What is Prince doing right now in eternity?

Dell-000050435It’s late and I’m awake, wrestling, grieved, angry.

I often write for Charisma Media and I do hope this raw, unedited article is published there. It’s much different than the type of article I usually write.  It also needs to land in Rolling Stone, on Fox News and everywhere else the eyes of the world are looking.

Prince is dead.

Like so many others who have been deceived by a cunning serpent, a drug overdose was suspected as was reported by TMZ:

Multiple sources in Moline tell us, Prince was rushed to a hospital and doctors gave him a “save shot” … typically administered to counteract the effects of an opiate.

Read more: http://www.tmz.com/2016/04/21/prince-treated-drug-overdose-dead/#ixzz46ZSRFU00

David Bowie, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Chris Farley, Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix, John Belushi, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and the list goes on and on and on. They surrendered their souls to a murderous spirit in the form of drugs, alcohol and suicide.

Earlier today the man people around the world are calling “Legend” was alive, just as he had been for the last 57 years. Now, like the other celebrities who have gone before him, Prince is awake, alert and living in an entirely new place—a place he was probably not that concerned about—until today.

Yesterday Prince’s Wikipedia page was quite different. It highlighted his legend status, his great accomplishments and his worldwide fan base. He had no idea today it was report this:

Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016)

On April 15, 2016, while on tour, his private plane made an emergency landing in Illinois. He was later admitted to a hospital with flu-like symptoms. On April 21, 2016, Prince died at his Paisley Park recording studio and home in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

Tributes to Prince are spontaneously appearing all over the world. Chicago turned their night skyline Prince's signature purple. The New Orleans Superdome was also shrouded in purple as was Madison Square Garden in New York City and City Hall in San Francisco. People in Prince's home town of Minneapolis were dancing in an all night vigil to him.

I am so disturbed by the insanity of our culture that I refuse to hold back. I know I’ll be accused of being insensitive. People will say, “It’s too soon to talk about this.” Others will be enraged that I would presume someone to be in Hell. I’m sure I’ll be accused of being prideful and arrogant. Others might say I’m hateful.

Revealing that people are in Hell isn’t an indicator of hatred any more than reporting that an individual is in the state penitentiary. If I enjoyed the fact that they were there, however, I would indeed be deranged. I’m sick that they are there. I want to vomit. I can’t handle the fact that so many are in indescribable torment there right now. They will never find relief. I honestly feel helpless.

In the past, when other people have died, I’ve felt similar grief, but this time I had to react. I suppose respond would be a more appropriate word than react, but that’s not what I’m feeling. I don’t feel like I’m simply responding to a difficult situation. There is a raging reaction to the evil that is so vigorously celebrated today coursing through my veins. It’s unbridled. It’s uncensored. It’s real, pure, undeniable anger at a society that repeatedly rejects God as if he were some sort of killjoy, a monster. Satan is brilliantly playing the puppet master to a generation that absolutely adores him. When he says dance, they dance.

Barring a last minute decision to fall in love with and surrender to a God he has soundly rejected for decades, Prince is currently experiencing the darkest, most maddening, horrific evil imaginable. In fact, it’s far beyond one’s ability to understand. Five seconds in Hell is more than enough to send a person into complete lunacy. As of the writing of this sentence, Prince has been there 13 hours and 40 minutes. Even more horrifying is that over the same amount of time, approximately 85,000 other people have died. Based on what the Bible teaches, the high majority of those people are confused, disoriented and terrorized in Hell—right now. Since you started reading this article, around 100 more people have died. For many of them it was unexpected. Just over 60 seconds ago, all was well as it had been for years. Now many of them are in the clenches of unrelenting darkness. The grip is too tight to struggle free from. It will never loosen.

People of planet Earth, I have a question for you. Why do you hate God with such fervor? I’m not talking about a manmade invention of some god that you might have an affinity for. I’m talking about Jesus Christ. What has he ever done to cause you to reject him so soundly? Why are you turning to evil instead of to someone who actually loves you with immeasurable passion? Hey superstars, celebrities, why are you so enamored by sex, drugs, fame, money? Get over it! Stop! It’s ridiculous! You are entertaining destruction! Everybody else, why do you look up to them, call them legend, dream to be like them? How have you become so bewitched?

Jesus is real. Jesus is alive. Jesus thinks about you continually. Jesus burns with a selfless love that would change you for eternity if you just experienced it for a moment.

I opened by saying that I’m angry. Sure, I’m angry at Satan. Whatever. That’s the obvious spiritual answer. My immediate emotions however are not exclusive to that invisible enemy. I’m furious at flesh and blood people who continue to fall for such darkness and rebellion and who propagate a godless, selfish lifestyle that’s radically debased—and extremely contagious.

Musicians, actors, athletes, politicians and everybody else who is influencing society—stop your nonsense! Get over yourself! You are not a god! Stop living a life that mocks Jesus and is fueled by self-indulgent filth. It’s killing you. It’s killing our generation. You aren’t heroes. You aren’t untouchable. The hand of death will grab you at some point and won’t let go. What will your first five seconds in eternity be like?

Jesus allowed himself to be hated, mocked, spit on, mutilated, put to shame and murdered as he hung naked in front of a blood thirsty crowd—and he forgave them all. He did this for me. My life will never be the same again. I’m weak and broken—and transformed. I’m free. I’m alive. I don’t deserve it, but I will have the opportunity to be with that man, Christ Jesus, for trillions and trillions of years, forever actually. Why? The answer is obvious—who could not fall in love with a God like that? I couldn’t resist.

God is passionately calling you, drawing you. Just take the dive already! Do it! Do you seriously think sex or drugs or fame is better? Really? Just what type of god are you imagining?

I think of people like Johnny Manziel who are spiraling out of control. I’m scared for Johnny. He doesn’t need rehab. He doesn’t need to make better choices. He needs to stop the madness and finally surrender his heart to Jesus. It’s that simple.

Johnny’s still alive. He has time. He could spend forever with Jesus, experiencing freedom, power, peace, strength and love that would wonderfully wreck him for eternity. He has that option.

What would happen if we suddenly had a rush of celebrities completely rejecting their previous lives by becoming fully surrendered to Jesus? I believe that can happen. It must happen.

I envision fiery, rowdy, Holy Spirit driven prayer meetings with people like Oprah, Charlie Sheen, Johnny Manziel, Harrison Ford, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian, Ellen Degeneres, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Rihanna and others leading the way. Imagine what it would be like if they were all on their knee at an altar, adoring Jesus, waiting their turn to take the mic and lead the room in intercession for revival!

