Posts Tagged ‘lukewarm’

It’s time to start scaring visitors away from our churches

Many are working hard to attract the wrong crowd on Sunday—and the result is an Ichabod church.

We soon won’t be able to define going to church the way we do now. God is coming to reform, to crush structures of old for what is to be introduced very soon. Our call isn’t to stand strong until the shift comes, it’s to prophetically sound the alarm and awaken those at risk! God is coming! The force from Heaven, the celestial asteroid, is going to impact the Church, and most pastors and people will resist with everything that’s within them. Man-made support systems will be removed. People’s financial and relational structures will be threatened by this strange new spiritual invasion. The human wisdom and natural common sense that have been involved in the development of the current church structure will not be usable in the new. Those who walk by sight are in danger. ~The Coming Church, John Burton

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I've met countless pastors and others who say they are focused on revival, but who are misguided on exactly what it is. Their focus is on attracting people to the church, on people getting “saved” and on other church growth strategies.

The problem? The foundational pursuit of revival has nothing to do with church growth or the lost. It has everything to do with the church awakening, contending in intercession and attracting the fire of the Holy Spirit.

The lost didn't show up in the Upper Room. Marginal followers of Jesus were repelled by the Upper Room.

Revival isn't marked by a full house. Revival starts in a room that reveals the remnant. The revival that erupted in that roomful of remnants resulted in explosive church growth and Kingdom advance.

Premature church growth will result in a multiplication of lukewarm, dead and dying people who have no idea what it feels like to have tongues of fire igniting over top of them.

1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. Acts 2:1-3 (ESV)

VISITORS SHOULD BE SHAKEN BY WHAT THEY SEE IN THE CHURCH.

The pure Christian message of surrender, repentance, holiness, intercession and rescuing souls from Hell has been replaced by a self-centered gospel that boldly affirms a focus on benefits without cost, on personal gain without sacrifice, on freedom without consecration. The Church has been unapologetically and boldly focused on how to have faith to receive while forsaking the call to have faith to give. The spirit of the age infiltrated churches long ago—and now, all too often, that demonic spirit is the primary counselor. ~The Coming Church, John Burton

It’s time self-focused, semi-interested people are no longer given the opportunity to demand what they are looking for in a church. It’s time to close up the welcome centers and put away the welcome gifts. When presented with the unmistakable burning only a supernatural church can offer, their decision to stay or leave will be immediate. I’ve often said that one indicator of the Holy Spirit moving in power is that bystanders will do one of two things. They will either marvel or they will mock.

12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” Acts 2:12-13 (ESV)

When naturally minded people walk into a furnace of intercession, a place that is electric with supernatural activity, they should be radically unsettled, yet so many church assimilation teams today attempt to make the environment as familiar and comfortable as possible.

I’ve often heard pastors admit they hide the pre-service prayer (for those who have pre-service prayer at all!) in a side room instead of filling the sanctuary with groans of intercession because they don’t want to freak out the soon-arriving visitors. I’ve heard that many, many times and I was grieved every time. There are a few legitimate reasons why prayer might not work in the sanctuary prior to the service in some churches, but that’s not one of them. If we are attempting to introduce people into the wonder of a supernatural encounter with Jesus, why would we, at the same time, work so hard at shielding their eyes? I propose bringing the fire and the groan right into the heart of the Sunday service! Those who remain will be the laborers you need to fulfill your mission.

Many years ago, when I first started Revolution Church in Manitou Springs, Colorado, I worked hard at assimilating visitors. I would excitedly connect with them and share just how much they would enjoy making our church their new home. It didn’t take long for me to start feeling like a used-car salesman; dirty; compromised. My strategy grieved my spirit. The truth was that our atmosphere and our vision were called by God to be driven by intercession and marked by a strong prophetic emphasis. The messages were intense. Revolution Church was not designed for those who would be marginally committed (as no church is}. The “Sunday go to meeting” Christians would, by choice, not remain for long.

The reality was, that by attempting to attract those types of people, I was compromising the vision. The church needed the remnant who would lock in and pray, who would contend for revival and who would endure with great strength. A large group of non-remnant people would be a distraction. Years would be lost. Lives would be at risk. Eternities would be in danger.

So, I shifted. I started literally trying to scare people away from our church.

To the dismay of those who simply want to hear a little worship and listen to good (and short) teaching, services will become more like prayer meetings. This is one of the most critical and most upsetting shifts that will come–and it must come now. Today, most of the energy church leadership teams expend is usually on attracting and keeping visitors instead of training and engaging intercessors. ~The Coming Church, John Burton

A CHURCH ON FIRE

America doesn’t need another bed-and-breakfast church that comforts our flesh (our natural desires). Our nation needs a Church with a volatile atmosphere that explodes, burns human flesh and shocks our culture. ~The Coming Church, John Burton

I knew we were called to lead a church on fire, and that just wasn’t possible with tepid, resistant, lukewarm people.

