We should burn hot, prepare well and be deeply in prayer…before we go to church!
Should we all come ready to minister? Do we all bring a message, a prophecy, a tongue? Yes. But, while we come full and ready to pour out we have to understand biblical protocol. It’s not about us, it’s about the strengthening the church.
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Check out our first broadcast in our BRAND NEW STUDIO in Branson, Missouri!
Now, check out our VERY FIRST BROADCAST from our new studio in Branson, Missouri!
I give some introductory info and then share a short, off the cuff teaching on the pressure people put on church leadership to build large kingdoms instead of fulfilling their mission.
Soon, I’ll have all of our videos in a central location at thefurnace.tv, but for now you can watch directly on Vimeo HERE.
We are working out some minor kinks, including the audio, but our initial video didn’t turn out too bad at all!
Watch the video: Join Eva and me as I share 5 reasons NOT to leave a church…
People are leaving or changing churches at a record pace—when should we NOT leave a church?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Watch the video: Discover a divine strategy in defeating a vile, demonic, church destroying spirit—Absalom.
A major strategy of the enemy is to destroy church unity. This Absalom strategy is one of the most vile and effective church shattering assaults Satan uses—and it’s critical that we learn how to respond.
This is specifically for both leaders and those who run with leaders. The way we respond in times of dispute will determine whether we advance in love or get derailed by accusation and division.
The spirit of Absalom: How to respond to betrayal and strategic resistance against the church
The moment you advance with prophetic and apostolic focus is the moment the spirit of Absalom is awakened. That cunning wicked spirit specializes on feeding into the deeply felt frustrations of people whose desires go unmet in the church. Satan is a master at accusation due to the never-ending practice of his craft.
…the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. Revelation 12:10b
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. Zechariah 3:1
Satan intercedes “on our behalf” night and day, accusing us before the Lord. This is yet another reason why we must have a day and night prayer movement arise in every city on Earth!
Historically in our ministry it is when we take fervent, strategic intercession to the next level that we see the accuser begin to speak loudly and convincingly to the people who are running the race with us. He preys on those who are growing in their resistance to prayer.
MANITOU SPRINGS, COLORADO
When you take prayer to the next, critical level, you can expect schisms and disruptions to come to your ministry and your life. We have seen it in so many ministries, including our own in a variety of places and in a variety of ways.
I planted and gave leadership to Revolution Church in Manitou Springs, Colorado beginning in 2001. We experienced some extremely difficult seasons, each immediately after we shifted the church into a greater prayer focus. We weren’t only praying, but we were developing a prayer culture. Prayer was the main thing, and everything that we did, as the transition happened, was to support that emphasis.
Keep in mind that Manitou Springs is an extremely dark region right at the base of Pikes Peak. One national leader told me he believes it’s the darkest city in the nation. Witchcraft and the occult are extremely intense there, and there were no life-giving churches other than ours and a small Episcopal church that was led by a fiery, Spirit-filled pastor. In fact, I was told that since the mid 1980’s, fourteen churches had started and failed within their first two years.
It was in this environment where we experienced absolutely stunning supernatural manifestations. God was on the move, the enemy was feeling the assault against his kingdom and we had no option but to take prayer to a much higher level. There were many times that we’d take teams of intercessors deep into the cave systems in Manitou Springs, turn out our lights and pray for four to five hours in perfect darkness. I can’t begin to describe how powerful that was! In fact, one extremely significant day we took a prayer journey up to the top of Pikes Peak, and that evening we went into the belly of the Earth to continue our intercession. Prayer was on the rise—and the assault was about to land.
Two of the resulting challenges were directly initiated by the Absalom spirit.
My wife and I interviewed a man and his wife for a pastoral care position in the church. I am not a pastor myself, meaning, I don’t have the giftings of that particular office. Barbara Yoder who is a friend and the leader of the network that we submit to identifies me as a prophetic apostle. I don’t care at all about the title, but it’s helpful to know who you are and who you are not!
Since I was clearly not at all energized by the various demands of pastoral ministry, and I was focused on other important assignments, I really desired someone to step in to help carry the pastoral load.
I’ll never forget the slight check in my spirit that I had as we were interviewing this couple. God said, “No,” and I said, “You’re hired!”
The couple stepped right up and started connecting relationally to people. They seemed to be doing a great job! In fact, he would stand at the door every Sunday and hug people as they entered. In hindsight that should have been a red flag.
As time went by, I started to feel extremely unsettled in my spirit. Keep in mind, the prayer culture was starting to take form and, though I didn’t realize it at the time, this was the reason for the disturbance in my spirit. Resistance was increasing, though I didn’t know what the specific source was.
One day I called the staff together and shared with them the increasing trouble I was sensing and instructed them to pray. We went strong in prayer as a team—except for one. The new pastor was clearly struggling. The more intense the tongues, the more uncomfortable he appeared.
As we continued in that prayer storm I decreed that a shaking must come to our church. I shouted, “God, shake our church! Shake our church!” I prayed, in the fear of the Lord, for God to lovingly bring any necessary judgment to me and to our ministry—to make wrong things right. I knew only God, in his perfect wisdom, could resolve this trauma in the spirit.
A few days later I was sitting in the church with my Children’s Pastor and her husband, along with their baby who was sitting in a stroller. Our building was a 100 year old wooden structure with large beams along the top of the ceiling.
Suddenly the entire property started violently shaking! We looked around, wondering what was happening. It felt like an earthquake.
Then we heard a crashing sound above our heads as one of the large beams plummeted down and landed right between me and the baby. I didn’t connect the dots at that moment, but the shaking I had prayed for was manifesting. First in the natural, and next in the spirit.
Very soon after that happened I received an email from the pastor. He told me that he was resigning effective immediately. I was shocked. I emailed him back requesting a phone call or a meeting. He declined and I never saw him again.
He started his own church, took about 1/4th of our church—and then closed his church a month later and moved to Florida with his family. Everybody he influenced to leave was left to wander alone in confusion.
The Absalom spirit attacked with vengeance and it left destruction in its path.
