Why are American Christians afraid of a virus? The answer is sobering.
Scrolling through Facebook I happened upon a simple yet interesting post. One of the comments was even more intriguing.
“Show me the verse in Scripture that says God heals everything but coronavirus.”
A sharp-witted respondent typed: Matthew 13:58.
58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:58 (ESV)
That's the sobering answer I alluded to. Instead of boldly standing in authoritative opposition to a wicked threat, the common reaction of so many of today's American Christians seems to be unbelief.
Those who are to be driven by fearless faith are instead shaken by the winds of the world.
AN OFFENSIVE MESSAGE
56 …Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him…” Matthew 13:56-57 (ESV)
A lack of faith most certainly results in a lack of mighty works. Matthew 13 makes that clear. The preceding verse reveals the root of their unbelief: offense.
In our current crisis I'm stunned and saddened by the reaction of supposed Christians to the few who are rallying the troops to arise in faith and healing. These cries for the church to confidently confront the spirit of the age and to believe without wavering in the healing power of Jesus are being met with resistance. How can that be?
Where did this man get all these things? That's the question being asked by doubters when people of great faith proclaim the Word of God. Just who do you think you are? What type of hocus-pocus are you communicating? Don't you realize how scary this virus is? Your lack of concern is foolish. Your so called faith is dangerous to our nation's health.
It's true, we are living in a day when many in the church are quicker to trust in science and medicine than in the Word of God. Facts trump faith in today's secularized society.
It would do us well to learn from the test that King Asa failed.
12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians. 2 Chronicles 16:12 (ESV)
The next verse displays very clearly what this strategy of healing results in:
13 And Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign. 2 Chronicles 16:13 (ESV)
If we allow fear to drive us, we will have no choice but to defer to the physicians in our search for health and safety. Fear destroys faith. The only way we can approach God for healing or anything else is by faith.
Unfortunately, it's obvious that many in the church haven't learned from King Asa. Calls to stand in confident faith are rejected as a nonsensical threat to their safety. What they don't realize is a refusal to believe sets them up as easy targets of the enemy.
A SUPERNATURAL CHURCH
It truly is shocking that many Christians today don't live in the supernatural realm that is so obvious in the Word of God.
As Believers, we have access to mind-boggling benefits that few take advantage of. In fact, many fully reject these spiritual realities. They become offended when faith-filled Christians challenge them. “Where did you get all these things” is the question they ask. Where did you get these bizarre beliefs that are contrary to common sense?
The Bible. That's the answer to their strange, humanistic question.
17 …“He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” Matthew 8:17 (ESV)
The truth is that the blood of Jesus is sufficient for coronavirus. If we are afraid and default to human wisdom as we fight against it, we will lose. There will be no protection beyond what science can provide.
If we live as supernatural people and expect miracles and wonders to surround us, we will thrive no matter what plague may befall us. Healing, authority, power, freedom, joy and absolute victory are all ours as Believers! Fear, worry and defeat cannot stand against mighty, supernatural faith!
The church should be sounding a universal proclamation that Jesus heals and that fear can't stand! The world should be amazed and provoked by a joyful, fearless and faith-filled Church. Life for Christians is radically, wildly, supernaturally different than those who haven't surrendered to the Lord. No weapon formed against us can prosper!
Instead, so much of the church is nervous, afraid and campaigning for worldly potions, provision and protection.
LIVING IN A NATURAL WORLD
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (ESV)
Wash your hands. Wear a mask if called for. Go to the doctor if needed. Do your due diligence. But don't put your faith in such things.
Our faith is in the miraculous. It's in the invisible wonders of a loving, omnipotent God.
Don't get offended when someone challenges your response to the threat of a virus. Instead, admit your unbelief, repent and determine to live in a realm entirely different than where the world lives.
As Christians, we should be experiencing supernatural power and incredible miracles regularly. The authority we have over the enemy is extreme. The promises of God open up a world of wonder to all of us who walk in the mysterious realm of faith.
To think we are limited by science and human wisdom is silliness at best and blasphemous at worst.
It's time for the supernatural, fearless church to arise!
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)
Originally published by The Stream.
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!
