Posts Tagged ‘Kingdom’

Multiple Income Streams: I made a fool of myself…prepare to laugh out loud!

Trust me, you will never look at the Burton family the same way again. Have we no shame?

TOTR Burtons

18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him–for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God. Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 (NIV)

A bunch of you out there have an aversion to enjoying life. You can probably blame a good, old fashioned religious spirit on that. God does want you to enjoy the life he died to give you. Of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. We should die daily and live in resurrection power. We should give and prosper.

Recently, Amy and I had the privilege of hosting a team of high school business class leaders at our escape room business, Escape Code, and our axe throwing business, The Axe Game in Branson, Missouri.

Something I thoroughly enjoy is introducing and sharing Kingdom principles and other bits of life-giving wisdom in the marketplace. I know the bulk of our success comes from our radical devotion to promoting godly standards and living with integrity in the workplace.

11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? Luke 16:11 (NIV)

We recently “enjoyed” the opportunity going through a state audit for our escape room business. After hours, and hours, weeks and weeks of hard work, they met with us in person. Of course, we were nervous, wondering if our math would match with theirs. They reported that, aside from some very minor miscalculations, everything matched up. They were actually quite surprised and impressed at our honesty and integrity. My wife handles the finances, and if a single penny doesn’t match up, she will work hard correcting the error. She will pay that penny. That is not an exaggeration.

After the high school students played one of our escape games, we had an opportunity to address the team of future business leaders and engage in a time of questions and answers. In addition to discussing the issues of extreme integrity and honor in the workplace, we encouraged them in a critical plan of action: develop multiple streams of income.

When I was in high school, the only obvious option after graduation was to go to college. The question every junior and senior was asked time and time again was, “Where are you going to college?” It was college or bust.

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It would have been extremely valuable to know that there are many additional options in our big, wide world! Trade schools, alternative learning, business incubators, internships, various prosperous jobs that don't require college and many additional choices are out there.

If our God loves to function outside the box, which he absolutely does, limiting our future and our income to a single, predictable track just doesn’t make sense. We made it clear that, yes, many would obviously benefit from a college degree, and, of course, many professions require it. I most certainly want our future doctors to have every degree and certification they need to operate. My oldest son, Skylar, is currently attending Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee as he prepares for a career in law. College, and more, is a requirement for him.

However, whether college is or is not a part of one’s track toward success and prosperity, developing multiple streams of income is a valuable move. In my opinion, a non-negotiable one.

For instance, people often criticize pastors who are financially prosperous, presuming they are immoral, thieves or greedy, when in fact they may have wisely developed multiple streams of income. They are appropriately creating wealth according to biblical standards. They have bought and sold real estate, written books, built businesses, consulted or initiated any number of other ventures that create wealth for them and their family.

18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth… Deuteronomy 8:18 (ESV)

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Amy and I never want to rely on a single source of income—or rely solely on ourselves. We want to let God lead and develop new ventures through us understanding that businesses fail, people get fired, the economy can crash and tides can turn. On the positive side, we are entrepreneurial at heart, and we have a blast creating businesses and fresh income strategies. It’s fun!

We aren’t “rich,” but, then again, I believe we are. Our lives have been enriched in many ways. God has blessed us and we are thankful.

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV)

Over the years we’ve had many streams of income, most of them small, that have helped us grow financially.

In fact, when we leased space for The Axe Game earlier this year, two doors down from Escape Code, we also leased a storefront between the two businesses with plans to develop a third business at some point. It stands empty today as we give time to the praying and dreaming process. It is an exciting blank canvas for whatever big idea God drops into our spirit down the road.

5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. Proverbs 21:5 (NIV)

A HILARIOUS NEW POTENTIAL INCOME SOURCE—GET READY TO LAUGH RIGHT AT ME!

The reason I’m writing this article isn’t to bring attention to what the Burton family is doing, but rather to share how God is working in us so as to encourage you to dream big and break free from the stranglehold of poverty and lack.

In fact, Amy and I along with the younger kids recently ventured into a new business that many would call “cringy,” but I call “cringy cool!” It’s called Toys of the Realm.

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But wait, allow me to back up a few weeks first. Another video project preceded Toys of the Realm.

Amy and I have been gifted in some specific ways, including communication, creativity, graphic design and video production. We also love to travel and do it often. Anything from short day trips to business trips to ministry trips to actual vacations keep us on the move regularly.

While we are about ten years late to the game, we decided to launch a YouTube travel channel. Many who started years ago are enjoying very large monthly checks. Today, the competition is much greater, but we will not be deterred! We spent a few hundred dollars for some basic equipment and then launched out to create travel videos. It’s so much fun! As I walk around with my gimbal, recording anything from donuts at Hurt’s Donut Company, to rides at Silver Dollar City, to cave systems to food on the table of our our favorite restaurants, people wonder what we are doing. We explain that we are travel vloggers and then offer them a business card that directs them to the YouTube channel that will soon have the very content they are watching us record, possibly that very night.

TPF! Travel Adventures is a fun, though time consuming, potential stream of income that we are taking very seriously. We understand that it may take anywhere from one to three years to see ad revenue from YouTube and our affiliate marketing to start trickling in. But, who knows, we may really need those paychecks at that time. We will be extremely thankful that we planned ahead and developed this stream of income.

27 Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. Proverbs 24:27 (NIV)

TOYS OF THE REALM—CRINGY COOL

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Definition, CRINGY: Someone or something that makes you embarrassed to be a part of the human race. Usually classified by seeing something and feeling extremely embarrassed, throwing your head back and closing your eyes to block your view, and biting your lip to keep in your scream of utter disgust. ~Urban Dictionary

After Amy and I kept this next potential income stream a secret for the first four episodes, we decided it was time to let our pride go and let the world laugh with (at) us. I playfully posted this to Facebook last night:

I have to confess something… a hidden, secret part of my life.

You may never look at Amy or me the same way again…but it's time for the Burton family to come clean…

We can hear toys talk.

Yes, it's true. You might know me as a fiery preacher, an author and passionate revivalist… but, I couldn't keep this hidden part of our lives from you, our friends and family forever.

After you watch our first four videos about our wild adventures rescuing toys from the Toy Reaper, you are sure to lift an eyebrow, shake your head in wonder…and ask your kids to interpret just what is happening.

Some of you may start interceding for us. That's OK. We need it. If you could, say some prayers for the toys as well. They are in great danger.

The first video can be seen here…just don't say we didn't warn you: https://youtu.be/yz1Kt019KWE

The link to our channel where you can watch all four thrilling episodes is: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMqwOHxpg5vWTxHbjGW5GYA

Be sure to SUBSCRIBE so you can watch the adventure unfold multiple times each week.

Please don't unfriend us. We need you now more than ever.
John and Amy Burton and family

It’s OK. Laugh. Amy and I have busted up laughing with tears in our eyes many times as we recorded and watched the final release of each episode. Definitely cringy…cool! So far, the toys have led us to castle ruins, through tunnels, into the woods and into a dungeon! How can that not be thrilling?

Here’s the kicker. This channel may never bring us a dime, or some day it may bring in a truck load of dimes, but it has introduced something to our family that is exponentially much more valuable—we are having the time of our lives, together, as a family! The memories are more precious than all the gold in the world. In fact, there’s something to having fun as little children:

15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:15-16 (NIV)

You can definitely laugh and cringe along with us. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun we are having with both of our channels. Recently Amy and I took a day trip to Lake of the Ozarks and recorded an episode about a monster in Ha Ha Tonka State Park. It was just good ole’ fun! We loved hanging together, coming up with story lines and just having fun on camera!

