Has misguided spirituality stolen the gift of Christmas from you and your family?
My family and I live in Christmas ground zero—Branson, Missouri. The glory and wonder of the Christmas season in this tourist destination starts mid-October, successfully washing out the darkness of Halloween, and ignites the entire region in red and green. As I gaze through the window at Branson’s downtown Starbucks, where I’m writing this article, I can see a massive Christmas tree at Branson Landing on the shores of Lake Taneycomo and a huge crowd of people, many in their pajamas, at the Branson Scenic Railway depot waiting to board The Polar Express. The joy of Christmas has arrived!
We absolutely love viewing the 6.5 million lights at Silver Dollar City, one of the nation’s premier Christmas destinations. Holiday stage shows are numerous along Highway 76. Christmas lake cruises, drive through trails of lights, carriage rides and much more help make experiencing Branson one of the nation’s very best Christmas family traditions.
I can’t imagine not fully immersed in the wonder of Christmas—yet many Christians have decided to eliminate Christmas from their lives. Humbug!
I applaud Christians who want to live pure, holy lives, but eliminating Christmas is not the way to do that. Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year as we exalt Jesus and enjoy family in ways that cannot happen at any other time, in any other way! I’m absolutely convinced Jesus loves it when we have fun, laugh, enjoy each other and rejoice!
It's the most wonderful time of the year. With the kids jingle belling, and everyone telling you, "Be of good cheer," It's the most wonderful time of the year. It's the most wonderful time of the year. There'll be much mistletoeing and hearts will be glowing, when loved ones are near. It's the most wonderful time of the year.
FIVE REASONS why we’ve decided to celebrate Christmas with abandon:
Amy, one of my boys, Parker, and I just returned from Orlando, including a day each at The Magic Kingdom and Sea World. Both places, most probably for the only time all year, exalted Jesus through music and productions. I was excited to hear songs like “O Come Let Us Adore Him” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” joyfully playing as I waited for my (way too big) ice cream sundae in the Main Street ice cream parlor at the Magic Kingdom. I was even more excited to see a living nativity called “O Wondrous Night” being produced at Sea World! Of course, Silver Dollar City here in Branson is unashamedly Christian based. Their mission statement declares that all they do is done “in a Manner Consistent with Christian Values and Ethics.” The majesty of Jesus and his birth are proclaimed throughout the park. In fact, in their epic Christmas production, Dicken’s Christmas Carol, Scrooge has a powerful, tear inducing salvation moment that was the actual cause of his reborn heart.
You simply cannot escape the truth that Christmas exalts the King! Do many (most) people ignore this and focus on less spiritual Christmas experiences? Yes. However, even as they do, the name of the Savior of the world is proclaimed every time they mutter the word CHRISTmas. They can’t escape the Christmas music that proclaims the love of Jesus or the spirit of giving that Jesus best exemplifies.
Most Christians who argue against celebrating Christmas do so because of supposed pagan roots or because they have determined that it’s “not really about Jesus,” and should therefore be avoided.
First, Christmas is overwhelming about Jesus! However, that being said, if Jesus had to be the subject of everything we celebrate, we’d have to eliminate birthday parties, watching fireworks on July 4th, Veteran's Day, New Year’s Day and most other holidays and special events. Wedding parties would cease. So would graduation parties and other celebrations.
Second, unlike Halloween which is still very much a pagan, demonic celebration that should be avoided by every Believer, Christmas is currently a glorious celebration of Jesus, life and family.
We pay attention to current status, not origins. Anything can be redeemed. The current status of Halloween is a world-wide celebration of Satan. The current status of Christmas is a world-wide celebration of Jesus!
Additionally, if we eliminated everything from our lives that had pagan origins, we’d have a hard time functioning.
Did you know that the following have pagan origins?
