Who will sound a shocking alarm announcing that the church is asleep, lukewarm and without passion?
Possibly the most unbelievable (but common) reaction to the urgent (but rare) call for Christians to burn with great passion for Jesus is the accusation of legalism. To be actively involved with zeal and to call others into a deeper devotion to Jesus and the mission of Kingdom advance smells of unrighteous works to many. I can barely believe I just wrote that.
Further, I’ve heard it said that such a determined devotion reveals a lack of revelation of the finished work of the cross. The thought is that we can now rest easy due to the work of Jesus and, in fact, any energy expended on our part in response to the cross is an offense to the cross. This, friend, is sickening and theologically ridiculous, yet that teaching is gaining ground in many Spirit-filled circles.
Not only should the cross of Jesus evoke the fire of passion from deep within every one of us, we should also understand the radical, costly participation that we must embrace:
Matthew 10:38-39 (ESV) 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
The cross is the very picture of passion, and any response less than all consuming zeal is an indicator of a lack of understanding, certainly not of greater revelation. A revelation of our beautiful Savior being savagely tortured and brutally murdered due to our own detestable wickedness should drive us to our knees in a never ending lifestyle of thanksgiving, worship and intercession. Our desire to go deeper and to get closer to Jesus should wreck us every single moment of every single day.
Yet, even within the context of the church there are masses of people who resist such a focus. I’m shocked and disturbed to say that I heard of a locally popular pastor who actually confessed that he no longer preaches the cross. I suppose it’s old news and time to move on to more positive things. I’m grieved.
1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV) 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For those who do embrace the cross, and who do carry their own cross, they become a person who yearns to be with Jesus day and night in prayer. They can’t get enough.
One person’s response to the cross will result in a prayer lifestyle. When a group of people have a true revelation of the cross, it results in a prayer culture. When a region is impacted by the precious blood of Jesus that was shed on Calvary, you have a prayer movement. You have a mass advance of fervent, burning, passionate prayer.
In addition to a lifestyle of intercession, an immediate reaction to a life impacted by the unparallelled sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is a desperation for every person at risk of slipping into a lukewarm state. Passion for the sleeping church overwhelms.
Revelation 3:15-16 (ESV) 15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
When people are awakened to the reality of the cross, their urgent, heart wrenching cry is to “WAKE UP! WAKE UP, YOU ARE ABOUT TO DIE!” We shouldn’t be surprised when awakened people are suddenly crying desperately for the sleepers to awaken as well!
Revelation 3:1-2 (ESV) 1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.
The prophetic alarm targets those who are relaxing, casual and unaware that their lack of urgency is putting their very lives—their very eternities—at risk.
Those who are comfortable and relaxed—especially those who are at ease “in the name of Jesus”—will always react against any alert that threatens their sedation. Those who are asleep do not like to be awakened, even if it’s for a good cause.
Romans 13:11 (NIV) 11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
Just this morning I was deep in sleep when, all of a sudden, my wife shouted, “John! You need to wake up!” I jolted awake, not at all happy that I was suddenly forced out of what was really satisfying comfort. She said, “The plumber is here and he has to turn off the water for a few hours. If you want a shower, you better get moving! You have ten minutes.”
Of course I needed a shower, but I was still not thrilled (Okay, I was actually irritated) to be disturbed from my long, glorious slumber. But, in order for me to accomplish today what was necessary, I had to wake up—and fast.
A sleeping church is at risk of something much greater than a missed shower.
1 Thessalonians 5:6 (ESV) 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
Good Christian People
My heart is grieved beyond description. There is stunning unconcern over the state of most Christian’s lives. While it’s rare to find those who are burning with a never ending, raging furnace of passion for Jesus, it’s common to find pastors and others who appreciate those who are casually devoted as “good Christian people” who go to church and pay their tithes faithfully, as if that’s the mark we are trying to hit.
It’s time for us to function in a type of love that’s rare in the land today. This love will result in a complete refusal to affirm “good Christian people” in any state less than radical, extreme, burning zeal that results in a lifestyle of prayer, works, fruit and obedience as they carry their crosses. No longer will we be able to look at a “good Christian family” who would qualify as pillars in most any reputable church today, but who are unresponsive to the calls to pray with groans of intercession, to feel the weight of God’s heartbreak and to be marked as extremists for Jesus.