Read a BRAND NEW ebook for ONLY $2.99: UNOFFENDABLE: How to Break Free from the Prison of Offense
This powerful teaching is a part of my book Carry Like Mary. The moment you grasp the revelation that you are a carrier of God, everything changes. You will begin to move into uncharted territory and unquestionably will begin to touch some religious idols that others hold dear.
Additionally, you will become a threat to the darkness, and the ruler of that realm will unleash his most strategic military campaigns against you. One of his most effective attacks is offense. He will go to great lengths to shatter your soft heart of love through the attitudes and verbal violence of those you are called to lay your life down for.
The greater the mission, the greater the opportunity for offense. Can you imagine how Mary must have felt? She was called to steward the greatest mission in history by delivering Jesus, while, most certainly, being assaulted left and right by those who disapproved of her pregnancy.
People will disapprove of your supernatural pregnancy. As a carrier of God, you will draw criticism and will regularly be targeted because of what you carry-who you carry. The nuclear power within you is an extreme threat both to the kingdom of darkness and the status quo of the church. Be sure, you will draw attack from all sides. The spirit of abortion that's so vicious in our nation is killing more than precious babies. It's attempting to neutralize and eliminate any threat of God being delivered through you.
It's that attack that you must be aware of. You must guard your heart and be very sure that you are not offended when other people assault you.
(You can read this and ANY Kindle book on your PC, laptop, tablet or phone! You don’t need a Kindle device.)
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.
Does a moment go by that we don’t hear about some group or movement making demands for their supposed human rights?
My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. John F. Kennedy
What happened to this? What happened to America? What happened to the church?
John 15:13 (ESV) 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Today we are absolutely overwhelmed by the constant, self-centered shouts of those who demand that their country—or their church—gives them what they believe is rightfully theirs.
It’s a false human rights movement.
The RIGHT to abortion. The RIGHT for same sex marriage. The RIGHT to be equal. The RIGHT to be heard.
It’s a sickening, selfish focus that is driven by human desire instead of a willingness to take up our cross and die. How often have people left churches because their supposed rights weren’t addressed? How much dissention is in the workplace because people are looked over in favor of another?
I’ve said it before—today, when people’s self-centered pursuits are rejected, they abandon relationships, leave churches and cause division, but when Jesus was rejected, he didn’t abandon people. He didn’t forsake the church.
He let people kill him so they might be saved. He died so the church could thrive.
My point in this article isn’t to address specific issues as much as it is to deal with a deadly demonic spirit that is extremely advanced in its progress in the destruction of the church, and thus, the nation.
A SPIRIT OF ENTITLEMENT
This spirit is pervasive in our nation, and, unfortunately it has infiltrated the church to such a degree that it has altered the very DNA. Today people attend church with expectations of how they should be treated instead of a plan to lay down their lives for the sake of the mission. There is a predetermined checklist of items that they presume they are rightfully entitled to. If those demands aren’t met, then trouble is initiated—just as the enemy planned.
This spirit of entitlement convinces us to look inward and fight for our perceived rights. It’s fueled by pride that results in the pursuit of personal attention, gain and satisfaction.
Isaiah 14:12–15: How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
Lucifer was focused on self—entitlement. This pride resulted in destruction beyond anything we could measure. He fell and weakened the nations simply because he was focused on self!
America, are you listening?
Because of Lucifer’s attitude, millions of people have been destroyed, the Holocaust terrorized a generation, an ancient flood destroyed the masses, 55 million American babies have been murdered and Hell is growing in size to hold the increasing number of people who will live there for eternity.
Yes, a spirit of entitlement destroys.
Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 11:2: When pride comes, then comes shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
Proverbs 18:12: Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.
TAKING ON OFFENSE
When entitled people gather together, you have a union. Here in Detroit, this is understood well. There are certain expectations that must be fulfilled by leadership, or, those in union will threaten harm to them or the organization. This concept isn’t hard to understand. Often on the news we hear of school teachers or bus drivers who are in a union, and when their demands aren’t met, they strike.
When an entitlement isn’t met, offense is the result—and when people are in union with another who has been offended, they very quickly take on that offense—and, again, it is deadly.
