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.
We could spend trillions of years learning about and discovering and encountering the love of God. In fact, we will do so throughout all eternity. The Bible itself exhorts us to learn about love:
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.
You might be surprised at the danger in the worship movement and how we connect to it.
I had a prophetic dream that is extremely simple to understand—the prophetic warnings are being drowned out by casual spirits and, yes, even today’s worship movement.
Ezekiel 13:1-3 (ESV) 1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the LORD!’ 3 Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!
Ezekiel 13:6-9 (ESV) 6 They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the LORD,’ when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. 7 Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the LORD,’ although I have not spoken?” 8 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord GOD. 9 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
There is a rapidly increasing movement of people who are shutting their ears to any prophetic words that have any measure of alarm to them. The warnings are not wanted as they threaten the current structures of comfort and ease.
These people are at risk of a catastrophe that will mercilessly hit them and those who have been influenced by their messages of peace and safety.
There are true voices that must emerge and declare the word of the Lord in its pure form.
If we EVER temper a message in the pulpit, online or one-on-one in the hopes of maintaining an audience, we've become a 2 Tim 4:3-4 false-teacher.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV) 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Revival always includes the conviction of sin on the part of the Church. What a spell the devil seems to cast over the Church today! ~Billy Sunday
I was the guest speaker at a church, and I was burning with an extreme prophetic message that I knew every single person must hear. Not only must they hear it, but they had to allow God to break and wreck them so they could become carriers of that burning message. God needed them to proclaim the word with boldness and brokenness.
It was time to begin the service, and I was on the platform feeling troubled and confused. I had about eight friends with me, people who were absolutely given to the message and who were standing very close to me.
Other than my friends, literally nobody was listening. Even the leadership was absent. People were dressed in shorts and flip flops and casual clothing and were just slowly walking around taking to friends.
My disturbance kept intensifying.
To my right there were a couple large garage doors and they were both open. People were moving out of the building and out onto the grass. It was a beautiful, sunny day.
As people kept leaving the building, someone walked close to the stage as I was preaching with unction and urgency, and he attempted to drown out the message by singing a worship song. It was a brilliant tactic. After all, it’s good to sing songs of worship in the church, right?
When he finished singing, the building was nearly empty. In my desperation to get the message relayed, I too went outside.
My friends and I left the building and stood on a small slab of concrete outside. I continued to preach, but it was as if I was nearly invisible and inaudible. From time to time people would wave and wink to me as an indicator that they are “with me” and to thank me for my ministry. I didn’t want their thanks. I wanted their hearts.
My friends pressed very close to me…so close that we were all squished together as a single unit as I kept preaching truth.
The people kept playing while we kept trembling.
I then noticed that some chose to climb a tree. When they decided to come back down, one of them fell just a couple of feet and those around them were alarmed and looked right me. They demanded that I leave my place and come over to help. I was grieved.
I did leave the concrete and tended to the person who had an extremely minor injury.
Distraction and a casual, playful, self-centered spirit overpowered the prophetic word of the Lord.
I then woke up.
We live in a day where churches promote comfort and self-satisfaction. Coffee, personal ministry, blessing, programs and other lesser things are overshadowing the call to the cross. The alarm of the hour is not a welcome sound.
Casual spirits are driving the culture. The problem? The message of the cross is not a casual message.
The bottom line is this: A casual spirit will always reject a prophetic warning if it threatens their comfort. A prophetic spirit will always threaten something.
A.W. Tozer: I want the prophetic spirit upon me or I want to die.
In the dream it was significant that even the leaders were absent.
The pastors of that church should have been on their faces in deep repentance as they led their people into brokenness!
Nobody in that church had any concern about their own salvation (they should have), the condition of their city or the message of God. All was well. Peace and safety were the cries of their hearts.
My friends who were very close to me represented the remnant—those who are broken and surrendered and devoted to the call. They counted the cost and said yes.
Please keep this in mind—the remnant is an extremely small percentage of people in the church. Don’t presume that you have signed up as an end-time remnant Christian just because you go to church, love God and want revival. True remnant people aren’t only interested in revival, they are invested in it. To find a remnant Christian is actually quite rare, though every Christian has been extended that invitation.
Possibly the most interesting part of the dream had to do with the person who walked up to me and started singing a worship song.
I believe we are in a place of both great hope and great danger in regard to worship in the church.