Alright, my rant is over. My emotions are shifting from anger to sadness, and again to determined intercession. We can see change come if we stop idolizing these people and truly pray in tears for them.

For Prince, tragically, it’s too late. Nothing can be done to alter his eternity.

But God is targeting those who remain on the earth. Celebrity or not, they are precious, precious people who have an amazing destiny ahead of them—if they only, finally, say yes to someone who loves them deeply. My friend, Jesus.

We can’t afford someone leading our nation who does not hear God’s voice, honor his principles or love his people.

imageThough I’ve heard the statement time and again, for the life of me I cannot stop shaking my head in the midst of the confusion it creates. What statement is that?

“We don’t need a Pastor in Chief to lead our nation.”

That crazy decree seems to be the rallying cry of people who are dead set on rejecting more godly candidates in favor of one who is continually bearing extremely bad fruit.

Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people mourn.”

The celebration surrounding Donald Trump zeros in on his secular problem solving abilities and his rejection of any measure of political correctness. The problem? The situation in America requires someone who applies biblical principles, not human principles; biblical wisdom, not human wisdom.

“The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.” ~ Calvin Coolidge

Again, I just sit back and shake my head when Christians so eagerly support someone who has owned casinos and strip clubs and whose wife appeared nude in a magazine. Am I actually typing that? Christians are campaigning for a man who has owned casinos and strip clubs and whose wife appeared nude in a magazine. Wow. Yes. I did just type that. Twice. I’m flabbergasted.

Please, fellow Christian, explain yourself! How can you ignore that and the many other violations of decency that Donald Trump has committed—and continues to commit?

If my own son or daughter was campaigning for the office of President of the United States and was living similarly in an ungodly way, they would never receive my vote. My love, yes. My vote, not a chance. I couldn’t allow the blood of our nation to be on my hands. No amount of charisma, leadership ability or education could convince me to vote for them—unless they embraced a repentant life and developed into a mature follower of Jesus.

The reality is that we are absolutely electing someone to lead our nation who must be first and foremost a servant of God. If they don’t intimately know Jesus Christ, what god will they be receiving their inspiration from? The principalities and powers are drooling at the chance to be that god—the one who gives leadership to the President of the United States of America. If we don’t have a God fearing person in office, one who exhibits the traits of a true pastor, the alternative should terrify us.

“We recognize no sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!” ~ John Adams

“The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which heaven itself has ordained.” ~ George Washington

PASTOR IN CHIEF

For all of those who are adamantly arguing against electing a Pastor in Chief, please let me know which of the following attributes are improper for the leader of our nation.

1 Timothy 3 1-7 reveals the qualifications of overseers of the church. I propose that these must be minimum qualifications for one who would desire to lead our nation:

  1. Above reproach—This means to be blameless. No evil should be able to be proved against any candidate of public office. This doesn’t only mean any illegal activity, it means to be free of evil, of sinful practice. How can a President lead our nation via righteous means if he isn’t living righteously his self?
  2. The husband of one wife—This mandate has become so diluted in our modern society. It’s shocking that we would hold to a position that divorced people disqualify themselves from leadership (unless the divorce is supported by Scripture).
  3. Sober-minded—Adam Clarke translates this as “having the complete government of all his passions.” This is talking about a mature person who isn’t given to anger or emotional responses to the issues of life.
  4. Self-controlled—Sometimes candidates for office are referred to as appearing Presidential. They are self-controlled, steady and not swayed by the challenges in front of them. They are confident and solid in their position.
  5. Respectable—A candidate’s reputation will precede them, and it must be squeaky clean. At the least, they must humbly admit their previous failures and be believable going forward. They must be genuine.
  6. Hospitable—Will a candidate get into the trenches with common people, serve them with passion and connect with them as a friend? It’s something very special when this happens, and I believe we should expect it. It’s a part of the office.
  7. Able to teach—It might be easy to dismiss this as pertaining specifically to pastors. I would disagree. We must have a leader who can communicate clearly, understand his subject matter and connect with the people of America so well that he gains our trust and that we are properly informed.
  8. Not a drunkard—This should go without saying. No leader, spiritual or secular, will be able to fulfill his duties if he drinks to excess.
  9. Not violent—Violence in a pastor would be truly terrible. Violence in the leader of our nation would literally put our nation at risk of nuclear war.
  10. Gentle—A non-violent leader is mandatory, but we have to expect even more. They must be gentle. Do you perceive a gentle, tender heart in your candidate?
  11. Not quarrelsome—Do they play dirty? Do they call people names, act like a bully or threaten? If so, putting them in the land’s highest position would be a cataclysmic mistake.
  12. Not a lover of money—This should be absolutely non-negotiable for any leader, much less the President of the United States. A love of money is the root of all evil, and if that attribute is in our leader our nation is put at extreme risk of being overtaken by evil.
  13. Manage his household well—Does the candidate have a reputation of being a stable family leader? Do his children respect him? Are they submissive? This is more important than we may realize.
  14. Not a recent convert—This may be the most important attribute for the leader of our nation. Having anybody other than a seasoned Christian leading our nation should be unthinkable.
  15. Be well thought of by outsiders—Is the candidate an honorable person? Do people respect their character?

The question I’m presenting is simple: why would we not demand such a code of ethics for those who are running for office? What is unreasonable about it? Why would such a list of qualifications be rejected when seeking to elect someone for the most powerful and influential position in our great (or once great) nation?

The obvious defense would be that no candidate passes the test. That’s debatable, but regardless, we must elect the person who scores the highest. We can’t throw out the standards simply because of a lack of perfection. Look for the humble person, for the mature Believer, for the one who walks in the fear of the Lord.

Donald Trump is clearly not that person. I pray someday he could be.

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Psalm 2:10-11 (ESV)

2016 has the potential of rescuing many precious people!

Passion for transformed lives and true impact in the nations is launching us into a brand new year. The faithful generosity of people like you has made it possible for people all over the world to be set ablaze with love for Jesus!

This next year provides opportunities for innumerable people to encounter God and his radical love and his life-shaking message of revolution. My heart burns for those who have yet to come alive in Jesus!

I would like to invite you to become a part of this passionate pursuit by giving a tax-deductible year-end gift.

Carriers of Fire International will deliver fresh messages of abundant life and awakening through:

  • Online prophetic teaching from our studio in Branson, Missouri at www.thefurnace.tv
  • Articles, distribution of books and other media
  • Conferences and events in various cities in our nation and around the world

We are excited about what 2016 will bring and we want to thank YOU for helping make it all possible!

You can GIVE TODAY HERE!

John and Amy Burton
Carriers of Fire International

Adultery: The cause for concern in the church is much greater than many realize.

