God causes it to rain on the just and the unjust. Be careful that you don't wrongly interpret its meaning.

I've been dashing in and out of stores today, running errands in the midst of an unrelenting downpour. The rain is soaking all who venture out into it, no matter if they are good or evil, just or unjust.

45  …He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:45 (NKJV)

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I've heard many frightened Christians shout this verse in support of their idea that God will visit pestilence equally on the lost and the saved (how that is comforting I'll never know). Their argument is that while we may have a measure of hope that God will ultimately heal or rescue us, we must expect the exact same “rain” to hit both Believers and unbelievers. The force of the assault, whether it's a demonic advance or judgment of God, can't be avoided.

Of course, any true Christian would agree that they have an advocate in Jesus. So, the disposition becomes, “We can't avoid the plague but we can hope that God meets us in that place.” Basically it's the passive, hands-off “whatever God's wills” belief system. This is the belief that can be exceedingly dangerous.

THE SUN AND THE RAIN

Let's read the verse in context.

43  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45  that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47  And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48  Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 (NKJV)

Spoiler alert: both the sun and the rain are good!

Many are expecting to be plagued by coronavirus or other ailments and other demonic attacks because of a terrible misunderstanding of the meaning of this passage.

The context of this truth is all about love. God loves both those who are evil and those who are good, the unjust and the just. His mandate is that we are to do the same. In farmer-speak, both sun and rain are very good.

1  Ask the LORD for rain In the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, Grass in the field for everyone. Zechariah 10:1 (NKJV)

7  For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; Hebrews 6:7 (NKJV)

This truth about rain on the just and the unjust has absolutely nothing to do with expecting ills and ailments. The reason a wrong understanding of this passage is so deadly is because it causes us to come into agreement with a demonic strategy!

We as Christians are absolutely not sitting ducks! If we stand in great faith, refuse the taunts of the enemy and resist leaning on our own understanding, we will rise up with great authority and command with fiery resolve that no plague shall come near us!

10  No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; 11  For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. Psalm 91:10-11 (NKJV)

Waiving the white flag of surrender by accepting plagues and pestilences will bring death and destruction to the people of God. This is not our portion!

17  …He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” Acts 14:17 (NKJV)

HOW TO STAND

Simple prayers of petition that are driven more by fear than faith may do more damage than good. We don't want unbelief to be the driver of our intercession. Rather, we must stand in our great authority and insist that what's in the Word of God manifests!

We command the enemy to back down!

We move the mountains!

We heal the sick!

We decree and declare the Word of God!

But first, we have to ask ourselves if we truly believe the Word of God or not? If so, powerful faith will burn through our being!

This rampant wrong understanding of the sun and the rain has caused many to expect the worst instead of contending for what the cross of Christ has provided for us.

It's not possible to believe that plagues will visit both the just and the unjust while also believing the many scriptures that proclaim our protection!

3  But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NKJV)

19  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. 20  He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken. Psalm 34:19-20 (NKJV)

WHY DOES TROUBLE COME?

Of course, many would argue that Christians do have trouble visit them. Sickness does come. Poverty is a reality for many. It would take another article, or a book, to fully address this, but I wanted to at least encourage you to venture into the Word of God for your answers. It's true that Satan won't stop raging, but the secret to our success is in our response.

Of course, a barrage of arrows hurled by the enemy will strike us if we allow them to. My wife once had a vision of someone standing confidently with a massive shield of faith protecting them. Then, strangely, when the arrows started flying they lost faith and dropped their shield. The shield of faith is the most important piece of armor we have!

16  above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Ephesians 6:16 (NKJV)

If we stand in great faith, we will have great success. If we fight the enemy, go to battle, renew our mind, take thoughts captive, pray with power, stand in our authority and believe every single word of the Bible we will most certainly live in victory!

Another church has been seduced by wickedness, confusing it for love.

“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:13 (ESV)

Eve's passion was for her eyes to be opened and to be wise like God. Sounds good, except that single decision resulted in immediate death for her and billions of others who would follow. Her redefinition of what godliness was paved the way for innumerable people throughout the ages entering into never-ending torture in Hell. Evangelism wouldn't be necessary if it wasn't for Eve.

Tragically, another church leadership team has looked to redefine spirituality, and because of the cunning deception of a wicked serpent, they ate of the fruit, fruit that was good for food and a delight to the eyes. Their decision was catastrophic.

I've attended Assembly of God churches at various times throughout my life, and I have so appreciated their devotion to holiness and classic, historic, Biblical Christianity. I was stunned to hear about a Assembly of God church in Texas making the decision to fully embrace homosexuality, without apology, becoming what is know as an inclusive church.

Eikon Church in Kyle, Texas, led by Pastors Dan and Kelly Matlock has sadly, tragically been duped by modern, cultural arguments and is now fully affirming. On an interior page on their website, suggested resources are provided including a podcast titled How to Be a Girl Podcast: A Christian Family's Story of Raising Their Trans Child, a book titled God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines, a glossary of LGBTQ+ terms and much more. The following is also found there:

In our endeavor to promote unity over uniformity, we’ve compiled these resources that we believe will be helpful as you learn more and lean into conversations regarding our church’s decision to be a fully inclusive church for the LGBTQ+ community.

I contacted the General Superintendent of the Assembly of God. Thankfully, he sent me a copy of a statement he released publicly this morning:

As many of you are aware, a certified minister at an AG church in Texas on Sunday announced a departure from the official Assemblies of God position on human sexuality. The Assemblies of God has a well-established process to deal with such departures. Immediately upon first knowledge, the North Texas District initiated appropriate action required in dealing with both the minister and the church. When it comes to matters of marriage, sexual orientation, and gender identity, the Bible is clear. That is why the only acceptable position for Assemblies of God ministers and churches is clearly outlined in this statement: CLICK TO READ THE STATEMENT

FALSE LOVE

In my article The Great Love Deception: A False-Love Movement Is On The Rise, I wrote:

Philippians 1:9-10 (MSG) So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings 10 so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of…

We are to learn to love appropriately. This scripture is a critical exhortation! Why? It means there are inappropriate ways to love. There are deceptions that feel right, but are poor representations or even counterfeits of truth.

As God’s love begins to manifest in such amazing, deeper ways at the end of the age, we have to be aware that the enemy will work hard to redefine, misrepresent and twist true love. He has a castrated version to offer us.

Affirming wickedness is the furthest thing from true, holy love. Endorsing homosexuality and welcoming those who participate in this forbidden lifestyle as brothers and sisters in Christ eliminates any hope of deliverance and eternities are put at great risk. Heaven and Hell are very much in play.

Their departure from Christian faith is made clear, in bold words, on their website:

We believe in and practice full inclusion here at Eikon Church, which means that individuals from the LGBTQ+ community can serve and be involved in EVERY AREA of Eikon Church from serving to pastoring.

This affirmation is not only heretical, it's spiritually deadly. This church family will most certainly experience a season of glee where the rush of false-love floods in. Understand, I'm sure these people are caring and tender-hearted and they want every person to feel their affection. The problem is in their theology, and, yes, bad theology can lead to destruction.

When the church becomes more about the people than about God, more about welcoming them, affirming them and celebrating them than about worshiping a most holy, fearful God, flaws can be overlooked, sin minimized and wickedness redefined as the purest form of love. Wicked love.

I wonder, will the leadership of Eikon Church preach on the topics of sin, Hell, holiness, consecration, repentance and surrender? Or, have they already fallen through the trap door of false-grace and Universalism?