- Wedding rings
- Wedding ceremonies
- New Year’s/New Year’s Eve
- Statues of people and animals
- Money has pagan designs on it
- The days of the week
- The months of the year
- Eye makeup
- Wind chimes
- Saying “Amen”
- Baby showers
- Making your bed
In the first-century Church, gentile Christians were told to avoid meat that had been sacrificed to pagan idols (Acts 15:29). However, Paul told the Corinthians that they could eat meat sold in the public market even though that meat may have been sacrificed to an idol (1 Cor. 10:25). He told them not to eat in the pagan temple. In other words, he told them to avoid blatant paganism, but they did not have to superstitiously avoid everything that paganism might have touched at some time in the past. ~gci.org
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
2. FAMILY & MEMORIES
I’m 49 years old, and I still have a hard time falling asleep on Christmas Eve! I remember the Christmas mornings that my parents made so exciting and special in the 1970’s and 80’s. We’d go to sleep with nothing under the tree…and then magic happened. When we woke up several hours earlier than normal, a bright light from an archaic movie camera blinded our eyes as we walked down the hallway from our bedrooms toward the living room. As our pupils adjusted to the light, we would witness what happened over night. Presents wrapped in black and white newspaper (to save money for gifts) filled the room!
I’ll never forget the disk drive I got for my Commodore 64. My parents were Christmas geniuses. The hour or so of unwrapping gifts, one at a time, led to one final, climactic moment when my brother and I excitedly and nervously wondered if we would get what we had hoped for. The adrenaline was pumping. The mystery was almost too much to bear! As I unwrapped that final newspaper covered present, my eyes popped open wide as I saw it. I got my disk drive!
Both of my parents are with Jesus now, and that disk drive is long gone. However, the memories that I have will live forever. I could share story after story from my childhood to current times that are so special to me. Spending time with Amy and the kids looking at Christmas lights or visiting Christmas villages and festivals, hustling and bustling at shopping malls and enjoying holiday attractions is precious beyond compare.
In fact, I’ll never forget the time, just a handful of years ago, my mom and dad filled their living room with presents, mostly for our kids. Skylar and Parker had wanted a Nintendo Wii, but Amy and I weren’t in a position to spend that kind of money that year. The last gift the kids opened resulted in jumping and screaming for what seemed like forever. They got their Wii. They played it all day. Grampy, dressed in his mismatched pajama bottoms and green T-shirt, spent some quality time bowling on the Wii with the boys. It was funny. I’ll never forget it.
My dad died shortly after that. That memory still causes a tear or two to this day.
Oh, there’s no place like
home for the holidays,
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam
When you pine for the sunshine
Of a friendly face
For the holidays, you can’t beat
Home, sweet home
3. SANTA CLAUSE & GIFTS
I’ll never apologize for loving gifts! I have so much fun buying gifts for Amy and the kids each year. I love receiving gifts too! I make out my list and email it to Amy early every November—and then modify it several times! It doesn’t mean I’m carnal or materialistic. It’s my love language. Some of you need to be delivered from condemnation that others have heaped upon you for enjoying gifts. Did the Wise Men not bring gifts to Jesus?
Celebrate the spirit of Saint Nick who selflessly gave. Amy and I share the truth about Santa with the kids so there’s no confusion there, and then we all celebrate the season with passion!
The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. (http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/)
There’s just something about the process of hunting for the perfect gift for the ones you love, finding the right size and color, sneaking it home, wrapping it behind locked doors and placing it in the perfect spot under the tree.
There’s also the excitement that I talked about in the last point. Gathering around the tree to take turns opening presents is an experience that can’t be duplicated any other day of the year. When I unwrap something from one of my little ones, no matter if it’s homemade or something from the dollar store, I come alive inside! The same is true for every other gift someone gives me, or for every gift I get to watch someone else open.
It’s the perfect opportunity to become childlike, to stop “adulting” for a while and just have fun!
After the gifts have been opened, the rest of Christmas Day is spent playing with new toys, playing new games, eating Christmas dinner and enjoying new things in a room littered with torn wrapping paper, boxes and glorious chaos!
Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
So, to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.
4. MUSIC, FOOD AND FUN
Is there anything better than a fire in the fireplace as Christmas music fills the room? Or, watching Rudolph on TV as a family for the hundredth time? Amy’s birthday is in November, and this year I bought her tickets to two stage productions: Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story Musical. We’ll have a wonderful dinner each of those two nights, and then head out to the show for a couple hours of Christmas fun!
Again, I’m growing older, but I am often the first one in our family to start watching the old Christmas shows on TV. I’ll go to sleep with Christmas worship playing in the bedroom. Compared to the rest of the year, it’s nice that so much of the entertainment the world is offering is clean, family friendly and wholesome. Christmas does that.
Rudolf, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.
All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolf
play in any reindeer games.
Then one foggy Christmas eve
Santa came to say:
“Rudolf with your nose so bright,
won't you guide my sleigh tonight?”
Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee:
“Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer,
you'll go down in history!”
5. JOY AND PEACE
As the wickedness of Halloween dissipates in the atmosphere, the Christmas season slows things down and just permeates the atmosphere with peace and joy. It gets dark sooner, it’s crisp outside, the snow starts falling and life just gets a little quieter. As the anticipation of Christmas morning is before us all, we don’t have to wait to experience all that Christmas has to offer. We can bundle up and walk through the snow or drive through the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights and decorations. We’ll put up the tree, hang the ornaments and relax as a family.
It’s no wonder that joy and peace come with the Christmas season. After thousands of years of hopelessness, a little baby was born in a stable in Bethlehem. He brought peace to the storm and joy to the world. He changed my life. I celebrate him on Christmas. The joy and peace in my heart are his gift to me.
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With the angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem!
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King!
Amy, the kids and I pray that you and yours have a truly wonderful, love-filled, joyous and peaceful Christmas. Enjoy your family, create memories and become childlike in this beautiful, wondrous season!
theFurnace: Pastors, leaders, intercessors and the remnant church that is hungry for revival must come together.
NOTE: Our next revival event is MONDAY, JUNE 27 AT 7PM!
NOTE: Our next prayer event is FRIDAY, JULY 8 AT 10PM!
Meetings and services alone won’t cut it. We must to gather a company of firebrands from the region to contend together. This is the first phase of the strategy for revival in Branson.
What would happen if every pastor of every life-giving church in the region gathered together each week in fervent, Spirit-driven intercession and prophetic impartation? The atmosphere in the region would receive a continual shock of holy fire!
I’m looking for a revival company in Branson. These are pastors, intercessors and others who are ready to move past meetings and programs and burn hot with others in the region.
We will meet in churches for intercession, as we have been already in Branson. We will also meet on certain Monday evenings for prayer, training and prophetic messages.
Frank Bartleman, who was instrumental in the Azusa Street outpouring over 100 years ago, sent Evan Roberts a telegram. Evan was giving leadership to the great Welsh Revival and Frank Bartleman wanted to know what he could do to see a similar move of God in Los Angeles.
What Evan instructed goes down in revival history:
Congregate the people together who are willing to make a total surrender. Pray and wait. Believe God’s promises. Hold daily meetings.
This is what we are working toward in Branson.
While local churches are an important part of the overall plan, local churches alone have no hope of initiating or sustaining regional revival without significant, strategic unity with the greater spiritual blueprint. It’s time to bring focus to the city church and to lock arms together with Believers in our region at a much higher and consistent level.
THEFURNACE MISSION STATEMENT & STRATEGY
theFurnace exists to gather forerunners who are united in the mandate to initiate reformation in the church and revival in the region. As carriers of the fire of God, we are single-minded in our mission to rally a generation that will embrace the cross of Christ, pursue radical holiness, engage in fervent prayer, live a life of repentance and experience both the freedom and the fear of the Lord.
CONSECRATION: As a company of reformers we are alert and intentional in our mission. The call for all is to gather together continually, free of distraction, with surrendered hearts, in unwavering agreement and with an unusual investment of time, energy and passion.
