I prayed for fifteen years after this encounter that God wouldn’t give me any more.
What happened to me that fateful night 23 years ago is the reason I am unrelenting in bringing attention to anything that puts the people God so desperately loves in harm’s way.
Nearly a quarter of a century has passed, and I still shudder in brokenness and desperation every time I think about the encounter.
THEIR FREEDOM IS MY MISSION
Just a couple of years ago, twenty years after the encounter, I had a vision of multiplied thousands of people, mostly professing Christians, stretching in front of me, to my right and to my left as far as the horizons. As I looked at the sea of precious people, God spoke clearly to me: Their freedom is your mission.
I was overwhelmed with the weight of the mandate, and terribly distraught at its scope. So many people were in peril, and I couldn’t imagine even one of them not being rescued.
God was reawakening me to my mission that was given two decades prior—to shake the church and sounds alarms to a casual, sleeping people.
Every day I am in prayer, seeking the most impactful means possible to fulfill this mandate. Every day that passes without meaningful advance, without the message of awakening spreading to an unsuspecting church, is a day that grieves my spirit. There are millions of people who are unaware of their true condition, and who God is zealously pursuing. He is using prophetic messengers to help in that pursuit.
A. W. Tozer, a close friend of Leonard Ravenhill, had the following to say about him: “Those who know Leonard Ravenhill will recognize in him the religious specialist, the man sent from God not to carry on the conventional work of the church, but to beard the priests of Baal on their own mountain-top, to shame the careless priest at the altar, to face the false prophet and to warn the people who are being led astray by him.”
As I’ve said many times before, I am convinced that the greatest threat to today’s church is the false-grace movement. So many presume that movement to be simply another expression within the body of Christ. I am convinced that, to the contrary, that movement is actually resulting in massive amounts of false or compromised conversions.
I believe the hyper-grace message could be the end-time deception that will cause millions of people to fall away from God. ~Sid Roth
This is why it’s so critical that we are deeply devoted to the Word of God. The Bible is our final authority, and we need to, now more than ever, stay true to what it teaches. We must relay biblical truths to the masses!
The answer to false-grace is so simple that I wonder why so many are resistant. Simply, be intimate with Jesus, let him search your heart, and when he finds sin, immediately repent. That’s it! It’s so easy!
I am going to include free of charge, in its entirety, the story of my encounter as told in my book The Terror of Hell.
First, I’ll reveal to you the end of the story—God revealed very clearly to me, “Many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”
At that moment I had my life mission. Every day I am burdened with the reality that the blood of millions will be on my hands if I shrink back and refuse to sound the alarms. I can’t allow a day to pass without somehow doing what I can, with all of my weaknesses and limits, to shine a light on this tragic reality. People have to be rescued from a path that is leading them to Hell.
The cost of delivering such a message to a sleeping or comfortable church has been significant—but absolutely worth it. It’s a hard message to relay as it’s intended for those who are convinced of their security. It’s an offensive message because it introduces a radical redefinition to people’s concept of God.
For me, I willingly embrace such challenging, provoking, troubling messages. I crave to hear truth no matter how irritating it is to me.
This is why I have said that I give myself about an 80% chance of making Heaven. If I were to die today, I’m about 99.9% sure I’d be there. However, it would take arrogance to presume I’m exempt from the great falling away, that I, unlike millions of others, have no risk of ever turning my back on Jesus. I am sober.
However, I’m not fearful or depressed regarding this. I’m full of joy! Why? Because I’m not focused on avoiding Hell! I’m focused on intimacy with Jesus—and I have that! That intimacy results in joy, peace and the ability to wrestle with the realities of my heart.
Understand one thing prior to reading about my encounter in the next section: If you fear Hell more than you are grieved at not being intimate with Jesus, you are not in a safe place. The first giant step to take is one right into the arms of a loving God. Pursue him with passion.
THE TERROR OF HELL
How could I be going to Hell? What I was experiencing messed with my theology to a radically uncomfortable degree. The Holy Spirit was making sure I would never be the same again. Mission accomplished.
I count the early 1990’s as the most significant season of my life to date. God had invaded my life. (Do you feel the weight of that reality? The burning, raging Creator thrust himself into this mere mortal!)
The Holy Spirit took me beyond a mere understanding of my need for a savior and a simple acceptance of Jesus as that savior to a place of breath-taking experience in his extreme, fearful and surprisingly vivid invisible realm. The sudden all-consuming desire of my heart was to be intimately joined with the Lover of my soul every moment of my life. I was craving and experiencing a legitimate, reportable and constant weighty manifestation of the presence of God in my life. I was burning! The desire and the cry of my heart was, “More!”
In those early years, as I was diving into the increasingly deeper realms of life in God, many things happened that I’ll never forget–but one event shook me like no other before or since.
I had a Dream
The night I had this uninvited invasion of both God and Hell into my sleep, I was living in an old, vacant church building as the care taker. The dramatic scene was what you would imagine–the church was a relatively ancient stone structure. I would regularly encounter God as I walked through the now empty corridors, hidden rooms, sanctuary and other mysterious places throughout that relic. The countless hours praying in this vacant building resulted in forming me as a young burning man in some very memorable ways.
One destined evening I prepared for bed as I did every other night. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I prayed myself to sleep in the weighty and wonderful presence of the Holy Spirit as I had done so many times before.
What was about to happen as I slipped into sleep that fateful night would result in a tremble that is with me to this day–twenty years later as I am revising this book. I was invited into an other-worldly encounter that I had no freedom to turn down.
Because of the unimaginable panic and terror I experienced that night, I would often pray as I went to sleep, “God, please don’t give me any dreams tonight.” I prayed that way for thirteen years.
Thirteen years! God eventually spoke clearly to me, after thirteen years of receiving many visions, but no dreams of God, “John, I need you to stop praying that prayer. I have things to reveal to you. I need to talk to you. I have dreams for you to dream.” I relented and have since craved dreams, angelic visitations and other forms of communication from the heavenly realm.
During this night of terror I fell asleep in the old, empty church building and found myself dreaming.
In my dream I was laying on my stomach in a one room building. It was very comfortable inside, though there was nothing in the room. It was empty. I rested on the carpet and looked out of the two windows, one in front of me and one to my right. The overwhelming feeling that I had was one of comfort and relaxation. I had no concerns and no thoughts beyond enjoying the atmosphere I was in. This feeling is what drove my entire experience. Obviously nothing could be wrong if I was feeling so good, right?
Through the windows I could see a peaceful, lazy and bright sunny day unfolding. It was beautiful! The trees were blowing in a gentle breeze. The birds were chirping and flying from tree to tree. What a brilliant Creator we have! Everything was so refreshing and alive! I couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon.
Then, suddenly, I experienced a changing of the scene. Like time lapse photography, as I was in the same position on the floor looking out the window, I watched the atmosphere suddenly change. There was an immediate and progressive shift. The clouds were ever so slightly darkening and increasing in coverage in the sky. The gentle breeze picked up velocity and the brilliant brightness started to go in and out as periodic shadows covered the area while the sun hid beyond the advancing clouds. It seemed as if some rain may be moving in. I rested there, stretched out on my belly with my head in my hands as I watched it unfold. I remained immersed in my own comfort. I was taking deep breaths and enjoying every moment of my day.
Time lapsed again and I saw the sky completely covered in clouds–clouds much darker than just a few moments ago. I could now smell the fresh and unmistakable scent of the coming rain.
Matthew 24:36-39 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. or as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
The birds were taking cover as the wind picked up significantly. In the distance I saw several lightning strikes. It sure seemed as if this could be quite a storm. How was it that I was feeling no concern, no urgency to prepare as I enjoyed my personal, careless experience in that small, one room shack? I stretched out and relaxed even more. The greater the threat, the greater the “peace.” What a wonderful day I was having.
Again, for the third time, I watched the scene in front of me change suddenly. Now, it was fully obvious the storm would most definitely hit–and soon. The wind was intense and large, ominous drops of rain started to hit the windows. Violent and arrogant lightning that seemed to have a personality all its own struck less than 300 yards away. The thumps of hail hitting the roof started and quickly increased in force. It was time for concern. The threat of danger was increasing by the second, but I didn’t feel any urgency or need to respond. I remained prostrate on the ground, refreshed and at ease, just as I did when it was a beautiful sunny day. I was enjoying the perceived safety of my environment. I was feeling so good.
Once again, time lapsed and I found myself in the center of a churning, dreadful force that seemed powerful enough to split the Earth in two. The storm of the century was upon me. The massive trees were nearly snapping in two as they bent over parallel to the ground. The hail was massive in size and was slamming every surface around me. The windows were buckling in and out as the incredible pressure of the storm weighed on them. The lightning that burned hotter than the surface of the sun was literally striking mere feet from the shack. The walls were shaking. You can imagine what I was experiencing in that terrible and fearful moment. You guessed it: beautiful peace, safety and comfort. It truly was a wonderful day, until…
In a fraction of a moment my overwhelming sense of peace and safety and relaxation turned to the most gripping terror I had ever known. It was as if every source of life and good had been eliminated from the atmosphere. Evil dominated the place that just moments ago was so enjoyable.