Amy is a brilliant story teller. She develops all of our themes and storylines for our escape rooms. After playing, guests are regularly amazed at the fact that she designed them herself. She’s amazing! Now, with our children’s focused channel, Toys of the Realm, she uses that gift in another way.

I’d strongly encourage you to watch, and cringe, and laugh HERE.

DO WHAT YOU LOVE

Another piece of advice we gave to the high schoolers was: do what you love. What causes you to come alive? Don’t base your career path on the amount of money it may provide. Discover your passion and have a blast discovering how you can turn that into a career!

How often do we hear stories of people who have climbed the ladder and gained a six-figure income, only to burn out, quit and turn a hobby, something they are passionate about, into a career? It happens every day.

I believe God puts passions inside of us, and often he enables us to turn those passions into wealth creating opportunities. Understand, when I say wealth, I’m not putting a gigantic number on it. Wealth is simply resource that enables us to live the life God has called us to, and to enrich others around us. Each stream of income may only bring in a few hundred dollars a month, but all together, they make it possible to pay the bills, give extravagantly and continue dreaming and developing new streams!

Of course, those of you who know me understand that I’m all about revival and ministering in power. Laying down our lives and surrendering all should be our devotion every day. Many are called to venture into costly, challenging ministry assignments that don’t pay much at all. Definitely do that with your whole heart!

However, I also believe we can still develop streams of income in the midst of ministry. When Amy and I were called to spend a season at The International House of Prayer in Kansas City, it would have been impossible if I hadn’t already developed sources of income that would sustain us. We eventually received a small stipend at IHOPKC as I first joined the graphic design team and then was asked to direct one of the four primary internships. That stipend was not nearly enough to sustain us. It took the other streams to make our ministry there possible. In fact, we were able to buy a house. There was no one single source of income that made that possible. Many streams (I believe we had developed seven separate small streams at that time) were required.

So, we were able to do what we loved, what we were called to do and support a growing family! After our season there, we moved to Detroit with no job, no new income opportunities and even nowhere to live. We drove our moving truck there, rented a place the next day, started a church, developed new income sources and watched ministry and finances develop together!

DON’T BE LAZY!

25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' 26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Matthew 25:25-27 (NIV)

Friend, many people are in lack because of this very parable. Look at how it continues:

28 “‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. Matthew 25:28-29 (NIV)

Those who are lazy, those who don’t aggressively advance in their financial strategies will often find themselves losing ground while those who are prosperous and working hard will seem to gain with little effort.

While it’s true that doing what you love will result in a life where you don’t really work at all, as the saying goes, the truth is that you must work very hard. But if you choose your career and businesses wisely, the work will be enjoyable. While I understand that we may not see financial rewards from our two video endeavors for years, we are recording several times a week and I’m editing late into the night, several hours at a time, day after day. I love it!

However, it absolutely is work. Add that to running two extremely busy and demanding businesses, working often at those businesses personally to keep staff costs down, writing for Charisma and other publications, traveling for business and ministry, going to parent/teacher meetings, gymnastics and other soccer mom (and dad!) style responsibilities, and you have a lot of work!

This being said, as you work very hard, stay healthy, get rest and always know it’s God who brings increase, you will live in victory. A wrong heart will do you in. A right focus will bring great success. Your work and faithfulness will result in God ordering your steps.

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Proverbs 23:4 (NIV)

GUARD YOUR HEART

15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15 (ESV)

The purpose of creating wealth is not for the sake of accumulating wealth. It takes a humble and zealous lover of Jesus to agree with the principle that God desires us to create wealth, and to have great resource to give extravagantly, while never, ever giving our heart to that wealth.

In fact, if you can’t grow financially and grow in Jesus at the same time, I’d strongly encourage you to do what the Rich Young Ruler was instructed to do. Give it all away! Your eternity is not worth a temporarily large bank account. It’s laughable that it would be.

So, guard your heart. Reject greed. Be a passionate, fervent lover of Jesus and allow the resources you develop to bring life to your family, to the church and to the Kingdom of God.

24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. 25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs 11:24-25 (NIV)

YOU CAN DO IT!

You absolutely have been given gifts and passions by God that can result in a joyful and very busy life that includes a strategic track toward financial prosperity.

God isn’t going to drop the money into your lap. The Parable of the Talents should be enough to shake us all out of that mirage. Not only has God given us the power to create wealth, he has given us the responsibility to do so!

I’d strongly encourage you to read a powerful article on the subject that I wrote recently titled: Why giving large percentages of our finances to the church might require disobedience to God.

Here’s an excerpt:

Successful entrepreneurs and business people will understand this principle easily. Their money is simply a tool. It’s used to expand their business, make investments and multiply their resources so they can have greater and greater impact.

Don’t ever look at a wealthy Christian in judgment. Many of them are doing exactly what God wants them to do. They aren't suppose to give everything to the poor or to the church. Their gift is much better used by multiplying resources and giving extravagantly year after year then by simply giving away what they have a single time. The result would be lack of resources and an inability to do what God has called them to do. If you have one million dollars, don’t give it all away. Multiply it and give millions and millions away.

If we give all we have to the church, or more than God has called us to, we won’t have enough to put to work for the sake of multiplication. We must give the correct amount and invest the correct amount to see the greatest Kingdom impact.

Kick into prayer. Develop strategies. Dream. Plan. Move. Risk.

Maybe God will call you to develop something that has the world laughing at you…as you laugh right on over to the bank. Your pastor and ministries all over the world will certainly appreciate the upward spike in your giving receipts as well.

Why giving large percentages of our finances to the church might require disobedience to God

ALIEN-4-29-2018 9.22.10 PM 0000000Is it possible we might be disobedient to God by “giving it all away” to Kingdom work?

While probably terrifying, we have to admit it feels extremely spiritual to consider the possibility of selling all we have and giving all of our money away for the sake of the Kingdom. It’s hard to argue with someone who endeavors to bless others in this extravagant manner.

In fact, many years ago I met a family who did just that. They sold everything and traveled the nation by horse and carriage preaching the Gospel. What a sight that was, watching a homemade carriage that contained all of their earthly goods being pulled by two horses right down the highway in front of my house in Omaha, Arkansas. They lived, cooked, ate and slept in that makeshift trailer. My parents invited them to pull over and enjoy dinner with us. Their horses ate the grass in our rural yard while we ate and then sang worship songs together. I’ll admit, I was blown away as a young man by their fervor for Jesus. It was clear materialism didn’t have a hold on them.

Though their devotion was remarkable, and I cannot and will not determine the appropriateness of their individual decision to give it all away, I am going to argue that, for most, such an extreme move just might require disobedience to God.

SELL IT ALL AND FOLLOW JESUS?

22 …Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Luke 18:22 (ESV)

It’s clear in Scripture that we must all be radical givers. I believe firmly that we must all respond to the call to give in great measure to the church, to ministry works and to people in need. It’s a joy to do so! Giving large amounts to our local church should be a goal for all of us. Further, financially blessing mission works, the poor, servers in the restaurants we eat at and families in need is a high honor for every Believer.

Many ministers today over-simplify the call to give, however. The scripture most often used might be found in the book of Luke:

38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 (ESV)

The exhortation is clear: give financially and you will receive financially. The more you give, the more you receive.

