A defiled, confused version of sexual satisfaction bombards our culture. It's time for a new sexual paradigm.
So, I told my wife I was writing an article on sex. She laughed and said, “You don't know anything about sex!” After my crushed ego was healed (not really), I laughed right back and said, “I know! But, people need to hear about the amazing resource we discovered this weekend!”
So, with that in mind, if you are a married, Christian couple, read this. All of it. You'll thank me!
You can listen to a podcast on this topic here…
Then, I want to encourage you to jump at the chance to participate in a retreat at Focus on the Family that my wife Amy and I attended this past weekend.
Discovering Passion: Keys to Sexual Fulfillment in Marriage at the Focus on the Family retreat center in Branson, Missouri was phenomenal! It was eye-opening, fun and refreshing. In fact, our previous retreat several months ago was so life-changing, that we had to come back for more! You can read about that powerful experience in a Charisma News article HERE.
God is ready to breathe life into your marriage and into your sex life. Healing awaits. A life of intimacy and adventure is God's desire for you and your spouse!
21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced. 2 Corinthians 12:21 (ESV)
Why are Christians tapping into the same evil seduction in the realm of sex that a vile, defiled and confused culture is? Sex between a married Christian couple should be absolutely nothing like the spirit of lust and sexual deviation that drives unbelievers, yet sadly, many Christian married men and women seek to “lust their way” to satisfaction.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV)
Christians have all too often been duped by the same crafty demonic spirit that the world has. The enemy has a grand scheme and is uniquely anointed to bring all-consuming destruction to people, both in and out of the church, by promoting a twisted, demented and extremely seductive spirit of lust.
The passion surrounding sex for Christians, while sometimes bridled, seeks to satisfy the same desires that those who are outside of Christ do. This is why pornography among Christians, and even among pastors and Christian leaders, is so widespread.
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (ESV)
The focus is on an intense yet momentary experience instead of a much more satisfying, intimate and holy union between two people. “Sanctified lust” is not what God has planned for Believers. There is something so radically, wonderfully and mysteriously different for God's people in the area of sex, yet so few discover it. We, as godly men and women, are privileged in ways the world is not. If we have a true revelation of marital intimacy, we will be determined to give and receive love in ways the world could never understand. It's holy. It's pure. It's passionate.
THE CHRISTIAN DILEMMA
Christian marriages are regularly marred by self-focused arguments surrounding sex. The smiling faces you see on Sunday mornings are often experiencing wounding, rejection, frustration, temptation and confusion about their sex life. Churches are historically ill-equipped at addressing this issue, and this must change.
Further, churches are equally flawed regarding ministering to teens and singles about sex. This issue has very destructive earthly consequences, and it also has horrifying eternal repercussions. To ignore what is possibly the number one issue of morality and wholeness in the church is a catastrophic move by most of today's Christian leaders.
I propose appropriate yet direct and regular conversations, in safe settings, and with great integrity, on the topic of sex. If pornography is a daily struggle for many (most?) in the church, sex must be a teaching and equipping topic continually. If marriages are tense and often falling apart over this issue of sex, if husbands and wives aren't intimate and coming together as one as God intended, the church must step up to the plate.
I believe resources like we discovered at Focus on the Family can help churches in very specific and effective ways. Discussion was direct. Sexual situations were addressed without hesitating to speak plainly. I believe Christians are yearning for this, yet they have not had an outlet or resource to help them with their extremely sensitive and vulnerable questions. Too often they turn to secular culture for insight.
A NEW PARADIGM: ONENESS
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:24-25 (ESV)
As my wife and I discovered at this amazing Focus on the Family retreat, which, by the way, was led by remarkable and highly qualified counselors including a Christian sex therapist, the pursuit of “oneness” is a much higher goal than a series of short lived, euphoric encounters.
The holiness, selflessness and deeper love experienced in the pursuit of oneness will make the demands and desires for a simple act of sex nearly grieving. The loss experienced when oneness isn't the intent of being together is tangible.
Of course, I can never do justice to the revelation we received during this retreat in a short article. I can simply say that my eyes were truly opened and there was language given to what previously felt like a nebulous, unintelligible truths about God's amazing gift of sex. Questions were answered, vulnerable discussions were had, tears were shed and legitimate excitement about a brand new chapter in our marriages hit us all.
6 How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights! Song of Songs 7:6 (ESV)
The act of marital love, when done as Believers with the Holy Spirit indwelling us, is absolutely nothing like what we see in our sexualized culture today. The adventure, the romance, the experience brings never-ending new layers, depths, revelations, joy, fulfillment and fun!
The weekend ends with a session on “Affair Proofing your Marriage,” followed by “Leaving a Legacy of Sexual Wholeness.” God has called us to victory in this area, and that victory will be felt through your family line for generations to come!
I want to encourage you to consider attending this marriage-altering weekend retreat at Focus on the Family right here in our hometown of Branson, Missouri.
You don't have to live your life fighting about sex. Rejection and anger is not your portion. Freedom from sexual frustration and disappointment awaits. Indescribable intimacy with your spouse and a brand new, God-ordained sexual journey is worth the small price you have to pay to attend this weekend in the beautiful Ozark Mountains.
(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.
A 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.
We need a fresh wave of great awakeners—those who will unapologetically preach hell fire in today’s dire end times.
To the shame of much of today’s church there has been a firm and steadfast rejection of any truth that doesn’t result in people feeling happy affection for God. While a core message of mine has to do with enjoyable and permeating intimacy with Jesus, I understand that it is not a mutually exclusive one. That teaching when it stands alone apart from the full counsel of God’s Word turns out a people who don’t understand the fear of the Lord, the severity of their lifestyle decisions or the intensity and nearness of eternity. It results in an overly confident and casual church that presumes God’s primary focus is our satisfaction as it forsakes the realities of holiness, standards, scriptural expectations, judgment and how those who are truly saved are hanging on to that position by a thread.