1 …I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die… Revelation 3:1-2 (ESV)

I was confident that, if I clearly shared the wild, costly, other-worldly vision that God had given us, and how people at our church were called to invest into that vision, that those who would not be interested in such a lifestyle would not return. Understand, my invitation for them to run with us was genuine. Our door was wide open. When I say “I tried to scare them away” I mean I was simply authentic. I stripped off the suit of a salesman and shared my raw, passionate dream of God to advance with a team of zealots for Jesus. Such an invitation was all I needed to see who was deeply hungry for revival and who was not. I would do my best to help those people connect in another local church. I’d give them the names of some churches they might enjoy. While I truly wanted the very best for them, it always broke my heart when they decided against adopting a lifestyle of intercession and revival. That lifestyle is not for a specialized few. It’s for all.

This resulted in a confidence that those who remained were, in most cases, part of our remnant, firebrands who would dig in and assimilate with our tribe of revivalists.

When you spend energy attracting the mildly committed, you compromise your entire vision. Simply, you need soldiers to become equipped and ready to lay down their lives and fight for the freedom of souls in the region.

I believe it’s core to the mission of the church to give opportunity for people to clearly evaluate their commitment and to give room for them to leave. The intensity of the truth demands it. We must call people out of a natural life and into the supernatural, out of a casual place and into radical surrender.

63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” 66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” John 6:63-67 (ESV)

Understand, similar to the way Jesus ministered in the above passage along with other key examples in Scripture, the Upper Room served as a filter. It filtered out those who weren’t radically devoted. Most were repelled by the call to pray. The agenda did not change in the hopes of assimilating more people. The disciples loved them as they went their way…and then they turned the world upside down with the few who remained as a result. What filters do you have in your church, pastor, to call people to a transparent, genuine place of soul searching and decision? You must start and continue with an Upper Room atmosphere and an offensive, flesh-crushing Gospel message.

It’s important to remember that the Ekklesia, the church gathering, was not designed for the lost. So many pastors get derailed on this point alone. The church is a house of prayer for all nations. The predominant church activity should be white hot intercession with tongues of fire atop everyone, with groans filling the atmosphere. It’s a remnant ministry. This call is for all who call themselves Christian.

If you build a church with people who won’t devote themselves to the prayer room, you build your church with those who are disinterested at best and lukewarm at worst. Your church will be a low-water-level church. It will be a place where the fire can’t rage. It will be naturally familiar with distant, elusive, marginally supernatural dreams. Pipe dreams.

Christians who aren’t invested in fervent, supernatural prayer will be enticed by the natural familiarity of Ichabod churches (where the glory has departed). ~The Coming Church, John Burton

WHAT ABOUT THE SEEKERS?

A question I hear from very good-hearted people is this: What do we do with people who are seeking? Do we just turn them away?

We absolutely don’t turn them away! We invite them into the furnace. We do not turn down the fire. We turn it up! Those who are hungry for God must not be introduced to a tepid, natural environment with an image of God that looks just like themselves. Reveal the glory of our mysterious, fiery, living God and watch them collapse to their knees in desperation!

However, as I have stated already, many will choose to leave at the sight of something so alien and costly. That’s a choice they themselves have a right to make.

Again, we must faithfully reveal the cost of following Jesus. We don’t come on our terms. We come on God’s. Too many are interested in warming their flesh by the fire instead of their flesh being consumed by the fire.

23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” 28 And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” Luke 18:23-30 (ESV)

Many will turn away sad. Even the most devoted will feel the severity of a life devoted to Jesus. They will cry out, “Then who can be saved?” That tension will result in a church that is sober and on fire and something that true seekers will give themselves to. Pretenders will certainly go away sad as the remnant church is revealed.

My lifelong commitment in ministry is this: I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry.

That commitment requires everything I do to have the smell of smoke. In fact, pastors, one reason even the most devoted people aren’t coming to your prayer meetings is simple—they are dead, humanistic and boring. They are logically driven. They are simply a rehashing of what the natural mind can discern. As someone who comes alive in prophetic, prayer-fueled environments, I aggressively avoid powerless prayer meetings that are driven by lists of needs and human understanding. I don’t want my soul activated. I want my spirit to burn! I think tired, powerless petition-driven prayer meetings can do more damage than good much of the time. Do your prayer meetings have the smell of smoke? Are tongues of fire resting on everybody? If not, don’t be surprised when the even the most devoted disciples are no-shows.

We need a church on fire today more than ever. The lost are being introduced into lukewarm, natural, Ichabod religion instead of a supernatural shaking that can only come from the Great I Am. They are convinced they are saved as they are assimilated into a community of likeminded quasi-spiritual people who would love to see God manifest in their natural realm—yet have no interest in manifesting in the spiritual realm where the Holy Spirit broods.

My challenge to pastors is simple. Risk everything. Allow your church to dwindle, if necessary, to a few remnant people who will live, pray, walk and advance in the Spirit. The world is waiting for them.

You can download a free chapter and order The Coming Church by John Burton at www.burton.tv/resources.

CoFI Break Video—Good Christian People: Affirming Apathy

Watch: It’s time to stop affirming those who have a marginalized commitment to God and rescue them from a lukewarm life.