I believe this. I’ve watched it manifest in my own life, not magically via some simplistic formula, but rather through joyful giving marked by expectant faith and a long-term devotion to bless others. It’s not about me and my bank account. It’s about those I’m serving. The result of that has been a lot of abundant life in Jesus and financial blessing in some truly miraculous ways. God loves to give back.

However, I believe pastors do great disservice to those under their care and the ministries they are leading if they simplify the call to “give more, receive more.” In fact, preachers rebuking the materialism in others to manipulate more extravagant giving to feed their own materialism just might be one of the darkest forms of evil behind the pulpit today. Some pastors have evil intent, but thankfully most don't. The majority who emphasize extravagant giving are simply short sighted or misguided. There’s more to it than continually encouraging more and more giving.

As I stated above, I believe it’s possible for pastors to unwittingly encourage people into a place of disobedience to God by asking them to give large sums while ignoring the call to steward what remains.

Why did Jesus instruct the Rich Ruler to sell everything and give it to the poor? The reason is simple: The Rich Ruler’s heart was surrendered to Mammon, the spiritual force behind the money he so loved and trusted in.

So, I do agree, if our heart is devoted to Mammon, by all means, give it all way, and fast! Jesus was extreme when he called people to separate themselves from anything that would compromise their eternities.

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. Matthew 5:29-30 (ESV)

If your eye or your hand or your money causes you to sin, get rid of it!

24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Mammon). Matthew 6:24 (ESV)

However, as long as we can turn from the sin, and truly surrender our heart to Jesus, such extreme measures are not necessary, including the call to give all of our money away. You can keep your eyes in their sockets and your money in your pockets. Your money won’t stay in your pockets for long though. It has work to do.

YOU ARE CALLED TO MULTIPLY

Successful entrepreneurs and business people will understand this principle easily. Their money is simply a tool. It’s used to expand their business, make investments and multiply their resources so they can have greater and greater impact.

Don’t ever look at a wealthy Christian in judgment. Many of them are doing exactly what God wants them to do. They aren't suppose to give everything to the poor or to the church. Their gift is much better used by multiplying resources and giving extravagantly year after year then by simply giving away what they have a single time. The result would be lack of resources and an inability to do what God has called them to do. If you have one million dollars, don’t give it all away. Multiply it and give millions and millions away.

If we give all we have to the church, or more than God has called us to, we won’t have enough to put to work for the sake of multiplication. We must give the correct amount and invest the correct amount to see the greatest Kingdom impact.

In the parable of the talents, we see the other exhortation that pastors should be communicating in addition to simple giving. If they encouraged people to invest their money, to build businesses, to give a little less so they have a little more to leverage greater multiplication, we’d see a lot of money coming into the Kingdom and a lot of lives dramatically touched.

Simply giving and waiting for the money to return is not enough. We are crippling people financially when we don’t add the call to multiply into the equation. In fact, we’ll see in the following passage that God will take what was given to people who failed to multiply and redistribute it to those who have been most successful.

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:14-30 (ESV)

It’s a long passage, so for those of you who tend to skim articles, allow me to sum it up.

God expects us to use money he gives us in strategic ways to ensure it is multiplied. Giving to the church isn’t our primary financial strategy. It’s important, and I believe we should always give at least the tithe. Even those who don’t believe the tithe is required for New Covenant Christians, they all admit that we should give extravagantly. So, start with a little less than extravagance at ten percent. Also, beyond the ten percent, give regularly to missions and to people in need. That’s the foundation.

Then, use what remains to invest, develop businesses, pay for training in a field of work you will enjoy and that will be prosperous or by strategically growing your financial portfolio in other ways so you can faithfully multiply what God has given you. God takes the call go give seriously. Based on what we see in the passage above, he takes the call to multiply finances very seriously.

I’ve met many, many Christians over the years who have been faithful givers, but who are barely making it financially. The missing piece for them is most always the biblical call to invest and multiply. Giving is powerful, but it’s not enough. Ultimately, God wants us to give much more than we currently are. The way it comes is not through more simple giving, but rather through shrewd, Holy-Spirit directed multiplication.

Pastors who only focus on giving will produce a culture of lack. Those who awaken the God-given ability to multiply wealth will see great resource come.

Here’s a powerful passage from Deuteronomy that mirrors the truths of the Rich Ruler and of the talents that we have been looking at:

17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Deuteronomy 8:17-19 (ESV)

God has given us all the power to get wealth, but we must not serve Mammon, the lord of money.

Giving our wealth away, however much that may be, feels like the most spiritual thing to do. On the contrary, it very well may be a major misstep. The Rich Young Ruler was instructed to give it all away because Jesus knew his heart was bound by it. However, Jesus revealed in the parable of the talents that we have a sober mandate to multiply the wealth God resources us with. If mammon is your master, give your money away. If Jesus is your master, use your money to multiply your wealth so the Kingdom can be resourced.

The misguided compassion of half-filled lamp churches

Beware of the natural familiarity of Ichabod churches (where the glory has departed).

And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” 1 Samuel 4:21-22 (ESV)

YOGA-000000152Pastors, are you hearing what I’m hearing?

Most every day, in one venue or another, I’m hearing from disillusioned, frustrated people who cannot find a church that has been overtaken by the Holy Spirit. No extreme revival atmospheres can be found for many. The Upper Room experience that innumerable desperate people are searching for are nowhere to be seen, in some instances, within 500 miles of where they live. They complain of short, ordered, controlled services that, according to them, isn’t worth their time. There’s a measure of spirituality, but they don’t even come close to the explosive, supernatural experiences they are craving.

Pastors, are you hearing what millions are saying? The ark has been captured!

Open up your doors to the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit! The gifts must function. The order of service must be laid down. The crazy, unscripted, unrehearsed, unforeseen collisions that happen when an invisible, all-powerful Creator invades mortal humans must be expected. Every. Single. Sunday.

Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (ESV)

HALF-FILLED LAMP CHURCHES ARE THREATENING KINGDOM ADVANCE…AND PEOPLE’S ETERNITIES.

And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 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.’ Matthew 25:8-9 (ESV)

Misguided compassion is resulting in the wise becoming foolish while eternities are put at great risk.

Churches are filled with people the Bible would call foolish—those who are not spiritually vibrant, personally disciplined and deeply intimate with Jesus. Their lamps are empty.

This begs a question: How is it so many people in this category are so at home in churches all over the world?

If a church is ablaze with the spirit of prayer and alive as the Holy Spirit blows and burns through everyone there, those who are asleep and without any oil will definitely not feel comfortable. There is no way they can integrate in such a place without feeling the pressure to fill their lamps.

So, what do many pastors do to ensure these people feel a part of the family? They share their oil. “Come on in, you take half of my oil, I’ll keep half. We’ll both meet the bridegroom together.” It sounds loving. It feels compassionate. It’s foolishness.

The water level of Holy Spirit activity is brought way down so those who are marginally surrendered can dip their toes in the shallows—and integrate nicely with others who are equally resistant to the deeper things of the Spirit. They are spiritually interested, but not spiritually invested. They have not paid the price and have not bought their own oil.

Human wisdom that argues that it’s better for people to be in a moderate spiritual environment is better than the being shut out is actually called foolishness by God. By sharing oil, by toning down the activity of the Holy Spirit, all become foolish, and all are put at risk of Hell.