And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 1 Peter 4:18
This Christian culture of positivity depicts a God who is so enamored by us that judgment is contrary to his nature. The deception is that God so values us individually that our enjoyment in life is primary to him. This lie has fueled sanctioned perversion in the church through the “gay Christian” movement and the affirmation of homosexual marriage by many leading denominations.
I’ll say it as clearly as I can: God is much more interested in the establishment of his name and His Word than he is in the feelings or desires of individuals, or even of entire regions. This is God’s nature. This is love.
…therefore, behold, I have stretched out my hand against you, and will hand you over as plunder to the nations. And I will cut you off from the peoples and will make you perish out of the countries; I will destroy you. Then you will know that I am the LORD. Ezekiel 25:7
It’s all about him, not us.
In our narcissistic society our theologies have become radically distorted from just a generation or two ago. We are so self-consumed that we have adopted an image of a god that is focused day and night on worshiping us instead of us, those who are as the scum of the earth, worshiping him.
…when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. 1 Corinthians 4:13
For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Galatians 6:3
For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. 2 Corinthians 4:11-12
The Christian life is not to be about personal gain. A pursuit of supposed human rights has nearly destroyed our nation, and the same strategies are in the church. The right to slaughter unborn babies for the sake of personal convenience is a horrifying indictment on our nation—and it didn’t seem that it could get any worse, until the recent admission by a Planned Parenthood leader who casually admitted to an even more sinister evil—selling body parts of murdered people.
Yes, we need hell fire preaching in the church again.
As people both in the church and in the world have been focused on rights, pleasures and positions, evil has been advancing and God’s righteous standards have been minimized or ridiculed as nonsense. Again, this is happening in the world and in the church. Churches today support both gay marriage and abortion. It’s no longer shocking. It will forever be sickening.
We need a great awakening.
“The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready to string and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.” ~Jonathan Edwards
We have mistaken God as one who is always happy and passive, like that sweet grandfather who is forever handing out candy and hugs no matter how rebellious the child is. It’s true that God is love, but we have attempted to define love via humanistic insight, through our own lens and our own longings for acceptance. It’s also true that God is longsuffering, but only he knows how long his suffering will be. The full force of his wrath will be released one day, and many lesser though terrible judgments will come before that happens. God is a fearful force to behold and we have been self-centered and entitled presuming that approach will somehow draw us closer to his heart.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
“…the Hoods of God’s vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the meantime is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath…If God should only withdraw his hand from the floodgate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury.” ~Jonathan Edwards
ZEPHANIAH AND THE COMING JUDGMENT
“I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the LORD. “I will sweep away man and beast; I will sweep away the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, and the rubble with the wicked. I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth,” declares the LORD. “I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal and the name of the idolatrous priests along with the priests, those who bow down on the roofs to the host of the heavens, those who bow down and swear to the LORD and yet swear by Milcom, those who have turned back from following the LORD, who do not seek the LORD or inquire of him.” Zephaniah 1:2-6
The prophecy in Zephaniah is futuristic. It is yet to happen, most scholars believe. This has some serious implications. What this means is that God cannot be defined simply by the very real truth that he love, he is kind and he is patient. Also, the Old Testament God is very much the same as the New Testament God. His supposed Old Testament style end-time personality is front and center and undeniable in this passage.
There is a greater revelation of God’s nature that is not in contradiction whatsoever with his more ‘positive’ or appealing side. He is and forever will be the very definition of love. We can and should run to him and not from him as we trust him fully. We must enjoy him in a place of immersive intimacy. We should always be full of joy and abundant life—and sober and troubled as he prepares to move on the earth.
After reading through the depiction of the coming judgment on the earth we may not so casually pray for a ‘move of God’ as we pursue revival in the land. When God moves in force we will experience his greatness—his great goodness and love as well as his great fierceness and wrath. Those who are truly his (which are much fewer than the number who profess to be his) are safe from that wrath—but not of his judgment!
God’s wrath remains on the unredeemed. That is clear. However, at the crucifixion Jesus took God's wrath upon himself in place of those who are legitimately his own. That being said, while we are free from wrath, judgment will absolutely visit us in the church—and it will visit us first!
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 1 Peter 4:17
Again, we need hell fire preachers to emerge and announce to the church and the world the reality of their situation and the measure of God’s wrath and judgment that is coming. Contrary to popular belief a very real revelation of hell, of torment, of God’s holiness and of our desperation and wickedness is needed to draw people to the Lover of their souls! A clear picture of Satan’s rage, of God’s standards, of eternity and of God’s overwhelming passion for people will result in an honest evaluation of their condition. For some it will result in glorious salvation.
The prophecy in Zephaniah is true. It is coming. A loving, kind, tender God is actually going to manifest in some terrible and violent ways. Is this side of God repulsive to you? I encourage you to deal with it. You can’t change God to squeeze into a Santa Clause suit. He won’t fit. Satan will though. False gods and idols fit into whatever suit we will give them. They are more than willing to appeal to our fleshly desires so as to trap us…and then to destroy us.
Carefully read what follows and ask if that picture of God matches your own:
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.’ Their goods shall be plundered, and their houses laid waste. Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them.” The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements. I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth. Zephaniah 1:12-18
That’s hell fire preaching. That’s a necessary message. It’s about what is yet to come. This is a revelation of God in the New Covenant. It reveals God’s nature to us afresh.
God, who is by definition love, will do what is necessary to preserve love.
A complacent people will result in a bitter day sound that announces the day of the Lord. That day is a day of wrath, distress, anguish, ruin, devastation, darkness, gloom, clouds and thick darkness. It’s also a day of a trumpet blast and a battle cry! God himself will bring distress on mankind. It won’t be the enemy. The trouble won’t simply be the result of God lifting his protection over a nation. He will personally bring distress to mankind himself.
Blood shall be poured out because of his wrath. The fire of his jealousy will result in the earth being consumed suddenly—and all the inhabitants will experience a sudden end.