God’s answer? Prune. We prayed for the shaking and the judgment, and while it was severe and difficult, it was necessary. Our ministry immediately became stronger and more unified after God swept through.
While I have extreme fear of the Lord on me when I feel it necessary to request the intervention of the judge, I always know that he is a good judge who loves deeply and who can be trusted fully.
There was another situation in Colorado many years ago that resulted in an underground “spirit of Absalom” situation that was fueled by offense.
I started to hear the rumors: John doesn’t love people. Amy and I felt like we were hit by a train.
Someone on my staff had a false expectation about something I considered to be incredibly minor. I was unable to meet that specific request due to needing to be somewhere later that night. It wasn’t until months later that I put two and two together and realized that an underground movement of gossip was setting some on my staff and team against me. The accusation? I don’t love people because I wasn’t there for them that day. Further, since that situation, according to their analysis, revealed my true, unloving heart, and my motives in ministry were now compromised, there must be an effort to resist the ministry—and, for them, it was in the name of love!
My initial split-second reaction when I received knowledge of the situation was this: That doesn’t make sense! I love that person and the others so much. Of all things how could that be the accusation?
I was really saddened that those who I expressed love to by welcoming them onto our team, supporting them in their ministries, encouraging them to be free to lead with passion, etc. were rejecting my expression of love! Wow! Isn’t it interesting how it all works together—how the enemy can twist and turn things in such a dastardly way!
This was the same individual that had come to me previously with a dilemma. She had to deal with a situation in the church, but she didn’t want to make waves. She asked, “John, how in the world can I handle this explosive situation and convince the person that I love them?” I simply responded, “Why are you trying to attempt to convince them you love them? Simply love them.”
If we try to convince people we love them, we won’t actually love them when administering true tough love, biblical discipline and other challenges are called for. True biblical love at times does not feel like the love our culture has defined.
My heart breaks over situations like this. Can I love better? Oh man, YES! But, I also need to help bring this issue to the surface. Too many leaders are not living according to their calling, because they are so busy modifying their personality and mandate to match what others expect!
We must love according to how God designed us. The cross wasn’t welcomed, but it was the method Jesus was mandated to use. It didn’t feel like love then, but boy was it.
As the prayer culture continued to develop, the resistance elevated. Some people broke away, and I’ll never forget the tears I could hear when I talked on the phone with my wife one day. She was wounded and broken.
Though I was supposed to take my position for a prayer watch that night, I left. I went home. I gave up that night as well. We went to bed hurting and troubled. As leaders, we were doing our best to move at the sound of the voice of the Lord—but the resistance was nearly too much to bear. Great friends betrayed us and we didn’t know what to do.
In the morning she and I woke up startled. My wife had a dream. The earth opened up underneath Manitou Springs and the entire town was sucked into Hell. I had a sharp pain in my body that I knew was due to an open door to a specific demonic attack. We both knew we couldn’t give up. The mission was still on. We repented and the split second I did, the severe pain left my body. The open door of wrongful surrender to the enemy’s threats was closed.
I will never get over how God works. He is beyond amazing. Both my wife and I will admit that we were deeply wounded when this individual rose up against us. We instantly had to humble ourselves and allow God to work on our hearts. Though we feel we handled it well, God will always test us. That test is not for God, but for us—it will clearly show where we really are with a situation.
The coming Church is going to be jealously guarded by God, a loving Bridegroom. There won’t be room for bitter, unforgiving leaders, and we have to be willing to be continually tested by God. We must crave his involvement!
Our staff member finally decided to move from Colorado to another far away state. We thanked Jesus! What a wonderful moment that was! Though we had forgiven her, it felt good that the drama was over.
A year or so later, Amy and I were called to leave Colorado and move to Kansas City to join the staff of the International House of Prayer. Though we loved Colorado and the ministry there, we couldn’t deny that God was opening doors to Missouri, and we also couldn’t deny that a fresh new season was quite welcome.
We thought we’d only be there for the three month internship, but ended up staying for two years as we gave leadership to that very same internship as Directors. It was a very exciting time for our family—until…the crisis. I won’t go into the entire dramatic story, but please understand we were suddenly blindsided and the pain was real.
We lost an unborn baby (we’ve lost a total of seven) and were replaced as Directors of the internship in the same week. Suddenly, a lot of life and joy was replaced by very real, unexpected and confusing pain. Now, understand, though we were in another trial, we were processing very well. Being replaced in the internship did make sense, even though we enjoyed serving in that ministry so much! That role called for a very different personality type and gift mix, and I didn’t realize this when Mike Bickle offered me the position. They were so gracious in the entire process, and we love that ministry deeply!
However, again, the pain was legitimate. You might wonder how this story connects with the story of pain in Colorado. Get ready for this.
Remember, God will go to great lengths to ensure we are operating in love, and that we are humble and teachable.
At this time, God began opening doors for ministry in Detroit, Michigan. In those meetings he began to move in a very dramatic and powerful way, confirming his Word with signs following. So after much prayer, we felt led that we should move to Detroit. Now in the natural, this was not the best time to sell our house in Kansas City. The economy was bad and Forbes Magazine had recently called our city the eighth fastest dying city in America! So my wife put out a fleece: if God wants us to move to Detroit, he will have our house sell for our full asking price within seven days of placing it on the market.
Miraculously, God sold our home after being on the market for only six days!
Glory to God! We were in another exciting, miraculous season!
About thirty days before we were to move from Kansas City to Detroit I sat in my last all-staff meeting at IHOP. There was over a thousand people in that meeting, and I sat in the very back, on the floor, kind of bored and ready to get on with my day. Then it happened. The impossible happened.
From the platform I heard the leader of the meeting say something like, “We would like to introduce a new staff member who will be giving leadership to a new ministry on our base. Everybody welcome…”
No way! No way! No way!
It was impossible! When I heard her very distinct, unusual name, and saw her welcomed onto the team, I was speechless. I think my jaw hung down for quite a long time. My head was spinning as I was witnessing an invasion into our fragile world.
There was simply no way that this person, who had done so much damage to our ministry in Colorado, who had moved to a far away state, could suddenly converge with our life in Kansas City!