FIERY PRAYER: The biblical church is a house of continual prayer, and we commit to upholding that standard. Every Christian has the sober responsibility and wondrous opportunity to pray in such a way that the fire of God burns night and day in our lives, our church, our region and the nations.
FEAR & TREMBLING: The fear of the Lord will always be before us. Brokenness and repentance is a continual reality in the resulting atmosphere that will facilitate a historic end-time revival.
CULTURE SHOCK: When truth is preached, religious spirits react and the hungry marvel. Comfort zones are threatened and personal endeavors are disrupted. In the fear of the Lord, we will prophetically decree shocking and liberating realities of the Kingdom of God.
WONDERS: A supernatural baptism of fire will hit all who have given themselves to Jesus without measure. Death to self, humility and a bold, burning spirit of prayer will open the door to a life of wonders.
YOU ARE NEEDED
I am looking for a small company of people who will pray and advance together every time we have an event scheduled.
You are invited to be on that team.
Pastors, leaders, intercessors, prophetic people and everybody hungry for a move of God—will you contact me today? Share your story and let me know if you have any questions. Then, let’s commit to advance toward revival in Branson together!
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org TODAY!
I will be leading a new group based on my book Revelation Driven Prayer!
If you are in the Branson/Springfield, Missouri area, I’d like to invite you to a brand new prophetic prayer group!
I will be teaching out of my book Revelation Driven Prayer each week, and we will also be spending time in various expressions of prayer and intercession as well.
This will be a powerful experience and a great place for people of all types—from brand new Christians to seasoned veterans—to grow in prayer in a fun, joyful and casual environment.
The first meeting will take place in my home on Wednesday, September 9th.
If you’d like more info or want directions, contact me directly at email@example.com.
I can’t wait to see you there!
(Oh, yes, we’ll have coffee and snacks each week!)
15 spots remain! Burning ones are gathering together in Branson, Missouri TOMORROW, Friday, August 14th for a night of FIRE!
It’s finally here!
Tomorrow is going to be a night to remember as we burn hot, contend for revival and encounter the LIVING GOD together in Branson!
There are 15 spots left if you would like to register.
We are limited to the first 120 registrations due to the venue size, so if you plan on attending you MUST register. The registration form will be removed when all spots are filled.
Register here: http://www.carriersoffire.org/unusual
Prayer in the Cave usually fills up almost immediately—but we still have spots available!
People in the Ozark region are not familiar with our ministry Carriers of Fire International yet, and certainly have never heard of the prayer adventure called Prayer in the Cave.
This is literally a can’t miss experience!
When we were in Colorado we would take teams into cave systems and experience powerful seasons of prayer. Miracles have happened as have deliverances and stunning freedom. In fact, one story from the cave was depicted in a secular, off-Broadway production that toured the nation. God’s wonders were decreed to liberal audiences from coast to coast. Additionally the story was included in a book titled Healed! by Andy Sanders.
If you haven’t registered yet, there are a handful of spots left. I’m actually surprised it didn’t fill up on the first day. In Colorado the demand was quite high as reports of what God was doing began to spread. We do have people from other states on their way including one person who is using her air miles to fly in from Michigan!
You can register at www.carriersoffire.org/cave.
The adventure begins TONIGHT at Marvel Cave in Branson, Missouri at 6:15pm sharp!
In lieu of a regular CoFI Group teaching, I’ll be ministering LIVE from Poplar Bluff, Missouri tonight and tomorrow!
I’m excited to be speaking at the BULLHORN CONFERENCE at from Moriah Ranch in Poplar Bluff, Missouri this weekend—and YOU can watch starting TONIGHT at 6pm CDT!
To watch, simply go HERE at 6pm Central time!
Of course, if you are in the area, come on out for a powerful three services and practical prayer workshops!