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GOOD CHRISTIAN PEOPLE

Possibly the most unbelievable (but common) reaction to the urgent (but rare) call for Christians to burn with great passion for Jesus is the accusation of legalism. To be actively involved with zeal and to call others into a deeper devotion to Jesus and the mission of Kingdom advance smells of unrighteous works to many. I can barely believe I just wrote that.

Further, I’ve heard it said that such a determined devotion reveals a lack of revelation of the finished work of the cross. The thought is that we can now rest easy due to the work of Jesus and, in fact, any energy expended on our part in response to the cross is an offense to the cross. This, friend, is sickening and theologically ridiculous, yet that teaching is gaining ground in many Spirit-filled circles.

Not only should the cross of Jesus evoke the fire of passion from deep within every one of us, we should also understand the radical, costly participation that we must embrace:

Matthew 10:38-39 (ESV) 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

The cross is the very picture of passion, and any response less than all consuming zeal is an indicator of a lack of understanding, certainly not of greater revelation. A revelation of our beautiful Savior being savagely tortured and brutally murdered due to our own detestable wickedness should drive us to our knees in a never ending lifestyle of thanksgiving, worship and intercession. Our desire to go deeper and to get closer to Jesus should wreck us every single moment of every single day.

Yet, even within the context of the church there are masses of people who resist such a focus. I’m shocked and disturbed to say that I heard of a locally popular pastor who actually confessed that he no longer preaches the cross. I suppose it’s old news and time to move on to more positive things. I’m grieved.

WATCH OR LISTEN TO THIS POWERFUL MESSAGE FREE FOR THE NEXT 30 DAYS HERE!

Good Christian People—Affirming a lukewarm culture

Who will sound a shocking alarm announcing that the church is asleep, lukewarm and without passion?

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Possibly the most unbelievable (but common) reaction to the urgent (but rare) call for Christians to burn with great passion for Jesus is the accusation of legalism. To be actively involved with zeal and to call others into a deeper devotion to Jesus and the mission of Kingdom advance smells of unrighteous works to many. I can barely believe I just wrote that.

Further, I’ve heard it said that such a determined devotion reveals a lack of revelation of the finished work of the cross. The thought is that we can now rest easy due to the work of Jesus and, in fact, any energy expended on our part in response to the cross is an offense to the cross. This, friend, is sickening and theologically ridiculous, yet that teaching is gaining ground in many Spirit-filled circles.

Not only should the cross of Jesus evoke the fire of passion from deep within every one of us, we should also understand the radical, costly participation that we must embrace:

Matthew 10:38-39 (ESV) 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

The cross is the very picture of passion, and any response less than all consuming zeal is an indicator of a lack of understanding, certainly not of greater revelation. A revelation of our beautiful Savior being savagely tortured and brutally murdered due to our own detestable wickedness should drive us to our knees in a never ending lifestyle of thanksgiving, worship and intercession. Our desire to go deeper and to get closer to Jesus should wreck us every single moment of every single day.

Yet, even within the context of the church there are masses of people who resist such a focus. I’m shocked and disturbed to say that I heard of a locally popular pastor who actually confessed that he no longer preaches the cross. I suppose it’s old news and time to move on to more positive things. I’m grieved.

1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV) 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

For those who do embrace the cross, and who do carry their own cross, they become a person who yearns to be with Jesus day and night in prayer. They can’t get enough.

One person’s response to the cross will result in a prayer lifestyle. When a group of people have a true revelation of the cross, it results in a prayer culture. When a region is impacted by the precious blood of Jesus that was shed on Calvary, you have a prayer movement. You have a mass advance of fervent, burning, passionate prayer.

In addition to a lifestyle of intercession, an immediate reaction to a life impacted by the unparallelled sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is a desperation for every person at risk of slipping into a lukewarm state. Passion for the sleeping church overwhelms.

Revelation 3:15-16 (ESV) 15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

When people are awakened to the reality of the cross, their urgent, heart wrenching cry is to “WAKE UP! WAKE UP, YOU ARE ABOUT TO DIE!” We shouldn’t be surprised when awakened people are suddenly crying desperately for the sleepers to awaken as well!

Revelation 3:1-2 (ESV) 1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.

The prophetic alarm targets those who are relaxing, casual and unaware that their lack of urgency is putting their very lives—their very eternities—at risk.

Those who are comfortable and relaxed—especially those who are at ease “in the name of Jesus”—will always react against any alert that threatens their sedation. Those who are asleep do not like to be awakened, even if it’s for a good cause.

Romans 13:11 (NIV) 11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

Just this morning I was deep in sleep when, all of a sudden, my wife shouted, “John! You need to wake up!” I jolted awake, not at all happy that I was suddenly forced out of what was really satisfying comfort. She said, “The plumber is here and he has to turn off the water for a few hours. If you want a shower, you better get moving! You have ten minutes.”

Of course I needed a shower, but I was still not thrilled (Okay, I was actually irritated) to be disturbed from my long, glorious slumber. But, in order for me to accomplish today what was necessary, I had to wake up—and fast.

A sleeping church is at risk of something much greater than a missed shower.