The terror of the Lord must hit every church and ever Christian in this hour. God's love is very different than what is humanly discerned. Many question how a loving God could sentence someone to eternal torment. A better question is how a wicked people could ever presume to deserve anything less. God is fearsome, he is holy, and yes, he is love. He is not, however tolerant. He is not affirming of that which he defines as an abomination. He is a good, good Father, and he is also a just, just judge.

We need to intercede for the sheep at Eikon Church that are being led into wholesale deception, heresy and undeniable departure from the Christian faith.

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

 

Those who don't know Jesus should not be expected to act like those who do.

(Looking for the article Dueling Puppet Masters: Controlling Pastors vs. Manipulative Congregations? Read it HERE.)

If you follow my ministry you'll know that I am an unapologetic preacher of holiness. You'll also know that most of my messages are directed to the church. Preaching holiness to the lost doesn't work well unless it's coupled with a powerful invitation to surrender all.

Those who haven't had a life-rocking encounter with Jesus are at a disadvantage and it's unfair for those who have been transformed to expect them to see things the way we do. In fact, to attempt to coerce them to adhere to our set of standards, in violation of their own free-will and their right to also have a say in morality is ineffective, and in most situations, unfair if not outright arrogant.

Who are we to say that pornography is wrong? What makes our version of truth regarding homosexuality more valid then theirs? To Christians, babies were created by God, given human spirits at the time of conception and they clearly, obviously deserve protection. Except, those who don't believe in God the way we do simply disagree that they are fully human at points of development prior to birth. They have a right to that belief, as horrifying as we think it is.

The result is a holy war between a group of people who have one set of standards and a group that has an entirely different set. Coercion in the political realm, in the high courts and in the battleground of public opinion becomes the only tool left in our tool belt. We vote or legislate our way to victory, further enraging those who oppose our paradigms.

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YES, WE SHOULD STILL GO TO BATTLE AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE

Now, please understand, with humble hearts, we as people who are zealous about protecting the unborn and who have a responsibility to guard our children from being indoctrinated by the homosexual agenda, I absolutely believe we must use whatever tool we have in our tool belts. Yes, it's right to fight for laws that stand aggressively against human trafficking. We should work hard to overturn Roe v. Wade. Pornography, the legalization of narcotics and other destructive cultural vices that are being normalized in our society must be met with resistance.

However, it remains true that the unredeemed simply cannot understand things the way Believers in Christ can. This isn't because we are better. It's because we have surrendered to Jesus and our entire way of thinking was renewed. We were once compromised and unable to discern right versus wrong. Then, God touched us as wicked, confused, arrogant and very lost people and the light came on.

HOW ARE THE UNREDEEMED AT A DISADVANTAGE?

I pray you begin to mourn and weep over the lost as you grow in understanding as to how terribly the enemy is assaulting them. Yes, every person who has ever lived and who ever will live will be without excuse on Judgment Day. Yes, everybody has a choice, and the lost have made their choice. That shouldn't result in us marking them off as enemies while we puff ourselves up and sneer down our noses at them. We should be broken and our intercession should be taken to a much higher level.

BORN THIS WAY VERSUS BORN AGAIN

Those who argue that they were born gay, for example, may have something to their argument.

5  Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:5 (ESV)

We were all born in sin, in iniquity. It shouldn't take much for us to understand this. Sin comes very naturally to all and it takes the momentous event of being born again by the Spirit of God for that to shift.

In fact, the Bible calls those who are not his own, children of wrath. Are you seeing the extreme disadvantage the lost have when attempting to discern good versus evil? All they know are the inner urges that, in their minds, makes up the very core of their identity? If they have been attracted to the same sex for as long as they can remember, then, it seems clear that they were born this way. That should validate their homosexuality, or so they would argue.

Without a dramatic encounter with Jesus, without being born again, we can't expect people to understand biblical freedom or morality.

NO RELIEF FROM ANXIETY, FEAR AND DEPRESSION

The enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy, and based on the rampant addictions to opiates in our generation, it appears that he's winning.

Spirit-filled Christians can fill their days with praying in tongues, meditating on God's Word and by singing songs of praise to break off the debilitating, suffocating assaults of depression, fear and anxiety. We have a very present friend in Jesus ministering to us, interceding for us, talking to us and walking with us.

The lost are limited to positive thoughts, drugs, counseling and, sadly and all too often, suicide. Truly, the only hope in the battle of emotional trauma is Jesus, and they haven't met him yet.

Can Christians also be in need of counseling and medical care including the administration of appropriate medications to help deal with chemical imbalances and other physiological and emotional difficulties? Yes, absolutely. As long as it takes place on a foundation of faith, such care can be an important part of the healing process.

10  fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

THEY HAVE NO PEACE

Those who don't know Jesus simply cannot know peace. For Christians, peace rests on us and it is not dependent on circumstances or in understanding our situation. God is with us and his supernatural peace displaces the darkness.

It's not hard to understand why so many politicians, protesters and others who are advancing their various ungodly causes become enraged when they experience push back. They have no peace, and in their minds, the road to a life that is more centered and devoid of resistance is to hate, curse and attempt to slay anything and anyone that gets in their way.

33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)

THEY DON'T EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF GOD

The thought of not having that constant burning of God's Holy Spirit within is enough to make me shudder. The glory of God and his anointing on our lives is irreplaceable and without it we would spiral out of control.

Our decisions, our mindsets, our emotional well-being, our belief systems, our desires and everything that make up who we are would radically shift. It would be a deeply disturbing way to live, yet the lost live in that reality every moment of every day of their lives.

11  You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

THEY HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED LOVE

No matter how determined society is at convincing us that they do what they do because of love, it's simply not true. They have fallen for a faux love that does not originate from the only one who can manifest love. Outside of God, we cannot know love. The reason is simple: God is love.

I want to encourage you to read my article The Great Love Deception. It's eye-opening.

Sure, the lost can experience infatuation, attraction, appreciation, strong desire, lust and many other emotions, but love is the one experience they can't have outside of Jesus.

The next time you hear about someone who is militantly promoting what we would call perversion, just remember they are yearning to love and to be loved. This isn't a defense of perversion, but rather it's a call to weep for our culture and to stand in the gap so people can finally discover the only true source of love.

10  Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Psalm 32:10 (ESV)

THEY HAVE NO ACCESS TO SUPERNATURAL WISDOM

The unredeemed are limited to their own logic and human ability to reason. That's it. They have no resource when their own abilities or the abilities of others to understand comes to an end.

The ceiling of understanding becomes their version of truth and they will fight to the end to support it.

For Christians, there is such a relief knowing that we won't ever understand it all, and that our own logic is often fallible. We simply read the Bible and believe it. God speaks and we respond. The lost cannot do that.

They will argue that getting drunk, for example, is just fine, as long as you don't get behind the wheel of a car. It makes sense to them. Christians, however, have no need to attempt to wrap their minds around the topic. God says don't get drunk, and he's much wiser than we are, so we buy in wholesale to what he says. As a result, life is much, much better.

Further, decision making becomes much easier as Christians. We may not know what job to take, what house to buy, where to go, who to marry or how to resolve life's problems. Thankfully we have a supernatural source of direction that goes well beyond humanity's resources.

5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 (ESV)

HAPPINESS IS THEIR ONLY HOPE

We all have the right to pursue happiness in our nation. Sadly, that's the limit for people who don't love and serve Jesus.