We see this happen in churches all the time. Offended people have friends, who, unify with them and come into agreement with their arguments.
Of course, it would be very easy right now to start considering all of the secular benefits to actual unions. We could discuss how the playing field is evened and the way leadership treats the working class is improved by holding them accountable.
But, I’ll say this very clearly—this spirit of false unity, entitlement and offense has no place in the church. And, our nation would begin down the road of healing and strengthening if we all stopped making demands and started serving, loving and following Jesus and the principles of scripture.
An offended people will destroy a nation. A surrendered people will build a nation.
As an example, the spirits of entitlement and offense drive the abortion industry. False compassion, demonic in nature, is one of the tools that is used to gain sympathy and support for that movement. The threat is that we will come across as unloving, uncaring people if we oppose that movement. The same is true with the homosexual agenda. False love results in accusations of homophobia and hatred for those who don’t support their movement.
Our only weak, predictable response seems to be, “We love the sinner and hate the sin.”
We as prophetic voices in the church must brake off intimidation and fear of man! Keep in mind we are wrestling against demons, not humans. What is difficult is when humans embrace the lies of the demons, we who stand for truth can come across as attacking those people. So, many Christians avoid any appearance of conflict at all.
LISTEN CLOSELY: People are going to enter into Hell today! If we don’t have bold prophetic messengers rise up in the spirit of John the Baptist, in the spirit of David and other historic Godly warriors, millions upon millions of people will actually, literally go to Hell! If it’s rare to make it to Heaven, and common to enter Hell, how can we sit back and avoid a violent conflict with those forces of Hell? We cannot!
Matthew 11:12 (ESV) 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.
Check out this commentary on the above scripture:
Greek: biazo (GSN-<G971>), to use force, to force one's way into a thing. The idea here is that before John the kingdom could only be viewed in the light of prophecy; but now that it was preached, men were pressing into it with ardor resembling violence or desperation. They appeared as if they would seize it by force (Mt. 11:12; Lk. 16:16). It expresses the earnestness that men must have in getting rid of sin, all satanic powers, the world, and in standing true when relatives oppose them (Mt. 10:34-39). Dake's Annotated Reference Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments of the Authorized or King James Version Text.
This is where we are now! Let the fire-branded, love-driven warrior bride arise!
When David killed Goliath, it’s true that he killed a human, but he was actually fighting against a demon that was manifesting through a human. David didn’t sit down in a coffee shop to passively, casually discuss the dispute with Goliath. He was ready for a violent assault against the kingdom of darkness.
He made clear what the situation was and what was to be done! How easy it would be for David to be accused of not loving Goliath! But, the truth is that David loved God first (Luke 10:27) and was fully invested in partnering with him. Human arguments would have to meet the fierce decrees of the child of God! Fear-driven false humility was not an option for David. David was on a mission of salvation—the salvation of God’s people.
1 Samuel 17:26 (ESV) 26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
David was bold! Who is this uncircumcised Philistine? He was calling out Goliath’s immorality and his lack of consecration to the Lord.
Come on church! Quit cowering in false-humility and rise up in the greatest love this nation has ever known! It’s time to declare the word of the Lord to the uncircumcised enemies of the Lord in America!
But, beware, many in your sphere, in the camp of the Lord, will also be intimidated by your love driven boldness. The prophetic, apostolic anointing often results in jealousy and accusation against the one advancing fearlessly. Accusations of pride will always accompany those who are willing to live radically by laying down their lives for the Lord.
1 Samuel 17:28-29 (ESV) 28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?”
His brother attacked him! I’m sure he felt conviction as little brother David was going to do what every other person should have done—deal with the uncircumcised Philistine with expediency!
Will you raise your anointed, prophetic voice, or will you seek a false sense of peace? Remember we are to be peacemakers not peacekeepers! We cannot keep peace were there is no peace!
We have no obligation to passively form our words in such a way that we will be heard. It’s time to bring a shaking to this nation—before it is literally destroyed!
1 Samuel 17:41-46 (ESV) 41 And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel…
It’s time that we go after the anti-Christ spirits that are overtaking our nation! We can no longer use human arguments. It’s time that we are anointed in the boldness and power of the Holy Spirit! We aren’t to prove our love, we are to love—and true love brings true problems in the pursuit of liberty for a nation! We see this cover to cover in scripture.