SCHEDULE AND LOCATION:
Friday July 10, 2015 6:00PM
Saturday July 11, 2015 1:00PM & 6:00PM
Moriah Ranch Prayer Center (The Conference Center)
727 Ridge Avenue Poplar Bluff
Read the prophecy that was given the last time I was at Moriah Ranch:
PROPHECY – JOHN BURTON 5-09-2015
I feel the lord saying this location will be a bullhorn for the nations. This is a very clear word of the lord that I’m having right now. A bullhorn for the nations there will be messages come out of this place that other regions have rejected. And do not presume your voice to be quite.
Do not presume your voice to be insignificant. Obey my word and speak the word of the lord. And when that pure word comes out of you I will shout it to the nations for you.
I feel such a weighty sobriety about this. I feel god is waiting for a voice that will say the things that will get them kicked out of most churches, that will say the things that will cause their finances to come to a stand still- say the things that will cause them to be mocked and persecuted. He is looking for a people that are not trying to survive on this earth and pay bills and build a reputation. He’s looking for a people that will die that will be humble who will surrender all, who will open their mouths and shock the nations who will deliver people from sure torment in hell.
I hear the lord saying that before revival breaks out there is going to be a great calibration to the truth of the word of God that has been hidden under a bushel. Now is the time to shout the message to shine the light that will blind the eyes of so many that are not willing to see. There will be response by a ready remnant and a hungry people who will finally meet Jesus that they’ve only yearned for.
About Moriah Ranch:
Moriah Ranch is a beautiful working cattle ranch located at a gateway to the Ozark Mountains near Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Since the fall of 2009 the ranch owners, Jerry and Sandra Murphy have dedicated special areas of the ranch for prayer, praise and Christian fellowship. Its wonderful to see so many different people come to the ranch to pray and give praise to the Lord Jesus Christ. In June of 2010 we opened the gates for a five day prayer gathering during what seemed to be the hottest week of the year; however people came from several states and even other countries to pray. Some camped in tents and campers on the ranch while others spent the hot summer nights in local hotels with air conditioning, but all who came, stayed and prayed were truly blessed! When you approach the ranch property you will see three white crosses that speak loudly of the great price Jesus paid for our sins, and in the heart of the ranch just above the Indian Creek is our Prayer Altar where you will sense a “Shalom Peace” that passes all understanding of men. The Holy Spirit has spoken to us again to “open the gates” and once again to invite those people, who are called by His Name, to humble themselves and seek His Face and turn from their wicked ways in order that we hear from heaven and see our land healed. We welcome you to visit the Prayer Altar anytime to Pray, Praise & Worship.
Register TODAY! A handful of spots remain for Prayer in the Cave in Branson, Missouri!
July and August are going to be HOT in Branson, Missouri!
You are sure to be marked by FIRE as you experience God in powerful ways at our TWO upcoming prayer events!
Spots for both events are limited due to space. DON’T DELAY!
PRAYER IN THE CAVE
This is an experience unlike any you’ve ever had—unless, of course, you’ve joined us for a previous Prayer in the Cave event in Colorado!
REGISTER TODAY at www.carriersoffire.org/cave!
REGISTER for the Unusual event here: www.carriersoffire.org/unusual
VIDEO: Three of the crazy and wild Burton kids help announce PRAYER IN THE CAVE!
Registrations are coming in…and we began with ONLY 30 spots available!
You will need to register right away if you want to secure a spot in this powerful, unique prayer experience!
REGISTER TODAY AT WWW.CARRIERSOFFIRE.ORG/CAVE!
REGISTER TODAY AT WWW.CARRIERSOFFIRE.ORG/CAVE!
Experience a prophetic atmosphere of fervent prayer under the surface of the earth!
There are only 30 spots available for this unique experience in one of America’s largest caverns in Branson, Missouri.
This very special 4-5 hour event will be taking place beginning at 6:15pm on Friday, July 17th, 2015.
Do you have questions? Contact me direction ASAP prior to registering at firstname.lastname@example.org.