It’s time to awaken the lukewarm, those who look alive, who appear to be solid Believers in Jesus, but who lack the necessary investment. We need a movement of people crying in the wilderness to confront the casual spirit that has overtaken the church!
Matthew 3:1-10 (ESV) 1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Just as he rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees for resting casual on the work of their father Abraham, we need a rebuke today for those who are flat-lining and unresponsive due to a casual response to what Jesus did on the cross. The cross didn’t end our investment, it initiated it. It empowered it. It demanded it.
“Good Christian people” are those who are interested in the things of God, and who are active to a point, but when the call becomes costly (and bloody), they back off just enough to still have a sense of connectivity but also, safety from the call to death to self and radical surrender on their cross.
Matthew 25:1-13 (ESV) 1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Fifty percent of those who considered themselves to be consecrated to Christ (virgins) were deemed unready. He didn’t know them due to their casual approach, due to their sleep. This affected their eternities:
Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV) 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Today we have a generation of church people who once said a prayer and who are entrusting their entire eternity to that one moment in history. There’s little passion, little intimacy with Jesus, little fruit and no raging fire in their spirits, yet they presume all to be well. After all, they are “good Christian people.”
Who Will Respond to the Call?
It wouldn’t shock me that in a major city the size of Chicago, for example, if there might only be a few thousand people who would be described as the radical remnant. Of course, that’s an uneducated guess, but even if it’s four or five times that amount, the percentages would be staggering.
That’s not to say that many more aren’t interested or even hungry. I’m absolutely sure that is the case. The potential harvest is great. But, I’m talking about the John the Baptist style burning awakeners who are giving themselves fully to continual prayer, the pursuit of revival and advancing the Kingdom of God. Those who are in position and responsive. Those who have dealt with the cares of life and who live for little else than to serve the King and to contend night and day for revival and a great end-time harvest.
It’s this type of person that Evan Roberts targeted with his famous revival prescription. Frank Bartleman, who was instrumental in the Azusa Street move of God, sent Evan Roberts a message asking him what he should do to experience a move like they saw in the Welsh revival. Frank listened and we all know the rest of that story.
What is the prescription? It’s something that very few are willing to adhere to:
“Congregate the people who are willing to make a total surrender. Pray and wait. Believe God’s promises. Hold daily meetings.”
I challenge pastors everywhere: refuse to build a church on any type of person other than those Evan Roberts describes. Your church of 500 will most certainly shrink to under 50 but you will be left with those who are fully surrendered and ready to invest at a level worthy of the King.
Just what would happen if we really got serious and refused to lower the bar for those less devoted? Let’s break down Evan’s prescription:
Congregate the people who are willing to make a total surrender.
Preach in such a way that makes the less passionate uneasy and the remnant come alive.
When we call people to a level of life worthy of the cross of Christ, the pretenders will return to the activities their hearts are most united with. The resulting atmosphere will be Upper Room like as the Holy Spirit moves in great freedom.
Sadly, churches today pander to those who want to come, who want to belong, but who are not willing to make a total surrender. There are many Rich Young Rulers in the pews who are affirmed by their pastors but who are actually following Jesus in an unsaved condition.
Matthew 19:16-22 (ESV) 16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Those who aren’t willing to make a total surrender will be evident when the bar of commitment is appropriate. They will avoid the prayer meetings. They will be slow to respond to the call. They will resist the cross and the mandate to die daily.
When we do find those who are willing to make a total surrender, we can move on to the next step in Evan Roberts’ revival protocol:
Pray and wait.
This next phase will eliminate even more people. I believe it would make a lot of sense based on what is found in Scripture to replace the primary weekly service with a fiery prayer meeting. Further, the call to pray and wait should result in a prayer culture in the church that is often grueling, sometimes electric.
Finding those who will actively participate hour after hour in prayer is a tough task, though it’s a non-negotiable one. The church is a house of prayer, and it’s an indictment on today’s leadership that people can participate in church activities and call themselves Christians without having a fervent, devoted life of continual prayer.