LET ME BE CLEAR: I DEEPLY LOVE BUT DO NOT CARE
I will say it very, very clearly. I RADICALLY love those who are advancing humanistic agendas, even though you may not believe me. That’s your battle, not mine.
Jesus loved people though he would not bend to their demands. He cared about their emotions, their hearts, their eternities—but, he didn’t defend himself. He let his accusers kill him. Who was the one who cared and loved when he was lifted up on a cross that day?
In an attempt to break the church out of a passive, false-love driven debate over holiness and morality I will say this very clearly:
I DO NOT CARE ENOUGH, young woman, about your career, your comfort, your supposed right to independence or the crisis and cost a new baby will bring to your life to affirm your plan to kill your baby. You are not entitled to comfort. You are not promised happiness. I challenge you to lay down your life for a baby that God thought enough about you to entrust its care to.
When you wave a coat hanger in the air during an abortion rights protest, you are declaring that you have more compassion for one who would intentionally harm someone than one who is being harmed. The answer to losing access to ‘safe abortions’ (how is intentional murder safe?) is not to head out to the back alley to abort the baby yourself with a hanger—it is to have the baby and love it with selfless passion! The answer is so simple!
I DO NOT CARE about a supposed right to sexual freedom, gay or straight, that results in a devastating lifestyle that is bringing destruction on our nation. Decrees of holiness must return to our churches and nation again!
I DO NOT CARE about equality in our nation if it results in climbing over people who are in our way or forcing them to affirm our self-centered position. It’s time that we lay down our demands, surrender our agendas and quit manipulating systems in a selfish pursuit of personal gain. It’s time for humility to reign in America again!
Christian leaders I honor you deeply and pray for you and I do understand the pressures you are under. However, I DO NOT CARE about personal agendas, self-centered ministry projects, your self-assigned titles or ego-driven programs and will not unite with those who embrace them. Your legacy and history in the city is meaningless unless it results in a future of Holy Spirit freedom for desperate people. I will expend energy, time and money to run with you if you are humble and passionate about the plans of God in the region. Let’s slow the flow to Hell together.
Philippians 2:4-8 (ESV) 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
I CARE ABOUT THE HEART OF GOD and his overwhelming love for people—and the fact that Hell is swallowing millions of them. I care about the clear truths of scripture. I trust in God’s wisdom and I refuse to allow humanism to gain the upper hand in the debate. I care about bold prophetic messengers who will lay down their lives and open their mouths and shout truth from the rooftops.
Today, not tomorrow, it’s time to die to self and run to the battle as the spirit of Goliath is threatening to destroy us. It’s time for the circumcised, consecrated lovers of God to take back America.
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.
There is a growing and unified cry in the church for a leaderless move of God.
First: Audit theLab this Saturday, June 18! This week’s class is based on my book 20 Elements of Revival. Discover how you can step right into God’s plan for city-wide revival! The cost is $15 and the class goes from 10am-2pm. Just show up, no registration required. We meet at THE TABERNACLE: 14205 12 Mile Road, Warren, MI 48088.
A Nameless, Faceless Revival?
A common, unified cry is echoing throughout the landscape of the church—especially the revival ready church—the next move of God is going to be nameless and faceless.
This sounds right. It feels saturated with humility. In fact, I whole-heartedly agree with the base value that every Believer must embrace radical surrender, humility and must repel temptations for pride and accolade. We must go low and not desire our names or our faces to be known. It’s all about the fame of Jesus.
We decrease as God increases.
However, the assumption that God is done with acknowledging and burning through individual, human leaders is, in my analysis, a knee-jerk reaction to some epic failures in the lives of key leaders in recent movements.
Simply, people are offended. Many have allowed the spirit of offense to take root in their hearts, and it has led to radical distrust of Christian leaders and a violation of clear, theological principles. One of those principles is that God identifies, promotes and even publicizes humans for the sake of Kingdom advance.
Humility Breeds Boldness
True humility doesn’t result in permanent hiddenness. It results in a fiery boldness that rocks religious structures and an alarm that is heard far and wide.