1 Thessalonians 5:6 (ESV) 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.

Good Christian People

My heart is grieved beyond description. There is stunning unconcern over the state of most Christian’s lives. While it’s rare to find those who are burning with a never ending, raging furnace of passion for Jesus, it’s common to find pastors and others who appreciate those who are casually devoted as “good Christian people” who go to church and pay their tithes faithfully, as if that’s the mark we are trying to hit.

It’s time for us to function in a type of love that’s rare in the land today. This love will result in a complete refusal to affirm “good Christian people” in any state less than radical, extreme, burning zeal that results in a lifestyle of prayer, works, fruit and obedience as they carry their crosses. No longer will we be able to look at a “good Christian family” who would qualify as pillars in most any reputable church today, but who are unresponsive to the calls to pray with groans of intercession, to feel the weight of God’s heartbreak and to be marked as extremists for Jesus.

It’s time to awaken the lukewarm, those who look alive, who appear to be solid Believers in Jesus, but who lack the necessary investment. We need a movement of people crying in the wilderness to confront the casual spirit that has overtaken the church!

Matthew 3:1-10 (ESV) 1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Just as he rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees for resting casual on the work of their father Abraham, we need a rebuke today for those who are flat-lining and unresponsive due to a casual response to what Jesus did on the cross. The cross didn’t end our investment, it initiated it. It empowered it. It demanded it.

“Good Christian people” are those who are interested in the things of God, and who are active to a point, but when the call becomes costly (and bloody), they back off just enough to still have a sense of connectivity but also, safety from the call to death to self and radical surrender on their cross.

Matthew 25:1-13 (ESV) 1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Fifty percent of those who considered themselves to be consecrated to Christ (virgins) were deemed unready. He didn’t know them due to their casual approach, due to their sleep. This affected their eternities:

Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV) 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Today we have a generation of church people who once said a prayer and who are entrusting their entire eternity to that one moment in history. There’s little passion, little intimacy with Jesus, little fruit and no raging fire in their spirits, yet they presume all to be well. After all, they are “good Christian people.”

Who Will Respond to the Call?

Dell-000050102It wouldn’t shock me that in a major city the size of Chicago, for example, if there might only be a few thousand people who would be described as the radical remnant. Of course, that’s an uneducated guess, but even if it’s four or five times that amount, the percentages would be staggering.

That’s not to say that many more aren’t interested or even hungry. I’m absolutely sure that is the case. The potential harvest is great. But, I’m talking about the John the Baptist style burning awakeners who are giving themselves fully to continual prayer, the pursuit of revival and advancing the Kingdom of God. Those who are in position and responsive. Those who have dealt with the cares of life and who live for little else than to serve the King and to contend night and day for revival and a great end-time harvest.

It’s this type of person that Evan Roberts targeted with his famous revival prescription. Frank Bartleman, who was instrumental in the Azusa Street move of God, sent Evan Roberts a message asking him what he should do to experience a move like they saw in the Welsh revival. Frank listened and we all know the rest of that story.

What is the prescription? It’s something that very few are willing to adhere to:

“Congregate the people who are willing to make a total surrender. Pray and wait. Believe God’s promises. Hold daily meetings.”

I challenge pastors everywhere: refuse to build a church on any type of person other than those Evan Roberts describes. Your church of 500 will most certainly shrink to under 50 but you will be left with those who are fully surrendered and ready to invest at a level worthy of the King.

Just what would happen if we really got serious and refused to lower the bar for those less devoted? Let’s break down Evan’s prescription:

Congregate the people who are willing to make a total surrender.

Preach in such a way that makes the less passionate uneasy and the remnant come alive.

When we call people to a level of life worthy of the cross of Christ, the pretenders will return to the activities their hearts are most united with. The resulting atmosphere will be Upper Room like as the Holy Spirit moves in great freedom.

Sadly, churches today pander to those who want to come, who want to belong, but who are not willing to make a total surrender. There are many Rich Young Rulers in the pews who are affirmed by their pastors but who are actually following Jesus in an unsaved condition.

Matthew 19:16-22 (ESV) 16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Those who aren’t willing to make a total surrender will be evident when the bar of commitment is appropriate. They will avoid the prayer meetings. They will be slow to respond to the call. They will resist the cross and the mandate to die daily.

When we do find those who are willing to make a total surrender, we can move on to the next step in Evan Roberts’ revival protocol:

Pray and wait.

This next phase will eliminate even more people. I believe it would make a lot of sense based on what is found in Scripture to replace the primary weekly service with a fiery prayer meeting. Further, the call to pray and wait should result in a prayer culture in the church that is often grueling, sometimes electric.

Finding those who will actively participate hour after hour in prayer is a tough task, though it’s a non-negotiable one. The church is a house of prayer, and it’s an indictment on today’s leadership that people can participate in church activities and call themselves Christians without having a fervent, devoted life of continual prayer.

Psalm 119:145 (ESV) 145 With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.

Psalm 86:3 (ESV) 3 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day.

Ephesians 6:18 (ESV) 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Romans 8:26 (ESV) 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

When we have a group of people who will pray continually, we can consider the next step in the revival prescription:

Believe God’s promises.