Christians, on the other hand, live with overwhelming, immeasurable, supernatural joy! Happiness is dependent on circumstances. Joy is not.

Instead of pursuing wealth, sex, fame, materialism and other pleasures as sources of happiness, Believers are fully satisfied by knowing God. It's a supernatural reality that can only be understood when experienced. It's not mind over matter. I'm not talking about mental gymnastics that turn bad situations to good. I'm talking about an actual Spirit that fills us up and brings supernatural joy to our hearts. Those in the world can never understand this.

13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 (ESV)

THEY LIVE OUTSIDE OF THE REALM OF MIRACLES

The lost have absolutely no hope of relief from life's woes unless mankind can come up with a solution. They are dependent and desperate and all too often, hopeless.

Believers in Christ live in the realm of miracles every day! Healings, wonders, signs, breakthroughs, prophetic revelation and much more are our portion!

The lost are feverishly doing all they can to avoid or avert dire circumstances in their own abilities. They turn to man, not God when they are in a time of need.

12  In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians. 2 Chronicles 16:12 (ESV)

Seeking the Lord is necessary for us to survive and thrive on the earth, and those in the world simply can't enjoy the miracles that result from such a devotion.

THEY HAVE NO REASON NOT TO SIN

Above I revealed the mindset regarding drunkenness. In the minds of the lost there is absolutely no reason not to get drunk. This logic can be used in other scenarios too. Lust is pleasurable as is pornography. Getting high on drugs feels good. Foul language and other behaviors are morally benign. If it's legal, it's okay.

In the world the line is drawn when one person's sin negatively impacts another. That's what defines morality in a culture that's not surrendered to Jesus. What the world defines as lawless and what God defines as legal are very different.

4  Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4 (ESV)

Christians understand how destructive sin is and we embrace consecration and repentance eagerly. Sin kills even if we don't understand why. We don't define what is morally legal, God does.

23  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (ESV)

THEY HAVE NO HOPE OF A WONDERFUL ETERNITY

Every ounce of life must be experienced in a window of approximately 80 years to those who don't know Christ. The thought of preparing for eternity is nonsensical to them. This over-magnifies the importance of fulfilling dreams and desires on the earth, as they do all they can to soak up all their short earthly journey can provide.

Of course, Believers know there are an unlimited number of years ahead of us. Every person, whether lost or saved, will live somewhere forever. This is what drives our lives. We do all we can to awaken the sleepers, to warn the apathetic and to rescue the perishing. This world means little in comparison to eternity.

Further, those who know Jesus are exhilarated knowing they will experience never-ending joy, abundant life, freedom, love and  peace as we live day-by-day with God. This isn't some euphoric pipe dream. It's truth. It's going to happen. Those who don't know Jesus simply cannot understand this.

1  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4  And you know the way to where I am going.” 5  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:1-6 (ESV)

CHANGE OUR DISPOSITION

I pray this will at least cause you to think differently the next time you get agitated at people who are promoting beliefs and behaviors that are repugnant to you. Pray hard for them. Battle for their souls.

Trust me, the moment one of these vile, wicked people truly find Jesus, they will turn on a dime and renounce everything unrighteous they previously supported. Meeting Jesus does that to a person.

Addressing error without compromising our credibility

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The need for people who rightly divide the truth is only going to escalate as the end-times season we are in continues to unfold. These Bereans are valuable and it would do us all well to embrace the opportunity to analyze our belief systems and to grow.

Instead, all over social media especially, we see critical and arrogant spirits assaulting others they disagree with theologically. For Christians to be rude and to operate in a spirit of accusation makes one wonder if they are saved at all. In fact, the moment we utilize methods of communication that contradict the fruits of the Spirit, we lose our credibility. Fortunately, there are many people who confirm their credibility by debating and discussing with love and honor. Communicating with them is a pleasure. However, all too often, supposed guardians of theology are zeroed in on proving their point and on shaming all who disagree. On the contrary, the shame is on them as they attempt to demoralize and invalidate people’s ministry. The focus is on mistakes, errors, disagreements and weaknesses instead of building them up, honoring them and encouraging them in the Lord.

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 (ESV)

As one who absolutely affirms bold and provocative messages, I’m dismayed that so many who name the name of Jesus presume boldness equates to cruelty and divisiveness. Haters and debaters who are driven by a contentious agenda against those they disagree with are doing great damage to the church. Strangely, they presume to be the champions of truth, knights in shining armor who are to be celebrated for defending their absolutely “perfect” view of Scripture. They presume themselves to be Bereans when in reality they are aligning themselves with a dark spirit of accusation and assault. These are no Bereans. They are, in fact, Thessalonians.

THE SPIRIT OF THE BEREANS VS THE SPIRIT OF THE THESSALONIANS

2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. Acts 17:2-3 (NIV)

In Thessalonica, Paul was reasoning in the synagogue and revealing the glorious truth of Jesus. Some were persuaded, but many weren’t, and instead of exhibiting love in disagreement, they started a riot. This riotous spirit is driving the religious today, people who are not at all interested in life-giving truth. Their motive is selfish, protecting their own way of life and belief system.

5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. Acts 17:5 (NIV)

I think I’ve met some of the bad characters the verse mentions. They are all over Facebook. In the face of this, Paul and Silas moved on to Berea.

10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Acts 17:10 (NIV)

Many presume the Bereans heard the message and then, with a nasty, suspicious look on their face and thick theological walls built up, they put their noses into the Scriptures, looking to refute all that was being said. This is not what happened at all. Many modern “Bereans” are some of the meanest, most arrogant and unteachable people in the church. They are so tightly wound up, fearing even the slightest threat to their personal doctrines that they often slander and accuse people they oppose. This is not how the Bereans in the Book of Acts responded. Not at all.

11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11 (NIV)

Did you notice that the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians? Did you notice why? They received the message not with great suspicion, but with great eagerness! They were excited about this fresh, life-giving message that Paul was revealing to them! Their energy wasn’t spent discounting the message but rather in searching the Scriptures to see if it was true.

Because of this, many Jews and Greeks were transformed.

The story doesn’t end there, however.

13 When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. Acts 17:13 (NIV)

The Thessalonians actually went to Berea to hunt down Paul and agitate the people because of his message!

I propose many who assume themselves to be Bereans are actually Thessalonians—people who are more intent on hunting, agitating and stirring up instead of eagerly receiving revelation from the Word of God.

imageLET LOVE LEAD

When engaging in conversation, especially online on social media or in the comments section of articles like this one, simply be nice. Discussions and healthy debates are supposed to be fun and edifying!

I try to make it a point to address false theologies while never assaulting the minister. I know, there are many who would argue that there are times in Scripture where false teachers were named and they were addressed quite bluntly. Yes, there absolutely does come a time to do that, but it is not as often as many might presume—and it’s always in a spirit of great love.

I do my very best to honor all, even if I believe their theology is way off. What benefit is there in being rude, arrogant or aggressive toward them as a person? When I engage in discussions on Facebook or other places online, a core value of mine is to be nice. I never want the person I’m engaging with to feel like I’m attacking them or that I presume to be superior. While I will boldly communicate my position, I don’t want anybody who might disagree to feel unsafe or devalued. They are precious people created in the image of God. Yes, if they pose a risk because of their doctrine, we must deal with that. But, it’s usually more beneficial to attack beliefs than to call out and defame people.