In scripture we have men and women who have been tapped by God to be seen and heard as they gather people and deliver mandates and messages to the masses. They have a name and they have a face.
Consider Moses. He was the meekest man on the face of the Earth. He was also the human leader chosen and promoted by God to be seen and heard by all of Israel. True humility results in legitimate ministry that has visible impact. It’s actually false humility that would cause us to retreat. And, if we expect others to retreat as a visible sign of their humility, we are placing an unhealthy expectation on them. We are not to blend in, we are to stand out and call out.
In fact, God gives grace to the humble. Grace is God’s enabling power to accomplish what is humanly impossible. When mortal humans start walking in supernatural, miraculous grace, and divine messages are delivered, and lives are transformed and bodies are healed, you can’t expect that person to go unnoticed.
One inherent weakness with the nameless/faceless campaign is that of identity. True humility results in an overpowering revelation of who we are in Christ. We are weak yet he is strong. We were created in his image. We are the head and not the tail. Above and not beneath. We are serious authorities in the Kingdom.
In fact, it is in God’s nature to promote. He does it out of love and honor of his people, but also because it’s strategically necessary. It’s a divine strategy of Kingdom advance that has been used time and again.
Joshua 3:7 (ESV) 7 The LORD said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.
Joshua was the leader, and Joshua was exalted. He wasn’t nameless and faceless. Just like so many men and women of God who have been called today such as Lou Engle, Bill Johnson, John Kilpatrick and others—Joshua had a name and he had a face that everybody recognized.
Why is this important? So people knew who to follow! It really is as simple as that! The person called of God for that special role must be known so they could lead the masses into their own destiny of revelation of who they are in Christ. So they can move in clear unity under prophetic and apostolic direction.
Paul clearly said to follow HIM as he followed CHRIST. That was a bold statement that I’m sure many translated into pride and arrogance.
What are the issues?
- Offense: People are so upset with and offended by the failures of people like Todd Bentley, Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart an others that they have simply determined that God must be offended at them too. God must be done with them. However, we know scripturally that a spirit of offense will imprison people. In fact, it can lead people right down a path of extreme destruction. An offended heart that loses trust in people that God is moving through can do great damage to God’s plans for revival. This is why it would not surprise me at all if God chose to use fallen people to launch some of the great end-time revivals through. God still trusts, promotes and governmentally uses people. Apostles, prophets, evangelists and others are uniquely gifted to do what others cannot do.
In fact, the idea that everybody is to be nameless and faceless is truly nonsensical if we really think about it. Even those who have been deeply offended by the Todd Bentley’s of the world still admit to acknowledging other leaders who have a name and a face. They read books that have the author’s name clearly marked on the front and their photo displayed on the back. They promote other, likeminded Christian leaders they enjoy listening to. They gravitate to certain Bible commentaries that are written by humans. I could go on and on. We aren’t in this alone, and even offense can’t stop us from following anointed men and women of God—though we might be doing it with a wounded, bitter heart.
- Insecurity: The belief that we are all given equal assignments, equal levels of promotion and equal giftings is simply misguided. Only one person in the entire world was called, anointed and graced to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. His name was Moses. Only one person in the world was called to facilitate the Brownsville revival. John Kilpatrick. Of course there were many other key players in the stories, but there was only one leader. The same will be true in Detroit where God is preparing a massive outpouring. We must keep our eyes open for who were are to respond to. Who will God be using here?
An insecure leader, and especially an offended, insecure leader, is at risk of devaluing God’s chosen leaders and separating out and away from the greater city mission. A church planting coach once told me that the greatest threat in a new church plant is an insecure leader who refuses to acknowledge others who are more gifted and qualified than he is. They keep their people away from others who have more influence, anointing and authority than they do. They don’t bring on staff that would threaten their leadership abilities. So, in effect, the entire church is weakened and usually dies because of an insecure, threatened and prideful leader. This can happen in the greater city church as well.