Mark 7:21-23 (ESV) 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

I have found myself sickened and angrier than I’ve been in a long time over the recent controversy surrounding Ashley Madison, a website that makes it easy to commit adultery.

In fact, I am shocked that this can even be considered a controversy. Check out the definition of that word:

controversy: discussion marked especially by the expression of opposing views

Are there really two sides? Is it possible there are those who would argue for the appropriateness of having sexual encounters with people other than their spouse? Unbelievably yes. The darkness is truly getting darker.

Isaiah 5:20 (ESV) 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…

Romans 12:9 (ESV) 9 …Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman recently said, “Up until the creation of AshleyMadison.com, there wasn't really a place where women could go to pursue their desires to have an affair. Now that there is, it's clear that women aren't the more faithful sex – they just hadn't been offered the same opportunities to cheat in the past.”

He continues by saying, “Members are not cheating on their spouse because they're looking for divorce, more often than not they're seeking out an affair to help keep their marriage together.”

Sure, go ahead and read that again. He really said that.

Matthew 12:33-37 (ESV) 33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Mr. Biderman, if you are reading this I implore you to honestly evaluate the extreme destruction you are shamelessly perpetuating. Your actions are reckless and you deserve a stern rebuke. You have brought great pain upon the world and have absolutely devastated people’s lives. Your supposed marital wisdom is embarrassing.

Mr. Biderman, did you know the only reason you were born was to deeply love Jesus Christ and to have a very real, intimate, powerful and holy relationship with him? That is why you are on the earth. That is why you are breathing today!

Through the current scandal God is sounding alarms and flashing lights right at you, crying out for you to turn from wickedness and discover the amazing truth and power of the cross. Jesus was brutally, savagely murdered for you because of love. He would never cheat on you, leave you or forsake you.

I pray for you. Heaven is real and so is Hell. Please consider your life and surrender everything to Jesus, no matter the cost, no matter if you lose your reputation or your millions made through immorality.

CHRISTIANS IN ADULTERY

I’ve heard various reports of Christians being exposed as registered users of Ashley Madison. One source revealed at least 400 pastors were named in the leak. Of course we already know about Josh Duggar who was caught.

Yet, consider this: there are most probably millions of additional Christians who are guilty of adultery yet who have not been exposed. Your spouse very well may be on that list. You may be as well.

Before you dismiss my previous statement as ludicrous, please read the following:

Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

That’s all it takes to be as guilty as every Christian who took advantage of the filth and immorality that AshleyMadison.com provides.

If you reject that as extreme, if you believe there is a significant difference between lusting after another person and actually having a sexual encounter with them, it’s evidence that you don’t truly believe the Word of God. It’s also evidence that the fear of God is not in you.

How many women have Christian men actually committed adultery with? What about women who have fallen for the 50 Shades of Gray deception? This is so intense! If you lust over someone you have fallen into sexual immorality, and that person doesn’t even know they have been violated!

A DEMAND FOR HOLINESS

1 Peter 1:14-16 (ESV) 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Enough is enough! The church has nearly entirely eliminated preaching on sin and holiness! People are living in casual, accepted sin and are convinced that all is well. Their blood is on our hands if we refuse to preach the sharp, unapologetic truth of Scripture.

Sin must stop. The casual approach to wickedness must cease!

Ephesians 4:30 (ESV) 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

NO NAKED PEOPLE

No naked people. That concept seems nearly ridiculous in today’s sexually driven culture.

Sexual images are flashing before our eyes from every angle through media, marketing, video games and other invasive sources.

I’ve actually had Christians challenge me by saying it’s not possible for a man to avoid lust, as if it’s an expected part of our make up! I heard about another who said that the Bible doesn’t forbid lust, only lusting about married women! The culture is causing many hopeless and some defiant Christians to believe that freedom from sexual fantasy is not possible, or even necessary. God help this nation.image

My wife, two daughters and I were walking through a mall in Wisconsin recently. We were stopped in our tracks right by the food court where families with impressionable children were scattered all around. There was a massive mural that stretched from floor to ceiling of a nearly naked woman. My wife immediately said, “I’m going in there to complain to the manager.” So, into Victoria’s Secret she went.

You might be thinking, “Where have you been the last few decades John? This type of imagery is everywhere!” Yes, that is true. Sadly. Since this is the case, do we simply surrender to the culture? My thought is that Christians are to take dominion and be the drivers of the culture. We can’t sit back and give up. We must fight! However, before that battle can truly begin in the malls and movie theaters, we have to wage war at home—in our own minds.

Consider how far our culture has fallen—including the culture of the church where only 3% of Christian men admit that they never view pornography! Per the Barna Group, 97% of Christian men are actively looking at porn! 87% of Christian women are entertained by pornography! Many Believers don’t “believe” it’s necessary to abstain from sex before marriage. My God!

Check out how it all began:

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3:4-7

The serpent pleaded his case by telling Eve that she would not surely die if she enjoyed a deadly fruit that promised a deeper personal experience. The fruit was pleasing to the eye, and Adam agreed. We can see the striking similarities between the first sin and today’s rampant sexual sin. What is different is that they recognized their sin—and covered up their nakedness. Today? While Christians aren’t joining nudist colonies, they are embracing and celebrating nudity by enjoying that forbidden fruit in their minds. Today’s Christians have naked people performing sexual acts in their thoughts that are strictly and clearly forbidden by Scripture.

Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes… Proverbs 6:25

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant…” Exodus 20:17

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. Matthew 5:27-30

I know there are many out there who will disagree with my position regarding eternity, but I firmly believe that continuing in the sin of lust (or any other sin) can result in eternal separation from God. The above passage of scripture in Matthew 5 speaks to this very directly. The reason I want to make this point is so you don’t casually dismiss this warning. Your eternity is at stake if you are entertaining lust. This is a battle we must fight with passion!

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27

The results of lust are tragic. In addition to the possibilities of destroyed marriages, illegal sexual activity and other natural repercussions, I submit the most terrible result is what Adam and Eve both experienced:

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:8-10

Separation from God. As I stated above, we risk being separated from God forever. We also risk being separated from God now. Those who are in bondage to porn and lust would easily admit they feel that separation. Just as Adam and Eve hid because of their nakedness, Christians today are missing out on their walks with God in the cool, refreshing garden.

INTIMACY LOST

Adam and Eve lost their intimacy with God. I propose they started to lose it before their banishment from the garden. There was a void there, and they sought to fill it with something unholy.

By the grace of God I’ve been blessed to be free from the traps and destruction of pornography, and I am humbled to say that God has enabled me to live lust free.