If I’m not exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit in my conversation, I should not be communicating at all. It’s time to shut off the computer and head into the prayer room. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control should dominate our discussions.

Quit calling everyone you disagree with a heretic. Quit commenting on articles like this one with the sole intent of exposing the author as deceived, false or in some sort of error. Share your perspective. Offer your point of view. Reveal your concerns. Be teachable. Communicate with honor and humility without abdicating your mandate to be a true Berean. Your eagerness to receive truth will open the door for many to believe in Jesus.

Please understand, I have thick skin. By the grace of God I’m nearly unoffendable. When people are aggressive toward me personally when I write or preach, I honestly don’t take offense. Reading mean tweets and comments can be entertaining and even enlightening. I understand the messages I’m called to deliver are provocative and I do know the arrows will fly.

But, I will say this. As someone who is deeply troubled when other preachers and prophetic people are attacked simply because of a disagreement over their theology or style of ministry, I want to simply ask you to be nice. Don’t aim your arrows in their direction. Understand the accusations and cruel things you say don’t only hurt them, but they hurt their spouses and children. Do you have any idea how many tears wives have cried because their husbands are mercilessly assaulted by others in the church through gossip and all over the internet? This is a very real and terribly sad problem, and it simply shouldn’t be.

Let love lead. Be kind. Be gentle. Be patient. Be bold. Stand for truth. Don’t hate. Be tender in your debate. Put the arrows down and simply love.

(This article was also published by Charisma News. You can read it here: https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/75296-use-this-life-changing-strategy-against-satan-s-assault-on-marriage)

Satan is raging against marriages—and God has provided a powerful tool to protect them.

9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mark 10:9 (ESV)

I’m relaxing next to a warm, simmering fire in a beautiful lodge in Branson, Missouri after a week-long, life-changing marriage intensive. Focus on the Family has landed on something powerful in the Ozark Mountains. This retreat center is special, and it is uniquely designed to protect husbands and wives from very strategic and vicious attacks of the enemy on their marriage. Our last counseling session ended just a few hours ago, and I can honestly say this is a week that will impact me forever. My wife’s testimony is the same. We have been transformed.

Image result for marriage counselingA WEARY, BATTERED ARMY

The coming revival and worldwide revolution in the church will test every soldier of the Lord. The pressure will be extreme and the battle demands a healed and whole army. I am convinced the quickest way to eliminate men and women of God who are critical in this end-time mission is by ripping apart marriages. There is little else that can demoralize and destroy those who have a calling of God on their lives more quickly and completely than strife and disunity within the construct of God’s holy union of marriage. A person may have a powerful vision, an earth-shaking anointing and a hunger for God to move mightily—and get derailed by darkness that is brooding within their own homes.

Instead of being vibrant, full of life, keenly focused, on the alert and ready to impact the world, God’s soldiers can find themselves weary, battered and struggling to raise the shield of faith, even in their own living rooms, as the fiery darts fly. If the warzone is taking place in the home, the world will have to wait, and the enemy knows that.

A WARRIOR BRIDE

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)

Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loves the church. I doubt we understand the depth of that statement. If we are called as warriors, and as the beautiful Bride of Christ, it’s imperative that we understand how to love within the bounds of marriage. We must become captivated by the immeasurable depths of God’s love for us, his Bride. I’m provoked by God’s unhindered ability to love us without the restrictions that woundedness brings. No matter how unfaithful we are, or how out of touch and selfish we may be, it does not hinder God’s passion for us in the least. His heart burns for us. His emotions are deep. Stop and think about that for a moment. Consider the difficulty of comprehensively, passionately and fully loving your spouse. Imagine what it would be like if hurtful words, insensitivity, disconnectedness or unfaithfulness had absolutely no impact on your love for them. How would your life be different? Oh, my! Everything would be different! Imagine the abounding freedom and joy that would be ours!

Further, what would it be like on the other side? What if your weakness, struggles, sins, hurtful actions, selfishness and abuse did nothing to affect your spouse’s love for you? Such an experience would almost be disorienting. It’s beyond the scope of what is normal, what is reasonable. I am leaping inside even as I write this! A life of unconditional love is something beyond all of our realm of experience. Oh how I long for this!

Of course, I’m not suggesting that our negative actions wouldn’t be hurtful, or that our spouse’s sins wouldn’t wound us. We are human and woundedness is real. It means we are still alive and sensitive. However, I can imagine a God ordained marriage that was so pure that, while hurt would still come, love would be constant and overwhelming. I pray this provokes you to believe for a marriage that is abounding in love!

I believe it will take a warrior Bride that is healthy and driven by love to advance into the darkness in the coming end-time battle. We all must be healed, healthy, dead to self and full of love.

14 Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14 (ESV)

FEARS IN MARRIAGE

18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 (ESV)

If we are truly honest, we’d see the root of most of our conflicts in marriage are founded in fear. Fear of losing control. Fear of being manipulated. Fear of unfaithfulness. Fear of mistreatment. Fear that we will not be loved. I could go on and on. Fear is so pervasive in life, and it most certainly is in marriage.

Imagine what would change if all of that fear was eliminated. No more fear of rejection. No fear of abuse. No fear of anything. Our marriages would break free from chains that are devastating and restricting and debilitating. A life free from fear can only come as we are awakened to the love of God in a very real, legitimate way—AND when we allow God’s transforming love to be exhibited through us. Our freedom comes not when others stop threatening us, but rather when their threats, assaults, cruelty and hatred have no power over us. Our freedom comes not when they finally love us, but when we can finally love them.

The intensive we enjoyed this week gave language to this and supplied tools that we simply could not have discovered without spending a secluded week in this very special place. Yes, there are books with the material we could study, but there’s something about people ministering to people, day after day, in a very raw environment, that can bring freedom and breakthrough so deeply.

6 Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. 7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised. Song of Songs 8:6-7 (ESV)

Love like this will eradicate fear. Marriages that experience a revelation of this love will be something to behold. My passion is to live in that love with my beautiful bride, Amy.

THE BEST WEEK OF YOUR LIFE

Enough with the excuses. Men, quit balking. Women, pay the price. A week at a marriage intensive will absolutely change your life.

I wish I could share the stories of the couples that were radically, remarkably transformed this week. Our small group of five couples spent hours together allowing God to hit us in deep, vulnerable places—as everybody else watched, and quite often, cried along with us. We all had different stories and reasons for attending, and we all were transformed. Every single one of us.

My wife and I live such an amazing, fun-filled life. Our marriage truly is filled with joy and we are the very best of friends. We love building business together, traveling together, relaxing together, ministering together, raising our kids together and dreaming together. We also admit that our crazy life and our complimentary yet different personalities, emotional needs and desires can create havoc. It is very easy for selfishness to creep in. It can become difficult to understand each other’s perspective. Battles can start to erupt and the joy and life can slowly fade. Frustration sets in, hearts can start to get a little hard and the enemy can certainly find a foothold in our marriage. Presuming all is well is ridiculous. Hoping it will naturally get better is foolish. Intervention is needed.

Is it possible to resolve things on your own in similar situations? Possibly. Yet, I want to provoke you to curiosity. I’m telling you that an intensive like the one Amy and I just participated in will result in freedom at depths you could never discover without professional, godly help.