Those who are deeply intimate with Jesus will both celebrate and weep as a result of this news.
Those who are casual and expect God to satisfy them and focus on their happiness on the earth will reject him—and many will actually declare that He is Satan when he moves contrary to their fleshly expectations of how God should operate.
This, my friend, is the unforgivable sin of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The moment we attribute a move of God to a move of Satan we can know we have found trouble.
“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:28-30
The great falling away will be filled with formerly professing Christians who never missed a church service, who said their prayers and faithfully tithed and taught in Sunday School. Just as during they did during the last days of Jesus on the earth, they will quickly shift from a lifestyle of crying out “Hosanna to the King of kings!” to “Crucify him!”
The world needs to know this Jesus. The world needs to understand that God is fearful. Truly, as C.S. Lewis declared, he is not safe, but he is good. That revelation will result in a great harvest. Why? Because truth sets people free.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
Considering the spotlight that homosexuality, transgenderism and various sexual deviancies have demanded, we must engage in a conversation about the ramifications such activity—in the church.
Unfortunately, immorality has always infected the church. In the book of Revelation we see a severe example of this, and an equally severe reaction by God:
“‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. Revelation 2:19-23
The church in Thyatira was on God’s radar for their works, love and faith, but also for tolerating sexual immorality in the church.
So many have fallen for an unbiblical definition of true love that is devoid of correction or standards. It feels more like warm, fuzzy, emotional highs and affirmation of people regardless of their lifestyle, which is not biblical love. Love can feel quite repulsive and alienating at times. God is love. He can’t avoid it! This God of love, in the above passage, refused to play games with the issue of sexual immorality in the church. His response? Repent or be thrown into great tribulation!
Consider this question: “If you were a pastor and someone who identified as a ‘gay Christian’ started attending your church, or someone didn’t feel it was sinful to have sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend outside of marriage, what would you do?”
People most always respond by saying, “Love them.”
Okay, but what does that look like? Again, most would say that we should encourage, share the truth with them and pray that they would stay connected in church and eventually see the error of their ways.
This counsel is in contradiction with the Word of God. I asked this question on Facebook just a moment ago, and I’m so proud of my son Skylar who, on a lunch break at work at Silver Dollar City here in Branson, Missouri, responded by typing in: 1 Corinthians 5. He’s right:
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5
This passage also uses a form of the word “tolerate.” Sexual immorality is not to be tolerated. Jezebel and the sexual perversion she promotes is not to be tolerated. The demand in today’s culture is for tolerance in the midst of sexual perversion. This has crept into the culture of the church and it is time to act.
God is not tolerant. His is longsuffering, but certainly not tolerant of perversion—especially within the church. This is his bride!
What is the loving reaction that leaders must have when unrepentant sexual immorality is discovered in the church? That person is to be removed. He is to be delivered to Satan for the destruction of their flesh—so that his spirit may be saved!
This is love!
Of course, there are significant differences between someone who is struggling with, for example, pornography and someone who indulges in it freely without repentance or any plan to change.
There is also a difference between a professing Christian who refuses to repent of sexual sin and a heathen who refuses to repent. The former is to be removed from the church while the latter should be welcomed with open arms in hopes that they are radically, gloriously saved! And, yes, at that time they will be held to an entirely different standard.
The passage in 1 Corinthians 5 continues:
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:6-13
If one who calls themselves a brother or sister in Christ are sexually immoral, greedy, idolatrous, a reviler, drunkard or swindler—we can’t even sit down at Starbucks with them! We can’t invite them over for a barbeque on the Forth of July!
This is love!
If we don’t take swift action the entire church will become infected. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Ephesians 5:3
It’s past time to boldly and fearlessly stand against the spirit of the age.
Watch John teach this message titled Set Your Face:
SET YOUR FACE
A radical misunderstanding of how godly love truly manifests has led to a passive, affirming, tolerant response to one of history’s most diabolical assaults.
We have borrowed an unbiblical, humanistic definition of what love truly is. The mantra of the age is love is tolerant, love is affirming, love accepts unconditionally. This has painted a picture of a benevolent, passive God who so values mankind that he is willing to allow them to choose any path they desire and he will tolerate and affirm the accompanying behaviors, beliefs and mindsets.
Such a belief system elevates man to idol status and minimizes God to a mystical, happy force that has few standards or expectations. The most important thing is that people are happy, and when they are, God is most satisfied.
This doctrine of demons has resulted in a fear to represent God as he truly is to a generation that’s largely hedonistic. The prevailing thought is a humanistic one: We have to ensure only God’s positive attributes are revealed while hiding or even disagreeing with his standards. This has deemed today’s prophetic voices that adhere to that strategy as impotent at best and extremely dangerous at worst. The risk is that they veil God’s holiness and the reality of eternity and, in turn, raise up disciples of a demonic counterfeit that wraps it’s arms around a rebellious people—all in the name of love.
IT’S TIME TO WAGE WAR
The default position for all of us must be to reveal the true and immeasurable love of God to all. That goes without saying.
This however does not complete our job as end-time prophetic messengers and warriors of Christ. We have to understand that very few will in fact turn to Jesus in a legitimate way. While we need to contend for salvation for all, we have to understand that most will reject that call.
James 4:4 (ESV) 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
The following is from a Glenn Beck article titled Past 10 Days Have Been A ‘Slapping Of God's Face':
“…you don’t have to be a genius to figure out what the problems are in the country,” Beck said on his radio program. “It’s because our society, our people, us, have become lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to our parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman. We’re slanderers,” Beck continued. “We’re haters of good. We’re treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure much more than lovers of God. [We’re] holding the form of religion, but denying the power of it.”
The time is now to wage war against the spirit of the age. While we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, we do wrestle against evil spirits.
Flesh and blood humans who embrace those evil spirits will absolutely feel the force of the warfare. We can’t allow that troubling reality stop us from opening our mouths and declaring truth.