Several years ago I was deep in the Rocky Mountains on a prayer and fasting retreat. It was just God and me in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. I was connecting with God about a variety of things that night and a simple thought entered my mind.

Even though I was living a sexually pure life, I had a question for God. I’ll be transparent with you and share it.

If God’s design for sex is the perfect model, which it is, then it should bring the highest level of satisfaction. There should be absolutely no other competing desire that’s compelling enough to give in to. If this is the case, why would this happily married man who has the most amazing wife on the planet have an occasional temptation enter his mind? Why would the thought of thinking about someone other than my wife in a sexual way be the least bit tempting? Please understand, I wasn’t acting out on that temptation, but the question remained. Why is the temptation even there?

I understand today that most married people fantasize about people other than their spouses. That reality caused further curiosity. Again, if God’s design for sex is the best, why is there temptation for an alternative?

God spoke simply and clearly. “The one you are intimate with is the one you will desire.”

Intimacy. It’s all about intimacy.

That made so much sense to me! It’s true! When I am emotionally connected with my wife in an intimate way, any other competing thought would be an unwelcome invasion. It’s easy to reject such thoughts when I’m connected in a deep way relationally with her. However, in those seasons where we may be a little more distant due to busyness, stress or arguments (yeah, get over it…we argue it out sometimes!) then intimacy is negatively impacted. It’s easier to desire other things and to find temptation pressing in.

Of course, the same is true with God. If we are madly in love with him and are cultivating intimacy, the unrighteous invasions into our lives will be soundly rejected. We will guard our love connection with God jealously. This is where holiness dominates in a sin wrecked world. Can you imagine trembling before the Lord as his glory overwhelms you and then, five minutes later, watching a movie with nudity and foul language? That makes no sense.

I propose we refuse to be entertained by anything in media or in our thoughts that required the brutal torture and murder of the one we love. That unholy sexual fantasy required the death of Jesus. The cussing and sexual content in movies demanded the nine inch nails that were driven through his flesh. The simple lustful image that tries to dance around in our heads isn’t simple at all. It took a slaughtered Lamb to deal with that.

That slaughtered Lamb is the lover of your soul. His passion is for you!

You can find powerful and satisfying freedom from lust as you draw near to the Lord.

…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:21-22

THE COMMAND TO LOVE

Let’s talk about the call to love.  This is the call that God has for us to be intimate with him. Have you ever considered this mandate?  It’s very, very intriguing.  I can understand calling someone to serve, to give money, to feed the poor or to avoid sin.  That makes sense very easily.  However, a mandate to love?

Certainly the act of love in many ways is fully intentional and can often be void of feeling.  We act in love toward others.  This is also quite easy to understand.  But this idea goes well beyond a call to act out in right ways.  It’s a call to intimacy,  a mandate to be deeply intimate with our Lover.   

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 (NKJV)

In the original Hebrew, the word love is ahab. 

It means: to have affection for, sexually or otherwise.

Additionally it means to like as a friend.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I can be forced to like anybody, much less have deep affection for them.  But this is what Scripture is telling us.  Could it mean that the call isn’t for instant intimacy, but rather a determined and unwavering process of pursuit and faith toward the promise of experiencing an enjoyable God? 

As we, in faith, more easily believe that being with God in a continual and significant way will result in continual and significant enjoyment, we will allow the old things to pass away.  We will not stop until we discover the joy that only God can provide.

So, if we are to understand that God is mandating us to fall deeply in love with Him, there is a disciplined process that must commence.  The goal is deep and passionate intimacy with our Lover, the invisible God. 

It makes sense that when we discover this ultimate of pleasures, that we will not be as inclined to pursue the human desires that demanded so much of us in years past.  It’s been said more times and in more ways than we know, “Our sin causes separation from God.  We, in effect, trade intimacy with God for intimacy with the world.”

Certainly there is truth to that statement.  However, if we view the issue from the other side, we could say, “Intentional pursuit of intimacy with God carries with it the reward of perpetual discovery.  Deliberate surrender of human desire coupled with a craving for the manifest presence of God Himself in our lives will lead, sooner or later, to fulfillment that cannot be measured or effectively explained.  It’s that extreme.  It’s that good.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you … Matthew 5:43-44 (NKJV)

In the above passage, the Hebrew interpretation of the word “love” is different than ahab.  It is agapaō, which emphasizes the attitude of love.  It’s the moral and socially appropriate act of service and attention to others, including both mankind and God Himself.

Throughout Scripture we do see various translations of that single word “love”, and God is the central figure regardless of the interpretation.  However, it’s that unique call to ahab love that has captured my attention.  It’s a mandate to intimacy.

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, If you find my beloved, That you tell him I am lovesick! Song of Songs 5:8 (NKJV)

Lovesick!  What a word that is.  As you might guess, the Hebrew translation is ahab.  In the Song of Songs we see this amazing story of love unfold beautifully.  In the following verses the word “love” is translated ahab each time.  As we gain insight into the intimate longing of our God for us, our hearts melt and our understanding changes.

“I will rise now,” I said, “And go about the city; In the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love.” I sought him, but I did not find him. The watchmen who go about the city found me; I said, “Have you seen the one I love?” Song of Songs 3:2-3 (NKJV)

[The Shulamite to the Daughters of Jerusalem] He brought me to the banqueting house, And his banner over me was love. Sustain me with cakes of raisins, Refresh me with apples, For I am lovesick. His left hand is under my head, And his right hand embraces me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the does of the field, Do not stir up nor awaken love Until it pleases. Song of Songs 2:4-7 (NKJV)

He made its pillars of silver, Its support of gold, Its seat of purple, Its interior paved with love By the daughters of Jerusalem. Song of Songs 3:10 (NKJV)

How fair and how pleasant you are, O love, with your delights! Song of Songs 7:6 (NKJV)

[The Shulamite to Her Beloved] Set me as a seal upon your heart, As a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised. Song of Songs 8:6-7 (NKJV)

Read the last passage, Song of Songs 8:6-7, over and over.  Its communication of passionate desire is intense.  As we establish a vow with our Lover, the intentional and disciplined pursuit of intimacy with Him is alluring and strong.  It is a vehement flame that even water, the fierce enemy of fire, cannot drown.  It’s this that we are pursuing, the fire of passion that will overcome the waters of human desire.

In the following Song of Songs passage, we discover a different translation of love.

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.

[The Shulamite] Rightly do they love you.

Song of Songs 1:4 (NKJV)

The Hebrew word used for “love” in the part of the passage that says, “We will remember your love more than wine” is dôd.  The literal meaning is to boil.  The idea is that God’s love is actively boiling.  It’s hot and constant and intentionally set on us.

