I’m SHOCKED at how many Christians aren’t generous tippers and givers—and many argue against the need to tip their servers at all!
7 But just as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us–see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 2 Corinthians 8:7-8 (NIV)
Are you the most extravagant giver among those you know? Do you tip passionately? Are you looking for opportunities to bless? Or, are you holding back, expecting others to serve you? Has a spirit of entitlement and poverty gripped your life?
Here’s a truth that will set you free: If you expect other people, systems, the church, the government or any other entity to meet your financial needs, you are destined for a life of frustration and lack. However, if you are focused on giving to others, no matter your current financial condition, your joy will abound and your faith surrounding your finances will skyrocket.
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NIV)
- A spirit of poverty will cause us to keep the dollars that are actually meant to be sowed and multiplied back to us.
- A spirit of entitlement will result in a lack of gratitude, causing us to keep our money in our pockets while waiting for others to give us more.
- A spirit of offense will cause us to reject the call to use our money to bless others who we have determined don’t deserve it.
These three spirits must be eradicated from our lives. I’m offering a powerful, free resource at the end of this article to help you find freedom. Keep reading.
HOW COULD ANY CHRISTIAN ARGUE AGAINST TIPPING?
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)
I’ve heard arguments against tipping by Christians who honestly admit that sometimes they simply can’t afford it. I understand the seasons of scarcity, and I know that these seasons can come for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s our fault and sometimes it’s not. However, to presume in seasons of scarcity that we can still live large is a sign of these spirits having a root in our lives.
Entitlement demands they experience life the same way those who prosper do. They argue they have a right to eat out just like everyone else, even if they can’t afford to tip. This is absolutely nonsensical. In fact, it’s selfish and rude to expect a server to wait on us and then to tip poorly or not at all. Everybody is in a different financial position, and some can afford to eat out, some can’t. Some can afford to buy a new car, some can’t. Some can afford to go to the Super Bowl, some cant. Some can afford a new computer, some can’t.
Nobody has a right to things they can’t afford, including eating out. Some actually presume the tip to be an optional but unnecessary bonus for servers if they do a good job. I wonder how many people actually think that the majority of waiters and waitresses are mostly supported by their paycheck every two weeks. They aren’t.
In fact, are you aware that most servers receive ZERO dollars in their paychecks? They live solely on the generous tips from those who are eating at their tables. Taxes on those tips wipe out the $2.13 per hour that most servers make today. This means, if I don’t tip $20 or $30 on my $100 check, my server may miss a student loan payment or they may not be able to buy their children new shoes or take them to the amusement park they were promised. I take this responsibility very seriously. I want every person who serves me to be more blessed than I was by the time the hour-long dinner is over.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)
Our resolve to bless those who live on tips (servers, valets, hairstylists, bellhops, your Uber driver, etc.) should be a core value—even when their service is poor. My wife and I never decrease the tip by even a penny if we receive poor service. Why? There are many reasons. They may have had a bad day. The kitchen may actually be at fault. They are dealing with depression. Their family situation is bad and declining. They dealt with rude customers at their last table. Or, possibly, they have yet to meet Jesus. I guarantee I am not going to try to “teach them a lesson” by decreasing my tip instead of blessing them in the love of Jesus.
If we can’t bless those who don’t refill our drinks quickly enough, how can we presume to bless those who use and curse us?
27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:27-31 (NIV)
When the Bible talks about curses, that includes verbal assaults, insults and all sorts of mistreatment. We don’t seek revenge. We don’t try to teach them a lesson. We don’t leave a nasty note on the check. We don’t decrease our tip. We don’t attack them back. We love them. We bless them. We give.
BREAKING FREE FROM POVERTY AND ENTITLEMENT
I know many who are reading this are rejoicing. Many Christians are tired of others being such a poor representation of Christ. Many servers are tired of dealing with selfish, entitled people. There is a black mark on Christianity because of many in the after-church crowd on Sundays who eat together. They can be demanding, loud, difficult to deal with, entitled and absolutely terrible tippers. It’s embarrassing and many Christians out there have had enough. I know servers who despise working on Sundays. Great job Christians. You’ve made quite a name for yourself. Here’s some advice: If you can’t love your server and financially bless them radically, just stay home.
Nobody has the right to eat out if they can’t afford it. I was engaged in a Facebook discussion on this topic, and some came out of their skin with indignation that I would say such a thing. They feel no obligation to tip their server, and they believe their financial condition should have no bearing on whether they can eat out or not. I wondered if they also might just pay whatever they want instead of the total on the check. Do they just pay what they can afford when checking out at Walmart? Of course not. But, they choose not to pay their server’s bill (their tip). This is a clear indicator of being driven by poverty and entitlement. If you can’t afford to tip at least 20%, you can’t afford to eat out. Most definitely stay home or eat somewhere where tipping isn’t expected.