The truth is that oil can’t be shared. A price must be paid. Oh, and to take the heat off of pastors for just a moment, for all of you disgruntled experience seekers out there, quit getting so frustrated when your church doesn’t move in the gifts the way you’d like. Are you trying to share their oil? Don’t you have enough yourself? Is your lamp not full? While I absolutely understand the cry for a supernatural church, I refuse to empower those who refuse to get their own oil. If your lamp is full, you should be overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and deeply intimate with Jesus! Just exactly how do you want a human pastor to add to that? Go get your own oil. Pay the price. Quit complaining about the church.

A MIDNIGHT CRY

Take just a minute and read the entire passage:

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 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.’ 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. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:1-13 (ESV)

In order to make sure our lamps are full (and that we have extra in our flasks), we must pay the price for the oil and then stay at the ready. In the midst of delay, we all can experience spiritual fatigue, but the wise will rise up when they hear the midnight cry!

The difference between those who have their lamps full and those who don’t is stark. Those who are not ready when God suddenly moves will have the door shut to them. God will declare that he does not know them (even if pastors assure them they are part of the family).

I think about the Upper Room in the Book of Acts. Most didn’t respond to the call to wait, to pay the price. The door was shut to them. After a delay of ten long days, there was a midnight cry! The Holy Spirit has come! Those who had their lamps full, those who responded to the command of Jesus to wait and pray, were ready when the wind and the fire came!

A MIDNIGHT CRY CHURCH

Pastors, don’t share your oil. Don’t let misguided compassion cause you to quench the Spirit. Don’t build your local church on those who refuse to pay the price.

Build a midnight cry church! Build the fire, contend in fervent prayer, expect unusual, otherworldly manifestations of the Holy Spirit and break off any temptation to moderate the service so the sleepy foolish people who are pounding at your door can join in. Love them by modeling a life of fervency, preparation and intimacy with Jesus. Warn them. Contend in prayer for them. Some will join you in your Upper Room experience, but most will not.

It’s time we desire the ark more than people. When we do, the glory will return to the church and that glorious midnight cry will be heard, “Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.”

Ministry: Can I give you a call?

Hi!

My name is John Burton and I am praying for new Kingdom connections with pastors and leaders both in this nation and around the world.

I’d love to give you a call and hear more about your ministry. Is there a time that would work?

If you feel it would benefit your ministry, we can discuss scheduling a church event or conference in your region that would powerfully encourage you and your team!

In the meantime, my bio can be viewed at www.johnburton.net if you’d like to take a look.

The short version is:

  • I’ve planted two churches, one in Colorado and one in Detroit.
  • I’ve written eight books on the topics of prayer, reformation and revival.
  • I directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.
  • I crave being in God’s presence with other hungry people!
  • I also believe strongly in the local church and would love to serve your mission.

 

Contact me any time via email at john@johnburton.net or phone at 719.231.6000.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

John-Burton-Ministries-Promo

Video: It has to stop! Competition, accusation and jealousy between churches

God forgive us for building kingdoms of man on doctrines of demons in your name. ~Brian Ming

(http://youtu.be/leedwHInzfQ)

IT HAS TO STOP!

Watch this short, raw video on the issue of competitiveness, accusation and jealousy in the church. It has to STOP!

When Amy and I first moved to Detroit and launched Revival Church we sent out 200 copies of my book Pharaoh in the Church to pastors in the Detroit region. The book is written to leaders and those who are called to lead the people of God into encounter.

In that book I deal directly with the issue of personal kingdom building & how it can be a threat to the advance of God’s Kingdom in a region.

Not shockingly, but sadly we only heard from one pastor. One.

When a new Kingdom building church arrives on the scene, the pastors of the region should celebrate their arrival!

PEOPLE, MONEY & REPUTATION

Too much energy is invested into keeping people, protecting our financial situation and enhancing our reputations as leaders—energy that can not be used for its intended purpose of going hard after revival in a region and leading people into encounter.

If we are serious about the city church exploding in life and power, we must be willing to lose people, lose financial security (salaries, benefits) and lose our reputation. Jesus was of no reputation, why should we be?

How can you deal with this issue? Have a healthy ministry policy!

HEALTHY MINISTRY POLICIES

  • PEOPLE: Have a policy that any pastor, leader or other person can come into your church at any time, with no fear or guilt, and openly recruit anybody, even your staff, to leave your church and join theirs. The fear of losing people and the resulting spirit of competition will disappear.
  • MONEY: Give regularly to other churches and pray for them to be blessed in a greater measure financially than your own. Giving always causes fear of financial loss to subside. Additionally, never hold back leading in a biblical direction with full unction of the Holy Spirit if key givers may get leave. Preach them out and trust God!
  • REPUTATION: Die. Surrender. Go low. Be humble. Allow people to ridicule you, accuse you, attack you and discredit your ministry. This happens when you preach truth. If you are of no reputation, then when you lose people, money, influence or anything else, your ego won’t drive you whatsoever.

imageDISQUALIFIED

Gossip.

Here’s a definition: Any conversation about an absent third party that wouldn’t meet the approval of that person.

Gossip is biblically forbidden communication.

When I, as a church leader, hear anybody gossip about a former pastor they are immediately disqualified from consideration for leadership in my church.

Why? I can’t afford to give place to a demonic anointing in my church.

This is how important it is to honor other pastors, churches and leaders—and everybody else in the body of Christ!

What do you do if you hear someone gossiping about a leader?

I am personally blessed when someone displays their honor, love and faithfulness when they won’t receive gossip about me. But, it’s not about me…it’s about the health of the church and the church of the city we are called to run with. It really is a big deal.

PROPHETIC VOICES

Why is it a big deal? Many reasons. One that will become very clear as the end of the age develops is that the church is going to be shifted violently to calibrate with God’s end-time plans.

The announcement of the shift will come through people. Prophets. Apostles. Those chosen by God to move into a region and reveal with boldness what is changing.

These people will be a serious threat to the status quo, and if pastors rely on the status quo to keep people in position, their salaries stable and their reputation under their control, they will resist these prophets of God with ferocity.

This is why we need to develop a culture of celebration, humility and honor for other leaders, new churches and people who are in the body of Christ in a region.

If we don’t, crosses may remain on the steeples while Ichabod is posted above the doors of resisting, self-centered pastors flowing in the spirit of Pharaoh as they remain focused on building their own kingdoms.

FINAL THOUGHTS

God led Amy and my family to Detroit to see revival land. God is bringing many others here as well. Many others have been laboring here for years and have been prepared for what’s coming. Let’s do all we can to unite and take advantage of the amazing convergence in this critical end-time season!

A sobering yet clarified end-time vision for the church

Our role has become much clearer after the troubling end of the Presidential election.

My focus in this article is to bring clarity of our vision to the Revival Church staff and team, yet it’s something that any Christian will appreciate.

I am simply confounded. No matter how I try, I cannot even come close to understanding how a Christian would support a candidate that has so clearly, boldly and methodically renounced biblical truths. I’m beside myself.

2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (ESV) 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

That is a verse specifically dealing with the antichrist, but the principle remains. There is a strong delusion in the world today as the antichrist spirit gains momentum.

For example, consider abortion. If you understand biblical history, you know that it is a violent antichrist spirit. Just as with Herod during the arrival of Jesus on the Earth, there is an antichrist, God killing spirit in America. To stand with anybody who promotes this spirit is beyond nonsensical.

Yes, it’s true that one day after the election that Jesus is still the King. However, I’m trembling as I believe the King is closer to executing desperately needed judgment on America than he has ever been.