Call everybody to an extreme life of faith.

There is much that I could write here about this, but suffice it to say that many challenges and opportunities to stand in extreme confidence of God’s ability to meet us will arise.

When such an extreme, inconvenient revival lifestyle dominates our daily schedules, we will have to learn to trust God to supply our needs, ensure our families are strong and united and provide the energy necessary. The enemy will work hard to destroy our faith, yet we must be unmoving.

Romans 14:23 (ESV) 23  …For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

If we’ve accomplished the first three steps, this next one will certainly bring the pressure in today’s busy culture:

Dell-000050103Hold daily meetings.

Acts 5:42 (ESV) 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Is there anyone who has what it takes to defeat the cares of life and to order their calendar in such a way that they could gather together every day of the week?

This has been one of my greatest challenges in my 25 years of ministry. Finding a remnant people who have filtered out every competing, lesser activity in their week to make room to gather in prayer every day has been nearly impossible.

Yet, it’s happening in China. It’s happening in other more desperate parts of the world. It’s happening where entertainment isn’t king and t-ball and ballet don’t rule. Today’s Christian culture is heavily marked by pleasure and the typical American dream. This not only puts revival at risk. It puts their eternity at risk.

Luke 17:26-27 (ESV) 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.

When I ministered in Haiti over a thousand people walked to the church building every day, many of them for over two hours, just to be in prayer and to advance as one people toward revival. It was humbling. It was awe inspiring. They had nothing better to do than to be with God as a passionate family every night of the week.

It also happens when there are outpourings. People cancelled everything in their lives to attend the outpourings at Brownsville and Toronto every night.

During the Second Great Awakening, over 10,000 people attended a prayer meeting every day in New York City. People from other states visited those prayer meetings and then started their own in their region.

I’m sure you can see why I said I believe there may only be a few thousand remnant Christians who are fully devoted to prayer and revival in a city the size of Chicago. The number may actually be much smaller.

Acts 2:46 (NIV) 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.

The fact that we have better things to do than contend for revival in the place of prayer every day is evidence enough that the church is asleep, comfortable and in a very dangerous place. It’s time to fall in love with Jesus again, gather together and pray and model the first century church.

Revelation 2:4-5 (NIV) 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

Final Thoughts

We need an awakening movement in our nation, and in the nations. John the Baptist type messengers must arise and confront the slothful, lazy and religious spirits that are in the land with great boldness. Those who don’t fear being labeled legalists must open their mouths and shake the comatose back to life.

A call to radical intimacy with Jesus that can only be nurtured in the place of continual prayer needs to be shouted from the rooftops. The resistance to radical prayer is resistance of Jesus himself. If we don’t desire to be with the one we love, and to hear his heart and intercede on his behalf, our commitment to him is suspect.

There is truly no greater glory than to live a life of prayer and there is no greater mystery than those who have taken his name yet refuse to be with him.

Ephesians 5:14 (NIV) 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

A warning dream: Contending for revival in a culture of positivity

A primary barrier to revival is the church’s reluctance to honestly analyze the dark, negative condition of our culture.

It is necessary to awaken men to a sense of guilt and danger. ~Charles Finney

imageThere is increasing pressure from the church in our nation to reject any negative analysis or any call to reformation that reveals that which is out of order yet still valued by the people.

I feel this pressure in our ministry often. The demand is for balance, or, in reality, an overdose on happy with a rare, occasional sprinkle of temporary sobriety. Focus on the good in the hopes that it will resolve the bad. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.

I take the troubling, urgent, upsetting, all consuming messages of my heart to the Lord daily—often many times a day. The fear of the Lord is on me, and I don’t want to communicate anything that’s not driven by love and obedience. I can’t imagine preaching something out of my soul that God would resist. I tremble at the thought.

I also feel God’s fear from the other direction—I can’t imagine staying silent or giving into demands for balance or positivity at the cost of souls. I know there will already be people in Hell forever because of my failure to speak the truth, and I cannot bear to let that tragedy continue.

Prophecy of the end-times by 90 year old woman in 1968: A lukewarmness without parallel will take hold of the Christians, a falling away from true, living Christianity. Christians will not be open for penetrating preaching. They will not, like in earlier times, want to hear of sin and grace, law and gospel, repentance and restoration. There will come a substitute instead: happiness Christianity. Churches and prayer houses will be emptier and emptier. Instead of the preaching we have been used to for generations -like, to take your cross up and follow Jesus, – entertainment, art and culture will invade the churches where there should have been gatherings for repentance and revival.

The true analysis of the church in our nation is exactly what this women prophesied. The sackcloth and ashes are nowhere to be found. The playful, careless attitudes have resulted in a measure of happiness but no revival.

The very need for revival reveals the true condition of the church.

It presupposes that the church is sunk down in a backslidden state, and a revival consists in the return of a church from her backslidings, and in the conversion of sinners. A revival always includes conviction of sin on the part of the church.~Charles Finney

Positivity has invaded the church and its strategies. Even evangelism today in many places is devoid of dealing with sin and repentance. The message is, “God loves you” without also communicating the dark, depravity of the human heart. Who wouldn’t want to follow a happy God who likes us? The problem is that’s not the entirety of the Gospel, and that message is resulting in disillusioned people following Jesus in an unsaved condition.