My mind raced in an attempt to figure out what had just happened. The fear I was experiencing was beyond description. It made no sense. What was going on? Everything was so perfect! Today was supposed to be about enjoying life!
Suddenly, as I was confused, horrified and trembling on the floor, two hands grabbed my ankles. My terror instantly escalated to levels I cannot describe. I quickly looked back and saw nothing–but I knew a demonic entity had grabbed on to me.
The grip on my ankles was like a vice. The thought of escaping was a ridiculous one. It was impossible. My life, which seemingly just moments ago had been under my own control, was now overpowered by an invisible yet horrifying force. A force that I knew had intents–and the ability–to destroy me.
Again, the terror immediately increased nearly to the point of literally losing control of my mind as that demon started to pull me backwards–and then down. My feet and legs were disappearing below the floor of that shack. I knew I was going to Hell.
How can this be? It’s impossible! I’m going to Hell? But, I’m saved. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. This is contrary to everything I have ever learned in church. Yet, the moment was real, and I was losing every ounce of hope. I was about to enter an eternity of continual torture. Never ending panic, madness and torment was upon me.
The demon kept slowly pulling me downward, as if he was relishing every single moment. My feet were well below the floor and my waist was at ground level. Then, suddenly my hope increased. I thought to myself, “If I say the name of Jesus, the demon must flee!”
So, in my new state of hope I was able to squeeze out, “In the name of J—–. In the name of J—–. Ahhhhh!”
I couldn’t say it! The demon was controlling my very breath. I was suffocating every time that name was about to be said. I could have said any word in the dictionary–but that one. My hope instantly was lost and I started to cry out as I convulsed under the unbreakable control of that demon.
He continued to pull me down, one grueling inch at a time. Finally, my neck and then my mouth were entering Hell as my body was taken below. At the height of my madness and terror, and as my eyes were about to descend beneath the floor, I woke up.
I sat straight up, trembling in my bed in that old church building. I was sweating in such volume that my entire bed was saturated. The light switch by my bedroom door was no more than seven feet from my bed. Just two quick steps to the wall would have been all it took to lighten the room. But I was frozen. I sat there for at least three hours in the darkness in absolute terror.
What Just Happened?
I finally fell back to sleep and awoke the next morning. I didn’t realize how radically my life had taken a turn the previous night. As I tried to gather my thoughts while the events of the previous night overwhelmed my spirit and my mind, I looked outside the two windows that were there in my bedroom in that old church building. It was a beautiful sunny day–but I did not feel comfortable or relaxed. I was shaken.
I begged God to tell me why I had that dream. What had just happened? Finally, later on that day, He spoke to me, “John, you represented the church. You were comfortable in your place of supposed safety. The storm was intensifying yet you were lulled into a state of apathy. Many in the church will be surprised one day, just as you were surprised in the dream, to find themselves under the control of demons as they are taken to Hell.”
Proverbs 14:11-14 The house of the wicked will be overthrown, But the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, And the end of mirth may be grief. The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied from above.
There is a way that seems right. Intellectually it makes sense. Other people seem to confirm that it is right. Common sense tells us that it is right. Even our theological dispositions confirm it is right. But, it leads to death. And, if it’s the type of death I experienced in my dream–it must be avoided at all costs.
A backslider is focused on his own condition, on his own comfort zone while a good man is in tune with the heart of God. His pleasure comes from intimacy with Father God. His pleasure comes from going where God is going, doing what he is doing and feeling what he is feeling. There is no sense of ease in the storm, but there is satisfaction and joy in the presence of God and by being in active agreement with him.
This message is a wake-up call for every one of us. Many wonderful people will be terribly shocked to find themselves separated from God forever.
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
This scripture is in reference to those who would call themselves Born Again Christians. People who have understood and actually flowed in the power of the Holy Spirit. They understood their heavenly position and earthly authority as they overcame demons. These were your miracle workers.
Two Critical Keys to Salvation
- Knowing Jesus–To be received by Jesus we must know Jesus. We must be hungry and intimate. We must ask, seek and knock. The pursuit of great intimacy with our Bridegroom has to be intense and continual. It’s not about our position, it’s about our love. It’s about our obedience and union with God in love, in life and in mission.
- Lawlessness–This issue is addressed further in my book, Covens In The Church. In my dream, I represented a lawless church, or a lawless person. Someone who maintained control of my own experience. I was focused on what satisfied, on what comforted. I was not alert to the storm or surrendered to a place of radical participation in the moment.
Again, many people will be devastated to find themselves in Hell one day. Many church-goers. Many who prophesy, many who smile when they see their friends, many who live a good life. Why is this? They refuse to pursue intimacy with God as they focus mostly on maintaining control of their own experience on the Earth.
The call to intimacy is one of the most precious rewards for those who follow Jesus! Who could ever reject such an opportunity?
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
The reward is intimacy with God! It’s the all-consuming fire engulfing us as we tremble in his presence! What a God we serve! His goal for us, and our life focus must be this–to be with him continually as he hovers over us and adores us as a Lover.
However, this simple yet overpowering reality is so often avoided by people who are seeking comfort and control of their personal situations.
Might I offer some sobering news to you? If our primary reason to follow Jesus is to avoid Hell and to go to Heaven one day, we are operating in the same self-centered, controlling attitude that resulted in my journey to Hell. Salvation for the sake of personal satisfaction is not salvation at all.
Zechariah 7:5-6 “Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me–for Me? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves?
The Sinner’s Prayer
The sinner’s prayer is one of the most misused evangelism techniques in the church today. This misuse has had devastating results.
Listen to me closely: The sinner’s prayer has become a ticket to Hell for countless people. To ever present someone with a guarantee of Heaven if they simply say a prayer is irresponsible. How many people have you met that believe they are going to Heaven because they repeated a prayer at an earlier point in their lives? How many of these people have become deeply intimate with their Lover?
Let’s dispel something right now–salvation is not primarily about making it to Heaven. It’s identifying with the Lover of our souls, the Alpha and the Omega, the Healer, the Deliverer, and coming to a place of agreement. A place of complete surrender. An intimate encounter with God will result in adoration and desire for him alone.
It’s saying, “Yes, I agree that you are God, that you love me, that there is nothing bad in you. You are perfect. You actually died for me. I deserve nothing, and regardless of my eternal destiny I will choose to love and serve you every moment of my life.” All I want on this planet is to spend every moment of my life in passionate union with my Lord and Master and wonderful friend.
Salvation is falling so deeply in love with Jesus that we’ll gladly sacrifice everything to spend just a moment with him. God is so great that he lovingly extends this moment with him into an eternity. It’s all about being with God. This is salvation.
I have a difficult question for you. I admit it is an imperfect question as it leaves many theological truths hanging in the balance. It’s a question that will never have to be answered, but it does make the idea of salvation for all of us crystal clear.
If Heaven was never guaranteed for you, would you still crave and love Jesus so much that you would give up everything you have on the Earth just to spend the next 30-60 years with him in wonderful intimacy?
Of course, when Jesus finds his lovers on the Earth, those who have an intense yearning in the depths of their hearts to be with Him, he simply can’t wait to spend eternity with them! That’s what the cross was all about! It wasn’t a ticket to Heaven or immunity from Hell. It was a model of perfect love in an imperfect and hateful world. That’s why he is calling us to carry our cross–it’s the evidence of our love and desire for our Bridegroom.
The Rich Young Ruler
Consider a great and critical bible story about a Rich Young Ruler that we all know very well:
Very interestingly this story comes right after Jesus was talking to his disciples about allowing innocent, loving children to come to him. He said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Why is this? They just wanted Jesus! They wanted to crawl up in his lap! They wanted to embrace him! Now, let’s look at the Rich Young Ruler.
Matthew 19:16-22 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “ The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Now, consider how this story goes. Someone decides he wants to follow Jesus, yet on his own terms. This person could easily be found going to a vibrant church every Sunday, repeating a sinner’s prayer, lifting his hands in worship, leading a small group, witnessing on the streets and owning several bibles.
Remember, the Rich Young Ruler made the choice to follow Jesus. Most any pastor or evangelist would quickly rejoice and lead this man in a prayer. He would fill out a card and would be directed on how to connect in the church.
This scenario plays out day after day after day around the world. Yet, in this story Jesus did not offer a sinner’s prayer, a card to fill out or membership in the church. Jesus knew he didn’t have this man’s heart, and made that reality clear.