For those who would argue that Christian counseling or intensives like the one I’m describing are unnecessary for Spirit-filled Christians, I’d say you are flat out wrong. Many argue that deliverance and prayer are all that is necessary. Sometimes that is true. Most often it is not. We need each other, and we need the wonderful wisdom that organizations like Focus on the Family can offer. I’ll tell you this: I absolutely never could have achieved the level of freedom and healing of my heart without the tools and impartation that we received. I am so thankful for the absolutely wonderful and brilliant counselors that worked with us.

Understand, my wife and I came here because of some tension, stress and some typical married life struggles. It would have been extremely easy for me to reject the notion that such an intensive would be necessary. In fact, I’m like many others, men especially, by shrinking back at the suggestion of counseling. The natural response from me could have been, “Nah, we really don’t need counseling. We are okay! All is well. We love each other. We can work on the minor tweaks together. Maybe we can work through a marriage devotional. That’s all we need!”

That would have been the most unfortunate response! I would have missed out on some glorious, abundant marriage life!

Yes, there were tears this week. Yes, there were ups and downs. Yes, it was hard to be vulnerable, uncovered and on the hot seat.

But, I thank God for the tears, for the journey through the ups and downs. I’m thankful for the literal miracles I witnessed in other wonderful couples. I’m so alive because of the vulnerability of both my wife and myself. The love, understanding and unmerited affection I both received and gave is something I’ll never be able to explain.

Of course, the tools we received and the revelation we experienced demand that we continue to stay tuned into each other. I’m actually excited about continuing some deep “heart talks” and applying principles that help us make decisions together, without strife, and while genuinely valuing Amy’s perspective—even if it differs from mine. I’m looking forward to ministering to her heart instead of focusing on her arguments. I’m also looking forward for her to see me in a different way, understanding my heart and loving me through our discussions.

So, yes, save your money, humble yourself, don’t underestimate the determination of the enemy to destroy your marriage, get excited about the wonders that only God can reveal in a holy, love-filled marriage and reserve a marriage intensive at Focus on the Family or another amazing, Christian counseling center.

It will be the best week of your life. It could be the most important week of your life.

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY—HOPE RESTORED

This intensive is designed for couples in crisis—most any type of crisis.

For more information, visit: https://hoperestored.focusonthefamily.com/

They have retreat centers in Branson, Missouri, Rome, Georgia and Greenville, Michigan.

The accommodations we enjoyed in Branson were rustic and luxurious. The food and hospitality was phenomenal. The memories are priceless.

I’m not being paid for my recommendation by Focus on the Family. Well, I take that back. I’ve been paid with something immensely valuable—a newfound love in what was an already amazing marriage. I am thankful.

#metoo proponents need a fresh understanding of what love and forgiveness really look like.

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. Luke 23:34 (ESV)

I’m a holiness preacher. I am feverish in my pursuit of revival that will be marked by purity in the church and mass, glorious repentance in the nation. As is true with many of today’s prophetic messengers, there’s an urgency in my spirit that can’t be shaken. We must see a move of God that both initiates and is a response to tears and mourning over the state of the church and the debauchery of our nation.

The egregious moral condition of America and the entire world is sickening beyond description. Recent news reveals the grotesque and depraved state of our culture.

For example, an abortion doctor recently boasted about her method of murder that ensures baby’s cries can’t be heard:

On Sunday, Leah Torres, a Utah abortionist who is active on Twitter, responded with gruesome detail to someone criticizing her work.

When someone asked Torres if she hears the screams of the babies who she aborts, she replied:

You know fetuses can’t scream, right? I transect the cord 1st so there’s really no opportunity, if they’re even far enough along to have a larynx.

I won’t apologize for performing medicine. I’m also a “uterus ripper outer,” if that’s how you’d like to describe hysterectomy. https://t.co/lng0W3ta5J

— Leah Torres, MD (@LeahNTorres) March 11, 2018

(From lifenews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2018/03/15/abortionist-i-cut-unborn-babies-throats-so-they-cant-scream/)

Just today, a suspected mail bomber in the Austin, Texas area died as one of his bombs detonated as police were closing in.

Of course, we have recent mass shootings and other heinous assaults that are becoming normal. Hollywood movies are becoming more vile. Pornography is rampant even in the church. The status of our nation is nothing less than depraved and desperate.

#metoo

Jesus Christ was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25

Jesus died so we might have life. He died so others might have life. He died so our very dark sins would not keep us from a relationship with him. He died so other people’s sins, including the sins of murder, abuse and hatred, would not keep them from a relationship with him.

When I watch crime stories or hear news reports about the trials and convictions of murderers, rapists, abusers and others who have committed absolutely horrifying crimes against humanity, I find myself especially grieved when something specific happens. Time and again, I hear the family members and friends of those who were the target of the various crimes say, “I’ll never forgive him.” Those words wreck me. They are sealing their fate, a fate of darkness and despair that will never be escaped without true forgiveness.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)

Those who have been abused or who have been affected by the hateful crimes of others most certainly are scarred deeply, beyond what words could ever describe. I’m a father of five and the husband of a wonderful, beautiful wife. If anything ever happened to them at the hands of another, I would experience a range of emotions that would rock me. Anger, despair, fear and other responses would be expected. But, as a Christian, forgiveness and love for the perpetrator must follow. I must shift from accuser to intercessor so both he and I are free, forgiven and healed.

Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. (Matthew 6:12)

A common violation of truth occurs when we presume our sins worthy of forgiveness while the sins of others must result in punishment. The true condition of our heart is revealed as we accuse.

Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it’s mandatory. Even though forgiveness is potent, we can’t always expect a perfect resolution to immediately follow. Restitution may not occur. Forgiveness isn’t about us, it’s about setting free those who have wounded us. Jesus could have screamed #metoo and demanded justice. Instead, he shouted #iforgive, as people continued to abuse and humiliate him by casting lots for his clothes. His forgiveness didn’t move them, but it moved Heaven and rocked the planet.

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:51 (ESV)

Forgiveness will set the abuser in place for freedom should they accept it. Forgiveness will set the abused up for healing. True love does just that. It heals and sets free.

I am so blessed by the courage and true love exhibited by a true victim–Rachael Denhollander, who, instead of shouting #metoo declared #iforgive:

A former gymnast is offering forgiveness for the unspeakable crimes Larry Nassar has been convicted of – and she’s being recognized by the media for it.

“Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you. I pray you experience the soul-crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me — though I extend that to you as well.” (From lifenews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2018/01/26/pro-life-christian-gymnast-rachael-denhollander-powerfully-forgives-usa-gymnastics-doc-larry-nassar-for-sexual-abuse/)

Don’t misunderstand me. We need the dark side of our culture exposed. The evil in Hollywood and throughout the fabric of our nation is so vile that most of us would be shocked if we saw it in fullness. Everything from sex trafficking to the porn industry to immorality in movies that fill our theaters to drugs, addiction, murder, abortion and so much more is destroying millions of people. That darkness must be exposed and those who are perpetuating it must be held accountable.

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:11-14 (ESV)

Part of the response that the guilty must offer is legitimate repentance. If porn industry leaders, sex traffickers, Hollywood moguls who are abusing women (and men), drug traffickers and others would openly repent and surrender to Jesus, I think the earth would shift off its axis! This must be what drives our intercession, not retribution!

#iforgive

…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. Colossians 3:13 (NKJV)

As we have been forgiven, we must forgive. We pay it forward. Our declaration must be #iforgive.