Church services are full of celebration but absent of grieving. This must change.

There is so little principle in the church, so little firmness and stability of purpose, that unless the religious feelings are awakened and kept excited, counter worldly feeling and excitement will prevail, and men will not obey God. They have so little knowledge, and their principles are so weak, that unless they are excited, they will go back from the path of duty, and do nothing to promote the glory of God. ~Charles Finney

I’ve said it many times before: we need to cancel most everything we do and gather together day after day and pray.

Many wonder why I keep beating a dead horse. It’s simple. Because the horse is still dead.

Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:2

It’s time to shut down our conferences, cancel our church services, eliminate everything that will distract us—and pray. Continually. Together. For months or years until revival breaks out.

 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; Acts 1:4

Revival in America?

Ok, of course there’s hope for revival in America. So, what’s the problem? The church is mostly sitting back on a casual, costless idea that revival can come without investing into the clear, non-negotiable process. Thus, our pursuit of revival has become little more than a mystical wish upon a star.

I want to make this as simple as I can. Until the church gathers together continually, prays fervently and repents in tears, revival is little more than a pipe dream.

 Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes. Joel 1:14-15

How can we presume revival is near when people are not interested in doing now what they will be doing when revival breaks out? It’s insanity.

Some people are terribly alarmed at all direct efforts to promote a revival, and they cry out, “You are trying to get up a revival in your own strength. Take care, you are interfering with the sovereignty of God. Better keep along in the usual course, and let God give a revival when he thinks it is best. God is a sovereign, and it is very wrong for you to attempt to get up a revival, just because you think a revival is needed.” This is just such preaching as the devil wants. And men cannot do the devil's work more effectually than by preaching up the sovereignty of God, as a reason why we should not put forth efforts to produce a revival. ~Charles Finney

Revival isn’t a mystical, ethereal experience that appears out of nowhere. There is cause and effect.

There has long been an idea prevalent that promoting religion has something very peculiar in it, not to be judged of by the ordinary rules of cause and effect; in short, that there is no connection of the means with the result, and no tendency in the means to produce the effect. No doctrine is more dangerous than this to the prosperity of the church, and nothing more absurd.

Suppose a man were to go and preach this doctrine among farmers, about their sowing grain. Let him tell them that God is a sovereign, and will give them a crop only when it pleases him, and that for them to plow and plant and labor as if they expected to raise a crop is very wrong, and taking the work out of the hands of God, that it interferes with his sovereignty, and is going on in their own strength: and that there is no connection between the means and the result on which they can depend. And now, suppose the farmers should believe such doctrine. Why, they would starve the world to death.

Just such results will follow from the church's being persuaded that promoting religion is somehow so mysteriously a subject of Divine sovereignty, that there is no natural connection between the means and the end. ~Charles Finney

When we do certain things, revival comes. When we don’t, it doesn’t.

Revival is not a miracle, or dependent on a miracle, in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means–as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means. The revivals in the apostles' days were connected with miracles, but they were not miracles. ~Charles Finney

imageEvan Roberts modeled the cause and effect reality of revival brilliantly. It is simple:

“Congregate the people who are willing to make a total surrender. Pray and wait. Believe God’s promises. Hold daily meetings. ”Evan Roberts

Why is revival not breaking out in any of the 19,000 cities in America? It’s not hard to understand.

  • Congregate the people—Prayer meetings and solemn assemblies are becoming emptier and emptier.
  • Who are willing to make a total surrender—Cares of life, busyness and other personal endeavors have displaced the call to die daily.
  • Pray—It’s rare today to find a Christian who pays the price of fervent intercession.
  • Wait—In our ADD society, endurance has been offered at the altar of instant gratification, even if that gratification isn’t God.
  • Believe God’s promises—Do we really believe the Bible? Do we stand immovably on the truths of Scripture? Not so much.
  • Hold daily meetings—This one is laughable. We just don’t have the time, energy or desire.

As a nation, we are zero for six in response to Evan Roberts’ prescription for revival.

Keep in mind, Evan was responding to a message from Frank Bartleman who was curious as to how to initiate revival in his region. Frank listened to Evan and the Asuza Street Revival changed the world.

We aren’t waiting on God. He’s waiting on us. Revival is up to us.

Many people have supposed God's sovereignty to be some thing very different from what it is. They have supposed it to be such an arbitrary disposal of events, and particularly of the gift of his Spirit, as precluded a rational employment of means for promoting a revival of religion. But there is no evidence from the Bible that God exercises any such sovereignty as that. There are no facts to prove it. But every thing goes to show that God has connected means with the end through all the departments of his government. ~Charles Finney

imageIn this nation I have found it nearly impossible to pull of the strategy that Evan Roberts prescribed, though in Haiti it was easy!