Franklin Graham, regarding the election of President Obama to another term: “…I think it will be to our peril and to the destruction of this nation.”

Have you ever considered the nation we love ceasing to exist? It’s possible. Many think it’s probable.

I’ve asked the following question several times yet it’s almost always dodged without an answer:

If a candidate were to support the murder of any child under the age of two, for any reason, would you vote for him? If it was OK to take your toddler, who was becoming an inconvenience to you, or if you couldn’t afford to take care of him, down to the clinic to have him dismembered and disposed of, would that be acceptable? If not, why is it OK to stand with a candidate who supports the murder of children who are younger?

Another even more provocative question is this:

If a two year old child was the result of rape, should it be OK to kill them? If not, then why is it OK to kill them at an earlier age?

The other issues that I consider most troubling are the destruction of the traditional family through the promotion of gay marriage, and the resistance to stand with Israel.

For me, the economy is a near non-issue for the Christian as our needs were already guaranteed to be supplied. My vote was not at all driven by questions about our economy.

imageA LUCIFERIAN SPIRIT

It’s shocking how deeply a Luciferian spirit has infiltrated the church and our nation. There is a deeper teaching that this article can’t give justice to, but allow me to share some of the key issues that we must be aware of so we can best understand our vision of reformation.

Simply stated, Lucifer was in the very presence of God, witnessing and experiencing all of his love, power and glory. The radiance of God’s presence and his unlimited and immeasurable power was before Lucifer continually. So, what happened?

With God in the room, Lucifer was focused on self.

It’s crazy! Yet, we see this every week in churches from coast to coast.

We see this troubling spirit in the story of the money changers in the temple. Jesus violently reacted as he picked up on this self-centered, Luciferian and religious spirit that resulted in people using God’s holy place for their own personal gain. The temple wasn’t about worshiping God that day, it was about worshiping self just as Lucifer did.

Today’s church, and today’s America is largely about the pursuit of happiness. God’s presence is not enough, and, an even more troubling reality is that, with God in the room, if he is blocking what we really want we will forsake him and spiritualize our own endeavors. That’s what happened with Eve in the garden. Satan appealed to her desire for godliness, for personal gain. So, she rebelled all while spiritualizing her decision.

It’s a Luciferian spirit that is driving so many in the church to focus on personal gain. It shockingly results in some Christians actually supporting abortion if it will result in a better life for the mother. It’s such a high level demonic deception that it has put our entire nation, not to mention the church, at great risk.

The Lucifiarian tradition usually reveres Lucifer, not as the Devil, but as a rescuer or guiding spirit. This philosophy is based on carnal fulfillment with consideration for the preservation of self.

How interesting.

This spirit must be dealt with from the opposing direction. Check out the story in Revelation:

Revelation 12:11 (ESV) 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

The blood of Jesus, the declaration of our surrender to him and focusing not on personal happiness but on embracing the call to martyrdom is the answer.

Our churches and our American lives can no longer be about personal gain, storing up blessings, self-centered happiness or loving our lives.

It’s so sad to me as a leader that the church at large is not satisfied with the fact that Jesus died for them. Is that not enough for us to lay down our own lives for him?

We see most every Christian conference today focusing on our blessings, our identity, our rights. Of course, there is biblical precedence for such topics when handled rightly, however the concern is that self-focus is what draws the crowds instead of the call to die daily and surrender all.

We also see this issue manifesting in the realm of finances. The greatest offerings are received when the greatest teaching on financial return is delivered.

It’s a Luciferian spirit that drives abortion as well. When focused on our own happiness, our delusion results in a willingness to to remove any hindrance to that pursuit—including unwanted children. That self-centered spirit is what drove Pharaoh when he tried to annihilate the Hebrews and what drove Herod when he tried to eliminate Jesus by killing children. It’s the same spirit that fueled the Holocaust. That spirit is powerfully active in America today.

The current abortion crisis in America is significantly worse than the horrific tragedy of the Holocaust. 17 million vs. 55 million dead.

Now, let me say this very, very clearly. I don’t believe the primary reason abortion is freely available in America today is our elected officials. It’s because the same Luciferian spirit that drives the abortion agenda drives so many in the church. Those seeking abortion are on the hunt for personal happiness and the elimination of any threat to it. In the church, the focus has become the same—personal benefit, happiness and freedom. The tickling ear messages and the focus on personal gain is rampant in the church today. Instead of calling the church to lay down their lives, the messages are nearly always about finding themselves and having the best life they can. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe it’s time to “become a better you,” it’s time to “become a deader you.” Dead to self, alive in Christ.

This is the current state of the church.

Charles Finney brought this strong charge back in 1873:

“The error that lies at the foundation of this decay of individual and public conscience originates, no doubt, in the pulpit. … Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits. If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree.

“If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it.

“If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it.

“Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.”

So, that’s our setup. Now, what should our response be?

imageTHE VISION

Revival Church team, it’s imperative that we all understand what the vision is and what it is not so we can fulfill the very finely focused mission God has given us.

Further, we must understand if a function of our ministry is a key component of the core vision, or if it’s a supplemental support to the core, or even if it’s contrary to the core. This will help ensure that the main things remain the main things.

Our call is to deal directly with a sleeping and dying church. It’s our prophetic mandate. The alarms must be sounded and repentance must be the result. There is a holy grief and a spirit of mourning that must be upon us, even as we are driven by a deep, abiding joy as God moves through us. Remember, Revival Church is a prophetic ministry that is focused on reformation and calling the greater church into a revival ready model. Many of the messages that come out of this ministry are not only for those in our church but are for those throughout the Detroit region and beyond.

The two chapters in the Bible that must be continually opened at Revival Church are Joshua 3 and Acts 2. Those are our blueprints. Study them. Memorize them. Pray through them. Continually.

Our key verse is Joshua 3:5: Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.

My book 20 Elements of Revival is our practical guidebook as it gives us a step by step process of city-wide revival. If it’s in there, it’s in our DNA.

Again, as we look at the vision, keep in mind the state of the church and the state of the nation. There is much calibration to be done.

WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT ISN’T

  • Revival Church is prayer-fueled and aggressive. We are calling people into an urgent lifestyle of holy striving and zealous prayer as we press toward the goal together. There is a literal groan of intercession that we must discover and release night and day.
  • Revival Church is a movement of holiness, repentance, excellence and radical discipleship. Joshua 3:5 reveals that we are to consecrate ourselves and prepare for a life of wonders.
  • Revival Church is an apostolic and prophetic church. As an apostle/prophet with a regional and national focus, we are leading from that edge. The constant focus around here is reformation, revival and regional impact which means we are always shifting and redirecting in our methods as we pursue the ultimate goal. Following a prophetic leader is a challenge to say the least. The vision is always expanding and the methodology is always changing which requires that everybody involved is ‘instant in season and instant out of season’. New projects are often initiated well before old projects are completed.
  • Revival Church’s message isn’t locally limited. I say often that I’m a one string banjo. We are all about revival on a regional and national level. So, what this means is that those in our church will be hearing the same revival thread in our messages over and over again. We are intentionally focused and limited instead of diverse in our teachings. I understand that the messages I deliver are mostly for the region and nation, and the primary vehicle we are using is the Sunday evening Revival Church service. I’m certainly preaching to those in attendance, but I’m equally targeting those who will be hearing the message online. If I have to say the same thing over and over until those in attendance have it memorized word for word, that’s OK as long as the message is impacting those who are listening in our target areas around the world.
  • Revival Church, by design, does not give all five of the offices equal attention. This is not to say that we don’t value all of the offices, but it does say that we know who we are and who we are not. In the current church structure the presumption is that all five offices must be active in every local church. That’s not true. First of all, that’s not realistic for smaller churches. Second, in scripture we know the church is identified by the city, not by the local expression. The five-fold offices must be in effect in the city church, which will require that we as leaders are OK with people in our church participating in other local churches that are anointed in another office.
  • Revival Church, again by design, is not a Pastor led church. The current Pastor led church system in our nation has resulted in a lot of false expectations that are placed on leadership. This is one of our greatest challenges. Again, it’s not that we don’t value the Pastoral office, we do. However, our focus, time, energy and resources are not to be used to focus at a significant level on developing pastoral ministry. Interestingly, the presumption might be that without a strong pastoral focus that people can’t easily grow. It’s quite the contrary around here. We are raising up people who are growing at a faster pace than I’ve ever witnessed—and these people are self-motivated. When they notice a struggle in their lives, they proactively take steps to resolve it. False expectations can lead people to presume I as the Senior Leader will be fulfilling the role of pastor in their lives when, in reality, I’m not a pastor at all. This is a challenge to communicate and it can often feel like rejection to those who want close and constant access to me. However, it’s not rejection at all. It’s simply that a prophet/apostle interacts very differently with people than a pastor does.
  • Revival Church has an unapologetically high bar of commitment. We believe the 24/7 church is coming, and the call around here is to start modeling this emerging church structure. Additionally, we are launching 50 new churches in this region alone, and we are asking everybody to consider how they will participate in this mission. Everybody here has the goal of changing the Detroit region and working toward revival. We are an “all hands on deck” ministry and are calling everybody to gather every time the doors are opened and the alarm is sounded.
  • Revival Church has a vision that demands we expand and look outward. There is much that feels undone in our local church due to our focus to continue expanding in the region. We refuse to wait until everything is perfectly in place and mature before we move out and launch other ministries and projects.
  • Revival Church’s core vision is extremely limited. If I had to narrow it down to just a few focuses I would have to include: Prayer, regional revival, church planting, groans of intercession, holiness, equipping carriers of fire and releasing regional and national prophetic alerts. Other focuses and ministries may or may not fit within the scope of our vision. Some are supplemental and greatly needed while others are beneficial, but not in our setting.
  • Revival Church is less about the experience and more about raising up sober, broken prophetic messengers. We are preparing people who will prepare regions for coming moves and judgments of God. While having a happy heart, we will also carry the weight of the cross as we call people to surrender and awaken a sleeping church. Our services and ministries will reflect this, and while often joyful, the extreme nature of the burden and mission demands that we gather together, go low and allow God to use us to carry some of the most challenging burdens we’ve ever known.
  • theLab is our primary equipping center. We are aggressively encouraging every person in Revival Church to permanently call theLab their home. It is where our core DNA is best experienced and where the team will discover their cohesion and receive their assignments. The limited focus of the church is mirrored at theLab as we raise up an army of people who carry the DNA of revival. (You can apply to theLab School of Fire here: www.revivallab.com.)

LAST THOUGHTS

To confront the spirit of this age that has made significant advances even in the last 24 hours, and to promote the spirit of revival, we must all be signed up, locked in and carrying the message of freedom in our nation.

This means a de-emphasis on personal enjoyment in the church must come as we make way for the remnant to take position, lay down their lives and advance the Kingdom of God in America.

That’s not to say that we aren’t joyful in the house of prayer. We must be. But it must be unto something. The joy of our salvation must explode as we carry the vision of salvation for a sleeping church and a lost society.

Disturbed: An open letter to the church of the Detroit region

It's time we stop looking for God to resolve issues, to revive economies, to fix society… and just start looking for God.

imageLiving here only 3 1/2 years, I’m the new kid on the block in the Detroit region, but it’s not my first time around the block.

In my 22+ years of ministry I’ve experienced some great moves of God. Unfortunately, I’ve also had front row seats to an often sleeping church.

The only reason I uprooted my family, sold our house and moved to Detroit, with no promise of an income or position of any kind, no guarantee that anybody would welcome us with open arms, was for the sake of revival. Full blown regional transformation.

I have no reason to be here. I had no connections in Detroit. I have only visited a couple of times in my life prior to my six destiny filled ministry trips here in 2008. We were not even thinking of moving here—until God spoke. We are here on assignment—a mission for revival.

ENOUGH!

Enough is enough.

I am disturbed in my spirit beyond description. If I were to state it most honestly, I would have to describe it as sickening. I don’t want to use a dramatic word to grab your attention, but I can’t deny the sick and disturbing grief that I’ve been sensing in the spirit in this region lately. Something is going on.

Before I continue with that thought, it’s very important that you tap into the depths of my heart. First, there is a good measure of very important and effective work for the Kingdom occurring. I am humbled by having the privilege of knowing some of the most faithful men and women of God here in Detroit. There is a small remnant of revival minded people that includes pastors, intercessors and servants of the Most High God. You all have blessed me and I honor you! I know God sees you and is moving on behalf of you. You have done more than I could ever hope to do. It’s been amazing running with you!

In spite of some potent relationships with these anointed men and women of God, I can’t shake the disturbance.

Since I’ve been in Detroit I’ve heard a lot about revival. It seems the whole region is crying out for it. However, this is where the root of the disturbance in my spirit exists.

Most every time revival is mentioned, the intent of that desire is to experience some sort of breakthrough, blessing or restitution.

I believe the disturbance in my spirit is linked with the rapidly increasing jealousy of God. He is jealous, and he refuses to be replaced by material satisfaction.

Let me make this very clear:

It’s time we STOP crying out for God to revive the economy, for resolved issues, for racial tensions to subside, for a fixed city… and START crying out for God and God alone!

God is jealous and he won’t allow Detroit to be satisfied by money, security or anything else until we are satisfied in Him and no one or nothing else!

DO NOT expect revival until we return to our first love. It WILL NOT COME! In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the situation in this region got dramatically worse. The choice is ours, however.

I STRONGLY recommend you read my recent article The Spirit of Abortion…in the Church? The spirit of selfish ambition that drives mothers to kill their babies is the same spirit that convinces Christians to abort their costly missions if they don’t get out of it what they want. If they don’t believe their participation will result in personal breakthrough, a greater personal experience, they abort mission and it has deadly impact on the cause of revival.

CONDITIONAL REVIVAL

It’s absolutely shocking to me that so much emphasis is placed on the pursuit of breakthrough yet the call to breakthrough into a pursuit of God falls on deaf ears.

Will we only gather and pray if we have a hope of personal blessing? So far, generally speaking, the answer in Detroit is yes. Where are all of the hungry people in Detroit? The stadiums should be filled with zealous, praying people every night of the week! Have the cares of life and entertainment so bewitched us that we have become convinced that being with God is not worth it?

I propose starting a movement of encounter which only has one goal—to be fully satisfied in enjoying and responding to the Lover of our souls. Nothing else matters. If we all have to live in a cardboard box on the streets of Detroit to encounter God, so be it! Our goal is not financial! It’s not selfish! It’s to be with God! That is all!

Have you noticed that the majority of conferences emphasize the personal blessing we’ll receive if we attend? Church offering sermonettes all too often focus solely on the breakthrough we’ll get if we give. What if we show up to bless others? What if we gave with no expectation of return?