For example, I’m fully aware that the revival that’s coming to Detroit will probably not arrive at my church. The chances are slim. So, with that in mind, I understand that other people, with names, faces, influence, differing theological bents and abilities well beyond my own (or even much less than my own) are great candidates for God to choose as leaders for the Detroit outpouring. So, the right move would be to acknowledge these human individuals and support them just as Israel was called to support Moses and Joshua.
- Entitlement: It’s extremely easy to presume, especially in this competitive nation of America where every boy and girl is told (improperly) that they can grow up to be the President of the United States if they want, that we are entitled to be equal in every way with other leaders.
A common take away is this: if someone is flamboyant, aggressive and driven, and they are in front of a revival or Christian movement, they MUST be doing something unholy. There must be arrogance or self-exaltation in the mix. Why? Because we are all created equal, and I haven’t been afforded the the opportunity to be out in the front like they are. My humility is keeping me grounded and their pride is resulting in self-promotion.
Sound familiar? We simply have to understand that everybody isn’t entitled to be in the forefront. But, just because someone is on the platform doesn’t mean they are there because of selfish desires. Even if they are bold and aggressive and persuasive, it isn’t a mark of an unholy attitude. Often their mandate is so heavy and urgent that they can’t take a casual, passive or slow approach. Study the prophets of the Bible. My oh my, it seemed like they built their own platform and demanded everybody’s attention. However, the reality is that they had a special calling that others didn’t have. They weren’t entitled to. That doesn’t make them better or more loved, but it does mean that they had a job to do that most others didn’t have to do.
I’ll finish by reemphasizing a point that is at risk of being overlooked. God demands humility. It’s non-negotiable. He resists the proud. We should esteem others more than ourselves. We should never take the credit that belongs to God. We should always boast in the Lord.
That being said, the clear, biblical expectation of humility is extreme, anointed boldness that will draw the attention of people, demons, angels and God Himself. In fact, those with the greatest humility will often be those with the greatest call to extreme leadership. Many people will know their name. They will recognize their face. Get to know them well. You just may be called to minister with humility and passion under their leadership.
God has a new heart for us that cannot be offended, an “unoffendable” heart. Beloved, possessing an unoffendable heart is not an option or a luxury; it's not a little thing. Consider: 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 have been casting a very costly vision for revival in Detroit. I have a great friend in Ireland who was with me in Colorado Springs when Secret Prayer was functioning. Like we are beginning to do now in Detroit, we prayed in a different church every Friday night in Colorado Springs from 10pm to midnight. It was a powerful movement. Strangely, after dealing with the topic of offense the last few days here, my friend just so happened to mention it as he was encouraging me in this new city prayer strategy:
Expect a good offended carnal Christian sorcerer's curse to fly your way, but just cancel it and move on. If they're really seeking God's power, they'll eventually repent and come back. If they don't then they're not seeing themselves properly within the context of the Body at large, and won't be able to support the necessary ministry to the whole body that the Spirit's going to stir up.
Offense is one of the primary issues that pulls people out of position. It’s a very serious issue. When the challenge increases, when the prophetic message strikes a nerve, a soft heart will respond in joy while an offended heart will often respond quite differently. A prophetic call is actually holy communication, it’s a message that has attached to it the expectation of response.
What often happens first when a heart is offended is that the enemy will fight this call to action, this holy communication, with silence. Dialogue, discussion, prophetic response, revelation, etc. will cease as it gives way to an underground movement of murmuring. The Absalom spirit is often awakened right at this point.
Of course, silence isn’t always indicative of offense taking root. Some people are simply wired differently, or are slower to respond, or need additional time to process the call. However, I do believe you can look at the broader picture and if the large scale communication drops at the point of prophetic communication, it would do you well to gather the intercessors and to pray against that spirit.
There is a desperate cry from a remnant for the bar to be raised, for the prophets to step up and unapologetically call the body to the cross and into a culture crashing reality. Just today, someone said to me (slight paraphrase), “John, you just have to go! Lead in the fullness of your mandate, you have to be released and not held back.”
I want to exhort you to move with great passion, from a place of extreme challenge and full of the Spirit of God. To continue doing what we have been doing while expecting a different result is insanity. We must have reformation in the structure of the church—and the cost will rock us to our very core.