Every night I was there, people walked up to two hours through very difficult terrain to come to church and pray with passion! Nobody drove, everybody walked, and everybody engaged. Nobody milled around, left to go to the bathroom or was disinterested. Two thousand people a night were in position, in prayer and ready for instructions! Then, they walked home two hours in the dark and usually in torrential downpours to their homes.

I felt the spirit of revival in Haiti—the first time I’ve felt it in years.

That statement may cause trouble for those who embrace positivity. The thought is that any acknowledgement of a negative reality puts hope at risk. That is absolutely absurd.

Would anybody run a business this way? Would board meetings include only positive, happy thoughts in the hopes that they in themselves would turn the business around? Of course not.

Any successful business is an honest business. They analyze trends. They aren’t afraid to admit where they are failing. The don’t put their heads in the sand. They don’t presume a plastic smile is the answer.

Just as in business, revival will come as we honestly admit there is darkness in the land and trouble in the church.

A Warning Dream

I recently had a dream that was a personal warning to me, and it will help you understand better why the messages of repentance, reformation and revival can’t stop being the primary alarms of my ministry every day.

These alarms have cost my family and me quite a bit. While there is much fruit and glorious reports that continue to result from the message in my heart, the resistance is non-stop. While many have appreciated the prophetic call this ministry has, many others have pulled back from us, stayed at arms length, unfriended us or publicly renounced our ministry. I don’t say that to complain. Not at all. I say that to communicate how easy it would be to just stop ministering.

The temptation is there, ever so slightly, to pull back, chill out and become more balanced. More normal. More palatable.

I’m smart enough to know that I’d have a church of at least a couple hundred people, a healthy full time salary and a great reputation if I did so. I go to sleep with that thought every night.

Instead, the resistance is intense and it’s rare to find those who will carry the burden with me. God once told me, “When you pray for the remnant, don’t be surprised when the remnant shows up.”

The masses will be drawn to happy celebration as during the Triumphal Entry but it’s a very small remnant that will respond to the message of the cross.

The Dream

imageIn my dream I traveled to a church I spent a lot of time in my early years in Dayton, Ohio. I absolutely love this church and have been back there to preach on multiple occasions since I moved away.

I was the guest speaker for the weekend, and I was excited to release a powerful word of the Lord.

When I arrived, there were hundreds of people flooding the property. It was a festive, exciting atmosphere with a lot of young people.

I immediately realized though that while people were happy to see me, nobody mentioned anything about me speaking. It was clear that I wouldn’t be ministering at all.

The people were entirely focused on socializing and fun. There was a massive slide in the church, much like an enclosed waterslide that you’d ride at the water park. This one didn’t have water, but you rode down on a cart. People stood in line for a long time to ride, and then they came back up to ride again.

The pressure was to have fun, be happy and enjoy life. So, I did. I waited in line and rode through the slide. It was amazing! It was massive and full of thrills!

I then went to the foyer of the church and suddenly realized I was barefoot. I lost my boots. It was extremely strange.

I opened the door and looked outside. It was the middle of summer, but the snow was falling. There was at least 8 inches of snow on the ground and it was still falling very heavily.

I walked out into the snow covered parking lot and then realized my kids were gone. I started to panic when I heard Eva’s laugh. She was in her car seat, on the ground behind a parked car. She was covered with snow.

I then woke up.

The Interpretation

It’s very simple. The church wants to play, and the pressure will be intense to join them. The message of the hour is not wanted. Happy church is the plan and the sheer numbers who are supporting it will attempt to drown out any contrary voice.

When I gave in, I lost my apostolic authority, represented by my boots.

I also lost my children. Eva was in her car seat, which was designed to be in the car. Vehicles represent ministry. The loss of my apostolic ministry resulted in my children, my inheritance, also being removed from their ministry. The next generation will be affected by the response of this generation.

The snow represented the coming revival, the refreshing. Very few even experienced it and I was not prepared to minister it.

The Strategy

I will admit, I question whether revival will come to America. I know it can, but will it?

I’ve been in Detroit for five years, and every year many have presumed that revival was imminent. I wanted it to be, but I knew it was not.

Again, it’s because of a very simple analysis—the prayer meetings are sparse.

I’ve been to many prayer and revival meetings over the years, and most of them have been pretty good. However, most of them have been quite empty.

Until the church reprioritizes schedules and what’s important, and prays night and day from a place of repentance and desperation, revival will most likely be held back.

But, if a remnant group will do this, revival can certainly come. Only God knows how many must respond to the call.

I say we don’t risk it. Let every Spirit-filled Christian in the cities of the Earth move into a life of consecration and pray together non-stop until God moves in our nation.

I will leave you with a call to action that Charles Finney left those who heard his lecture on revival:

I have a proposal to make to you who are here present. I have not commenced this course of Lectures on Revivals to get up a curious theory of my own on the subject. I would not spend my time and strength merely to give you instructions, to gratify your curiosity, and furnish you something to talk about. I have no idea of preaching about revivals. It is not my design to preach so as to have you able to say at the close, “We understand all about revivals now,” while you do nothing. But I wish to ask you a question. What do you hear lectures on revivals for? Do you mean that whenever you are convinced what your duty is in promoting a revival, you will go to work and practise it?