In order to break free from from poverty and entitlement, we must crucify our flesh and become radical givers instead of expecting others to meet our needs. There are many mad people in the world. Mad at pastors, government, friends, their church family and others for not meeting their financial needs. This mindset will ensure they remain sad, angry, disillusioned and in lack. We break the demonic grip of poverty and entitlement by turning the tables and giving with passion instead of expecting others to give to us.
1 As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4 (NIV)
The poor widow had every right to be bitter at the church and at the rich. The natural reaction when in lack is first to look to others to resolve our problem, and second to despise them when they don’t. The widow was applauded by Jesus because of her heart. She had the greatest need yet still gave everything she needed to live on. She wasn’t entitled, and, believe it or not, she didn’t have a poverty spirit. She certainly wasn’t offended.
Here’s a comment by my wife, Amy:
We have always tipped both in times of plenty and in times of lack. During our first year of marriage we were very poor, with (nearly) no money for Christmas presents and a sack of potatoes for Christmas dinner. We were barely scraping by. However, if we chose to eat out we calculated the tip amount into the cost when deciding whether we could afford to do so. I'm sure our server made a better living than we did at the time. It didn't matter. It's never appropriate to withhold what a server is due in an attempt to better our own financial situation.
I remember that season very well! In fact, I still vividly remember standing next to the sack of potatoes in the grocery store in Cleveland, Tennessee 23 years ago wondering if we should use our few remaining dollars on it along with a frozen chicken. That was to be our Christmas dinner. We did buy the potatoes and had just a little cash left over. On Christmas morning, my gift from my wife was a belt (that didn’t fit) and my gift to her was a Jenga game (that she was upset I bought because we needed that $10 for bills). That afternoon we had friends over to eat our chicken and potato feast—and then my wife burned the chicken. One of our friends ran home to get a frozen pizza. We enjoyed a wonderful mashed potato and frozen pizza Christmas dinner!
In that season finances were scarce, though we were working hard. Our car was bashed in on the passenger side and the doors didn’t open. We had to steer about 30 degrees to the right in order for the car to drive straight. We replaced the tires with $5 used tires once every couple of weeks due to the misalignment. We couldn’t afford a repair.
The bottom line is we had almost nothing and we very rarely ate out. Why? because we knew our $40 check would end up being $50 after tip. Instead we’d eat at home or grab something from McDonalds. It wasn’t our right to eat out if we couldn’t pay our bill—including what was owed to the server.
It wasn’t only our faithful giving to the church and to ministry that broke us out of lack. It was a “widow’s mite” attitude. We expected nobody to pay our way and we knew that we must be radical givers at restaurants and other places. If we couldn’t afford to tip, we stayed home.
The same is true with the church. I can’t imagine how anybody would attend a church, utilize their children’s ministry, receive teaching and be welcomed with open arms without giving extravagantly. We should give radically to the church, period. We should attend church with the same attitude as when we eat out. We are there to bless them instead of expecting them to bless us. We want to give with passion.
It’s true that the church is called to take care of widows. But, here’s the problem: when we stomp our foot and demand to be served because of this instruction in Scripture, we align ourselves with the spirit of entitlement and poverty, even though the church should in fact be helping. We should give and bless even when we aren’t taken care of in ways we should. Don’t blame, don’t point fingers.
Here’s a portion of my Charisma Magazine article The Spirit That’s Taking Over Our Nation—And It’s Not Jezebel:
It's time to repent for a spirit of entitlement that is destroying our testimony.
the condition of having a right to have, do or get something
the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges)
In a self-centered, narcissistic world, one can only presume entitlement would be in the mix, as well. This attitude is doing great harm to our testimony as Christians in addition to creating a proud, lazy people who expect to be served instead of to serve.
I’ve heard about godly people who always tip double their check. I love this! While I wouldn’t suggest it’s mandatory to do this, I would suggest it’s mandatory to tip at least 20%. In fact, I’d encourage you to consider other opportunities to break off spirits of poverty and entitlement such as tipping double the check, paying for another patron’s check (including a huge tip), occasionally tipping five or six times the amount of the check or more and other opportunities to radically bless. When we give to others instead of demanding they give to us the spirits of entitlement and poverty lose their grip.
A SPIRIT OF OFFENSE WILL ENSURE YOU REMAIN ENSLAVED TO POVERTY AND ENTITLEMENT
Too many live offended lives. Offended that others aren’t taking care of them financially, offended that others are prospering and they aren’t, offended that they are continually overlooked. We should live free from offense. In fact, I’d like to offer my most popular teaching titled “Unoffendable” at no cost to you. Trust me, it’s revelation that will change your life dramatically!
You will receive the audio teaching, the eBook and teaching notes at no cost whatsoever. You can get this powerful resource here: www.burton.tv/free.