Psalm 119:145 (ESV) 145 With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.
Psalm 86:3 (ESV) 3 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day.
Ephesians 6:18 (ESV) 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Romans 8:26 (ESV) 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
When we have a group of people who will pray continually, we can consider the next step in the revival prescription:
Believe God’s promises.
Call everybody to an extreme life of faith.
There is much that I could write here about this, but suffice it to say that many challenges and opportunities to stand in extreme confidence of God’s ability to meet us will arise.
When such an extreme, inconvenient revival lifestyle dominates our daily schedules, we will have to learn to trust God to supply our needs, ensure our families are strong and united and provide the energy necessary. The enemy will work hard to destroy our faith, yet we must be unmoving.
Romans 14:23 (ESV) 23 …For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
If we’ve accomplished the first three steps, this next one will certainly bring the pressure in today’s busy culture:
Hold daily meetings.
Acts 5:42 (ESV) 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.
Is there anyone who has what it takes to defeat the cares of life and to order their calendar in such a way that they could gather together every day of the week?
This has been one of my greatest challenges in my 25 years of ministry. Finding a remnant people who have filtered out every competing, lesser activity in their week to make room to gather in prayer every day has been nearly impossible.
Yet, it’s happening in China. It’s happening in other more desperate parts of the world. It’s happening where entertainment isn’t king and t-ball and ballet don’t rule. Today’s Christian culture is heavily marked by pleasure and the typical American dream. This not only puts revival at risk. It puts their eternity at risk.
Luke 17:26-27 (ESV) 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
When I ministered in Haiti over a thousand people walked to the church building every day, many of them for over two hours, just to be in prayer and to advance as one people toward revival. It was humbling. It was awe inspiring. They had nothing better to do than to be with God as a passionate family every night of the week.
It also happens when there are outpourings. People cancelled everything in their lives to attend the outpourings at Brownsville and Toronto every night.
During the Second Great Awakening, over 10,000 people attended a prayer meeting every day in New York City. People from other states visited those prayer meetings and then started their own in their region.
I’m sure you can see why I said I believe there may only be a few thousand remnant Christians who are fully devoted to prayer and revival in a city the size of Chicago. The number may actually be much smaller.
Acts 2:46 (NIV) 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.
The fact that we have better things to do than contend for revival in the place of prayer every day is evidence enough that the church is asleep, comfortable and in a very dangerous place. It’s time to fall in love with Jesus again, gather together and pray and model the first century church.
Revelation 2:4-5 (NIV) 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
We need an awakening movement in our nation, and in the nations. John the Baptist type messengers must arise and confront the slothful, lazy and religious spirits that are in the land with great boldness. Those who don’t fear being labeled legalists must open their mouths and shake the comatose back to life.
A call to radical intimacy with Jesus that can only be nurtured in the place of continual prayer needs to be shouted from the rooftops. The resistance to radical prayer is resistance of Jesus himself. If we don’t desire to be with the one we love, and to hear his heart and intercede on his behalf, our commitment to him is suspect.
There is truly no greater glory than to live a life of prayer and there is no greater mystery than those who have taken his name yet refuse to be with him.
Ephesians 5:14 (NIV) 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
A strategy of self-preservation will result in a modified, powerless message that draws people to you instead of God.
If you are called as a prophet, you will feel moved to root out and to pull down, and to destroy and to throw down, and to build and to plant (see Jeremiah 1:10). Intense spiritual warfare will be a frequent reality in your life. You will have a sense – a “knowing” – that you are being called to walk a narrower path than some around you. You will feel a sense of duty to honor God's will and be crushed with godly sorrow when you misstep. ~Jennifer LeClaire
So many don’t have a clear ministry goal, so I thought I’d offer one here. This is the calling of the end-time messenger:
The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. Mark 11:18
The call is to teach in such a way that people actually want to kill you! What a life mission that is!
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. Luke 6:26
While true prophets were hated, excluded, reviled, spurned, beaten, tortured, and killed (cf. Heb. 11:32-38), false prophets were well spoken of, for they prophesied what people wanted to hear. This is a warning against seeking the approval of the world rather than being faithful to God.