Will you follow the instructions I shall give you from the word of God, and put them in practise in your own lives? Will you bring them to bear upon your families, your acquaintance, neighbors, and through the city? Or will you spend the winter in learning about revivals, and do nothing for them? I want you, as fast as you learn any thing on the subject of revivals, to put it in practice, and go to work and see if you cannot promote a revival among sinners here. If you will not do this, I wish you to let me know at the beginning, so that I need not waste my strength. You ought to decide now whether you will do this or not. You know that we call sinners to decide on the spot whether they will obey the Gospel. And we have no more authority to let you take time to deliberate whether you will obey God, than we have to let sinners do so. We call on you to unite now in a solemn pledge to God, that you will do your duty as fast as you learn what it is, and to pray that He will pour out his Spirit upon this church and upon all the city this winter.

Chliaros Church no more: We switched back to Revival Church!

We would be a FOOL to give up the name Revival! An APRIL FOOL!


image thumb Revival Church is changing its name to Chliaros Church!
Last year on April 1st we announced a merger with a pagan organization. We would hold joint services and we’d handle the worship and preaching and they would conduct the altar ministry, baby dedications and weddings!

That lasted only one day too!

So, no, there won’t be a SCHOOL OF LUKEWARM PEOPLE. Sorry!

Since I have you, how about we look at our ACTUAL core values as they compare with the core values of a LUKEWARM CHURCH? (You can reference the original article here: http://detroitrevivalchurch.com/2012/04/01/revival-church-is-changing-its-name-to-chliaros-church/ 

 

THE CULTURE

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

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

Additionally:

  • We are calling EVERY Christian in Detroit to gather EVERY Friday night to pray and serve another church in our region!
  • The School of Fire is still the School of Fire!
  • We don’t affirm trading the corporate gathering for happy family days in the sun!
  • Our services will be as long as God says!
  • We will NEVER cancel for the Super Bowl!
  • I MIGHT wear a suit… someday!
  • And, yes, our key verse is still Joshua 3:5. We are consecrating ourselves and God will soon do wonders!

Revival Church is changing its name to Chliaros Church!

Not only are we changing our name—we are also shifting our vision that will result in explosive growth!

Revival Church is adopting a Greek word in scripture to help define our new vision. Our new name is Chliaros Church. Chliaros is pronounced khlee-ar-os'.image

Here are our new Core Values: (Our old Core Values can be found here: http://detroitrevivalchurch.com/about)

  • Our mission is your comfort. We know that its important for people to be affirmed in their personal choices, desires and level of commitment.
  • Tolerance is in our DNA. We commit to encourage you in your life decisions because your personal happiness is what matters most.
  • We rally around your vision. We will shift our focus when it conflicts with yours.
  • We respond to the status quo. We embrace relevance and we will yield to the prevailing cultural norms in our society.
  • There are many churches in the city, and that is a problem. We commit to protect you from outside influences by ensuring you are only impacted by our ministry. We are here to protect you.
  • We affirm honest analysis. We will teach on common sense and wise approaches to success in life.
  • We are all about the numbers. A low key, toned down service will help us grow numerically. We want to impact the masses with our satisfying and affirming atmosphere of happiness!
  • The mission of the majority prevails. We support a democratic, body led ministry where the people vote on what our mission emphasis should be—and we then serve that vision.
  • We refuse to offend people through unnecessary challenge. We understand that a comfortable atmosphere is an affirming atmosphere. We won’t burden you with misapplied biblical standards for living.
  • Giving is optional. While many churches believe that every person should give at least ten percent of their money to the church, we believe its better to give according to what you feel is appropriate.
  • Sickness and disease are a part of life. And we commit to saying a prayer for you so you are comforted in your trial.
  • We err on the side of order. We know it’s important to feel at home and unthreatened in a worship atmosphere.

Additionally:

  • Due to challenging schedules we will not be praying on site at churches every Friday night. It will be much easier to start a Facebook page where people can post their prayers at their convenience.
  • The School of Fire will change its name to the School of Chliaros People. We will eliminate the emphasis on groaning (which is weird and makes people uncomfortable) and will start to emphasize teaching on how to excel in your personal dreams.
  • We will be shifting from calling people to extreme commitment to encouraging them to only attend a service once or twice a month. Summer is almost here and we believe it’s better to spend time relaxing with your family in the beautiful weather than most anything else in life. (Amy and I will also stop attending as often with the same principle in mind.)
  • Our services will be limited to one hour.
  • We will always cancel services for the Super Bowl.
  • I will start wearing a suit.

Oh, and our key verse will be changing from Joshua 3:5 to Revelation 3:16:

Revelation 3:16 (NKJV) 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

Vine's Words: Lukewarm

Greek Word: χλιαρός

Transliteration: chliaros

Part of Speech: adj

Phonetic Pronunciation:khlee-ar-os'

Root: from chlio (to warm)

Thank you for your continued support of Chliaros Church!

Posted APRIL 1, 2012

Proverbs 18:2 (ESV) 2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

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