The heart of the #metoo movement is vengeance. It’s not driven by a heart of love and forgiveness, but on the contrary, one of anger and hatred. The question is simple: Will you forgive those who have abused you? Will you love them? Will you truly decree #iforgive just as you, as a child of God, have been forgiven?

Can you imagine the shockwaves that would have resulted if Harvey Weinstein’s victims looked him in the eyes and said, I forgive you. God loves you. I don’t want you to be tormented because of what you did to me. I don’t want you to experience shame. I want you to know the love of Jesus.

Wow! Imagine the Oscar speeches and news reports that would have followed! What if the #metoo movement truly was an #iforgive movement!

The spirit of vengeance and hatred that is rising up in our nation as a result of a very real darkness being uncovered is also deeply evil. Yes, we must stand firm for holiness. We absolutely must see corruption and crimes and assaults against innocent people exposed. Yes, for those who have committed crimes, there is a very real price to pay. Yes, those who are a danger to others must be apprehended. The darkness must be uncovered. There is no question about it.

What we must ask is, how will we respond to those who are exposed? Will we heap up hatred and vengeance upon them? Will we say, “I will never forgive you.” Will we shame them? Or, will we do as Rachael Denhollander did and extend forgiveness?

 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NKJV)

Isaiah 1

Isaiah reveals a powerful strategy:

When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:15-18 (NKJV)

God is ready to cleanse all who repent. For both those who abuse and those who refuse to forgive, God is revealing the blood on their hands. When we are clean, we most certainly can seek justice. We can trust God to expose the darkness and judge right versus wrong. We will rebuke oppressors and intercede for the weak, the fatherless, the widows—and I guarantee many of those who sexually abuse others are fatherless. The cry of our heart must be not only for our sins to be washed away, but for the sins of those who oppress us to be as white as snow. Our cry must not only be for justice but for mercy.

…In wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 (NKJV)

Will we be #metoo accusers or #iforgive intercessors?

Our heart should follow the heart of God:

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

For those who have been abused, my heart is broken for you. I am so sorry you had to endure that. My belief is your healing will rapidly come as you forgive. Forgiving doesn’t mean you minimize the pain or what has occurred. It simply means you make a decision to set the abuser free. You learn to love them and desire for them to know Jesus intimately. You let them know Heaven won’t be the same without them. You can’t fathom the thought of them being tormented forever in Hell. You become their greatest intercessor.

You simply do what Jesus did. Instead of focusing on himself by saying #metoo he focused on those who were killing him. He loved them in the midst of the assault. He said, #iforgive.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 (ESV)

The chaos that erupted on a United Airlines flight yesterday should never have happened.

I was in the vicinity of two unfortunate United Airline situations over the past week.

YOGA-000000113First, I was on my way to preach at the Strike The Match Conference in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada last Thursday. My flight from Chicago to Toronto was delayed most probably due to a fake bomb threat on a Toronto to Chicago flight earlier in the day.

Second, I was at O’Hare International Airport again, this time on my way back from the conference yesterday (which, by the way, was an electric and supernatural explosion of Holy Spirit power!) —the same day passenger David Dao was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight.

The police never should have been called. David never should have been dragged off the airplane. He never should have been bloodied or knocked unconscious. This never should have become a trending story on social media.

David Dao should have obeyed the directive to walk off the plane.

I have to admit, I am disturbed at the number of Christians who are knee-jerk reacting against United Airlines and in favor of the unruly passenger. While the police may have possibly employed regrettable actions, the airline was acting within their rights, just as they do many times a day in similar situations. Submission to authority is an elementary level truth for Believers. David Dao, and every one of the nearly one billion air travelers in the United States agree to very clear, non-negotiable terms when they buy their ticket. The Contract of Carriage allows airlines to remove and rebook passengers.

Complaining, refusing to comply and rejecting the directives of our authorities is ungodly behavior. Period. David may or may not be a Believer, but Christians, you should know better.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world… (Phil 2:14-15)

And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. (Num 11:11)

MY UNITED AIRLINES EXPERIENCE YESTERDAY

Everybody who travels by air is well aware of the fact that there is a chance you won't make it on time. My trip to Canada and back was negatively impacted both directions. I was exhausted in both instances and easily could have been grumpy and unreasonable with the decision makers who were putting stress on my journey.

Two flights were delayed on the way to Canada and air traffic control issues forced the cancelation of my flight from Chicago to home last night. I missed my daughter's birthday because of it. Plus, the airline only paid half of my hotel. I'm out at least $160 for hotel, food, toiletries, etc. Guess what? That's life folks! I wasn't pounding my fist on the United Airlines customer service counter (after waiting in line for an hour) demanding better treatment. I didn't strong-arm them into finding my luggage, that was unnecessarily checked through to my final destination at the gate by the way, so I could have clean clothes to wear today. I was tired, probably a little smelly and ready to go home. Instead I emptied my wallet because of no fault of my own, checked into a hotel somewhere in Chicago, slept just a little, woke up early, wore the same smelly clothes today, and finally flew home.

How sad of a story that is, right? You have to be kidding. That’s simply called travel.

Come on people. It's not all about us. Sometimes life doesn't go as planned. Yes, the man in Chicago who refused to deplane was extremely in the wrong.

It’s our job as lights in a dark world to smile and reveal the life and love of Jesus in challenging and unfair situations and not grumble and demand our rights to be met!

Ironically, just as I emerged from the jet bridge in Springfield, Missouri, I saw the group of people waiting to board the plane for their own flight. The attendant said, “This flight is overbooked and we are looking for volunteers to surrender their seats.” I’m sure those who either volunteered or were forced to give up their seats acted a lot more maturely and appropriately than the gentleman did yesterday.

THE LOST ART OF SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. (Rom 13:3-5)

We aren’t only to submit to authority that is fair or right. We don’t turn our submission on and off based on our own analysis of the situation. We should have no fear of authority, of pastors, of leaders, of the police, if we are doing what is right.

Regardless of whether David Dao was treated properly or not, he disobeyed a clear and direct order. He was wrong, no matter how important he believed himself to be. Entitlement must go. Humility and submission to authority must find its way into our independent, narcissistic culture.

As I said above, I’m stunned at the Christians who are instant in their defense and outright celebration of David’s clear indiscretion. In today’s society it seems it’s the authority that’s always the villain. Corporations, pastors, police officers, parents and others are held in suspicion at best and rebelled against without apology at worst.

Airlines absolutely have the right to remove people for any reason. Refusal to comply is against the law. That simply cannot be argued. We are required, per Scripture, to obey. Our supposed ‘rights' are not more important than our responsibility to submit.

God will always support authority that is wrong before he supports one under authority who is right and in rebellion. Those who don't understand this set themselves up for great bitterness both against authority AND God.

We presume God is most interested in right vs. wrong. He is not. He’s interested in our response, our reaction.

It doesn’t matter if United Airlines was wrong (though I personally do not think they were), David’s reaction was unacceptable. The airline had the right to do what they did. They had no obligation to explain themselves. They along with the lawmakers write the rules.

There are many “unfair” rules the flight attendants must enforce on flights. They are irritating. I really don’t think my seat being two inches more upright is really going to save me in an air disaster. However, they are the boss! What they say goes, whether it’s when we can wear headphones, get up to use the restroom or whether we get to fly that day at all. They and ultimately the captain are our authorities in the air. It doesn’t matter if we like the rules or agree with the rules. We simply have to obey the rules. I think introducing “yes sir, yes ma'am, no sir, no ma'am” back into our culture would do us all a lot of good.