ESV Study Bible, The: English Standard Version.
There is a GREAT fallacy that has castrated the messages of the end-times: We have to appear to be humble, meek and loving.
I deal with this in detail in my article The Great Love Deception. The thought is that we must expend energy to convince people that we are humble, when that mandate is simply not found in Scripture. We are to BE humble, and that humility very often manifests as a fierce, fearless anger against the spirit of the age. The goal isn’t to affirm others when challenge and correction is necessary. We aren’t to put on a plastic smile with alligator tears pouring down to convince people we care.
Of course, we aren’t to be careless or unloving either. We just preach with a broken heart and the fear of the Lord. The messages in the Word are so often radically offensive that we just let the Holy Spirit do the work.
There are ignored, shunned messages that are coursing throughout the Bible that must be taught again—with such conviction that the religious, independent, self-serving resistors will want to eliminate us.
Thank God for those who have not shrunk back from preaching “negative” messages. People like Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson and others have refused to shut up when the critics attack. We must boldly proclaim the Word of the Lord, no matter how bad of a light it shines on us or how open it leaves us to scrutiny.
Here’s one example of such a message:
SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY
Submission to authority. GASP! Yes, I said it. Clearly, since I’ve been focusing on this topic in recent Facebook and Twitter posts, I must be reacting to some people who just won’t submit to my authority, right? I am overbearing, self-centered and insecure…motivated by my need for people to submit to me. Ha! Wrong. It has nothing whatsoever to do with me or my personal endeavors. (I actually just chuckled as I wrote this.)
On the contrary, this message is a core life message of our ministry that God has required me to communicate, and it’s not uncommon for me to spend a lot of time teaching on it. My book Covens in the Church addresses this issue in detail and I’ve been teaching on it in our school and at other venues for years. I spend time counseling people who are ready to leave their church due to wounding, controlling pastors and other very real issues. Simply, it’s a clear, scriptural and healthy message that most pastors avoid teaching due to their fear of accusation. However, pastors would do well to embrace it and teach it with boldness. The Absalom spirit would be diffused before he even began to operate.
But, unfortunately, the fear of accusation is too often too great.
Pastors don’t want people to presume they are being controlling, manipulative and self-serving by teaching on this particular topic, so they ignore it entirely—to the detriment of the church. Today people are scattered, disconnected and driven by a casual, independent spirit that has greatly compromised the mission of the church and has left them unhealed, bitter and defensive. This is a direct result of selling people a spiritual eat-what-you-want buffet instead of calling people as holy soldiers to sign up to die.
You see, I’m more concerned about the corporate mission of the church to set multiplied millions of people free than I am the reaction of the resistant religious (or true brothers and sisters in Christ who simply disagree) when teaching on submission to authority. Beyond that, I’m exhilarated by people who were once operating in a religious, independent spirit finding freedom through the message of healthy submission. It’s a win/win!
When people submit, the enemy tells them they are in bondage, but God reveals they are free!
From Covens in the Church:
The enemy has caused many to believe that we can’t experience freedom while being submitted. This is simply not true.
- Freedom from authority is rebellion.
- Freedom in the absence of authority is anarchy.
- Freedom under authority is liberty.
Why is it so critical that this sensitive issue be discussed? I’m fully aware that many have been wounded by poor leaders in their lives. While some difficult points will be discussed over the next several pages, it must be made clear now that while God desires leaders to serve with great love, humility, passion and care, there are some in the body who simply do not do so. While God will hold those leaders deeply accountable for their leadership, God will hold the rest of us accountable for how we respond to them.
The call is not to validate poor leadership. It’s to validate leaders who, in their weakness, were positioned by God. It’s to ensure that we go through the proper processes in the face of disagreement so as to keep all of us as holy soldiers in position. We simply must serve the greater mission in love and mature to the place where we can trust an infallible God, who is the one who actually appointed our leaders. We are to allow God to work with and through those leaders, who are without question weak and fallible (as we all are). If we don’t, the greater mission of the church is compromised. A failed mission at this stage of Church history is not an option, and we must weather some mighty storms if we are to succeed.