We must be strong, and fight:
Ephesians 6:10-11 (ESV) 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
What are we doing to stand against the evil schemes in America today? It’s not enough to share the love of God to the lost through evangelism and other methods, as critical as that mandate is. There is more—much more. There is an invisible realm that is manifesting visibly in our nation. We must go to war as conquerors, as victors and as ambassadors of Christ.
Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Several keys are revealed in the totality of the Ephesians 6 passage including taking up our shield of faith, wearing the helmet of salvation, and praying in the Spirit. The final method of battle is revealed in verse 19 where Paul is asking for prayer:
Ephesians 6:19-20 (ESV) 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
In addition to all of the spiritual armor Paul is wearing, his prayer at the end of his instructions reveals he must also take on boldness to speak! This is where the American church is failing embarrassingly today. Very little of the messages coming from it require any boldness at all to speak.
The true gospel message will very often provoke and disturb the majority who are opposed to truth. If the message wouldn’t cause problems for the enemies of God, and in turn for the messenger of God, why would boldness be necessary? There is a radical resistance to holiness and obedience to God in the land that is largely unmet by today’s Christian voices. We must again pray for boldness to preach what will result in great persecution for the church.
As Paul was writing this letter to the Ephesians, he was being persecuted, currently imprisoned because of that very message. He didn’t ask for the physical issues to be removed but rather that he would boldly confront the spirit of the age with the gospel. His plan was to continue preaching the very truth that was irritating the people of the region.
It’s a contrary, offensive, demanding, in your face message, contrary to the sugary, passive message that many are calling the gospel today.
SET YOUR FACE AND PROPHESY AGAINST THEM
In Ezekiel 25 we see a key strategy emerge.
Up until this point, concerning Jerusalem and the land of Israel, people had been holding on to faint hope due to the encouragement of false prophets. Then, contrary to the words of the false prophets, Jerusalem was destroyed. We are hearing the same thing today from so many Christian prophets and preachers—that everything is okay, and even getting better and better, all while great evil is increasing exponentially, persecution is increasing and darkness is expanding. People are being lured into nationally sanctioned sodomy and perversion and Christians who oppose it are being ridiculed and fined. Soon, if things don’t change, we will see Christians in prison in America just as they are in North Korea simply for preaching the Bible.
After Jerusalem was defeated, Ezekiel switched his prophetic focus to the surrounding nations. It would not be pretty. His message wasn’t one of happy affirmation.
In fact, Jesus himself didn’t always have the disposition of a gentle shepherd. Watch how he set his face against cities:
Luke 10:13-16 (ESV) 13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. 16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
J. Vernon McGee said:
We get a warped view of Him when all we hear is, “God is love, God is love.” It is true that God is love, but don't lose sight of the fact that God is also holy. He is righteous and He will judge. You are not rushing into heaven on the little love boat today. If you reject His salvation, there will be nothing left but judgment.
Ezekiel 25:1 (ESV) 1 The word of the LORD came to me:
I often have to stop after seemingly unimportant verses like this one to consider the ramifications: “The word of the Lord came to me.”
Is the word of the Lord coming to anybody out there today? Of course several true messengers of God are receiving the alarming, Rhema words of God in this hour, but they are few and far between. I appreciate people like John Kilpatrick who has the courage and discernment to declare that “America is now an apostate nation.” Other like Steve Hill, Leonard Ravenhill, Isaiah Saldivar, Nathan Morris, Mike Bickle, Mario Murillo and Lou Engle are voicing or have voiced culture shaking truth.
When supposed messengers of God are expressing only happy, positive, affirming words they instantly lose credibility with me.
Jeremiah 23:16-17 (ESV) 16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”
Contrast the previous verses with what follows:
Jeremiah 23:18-20 (ESV) 18 For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? 19 Behold, the storm of the LORD! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. 20 The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly.
Just as in Jeremiah’s time, today people are prophesying words that did not originate with God:
Jeremiah 23:21-22 (ESV) 21 “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.
Thankfully, Ezekiel did receive the Word of the Lord. Now, what happens next is a spiritual mandate that is almost entirely forsaken in today’s church.
Ezekiel 25:2 (ESV) 2 “Son of man, set your face toward the Ammonites and prophesy against them.
One of the most quoted scriptures in the Bible is John 3:16. It’s a revelation of God’s love. I believe we stop short of the greater message to the detriment of the mission.
Here’s the famous verses:
John 3:16-17 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
And here’s what’s so often neglected though it is a part of the preceding passage:
John 3:18 (ESV) 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
We need to understand that the wrath of God remains on those who don’t have eternal life in Christ. Reading further in chapter three of John reveals this:
John 3:36 (ESV) 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
So, clearly there are enemies of God who are choosing to remain condemned, and we can’t sit back hoping that they someday turn.
As we prophecy against the enemies of God we are simply bring revelation regarding their condition and their future should they not repent. This is an act of godly love that will be rejected as hatred in our humanistic culture!
In fact, even within the church we are called to some extreme measures for the sake of the rebellious person’s soul—in the name of love!
1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (ESV) 1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
We are to deliver unrepentant people in the church to Satan! This is a very powerful example of what Ezekiel was doing by prophesying against people. Again, this is an expression of love as we trust God’s wisdom. Note that delivering someone to Satan would introduce them to a terrible season of life as their flesh is destroyed—so that their spirit might be saved.
As we prophesy against the spirit of the age, we are also agreeing in battle with God as he moves to protect his own. God is zealous for his Bride.
THE AMMONITES CELEBRATED AND EZEKIEL RESPONDED
Why was God against the Ammonites?
They celebrated when Israel was defeated.
There are many today who are applauding the defeat of godly marriage in our nation, defeats regarding abortion, prayer in school and many other losses. This is the rebellion in the land that must be confronted, in love, with boldness by today’s preachers and prophets.