A spirit of offense is absolutely deadly. It will cause your love to grow cold and your heart to harden. It’s a death sentence. This spirit will cause you to rise up against others instead of serving them. Your unmet demands and expectations will result in a dark soul, a life of lack and deep resentment. This three-fold cord of poverty, entitlement and offense will imprison all who embrace these evil spirits.
When we break these three spirits off our lives, and discover the power of Kingdom finances, we can live free and full of joy, no matter how much money is in our account.
Faithfully giving and passionately tipping all who serve us out in the world will result in remarkable, prosperous, victorious lives!
Shock Christianity: A prophetic alarm is sounding as a code blue church is under the shock paddles of the great Physician.
I’m going to take the opportunity to lay some very important things out on the table—in the hopes that God will bring clarity to what is expected in this end-of-the-age season that we are in.
**Near the end, I will share very important information about why I focus on such a narrow, offensive, troubling message. It’s important that you hear my heart on this.
Here is a provocative podcast on this topic:
I had planned on writing an article dealing with the issue of love as it’s revealed through prophetic voices for the last week, and since then I’ve had at least a few key unexpected discussions regarding what one called “Shock Christianity.”
I believe this is evidence that it’s time to both humbly ask God to inspect our hearts (as I always do when I find myself in such active and controversial seasons) and clearly communicate what is truly to be expected.
It’s extremely easy to point out self-defined lack in another’s life with the accusation that they are not acting in love. This is an accusation that I and many other aggressive & prophetic leaders, who shock and rock and tear down idols and altars, have received more than once.
The problem? There’s confusion about what love is, and also about how to react when someone isn’t manifesting love in the way we think they should.
Friendship & emotional intimacy
For many, especially those with a high mercy gift, the seemingly obvious, non-negotiable manifestation of love is close friendship and deep, emotional intimacy.
This isn’t an inappropriate desire—it’s the way many are wired. But, it is inappropriate to presume that a lack of emotional intimacy is evidence of a lack of love.
It’s too easy to point a finger at someone who has healthy boundaries setup and accuse them of not loving you. The accurate analysis would actually be that they most probably do love you, but they don’t desire emotional intimacy with you.
In fact, it may hurt, but we have to understand that not everybody wants to be our friend! That doesn’t mean they don’t love us, it just means that they don’t feel impressed to develop that type of relationship with us. They are limited in their ability or desire to befriend certain people, and that’s OK. It’s normal.
I personally know that not everybody will like me, and not everybody will want to be my friend. It would actually be really bizarre if that weren’t true!
Additionally, for many leaders, their primary goal isn’t to connect with everybody, but rather it’s to connect everybody to God. That is a valid and important ministry.
I think of Mike Bickle who isn’t going to just befriend anybody who walks into IHOPKC, but he absolutely will invest every ounce of his energy to help you connect to Jesus. What love that is!
What is love?
That’s a loaded question. I feel all of us would agree that the answer is wildly expansive and multifaceted.
And that it is. If the definition of biblical love is so deep and wide, why is it that we get offended when someone doesn’t fit our shallow and narrow definition of love?
If you search for “God’s Love” on Amazon, it returns 311,863 available books. It’s an inexhaustible topic!
When you read scripture, it is, again, inexhaustible. Of course, we do have quite a wonderful definition here:
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (ESV) 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I personally consider this passage often. Really, I do so continually. For me, loving with God’s love is non-negotiable, though it is so easy to fail. The fear of the Lord is on me regarding the issue as this passage reveals a sharp warning to those who minister without loving. For someone with a “shock Christianity” mandate, this is all the more sobering. I must love without fail while shaking the sleepers. If love doesn’t drive the shaking, if it’s selfish ambition or greed that does it, I am in big trouble.
Now, this passage isn’t to be used as ammunition against others who don’t measure up, but rather it’s to be a sword to our own hearts. We need to let God break us. Don’t look to others who seem to be failing in love and accuse them of failure. You love them without reserve! Cover them as Noah was covered by two of his three sons. Don’t be the son that exposed his father’s nakedness! That results in a curse!
Genesis 9:20-27 (ESV) 20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.”
Here’s the questions we have to ask ourselves to ensure we are personally living in the love of God:
- Am I patient? This doesn’t mean we aren’t bold or that we don’t challenge people to pick up the pace. This is a heart issue. Can we advance with determination while also honoring people who are slower than us?
- Am I kind? This is also an attitude of the heart. It doesn’t mean we are passive or soft spoken. It just means we are looking out for the needs of others.
- Do I envy others? Jealousy divides. Enough said.
- Do I boast? Do I have pride that results in attempting to outshine others?