I stepped outside and called my wife. I’ll never forget her response to my news. After I told her who was now on staff, all I heard her say, with defeat in her tone, was, “No.”
Do you realize what happened? God set up this encounter, this trial, to test our hearts.
When I got home that afternoon, we talked and resolved that it was indeed a test, and we endeavored to pray for this person and to ask God to bless her deeply!
I never did see her over the next month. Amy, however, had a very important chance encounter with her. The very last day we lived in Kansas City, as the moving truck was being loaded in the driveway, Amy went to the bank to close our account. You guessed it. Standing in line right in front of her was our former staff member.
My wife smiled big and gave her a huge hug! Amy felt so good that it was so easy to love this person!
That was the last time we ever saw her, and to this day we pray for her to be wildly blessed!
Love will certainly manifest in many different ways, but for those who are called of God, that love will be tested. The coming Church will be a love-bathed Church, and we must welcome the testing, no matter how painful it is. My wife would say the freedom and abundant life she feels regarding the Colorado/Kansas City crisis is well worth the trial she and I went through.
Though I will share strategies on how to deal with Absalom in a moment, the primary strategy must be love. We cannot react in bitterness or resentment. Love heals.
It’s very important to understand that betrayal and resistance are guaranteed to come if we are truly advancing as prophetic and apostolic leaders. Also, to de-spiritualize it just a bit, betrayal and resistance are guaranteed to come simply because we are weak, fallible humans. We will experience push back when we lead rightly and also when we struggle and fail. This is why humility is non-negotiable. Pride is not the right weapon to use against our attackers.
I find it very interesting that resistance and rejection cause so many people to leave ministry or to leave the church. When Jesus faced the same issues to a radically greater extreme, he laid his life down for the church. Betrayal was not enough to cause him to abdicate his responsibility to serve the church by giving his life. There was no gossip, no forcing his views on people and no attempt to be validated, affirmed or understood. He simply died.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 1 John 3:16
Is there a response to the Absalom assignment against churches? Yes.
Let’s look at some diagrams that will help bring great clarity to the necessity and power of holy agreement—which is what Absalom is attempting to destroy. There is a biblical process that we must embrace in the arena of differing opinions. As humans it is normal to have a variety of different ideas from those we are in relationship with–including leadership.
Just how we handle those differing ideas is the matter at hand. If we are holding strong to our own selfish ambitions (even if those ambitions are good!), and we refuse to place our will on the altar, problems will abound. Churches will split, gossip will flourish and division will actually be entertained as an optional method of resolution.
However, if we embrace integrity, humility, servanthood and the preference of others above ourselves, we’ll easily be willing to die to our own opinions for the sake of the body.
When we’re agreed, we’re strong. In the midst of different ideas, experiences, thoughts, opinions and concerns we simply agree to disagree for the sake of the mission.
Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? Amos 3:3
Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, With their voices they shall sing together; For they shall see eye to eye When the Lord brings back Zion. Isaiah 52:8
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. John 17:20-21
Agreement must be a mandatory and deliberate position that we all stand strong in, even at the cost of personal comfort and advance.
If God is releasing you from participation, make sure you follow through in the usually lengthy process of transition from this assignment to the next. Don’t go if there is hardness, bitterness or unforgiveness in your heart. Go blessed and free and sent by your pastor.
Healthy argument is OK. It’s a part of life. We simply have seasons where we disagree, and it’s important and appropriate at times to discuss it with the our leaders. Of course, we don’t involve anybody other than those directly involved (leaders, pastors, etc.). We don’t gossip or allow ourselves to become irritable. We agree to disagree and remain unified.
In Amos we see that God will reveal corporate instructions to some but not all. The rest of us are called to respond to the call of God as given through an imperfect human, and that can be a challenge for the best of us!
But, when we humble ourselves and surrender our right to cause a disturbance we can still move ahead in strength. The corporate mission is not threatened!
If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it? Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy? Amos 3:6-8
Here’s where the problems begin. We know that Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and he loves it when he finds allies in the fellowship of believers to help him with his schemes of destruction.
At this point, submission has failed. Honoring others hasn’t happened. Personal preference has turned into a personal mission of dominance.
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. Revelation 12:10
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8
These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:16-19
The sowing of discord among brethren is an abomination! Did you feel the weight of that? It’s not OK!
After teaching this to a class of interns one of them came to me the next day. He said that ever since he arrived a month ago he has had a heavy heart. He couldn’t break through it. After this class God convicted him of embracing a divisive and accusing spirit. He was assisting in his youth group back home, and he wanted to take the youth to a prayer and fasting event, even though he knew his leadership didn’t embrace that particular stream within the body. So, he secretly gathered the youth together and took them himself.
So what happened? You can see it in the diagram on the right. Any idea what word should fill in the blank?
Agreement. Unholy agreement. He gathered people to himself, to his vision (a great vision) and away from his leadership. Even though his heart simply wanted God and he felt a prayer and fasting event would be entirely appropriate, his action against his authority was inappropriate. The agreement people had with his vision resulted in disagreement, disunity, with those who were their rightful leaders.
The enemy craves agreement. He knows the power of it. The alliance is so important.
So, this particular individual was in the prayer room here and immediately repented for his rebellion to his authority. He said immediately he was broken and experienced God for the first time in weeks. He cried and cried as the love of the Father rushed in.
He called his leaders in his church back home and repented. They forgave him entirely and thanked him for his heart to make things right.
How amazing is that! No matter how holy you think your purpose is, if you have to violate God’s established authority in your life to see it come to pass, you will have to align with the enemy in order to do so!
And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Genesis 11:4-7
Division will lead to unholy agreement. As we allow ourselves to align with others against leaders we are enhancing demonic unity. Unity and agreement is powerful whether it’s holy or unholy. Let’s endeavor for holy unity even if it’s at the cost of our own personal plans and dreams.
I’ve witnessed many people resist authority in their lives, and I’ve done it myself. The motives can seem pure and we may have the best interest of the body at heart, but it never produces anything good. The story of Absalom should speak clearly to us in regard to this issue.
Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, “What city are you from?” And he would say, “Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.” Moreover Absalom would say, “Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.” And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. 2 Samuel 15:2-6
Absalom disagreed with his leader, and embraced the others who shared in his disagreement. We see this occur time and again within churches. It has a ring of honor to it as people presume to have the best interest of everybody at heart. However, it’s rebellion in its purest form. The results for those who embrace this spirit are often devastating.
Then Absalom met the servants of David. Absalom rode on a mule. The mule went under the thick boughs of a great terebinth tree, and his head caught in the terebinth; so he was left hanging between heaven and earth. And the mule which was under him went on. Now a certain man saw it and told Joab, and said, “I just saw Absalom hanging in a terebinth tree!” So Joab said to the man who told him, “You just saw him! And why did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have given you ten shekels of silver and a belt.” But the man said to Joab, “Though I were to receive a thousand shekels of silver in my hand, I would not raise my hand against the king’s son. For in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Beware lest anyone touch the young man Absalom!’ 2 Samuel 18:9-12
Just as Absalom was met with judgment, I’ve witnessed over and over people enduring long seasons of struggle and frustration after rising up against God’s established authority–even if the authority is truly in error. It’s never acceptable to speak against the President of the United States, our supervisor at work, a teacher at school, our pastor or mom and dad. We always pray and support and love with abandonment! A differing opinion should never cause us to remove ourselves from a place of agreement with these people. We unite with them and serve as people who honor those God has placed in our lives.
Rebellion against any established human institution is a serious violation of God’s divine authority. We need to know and recognize the operation of God’s authority in all human institutions.
We never speak against or elevate our own opinions above God’s established authority. Pastors, prophets, apostles, politicians, policemen, bosses, etc. We humbly support them, unless, and only unless, they were to cause us to violate a CLEAR Scriptural truth. That’s it. If a leader is clearly corrupt and unrepentant then most certainly remove yourself from that person’s direct care.
Submit to God and be ready to serve Him through the process of love, prayer and encouragement for that leader. Watch what you say. Speak life always. Do not gossip.
It’s important to understand that to submit to God’s appointed leaders in our lives only to the point where we agree with the order is NOT submission at all. Submission is actually spotlighted when someone honors his or her authority when the order is contrary to their own opinions, experience or position. We can agree with our authority while not agreeing with the order or instruction or position. It is never appropriate to remove ourselves from a position of submission if the order given is inconvenient, bothersome or irritating.
In recent years the body has increasingly put demands on the very ones who they are to be receiving leadership from. This is sin, and it must stop.
The passage in Romans goes on to say this:
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. Romans 13:3
The enemy has caused millions of believers to be afraid of authority. It’s time to renounce the alliance with the spirits of Lawlessness and Self-government and do what is good. Many people who have been hurt by controlling pastors made a foolish decision by embracing that very same spirit for themselves–the spirit of control. We absolutely need to sever that alliance. God is our great Protector. Fear of authority will dissipate as the Holy Spirit once again takes up residence in the place where the spirits of Independence and Control once ruled.
Even when the church isn’t being run in what you would call an appropriate manner, it’s critical to support God’s government.
Gary Keiser said,
“It is better for us to live with a wrong system and uphold God’s authority than to destroy a system and thus destroy God’s authority in the process. We have to learn to submit to men and not to touch authority in a light way. In all these relationships we have to learn to know authority and practice obedience. We have to know that there are lords and masters in everything; we cannot assume to be the master as soon as we touch something. We have to learn obedience through many situations. One finds authority in the hospital. As soon as he works in a hospital, he has to obey the authority in the hospital. There is even authority in a restaurant. Some serve as managers, and we have to learn to obey them. If we touch authority in a genuine way, we will find authority wherever we go. In obeying the authority of earthly institutions, we are actually obeying God because all authorities are from God. We have to see that every authority is from God. Only a rebellious and proud man is blind to authority; only he will not submit to God’s deputy authority…. Titus 3:1 says that we should be “subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready unto every good work.” This is the proper attitude towards human government…. God’s authority in the universe is being carried out through human government.”
An end-time army of burning ones are coming together to serve with passion in Detroit!
Give leadership to the prayer movement in Detroit
The vision is hot and ready for you jump into. We want to help you understand the vision and what you can expect.
Habakkuk 2:2 (ESV) And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
The following is required for everybody who participates in theFurnace, theLab or theCore:
- A high standard of holiness
- Financial partnership (tithe)
- 6pm Saturday War Room Prayer
Who is theCore for?
Burning men and women of God who are desperately hungry, disciplined and available to commit at a high level.
At the Detroit Prayer Furnace we have three specific opportunities for you to lock into a lifestyle of prayer and ministry. Is theCore right for you? Maybe and maybe not.
Here are the three ways you can connect:
If you simply want to connect with other fire-breathers and involve yourself in a fiery culture of intercession and prophetic ministry, theFurnace is for you.
theFurnace is an extremely important part of our culture, and some of our most effective leaders may land here instead of theCore. Why? Because we highly value marketplace leaders and others who have more limited availability due to their assignment in the workplace or their place in life.
Anybody can start in theFurnace at any time, and even stay there without ever participating in theLab or theCore. Simply communicate your desire to lock in with our team, agree to the minimum commitments (see above) and burn with us as often as you can each week!
theLab University is a school of fire that prepares people for Holy Spirit baptized ministry.
We strongly encourage everybody in our community to enroll in theLab University. This is a focused, intense training environment that will unlock your destiny and set you ablaze!
theLab will also instruct you in the core values of the Detroit Prayer Furnace, the vision and how to best engage in our unique culture.
Everybody interested in joining theCore, a team of 40+ leaders in the Detroit Prayer Furnace, must successfully complete one three-month session of theLab.
You can get more info here: www.thelabuniversity.com
theCore is made up of leaders and emerging leaders who have successfully completed theLab, and who have the desire to serve on a focused, consecrated and submitted team of end-time warriors.
The vision is white hot—this team will be locking arms with fellow soldiers in continual prayer, training emerging leaders, carrying the fire to the cities of the Earth and modeling Acts 2 unity and consecration.