The enemy of human desire is a very strong one.  A simple resolution to avoid sin and do good is far too weak to be seriously considered for inclusion in our arsenal.  The burning fire of passion for God, ahab love, is our most effective weapon.  The reward of the perpetual discovery of new depths of God’s zeal for us is enough to keep us burning with a vehement flame that the waters of carnal human desire cannot put out.

Yes, my friend, you can be completely free from lust, and you can live a powerful, joyful life full desire for Jesus.

If you are struggling with lust, don’t despair. Don’t quit contending for intimacy with God. You can absolutely find freedom! God loves you with a passion that’s deep…and he is longsuffering. He will be with you in your journey to freedom.

I pray for radical freedom to overwhelm you as you discover wave after wave of the other worldly, immeasurable love of Jesus! You were born for this!

Let’s make a decree over this nation together. We release a spirit of awakening, revival and holiness. As we go hard after God we will entertain NO NAKED PEOPLE. Not in media or in our minds. Amen!

When did we stop talking about Hell?

Dell-000050243Hell. Most people go there but few preachers talk about it.

Isaiah 5:13-14 (ESV) 13 Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst. 14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude will go down, her revelers and he who exults in her.

If ultimate, eternal judgment would visit God’s very people, Judah and Jerusalem, due to their drinking and partying ways, what is to become of those who openly rebel and reject God and his mandates?

The church has done itself a grave injustice by refusing to connect sinful living with the clear expected outcome of eternal torment. Our arguments against the homosexual movement and the horrifying evil on display at Planned Parenthood clinics in our nation have been reduced to a debate about morals and human rights. It’s no wonder we are accused of hatred when we are standing in the way of behavior that so many argue has no real impact on society. We have been forced into a position of analyzing metrics that reveal debatable negative trends in our culture that are a result of the behavior that we abhor.

For pro-lifers it’s extremely easy to be sickened by abortion—and certainly by what’s been uncovered in the recent undercover videos that have exposed the evil practices at Planned Parenthood. However, the pro-abortion crowd is convinced that legal abortion is healthy and appropriate. Is our best, most effective tactic trying to convince them that the baby is a person or is there another approach that would be more impactful?

Homosexuality has an even stronger position that their behavior is personal and private and what happens behind their closed doors has no impact on you or me. Of course, I disagree that their behavior has no impact on my life or on our nation. Their agenda has been possibly the most aggressive in recent history by forcing their beliefs on us through parades, sitcoms, legislation and other advances. However,the church’s response can easily be seen as selfish and hateful as it demands everybody adhere to a code that doesn’t even apply to those not in Christ.

I do feel there is a place to meet the mission of Planned Parenthood, the homosexual movement, immorality in Hollywood, corruption in government and the innumerable other strategies that the spirit of the age has been pushing on our nation at various more natural levels. We can and should support the defunding of Planned Parenthood. We absolutely must reject impurity that comes through movies and other media. We should be wise and understand that our liberties as Christians are at risk when we can’t even refuse to bake a cake for an event we don’t support. It’s important that we vote for political candidates that will help restore our nation to its Christian roots by confronting the advances of various special interest groups.

Additionally, as many Christians propose, we should function in great love when dealing with others who don’t support our biblical world view.

However, as I said, stopping there compromises our efforts.

We will always look like haters if we demand people adhere to our code of values.

We will always look passive and with little concern if we simply grin and tell people that Jesus loves them.

The reason we so passionately sound alarms and alert homosexuals, abortionists, pornographers, liars, thieves, murderers and others who are living outside of God’s brilliant plan for their lives is simple—we are broken over the fact that they will be tormented non-stop, forever with no relief in Hell.

We need to let them know that Heaven won’t be the same without them! Hell must not win on the day of their physical death!

Matthew 3:12 (ESV) 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

I had an encounter of being dragged toward Hell by an invisible demonic entity over twenty years ago. I almost went mad in that indescribable, horrifying experience. I can’t even think of that moment for more than a few seconds before I have to shut the thought down. It’s that terrible.

After I came out of that life-changing, uninvited revelation God spoke clearly to me: “John, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”

Just like those addressed in the passage I shared above from Isaiah, today many professing Christians will soon be in Hell with no chance of ever leaving. Some of those are people who are convinced they are Believers but who are following Jesus in an unsaved condition. Others are truly saved and will one day choose to fall away. That falling away will be great—and terrible.

If this is true for Christians, what than is to be expected for those who openly defy God?

We must see a return to Holy Spirit anointed preaching on Hell. We must warn people, with tears in our eyes, that they are headed there!

Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV) 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

GOD DOESN’T NEED A PUBLICIST.

I’m dismayed by the radical shift away from full counsel preaching of the Word of God.

I don’t know how often I’ve heard people say that preaching on Hell results in fear—and there is no fear in love—and so we must avoid it at all costs.

This demonically twisted wisdom has resulted in a massive resistance to large segments of the Bible in the hopes that highlighting the benefits would be enough to woo people to Christ.

Luke 12:5 (ESV) 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

Today we have evangelism that communicates how much God loves people without communicating how great their sin is, and what the result will be if they do not repent. This results in a new breed of deceived religious people who believe they are safe but are most likely not. Repentance is non-negotiable.

God does not need you or me as publicists, carefully reframing his words so they are received by the greatest number of people. We are preachers not politicians!

When people see how convicted we are that they are on a path to a place as horrific as Hell, they will at least see our love for them. They all won’t agree with us but they will say, “Wow, they may be nuts but I really think they are convinced that harm is coming to us. They don’t hate us after all.”

When we use more natural tactics alone to confront the various evil agendas in the land we communicate that we are more interested in the preservation of the society that we prefer—one fits into our definition of appropriate.

However, if we have the courage to take the battle to a higher level we can boldly preach the reality of eternal damnation as a passionate yet heart broken church. Our identity will be transformed from one that watches out for our own interests to true watchman—those who are invested in the eternities of others.

Ezekiel 3:17-18 (ESV) 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.

Our cry must be, “No! Please! Understand that your lifestyle will result in a horror that you can’t even imagine. You will never have even a moment of relief. Please, repent, turn, let God’s love overwhelm you!”

BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION?

Some might suggest that I’m suggesting that behavior modification is the key to salvation. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The keys to death, hell and the grave were retrieved by Jesus Christ, the only one who could do what was necessary to save mankind from destruction.