God needs these messages to be released! We can’t be afraid of teachings like this having the appearance of being self-serving. We can’t back down when the accusation flies. We must preach truth, take the hits, let our pride and ego die and trust that God’s wisdom in the Word will set the masses free.
Submission to authority is dealt with clearly in Scripture, and it’s critical for us to understand it, and communicate it without apology…because the church today has been compromised by a casual, self-interested people. We need to see a passionate army that’s locked in and unoffendable and ready to serve with precision at the sound of the alarm.
I continually run into people who are offended at pastors and other authorities in their lives, and they have absolutely no idea that they are largely disqualified from effective ministry until they rectify that. Why? Because nobody is teaching them about this critical reality.
They are stunned when I start to unpack the issues and share about healthy submission to their previous leaders. They most always had no idea how they should have acted toward them. Some of them have lived in defeat for decades due to this issue! God wants them free! I am much more afraid of God than I am of man, so the accusations that will be hurled won’t hurt as much as if God was bringing judgment to me!
“You will lose your job, and then die.”
I was talking with a powerful, humble man of God in another nation recently. He shared a fearful story that highlights how serious God is about honoring and submitting to authority.
A lady was making inappropriate advances toward this pastor, and while initially subtle, she became more emboldened as time when on. She was initially counseled and ultimately removed from the church. She became deceptive and would attempt to make contact with him via a false name. Eventually, the pastor said, “If you don’t stop inappropriately touching the man of God, you will lose your job, and then, if you still don’t repent, you will die.”
Within weeks she lost her job. Then she died. The man of God conducted her funeral.
That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 1 Corinthians 11:30-31
This is just one example of necessary, costly end-time messages. Will you preach the truth, or just the part that draws people to you?
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law– a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39
The messages we carry should absolutely provoke people out of compromise, deception, apathy and slumber—and into challenging, costly, inconvenient and absolutely glorious truth.
Or, how about…Tithe. There I go again! If I talk about tithing, I clearly must want to use people and manipulate them so I can be more financially secure, right? Come on.
I’ve actually heard pastors say that they refuse to teach on financial giving because they want to gain people’s trust. I suppose their wisdom surpasses the wisdom of scripture?
Jesus talked about money more than any other topic other than the Kingdom of God. Maybe instead of avoiding the topic of tithing and giving so people will like us better, we should expose the demon named Mammon that is attached to so many of them today. Maybe instead of focusing on our own ministry and on self-preservation, we can actually preach the Word and set the captives free!
When you carry burning messages in your spirit, you have to know that the release of these messages will result in rejection, accusation and a fierce resistance by the religious spirits around us.
But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Matthew 12:14
Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” John 10:31-32
Even Jesus’ message was shut down by accusers and aggressors due to the trouble (salvation) he was bringing to the Earth:
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. John 7:1
So from that day on they plotted to take his life. Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. John 11:53-54
THE SPIRITUAL AND RELIGIOUS
In ministry, we must understand that MOST of those we are preaching to will soundly reject our message and will attack with a vengeance—oh, and these people are the spiritual and religious among us.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Matthew 16:21
Preaching of the Word, whether it’s from behind a pulpit or in sound bites on Facebook and Twitter will always divide. Always.
It will provoke, trouble, challenge and set a standard. The problems come when that standard is higher than the standards of the religious.
Take six months and talk about nothing but holiness, repentance and Hell. I dare you.
Your attacks won’t come from the lost. The lost is actually waiting for a church that will have the guts to stand with such conviction. The assaults will come from your friends and family.
Read this in full:
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. Genesis 37:5-11
It seems every time I hear someone teach on this passage, they presume that Joseph was arrogant, that the problem was with Joseph for communicating what God had revealed to him!
We have become so resistant of bold, provoking, disturbing messages of God that we accuse the messenger of pride or arrogance when they simply reveal the truth! Has this fear stopped you? Repent. It didn’t stop Joseph.
It was actually every one of his brothers and his parents that wrestled with pride, not Joseph!
Notice how his father ultimately responded rightly in his heart by keeping the matter in mind.
However, we know the story—his family set out to destroy him…simply because of communicating a message from God!