Keep in mind, for the sake of continuity, unity and corporate strength, we have unapologetically and intentionally raised the bar of commitment very high for this team—with very little, if any, flex.
Our target size for this team is only 40. We consider theCore to be our primary leadership team who serve under our senior staff, and, with this in mind, the commitment is the same as senior leadership.
Most people at the Detroit Prayer Furnace will serve with joyful passion in theFurnace. Some will get equipped in theLab. Few will choose to participate on theCore.
theCore is made up of ministry leaders who are able to consider this commitment primary over employment and other endeavors. Keep this in mind as you chart out your connection plan at the Detroit Prayer Furnace. You may not be able to join theCore due to other life focuses, and that is OK! theFurnace is an excellent place for you to connect AND you can participate in nearly every ministry and event that theCore does—just at your own pace.
While the commitment at theCore will work best for those who don’t work at all, there may be, depending on the specific situation, enough flex built in to the schedule to allow for some outside employment if necessary.
Keep in mind that local travel is required when the team is involved in regional events. These events can take place at any time, which is a key reason extensive availability beyond our regular weekly schedule is required.
- The full time commitment works out to be approximately 12-14 hours a week.
- The part time commitment works out to be approximately 9-10 hours a week.
Opportunities for those on theCore include:
- leading prayer watch teams
- developing ministries
- leading traveling teams
- advancing the prayer movement
theCore team is firmly devoted to consecration and modeling the lifestyle of an end-time forerunner.
theCore commitment includes:
- FULL TIME: Four prayer & ministry events per week
- PART TIME: Two prayer & ministry events per week
- A high standard of holiness
- 5pm Saturday meeting
- 6pm Saturday intercession
- Monthly small group at John and Amy Burton’s home
- Traveling locally (and further if available) for ministry events
- Financial partnership (tithe)
- Continuing education
If you want to join theFurnace, theLab or theCore, we want to hear from you! Please email us at email@example.com TODAY! We will give you info on how to get started.
Of course, you don’t have to participate at any level! If you simply want to enjoy our events, come on out!
One of the greatest fears man has is that of failure. It invites scrutiny, accusation and mocking—but society’s greatest leaders embrace a culture of failure!
You can order Piece of Cake here: https://burton.tv/resources
A culture of failure? Yes!
The goal isn’t to look like you know what you are doing, the goal is to experiment, try, fail, try again, grow, have epiphanies, gain knowledge, fail again and ultimately succeed!
I implement a strategy in ministry called “Rapid Prototyping.” Simply, the moment a concept is conceived, there are immediate steps taken to initiate it—fully understanding that early experiments will most probably fail, but the knowledge and experience gained are critical.
Here’s a chapter from my recent book, Piece of Cake. This book is in itself an example of rapid prototyping. I received the download of an idea, designed the cover and wrote the first few chapters within hours! The entire project from conception to having an edited, printed copy from the publisher in my hands was less than three weeks!
I encourage you to try, fail, try, fail and try again! Here’s the chapter titled, Sweet Failure:
Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” (attributed to Thomas Edison)
Edison, when queried by a reporter about the seemingly incredible difficulties associated with his work on the lightbulb rebutted, “I have not failed 700 times. I’ve succeeded in proving 700 ways how not to build a lightbulb.” (attributed to Thomas Edison)
If we understand the scope of our project, it’s actually quite insane to presume we will accomplish it without significant and repeated failures.
In fact, the inventors of the famed lubricant WD-40 were so unintimidated by failure, that they actually included it in the name of their product. If you knew you’d fail thirty-nine times and succeed one, would you proceed?
In 1953, a fledgling company called Rocket Chemical Company and its staff of three set out to create a line of rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for use in the aerospace industry, in a small lab in San Diego, California. It took them 40 attempts to get the water displacing formula worked out. But they must have been really good, because the original secret formula for WD–40®—which stands for Water Displacement perfected on the 40th try—is still in use today. (quoted from www.wd40.com)
Yes, you are going to fail. Go ahead and wrestle with it now, you can’t avoid it. I don’t mean ultimate failure, of course. But, I do mean that you will pray much, do your best to gain insight from God, consider your best options, seek wisdom from others and then move out with at least a measure of confidence—and you will experience failure!
Thomas Edison could have named his light bulb, Lightbulb–1000! Maybe you can name the church you are considering planting First Church–100! Failure should not intimidate you! People will presume you to be inadequate, confused or immature during your experimenting.
Most young ministers crave for others to see them as successful and steady with a pipeline directly into the command center of Heaven. The reality? We see in part. We understand little. We have clarity on a small part of the big picture, and when we initiate action, others will watch as we stumble and struggle. Are you OK with that?
Thomas Edison said, “Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.” (Quoted in Artifacts: An Archaeologist’s Year in Silicon Valley (2001) by Christine Finn. p. 90)
Your job is not to be so careful that you avoid failure, it’s to be instant in obedience! In fact, failure is sweet when you learn how to handle the pressure it brings. Failure is an effective and desirable teacher. You may actually find yourself enjoying the various failures you experience, as a researcher would in a laboratory, in your pursuit toward efficiency and success. Really, the main thing standing in the way of the sweetness of failure is pride. If our goal is to impress people instead of developing ministries that set them free, we have no business even considering entering into a ministry project. We need to mature a little bit more first.
I stumbled across a blog article that I thought was interesting. It does a good job of explaining how to quickly initiate and develop a project:
“We only win in the long run by getting out there and bloodied in the short run.” (attributed to Tom Peters)
This blog is an example of rapid prototyping.
One week ago this blog did not exist except for a few ideas in my head so I thought it would be helpful to show how I went from step one to launch for very little time and money.
Now I own about 25 film books to every business book I have, but I think I first learned about rapid prototyping from Tom Peters. Some have called Thomas Edison “the father of prototyping,” but I imagine it goes back to a time closer to starting the first fire or inventing the wheel.