FALSE HUMAN RIGHTS

From my Charisma News article False Human Rights Destroying the Church and our Nation:

Today we are absolutely overwhelmed by the constant, self-centered shouts of those who demand that their country—or their church—gives them what they believe is rightfully theirs.

It's a false human rights movement.

The right to abortion. The right for same-sex marriage. The right to be equal. The right to be heard.

It's a sickening, selfish focus that is driven by human desire instead of a willingness to take up our cross and die. How often have people left churches because their supposed rights weren't addressed? How much dissension is in the workplace because people are looked over in favor of another?

I've said it before—today, when people's self-centered pursuits are rejected, they abandon relationships, leave churches and cause division, but when Jesus was rejected, He didn't abandon people. He didn't forsake the church.

An offended people will destroy a nation. A surrendered people will build a nation.

All over social media today I’m reading about who was right and who was wrong. Some are screaming that United Airlines was wrong and that David is the victim.

Friend, it’s not about right or wrong. It’s about our response.

Christians are being tortured, raped and murdered as martyrs all over the world, and we think someone being required to vacate a seat on an airplane is a violation of human rights? We’d have to be sick to think such a thing!

COVENS IN THE CHURCH

From my book on authority, Covens in the Church:

The enemy has caused many to believe that we can’t experience freedom while being submitted. This is simply not true.

Freedom from authority is rebellion.
Freedom in the absence of authority is anarchy.
Freedom under authority is liberty.

It must be made clear now that while God desires leaders to serve with great love, humility, passion and care, there are some in the body who simply do not do so. While God will hold those leaders deeply accountable for their leadership, God will hold the rest of us accountable for how we respond to them. Do we serve from a position of great love, humility, passion and care–or not?

Loving submission to authority is non-negotiable and more important now that it has ever been.

God loves you very much and is capable of protecting you even as He has placed you under the authority of imperfect men and women. Remember, we are not to be self-governing in an attempt to protect ourselves from flawed leaders. That is the wrong response to the problem. Using a spirit of Control to fight a spirit of Control doesn’t work. This is the core idea of the entire book. As we submit to those whom God placed over us, be they good or evil, God will ensure our protection.

We may have to go through difficult situations that seemingly limit us, put our dreams on hold or even violate our pet ideas and opinions. The situations may last years, but we must submit in love without failure! God is able to bring us through!

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.

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.

HONOR OF AUTHORITY MUST RETURN—TO THE NATION AND TO THE CHURCH

It’s time to crucify our narcissistic, independent flesh and love and honor—and obey—the authorities God has put in our lives. We don’t have to be afraid. We can be free.

Today there seems to be a new uprising against the establishment, against leadership almost continually.

We can contend for cultural change. In fact, as Kingdom Christians, we have a mandate to do that! But, we do it with intercession, love and honor for our leaders.

God will not affirm those who use control, manipulation, unrighteous anger and an independent spirit to affect change.

Entire movements of zealous intercessors and godly social activists can do wonders in society—as long as their heart is right.

Come on friends, let’s change the world the right way. Let’s go the way of honor. God will have our backs.

The Great Love Deception E-book is my gift to you on Valentine’s Day!

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DOWNLOAD THE GREAT LOVE DECEPTION.

Here’s a portion of what you will read in the book:

Those of you who are longing for a pure, love-driven move of God, get ready! We are about to have the opportunity to go deeper than we ever have. True love will change the world. The burning, churning crater is filled with molten, liquid love!

We could spend trillions of years learning about and discovering and encountering the love of God. In fact, we will do so throughout all eternity. The Bible itself exhorts us to learn about love:

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of… Philippians 1:9-10 (MSG)

We are to learn to love appropriately. This Scripture is a critical exhortation! Why? It means there are inappropriate ways to love. There are deceptions that feel right but are poor representations or even counterfeits of truth.

As God’s love begins to manifest in such amazing, deeper ways at the end of the age, we have to be aware that the enemy will work hard to redefine, misrepresent and twist true love. He has a castrated version to offer us.

The enemy is so terrified of pure love being revealed that he is willing to promote and endorse a compromised, lesser version of it. Love defined by human emotion instead of the Word is his plan.

DOWNLOAD AND READ THE REST OF THE GREAT LOVE DECEPTION NOW!

SpiritLed Woman - The Coming Church Ad WebIf I decided to plant my third church…what would it look like?

My name is John Burton and I’m a church planter.

I find it hard to go long before the itch for advancing the Kingdom through new works starts to really get to me.

Recently I’ve been praying and thinking about just what it would look like to plant my third church. The first two were exciting, full of adventure and supernatural. They were also both challenging and sprinkled with heartache! Like any church planter my wife and I experienced good old fashioned betrayal at times and glorious comradery at others. The brand God left on us and on our team and the countless people who were a part of the ministry at one time or another seared us like a hot iron. I’m sure it will be an eternal mark.

Of course, the longer you do anything, the wiser you become, as long as you are teachable. After 26 years of ministry, and after two years removed from giving senior leadership in a church setting, I find myself wondering just what a new church would look like. I have learned much, and I’m at the point where I’m not willing to waste energy on anything other than the main things.

A RISING REMNANT

Everywhere I travel when ministering I run into burning, hungry, desperate people. There is a rising remnant in our nation that is yearning for a corporate experience in the supernatural that shocks our culture. They can’t handle church as usual any longer.

God is moving on the hearts of pastors and others in preparation of a powerful, otherworldly new wine skin, and it’s a skin that most will initially reject. It’s for this reason that I’m slow to launch a new wine skin church. Resistance will be extreme. Timing is critical.

At Revival Church I’m on the hunt for what I call Pavement People. These are the 2 Chronicles 7 people who couldn’t even enter the building due to the glory of God filling it—so they hit the pavement and worshipped. No comfortable chairs, no music, nothing but them, the pavement and God.

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3

And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Nehemiah 8:6

~Prayer and Worship: The church I crave and may never see

KEY ELEMENTS OF A NEW WINE SKIN CHURCH

PRAYER WILL BE THE MAIN THING

…“Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?…” Mark 11:17

This foundational element will be enough to cause most to run. Today, even the most prayer based churches limit intercession to secondary times and venues. Usually the prayer meetings are relegated to a side room at an odd hour, which means only the few who are available and wired to respond to the challenge of corporate intercession will do so. Sadly, it’s important in today’s model to keep prayer at bay so as not to make the visitors or those who are less interested in spiritual matters uncomfortable.

I envision prayer saturating everything that goes on in the context of the church. I believe it’s an indictment on today’s church that the house of prayer isn’t mostly a ministry of prayer. Sunday morning must become the main prayer meeting of the week, and everybody in the church must pray on fire as their primary ministry. I’m not talking about logically praying through a prayer list. I mean facilitating an electric atmosphere where groans of intercession, fervent tongues and prophetic decrees shake the building off its foundation!

Imagine walking into the sanctuary at 10am and everybody is on their face or pacing the aisles crying and groaning in the Spirit. I see that becoming the regular Sunday morning experience in the coming church. Worship and teaching may or may not always occur. The common experience will be to spend two hours in intercession with some occasional worship and teaching being interjected at key moments.

Simply, Sunday mornings will become intercession sets. Sunday evenings will become intercession sets. Youth services will become intercessions sets. Children's ministries will become intercession sets. Then, in that environment, apostolic instruction, prophetic decrees, songs of worship and other important expressions will occur.