“…So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. Genesis 37:17-18
Those close to you must be expected to react wrongly toward you! Don’t presume you are off track when the arrows start flying! Stay humble, stay teachable, but simply know that the more pure your truth, the more violent the attacks will be.
(By the way, those who read this and are rising up in indignation will still presume I’m affirming arrogance—even though I just wrote that we must stay humble and teachable. Read it again…I affirm humility and teachablity. OK?)
True humility results in true boldness that can look very much like aggression as the fear of man has disappeared. The fear of God takes over.
False humility results in false love that is focused on being affirmed instead of setting the captives free.
Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Mark 6:3
Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” Mark 6:4
PRESSURE FROM THE CROWD
Get a backbone.
If you can’t stand for truth in the face of resistance, what good are you? What impact will you have?
At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. Mark 6:25-28
When your family and friends and those you are trying to impress are in the picture, will you hold back or preach truth? Will you stay silent or sound an alarm?
Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Mark 15:15
A sign of a growing ministry just may be small numbers and a message that will be rejected by even the most devoted Christians you know. Will you be OK with that?
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27
If you are unmoved, God will give you such perfect, pure and life-changing relationships with those who will die daily with you…who will not forsake you when you bring the offensive messages of the Word…and you will be marked as a true minister of the Most High God for all eternity.
When the crowds come, get ready to follow the fearless example of Peter in Acts 2:
“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. Acts 2:22-23
Trust truth. Preach truth. Don’t temper it. Don’t hide from the offensive issues. Most will reject you. Some will hate you. A remnant will thank you. God will celebrate you for eternity.
Does a moment go by that we don’t hear about some group or movement making demands for their supposed human rights?
My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. John F. Kennedy
What happened to this? What happened to America? What happened to the church?
John 15:13 (ESV) 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Today we are absolutely overwhelmed by the constant, self-centered shouts of those who demand that their country—or their church—gives them what they believe is rightfully theirs.
It’s a false human rights movement.
The RIGHT to abortion. The RIGHT for same sex marriage. The RIGHT to be equal. The RIGHT to be heard.
It’s a sickening, selfish focus that is driven by human desire instead of a willingness to take up our cross and die. How often have people left churches because their supposed rights weren’t addressed? How much dissention is in the workplace because people are looked over in favor of another?
I’ve said it before—today, when people’s self-centered pursuits are rejected, they abandon relationships, leave churches and cause division, but when Jesus was rejected, he didn’t abandon people. He didn’t forsake the church.
He let people kill him so they might be saved. He died so the church could thrive.
My point in this article isn’t to address specific issues as much as it is to deal with a deadly demonic spirit that is extremely advanced in its progress in the destruction of the church, and thus, the nation.
A SPIRIT OF ENTITLEMENT
This spirit is pervasive in our nation, and, unfortunately it has infiltrated the church to such a degree that it has altered the very DNA. Today people attend church with expectations of how they should be treated instead of a plan to lay down their lives for the sake of the mission. There is a predetermined checklist of items that they presume they are rightfully entitled to. If those demands aren’t met, then trouble is initiated—just as the enemy planned.
This spirit of entitlement convinces us to look inward and fight for our perceived rights. It’s 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!
America, are you listening?
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.
TAKING ON OFFENSE
When entitled people gather together, you have a union. Here in Detroit, this is understood well. There are certain expectations that must be fulfilled by leadership, or, those in union will threaten harm to them or the organization. This concept isn’t hard to understand. Often on the news we hear of school teachers or bus drivers who are in a union, and when their demands aren’t met, they strike.
When an entitlement isn’t met, offense is the result—and when people are in union with another who has been offended, they very quickly take on that offense—and, again, it is deadly.
We see this happen in churches all the time. Offended people have friends, who, unify with them and come into agreement with their arguments.
Of course, it would be very easy right now to start considering all of the secular benefits to actual unions. We could discuss how the playing field is evened and the way leadership treats the working class is improved by holding them accountable.
But, I’ll say this very clearly—this spirit of false unity, entitlement and offense has no place in the church. And, our nation would begin down the road of healing and strengthening if we all stopped making demands and started serving, loving and following Jesus and the principles of scripture.