Listen church! It’s time to die! Instead of reading a book about “how to become a better you,” I believe God wants us to discover how to become a “deader you!” Revival at all costs! We die so that we can live and be fully satisfied in God alone!

CHURCH COMPETITION

I must again state my humbled admiration of a segment of extremely unified, love driven pastors and leaders in this region. You amaze me.

That being said, the fear driven competition between so many churches in Detroit is an embarrassment to this city. And we think revival is near? Not until repentance is deep and unity is strong.

I believe its time that we are willing to lose our people, lose our salaries, lose our reputations, lose it all for the sake of blessing other churches and ministries in Detroit.

It’s time to celebrate every new church and ministry that launches in this region! Encourage them! Support them! Even if they start on the same block as your church! Even if all of your people leave your church to join theirs!

I firmly propose an open hands policy in Detroit. This is our policy at Revival Church. Any leader, any person, can come to Revival Church and openly, without fear or guilt, recruit any person in our church, including any of my staff or leaders, to leave Revival Church and join their church. Our hands are wide open. You can’t steal my sheep if I don’t own my sheep. We don’t own people, we are there to serve and bless them and encourage them into their destinies, even if that’s in another place.

We must stop building our own kingdoms. Brian Ming wrote a chilling worship song that included these words: God forgive us for building kingdoms of man on doctrines of demons in your name.

I included that in my book Pharaoh in the Church, and I sent that book to 200 pastors in the Detroit region a couple of years ago. It is a bold call to self-less unity. I was saddened that I only received a few responses.

RACIAL RECONCILIATION

As someone who has led my amazing team into over 60 churches in the Detroit region, both urban and suburban, over the last year and a half to pray and unite with pastors, both black and white, I do feel I have a right to say what I’m about to say:

When I pray with people of any color I feel absolutely no racial issue in the church of Detroit. Many, many have agreed with my perspective as Spirit-filled people of all colors have smiled ear to ear in the joy of the Lord as we have prayed in power together.

If you do battle with the race issue, you don’t have a racial problem, you have a humility problem. You have a prayer problem.

When I was one of the leaders of a remarkable prayer movement in Colorado Springs several years back, we prayed in fire with pastors and hungry people every Friday night—in over 100 churches. Pray! Magazine interviewed me and asked, “How do you handle the issue of competition between pastors as you are gathering them together in this movement?” I simply answered, “It’s not possible to hate someone you are fervently praying for. If I’m praying for another pastor to have more success than me, a bigger church than me, more money than me, more influence than me, I simply can’t at the same time be divided against him.”

I don’t care if revival breaks out downtown Detroit, down in Toledo, over in Windsor or in a wealthy suburb. If we really understood what revival was, we’d shut down our lives and run hard and fast anywhere it broke out!

I have no patience with the absolutely ridiculous racial distractions in the church that are keeping us from serving and praying in fire together. Yes, I’m the new kid on the block with a different perspective. I humbly pray you check out the view from my perspective. It’s much happier here.

A CASUAL APPROACH

This issue is directed to Christians in general—where are you?

Are you so sleepy that you aren’t active and vibrant enough in the spirit to hear the alarms? Wake up! Wake up!

Never again treat the call to battle casually. Never again participate in your local church casually. It’s time to awaken and advance with an alert and ready spirit! If you don’t know how to connect, ask! Ask again! Show up! Be a warrior! Serve!

Pastors aren’t there to entertain you! They are their to gather you, to equip you, to assign you and to ensure you fulfill your mission.

Show up early. Stay late. Be at every prayer meeting. Cancel date night. Cancel Little League. Bring the kids into the streets of Detroit. Evangelize. Pray. Serve. Work!

The 24/7 church is coming…yes, we will be in church every day of the week in the not too distant future. The question is, will it take a terrifying calamity to convince us to gather together in God’s presence, or will it result from a simple desire to be with God continually?

I’ve been to some regional revival events in Detroit, and the venue is often nearly empty! Are you serious? Muslims can show up in mass, on time, without any excuse or conflicting activity standing in the way…to pray…at inconvenient times…yet, Christians, who serve the Living God, can’t show up to contend for revival? Pastors, it’s time to lead your people out of your own church and into other churches for the sake of an outpouring! Be the example that Detroit needs!

WHAT NEXT?

It has been prophesied that if the church of Detroit doesn’t come into agreement with revival, God will bypass this city and give Chicago the next chance.

I’m beginning to believe that that may just happen.

So, what’s my response? To give up? No. Quite the opposite.

My family just bought a house here. We planted roots. We are starting a second church. We are helping three others launch home churches out of Revival Church this year. We are planting 50 churches in this region over the next few years.

And, we are ready to lock arms with anybody who is sold out, zealous, available and committed to extreme unity, hard work and a lot of time invested in this city that is very much worth it.

The revolution in Detroit continues: Revival Church North

Tomorrow morning at 10am the revolution in Detroit continues at Revival Church North!

imageIf you are ready to dive into a prayer-fueled mission of revival in the northern Detroit suburbs, come hungry TOMORROW, Sunday, at 10am!

We’ll be going hard after God, encountering him in prayer and worship and catching the vision of widespread fire in the region!

You can watch a video where I share the vision of this exciting new church plant here!

FOOD AND FUN!

After the service ends, we’ll hang out and fire up the grill and eat, talk and get to know each other!

I would love to have a room full of people I’ve never met before! Come out and bring everyone you can find to this brand new church plant!

If you’d like to let us know you are coming, that would be great! We’ll be ready for you! Contact us here: http://revivalnorth.com/contact-us/ 

LOCATION

For a map and directions, click HERE.

THE VISION

We are gathering a team of hungry people who are ready to experience God in this region in unprecedented fashion.

As one of what will ultimately be 50 Revival Church locations in the Detroit region, we are devoted to starting fires and inviting people to watch us burn!

These fires will spread—and fast. The harvest is ripe and God is gathering those who are ready to help infuse them with the abundant life of Jesus!

THE CULTURE

What should you expect? Freedom and fire!

Revival Church has a passionate and  fun atmosphere, exciting and challenging teaching, God’s amazing presence and a environment to nurture life-long friendships!

If you are looking for a point of reference, we affirm and appreciate a variety of ministry streams including the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Bethel Church in Redding, California, Barbara Yoder, Steve Gray and World Revival Church, John Kilpatrick and The Bay of the Holy Spirit, Catch The Fire in Toronto, Lou Engle and many others who embrace the power and presence of God and his advancing Kingdom.

So, plan your visit by contacting us here, dress any way you want (most of us dress in jeans), bring the family, grab some free coffee and enjoy Jesus!

The Culture is our set of core values at Revival Church. It sets the pace and clearly communicates the culture we are called to establish and steward.