Note that this is a prophetic call, a prophetic ministry, a prophetic movement and it’s led by prophetic people. To run a race like this one requires that you understand the characteristics of prophetic people. This will help with understanding the call and what the focus and flavor of the mission is.
Definition of a prophetic movement: People who are uniquely called as spokesmen for a cause; advocates; a vehicle to advance a movement
Characteristics of Prophets/prophetic people:
l. Strong Personality
Innately the prophet has a strong personality. I have never
met a true prophet who didn't have, in secular terms, a type A
personality. Prophets are usually intense about most things and
are always intense about their walk with God. That is why
prophets often have difficulty understanding those who are less
than 100% committed to the Lord.
2. Direct - Issue Oriented
A prophet is very issue oriented and sees things in black or
white. For him there is very little gray and most things are
either right or wrong. Hence, a prophet will not easily
compromise on an issue. Nor does a prophet have a lot of mercy
for those who can't or won't measure up to the austere standards
of God as he sees them. Again, the mature prophet has love and
cares about God's people. But does he have mercy? Not much! I
always visualize Amos holding the plumb line as God's
stereotypical prophet. (Amos 7:7-9). The plumb line is
representative of God's righteousness on any given issue and, to
the prophet, all things relating to that issue are to be measured
against that plumb line.
3. Strong in Prayer
The prophet is given to much prayer. The true prophet has a
real burden, not only for God's will, but for His people as well,
both those saved and those not yet saved. This inevitably leads
to a strong intercessor's prayer burden for people and issues.
Remember, the prophet is intense and this intensity flows over
into his or her prayer life.
4. Outward Life in Order
The prophet generally has his outward life in order. Since
the prophet sees matters in black or white, he is much less
likely to become ensnared in outward sins such as adultery,
cheating on his taxes, etc. However, there are two big, covert
sins with which a prophet must continually battle. They are pride
and judgementalism. As God matures His prophets, this pride and
judgementalism gradually diminishes, but they are always a
potential snare for the prophet. These two sins are Satan's most
effective weapons against the prophet.
5. Authority and Power
A prophet, when moving in the prophetic call, will move with
great authority and power. When God delivers His word through a prophet,
it is God's power and authority that is manifested, not the
prophet's. Those who have a discerning spirit will know when the Lord
is delivering His word through someone be it spoken forcefully or given
in a whisper.
6. Prophets are Poor Long-Term Counselors
Prophets generally do not make good long-term counselors.
They lack the patience and mercy necessary for this kind of
counseling. A prophet is much more inclined to spend some time
with a counselee, give that person the word of the Lord, then
become impatient if the counselee continues to drift in his sin
or shows a lack of commitment to correct a failing.
7. Spiritual Gifts Accompany a Prophetic Call
The mature, called prophet will exercise many of the
spiritual gifts enumerated in I Corinthians, chapter twelve.
Though the prophet may operate all of these gifts at some time in
his or her ministry, the gifts most often manifested are the
prophetic word, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, and the
discerning of spirits. The prophet often is the first to spot a
demonic presence in a person or circumstance. Further, signs and
wonders such as healing, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and
the breaking down of demonic strongholds are often seen in the
Let’s discuss this tonight on theLab. www.revivallab.com.
Revival might come.
We all know that it should come, but there is a lot that must come together if we hope to have a foundation strong enough to sustain it.
If we understand that revival isn’t defined by a powerful church service, or by life getting suddenly better, but rather that it’s a calibration—judgment—as God brings order to chaos.
This calibration to biblical normalcy will give a massive opportunity for offense and complaining to erupt as God, in love, begins to touch what’s sacred to us but a hindrance to him.
The church is God’s governmental structure to initiate, facilitate and give structure to the wild fire that revival will bring.
Simply, we must be together, connected to apostolic leadership, deeply organized and ready to advance. The church must be on the same page, must be ready to deal with the people that are going to be flooding to the altars, and simply must be unoffendable, teachable and full of the Holy Spirit.
This teaching addresses all of these issues. You can listen by going to www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/teaching.