- Am I arrogant? Boldness and arrogance are closely related. One is Holy Spirit driven, the other is not. I’m sure people might accuse me of arrogance due to my aggressive, urgent focus on life, and my unwillingness to entertain lukewarm theologies, but I am consistently asking God to search my heart on this. I desire to be bold without reservation, even if it looks like arrogance. I’m not out to prove I love people. I’m to love them, and sometimes it can get testy as I promote God’s messages that irritate the resisters.
- Am I rude? I post a lot on Facebook and Twitter. My goal is to be extremely provocative (to shock!), and I’ll talk about that more in a bit. But, it is always extremely important for me to not be rude. It’s critical that while I provoke, that I also honor and refuse to react in a rude or condescending manner.
- Do I insist on my own way? This is about selfishness. Am I self-centered and demanding? Or, do I prefer others above myself?
- Am I irritable? I will admit that I wrestle with this one at times! It’s usually small but nonetheless meaningful issues. I have to be sensitive to my family by not getting irritated when they aren’t in the car ready to go on time or when the kids chores aren’t done. I have improved much, but I must remain sensitive to this.
- Am I resentful? When life doesn’t go as planned, do I resent God or other people who didn’t live up to my expectations?
- Do I rejoice at wrongdoing? Or, do I do the opposite as revealed in Ephesians 5 by exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness?
Even when accusations of lacking love fly, we can humbly go to prayer, let God search our hearts and review the above scriptural revelation of what love looks like.
So, if someone is aggressive, bold, focused, not easily approachable, confrontational, controversial, troubling or intent on tearing down false ideologies that people hold dear, does that reveal a lack of love? Not according to the Bible. In fact, they may love with such a passion that they are more focused on loving than on convincing people they love.
In our culture, love is defined in a way that is often different than what we see in scripture. For example, there is a false-love movement on the rise that presumes that relational friendship is a required manifestation of true love. I disagree. That false expectation will leave many wounded when one who does truly love them doesn’t show it the way they would prefer. Offense will follow and division, hard hearts and cold love are next.
This is an eternal issue! We cannot allow false expectations result in cold love! If others don’t love us the way we want, do we ourselves lose our love for them?
Matthew 24:10-13 (ESV) 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
I’ll say it again—true love doesn’t demand that others respond lovingly. True love is seen on the cross where Jesus didn’t demand any affirmation, friendship, encouragement or any outward manifestation of affection. We know from the encounter in the garden just prior to his arrest that he desired relational closeness, but he didn’t get offended when his friends slept while he sweat and bled.
True maturity comes from our garden experiences. If we can’t escape the lonely bleeding in the garden without offense toward unconcerned, selfish sleepers rising up in our hearts, how can we expect to take up our cross for them? Do we demand that they manifest love toward us, or do we simply love them unto death?
People who struggle with fear and rejection are often hit by the enemy regarding this. They so crave affirmation (which feels like love), that when they don’t get it it’s easy to accuse the person of not loving them. The problem? Affirmation and love are not the same. You can love someone without affirming them, befriending them or even talking to them!
John doesn’t love people
I told you I was going to lay it on the table!
This one hurts so deeply!
There was a situation in Colorado many years ago that resulted in an underground, “spirit of Absalom” situation that was fueled by offense. I started to hear the rumors: John doesn’t love people. Amy and I felt like we were hit by a train.
Someone on my staff had a false expectation about something incredibly minor. I was unable to meet that need due to needing to be somewhere later that night. It wasn’t until months later that I put two and two together and realized that an underground movement of gossip was setting my staff and team against me. The accusation? I don’t love people because I wasn’t there for them that day, and since that situation revealed my true, unloving heart, and my motives in ministry were now compromised, there must be an effort to resist the ministry—and, for them, it was in the name of ‘love’!
My initial split second reaction when I received knowledge of the situation was this: That doesn’t make sense! I love that person and the others so much. Of all things how could that be the accusation?
I was really saddened that those who I expressed love to by welcoming them onto our team, supporting them in their ministries, encouraging them to be free to lead with passion, etc. were rejecting my expression of love! Wow! Isn’t it interesting how it all works together—how the enemy can twist and turn things in such a dastardly way!
This was the same individual that had come to me with a dilemma. She had to deal with a situation in the church, but she didn’t want to make waves. She asked, “John, how in the world can I handle this explosive situation and convince the person that I love them?” I simply responded, “Why are you trying to attempt to convince them you love them? Simply love them.”
If we try to convince people we “love” them, we won’t actually love them by administering true tough love, biblical discipline and challenges. True biblical love at times does not feel like the love our culture has defined.
This is the power of love languages at work. We can’t expect someone to respond in love according to our love language. They will naturally respond according to their love language.
Of course, we can try to reach out to people according to their love language, but, here’s the point I’m trying to make—a failure to manifest love according to another’s language doesn’t mean they don’t love—it means they aren’t expressing or manifesting love the way that seems obvious to us. That accusation must come to an end.