Ezekiel 25:3-4 (ESV) 3 Say to the Ammonites, Hear the word of the Lord GOD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Because you said, ‘Aha!’ over my sanctuary when it was profaned, and over the land of Israel when it was made desolate, and over the house of Judah when they went into exile, 4 therefore behold, I am handing you over to the people of the East for a possession, and they shall set their encampments among you and make their dwellings in your midst. They shall eat your fruit, and they shall drink your milk.
This is serious.
Is America at risk of being handed over to other nations who will ultimately defeat us? Yes. It’s becoming easier to see a day when America will be no more. I know such a thought will cause the positive thinkers to react and accuse me of not standing in faith or professing doom and gloom. Those accusations don’t move me. If I had no faith for America’s spiritual revival I would never waste time sounding an alarm like I am in this article. A revelation of a possible, or even probable, troubling future is not an exercise in faithlessness, it’s an act of love. Tornado alarms go off to help people prepare for trouble and react accordingly so they might be saved. Can you imagine getting angry at the alarm?
Just as I wrote that I heard very loud thunder exploding outside, and then I heard loud, distinctive tones booming out of my mobile phone. A message is currently displaying that says:
Flash Flood Warning in this area until 9:00pm CDT. Avoid flood areas. Check local media. National Weather Service. Imminent severe alert.
Interesting timing, don’t you think?
I just read a powerful prophecy of judgment and destruction coming to America by A.A. Allen in Charisma Magazine. In part, he says:
The next thing which I saw was a huge ball of fire. The only thing I have ever seen which resembled the thing I saw in my vision was the picture of the explosion of the H-bomb in the South Pacific. In my vision, it was so real I seemed to feel a searing heat from it.
As the vision spread before my eyes, and I viewed the widespread desolation brought about by the terrific explosions, I could not help thinking,” While the defenders of our nation have quibbled over what means of defense to use, and neglected the only true means of defense, faith and dependence upon the true and living God, the thing which she greatly feared has come unto her!
How true it has proven that “Except the Lord keep The city, The watchman watches but in vain.”
It’s interesting that God’s primary motivation is not making life better for everybody. He’s not interested in affirming people in their sin or letting them know how much he loves them.
So, what is God’s ultimate purpose? To prove himself!
Ezekiel 25:5 (ESV) 5 I will make Rabbah a pasture for camels and Ammon a fold for flocks. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
Ezekiel continues by addressing their celebration of wickedness. God makes it clear that rejoicing in immorality results in judgment:
Ezekiel 25:6-7 (ESV) 6 For thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet and rejoiced with all the malice within your soul against the land of Israel, 7 therefore, behold, I have stretched out my hand against you, and will hand you over as plunder to the nations. And I will cut you off from the peoples and will make you perish out of the countries; I will destroy you. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
Again, this is so that everybody may know that he is Lord! This is a prime motivation!
Philippians 2:9-11 (ESV) 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The day homosexual marriage was legalized across the nation people filled the streets in cities from east to west in mass gatherings of celebration.
Time Magazine: Crowds of people filled the street outside the Stonewall Inn in New York City on Friday, celebrating the Supreme Court’s landmark gay marriage ruling and marveling at how much has changed in the past 50 years.
nbcnewyork.com: Celebrations Erupt in New York City After Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage Nationwide. From pop-up parties to weddings, New Yorkers are celebrating the Supreme Court's ruling that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States. Within an hour of the ruling, rainbow flags were hanging outside City Hall. Mayor Bill de Blasio officiated at two same-sex weddings on the steps of City Hall on Friday afternoon as hundreds of spectators waving rainbow flags and holding signs looked on. Another couple renewed their vows.
acj.com: More than 1,000 people showed up in the rain Friday night to celebrate a milestone they never thought they would see. Gays and lesbians hugged and kissed in joy. They waved rainbow and American flags. Some were in drag, others in suits. Some brought their children. “This was a victory for us all. A victory for civil and human rights,” said Felicia English, trying to feed her 14-month old daughter Samantha, whose adoption was finalized on March 3. “Our daughter had two mothers and I am so happy for her. That she will not have to face adversity and discrimination.” “Today, love wins,” de Blasio said Friday.
We must boldly set our face and prophesy against such unholy demonstrations and celebrations of the defeat of biblical morality regarding gay marriage.
Revival will come when the distinction between light and darkness is its sharpest. It’s messengers of God who must bring definition to our current crisis.
The goal isn’t the affirmation of the people but it’s that they know that Jesus is Lord!
It’s time to clearly decry the darkness and shout the message of light, boldly, no matter if we are imprisoned or not.
That, in fact, may be a not too distant future reality for true prophetic voices today.
At a time of national crisis, the church must respond in a way we haven’t in recent memory.
The current crisis of legalized homosexual marriage and the attack against Christian business owners who are standing up for their faith is resulting in a lot of uproar, strong opinions, Facebook and Twitter wars and even confusion and fear for many Christians. Ten years ago the reality of what we are facing today was unthinkable. The thought that a Christian baker would be fined $135,000 because they refused to provide a cake for a homosexual wedding would have been absolutely nonsensical and unbelievable. Yet, this is where we are today.
In 2008, President Obama said, “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian — for me — for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”
It’s highly doubtful our President really believed what he said in that campaign season. Just seven years later he lights up the White House in rainbow colors and declares:
This ruling will strengthen all of our communities by offering to all loving same-sex couples the dignity of marriage across this great land.
In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. It is gratifying to see that principle enshrined into law by this decision.
This ruling is a victory for America. This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.
If President Obama only understood how erroneous that statement was. The result isn’t a freer America. It’s an imprisoned people who are now validated and locked into an identity that will bring devastation and spiritual death.
The Church Must Respond
All of this is taking place on the church’s watch. It’s our fault for refusing to do what’s necessary to see revival and a spiritual revolution come to America. Our reckless slumber is resulting in millions of people falling deeper into the hopelessness that sin and a Christ-less lifestyle brings.