This man was what we would call a good man. He kept the commandments.
However, Jesus was after something all together different from him. Jesus will always search the hearts of those who wish to follow him. In the end of this sad story, Jesus literally communicated to this man who wanted to be a follower of Jesus that he may not follow! Incredible!
I heard a story of a great revivalist who was preaching in the first night of a week long revival. The anointing was so strong that a man rushed up to the altar to get saved right in the middle of this preacher’s message. He wanted to get saved!
The revivalist rebuked him publicly and commanded him to return to his seat.
“You, sir, are not ready to get saved. I have yet to reveal what it will cost you. Come back each night and I will let you know when it is time to respond to the call of Jesus.”
Wow! Where is this type of gutsy presentation of the costly Gospel today?
I often hear of salvation as a free gift. I completely understand the point that people who use that phrase are trying to get across, but I believe it can have damaging impact to those who are responding to it when it’s repeated without explanation. The reality is that salvation is very costly to every one who receives it.
The point is that we did not have the ability to get saved on our own. We were not able to control the situation and do anything in ourselves to get saved. Jesus loved us so much that he did it all. He did what we could not do and extended his free gift.
Romans 6:22-23 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The free gift of eternal life must be responded to. We become servants and friends of the Most High God. If Jesus’ death on the cross was all that was required for salvation, then every person on the earth would be saved. The cost of our own surrender is high and cannot be overlooked. Every one of Jesus’ disciples, except John, were martyred, for example. High cost, yet worth it all.
To extend the point, if a sinner’s prayer, or a decision to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior was all that it took, much of what is revealed in scripture would have to be overlooked.
Remember, salvation is all about intimacy with our Bridegroom and not simply a ticket to Heaven. Many who acknowledge the free gift of Jesus’ death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead, and who repeat a prayer and make a decision to follow Jesus will end up eternally separated from God.
The story of the Rich Young Ruler demonstrates this.
Jesus will say to many, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
The attitude of the Rich Young Ruler is that of personal gain. I’m sure he wanted his sins washed away. The problem is this: Jesus didn’t come to relieve us of our guilt. He came to free us of bondage to sin. Presumed freedom from guilt and the penalty of sin can easily result in a passionless connection with Christ, and in a casual response to the call of holiness and intimacy. Jesus didn’t come so we could sin without guilt, he came to reveal himself as more satisfying and powerful than sin!
When we are intimate with Jesus, embracing his emotions, his personality, his passion, we will buy into a life of fiery devotion. It won’t be possible to relax in the midst of the storm! We won’t desire sinful pleasures! It’s not about freedom from guilt, it’s about freedom from bondage that leads to death!
For the sake of clarity on this very important subject, allow me to qualify briefly the point that is being made. The argument is that salvation is a very serious issue, and that a casual desire to go to Heaven and to take the name of Jesus is dangerous. The qualification is this–God is in charge of who goes to Heaven, and his heart cries out for all to be saved.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
He is longsuffering and deeply desires for people to be saved.
We don’t try to pay for or work for our salvation in lieu of full-blown surrender of our lives. Rather, fruit born in intimacy with God is the expected result of true salvation. Evidences.
With that in mind, scripture does make it clear that some who haven’t stepped into deep intimacy with Jesus will most definitely make it to Heaven. The thief on the cross is probably the best example.
While the Word tells us that those in the church who are lukewarm will be rejected by God, there is apparently a type of person who will live a substandard Christian life who will make it to Heaven.
1 Corinthians 3:14-17 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
This scripture reveals a very narrow exception for people whose fruit is proven to be lacking and unacceptable. This person will be saved–but barely. Can you imagine being in that terrifying position of waiting for God’s judgment to land on a life that was barely connected with him? Additionally, why would anybody want to live outside of God’s intimate presence? Why choose this low, risky level? What’s to gain?
The scripture goes on to clarify the serious nature of eternal life. It’s not a simple matter, nor a light matter. If we destroy God’s temple, we will be destroyed. If we reveal inappropriate fruit, we may still be saved. But, if our work endures, and our temple is pure, salvation is a guarantee.
We can be confident in our eternal position, though I often find myself crying out to God something like, “Father, my heart longs for intimacy with you. I know I fail so often. I know I choose comfort over you at times. Please, Lord, help me ensure that you and I remain intimate. We remain in love. I don’t take your relationship or your salvation lightly. I know it’s possible to lose that relationship and that salvation. Help me surrender all, take up my cross and excitedly follow you. I love you.”
Note that in that prayer I don’t reveal my fear of missing Heaven. My fear is losing intimacy with Jesus. Of course, I don’t want to go to Hell and I don’t want to miss Heaven–but that’s not my motivation. Our focus must be on the wonderful relationship with Jesus that we will either enjoy or lose sight of in our day-to-day experience on this planet.
The churches in the book of Revelation reveal great truths in regard to the serious nature of salvation. God was not pleased with all of their works. In fact, in Revelation chapter 3 we see it revealed that names can be removed from the Book of Life.
Revelation 3:5 “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
If we overcome, our name is securely kept in the Book of Life. If we do not overcome, our name which was written in that Book at the time of our salvation will be blotted out.
Salvation is serious stuff.
There is a need for sober, humble and bold prophetic messengers to rise up and declare the piercing messages from God. These messages will provoke people to rush into the presence of God that results in trembling and collapse to their faces.
Matthew 23:33-34 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,
The call to intimacy with God is a call to slow the flow to Hell! The church must awaken and sound the alarm! We can’t rest in our comfort any longer! We have been called to steward this weighty reality.
Matthew 25:29-30 For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Note, that passage of scripture is referencing servants. Those in the church. Followers of Jesus!
We must understand that salvation is not free. Jesus did what we could not do by defeating death, Hell and the grave. Now, we do what Jesus will not do. He said, “It is finished.” Now it’s our turn to respond to his Kingdom design.
A false grace message would relay that we have no participation in the process of salvation (other than accepting Jesus into one’s heart). A true grace message actually embraces the power that was made available to us to obey the impossible directives of God.
1 Corinthians 3:10-13 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
I have a definition for religion that brings clarity to both unbiblical grace and unbiblical works positions. Here it is:
Religion: man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.
If we attempt to use God through grace by excusing ourselves to laziness or by abdicating our responsibility, we are driven by a religious spirit.
On the contrary, if we try to buy or work our way into good favor with God outside of his radical sacrifice, that is a spirit of religion as well.
Grace is favor. We have favor given by God so we can be in deep relationship with him and respond in supernatural power to his plans for our lives. He did what only he could do so we could do what only we must do.
Jesus was favored. He was full of grace, yet he also had a responsibility. He walked in supernatural favor, and that favor enabled him to fulfill the necessary work of the cross.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
His grace enabled him to fulfill his assignment, and because of his fulfilled assignment, we now have the grace to fulfill our assignment. Grace enables. It doesn’t relieve responsibility.
Further, Jesus’ grace resulted in a paid price that we had no ability to pay. No amount of work or payment on our part could get us to eternity with God. We were destined for Hell, but because Jesus’ allowed grace to enable him to embrace the horrors and wonders of the cross, we can now run to him freely.
But, we’re called to do more than run to him. We must run with him and for him. We are his graced, favored and empowered instruments on the Earth.
1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Paul ensured God’s grace was not in vain by allowing that power to result in abundant labor for the Kingdom.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
Grace will establish us in work. Grace has an expected outcome, and we have a part to play in that story.
So, just what is work? It is simply response to the passionate and active heart of God. This is why deep intimacy is so critical. It’s only in this place of intimacy (which is also a work) that we can more fully embrace the wild, challenging and seemingly impossible assignments of our loving Father. His grace lifted some burdens from our lives, but also placed new ones upon us. It’s when, in the place of intimacy with God, we trade human burdens with holy burdens that we come alive and grace is most fully activated in us.
I’ll share another experience that, I strongly believe, was critical in securing my relationship with Jesus. I believe a negative response to what the Lord was speaking to me would have put my eternal position at jeopardy. Would I have lost my salvation? I don’t know and I don’t want to play with that fire.
In the season of life where this experience took place, I knew that once saved, everything changed. A great barometer of salvation is to ask whether everything in our lives was open for change or not. I agreed that once I surrendered my life, God would begin to change me and require much from me.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Additionally, I understood that simply acknowledging that Jesus was God, or even agreeing that he was the only way to the Father wasn’t sufficient to guarantee salvation. I had to surrender all.
Acts 10:43 “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
This scripture does not indicate that all we have to do is have some belief that Jesus existed, and that he died and rose from the dead. Even the devil knows that! The word believes literally means, to be committed to, or to commit oneself to. It’s an all out surrender to the Living God.
Now, allow me to share with you the life-changing experience with God that radically changed my understanding of what it was to follow Jesus.