Revelation 1:17-18 (ESV) 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

However, it does remain true that unrepentant participation in sin absolutely does disqualify us from a relationship with Jesus. The fact that homosexuals unapologetically confess to participating in behavior that is forbidden by God is a clear indicator that they are not saved. The fact that those who are pro-abortion are set in their ways and determined to keep murder legal in America is evidence that they are clearly not in a legitimate relationship with Jesus.

It is fully appropriate to preach without apology that continuing in those (and other) sins without repentance and without making Jesus the Lord and Master of their lives will end terribly for them.

People need to hear the prophets shouting the alarms of eternal destruction that comes to those in rebellion to God!

Luke 16:24-29 (ESV) 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’

WHAT ABOUT SIN IN THE CAMP?

The next argument is that a focus on sin in the world while avoiding dealing with sin in the church is the perfect definition of hypocrisy. I agree.

As I shared above, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day. It’s a reality that haunts me every day.

Those who live in sexual sin outside of the camp will be judged as will those who live in sexual sin in the camp will. Unforgiveness, hatred, lust, gossip and many other sins will have the exact same result as those in the world who we would call wild and deviant.

Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

However, the truth that we must deal with sin in the camp doesn’t erase our responsibility to preach the full counsel of Scripture to all. It highlights it.

Hell is awaiting millions of people, both in and out of the church, and we must make that known! So few actually even know or believe that Hell is their future. They presume all is well. My God! So few are letting them know that they are but a breath away from horror!

Matthew 13:24-30 (ESV) 24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

It’s time for us to preach truth and to see the planet shaken by the fire power of God’s Word again.

It’s true love that will give people an opportunity to decide where they will spend their eternity.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 (ESV) 7 …the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might…

Isaiah clearly revealed truth and people had a choice. They scoffed at the idea that they would go to Hell, but at least blood would not be found on Isaiah’s hands.

Isaiah 28:14-15 (ESV) 14 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem! 15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;

PEOPLE MUST HEAR THE TRUTH ABOUT HELL TODAY.

Matthew 13:47-50 (ESV) 47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

2 Peter 2:4-14 (ESV) 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!

Contrary to popular belief, a revelation of Hell absolutely does result in people running into the arms of a loving God.

When did today’s popular teachers presume it was appropriate to deemphasize clear, pure truth in favor of what is more pleasing? It’s truly an abomination!

Revelation 20:15 (ESV) 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Human wisdom would say we should focus on the benefits. Listen, we aren’t selling a time share. We aren’t trying to convince someone on the fence of buying a new car of how much their life will be better by driving it.

The truth is that outside of Christ we are evil people who should burn forever in Hell—and who will without an admission of our deviance and rebellion. Our decision shouldn’t be based on benefit. How selfish that is! It should be based on the reality of the punishment that is awaiting us and the revelation of God’s intense rescue mission to save us from torment.

God’s love is made more evident when contrasted with the truth of Hell.

The bottom line is simple: We cannot erase the Word of God. It must be preached in fullness. The result will be many current homosexuals, liars, adulterers, murderers and others falling desperately in love with Jesus.

Revelation 22:18-19 (ESV) 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Revelation 21:5-8 (ESV) 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

That’s the contrast we must have in today’s preaching. Reveal the spring of the water of life and the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. It’s how Jesus preached after all.

Watch: Four dreams reveal the coming failures, betrayals, accusations and disappointments we must prepare for.

Dell-000050240

How will we react when people we hold in high regard fail us or even betray us? What if a pastor falls or a spouse rejects our passion for Jesus? Are there fathers and mothers who will disappoint us? Yes, and we must be ready to respond with a right heart.

John shares four dreams he had about this topic that will help prepare you for the falling away of people we hold dear.

WATCH THIS POWERFUL TEACHING FREE FOR THE NEXT 30 DAYS FREE HERE!

Pray for Bruce (not Caitlyn) Jenner. If we don’t discover who we are in Christ, and who Christ is in us, a crisis is all we can expect.

Dell-000050074“What did I just do? What did I just do to myself?” ~Bruce Jenner’s description of a panic attack after his 10-hour facial-feminization surgery on March 15, 2015

It’s easy to read about Bruce Jenner’s transition away from his God-given gender identity and experience a range of thoughts and emotions: sadness, compassion, anger, disgust, confusion

Certainly the appropriate reactions for blood-bought Christians should include intense intercession for Bruce, thankfulness for God’s power to keep us free from the enemy’s assaults in our lives and prayer for a better understanding of the issue of identity. Every one of us is at risk of losing our grip on our own identity if we don’t understand who we are in Christ and who Christ is in us.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV) 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

The answer to finding ourselves is to lose ourselves—to die. The old is to pass away so the new can come.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

THE PURSUIT OF IDENTITY

Any youth pastor will tell you the issue of identity confusion, whether it’s gender based or not, is not unusual. Young people are famous for attempting to find and express their “true selves” by altering their bodies through tattoos, piercings, funky hair colors and various other methods. Of course, it’s not the outward manifestation that’s concerning. It’s the despair within that’s resulting in gasping for validation.

They are also experimenting with alternate sexual experiences, exhibiting attitudes of independence and becoming more narcissistic than possibly any generation in history. They are looking for life that makes sense and truly has meaning.

The problem? Without dying to self we can never discover our true identity.

Without Jesus, Bruce Jenner is hopeless—regardless of whether he struggles with gender identity or not. Eternity is a small and rapidly decreasing number of heartbeats away and he will live, as Bruce Jenner, not Caitlyn, for trillions of years (forever) in horrifying, unending torment—a never ending panic attack.

The same is true for every person who has ever lived on the earth. For those who don’t radically, completely die to their own pursuits and their own selfish identities and decide to make Jesus Christ the supreme loving master of their lives, Hell is their future. This is truth. This is terror.

However, the glorious promise for Bruce and everyone is that we can die to our flesh and experience a sudden invasion of love, freedom and clarity about the identity of Christ—and how that brings the definition to our own identity that is so fleeting without God.

John 8:32 (ESV) 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

CELEBRATING CONFUSION

With the increasing hostility toward God in our culture, people’s only remaining hope is to discover self through the magnification of their own desires and inclinations.

This confusion is being celebrated today with exuberance.

How often have you heard about a married man realizing that he is gay—and then leaving his marriage and his children to live life as he was “created to?” Increasingly that man is celebrated for having the courage to “come out” and live how he was supposedly designed to.

What if that same man abandoned his wife and children not because he discovered his homosexuality, but rather because he discovered his promiscuity? Would he be honored for having the courage to sleep with another woman? Just what is the difference?

Our culture is becoming increasingly nonsensical.

Isaiah 5:20-21 (ESV) 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!

This confusion is leading people to attempt resolution to past sins and struggles in some of the most extreme and bizarre ways. The enemy is most definitely stealing, killing and destroying in unprecedented fashion.