Pastors, nobody wants to come to our churches anymore when they are devoid of passion, power, depth and a consecration worthy of the King of kings. The answer isn’t inviting friends to our church services, it’s finding those who are serious enough to contend in tears for a move of God.
We can’t be surprised that, as Pastor John Kilpatrick says, “America is now an apostate nation.” As with Israel during the time of Gideon who was given into the hand of Midian for seven years, America is experiencing the early stages of judgment—and our response must be quick and fervent.
Judges 6:1-2 (ESV) 1 The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. 2 And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds.
The enemy has escalated his attack against the church in an attempt to completely overtake this culture and to destroy our provision, overwhelm us with fear and cause us to cower as the roaring lion threatens to devour.
Judges 6:3-5 (ESV) 3 For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. 4 They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey. 5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in.
While there are a diversity of reactions that are appropriate, I propose the following three to be non-negotiable:
STEP ONE: Cry out.
In a time of desperation, it’s time to cry out.
We must see churches embracing reform and becoming prayer meetings again. Solemn assemblies should start popping up in every city in our nation and every blood bought Christian should be in attendance. No longer can we offer up the “good excuses” that have crippled the church. Gather together and repent. Pray. Burn. Contend. Cry out.
Joel 2:15-17 (ESV) 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; 16 gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. 17 Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
How’s that for shutting down excuses? How often do we think it’s okay to reject the call to gather and pray because other activities seem to be more demanding? The call is to gather the congregation and the elders. Every Christian, every pastor in the city should be together. But, certainly if the solemn assembly doesn’t have child care then moms would be exempt, right? No. Obviously someone who has spent a great deal of time, energy and money preparing for their wedding day would be excused, right? It depends on what’s more pressing, I suppose. How serious are we? How desperate is the situation?
I suppose the question is, what must happen in our nation before no excuse is powerful enough to steal our attention from the call to cry out as a church.
Ask yourself an honest question: What is different in your life as a result of the onslaught of the enemy against Christianity and the church? Are you gathering together continually to contend in prayer with other remnant Christians? Are you broken and repentant? Are you waking up everyday burning hot with passion for advancing the Kingdom? Are you calling for solemn assemblies? Just what is different? Or, are you attending church services just as you always have, focusing on family life, pouring energy into entertainment and saying a nice bedtime prayer?
I want to challenge you to CRY OUT! Embrace such a radical shift in your daily life that people around you are stunned. Become a burning, shining lamp, a blazing, searing force that ignites atmospheres!
The threat of the enemy will only grow more terrifying if the church doesn’t discover its end-time purpose.
For Israel the threat was so fearsome that they retreated into hiding in caves. Will the American church wait for that to happen before we repent? Will the church of this nation have to go underground as is the case in China and other nations where Christianity is forbidden before we lay our American dreams on the altar?
Christianity is already becoming illegal. Christians in business cannot adhere to their faith anymore as they are at risk of bankruptcy inducing government fines as was the case in Oregon:
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) awarded $60,000 to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Cryer for “emotional suffering.”
“This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage,” the final order read. “It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.”
According to the BOLI, the lesbian couple suffered great angst. One of the women “felt depressed and questioned whether there was something inherently wrong with the sexual orientation she was born with.” They said she had “difficulty controlling her emotions and cried a lot.”
Apparently if our faith results in someone having difficult controlling their emotions we are operating our business illegally.
It’s time to cry out, church.
Judges 6:6 (ESV) 6 And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the LORD.
STEP TWO: God sends a prophet.
Too often we presume our prayer, our cry, should result in God flipping the switch from bad to good, from crisis to help. This is rarely how it works.
After we rend our hearts and cry out to God he most often sends clear instructions to us. We need to resolve the issue that resulted in the crisis, and God will grace us and empower us to do so.
Judges 6:7-8 (ESV) 7 When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD on account of the Midianites, 8 the LORD sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage.
Through a prophet God encourages the Israelites by reminding him of his faithfulness and his ability to rescue and redeem. Even though they aren’t out of the crisis yet, God is so loving that his first reaction is to comfort them—even as they are still suffering and hiding in the caves.
His encouragement then continues, along with a clear indictment:
Judges 6:9-10 (ESV) 9 And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 And I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.”
The reason they were cowering in caves, being plundered by their enemies and fearing annihilation was not because their enemies refused to honor God or to establish laws that are scriptural. It’s because they were disobedient. Similarly, we can’t point the finger and blame a corrupt, perverse, godless society for our troubles! The legalization of homosexual marriage is the expected outcome in our culture! Don’t be shocked. More is coming—unless the church figures things out quickly.
STEP THREE: Obey.
Now is the time to hear God’s voice and obey!
Judges 6:11-13 (ESV) 11 Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
Gideon was complaining that things were bad, that things weren’t changing, but he didn’t realize that he was the reason! It was his fault and the fault of the Israelites that things were bad…and it was him who must turn things around.
God refused to listen to his complaints. He was done with the excuses. He called Gideon according to his true identity!
Judges 6:14 (ESV) 14 And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?”
It was time for Gideon to obey.
His excuses continued, and God gave him one more striking vote of confidence:
Judges 6:15-16 (ESV) 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
Gideon proceeded to tear down his father’s altar, form a remnant army and advance against the enemy as one man!
This is your calling, friend. You are called to cry out, receive prophetic instruction and obey the command of the Lord as you route the enemy of the church and our nation as one man!
Our call to cry out will have some pretty powerful results. The cry will shift from the people of God to the enemy as they run for their lives:
Judges 7:20-21 (ESV) 20 Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” 21 Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled.
A deeper, weightier revelation of God’s love is coming—and it will look much different than we realize.
Are you ready for a deep, heavy, absolutely overwhelming revelation of God’s love?