This event occurred shortly after I had the terrifying dream in the old church building. God was wildly challenging me and drawing me closer to him. I was in my early twenty’s at the time. Our church, along with several others in the area participated in a lock-in at a local YMCA. There were a few hundred people there enjoying everything from wallyball to basketball to ping-pong.
They had also set up a prayer room in one part of the building. As a young man who was getting blasted by the Holy Spirit with amazing regularity I presumed the room would be full of hungry young men and women of God. Sadly, I was wrong, though the nearly empty room provided me quite an atmosphere to pray in.
In many ways, that room was similar to the one in my dream. I was looking out of the windows over the city as I spent some time with the Lord. However, unlike the dream, I was passionately enjoying God with intensity. The atmosphere was full of the presence of the Holy Spirit and, to date, it was literally one of the most powerful God moments of my life. I was so full of life that I found myself pacing around with lifted hands and a fire in my belly for quite a long, wonderful time.
All of a sudden, I heard something in my spirit.
“John, I want you to give me permission to take your life.”
Huh? Where in the world did that thought come from? What an unwelcome interruption it was! I shook it off and moved back into prayer and worship. But, something was wrong. The warm and consuming presence of God had left the room. I didn’t realize it then, but God’s presence didn’t leave the room–it had simply changed. God was honoring me with a serious call to follow Him.
I tried for the next fifteen minutes to enter back into prayer, but I felt entirely alone. No unction, no flow, no passion.
I kept hearing the words, “John, will you let me take your life?”
I finally realized that the warmth of God’s presence had transitioned into the challenge of God’s purposes. He was testing me. Was I really ready to take up my cross? Was I really in it for Jesus? Or, was I into this Christian life mostly for what I could get out of it? You see, this crossroads question from the most Holy One would result in ensuring my destiny–either in one direction or in the other. And, it wouldn’t make any difference if I kept paying tithes, going to church and lifting my hands in worship if I chose the road toward personal satisfaction that fateful night.
The Holy pressure in that dark prayer room was extreme. I honestly thought, beyond any doubt, that the decision I was about to make to my Lord would result in my physical death that very night. The call was that urgent. But, I immediately realized I couldn’t stand to live the rest of my life outside of the warmth of the tangible presence of Jesus that I felt as I first entered that room.
“God, if it will result in warming your heart, and in advancing your Kingdom on the Earth, you can take my life. I love you and you are teaching me more about love in this moment than in my previous two decades. I trust you.”
The split second I communicated that in my heart, the fire of the Holy Spirit rushed in with power. It was better than any previous experience with God I had ever had. Far better. I was consumed by his love. I was surrendered to him unlike anytime in my life. I was his.
Song of Songs 1:2-4 THE SHULAMITE Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth– For your love is better than wine. Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; Therefore the virgins love you. Draw me away! THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM We will run after you. THE SHULAMITE The king has brought me into his chambers. THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM We will be glad and rejoice in you. We will remember your love more than wine.
To this day I don’t know if God will suddenly take my life–and while I wish to live for a long time on earth, I am longing to live for eternity with my Lover.
Calls from the heart of God like this one come to me from time to time. How serious am I? Am I in it for the benefits? Do I live my life for what I can get out of it? Or, am I a walking dead man? The positive response to the call of God is an indicator of the intimate love that we have for our Lover. It is a fruit of our salvation.
The Barometer of Prayer
I have many barometers in my life. I am an imperfect man who loves to discover lack in my life. That discovery leads me on an adventure of pursuit and acquisition of the new things of God for me. For example, if I don’t easily heal the sick, then I am thrilled to read books, study the Word of God, watch teachers on TV and pray a lot so I can grow in this gift.
I believe an absolutely critical barometer for any follower of Jesus is that of prayer. Prayer is simply being with God, engaging with him on a very real and personal level.
I shared a moment ago about my experience in the prayer room in the YMCA. Something else that was tragic and striking to me was that it was nearly empty. Volleyball was more desirable than being with God.
I remember another time during that year just after a youth worship service. I was experiencing God so dramatically and so continually that I was probably glowing in the dark! I went outside after that service, and with a goofy smile on my face, told some of my new friends just how amazing God is.
“Wow! Guys, God is so amazing! Whoa! His anointing and his fire is powerful! I can’t imagine ever living without him!”
These guys, whom I would pray with on a regular basis, just looked at me with a half smile and said something like, “John, that’s great. Yep, God’s good.”
Where was the passion for Jesus and the explosion of emotion that I was experiencing?
During that particular season of my life, every Thursday night just prior to the youth service there was an hour of prayer in the sanctuary. The leaders heavily announced the prayer meeting, put signs on the doors, talked with people one-on-one and ensured the prayer was the most emphasized portion of the entire night.
Week after week between 60-100 young people would arrive early–and stand outside of the sanctuary in the foyer. The large sanctuary looked empty as 5-6 zealots pressed into the presence of God for one hour and the small foyer looked like a fire hazard as it was jammed to its limits.
You may be saying, “Well, John, many of those young people may not even be saved. They were just babes in the Lord at best.”
OK, that may be true. But, let me ask a question–how many times have you seen a similar scenario take place with adults?
I talked to someone just the other day regarding prayer. She stated that her church of about 500 people is resistant to the idea of prayer. The prayer room was on the second level of the church and it had six chairs in it. Then, to make room for another church program, the prayer room was moved from the second floor to the third floor, and in the process they removed three of the chairs. How can this be?!
There is a GREAT SIN of prayerlessness in this nation! Again, prayer is simply being with God. Do we even understand the opportunity we have to encounter God in increasing measure every moment of our lives?
Intimacy must follow salvation and prayer is the vehicle of intimacy. I’ll never understand why the call to intimately encounter God in prayer is countered with excuses and no-shows. It literally breaks my heart.
I don’t know how often I’ve heard people respond to the call to the prayer room with excuses like:
- I am always in prayer–in the car, while doing dishes, at work.
- God is with me wherever I go.
- God knows my heart and my needs. I trust he’ll take good care of me.
The fact that we attempt to validate non-aggressive, passive and non-costly methods of prayer above the wonderful experience of spending hours of hungering and groaning as the Holy Spirit breathes through us in the place of visitation reveals a tragic crisis in the Church!
We should not be making excuses for not being with Jesus!
There is a difference between being in the omnipresence of God and being in the manifest presence of God. Everybody is continually in God’s omnipresence. Satanists, witches, children, adults, preachers and sinners. However, it costs much to press into God’s manifest presence. It takes time, effort and passion. Period. It’s radically inconvenient to a naturally driven life. God is drawing us into the Holy of Holies, yet we have become satisfied with the outer courts!
There is a difference between passively praying throughout our day and actively pressing into God’s presence. We must discover God’s heart in prayer. We talk a lot about lengthy prayer in our ministry. It is absolutely non-negotiable.
Prayer in the Cave
We often hold a unique event called Prayer in the Cave. We crawl into a deep cave, turn out the lights and be with God. It usually takes at least an hour of sitting in perfect silence before our hearts are at a place of being invaded by the Holy Spirit. Then, as we transition into the next phase of repentance, we find that we’ve gone well over the two hour mark. Worshipping and crying out to God takes more time. Then, finally, we can hear God. We wait and wait as the prophetic Word of God is delivered to us. Then (and now it’s been 3-4 hours) we are ready to come into agreement with what’s on God’s heart. We war in the Spirit and experience wildly enjoyable and effective prayer. Our love of God is intense, our passion is hot and the outcome is amazing. People who experience this wouldn’t trade it for anything! Excuses aren’t made to avoid prayer, but instead declarations are made to friends, family and our own calendars that we have an appointment with God that will not be violated! Saying no to God’s wooing becomes a laughable idea indeed!
Let me say this clearly–people who are legitimately saved simply crave to be with their Lover–Jesus. Lengthy prayer is an obvious reality for them as they understand the many issues of life that must be contended with in order to enjoy God freely.
Does that mean everybody is glowing in the dark and full of life and fire every moment of their lives? Does it mean that prayer isn’t hard work sometimes? Of course not! It also doesn’t assume that everybody has tangibly experienced God–but those who love God, whether they have experienced him or not, will do whatever it takes to experience him initially and then over and over again.
God yearns for us to be with him intimately and continually. Much of that time will be passive–while we are in the car or cleaning the house–and much will be very active. I consider the following passage of scripture to be one of the saddest in scripture. Its story was also indicative of things to come.
Matthew 26:42-44 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
The saddest phrase is, “He left them.”
At history’s most critical moment, Jesus was craving intimacy with his friends, and when he found none, he went to be with his Father, alone. He had something to accomplish, so while he didn’t leave them in terms of his friendship with them, he did leave them when it came to partnering, or the lack thereof, in purpose.