An offended people will destroy a nation. A surrendered people will build a nation.
As an example, the spirits of entitlement and offense drive the abortion industry. False compassion, demonic in nature, is one of the tools that is used to gain sympathy and support for that movement. The threat is that we will come across as unloving, uncaring people if we oppose that movement. The same is true with the homosexual agenda. False love results in accusations of homophobia and hatred for those who don’t support their movement.
As Christians, we are handcuffed as we are forced into a position of affirming our love of these people, and if we don’t, they win the debate.
Our only weak, predictable response seems to be, “We love the sinner and hate the sin.”
We as prophetic voices in the church must brake off intimidation and fear of man! Keep in mind we are wrestling against demons, not humans. What is difficult is when humans embrace the lies of the demons, we who stand for truth can come across as attacking those people. So, many Christians avoid any appearance of conflict at all.
LISTEN CLOSELY: People are going to enter into Hell today! If we don’t have bold prophetic messengers rise up in the spirit of John the Baptist, in the spirit of David and other historic Godly warriors, millions upon millions of people will actually, literally go to Hell! If it’s rare to make it to Heaven, and common to enter Hell, how can we sit back and avoid a violent conflict with those forces of Hell? We cannot!
Matthew 11:12 (ESV) 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.
Check out this commentary on the above scripture:
Greek: biazo (GSN-<G971>), to use force, to force one's way into a thing. The idea here is that before John the kingdom could only be viewed in the light of prophecy; but now that it was preached, men were pressing into it with ardor resembling violence or desperation. They appeared as if they would seize it by force (Mt. 11:12; Lk. 16:16). It expresses the earnestness that men must have in getting rid of sin, all satanic powers, the world, and in standing true when relatives oppose them (Mt. 10:34-39). Dake's Annotated Reference Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments of the Authorized or King James Version Text.
This is where we are now! Let the fire-branded, love-driven warrior bride arise!
When David killed Goliath, it’s true that he killed a human, but he was actually fighting against a demon that was manifesting through a human. David didn’t sit down in a coffee shop to passively, casually discuss the dispute with Goliath. He was ready for a violent assault against the kingdom of darkness.
He made clear what the situation was and what was to be done! How easy it would be for David to be accused of not loving Goliath! But, the truth is that David loved God first (Luke 10:27) and was fully invested in partnering with him. Human arguments would have to meet the fierce decrees of the child of God! Fear-driven false humility was not an option for David. David was on a mission of salvation—the salvation of God’s people.
1 Samuel 17:26 (ESV) 26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
David was bold! Who is this uncircumcised Philistine? He was calling out Goliath’s immorality and his lack of consecration to the Lord.
Come on church! Quit cowering in false-humility and rise up in the greatest love this nation has ever known! It’s time to declare the word of the Lord to the uncircumcised enemies of the Lord in America!
But, beware, many in your sphere, in the camp of the Lord, will also be intimidated by your love driven boldness. The prophetic, apostolic anointing often results in jealousy and accusation against the one advancing fearlessly. Accusations of pride will always accompany those who are willing to live radically by laying down their lives for the Lord.
1 Samuel 17:28-29 (ESV) 28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?”
His brother attacked him! I’m sure he felt conviction as little brother David was going to do what every other person should have done—deal with the uncircumcised Philistine with expediency!
Will you raise your anointed, prophetic voice, or will you seek a false sense of peace? Remember we are to be peacemakers not peacekeepers! We cannot keep peace were there is no peace!
We have no obligation to passively form our words in such a way that we will be heard. It’s time to bring a shaking to this nation—before it is literally destroyed!
1 Samuel 17:41-46 (ESV) 41 And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel…
It’s time that we go after the anti-Christ spirits that are overtaking our nation! We can no longer use human arguments. It’s time that we are anointed in the boldness and power of the Holy Spirit! We aren’t to prove our love, we are to love—and true love brings true problems in the pursuit of liberty for a nation! We see this cover to cover in scripture.
LET ME BE CLEAR: I DEEPLY LOVE BUT DO NOT CARE
I will say it very, very clearly. I RADICALLY love those who are advancing humanistic agendas, even though you may not believe me. That’s your battle, not mine.