After admitting mistakes as a husband and father Bruce Jenner said, “I have high hopes that Caitlyn is a better person than Bruce. I’m very much looking forward to that.”

He is hoping that a transformation into a new identity—his true identity—can bring healing and strength. He is right. However, the transition isn’t from Bruce to Caitlyn or from man to woman. It’s from old man to new. His only hope is Jesus.

His announcement that he is changing his gender identification shouldn’t bring a celebration. His confusion is heart wrenching—and all of us who have been at one time dead in our sins (which is all of us) should relate to it.

The answer isn’t to encourage and celebrate a humanistic adventure of self discovery. That will only lead to hopelessness and increased despair, even if it brings a short lived respite.

EMPTINESS

Bruce Jenner, talking about how people didn’t understand what he was going through even at the height of his Olympic success: “Little did they know I was totally empty inside.”

He then continues to share why he decided to go through with his gender transition: “I’m not doing this to be interesting. I’m doing this to live.”

Bruce’s answer is not in becoming a woman in the hopes of starting over. It’s in allowing Jesus to forgive him and heal his past wounds. True peace can be his!

Hebrews 10:17 (ESV) 17 …“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

Romans 5:1 (ESV) 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Without Jesus Bruce Jenner will always experience desperation. He freely admits he has been in trauma for decades.

How is it that such emptiness can dominate a person’s life for so long and Jesus is never invited in?

I’m not only talking about Bruce’s terribly sad situation. Countless others, including Christians, live every day in depression, despair, confusion, bondage to sin and powerlessness. All too often they turn to self-discovery methods and desire satisfaction in the hopes that they can find life. They transition not from man to woman, but from one deception to another, from one sin to another, from one attitude to another.

John 8:34 (ESV) 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.

The answer is to surrender. Fully. Gloriously. Give Jesus leadership and refuse to seek after fulfillment in any way other than him. The love you experience will answer every question.

Romans 5:6-8 (ESV) 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

FALSE HUMAN RIGHTS

This spirit of entitlement convinces us to look inward and fight for our perceived rights. After all, we have a right to be whoever we want, right? We can express it in most any way we desire, according to today’s cultural standard. This attitude is fueled by pride that results in the pursuit of personal attention, gain and satisfaction.

Isaiah 14:12–15: How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Lucifer was focused on self—entitlement. This pride resulted in destruction beyond anything we could measure. He fell and weakened the nations simply because he was focused on self!

Because of Lucifer’s attitude, millions of people have been destroyed, the Holocaust terrorized a generation, an ancient flood destroyed the masses, 55 million American babies have been murdered and Hell is growing in size to hold the increasing number of people who will live there for eternity.

Yes, a spirit of entitlement destroys.

Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 11:2: When pride comes, then comes shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

Proverbs 18:12: Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.

It’s easy to rally around one who’s operating in a spirit of entitlement, especially if they are pursuing a self-defining, self-satisfying identity that can be related to. People will champion another’s perceived rights if it means their own pursuits will be strengthened by it. The unity around false human rights is resulting in increased confusion, radical rebellion and an anti-Christ spirit growing in power in our culture.

Again, the answer is to surrender to Jesus. We need a move of God like no other time in history.

It absolutely breaks my heart that Bruce Jenner and others have seen no clear remedy to their many human struggles, fears, sins and disturbances. Where is the victorious church? They can’t find the power. They can’t imagine what deliverance would feel like. This, church, is on us.

PRAY FOR BRUCE JENNER

Bruce’s destiny is in Jesus, as a son. He is entitled to abundant life not because of his human determination to thrive, but because of Jesus’ determination to die for him.

John 1:12 (KJV) 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

John 10:10 (ESV) 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

I once met someone who had quite a testimony. He was born a male and then underwent a complete sex change operation. After living as a woman he met Jesus—and made the decision to live in his permanently altered “female” body as a man, just as God created him. That man is a champion. That man should be celebrated for his bravery to die to self and surrender all.

There is always hope when Jesus is involved.

Bruce will never be a female. He can, however, be a son of God. Let’s believe together that he is touched by the unmistakable power of the Holy Spirit and falls in deeply love with him. His confusion will be replaced with clarity and his old man will make way for the new. What a mighty celebration we will have the moment that happens!

Watch a powerful teaching on dead religion, unbelief and experiencing the wonder of God!

image

The new video switch and cameras are up and running! Check out the updated tech as you watch this week’s powerful teaching!


Are you carrying spices in your hands, expecting a dead Jesus? Are you doubting as you walk down the road to Emmaus? Come alive as you discover resurrection power in your life!

From Series: “CoFI Group – Four Fires

John discusses four specific keys to experiencing revival on a regional level. The call is to burn hot and to see that fire ignite in our churches and in our cities. This is a powerful teaching that will leave you more passionate for Jesus and for an outpouring then ever before!

WATCH THIS WEEK’S VIDEO AND DOWNLOAD THE TEACHING NOTES HERE!

Watch this video podcast: Are we are forming a culturally acceptable version of God?

 

And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. —Exodus 32:4-6

imageI'll begin by affirming that God absolutely is LOVE! He is good, all the time. However, his goodness may not always register as good on our human grid.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. —1 Corinthians 2:14

There is a rapidly growing aversion to any discussion about God that includes anything that feels negative. The problem? Cover to cover in Scripture we see endless accounts of God displaying His attributes—many of which would not be defined as positive.

Instead of proclaiming the full counsel of Scripture, people today are looking for a buffet Bible when they can load up on chocolate cake and milk shakes while quickly stepping by the peas, carrots and salad.

People want to form a god of their own design as the Israelites did when Moses was meeting with a fearful God. The plan is to sit down to eat and drink and rise up to play.

Today it's nearly impossible (not an exaggeration) to find a church that preaches cutting, hard-core truths of Scripture that break us out of prison and into freedom. If you want to hear about how good God is and little else, then you can pick most any church in the nation.

“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~Leonard Ravenhill

Sixteen dangers of the ‘positive Christianity' movement

False conversions—I could spend a lot of time on this point, and I do address it extensively in my book The Coming Church. For the sake of brevity, we must finally come to the understanding that salvation requires an extreme step—not a casual one. It's when we understand the great drama that includes God, Satan, eternity, heaven, hell, judgment and abundant life that authentic conversions can occur. Who wouldn't sign up to follow a God that promises gold coins and butterflies? The question must not be, “How can I benefit from salvation.” It has to be, “Is God worthy of my surrendering all I value to Him?” When we truly know Him in His fullness, in His grace and wrath, in His mercy and judgment, as a Lion and a Lamb, we will be able to make the fearful decision, “You, Lord are worthy of my entire life.”