Our desire to be with God will be maintained through thick and thin. God has much to do, and he is calling his lovers to be with him as he does it. Our love of Jesus will keep us awake and alert. The disciples wanted to experience very passive prayer (it is very possible to sleep in the Spirit!) while Jesus was calling them to the most active prayer of their lives. When they didn’t respond, Jesus left them.
I know some may quote a scripture at this point, which is one of my favorites:
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
“But John, God has promised us a light burden. It seems as if you are preaching a very heavy burden when you discuss lengthy prayer.”
First of all, let me say this–prayer is wonderfully enjoyable. Those who tap in to the heart of God simply become addicted to lengthy prayer.
But, let’s also address the incredibly difficult and important seasons of prayer that require much of us. God’s burden in these situations is very light only when we enter them in his strength and not ours. God’s assignments for us are so heavy and severe that it is completely impossible and burdensome for us to accomplish. Many get very frustrated as they stare God’s impossible directives for them in the face.
What’s the missing element here? The power of the Holy Spirit that can only be received through being with God! As we are with God intensely and with wild regularity, we will, day-by-day, discover the ability to obey God by carrying the burdens he has given us to carry.
Romans 8:26-28 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
We should literally find ourselves in our prayer closets realizing the monumental tasks that God has placed on us, identifying our incredible weaknesses and falling on our faces yearning and groaning before the Lord. Many have not allowed the Holy Spirit to physically groan through them. We intercede and cry out and pray in the Spirit day in and day out as we receive the burdens that the Holy Spirit is willing and able to carry through us.
We must hear God’s voice so we can know what he wants us to do. We’ve all heard the scripture that “all things work together for good…”, but we miss the point all too often. If we are intimate with God and if we are receiving his purpose for our lives, the heavy burden which is made light through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, things work together for good. If we don’t hear God, don’t pray, don’t receive his burden and aren’t intimate with him, things in our lives can be very bad. We must intentionally be with God, hear God, be intimate with God, receive God’s ministry and mandates and allow the Holy Spirit to work and groan through us. Our flesh then becomes crucified and our spirits dance and stir as we excitedly move into the realm of the impossible!
Our flesh often tries to determine how much we will carry because it knows how much it can handle. Instead of surrendering to God’s plans, we attempt to manage our own burdens. Our tolerance for pain dictates how far we go.
Our flesh tells us how much to pray, how much to fast, how much to serve, how much to give. Our flesh determines the extent of our obedience.
However, when we are with God in the furnace of prayer, we become super-powered as the Holy Spirit takes over. We can now obey God and press into the incredible life God has called us to live.
Cares of Life
When I started Revolution Church in 2001, I naively assumed that people who participated with us would see the extreme nature of the vision to take a city for Jesus and would quickly conclude that a radical departure from life as usual must occur. I believed people would get so excited about accomplishing the impossible that they would immediately respond to calls to fast, to pray and to reorder their lives.
After all, the only way to do what God was calling us to do was to be empowered by the Holy Spirit through lengthy prayer. It seemed obvious to me.
God then spoke to me very powerfully, “You must communicate the following message clearly and continually–cares of life must be eliminated!”
Luke 8:14-15 “Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
Those who are inward focused and pursue pleasure and comfort, and who focus on the cares of life, will not mature. I knew a call to take an entire city required people to very quickly respond to this truth regarding the cares of life. It would take serious and maturing people. It couldn’t be a long process, but a quick response to press in, pray, fast and reprioritize their lives.
Those who hear the word keep it and bear fruit with patience. It’s a radical life.
I believe God is restoring the church to be much like the first church in the Book of Acts. While today church leaders avoid scheduling too many events because of the demands of life on people, we will see these demands finally giving way to the structure God had originally ordained. God’s ways will trump life’s demands.
Acts 2:46-47 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
They were actually at church every day! They also met in homes. A lot of activity with God and other believers was taking place. They had favor and the harvest was large. Can you imagine people today praying in the church every day? Well, it is coming and it will mark the most powerful season the church has ever experienced!
The Lord spoke something to me recently. He told me the Holy Spirit is moving on the face of the earth right now, and he is recruiting. He’s recruiting those who will respond to him, and who will participate in a great end time move of God. A great battle. He said that he is not installing a draft. This end time army will be made up of those who are willing and ready–those who discern the signs of the times. Those who resist, some who will still be secure in their salvation and others who won’t, will feel the force of the move of God on the earth instead of partnering with God.
God is calling us to surrender all. Many are just cruising along in life, relaxing and doing their best to be comfortable. Many will not make Heaven.
Even Billy Graham’s own research shows a mere 2% of people who fill out a decision card at one of their evangelistic crusades ever end up pursuing their walk with the Lord.
I’ve heard of a person who was taken to Heaven in real time. He watched as people entered eternity. Some went to Heaven. Most went to Hell.
A recent Gallup poll reveals that 45% of people in America call themselves born again. On this particular day, this individual reported that only about 2% of the people who died that day entered Heaven. While this is not verifiable, it is nonetheless striking. We could deduct fairly reliably that well over 90% of people who had at one time repeated a sinner’s prayer, probably attended church and lived a good life were never known by God and ended up in Hell.
Intimacy with God is achieved through prayer. I suggest it’s a matter of eternal life and death to ensure the prayer rooms of America’s churches are full.
Revolution Church was transitioned to Revolution House of Prayer recently. God had spoken clearly to me about the deep importance of having entire cities that pray and worship him 24-hours a day. I decided to contact someone at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. I emailed several questions to them, and one of their leaders responded back to me.
The answer to one question broke my heart and sent flags flying and alarms sounding.
“How do visitors respond when you tell them that the mission of IHOP is to minister to God 24-hours a day in prayer?”
The answer?“They often look back at us with a confused look on their face.” I too have experienced this tragic phenomena.
How can this be? How can they be confused? It simply doesn’t make sense. Where is the deep longing to be with the Lover of our souls? Where is the lovesick bride?
God’s house is a House of Prayer. Period. There is a trend that must be eliminated from our mind sets–the trend of participating in churches or spiritual activities based on what we can get out of them. Entire churches are set up with the mind set of having the most programs so they can serve the most needs of the most people! When did this happen?
We are called to bring our sacrifices to the altar! We are called to surrender all! To minister to God!
I contend that one of the best things that churches in America can do is to cancel all of their programs, small groups, Sunday School classes and activities–and pray. For a year. Who will stay? Who will thrive? Who will leave? Who will complain?
Can you imagine what this nation and this world would be like if for 365 straight days and nights every single church and every single pastor and every single believer would be in the prayer rooms? Revival would burn across this land and the harvest would be received in world record time!
As it is now, churches call a prayer meeting and the people scatter–America, we have a problem.
A reformation of ministry to the Living God is coming to our land. Churches are abandoning old wine skins and are transitioning to the original intent on God’s heart–for his house to be a house of prayer for all nations.
Relationships will be developed in the prayer rooms. We’ll go out for coffee after our prayer watches and study the Word together. We’ll enjoy each other’s company in our homes. We’ll live a life of continual prayer, continual growth and continual relationships with other fire-breathing Christians–and it won’t be dependent on a program!
What about the lost? I contend that they will finally have a good reason to get saved. And they won’t get falsely saved into a cozy, self-centered experience. They won’t ever have to face the terror of Hell that gripped me in that shocking and horrific dream. Salvation for the coming harvest will equate to passionate surrender to a zealous Bridegroom. They will be launched into a life of intimate pursuit of Jesus through the vehicle of continual, fervent prayer.
Let’s go churches of America–open up the prayer rooms again!
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.
We could spend trillions of years learning about and discovering and encountering the love of God. In fact, we will do so throughout all eternity. The Bible itself exhorts us to learn about love:
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.
Shock Christianity: A prophetic alarm is sounding as a code blue church is under the shock paddles of the great Physician.
I’m going to take the opportunity to lay some very important things out on the table—in the hopes that God will bring clarity to what is expected in this end-of-the-age season that we are in.
**Near the end, I will share very important information about why I focus on such a narrow, offensive, troubling message. It’s important that you hear my heart on this.
Here is a provocative podcast on this topic:
I had planned on writing an article dealing with the issue of love as it’s revealed through prophetic voices for the last week, and since then I’ve had at least a few key unexpected discussions regarding what one called “Shock Christianity.”
I believe this is evidence that it’s time to both humbly ask God to inspect our hearts (as I always do when I find myself in such active and controversial seasons) and clearly communicate what is truly to be expected.
It’s extremely easy to point out self-defined lack in another’s life with the accusation that they are not acting in love. This is an accusation that I and many other aggressive & prophetic leaders, who shock and rock and tear down idols and altars, have received more than once.
The problem? There’s confusion about what love is, and also about how to react when someone isn’t manifesting love in the way we think they should.