Here’s the notes so you can follow along:
Order in the Church- Preparation for Revival
I. Order and government is critical
a. 1 Corinthians 14:12 (ESV) 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
b. Titus 1:5 (ESV) 5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—
i. People who handle the spiritual duties of the church
ii. 1 Tim 4:14 “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you”
iii. 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (ESV) 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
iv. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ must not settle for anything short of godly leadership. Where can we find such people? Jesus said: "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Matt 9:37-38).
II. Demands of revival
a. In the midst of revival we will have every opportunity to succumb to the pressure.
i. To understand this, we must have a clear picture of what revival is.
ii. It’s not simply an outpouring, but rather it’s a recalibration.
1. The challenge, the pressure, the rebukes, the refining will be constant.
iii. Those who are mostly looking for the refreshing (99% of the people) will very possibly find themselves bruised, discouraged and disenchanted.
1. Wow, revival can actually bring people to a worse place!
b. Moses went through this.
i. He was the deliverer, the OT savior of the Hebrews.
ii. He laid down his life, he risked everything to liberate people, to bring revival.
iii. But, there wasn’t the order necessary to handle it.
iv. In fact, Moses, the heroic leader, got so depressed that he wanted to die.
III. Numbers 11
a. Moses engaged in communication with God such as no man had ever before experienced.
i. He talked with God face to face.
ii. All 27 chapters of Leviticus and the first 9 chapters of Numbers record God’s words to Israel through Moses while the people were encamped at Sinai.
iii. The statement, “The Lord said to Moses” (or similar) appears nearly 60 times in these chapters.
iv. The day then came for Israel to move on, to leave Sinai and travel on towards the Promised Land.
v. The cloud that hovered over the Tabernacle suddenly began to move, and Moses and all Israel knew it was time to break camp and follow the Lord.
vi. Moses was optimistic when they broke camp and was highly motivated after his personal communication with God over the past 12 months.
vii. Numbers 10:35 says, “Rise up, O LORD! May your enemies be scattered; may your foes flee before you.”
viii. Moses was pumped!
b. But, it lasted all but three days.
i. The complaining began.
ii. Even though they were better off now then they were when they left Egypt, they complained.
iii. Numbers 11:1 (ESV) 1 And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.
1. In the OT and the NT when there is a move of God, there are also casualties among those who respond wrongly.
2. Acts 5:4-6 (ESV) …Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
3. Take note, if we are crying out for the fire of God, we must understand just what we are asking for.
a. It’s both a refining fire and a consuming fire.
4. Numbers 11:2-3 (ESV) 2 Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down. 3 So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them.
a. People died, yet the complaining continued.
5. Numbers 11:4-6 (ESV) 4 Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. 6 But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”
6. Numbers 11:10 (ESV) 10 Moses heard the people weeping throughout their clans, everyone at the door of his tent. And the anger of the LORD blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased.
a. Weeping and despair when life isn’t going as planned is not the right response.
b. Later in this story we see that God gave them what they wanted—more meat than they could eat, and a plague landed on them as they ate.
c. Numbers 11:33-34 (ESV) 33 While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck down the people with a very great plague. 34 Therefore the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had the craving.
d. They buried the people who had the craving!
c. The pressure of the people got to Moses.
i. He actually asked God to kill him.
ii. The revival was in process, the miracles were happening literally every day.
iii. But, the immaturity of the people resulted in a negative response to God’s move.
iv. These negative responses, the complaining will result in many people being impacted negatively right in the midst of revival if we don’t prepare for it.
v. These responses will land right in the lap of the leaders of revival.
vi. God has a plan to deal with this issue.
d. Numbers 11:16-17 (ESV) 16 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone.
i. He will take some of the Spirit on Moses and put it on them.
ii. They shall bear the burden of the people.
iii. Mike Bickle- “I don’t do anything!”
iv. This is both an OT and a NT plan of action.
v. Acts 6:1-4 (ESV) 1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
a. So, we are in the gathering phase at Revival Church.
i. Many must be in position and ready to handle the needs of the people.
ii. My primary role is to hear from God, apostolically advance and raise up leaders… to pray and be in the Word.
iii. The rest will be handled by those who respond to the call.
iv. Most megachurch leaders don’t know what the day-to-day operations look like in any of the church’s ministries. He delegates authority.
v. This is where we are at now.