Misunderstanding of the fear of the Lord—It's stunning to me that so many are renouncing any fear whatsoever, even the fear of the Lord! If we have a view of God that is only positive, we will reject anything that feels negative, and this includes the fear of the Lord. Let's set the record straight—the fear of the Lord is not simply to be in awe of God or to respect Him. Fear of the Lord is translated over and over as terror, to be afraid, to dread. The love of God and the dread of God are not mutually exclusive. In fact, His love shines brighter we we realize how fearful He truly is.

That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. —Romans 11:20-22

God is limited—When we eliminate a major part of God's personality and character, we greatly limit our revelation of Him and His ability to move in our lives. God is much more than the leader of some euphoric land of fantasy.

Rejection of judgment (that we need so badly)—I believe one of the most important prayers I can pray is, “God, judge me daily.” For those who reject God's judgment because they perceive it to be negative, their lives will be marked by areas not given access to God's loving calibration. Additionally, our nation is in desperate need of loving judgment from a righteous judge. Judgment is not hatred; it's love. It is deep love. We see this in our own society. We are so touchy-feely that we react in anger when we presume someone to be judging us. However, it's true love that will judge an issue and help someone break free into healing. We must embrace judgment in these dire end times.

And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. —Acts 10:42

Rejection of God—This is one of the most serious issues. God absolutely still judges in the New Covenant, and those who reject this will be at risk of attributing judgments of God to Satan. God's wrath is still on the Earth, and we have to understand that much of the trouble we see today has actually been initiated by God—all while many of His followers are rebuking Him and calling Him Satan.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. —John 3:36

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit—Even more serious is the risk of blasphemy. I believe we have to be radically opposed to God to fall into this unforgivable sin (I know many wrestle with this, but unpacking it will require more time than we have here), but, the “positive Christianity” movement can nudge people closer to falling into this. When we attribute an act of God to Satan, that is blasphemy, and this occurs often within “positive Christianity.”

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” —Mark 3:28-30

Ignoring calls to battle—If we think God is mostly interested in our safety and happiness, we will deem unnecessary and invasive any call to battle. It's time we mature and understand we are already in the midst of a vicious battle, and it's our calling to fight hard. God really is OK with His children being tortured and killed as martyrs for the sake of other people discovering Jesus, and we should be too. We are end-time soldiers, and this means we have signed up for a life of inconvenience, brokenness and struggle. That negative reality is glorious when we understand what it is unto.

Misinterpretations of negative situations—News flash: It's not always the devil. How often do people rebuke demons when it's actually God Who caused the situation? If we think that God only functions positively, then what are we to do with the fact that God actually demonized Paul and refused his deliverance? What about God striking people with sickness? 

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. —2 Corinthians 12:7-10

God actually endorsed an assault of Satan on Paul to keep him humble! Paul embraced a “negative” God, because He was True. He was content with weaknesses, hardships, calamities. He didn't rebuke them, and that didn't cause him to attribute them to Satan. Of course, Satan wouldn't want to keep Paul from becoming conceited, so this wasn't his plan. Just as with Job, God will allow attacks of the enemy for our own benefit. In fact, it was Satan who was allowed by God to kill Jesus. He literally had thorns in His flesh as He hung on the cross, and they were not taken away.

Minimized need for intercession—If we think things are getting better and better, as many who support the “positive Christianity” movement do, than we have no need to intercede. However, if we truly understand that some very troubling times are ahead, and God has called us to stand in the gap, then our passion for intercession will skyrocket. We need Abrahams and Jonahs who will see the judgment of God ahead and pray with passion and warn those in its direct path. Our God who is the same yesterday, today and forever, totally destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. He destroyed the Earth in a flood. His wrath remains on those who reject Him today.

Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” —Genesis 18:32

Rejection of call to martyrdom—Martyrdom is the pinnacle of negative experiences for the Christian. Of course, the truth is that it's not negative at all. It's glorious!

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him.  But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. —Acts 7:54-58

How powerful is it that Jesus stood as Stephen died! Not only that, but did you notice what young man was mentioned in the story? A young man who would end up turning the world upside down. Saul. Paul. We need Stephens to arise and lay down their lives in such a way that a new company of Sauls are awakened into their destinies.

Universalism—You'd be surprised at how many professing Christians reject any thought of eternity in hell—for anybody! After all, how could a good God cast people into eternal torment? It doesn't register on the grid of “positive Christianity.”

Rejection of tenets of the faith—I'm angered at how many of today's Christians get sad and withdrawn when core tenets of the faith are preached. The cross, hell, fear of the Lord, surrender, brokenness and repentance are minimized as they prefer to focus on how giddy God is about them! We absolutely need a fresh wave of Blood-bought fire-and-brimstone preachers again!

Wrongly discern God's presence and purpose—The presumption is that whenever God is manifesting that the feelings we experience are to be happy, warm and positive. Any manifestation that includes fear of the Lord, conviction, rebuke, challenge or mourning is soundly rejected. If the atmosphere isn't electric, many today check out and disengage.

Using God—A spirit of religion is in this “positive Christianity” movement. The thought is that God is there for our enjoyment and must respond to our cries for satisfaction. We determine the experience instead of letting God use us as He sees fit.

Self-centeredness—Related to using God, instead of focusing on the devastation in the world and our responsibility to bring resolution to it, those in the “positive Christianity” movement are focused on self.

Forsaking our anointing by always being nice—Boy, we have to stop this. We think God always has perma-smile with a twinkle sparkling off of His grin. If we think of God in this light, we'll attempt to do the same. It can manifest many different ways. For example, instead of boldly preaching repentance and the terror of hell, we might just smile and be sweet and sugary by encouraging people to take baby steps toward Jesus. We have become so tentative and passive when dealing with severe threats against the church, such as the homosexual agenda, the false-grace movement and others. We need prophets to rise up and preach judgment and repentance again!

Sometimes we need to look someone in the eye, under the unction of the Holy Spirit, and say with no hint of a smile that they are destined for hell. Repent!

Conclusion

Of course, there are limitless positives about God and our relationship with Him. However, we don't want to stop there. We must trust Him enough to embrace Him in His fullness.

The judge is coming, and He will start with the church. How many will fall away when He arrives, disappoints and confuses people by looking nothing like the god of their own design?

John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-after teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer- and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called theLab University. John also has a web- and graphic-design business and is continually developing new and exciting ventures. He and his beautiful wife, Amy, have five children and live in the Detroit area. He can be reached via his website at JohnBurton.net.