Friendship & emotional intimacy
For many, especially those with a high mercy gift, the seemingly obvious, non-negotiable manifestation of love is close friendship and deep, emotional intimacy.
This isn’t an inappropriate desire—it’s the way many are wired. But, it is inappropriate to presume that a lack of emotional intimacy is evidence of a lack of love.
It’s too easy to point a finger at someone who has healthy boundaries setup and accuse them of not loving you. The accurate analysis would actually be that they most probably do love you, but they don’t desire emotional intimacy with you.
In fact, it may hurt, but we have to understand that not everybody wants to be our friend! That doesn’t mean they don’t love us, it just means that they don’t feel impressed to develop that type of relationship with us. They are limited in their ability or desire to befriend certain people, and that’s OK. It’s normal.
I personally know that not everybody will like me, and not everybody will want to be my friend. It would actually be really bizarre if that weren’t true!
Additionally, for many leaders, their primary goal isn’t to connect with everybody, but rather it’s to connect everybody to God. That is a valid and important ministry.
I think of Mike Bickle who isn’t going to just befriend anybody who walks into IHOPKC, but he absolutely will invest every ounce of his energy to help you connect to Jesus. What love that is!
What is love?
That’s a loaded question. I feel all of us would agree that the answer is wildly expansive and multifaceted.
And that it is. If the definition of biblical love is so deep and wide, why is it that we get offended when someone doesn’t fit our shallow and narrow definition of love?
If you search for “God’s Love” on Amazon, it returns 311,863 available books. It’s an inexhaustible topic!
When you read scripture, it is, again, inexhaustible. Of course, we do have quite a wonderful definition here:
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (ESV) 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I personally consider this passage often. Really, I do so continually. For me, loving with God’s love is non-negotiable, though it is so easy to fail. The fear of the Lord is on me regarding the issue as this passage reveals a sharp warning to those who minister without loving. For someone with a “shock Christianity” mandate, this is all the more sobering. I must love without fail while shaking the sleepers. If love doesn’t drive the shaking, if it’s selfish ambition or greed that does it, I am in big trouble.
Now, this passage isn’t to be used as ammunition against others who don’t measure up, but rather it’s to be a sword to our own hearts. We need to let God break us. Don’t look to others who seem to be failing in love and accuse them of failure. You love them without reserve! Cover them as Noah was covered by two of his three sons. Don’t be the son that exposed his father’s nakedness! That results in a curse!
Genesis 9:20-27 (ESV) 20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.”
Here’s the questions we have to ask ourselves to ensure we are personally living in the love of God:
- Am I patient? This doesn’t mean we aren’t bold or that we don’t challenge people to pick up the pace. This is a heart issue. Can we advance with determination while also honoring people who are slower than us?
- Am I kind? This is also an attitude of the heart. It doesn’t mean we are passive or soft spoken. It just means we are looking out for the needs of others.
- Do I envy others? Jealousy divides. Enough said.
- Do I boast? Do I have pride that results in attempting to outshine others?
- Am I arrogant? Boldness and arrogance are closely related. One is Holy Spirit driven, the other is not. I’m sure people might accuse me of arrogance due to my aggressive, urgent focus on life, and my unwillingness to entertain lukewarm theologies, but I am consistently asking God to search my heart on this. I desire to be bold without reservation, even if it looks like arrogance. I’m not out to prove I love people. I’m to love them, and sometimes it can get testy as I promote God’s messages that irritate the resisters.
- Am I rude? I post a lot on Facebook and Twitter. My goal is to be extremely provocative (to shock!), and I’ll talk about that more in a bit. But, it is always extremely important for me to not be rude. It’s critical that while I provoke, that I also honor and refuse to react in a rude or condescending manner.
- Do I insist on my own way? This is about selfishness. Am I self-centered and demanding? Or, do I prefer others above myself?
- Am I irritable? I will admit that I wrestle with this one at times! It’s usually small but nonetheless meaningful issues. I have to be sensitive to my family by not getting irritated when they aren’t in the car ready to go on time or when the kids chores aren’t done. I have improved much, but I must remain sensitive to this.
- Am I resentful? When life doesn’t go as planned, do I resent God or other people who didn’t live up to my expectations?
- Do I rejoice at wrongdoing? Or, do I do the opposite as revealed in Ephesians 5 by exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness?
Even when accusations of lacking love fly, we can humbly go to prayer, let God search our hearts and review the above scriptural revelation of what love looks like.
So, if someone is aggressive, bold, focused, not easily approachable, confrontational, controversial, troubling or intent on tearing down false ideologies that people hold dear, does that reveal a lack of love? Not according to the Bible. In fact, they may love with such a passion that they are more focused on loving than on convincing people they love.
In our culture, love is defined in a way that is often different than what we see in scripture. For example, there is a false-love movement on the rise that presumes that relational friendship is a required manifestation of true love. I disagree. That false expectation will leave many wounded when one who does truly love them doesn’t show it the way they would prefer. Offense will follow and division, hard hearts and cold love are next.
This is an eternal issue! We cannot allow false expectations result in cold love! If others don’t love us the way we want, do we ourselves lose our love for them?
Matthew 24:10-13 (ESV) 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
I’ll say it again—true love doesn’t demand that others respond lovingly. True love is seen on the cross where Jesus didn’t demand any affirmation, friendship, encouragement or any outward manifestation of affection. We know from the encounter in the garden just prior to his arrest that he desired relational closeness, but he didn’t get offended when his friends slept while he sweat and bled.
True maturity comes from our garden experiences. If we can’t escape the lonely bleeding in the garden without offense toward unconcerned, selfish sleepers rising up in our hearts, how can we expect to take up our cross for them? Do we demand that they manifest love toward us, or do we simply love them unto death?
People who struggle with fear and rejection are often hit by the enemy regarding this. They so crave affirmation (which feels like love), that when they don’t get it it’s easy to accuse the person of not loving them. The problem? Affirmation and love are not the same. You can love someone without affirming them, befriending them or even talking to them!
John doesn’t love people
I told you I was going to lay it on the table!
This one hurts so deeply!
There was a 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 incredibly minor. I was unable to meet that need 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 my staff and team against me. The accusation? I don’t love people because I wasn’t there for them that day, and since that situation 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 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 by administering true tough love, biblical discipline and challenges. True biblical love at times does not feel like the love our culture has defined.
This is the power of love languages at work. We can’t expect someone to respond in love according to our love language. They will naturally respond according to their love language.
Of course, we can try to reach out to people according to their love language, but, here’s the point I’m trying to make—a failure to manifest love according to another’s language doesn’t mean they don’t love—it means they aren’t expressing or manifesting love the way that seems obvious to us. That accusation must come to an end.
Can an introverted recluse so deeply love people he has never even met by writing checks for millions of dollars to charities? Yes! That is love though he would never hug you, seek friendship or even smile when you enter the room!
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.
True Expectations: Same love, different manifestations
I once mentioned to Chuck Pierce that it would be powerful to have a resource that explained how we can relate to various personality types, giftings and offices. What type of manifestation of love is typical in a pastor? What about a prophet? I was hoping he would write this book on interactive Christian love, but maybe I’ll have to tackle that at some point!
For example, I often hear people slander the prayer movement by shouting that those who lock themselves in the prayer room for hours a day don’t love people. If they did, they would be out on the streets feeding the homeless or doing something else that relational and meets and immediate need. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While certainly some people who pray all day might struggle with issues of love, the same is true across the board. It has nothing to do with the manifestation (intercession, serving the homeless), but rather it has to do with the condition of the heart.
So, what should we really expect from others? Here’s a short, extremely simplified explanation that should set you free. If you don’t expect someone to express love in a certain way, you won’t be offended when they don’t!
In America, church leaders are almost always called “Pastor.” We need to fix this. Why? There are expectations associated with the offices, and if someone is not truly a pastor, when you call them pastor you are putting a burden on them they can’t bear.
In a true pastor, you might expect someone who loves to listen to your story and is ready to encourage you in it. They may be very relational, conversational and invested in people one-on-one.
A teacher might spend most of his time behind closed doors in study, and might not have a relational bone in his body—but he loves people by rightly dividing the Word. He love is manifested not through smiles and handshakes but through hours of investment in you through study and prayer.
An evangelist will show love by leading people to Jesus. This can get confusing for some who get saved, and then don’t understand why the evangelist isn’t his best friend. After all, they shared a life changing moment together! The reason? The evangelist is off loving the next person!
A prophet will show love through irritating you! I’m a prophetic Apostle, so this is my area of expertise. Prophets may have tears in their eyes and fire in their veins in the place of prayer that results in an uninvited confrontations. In fact, you can consider a prophet an uninvited teacher. He delivers what is not desired to a people who are asleep. Whenever you awaken someone from their sleep, you can expect them to be irritated—yet this irritation is a result of a man or woman of God who loves you so much that they can’t leave you in your condition.