Can an introverted recluse so deeply love people he has never even met by writing checks for millions of dollars to charities? Yes! That is love though he would never hug you, seek friendship or even smile when you enter the room!
My heart breaks over situations like this. Can I love better? Oh man, YES! But, I also need to help bring this issue to the surface. Too many leaders are not living according to their calling because they are so busy modifying their personality and mandate to match what others expect!
We must love according to how God designed us. The cross wasn’t welcomed, but it was the method Jesus was mandated to use. It didn’t feel like love then, but boy was it.
True Expectations: Same love, different manifestations
I once mentioned to Chuck Pierce that it would be powerful to have a resource that explained how we can relate to various personality types, giftings and offices. What type of manifestation of love is typical in a pastor? What about a prophet? I was hoping he would write this book on interactive Christian love, but maybe I’ll have to tackle that at some point!
For example, I often hear people slander the prayer movement by shouting that those who lock themselves in the prayer room for hours a day don’t love people. If they did, they would be out on the streets feeding the homeless or doing something else that relational and meets and immediate need. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While certainly some people who pray all day might struggle with issues of love, the same is true across the board. It has nothing to do with the manifestation (intercession, serving the homeless), but rather it has to do with the condition of the heart.
So, what should we really expect from others? Here’s a short, extremely simplified explanation that should set you free. If you don’t expect someone to express love in a certain way, you won’t be offended when they don’t!
In America, church leaders are almost always called “Pastor.” We need to fix this. Why? There are expectations associated with the offices, and if someone is not truly a pastor, when you call them pastor you are putting a burden on them they can’t bear.
In a true pastor, you might expect someone who loves to listen to your story and is ready to encourage you in it. They may be very relational, conversational and invested in people one-on-one.
A teacher might spend most of his time behind closed doors in study, and might not have a relational bone in his body—but he loves people by rightly dividing the Word. He love is manifested not through smiles and handshakes but through hours of investment in you through study and prayer.
An evangelist will show love by leading people to Jesus. This can get confusing for some who get saved, and then don’t understand why the evangelist isn’t his best friend. After all, they shared a life changing moment together! The reason? The evangelist is off loving the next person!
A prophet will show love through irritating you! I’m a prophetic Apostle, so this is my area of expertise. Prophets may have tears in their eyes and fire in their veins in the place of prayer that results in an uninvited confrontations. In fact, you can consider a prophet an uninvited teacher. He delivers what is not desired to a people who are asleep. Whenever you awaken someone from their sleep, you can expect them to be irritated—yet this irritation is a result of a man or woman of God who loves you so much that they can’t leave you in your condition.
So, you can expect sharp words of warning that are love-fueled alarms designed just for you. You probably wouldn’t expect a prophet to be ultra-relational (they make too many enemies for this to work!). They make horrible counselors most of the time. They love you much as the teacher does—through prayer-driven messages from God.
Apostles are always on the move. They show love by inviting you on the journey. However, they usually don’t wait for too long for you to catch up. For some that feels unloving, but the opposite is true. Their love compels them to move and build and advance into new territory so that many can be saved! While an apostle may not wait long for you, he will always be there to pick you up on his next loop through!
Don’t expect apostles to be locally minded. If you need someone to help with your current life situation, an apostle will show you his love by inviting you on a journey regardless of your current situation! You may need to find a pastor if you aren’t looking for that quite yet!
A one string banjo
As someone who’s not a pastor, I find myself, by design, extremely limited in my message. I’m a one string banjo. Maybe two string.
If I asked you what a particular pastor’s message is, you probably wouldn’t be able to answer. He will usually teach on many different topics.
But, if I were to ask you want John the Baptist’s message was, you’d have an answer—REPENT! PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD! Like John the Baptist, prophetic leaders are one string banjo players.
For me, EVERYTHING I do in ministry stems from one encounter and one message. After an encounter of being dragged toward Hell, God spoke this to me: John, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.
My love for mostly nameless, faceless people burns so hot that I simply cannot deviate from my message of warning. I am loving through provoking people into safety. I am, as someone used the terminology yesterday, a shock Christian. I’m a prophetic messenger that sees time running out.
The horrific confusion regarding the issue of salvation in the Western church is the key reason why I am so intense. I am intentionally WAY off balance due to off-balance theologies. People are going to Hell. They think they are saved.
Just so you know how I see things, due to this encounter that I had 22 years ago: when I’m in a vibrant, Spirit-filled church of, lets say, 1000 people…people who are lifting their hands, worshiping Jesus and paying their tithes…I see maybe 100 of them, on average, ending up in Heaven. That’s not a judgmental statement, as I have no way of truly judging that on a person by person basis. It’s a spiritually analytical reality for me. How can I stay silent even for a day if billions of unsaved people are going to Hell PLUS many more others in churches who are following Jesus in an unsaved condition?