Everything will take a back seat to an earth quaking atmosphere of prayer. Worship, programs, assimilation, outreach, everything. Meetings will sometimes be devoid of these things, but prayer will never be compromised.

How can we even presume to be a legitimate Christian church if prayer isn’t primary? According to scripture, the church is a house of what? Worship? No. Teaching? No. Fellowship? No. The church is a house of prayer—except in America. Except in the Western world.

Regarding worship I’ll qualify this one time as I dive deeper into this point—I am zealous about worship and affirm it is critical and biblical, without question. I have worship music playing hour after hour as I go through my day. Misty Edwards is leading worship on the screen as I write this, and I love it!

That being said, I am troubled at the attention musical worship receives in the church today. It has become an idol for many and is all too often devoid of a spirit of prayer.

I’ve said before that worship music in its current state can be used as a lazy man’s intercession. It’s entertaining. It feels good. It feels spiritual. Yet, it by no means defaults in spiritual maturity or true worship. ~Prayer and Worship: The church I crave and may never see

THE EXPERIENCE WILL BE MOSTLY VERTICAL

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

I’m grieved at how much energy is given to making visitors comfortable while neglecting the call to make the Holy Spirit comfortable. Sometimes those two pursuits are mutually exclusive. A key reason why prayer doesn't fill the atmosphere on Sunday mornings is because visitors and most others would feel out of place. As much as we'd like them to minister to God with us, it's time we are okay with visitors heading back to the parking lot.

As I’ve said often, I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry. We must nurture environments that are raging with fire, an atmosphere that will cause those who are living in the flesh to either run to the altars or out the back doors.

Instead of waiting by the door to greet a visitor, I propose we stay on our face under the weight of God’s presence. Model that. Don’t worry, you’ll have a chance to introduce yourself at some point. What I’m trying to get across is that the focus of the church isn’t developing relationships for the sake making new friends, and it’s not about adding people to the ministry. The goal of church growth will finally be put to rest as we focus on the goal of ministry to God.

WE WILL BE INTENTIONALLY SMALL

Understand, I’m someone who absolutely loves large group meetings. I love praying and contending with thousands of people at various conferences and events. I also would have no problem with a church that does in fact explode in number as a result of revival. I believe we will see that.

However, after 26 years, much of that in pastoral ministry developing churches, I no longer value growing numerically for the sake of numbers. I don't get excited when more people show up, unless those people are hungry and ready to engage God with us at an extreme level.

I believe the sharp, offensive messages that will be preached, the call for one hundred percent of the people to be invested in supernatural, fervent prayer and the extreme commitment necessary to advance apostolically will repel most people. Only a remnant will be left. It’s with that remnant that we can preach what much be preached, pray what must be prayed and do what must be done to prepare a region for revival.

MESSAGES WILL CAUSE PROBLEMS

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” Matthew 15:12 (ESV)

Pastors can be neutered no longer. We can’t be muzzled. The leadership necessary to bring a shock to a nation will result in many becoming offended—not because of the fault of the leader, but because of their own unresolved issues.

We just came through a volatile election season—a season that had most pastors silent out of fear that those who disagreed with their position would leave the church—or that the IRS would revoke their tax exempt status.

I lost that fear long ago. We must refuse to hold back truth and key prophetic messages out of fear that some will revolt. In fact, we need to know that our words will cause great damage, both actual and collateral, when we speak with authority. They will also set the captives free.

This will result in regular heart checks in the camp. Will we murmur and complain as the Hebrews did under the leadership of Moses—and die in the desert—or will we rally around leaders in the spirit of Joshua who refuse to give in to the taunts and threats of the people?

LOVE WILL BE REAL

We will experience a connection with others in a way that we have never known as we endeavor to advance as soldiers together. Friendships will be forged in the fox hole. Nobody will be involved simply for the sake of finding a friend. Mission will come first, but in that mission we will discover a love for people that is real, deep and alive.

Many will reject love like this since it turns focus from them and their desire for social interaction to God and his mission.

In the natural, it was quite a sight to behold watching the Chicago Cubs advance through the regular season, then through the post-season to win their first World Series in 108 years. All-Star and team leader Anthony Rizzo cried very real tears during the victory parade, in front of five million people, as he talked about his love for retiring catcher, and father figure, David Ross. It was moving to say the least.

Understand, the Chicago Cubs didn’t invite people to participate on the team so they could develop relationships with one another. That’s laughable. The right people who were locked in to a magnificent mission were invited to join the team. Those people fought together and discovered respect and love. It was real, or as real as it can get without God in the mix. I trust you understand the point I’m trying to make.

Of course, the church isn’t going to invite only the most gifted or talented to participate, but, the end result will be that only those who are willing to focus on the mission will want to stay.

PROGRAMS WILL BE FEW

In the past I intentionally limited programs, ministries and outreaches in the churches I led so we could all stay focused and energized for the main thing, which was prayer. The truth is that a culture of prayer will result in more fruit and legitimate disciples being made that typical programs or outreaches would. The effects might not be as immediate, but truer conversions and lasting disciples will result.

I see this strategy continuing.

In past churches, we’d all gather as a group a few times a week for prayer and training. We had our school of prayer that trained in revival, prayer and the apostolic. We'd prayer walk the streets. We initiated prayer movements in over 170 different churches. Everybody involved in our churches at a core level was either praying, being trained in prayer, preaching on prayer or giving attention to supporting topics such as revival, deliverance, authority or other key focuses.

The goal was for the remnant to be so full and so united in the pursuit of revival, that it spilled out everywhere they went. They would invite people to come to our prayer events, to the school and to other ministries. They’d develop supplemental ministries on their own. They would explode on fire night and day!

As an example, one of my key leaders in Detroit took on a specific part of downtown Detroit as her mission field. She would develop teams to go down there for prayer. We would often join her as a church to pray on site. It was an important ministry project that she initiated and that we supported. We could remain focused on the main thing and people had the freedom to launch out and fulfill their callings.

MY PERSONAL ACCESS WILL BE LIMITED

But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4 (ESV)

I will be relentless in protecting my call to pray, to training and to developing a revival strategy.

This means most of my time will be spent alone in prayer. Some of my time will be spent with my core leadership team. A small portion of my time will be spent with others.

Those who need a strong pastoral connection will most probably struggle, and I believe the struggle is a good one. I believe you can grow much faster in that culture than you can otherwise.

The focus will be unapologetically apostolic/prophetic.

FINAL THOUGHTS

So, as I sit here writing this, I’m craving the opportunity to give leadership to such a church. However, I am not convinced that it’s quite time. In fact, while it may be time within the next month, it may not be for the rest of my lifetime. I fully understand that.

I’m excited about the local church I’m running with now and believe God will continue do wonders through their ministry. I’m privileged to be a part of that revival and prayer minded family!

There’s a lot more I could share than I did in this article. I also understand there are many invisible, hidden parts that I have yet to discover as I continue to consider the future of the church. The passion in my heart for such an end-time church is real, and it will only grow. As more clarity comes, I’ll know how to proceed.

But, let me leave you with a question. Regardless of where you live, would you jump into a church culture like I described? Or does it sound good, but too challenging? Is it possibly not attractive? Do you hold to a different paradigm? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them!

I want to encourage you to read a related article I wrote previously HERE.

Also, DOWNLOAD a free chapter of my book The Coming Church. It comprehensively covers this topic.