What is rapid prototyping? In filmmaking terms, it’s Edward Burns having a meeting at the end of 2010 with the Tribeca Film Festival people and coming up with an idea that he should make a feature to show for the festival’s 10th year and a few months later the film is written, cast, shot, edited and premiered. In an industry where the typical film can be in development for 3 to 5 years before it gets produced (or dies in development) Burns’ Newlyweds is definitely prototyping. Sylvester Stallone writing Rocky in six days is an example of rapid prototyping.
In the manufacturing world, a team of people may be put in charge of a project to design a widget quickly to meet a need in the marketplace. Rapid prototyping is messy business as it tends to follow the motto “fail early, fail often.” Because in the failing is where breakthroughs happen. (Scott W. Smith, efilmmaking.wordpress.com)
It’s always at least a little interesting hearing about someone else’s failures, and how they grew through them. When my wife and I moved to Colorado Springs to begin the process of starting a church, we honestly had no idea what we were doing. We didn’t have any money set aside for our church plant and we weren’t sent out by an organization. It was simply a boots on the ground venture. We showed up and started into the trial and error process.
One of our first steps was to connect with the largest church in the area, a ministry that we absolutely loved. They had a massive, vibrant small group ministry, and we thought it would be good to at least connect there as we waited for clarity on when to actually start the church. So, we attended the small group leader training and started planning our new small group. We were excited! We weren’t starting our own church yet, but we didn’t care. We wanted to connect with some new friends who shared our values, and we wanted to support the ministry of that church.
The weekend of the huge ministry fair came. This is where small group leaders were given a booth somewhere on the campus of the church where people could stop by before and after the Sunday services and get information about the various groups. Our booth was one of the best! We had looping video, excellent information and a powerful vision. It felt like a slam dunk!
Well, since this chapter is about failure, you know what’s coming! We were given one of the rooms in the church to hold our small group meeting as we hadn’t gotten settled in our own home yet. We prepared for the group and arrived early to setup.
When it was about 6:45pm, we had expected at least a few people to arrive early, but nobody did. At 6:55pm, we peeked down the long hallway to see how many people were walking toward our room. There were none. At straight up 7pm, Amy and I started to feel sadness rolling in, and by 7:15pm our dreams were fully crushed. At 7:30pm we packed up and snuck out with our tails between our legs, defeated.
We mustered up the courage to do the same thing the following week, just in case some people got the news of our amazing group a little late. This time by 7:05pm, we exited the building and went out for a lonely dinner, just Amy and me. Sweet failure didn’t feel so sweet that night. The group ended as fast as it started.
But, of course, we could not give up—though we did adjust our sails. We ended up launching Revolution Church a while later in our small living room with our family and a couple of other new friends. From there we grew into a 700 square foot building which held around 25 people, and then into a 2,000 square foot building where we peaked at 70, and finally into a 20,000 square foot building where we regularly ran around 100 in a very difficult region that was steeped in the occult. You see, in Manitou Springs, Colorado, at least 14 churches have started and failed in their first two years since the 1980’s. Revolution Church thrived.
One of the most prevalent issues that I come across on a regular basis as I talk to emerging leaders is the fear of missing God. Often people feel led to initiate a ministry, or to make a move in that direction, but they are afraid of being outside of God’s plan. This is a legitimate concern, but fear should not drive us. Wisdom should.
There was a time when I was living the life as a youth pastor in a church in the San Diego area. It was amazing! I was at the beach every Thursday and had a stress free, invigorating position in the church. I had full liberty to develop the youth department according to my vision and ideas. After a year and a half in that church I was offered a position in a large church in the Dallas area. It was a completely different environment, and making such a move would be a huge decision. I felt I had confirmation and I was excited about the possibilities this new opportunity presented, but I was afraid of missing God.
A good friend of mine gave me some of the simplest yet most profound and life changing advice I had ever received. He simply quoted scripture and said, “The steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord.”
The revelation was instant. If I was living a righteous life, and was making righteous decisions, God would order my steps—even if and when I made a misstep! The fear and pressure of making a right versus a wrong decision lifted off of me! I have used that counsel countless times in my life since. When I feel led to make a decision, I ensure I’m living in righteousness and am doing my due diligence through prayer and seeking counsel, and then I step! I trust that God will direct my steps, and if I’m off track a little bit, he will lovingly guide me back. It’s really a glorious way to live!
As I do this, I am fully confident that a lot of sweet failure is ahead of me, and I learn how to stay joyful and teachable as I learn from every ministry experiment.
Keep in mind, I am not advising a haphazard life. That will only cause you unnecessary frustration. Measure your decisions and step according to wisdom as you live in the spirit, and refuse to fear knowing that both temporary failures and ultimate victory are both ahead!
I’ve heard it said that we should make quick, pretty good decisions as opposed to calculated, perfect ones. Using this book as an example, I could have pulled out various resources, created a perfect outline, pondered it for a few months and eventually start writing. But, instead, my quick, pretty good decision has resulted in writing chapter two just one day after I started designing and writing the book. If my schedule allows, I can have this entire book written, in less than perfect but fully acceptable form, in just a few days! I’m literally sitting here in the prayer room unsure of what I will write next, but that’s OK. My goal is to pour out my heart, get the message out and move on to the next project sooner than later.
I have no fear of failure. Many will enjoy this book, many won’t get past the first chapter and many will think it’s a ridiculous concept and never pick it up. That is OK! There are people who will be unlocked into their destiny and that is all that matters!
I’ll share another failure with you. I value the advance of the Kingdom through church and house of prayer planting. I personally love the process of starting with nothing and watching God build a ministry that truly touches lives.
While leading Revival Church in the Detroit region, my family and I moved about thirty minutes north into a more rural area by the apple orchards. It is a different environment than where our church is, and I felt the birthing and planting bug start to buzz in me again. So, we planted Revival Church North in my living room.
We met for several weeks on Sunday mornings and drew a handful of interested people, but, I could sense early on that the necessary traction wasn’t there. Just as quickly as I decided to plant the church, I punted. It was fourth down and we could go for it or we could admit failure and move on to the next project. If I was walking in pride, I would have fought to keep it going, but, rather, it was easy for me to let it go. That plant failed. So what? Clearly it wasn’t meant to be, or the timing was off, and that’s OK. Believe it or not, I lost literally zero emotional energy through that process. I woke up the next day and refocused, prayed more and talked to God about next steps. There was still much burning in me and there are missions to attend to.