  1. Our mission is your freedom – The mission of freedom from sin, sickness and poverty drives everything we do at Revival Church. We reject a casual approach to God and affirm abundant life, passion and fire for all.
  2. Honor is in our DNA – Honor is something we are. No matter the issue, you can’t stop us from honoring you! We believe that honor is a condition of the heart and not dependent on someone’s actions toward us.
  3. We rally around the vision – Revival Church is built on the vision God gave John. As a company of burning ones, we are passionate defenders and champions of it. Every person is responsible to catch fire and burn hot every day. The resulting corporate torch will inflame our region with revival.
  4. We are a threat to the status quo – This is a ministry of extreme reformation. As we storm against the prevailing flow of the church and society, we fully believe many will be provoked to turn and follow our lead into freedom.
  5. There is one church in the city and we aren’t it – Revival Church is one department of many in the landscape of the city church. Our focus is regional impact and the increase of the harvest that will be felt far and wide.
  6. We affirm ridiculous faith – We simply believe that God is extreme and his plans are bigger than what we can imagine. If it doesn’t look ridiculously insane, it’s less than what God has in mind.
  7. We are all about the numbers – We are unapologetically intense in our mission to gather and equip people of destiny.
  8. Corporate mission prevails – We are focused on preparing for the influx of zealous people the harvest will bring to Revival Church. We launch and support only those endeavors that fit into the corporate mission.
  9. We refuse to live below the Biblical norm – Healings, signs, wonders, miracles, extreme love and bold prophetic teaching were and are the standard.
  10. Poverty has no chance – Extravagant giving in every sphere of life, whether it’s in the church or a big tip at the coffee shop, will displace a spirit of poverty, transform individuals and reform the economy of our region.
  11. Sickness and disease have no right to torment believersThe Lord Jesus Christ has been given power and authority over all sickness and disease. He has delegated that authority to us.
  12. We err on the side of freedom – Revival is messy and is to be stewarded, not controlled. We embrace an atmosphere of bold prophetic declaration and Holy Spirit initiated freedom.

We look forward to getting to know you!

The Revival Church Team

Church: 5 reasons NOT to leave a church

People are leaving or changing churches at a record pace—when should we NOT leave a church?

imageUnity around the mission of the church is something Satan cannot risk. The moment people lock arms, take their positions and unify with the Great Commission in front of them, it’s over. He’s done.

Unity is so powerful that Satan used it as his primary weapon to build his kingdom on the Earth:

Genesis 11:4-8 (ESV) 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.

The unity driven plan, as impossible as it seemed, was on track to succeed—so God dealt a blow to what? Unity. It worked. The people scattered.

Now, in an attempt to turn the tables on God as he is building his Kingdom through unified people, Satan is attempting to scatter the church. It’s working. The church is at risk.

A spirit of independence is convincing Christians that it’s time to take control of their lives and forsake the call to gather under leaders within the structure of the church. We must repent, and we must return to position and get ready to move as the alarm sounds.

While there are (rare) times to move from one church to another, I want to share five reasons NOT to leave.

5 REASONS NOT TO LEAVE A CHURCH

ONE.

When you don’t fit in. My three sons and one daughter would never leave the Burton family if they struggled to fit in, if they were misunderstood or if they were having a bad season of life. My wife wouldn’t either, nor would I. If we see the church as a part of the service industry like McDonald’s or Wal-Mart we will end up leaving if we don’t feel welcomed or served. However, God plants us in a covenant family, not a shopping center.

What most people really mean when they say, “I don’t fit in at this church,” is that they aren’t enjoying themselves. Possibly, they feel rejected. I find it disturbing when rejection causes people to leave a church when rejection is what propelled Jesus to die and launch the church. Remember, the church isn’t to be there for us as much as we are to be there for the church. The mission of the church is demanding and not always enjoyable and we must be in position ready to work. I guarantee anybody who approaches leadership and offers to serve in the nursery or by cleaning the church would absolutely fit in. Their serving heart makes a place for them.

Acts 4:11 (ESV) 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.

Luke 17:25 (ESV) 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

TWO.

When its easier for you to connect with God elsewhere. I know this may be a shock, but the primary purpose of the church isn’t to make it easy for you to connect with God. If we understand this, a million arguments against staying at your church will instantly disappear. It’s our job, individually, to develop intimacy with Jesus. If we are dependent on a pastor, worship leader or others to nurture our relationship with Jesus, we’re in big trouble.

We should never arrive at church empty. We should be full of God and ready to pour out. If its easier for us to encounter God in our home or with a small group of friends, then great! That’s the way it should be! Then, take fire that you’ve cultivated to the critical corporate gathering and burn hot. Serve well. Get into position, lock arms, serve the leaders and advance the mission.

If we focus on personal edification and connecting with God as the primary purpose of the church, we can quickly forget the many additional needs that we have: Discipleship, challenge, discipline, accountability, maturing, giving, serving, and on and on.

Remember, you are not the church. You can't leave the corporate gathering and be a part of the church. The church only exists when we gather under the call of leadership. Read this article: You are NOT the church

Acts 14:21-22 (ESV) 21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

THREE.

The leaders aren’t doing things the way most people think they should. Many people believe leaders should make it easy for people to follow them. I disagree. Church leaders are mandated to lead people into some of the most challenging, risky and costly missions the world has ever known. People should actually make it easy for church leaders to lead them.

People made it hard for Moses to lead them into the Promised Land and they died. They made it easy for Joshua to do the same, and they dominated.

The demand of the people can be so strong sometimes that pastors and leaders forsake their mission. They end up pleasing the people instead of God.

Check this out. Jesus had just identified Peter as the church and made it clear that the gates of Hell would not prevail.

Matthew 16:18 (ESV) 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Then immediately after this, Peter, the church, unwittingly renounced the cross. He removed the cost, the surrender, the sacrifice. Watch what Jesus did:

Matthew 16:21-23 (ESV) 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Peter (the church) was mindful of the things of man, not the things of God. Wow. The pressure of the people to steer the church in a certain direction can result in heeding their demands instead of the inconvenient and extreme mandate of the mission. Don’t be one of those people.

Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

FOUR.

When another church has better programs for you and your family. We should never choose a church based on what we can get out of it. We are actually assigned by God himself to serve and build it.

My definition of religion is: Man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.

When we expect to gain from the church ahead of sacrifice, we are embracing the same spirit that killed Jesus. The spirit of religion wanted to use Jesus for personal gain.

Consider the money changers. Right after the crowds were ‘worshiping’ Jesus by shouting Hosanna (which actually means, “save us now,”) Jesus dealt with that spirit. The crowds wanted Jesus to save them, to focus on them, to give them what they demanded. Then, the money changers, driven by the same spirit of religion attempted to use the church for personal gain.

Matthew 21:12-13 (ESV) 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

The sin of the money changers? They expected to leave the temple (the church) with more than they entered with. The used the temple for personal gain. We see this same spirit in churches around the world. The expectation is to leave the temple with less than we enter with. We bring a sacrifice. An offering. We serve. We give. We place no demands on the place of sacrifice, but instead honor God through the sacrifice of intercession for the nations. Prayer is the primary purpose of the church, and the church needs you to join in that mission.

FIVE.

When God tells you to. OK, I’m sure you are awake now! Have you ever played the God card? As a leader I’ve heard many times, usually through the grapevine, that, “God told so and so to move to another church.” Really? That’s odd. I was entrusted as their leader, which is a very serious position, and God just forgot to tell me about this? He left me out of the loop? Maybe Hebrews 13:17 isn’t what we think it is? The church I'm leading isn't important enough for people to honor the mission?

I hope you are getting the point.

We are called to submit to authority—even ungodly authority like judges, elected officials and our bosses at work. Certainly it makes sense that God would include our godly authority in a decision making process as important as leaving one family and one mission for another.

The point is this—God wouldn’t just tell you to leave without your leader being involved in the process. In fact, can I just be blunt? It’s extremely disrespectful, presumptuous, rude and self-serving to abdicate your responsibility in your current church by leaving without honoring the authority in your life. Your pastor has every right to participate with you in your process.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (ESV) 12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.

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