So, you can expect sharp words of warning that are love-fueled alarms designed just for you. You probably wouldn’t expect a prophet to be ultra-relational (they make too many enemies for this to work!). They make horrible counselors most of the time. They love you much as the teacher does—through prayer-driven messages from God.
Apostles are always on the move. They show love by inviting you on the journey. However, they usually don’t wait for too long for you to catch up. For some that feels unloving, but the opposite is true. Their love compels them to move and build and advance into new territory so that many can be saved! While an apostle may not wait long for you, he will always be there to pick you up on his next loop through!
Don’t expect apostles to be locally minded. If you need someone to help with your current life situation, an apostle will show you his love by inviting you on a journey regardless of your current situation! You may need to find a pastor if you aren’t looking for that quite yet!
A one string banjo
As someone who’s not a pastor, I find myself, by design, extremely limited in my message. I’m a one string banjo. Maybe two string.
If I asked you what a particular pastor’s message is, you probably wouldn’t be able to answer. He will usually teach on many different topics.
But, if I were to ask you want John the Baptist’s message was, you’d have an answer—REPENT! PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD! Like John the Baptist, prophetic leaders are one string banjo players.
For me, EVERYTHING I do in ministry stems from one encounter and one message. After an encounter of being dragged toward Hell, God spoke this to me: John, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.
My love for mostly nameless, faceless people burns so hot that I simply cannot deviate from my message of warning. I am loving through provoking people into safety. I am, as someone used the terminology yesterday, a shock Christian. I’m a prophetic messenger that sees time running out.
The horrific confusion regarding the issue of salvation in the Western church is the key reason why I am so intense. I am intentionally WAY off balance due to off-balance theologies. People are going to Hell. They think they are saved.
Just so you know how I see things, due to this encounter that I had 22 years ago: when I’m in a vibrant, Spirit-filled church of, lets say, 1000 people…people who are lifting their hands, worshiping Jesus and paying their tithes…I see maybe 100 of them, on average, ending up in Heaven. That’s not a judgmental statement, as I have no way of truly judging that on a person by person basis. It’s a spiritually analytical reality for me. How can I stay silent even for a day if billions of unsaved people are going to Hell PLUS many more others in churches who are following Jesus in an unsaved condition?
In fact, I’ve often said that I give myself only an 80% chance of making Heaven. If I were to die today, I’m about 99.9% sure I’d be there. However, the Bible is clear that there will be a great falling away. Even the elect will be deceived. If I presume myself to be exempt from that, I am presuming myself to be among the elect—and I am surely deceived. I absolutely can fall away from Jesus, and I don’t take that lightly.
George Barna revealed in a recent poll that only 8% of Americans are Born Again. Only 4% have a biblical world view!
My mandate is simple—love people by communicating to them truth, sounding alarms and tearing down doctrines of demons and humanistic religious idols.
Additionally, as a prophetic Apostle, those warnings come with an invitation—to get equipped to do the same, and to run with me as I charge ahead. I’m looking for modern day Paul Reveres who will love people through shocking and shaking deadly systems!
Running with me will be a joy if you want to be rocked and challenged as your destiny is called out of you.
The label of “shock Christian” fits the movement I’m a part of. I’d rather you be shocked with truth now than shocked to find yourself in Hell one day.
I am extremely thoughtful, prayerful and boldly intentional with what I communicate. Do I always do it perfectly? No way. But I try. But, you can know that I love you deeply and will be in prayer continually as I get the ‘now message’ of the Lord. The message will probably trouble you at times. It is supposed to. The paddles must be placed on ALL of us at times to shock to life a dying part of our lives.
You may wonder why I don’t deviate from this approach. I hope you now know why.
And, let me say this. I think it’s an indictment on our passive, timid culture when, what I consider to be mildly jarring truths, seem to be so extreme and impacting. It’s an indictment on the church when truth is shunned when it troubles or causes discomfort. What I post, honestly, is simple, old school Christianity. I’m saddened that people find it drastic—but so be it. I will continue preaching it until drastic becomes normal again.
Experience an atmosphere of intimacy, intercession and passionate teaching in our new prayer-fueled setting in Warren!
Tomorrow is a special night and YOU are invited to celebrate with us!
Revival Church is serious about seeing prayer returned to first place in the church—and in the main church service.
Tomorrow night you will experience a fiery atmosphere of intimate prayer and passionate decrees just before I bring a message on our eternal perspective. We can be intimate with Jesus FOREVER—starting NOW!
The coffee will be ready at 6pm, and you can enjoy it with friends, or you can bring it into the Prep Room for fiery pre-service prayer!
Revival Church is located at 26091 Sherwood, Warren, MI 48091.
We are adding three BRAND NEW prayer and teaching nights to the calendar!
■ Mondays Night Teaching on Historic Revivals • 7-9pm • Beginning July 15th
just what did it take for revival to break out through some of history’s most remarkable leaders?
■ Tuesday Night Teaching on Intimacy & The Tabernacle • 7-9pm • Beginning July 16th
This 13-week class will transform your life!
On Tuesday nights we will peer into God’s incredible passion to commune with His own people as seen through the design and structure of the Tabernacle. Each detail in the cloth, the furniture, the spices, the offerings and priests of the Tabernacle foreshadow what was to come in Jesus Christ. Get a copy of, “Seeing Christ in the Tabernacle” by Ervin Hershberger for $4.99 on Amazon Kindle and read the first chapter, “Ark of the Covenant” as we explore these amazing images of Jesus Christ.
■ Wednesday Night Bible Study • 7-9pm • Beginning July 17th
“I have written to you, young men (and women), Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you,
And you have overcome the wicked one.” – 1Jn 2.14b
As I prayed for God’s direction for the Wednesday night Bible study, I heard one simple 1-syllable word in my spirit…”strong”. It’s so easy for many of us to hear a good word or a good teaching and we receive it with great emotion. And it’s great to receive the truth of God’s Word with joy. The truths regarding His unending love and mercy and even His redemptive judgments are great liberators that set our hearts free and on fire.
But when the circumstances and storms of life come and challenge what we believe, the truth of God’s Word needs to be rooted and grounded deep in our hearts. It is only when we understand His Word and His promises in the context of His will and divine purposes that we can effectively stand on them, and stand on them, and persevere, and see His Kingdom established in our lives. It’s when His Word is rooted deep in our gut that we’re able to pray and decree and legislate from our God given authority and status as His sons and daughters.
This is what we’re called to do. We’re called to take a city.
On Wednesday nights, we’re going to go deep. We’re really going to take our time and allow the truth of God’s Word to germinate and take root and get deep into our hearts. Then, when we pray, we will ask for what we desire, and it will be done for us, Jn 15.7.
I’m really excited about studying the Book of Ephesians. And the more I study, the more excited I get. Did you know that the Book of Ephesians is considered to be a NT parallel to the Book of Joshua of the OT? Joshua led the children of Israel into their Promised Land and Ephesians is all about entering and walking in our inheritance in Christ. Did you know that Ephesians is considered the “crown jewel” or capstone of Paul’s theology? Did you know that while Romans was used to spark the Reformation, Ephesians and its central theme of unity in the Body of Christ will be used by God to bring unity to His True Bride before the return of the Lord?
But while the truths in Ephesians have many applications to our church corporately and the regional church we are called to serve, the power and the strength and the might that they convey to the human spirit on a personal level are simply life-changing.
I hope you will join me for a season of strength and “body-building” as we uncover, assimilate and apply the powerful redemptive truths of the Book of Ephesians.
■ Grand Opening Weekend with Richard Crisco! Saturday & Sunday July 27-28, 2013
Learn about the vision of Revival Church & theLab University AND enjoy dinner together on Saturday night at 7pm!
John will be sharing the vision for the ministry and the region on Saturday for a short time just prior to a feast! Bring a main dish AND either a side OR a dessert to share (two total items).
Then, on Sunday, July 28th, we are honored to have special guest Richard Crisco with us at 7pm! This is a weekend you won’t want to miss!
■ Life with John and Amy• 5pm • Sunday, August 4th
Everybody is invited to John and Amy’s house the first Sunday of every month at 5pm!
This is the day we all look forward to each month! We eat together, play games, sit and talk and relax!
Bring your friends and family…the kids will love it!
Our address is: 64639 Tara Hill Drive, Washington, MI 48095
See YOU there!
■ Coming Soon: Reserve a Personal Prayer Room
Schedule 1-2 hour prayer blocks
As a house of prayer for the Detroit region, we HIGHLY value the hours of fervent prayer that are invested.
Soon, you will be able to reserve our prayer room to soak, study scripture, worship and minister to the Lord. Stay tuned!