In fact, I’ve often said that I give myself only an 80% chance of making Heaven. If I were to die today, I’m about 99.9% sure I’d be there. However, the Bible is clear that there will be a great falling away. Even the elect will be deceived. If I presume myself to be exempt from that, I am presuming myself to be among the elect—and I am surely deceived. I absolutely can fall away from Jesus, and I don’t take that lightly.
George Barna revealed in a recent poll that only 8% of Americans are Born Again. Only 4% have a biblical world view!
My mandate is simple—love people by communicating to them truth, sounding alarms and tearing down doctrines of demons and humanistic religious idols.
Additionally, as a prophetic Apostle, those warnings come with an invitation—to get equipped to do the same, and to run with me as I charge ahead. I’m looking for modern day Paul Reveres who will love people through shocking and shaking deadly systems!
Running with me will be a joy if you want to be rocked and challenged as your destiny is called out of you.
The label of “shock Christian” fits the movement I’m a part of. I’d rather you be shocked with truth now than shocked to find yourself in Hell one day.
I am extremely thoughtful, prayerful and boldly intentional with what I communicate. Do I always do it perfectly? No way. But I try. But, you can know that I love you deeply and will be in prayer continually as I get the ‘now message’ of the Lord. The message will probably trouble you at times. It is supposed to. The paddles must be placed on ALL of us at times to shock to life a dying part of our lives.
You may wonder why I don’t deviate from this approach. I hope you now know why.
And, let me say this. I think it’s an indictment on our passive, timid culture when, what I consider to be mildly jarring truths, seem to be so extreme and impacting. It’s an indictment on the church when truth is shunned when it troubles or causes discomfort. What I post, honestly, is simple, old school Christianity. I’m saddened that people find it drastic—but so be it. I will continue preaching it until drastic becomes normal again.
Offense leads to imprisoned people and hatred…and it must end!
Offense immediately divides you from the ones you are supposed to be serving.
Listen to my number one most requested message, Becoming Unoffendable here: http://media.johnburton.net/3194395
Offense has very serious eternal implications attached to it. In 1000 years everyone of us will be somewhere…based on what we do right now…and if we are offended, we are at great risk of falling away.
Also, another key message, The Tone of the Groan is a MUST hear! Listen to it here: http://media.johnburton.net/2232968
Check out this testimony I received today:
I listened to your cd “The tone of the Groan” and all I can say is OMG!!!! I have NEVER heard a sermon preached so powerfully especially about the groan! Nobody talks about that!!! You so have to come here and preach that!!!! The CD rocked me! Blessed me!!! It was soooooooooooo good!!!!!
After hearing your CD – well first I was mad because I stopped the groan, I stopped the Holy Spirit. Then I repented for being embarrassed, for grieving the Holy Spirit and for denying the preciousness and power of the groan. And now I am thrilled!!!! I was born to groan!!!!!!!! I’m so happy I heard your CD – you have no idea!!!!! Oh I wish you were my Pastor!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!! What a blessing you are!!!! I’m so glad God crossed our paths!!! You have no idea!!!!!
Here’s my personal, raw notes from Becoming Unoffendable if you’d like to follow along!
I. The greater the mission, the greater the opportunity for offense.
a. PS 119:165- Great peace have they which love your law: and nothing shall offend them.
b. The call to the Christian life is a call to challenge and great cost.
i. As the end draws nearer, we will have to become more broken and surrendered.
c. Jesus warns that, as we near the end of the age, a majority of people will be offended to such a degree that they fall away from the faith.
i. “Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another . . . and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:10-12 KJV)
ii. Francis Frangipane- Paul told Timothy to “reprove, rebuke, exhort” (see 2 Tim 4:2). He didn't say, “exhort, exhort, exhort,” but exhortation is what we receive in most churches. Certainly, we need to be encouraged, but there are also times, beloved, when we need to be reproved and rebuked. Today, there are preachers who are afraid to preach truth for fear people will react and leave the church. The end result is a church of easily offended people who cannot grow beyond their inability to accept correction.
People don't change by exhortation alone. There are areas in all of us that need to be confronted and disciplined. The pastor who refuses to discipline and correct those in sin is in disobedience to God. He is unable to lead people into any truly transforming changes in their lives; they will not “endure to the end” if they cannot be corrected (see Matt 24).
iii. If your emotional health is dependant on you being right and others acknowledging that, you will not last. You will not endure. You are at great risk of falling away!!! Please understand this!!
1. It’s so important that we endure! We cannot be offended! We cannot abdicate our responsibilities and leave our missions due to offense!