Thomas Edison said, “None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes.” (Statement in a press Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel & Charles Lindbergh (conference (1929), as quoted in Uncommon Friends: Life with 1987) by James D. Newton, p. 24)
If there is a need that you are picking up on, get to work! Trial and error are both your friend! Don’t allow an insecurity to keep you from being the one that God wants to use to bring transformation, whether it’s in leading a Sunday School class, developing a Kingdom business, starting a church or doing anything else God is leading you to do!
Remember Gideon? All he knew was that he was the weakest and the least, yet all God called him was mighty man of valor! Gideon was cowardly, as was his entire community. They were in hiding from their enemy, afraid of losing their crops, their livelihood. They were experiencing failure after failure and their confidence was gone.
Judges 6:14-16 And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
This is God’s call to you! Don’t fear opposition! Don’t fear failure! God had ordered your steps you mighty man of valor! Don’t wait for others to affirm you–you will be waiting for decades possibly! Don’t wait for the perfect plan. Gideon advanced with one percent of the army available to him and told them to blow their trumpets and smash their jars. That doesn’t sound like a good plan at all, but it was what God led them to do. God has a Gideon’s army waiting for you to have the courage to respond immediately as an insignificant person with an insignificant plan and an insignificant army to lead them into their destiny! Those who perceive themselves to be insignificant are but a moment away from initiating a move of God that will be felt throughout the city!
Remember that failure is an event, not a person. ~Zig Ziglar
This is an excellent article on the trials of leadership!
The original article can be found here: http://www.faimission.org/principles-of-pioneering-8-tests-in-the-lives-of-every-leader
Every leader needs to have a theology of testing. If we do not wake up every morning and view our days as God ordained tests that form us and forge for His purposes and for His glory, we will live beneath His intentions for our lives. Every believer needs to understand divine testing; pioneering leaders all the more.
Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. (Psalm 26:2)
For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. (Psalm 66:10)
In school we are tested so that the institution can determine whether we are competent enough to progress. Wise students who have a vision for the future prepare for those tests by studying and making sure they have what is required to face the test and pass it. Far too many leaders don’t approach divine testing the same way.
Too many leaders waste tests, fail tests and keep taking the same tests over and over again because they don’t realize that God intends to forge them.
Right now you have just been tested by God, are being tested by God, or are about to be tested by God. Are you prepared to face them and pass them?
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts. (Proverbs 17:3)
Below are four truths about testing and eight tests you will face if you are a leader. I have in my mind’s eye pioneers in particular. If you are going to lead in a pioneering context, you better be prepared for these tests. They are coming! And with force.
TRUTHS ABOUT TESTING
- They are frequent (almost perpetual) – In the early days the mistakes we make as a leader has the least amount of consequences. But as we grow, and our influence with us, the impact of mistakes becomes greater. We always need to be tested and receive critical analysis so that our blindspots are acknowledged and dealt with.
- They must be passed – Tests are not arbitrary. They are given to be passed. They are given for our good. The qualities possessed in a test is what you will need in the future promotion. Without those qualities He will not promote you. There are seasonal tests and tests of a lifetime. These tests define us. Consider Saul’s hasty sacrifice or Peter’s denials. Tests matter.
- They always precede promotion – God tests us for the purpose of promoting us. With that said, we need to know the difference between Self-promotion and God-promotion. They are not the same. Self promotion can come without testing. But when we promote ourselves, we are not safe. When God tests and promotes, we are safe. Divine promotion is the one we want. It is invincible regardless of who opposes us or how. Climbing a ladder isn’t evidence of promotion. We should always ask “Am I passing the test Lord?” and “What do you want to do with my life Lord?”
- They are necessary – In order for us to be greatly used by God we must be greatly tested by Him. Some leaders are tested in private and some are tested in public. One copes with hiddenness and the other with public humiliation. But all are tested. And all are tested necessarily. We need to be tested.
EIGHT KINDS OF TESTS IN THE LIVES OF EVERY LEADER
- The test of small things. What do you do as a leader when you’re asked to fulfill a task that we are overqualified for? What do you do when faced with something that feels beneath you? The test of small things is critical in establishing integrity, meekness and authenticity. Jesus washed feet and bled on a cross. The higher the call to lead, the lower we must go to serve.
- The testing of our motives. The testing of our motives can come in a million different ways. Sometime through the offer of favor and blessing (like Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness) or through opposition and persecution. This text reveals whether we are true to ourselves and through it we gain integrity.
- The test of hiddenness. We need to be true to our calling before we are given a platform and given an opportunity for our calling to be expressed. We develop personal integrity in our calling by investing time and energy into the formation of our gifts before they are publicly seen and acknowledged.
- The test of possible promotion. Will we stay true to ourselves and our calling when a potential promotion or platform is on the horizon? Do the prospects of blessing and prominence deter us from our course? Can we be bought? Will we compromise when we are faced with gain? What if we are offered a promotion in an area that is contrary to the path that we are walking? Do we speak to leaders differently because we perceive they have the ability to promote us? Or do we trust the Lord to promote us and honor our leaders as brothers in the Lord?
- The test of showing up when the stakes are low. Will we be present and punctual when no one is looking? When the stakes are low, will we cultivate integrity and character in the grace of God living before an audience of One? One of the fastest ways to erode the unity and vibrancy of a team is when people on the team show up late or don’t show up at all. It maximizes the opportunities to bear offense towards brothers and sisters.
- The test of stewardship. Will we be wise and generous with what we have? How we use our resources when we have little is how we will use it when we have much. It is a delusion to think that we will be wise and generous when we have wealth. This doesn’t just apply to finances but every kind of resource. Some people are wise and stingy, and some people are generous and stupid. We want to be wise and generous.