■ theLab Prayer Events • Different Detroit Region Location Weekly!
theLab has prayed in fervent fire in over 70 Detroit area churches and has been strategically interceding on the streets of Downtown Detroit.
Amy Smith carries this vision, and is currently planning upcoming prayer events that will continue to shock this region! You are invited! Where are we going to be this Friday? Go to thelabdetroit.com and check out the prayer event calendar!
Revival Church has moved! Our first service is THIS SATURDAY at 7pm!
And, to kick it all off, we will have a special prayer event TOMORROW, Thursday, July 11th at 7pm in our new building!
We would love to invite you, your friends and family to celebrate with us as we take another step toward seeing night and day prayer grow in the Detroit region.
Revival Church is located at 26091 Sherwood, Warren, MI 48091. Visit our site for more info here: www.explorerevival.com
Prayer drives the ministry, and we would like to invite you to join us for 45 minutes of fiery intercession before the service begins.
Primary Intercession & Teaching Service
Our services are driven by about an hour of corporate intercession with music playing over us in fast paced, passionate atmosphere of fire.Teachings are finely focused on the topics of revival, prayer, the end-times, intimacy with God and reformation.
Prayer & Teaching: Historic Revivals
Encounter God and minister to him from 7-8pm and then learn about the great revivals and revivalists of history from 8-9pm!
Prayer & Teaching: Intimacy with God
Soak in God’s glorious presence from 7-8pm and then discover the deep, intimate heart of God from 8-9pm!
Prayer & Teaching: Bible Study
Pray with fire from 7-8pm and then discuss scripture in a small group setting from 8-9pm!
theLab Prayer Events
You don’t want to miss this! Every Friday we are somewhere in the Detroit region leading in fiery prayer! We may be in the streets of downtown Detroit or in a church in the area. To date, we have been in over 70 regional churches to hold white-hot prayer meetings. Simply show up and pray with us! See the calendar HERE for the location of upcoming events.
GRAND OPENING WEEKEND
It gets even better!
Our Grand Opening Weekend is July 27th and 28th!
On Saturday July 27th at 7pm, we will begin with an hour of prayer and teaching, and THEN we will all enjoy a feast together! Bring a main dish AND either a side item OR dessert to share (2 total items).
On Sunday July 28th at 7pm, we are honored to have Pastor Richard Crisco as our special guest.
This will be a weekend to remember!
Are solemn assemblies the answer to revival?
First, I MUST encourage you again to listen to one of the most important messages you may hear this year. It’s spreading around the internet… listen and share it with everybody you can. Listen here: https://burton.tv/2012/10/01/listen-now-a-sudden-outbreak-of-the-spirit-of-revival-in-detroit-last-night/
Charisma Magazine just posted a great article on the effectiveness of large corporate prayer gatherings and solemn assemblies. You can read that article here.
As I shared in my previous post, there have been many prophecies about stadiums in Detroit being filled with intercessors and revivalists. I agree with that prophecy.
I agree with Jennifer Leclaire, the author of the article on prayer rallies in Charisma Magazine, that large corporate prayer gatherings and solemn assemblies absolutely do work and are wildly necessary.
She said, “I believe every prayer lifted to heaven in the name of Jesus makes a difference. I believe every intercessor’s Spirit-inspired utterance is making up a hedge of protection around this nation. I believe if the prayer stopped, the skeptics would start asking us to pray again.”
I couldn’t agree more.
We need the stadiums full, but, there is a much more challenging and costly strategy that revival is tightly hinged on.
The church must become a house of prayer again, and the corporate body must live a life of such extreme sacrifice that the prayer house is filled most every day of the week.
Yes, the price is our time and the costly surrender of our American lifestyle and the eradication of the cares of life.
Again, let me make it clear:
The average American Christian who works a 9 to 5 job, who has kids in sports and school programs, will need to shift most everything in their daily schedule and gather together under key apostolic and prophetic leadership to pray and respond to instruction most every night of the week.
The stadium level prayer events must happen, but, they won’t have lasting impact if we don’t also live a disciplined life of white hot, deep corporate prayer most every day.
We often talk about Easter Christians who only attend church on Easter and Christmas.
I want to offer a comparison. Today we have event Christians who trust in the conferences and stadium events to carry them and to advance the Kingdom on the Earth. That strategy alone won’t work.
We must pray together continually.
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47 ESV)
I’ve said this countless times, and I’ve written about it in my book 20 Elements of Revival: The 24/7 church will arise again and Christians will gather together every day to pray and contend for Kingdom advance.
I don’t know if it will take a national calamity or if it will come as the church suddenly awakens, but the 24/7 church is coming—and it will require a passionate, disciplined, undistracted people.
Ephesians 6:16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance…
As we are driven by faith, pray ALWAYS in the Spirit…persevere and stay alert, we will establish a biblically normal church: A house of prayer that’s filled continually with zealous, surrendered Christians who feel the weight of the hour and intercede with passion for the nations.
We can’t meet in a stadium once a year and hope for revival. It’s time to gather together with the fear of the Lord provoking us into intimacy with God and bold Kingdom action.
THE CITY CHURCH
When this biblical model has matured, we’ll see it function on a city level very powerfully.
The apostolic/prophetic leadership of the city will call regular corporate prayer events and the entire city church will show up. Stadiums will be filled regularly.
Then, between events, the local expressions of the city church will be together day after day in prayer and response to local apostolic instruction.
I want to encourage you to order 20 Elements of Revival as I go into detail on the structure of a revival ready city church.
You can order it for print or Kindle at www.johnburton.net/resources.
Expect a piercing prophetic message of revival by Corry Robinson TONIGHT at Revival Church!
Corry Robinson was with Pastor Joe Sazyc this morning and I received the following texts:
“Brother, I’m BURNING! Something’s gonna happen tonight!”
“Prophetic exploding! Bodies all over the floor.”
“I’m telling you. There is something powerful and REAL about this guy!”
Burning intercession begins at 5pm tonight and the night of fire begins at 6pm!
Check this out from Corry:
We are entering a time of true demarcation! Those who don’t really know Jesus from the place of intimacy will EXHAUST THEMSELVES with worthless attempts of self glorification. They may have big building programs and big MEDIA HYPE and big crowds; but at the end of the day, their works will be counted as ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in the Presence of the ONLY ONE WORTHY of all those things. And the world will know the difference: those who will settle for hype will have NO SUBSTANCE, while those who are wholehearted will have THE NAME OF GOD written on their assemblies-the Name that carries more weight than anything in the UNIVERSE!!! I said all of that to say to those who embrace the life of simplistic wholeheartedness, ”Continue to embrace the place of obscurity; and at the right time, THE LORD HIMSELF will raise you up-AND YOU WON’T HAVE TO SPEND MILLIONS FOR HIM TO DO IT! Just continue to spend your time wisely!
Corry is the founder of FireBrand Worship, a music ministry that emphasizes passionate, wholehearted devotion to Jesus Christ particularly through music. He has been referenced by some as one who ‘releases the trumpet sound of the Lord’ through spontaneous prophetic worship. Corry also founded the Orlando Night Of Worship (Orlando N.O.W.!), which seeks to gather worship leaders, intercessors, singers and musicians in the Central Florida area for monthly 8-hour ‘nightwatch’ gatherings that focus on cultivating intimate worship and intercession, and to equip individuals through teaching on intimacy with Jesus. Corry has a deep burden to see God raise up Nazarites out of the inner-cities to become burning and shining lamps, who will stand and hear the voice of the Lord, and herald the message of the Coming Bridegroom God.
Corry has served as a worship leader in a local church since 1998. He and his wife Lakisha live in Orlando, Florida.
CORRY ROBINSON AT THECALL
Here’s a video of Corry praying at TheCall Detroit: http://youtu.be/K2KDh5spVOc
Prepare to have your theology of salvation challenged as you dive into intimate encounter with Jesus!
This is the FINAL session at theLab that we’ll be opening up our Saturday classes for people not in the internship. Starting in January, the Saturday classes will only be offered to those enrolled in the internship. So, now is the time to get in on these classes!
Don’t forget to join us TONIGHT from 10pm-midnight at theLab prayer event! Head over to www.revivallab.com for the location!
Tomorrow from 10am-2pm I’ll be sharing on the encounter that changed my life more than any other—I was dragged toward Hell by an overpowering demon.
As I came out of that encounter, God spoke to me clearly: John, many in the church will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.
I have been rocked for over 20 years since I had that dream in Dayton, Ohio.
Discover the truth behind the call for intimate encounter with God, and how that relates to our eternal position in Christ.
The cost is $15. You can pay online prior to arriving at www.revivallab.com/payment or you can pay be check, cash or credit card at the door.
As always, we’ll be holding the class at The Tabernacle, 14205 12 Mile Road, Warren, MI 48088.
See you there!