Jesus loved people though he would not bend to their demands. He cared about their emotions, their hearts, their eternities—but, he didn’t defend himself. He let his accusers kill him. Who was the one who cared and loved when he was lifted up on a cross that day?
In an attempt to break the church out of a passive, false-love driven debate over holiness and morality I will say this very clearly:
I DO NOT CARE ENOUGH, young woman, about your career, your comfort, your supposed right to independence or the crisis and cost a new baby will bring to your life to affirm your plan to kill your baby. You are not entitled to comfort. You are not promised happiness. I challenge you to lay down your life for a baby that God thought enough about you to entrust its care to.
When you wave a coat hanger in the air during an abortion rights protest, you are declaring that you have more compassion for one who would intentionally harm someone than one who is being harmed. The answer to losing access to ‘safe abortions’ (how is intentional murder safe?) is not to head out to the back alley to abort the baby yourself with a hanger—it is to have the baby and love it with selfless passion! The answer is so simple!
I DO NOT CARE about a supposed right to sexual freedom, gay or straight, that results in a devastating lifestyle that is bringing destruction on our nation. Decrees of holiness must return to our churches and nation again!
I DO NOT CARE about equality in our nation if it results in climbing over people who are in our way or forcing them to affirm our self-centered position. It’s time that we lay down our demands, surrender our agendas and quit manipulating systems in a selfish pursuit of personal gain. It’s time for humility to reign in America again!
Christian leaders I honor you deeply and pray for you and I do understand the pressures you are under. However, I DO NOT CARE about personal agendas, self-centered ministry projects, your self-assigned titles or ego-driven programs and will not unite with those who embrace them. Your legacy and history in the city is meaningless unless it results in a future of Holy Spirit freedom for desperate people. I will expend energy, time and money to run with you if you are humble and passionate about the plans of God in the region. Let’s slow the flow to Hell together.
Philippians 2:4-8 (ESV) 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
I CARE ABOUT THE HEART OF GOD and his overwhelming love for people—and the fact that Hell is swallowing millions of them. I care about the clear truths of scripture. I trust in God’s wisdom and I refuse to allow humanism to gain the upper hand in the debate. I care about bold prophetic messengers who will lay down their lives and open their mouths and shout truth from the rooftops.
Today, not tomorrow, it’s time to die to self and run to the battle as the spirit of Goliath is threatening to destroy us. It’s time for the circumcised, consecrated lovers of God to take back America.
An emerging burning army of young people will usher in revival…theLab is a training ground for this raging remnant!
FIRST: Tomorrow (Sunday) at Revival Church, I’ll be teaching on the next threat to revival: FEAR. Get ready to have fear broken off of your life!
Revival Church meets Sundays at 6pm at CENTRAL CHURCH, 1529 E. 12 Mile Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071.
SECOND: Don’t forget to apply for membership to Revival Church! This is an exciting time to lock in with a family of revivalists in Detroit whether you are local, or participate online! www.johnburton.net/membership
THELAB: MOTHERS AND FATHERS, SONS AND DAUGHTERS
Some churches have youth groups. We have a School of Fire.
For the very first time, theLab School of Fire is open to everybody in high school and on up. Only $100!
LEARN MORE AND APPLY TODAY! The next session begins January 20th!
God is marking the young generation with fire, and he’s awakening them into a prayer-fueled life of wonders.
theLab is a fiery and focused movement of revival that refuses to allow anyone, young or old, to live below their call and destiny.
CARRIERS OF FIRE
Elizabeth was barren and old—yet she carried a burning prophet who would prepare the world for the coming of the King.
Luke 1:15-17 (ESV) 15 …and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.
Mary was a virgin and young—yet she carried the King of glory.
Luke 1:34-37 (ESV) 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
The two generations converged, the baby leaped, the Holy Spirit arrived and the world was shocked into freedom!
Luke 1:39-42 (ESV) 39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
theLab School of Fire is an extreme and unapologetic movement of revival, and our mandate is to raise up carriers of fire who shock the world with the prophetic, burning word of the Lord.
TIME IS SHORT! Applications must be received no later than December 20th, 2012.