2. As the mission intensifies, you will have every opportunity to be offended.
a. You may not be acknowledged the way you think you should be.
b. You may feel rejected as you are challenged to grow beyond where you currently are.
c. The call to participate at a high level may offend.
d. You may have expectations go unmet.
e. And on and on.
d. Ezekiel 36:26-28 (NKJV) 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 “Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.
i. Offense leads to division. We see that everywhere—between people, in the church, small groups, etc.
ii. However, this scripture reveals to us that there aren’t to be multiple, divided groups—there are only two distinctions: God and his people. We shall be God’s people and he will be our God.
1. This means we are all called to unify, to be agreed and to be the body
2. For this to happen, we must go low, serve others and not ourselves
iii. God desires to put a new heart and a new spirit in us.
1. He desires no division among his people.
2. To make God's dream come true, many things must happen in us.
a. One of those things is that we must allow God to remove our hard heart and make it impossible for us to ever be offended.
i. Why is this important?
b. Proverbs 18:19-21 (NKJV) 19 A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle. 20 A man's stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth, From the produce of his lips he shall be filled. 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.
3. Wow… offense is a death sentence! It imprisons us! It consumes us, we speak it out, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Jesus understood the power of offence, and he went out of his way to ensure others weren’t ensnared by the prison of offense.
- Matthew 17:24-27 (NKJV) 24 When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” 26 Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”
- It's not a matter of right vs. wrong, but rather on serving.
- 1 Corinthians 10:32-33 (NKJV) 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
- Look at the extent that we are called to go to ensure we do not offend others!
- 2 Corinthians 6:2-10 (NKJV) 2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. 4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
- This tracks back all the way to the Garden of Eden.
- Offended: to feel vexation or resentment usually by violation of what is proper
- There are two trees by which we can live.
- The tree of knowledge of good and evil.
- The tree of life.
- The tree of knowledge of good and evil just pumps out the fruit of offense.
- I'm right, you're wrong
- You hurt me
- You made a bad decision
- You don't care about me
- The reason ‘Christians’ so often look defeated, angry, bitter, hopeless and desperate is because they looked to these rules and regulations as their bridge to God and they have left them dusty and dry.
- The difference between Christians and the World is not the ability to keep rules or even the different believes but it is that we have found life and they have not yet found life.
- Formulas will never set us free. We hear people say all the time that ‘I’m a good person’.
- The reality is that Christians that live in the TKGE have the exact same attitude!
- In this world of blinded eyes, dull ears and hardened hearts, the life of God isn’t imparted according to formulas, but rather by dynamic, life-giving relationships.
- A person living in the tree of life loves and serves in the spirit of Truth (Jesus) while those living in the tree of knowledge of good and evil are fueled by facts.
- Genesis 3:1-7 (NKJV) 1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.' ” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
- Interestingly, Satan appealed to Eve's desire for godliness… but, while it resulted in knowledge it was void of life. A form of godliness but void of power.
- Their recognition of their own nakedness was correct, but it was different than the revelation that God wanted for them.
- He wanted them to be childlike, but now they didn't have that capacity
- Kids are dependant, innocent, needy, vulnerable, fragile.
- Those that leave that become self-sufficient (fig leaves), not innocent (no payment for their sin), protective, defensive, proud, puffed up.
- When they ate of the tree, they became servants to it.
- Genesis 3:22-24 (NKJV) 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”– 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
- Genesis 3:17-19 (NKJV) 17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it': “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”
18. The tree of life that grew out of the same ground that God created Adam from was there to feed them… now, the tables were turned… they were now assigned to serve the ground, to till it. Their knowledge of good and evil resulted in slavery.
xix. Many live in the TKGE their entire lives. Many Christians.
xx. John 5:39- “You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
xxi. Remember, we should seek Truth ahead of facts!
xxii. If we live in the TKGE we tend to always blame! Parents, pastors, politicians, our boss, the way we were raised, etc.
xxiii. The TKGE always makes us point at somebody and say “I can’t, because they didn’t”, but the TOL says “I can, no matter what they do.”
xxiv. Jesus said the truth must be written on our hearts, not just our brains!
1. John 8:30-36 (NKJV) 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free'?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
2. Proverbs 3:3-4 (NKJV) 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.
a. Facts have the power to divide, but truth delivered in love, with mercy, as they are written on your own heart, will result in favor with man! It's a powerful contrast!
b. We cannot elevate our opinions above the opinions of others.
c. Remember God's dream is for there to only be two involved parties- God and his people. We are knit together in love!
Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV)
2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Like-mindedness requires submission!
. Whenever two disagree, the result must be agreement!
i. The tree of knowledge of good and evil just grows and grows as we attempt to figure out right vs. wrong!
ii. We must learn to die to our opinions!
This tree is absolutely deadly.
Matthew 24:9-13 (KJV)
24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
That verse reveals three things that will happen if we allow ourselves to become offended:
. Betrayal, hatred and cold love.
i. This is the enemy at work to divide and conquer!
ii. We must see this!
iii. Gossip is actually revenge and hatred!
iv. For someone who is offended, betrayal, hatred and cold love all go hand in hand.
v. The last verse told us to endure. If we are to endure we have no choice but to deal with every issue that has an opportunity to cause us offense.
vi. We don't have the option to be offended, to withdraw.
vii. Between now and the time we die we will have huge opportunities to be offended.
viii. It will imprison us!