True worship is going to return to the church. That’s the hope. There is a great movement of groan and intercession driven worship and adoration to Jesus that’s coming. It’s not here yet, but soon can be.
The present danger is great, however.
The worship service can easily become the lazy man’s intercession. Please consider this point carefully! The church is to be a house of prayer for all nations!
I’ve been in ministry for over 22 years and it has grieved me time and again when people would come and go based on the skill, style and feel of the worship team, but are indifferent regarding the prayer focus. In fact, when the call to worship is sounded, people flock, but when the call to prayer is sounded people flee.
This is disturbing and it’s an indictment on the church!
We don’t attend a church based on it’s ability to appeal to our desires! My God! How far have we fallen?
At Revival Church we recently made a bold decision for our current season—when our worship leader moved on, I decided it was time to bring intercession back to first place.
Instead of sitting back or lightly engaging as someone else leads in worship, we are calling the entire body to pray with us boldly for an hour prior to the teaching. Fervent prayer has replaced musical worship! The experience of worship or any other thing can no longer trump the call to pray and to deliver the prophetic messages of God.
In fact, I’m confident that biblical worship will emerge from this platform of prayer and no longer will we casually connect to God when the music plays. Musical worship has taken a back seat to the word of the Lord and it will again be calibrated to God’s heart.
If you want to gauge the spiritual maturity of your team, call a prayer meeting. Develop a prayer culture. Bring prayer front and center where nobody can hide. It may be offensive, but it’s simply true that only the broken, hungry and maturing will remain. It shocks me that people can lead worship, pastor a church or function in ministry without a vibrant, all-consuming life of prayer! It is actually rare to find praying church leadership in America!
There are individuals who have never done anything for Jesus Christ, and I have no doubt there are preachers as well, who have never done anything for the God Almighty. ~Billy Sunday
“If we do not praise we shall grow sad in our conflict; and if we do not fight we shall become presumptuous in our song.” –Spurgeon
Worship leaders who don’t burn night and day in intercession need to take a critical break to rediscover the God of their songs. A fearful tremble and awe must return to worship.
In the dream I moved to a concrete slab outside of the building as the people were scattering and playing. I have been crying out for the last several months for the pavement people to emerge! These are people in the remnant who are not looking for personal comfort, affirmation or anything other than hitting the pavement in true worship.
2 Chronicles 7:3 (ESV) 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
I was on the pavement with my friends who were staying very close to me. I continued to preach in desperation as people were in the vicinity, but who were not at all provoked by the message. They were certainly not responsive, and, of course, they were in no place to become carriers of that fiery word for the nations.
Again, my grief escalated.
The types of distractions that the enemy will attempt to force on us are extremely hard to counteract.
First, it can seem strange and wrong to label worship as a disturbance or distraction. The enemy is often using worship, as I shared above, to provide people with a false sense of intimacy with Jesus, or at least a radically minimized encounter with him. If the music is good and even slightly anointed, and it feels peaceful or invigorating, then our job of honoring God seems to be done. We don’t have to go any deeper in Jesus. We are satisfied. It’s time to move to other things.
Additionally, the person that fell out of the tree was wounded, ever so slightly, and all eyes were on me to help. So, the corporate prophetic alarm ceased.
The problem? The person should never have been in the tree. They were called to the pavement. Their improper positioning negatively impacted the masses.
When we are close together, there is safety. Risk is minimized. Even when there is an issue, we can all stay together, in position as we serve one another.
Those in the Upper Room in Acts 2 certainly tended to each other as they were all on that holy pavement, that place of coming encounter and intercession for the nations.
Those who are scattering and playing instead of gathering and praying are loosely connected until crisis comes.
It’s time that we are “all together in one accord in one place” as they were in Acts 2.
A RESISTANT CHURCH
As it was in the days of Noah, so it is today. The alarms are resisted.
Matthew 24:37-39 (ESV) 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Do we not know that God is raising up prophetic voices to help us? Why would we reject the warnings?
It’s time we gather and pray. It’s time.
I asked a question on Facebook recently:
If your church cancelled everything for a year…cancelled children’s ministry, teaching, programs, pot lucks, small groups…and replaced those activities with prayer meetings, would you stay in your church?
One response rocked me. It encouraged me that the remnant is out there:
That’s when I’ll return to the church.
Friends, it’s time that we embrace a God that loves us enough to keep us from slumber, to shake us with warnings and to prepare us for the tragic and glorious end-time shocks that are coming to the Earth.