I’m sitting in a powerful session with Barbara Yoder, Cindy Williams and a ministry team from Catch the Fire (Toronto) at Shekinah Church in Ann Arbor. It’s all about encountering the love of God, soaking in his presence and preparing to serve in love in a revival atmosphere. I’m yearning for more of this presence! I love what this ministry is about!
There is a MASSIVE increase in revelation of the love of God and the experience of his presence coming, and much of it will fulfill the yearnings of our heart. I’m convinced that much of it will also be quite surprising to you at how it manifests.
In order for there to be a false-anything, there must be a true, pure reality. 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.
Philippians 1:9-10 (MSG) 9 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.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s we saw the emergence of free love.
Free love is a social movement that rejects marriage, which is seen as a form of social and financial bondage. The Free Love movement's initial goal was to separate the state from sexual matters such as marriage, birth control, and adultery. It claimed that such issues were the concern of the people involved, and no one else.
Much of the free-love tradition is an offshoot of anarchism, and reflects a libertarian philosophy that seeks freedom from state regulation and church interference in personal relationships.
The free love movement was not a love movement at all. It was focused on self-satisfaction, personal experience and relational connections. The intimacy they sought after was never found as sexual promiscuity served as a destructive, unfulfilling counterfeit.
I believe we are experiencing a similar free love movement in the church today:
- Rejecting marriage—this speaks to a resistance to covenant. The desire is to control the love connection, the experience. When the emotional rush is gone, and relational intimacy is disappointing, so many of today’s Christians sever that connection and move on to more satisfying relationships. They move from partner to partner, driven by selfish ambition seeking to be served instead of to serve.
- Social and financial bondage—free love seeks after social and relational euphoria, and if this is not experienced, people tend to flee from the threat of bondage. True investment into others is resisted unless there is an exchange, unless what they are seeking after is given to them. The problem? This is relational prostitution. Many Christians will invest into others only if their friendship is given in return.
- Separation from the state—just as those in the free love movement several decades ago sought after liberation from governmental control, many Christians today reject biblical government. Government requires submission, and submission doesn’t feel like love—though it is. Kingdom order requires submission, respect of boundaries and a surrender of personal rights. This is love! We hear so much about human rights today, as if it’s the purest manifestation of love. It is not! The homosexual movement demands the government stays out of their intimate pursuits. The pro-choice movement demands the government stays out of their wombs. 1 Corinthians 13 reveals that love is not self-seeking! It’s not about human rights, it’s about serving God’s government, his purposes and his people.
False-Love Myths and Deceptions
Keep in mind that false or tainted love doesn’t flow mostly from an evil, debased heart. It also doesn’t mean that there is nothing about the argument or viewpoint that is true. A person who craves pure love can, in their zeal or in their weakness, allow impurities into their expression of love that twists and compromises it. The reason I needed to say this is to encourage you if you’ve been hit by the false-love spirit. Your desire for manifested love is very probably true, yet the enemy can come in and confuse the process.
With that in mind, here are some false-love (or tainted love) myths and deceptions that have hit the church:
- Expecting or demanding love from others—Remember, love is not self-seeking. Have you ever been wounded by someone who didn’t act in love toward you? It is normal to desire to be loved, but true love doesn’t expect or demand others to be the one to fulfill that desire. If we point our fingers at others who aren’t acting in love, then it’s an evidence that we ourselves do not love. If someone isn’t acting in love toward you, isn’t relationally close to you, won’t befriend you, how will you react? Will you refuse to invest into them unless you get something in return? You have actually fallen into relational prostitution. Jesus laid down his life for those who hated him and we must do the same.
- Focusing on God’s love is all we need—This is a disturbing trend in the church, but it’s actually not mostly incorrect. It’s mostly right! The argument is that when we focus on experiencing the pure, true love of Jesus, everything else in life just falls into place. If we focus on love, sin won’t be an issue. Maturity will just happen. Not so. What is mostly right? Well, the greater the revelation of God’s love for us, the more we want to be holy, respond in obedience and mature. Love is a great motivator! However, experiencing love is not all we need! The Bible is filled with instructions and mandates and focuses that we are responsible to respond to even if the love connection isn’t there one day.
Additionally, the Bible is filled with stories of people who loved God, and who sinned. Being with Jesus, loving Jesus, being intimate with Jesus is worthy of most of our energy and focus. However, even in a deep, intimate place with Jesus, obedience can be hard. Flesh can rise up. Satan can tempt. We can be deceived. Our theologies can be off. This is why we must continually let God search our hearts for any wicked way in us. We must be in the Word! We must be submitted to authorities who watch out for our souls. We can’t just enjoy God and presume our job is done.
- Love initiated pride—There seems to be a rapid emergence of those who are going after love of Jesus, and who are resisting discipline and discipleship. The reason? Pride. The presumption is that their encounter with the love of God has elevated them to a point where they no longer need to be a student of the Word, to focus on the sin potential in their lives or submit to others. They wouldn’t say that they are above others, but their arguments reveal their hearts more than not. When the call for holiness, brokenness, study, obedience, etc. is presented to them, they become puffed up and in turn, while rejecting your “inferior focuses”, call you to come up higher and just focus on love. Their response very often is, “If you really understood the Father’s love, you would see what I mean.” It’s arrogance masquerading as spirituality. The very fact that this is happening is a revelation that they have not truly experienced love the way they claim.
- Love must always manifest a certain way—In scripture, we do have a great definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. I’d encourage you to read a recent article where I unpack it HERE. So, it is true that, for example, love is always patient. If you aren’t patient, then, that is a specific issue that you can analyze in yourself. However, there is a spirit of accusation in the camp that moves outside of this scriptural definition and declares that if you don’t function a certain way, then you don’t love the way God loves. For example, someone might say to an intercessor, “If you truly loved people, you would move out of your prayer closet and hit the streets and feed the homeless!” It’s an accusation against a child of God that they don’t love because they don’t fit into an imperfect definition of what love really is. Can you really imagine someone looking at a sweet, passionate grandma who prays with tears every day that she doesn’t love people because she isn’t street witnessing? On the flip side, an intercessor might say, “If you truly loved people you would spend hours a day praying from them!”