Proverbs 18:19 (NKJV)
18:19 A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle.
vii. We have seen this happen- people that are offended become defensive, lose their freedom, lose their love, retreat, leave churches, etc. The enemy wins day after day as he places the spirit of offense in people's hearts.
viii. We can't underestimate the power of the enemy on this one.
9. As Christians who are fighting against the enemy, we must never embrace the enemy!
. If we do, surrender the tree of life for the tree of knowledge of good and evil- and die.
a. We'll find ourselves unable to connect with God.
b. We won't be able to forgive.
c. We'll do everything we can to prove our point.
d. Gossip will be what makes us feel good about ourselves!
Jude 1:16 (NIV)
1:16 These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.
j. God hates gossip, complaining.
Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV)
6:16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
xi. The tree of life is very different!
0. When people negatively affect our lives, we heap blessings upon them!
a. We smile a lot!
b. We encourage them!
c. We allow ourselves to be refined and even corrected through them!
d. Joan Harmon- never stopped smiling!
e. Others refuse to smile until they finally have nothing to complain about.
Philippians 2:14-16 (NKJV)
2:14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
12. To live in the tree of knowledge of good and evil results in complaining, which God says is a sin.
13. However, if we hold fast to the word of life there is rejoicing!
n. Repentance is wonderful as it causes us to immediately start feeding off of the tree of life.
. Francis Frangipane- An offense can strike at our virtues or sins, our values or our pride. It can penetrate and wound any dimension of the soul, both good and evil. I once brought a series of messages about gossip. Most people saw their sin and repented, but a core group of gossips were greatly offended and ultimately left the church. When the Holy Spirit exposes sin in someone's soul, if they refuse God's transforming grace, they often become offended at the person who brought the teaching. We need to become a people who say, “Lord, show us what needs to change in me.” I'm talking about growing up. A wise man will receive a rebuke and he will prosper. But a fool despises rebuke. (see Prov 17:10)
Opportunities for Offense
. When we're not recognized for our good works and ministry.
Philippians 2:3 (NIV)
2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
i. I understand the wonder associated with being fulfilled in ministry, but we must be very careful!
ii. Ministry literally means- to serve.
iii. It's not a stepping stone to greater ministry, to recognition, to public accolades.
0. There are people who are on public platforms simply to stroke their own ego when in reality God is calling them to serve behind the scenes.
1. Paul often starts his letters with, Paul a servant of God.
Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV)
13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
d. False expectations
. This is when we expect people to fulfill our lives rather than God.
0. We look to man to validate us, encourage us, love us and speak well of us.
1. When this doesn't happen, when we look to people to do what they really aren't designed to do, our false expectations lead to offense.
2. People will always fall short!
3. People can't meet our every need!
4. They won't meet needs that maybe we think they should!
5. This is why marriages can be so rough.
6. This is why church relationships can be difficult.
7. We want people to jump through our hoops! Stop it!!
8. When God becomes 100% of our provider and rewarder, what people do really doesn't matter that much anymore.
9. Francis Frangipane-
the very power of our expectations can choke out the sweetness
>of a personal relationship. Suppose that, instead of burdening people
>with our expectations, we simply learned to appreciate them for
>themselves – no strings attached. The fact is, our loved ones are not
>under any obligation to fulfill our expectations. If they do fulfill
>them, it is their free choice, not our demands, that makes for a loving relationship.
5. Train yourself- don't ever tip a waitress based on service, but rather out of love.
6. Jesus said the greatest among us would be the servant of all.
. We serve the waitress, those we hire to fix our plumbing, people under us at work, our spouse, and on and on.
7. God's offense
. Before God will elevate someone, he will often give them an opportunity to be offended.
0. Our pride and false expectations must die.
1. The Holy Spirit moves most freely when we lose our dignity!
2. God will rebuke and challenge and put people in unfair situations to see how they will respond.
3. Dreams must die, we must lower ourselves.
Matthew 15:25-28 (NIV)
15:25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs.” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” 28 Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
8. He called her a dog! He was testing her pride and she responded in humility.
2 Kings 5:1-12 (NIV)
5:1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. 2 Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman's wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!” 8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha's house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” 11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
ix. God will give us opportunity after opportunity to become offended.
0. We must stop saying, “I thought”.
1. Naaman's own expectations did him in!
2. Lean not on our own understanding.
3. Live in the tree of live.
4. Bless those who curse you.
5. Love and serve and talk well about your enemies.
6. Turn the other cheek and allow someone to hurt you again.
7. Become a servant to all.