- The Test of Injustice. When we are slandered, stolen from, lied to, gossiped about or betrayed, how do we respond? Do we respond in humility and mercy or in pride and anger? Do we believe in divine vindication? Or do we feel the need to defend ourselves? The test of injustice will come in the life of every leader. Most leaders I know would say that the test of injustice is THE test that makes or breaks leaders. Every fruitful leader has stories about injustices done against them. This test accomplishes more than we can possibly imagine.
- The Test of praise. When men speak well of us, we are tested as to whether our identity will be rooted in what they say or what God says. When we are perceived in a good light, will we “read our own press” and feed our spirits on what people say about us or about what God says about us? What people think and what God thinks are rarely every similar.
These are only a few tests. There are many more. But these are essential for every leader to understand and prepare for. We will all face each of these tests; some of them multiple times at several critical junctions in our walk with Jesus as we shepherd His people.
Dalton is the Founder of FAI. He and his family are based in the Middle East.
My gut says there is a remnant that is feeling the same raw emotions I am about God, the church and revival.
- First: TONIGHT at 7pm, you are invited to experience the fire of the Holy Spirit with us at Revival Church! He has been showing up in an EXTREMELY powerful way over the last week!
- Second: You can now sign up to join the1000 Intercessors for Detroit here: www.detroitprayerfurance.com/the1000, AND request info about joining theCore Leadership Team at the Detroit Prayer Furnace here: www.detroitprayerfurnace.com/thecore.
Sometimes it’s therapeutic to simply write—and let the raw emotions of one’s heart to be exposed to the masses in the hopes that a few can relate. I’m absolutely wrecked and near tears regarding the dire need for end-time warriors to emerge! Rise up burning ones! Be awakened to the alarms of Heaven!
23 years ago I was alone in an empty church room in Dayton, Ohio. It was a crossroads moment for me, much more than I realized.
I had witnessed a lot of what we are familiar with in the Charismatic stream—people dancing, falling over, praying in tongues and exhibiting a lot of passion. Some of it was legit, some of it was not—and I knew it.
I craved God so deeply, though I had never truly experienced him—or, at least I hadn’t in a way that I was immediately convinced I had an encounter with a supernatural force. I wanted God to touch me in an undeniable way—but, I had no patience for anything fake. It must be a legitimate move of God in my life.
I told God, “If you aren’t really a healer, a powerful force, a mighty God, a sign and a wonder, I don’t want anything to do with you…but, if you are, I’ll die for you.”
That simple yet profoundly deep, emotional cry of my heart changed my life—and it has caused me trouble. I didn’t realize it then, but I had just signed up for a very lonely life. Those who would run with me at that pace would be the most precious people in the world—but they would be very few and far between.
I signed up as a forerunner—and today my heart isn’t satisfied if I’m not moving aggressively, with extreme commitment, with a team of other end-time forerunners—or raw, hungry emerging forerunners. I am possessed by the Spirit of God with a never ending passion for finding those people.
If you know me, you understand the daily wrestling of my heart. I’m provoked, troubled, wrecked—yet joyful and expectant. The vision God has given possesses me, and I will see it to the end!
That being said, can I try to relate to you? I, like you, have emotions and a lot of unanswered questions and I wonder what in the world is going on at times! It’s not uncommon for me to consider just what God means when he says it’s time to shift. What is that cost? What will I really have the guts to lay something down so that I can pick the new thing up? Is it possible that he’s calling me to something radically uncomfortable and out of the box? Absolutely.
I have actually come to the place of understanding the true impact of the ministry may not be felt for another one hundred years or more. This is actually not uncommon. Consider Jeremiah. I think of people like Leonard Ravenhill who may not have seen even a fraction of the impact that they will ultimately have during their lifetime.
I tend to ponder and pray a lot, and I’m at my best when I lay all of my cards on the table and give God permission to radically shift my life. I’m in that place now. What is God saying? How will our current, ongoing efforts of intercession and training emerging leaders in our ministry impact the world? Of course, as we continue to pray and equip at Revival Church and our various ministries, there will certainly be a significant handful of people who will be transformed now—but what about the vision for masses of people who will live and breathe Jesus, serve with passion, pray continually, burn hot and change the world? When will they emerge? The laborers are truly few.
I think about the hundreds of houses of prayer that closed last year alone. Where are the forerunners and intercessors that were assigned to those ministries? Will they not respond?
One of the greatest challenges is leading a “church” with all of the baggage and false-expectations that are attached to our American understanding of it.
Though I hear so much about how people are “tired of church as usual,” when presented with the cost of the reformation, church as usual becomes the more desirable direction.
I’d strongly encourage you to watch a video about a dream I had the other day. It’s titled “Assisted Suicide.” The dream was intensely personal and it revealed something hard core: the church is attempting to kill off the prayer movement. Those who don’t pray will aggressively react against those who do—and it will increase as the end draws near.
Of course, as you’ll see in the video, quitting is not an option—but the emotional desire to do so is an important indicator for us! The enemy is most forceful with the breakthrough is near.
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE: http://youtu.be/VXP3h6SHrls
We have to break through the resistance, cares of life and other life issues and lock in. Period.
The end-time army of forerunners will be so radically distinct from typical church goers that it will sear your spirit just by looking at them!
The coming church won’t fit into our busy lifestyles. It will jealously demand our full attention and that we take captive the distractions to the prayer movement.
For me, I need 40 people—weak yet disciplined and hungry for revival—who will run with joy this race with us.
The call? Show up. Pray always. Burn continually. Serve passionately. Die daily. Give cheerfully.
Sign up for theCore Leadership Team here: www.detroitprayerfurnace.com/thecore.
I still hold out hope that this small group of zealots in Detroit will have enough Upper Room power to turn this city upside down.
I’m also looking for 1000 people, from all parts of the world, who will pray every week for Detroit. This mission is so simple, yet the enemy is fighting fiercely!
Sign up for the1000 Intercessors for Detroit here: www.detroitprayerfurnace.com/the1000.
What’s next? The advance of the prayer movement! The enemy will feel the impact of burning prayer!
If it’s only me and a handful of other fiery people, so be it. It’s time to pray and shock the planet!