Additionally, in the article I linked to above I explain how love will manifest through the different offices. Love looks different when delivered through a pastor than it does when delivered through a prophet. As a church leader I have had to expend a lot of energy explaining to people what type of love and connection they might expect from someone like me. Most people think I’m a pastor when they first meet me (because church leaders in America are almost always called Pastor). If people presume that I will express love like a pastor, they can actually get very offended when that doesn’t happen. Accusations can fly. But, if we simply understood that, in addition to the 1 Corinthians 13 definition, different people, different offices and different cultures will express love very, very differently, it will be easy to honor and love them instead of making demands of them.
- Love always feels good—Oh boy, this one is big. When we encounter love, we will be presented with a view of God that is quite different than what we previously understood to be true. God’s love can be expressed in a very direct, uncomfortable way that breaks you and may even wonder how a loving God could act that way. God’s expression of love will often put you at risk, threaten you and trouble you. Jesus’ expression of love on the cross put Peter at risk of the same grisly death! How could Jesus do this? Peter was confused as he was presented with a side of Jesus he never saw—and he denied that expression of Jesus and his love for the world! I guarantee that Peter did not feel good as Jesus loved him by rescuing him from Hell by dying on the cross. Today, sharp, provoking preaching is rejected because it doesn’t feel good. They might say in their disturbed state, “That’s not the Jesus I know.” The risk is, like Peter, rejection of God when the feelings aren’t warm and intimate. This is one reason why being people of the Word is non-negotiable. We can’t afford to call good evil and evil good. We must learn about Jesus and how he functions so that our emotions don’t lead us astray.
- God is always in a good mood—Not true. Period. I’ve said it this way: If God is always in a good mood, he would be a monster, laughing and doing a happy dance as he casts people he loves into Hell. If we believe God is always in a good mood, we will reject messages and revelations that don’t result in us being in a good mood. We will associate the love of God with the hate of Satan. We know that God is still wrathful. He still gets angry. He is saddened. He is joyful. He is happy. He has moods, and the deepest place of love exists when we partner with God in his emotions. What is on God’s heart? How can we serve him and minister to him?
- Love requires that you are emotionally connected—Again, not true. Humans have the ability to love many but can only befriend a few. Different people have different capacities, but the principle remains the same. Don’t presume someone doesn’t love you if they don’t get close to you at a heart level. In fact, may I be so bold as to say, they might not like you! To love someone does not require that we like them. So we can love the masses and only connect at a close, friendship level with a few. Think about it. Do you want to be friends with everybody? Nope. Why would you expect the same from another? A rejection complex has really done a lot of damage to people—and they look for their healing to come from others loving them the way they want instead of dying to self and refusing to place that burden on them. They love them.
I remember a mega-church pastor that was extremely popular. He felt like your best friend though you really didn’t have a real personal relationship with him. People often wanted to get close to him, and they actually had a bit of a system in place to handle that! An associate would approach those who were a bit overzealous in their attempts to befriend the pastor. He’d say, “The Pastor will serve you well and express love by leading you, teaching you and helping you connect with Jesus. However, don’t expect him to be a personal friend of yours.” The same scenario is true for small churches. The pastor may be an introvert, may have limited emotional energy or simply may be called to focus on different things! Don’t presume that someone doesn’t love you just because they aren’t serving you the way you want. How potentially offensive and seemingly arrogant is this passage?
Acts 6:1-4 (MSG) 1 During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers—”Hellenists”—toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. 2 So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, “It wouldn't be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. 3 So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we'll assign them this task. 4 Meanwhile, we'll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God's Word.”
They were saying that they would not be connecting to people who needed help! They would focus on connecting to God and their very specific tasks! And, my good friends, that is love! They weren’t to feed the widows. They weren’t to make hospital visits. They weren’t to answer their phones every time someone needed them. They were to pray and preach, and that was deep, fiery love!
- You have to convince people that you love them—We are to be kind, without question. However, we aren’t to modify our messages, to soften our speech or to attempt to convince people that we love them. We should simply love them! How’s this statement of love:
Acts 2:22-24 (MSG) 22 “Fellow Israelites, listen carefully to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man thoroughly accredited by God to you—the miracles and wonders and signs that God did through him are common knowledge— 23 this Jesus, following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands, and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him.
You pinned him to a cross and killed him! He was in their grill! He was bringing correction with a bold, fiery spirit! He wasn’t worried about hurting their feelings—he was proclaiming the power of Jesus! His goal wasn’t to sit down and ask how their heart was, how they were feeling, if they feel OK. He was in another mode, functioning in love, and rocking their world and exposing their thinking that would lead them to Hell! I’m sure they didn’t feel loved, but if they responded to Peter’s message, they would have been flooded with the experiential, burning love of Jesus!
- Hard messages aren’t driven by love—This is attached to the above point, but it’s worthy of some extra attention. Jonathan Edwards’ message “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” is largely dismissed by today’s ultra-sensitive, thin-skinned culture as unloving. I’ve heard it said that he didn’t have a revelation of the Father’s love. This is not only wrong, it’s a violation of scriptural truth! We cannot avoid the hard messages of sin, Hell and repentance out of fear that we’ll be rejected by those who are offended. We can’t modify our messages to sound loving—we must trust that the Word of God is a message of love! Truth delivered in love doesn’t always feel great, and it will offend many, but those who receive it are changed forever!
We could go on and on for quite a while discussing myths and deceptions regarding love. The enemy is terrified of the manifestation of true love, and he’s offering a castrated version of it to those who are seeking after good, happy feelings. Castrated love feels good, but it has no ability to bring forth life!
It’s time for us to trust God as he is, not as we want him to be. It’s time to dive into the Word and embrace Jesus as he manifests a variety of emotions which are all rooted in love.