Those who don't know Jesus should not be expected to act like those who do.
(Looking for the article Dueling Puppet Masters: Controlling Pastors vs. Manipulative Congregations? Read it HERE.)
If you follow my ministry you'll know that I am an unapologetic preacher of holiness. You'll also know that most of my messages are directed to the church. Preaching holiness to the lost doesn't work well unless it's coupled with a powerful invitation to surrender all.
Those who haven't had a life-rocking encounter with Jesus are at a disadvantage and it's unfair for those who have been transformed to expect them to see things the way we do. In fact, to attempt to coerce them to adhere to our set of standards, in violation of their own free-will and their right to also have a say in morality is ineffective, and in most situations, unfair if not outright arrogant.
Who are we to say that pornography is wrong? What makes our version of truth regarding homosexuality more valid then theirs? To Christians, babies were created by God, given human spirits at the time of conception and they clearly, obviously deserve protection. Except, those who don't believe in God the way we do simply disagree that they are fully human at points of development prior to birth. They have a right to that belief, as horrifying as we think it is.
The result is a holy war between a group of people who have one set of standards and a group that has an entirely different set. Coercion in the political realm, in the high courts and in the battleground of public opinion becomes the only tool left in our tool belt. We vote or legislate our way to victory, further enraging those who oppose our paradigms.
Listen to the podcast here…
YES, WE SHOULD STILL GO TO BATTLE AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE
Now, please understand, with humble hearts, we as people who are zealous about protecting the unborn and who have a responsibility to guard our children from being indoctrinated by the homosexual agenda, I absolutely believe we must use whatever tool we have in our tool belts. Yes, it's right to fight for laws that stand aggressively against human trafficking. We should work hard to overturn Roe v. Wade. Pornography, the legalization of narcotics and other destructive cultural vices that are being normalized in our society must be met with resistance.
However, it remains true that the unredeemed simply cannot understand things the way Believers in Christ can. This isn't because we are better. It's because we have surrendered to Jesus and our entire way of thinking was renewed. We were once compromised and unable to discern right versus wrong. Then, God touched us as wicked, confused, arrogant and very lost people and the light came on.
HOW ARE THE UNREDEEMED AT A DISADVANTAGE?
I pray you begin to mourn and weep over the lost as you grow in understanding as to how terribly the enemy is assaulting them. Yes, every person who has ever lived and who ever will live will be without excuse on Judgment Day. Yes, everybody has a choice, and the lost have made their choice. That shouldn't result in us marking them off as enemies while we puff ourselves up and sneer down our noses at them. We should be broken and our intercession should be taken to a much higher level.
BORN THIS WAY VERSUS BORN AGAIN
Those who argue that they were born gay, for example, may have something to their argument.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:5 (ESV)
We were all born in sin, in iniquity. It shouldn't take much for us to understand this. Sin comes very naturally to all and it takes the momentous event of being born again by the Spirit of God for that to shift.
In fact, the Bible calls those who are not his own, children of wrath. Are you seeing the extreme disadvantage the lost have when attempting to discern good versus evil? All they know are the inner urges that, in their minds, makes up the very core of their identity? If they have been attracted to the same sex for as long as they can remember, then, it seems clear that they were born this way. That should validate their homosexuality, or so they would argue.
Without a dramatic encounter with Jesus, without being born again, we can't expect people to understand biblical freedom or morality.
NO RELIEF FROM ANXIETY, FEAR AND DEPRESSION
The enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy, and based on the rampant addictions to opiates in our generation, it appears that he's winning.
Spirit-filled Christians can fill their days with praying in tongues, meditating on God's Word and by singing songs of praise to break off the debilitating, suffocating assaults of depression, fear and anxiety. We have a very present friend in Jesus ministering to us, interceding for us, talking to us and walking with us.
The lost are limited to positive thoughts, drugs, counseling and, sadly and all too often, suicide. Truly, the only hope in the battle of emotional trauma is Jesus, and they haven't met him yet.
Can Christians also be in need of counseling and medical care including the administration of appropriate medications to help deal with chemical imbalances and other physiological and emotional difficulties? Yes, absolutely. As long as it takes place on a foundation of faith, such care can be an important part of the healing process.
10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO PEACE
Those who don't know Jesus simply cannot know peace. For Christians, peace rests on us and it is not dependent on circumstances or in understanding our situation. God is with us and his supernatural peace displaces the darkness.
It's not hard to understand why so many politicians, protesters and others who are advancing their various ungodly causes become enraged when they experience push back. They have no peace, and in their minds, the road to a life that is more centered and devoid of resistance is to hate, curse and attempt to slay anything and anyone that gets in their way.
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)
THEY DON'T EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF GOD
The thought of not having that constant burning of God's Holy Spirit within is enough to make me shudder. The glory of God and his anointing on our lives is irreplaceable and without it we would spiral out of control.
Our decisions, our mindsets, our emotional well-being, our belief systems, our desires and everything that make up who we are would radically shift. It would be a deeply disturbing way to live, yet the lost live in that reality every moment of every day of their lives.
11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED LOVE
No matter how determined society is at convincing us that they do what they do because of love, it's simply not true. They have fallen for a faux love that does not originate from the only one who can manifest love. Outside of God, we cannot know love. The reason is simple: God is love.
I want to encourage you to read my article The Great Love Deception. It's eye-opening.
Sure, the lost can experience infatuation, attraction, appreciation, strong desire, lust and many other emotions, but love is the one experience they can't have outside of Jesus.
The next time you hear about someone who is militantly promoting what we would call perversion, just remember they are yearning to love and to be loved. This isn't a defense of perversion, but rather it's a call to weep for our culture and to stand in the gap so people can finally discover the only true source of love.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Psalm 32:10 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO ACCESS TO SUPERNATURAL WISDOM
The unredeemed are limited to their own logic and human ability to reason. That's it. They have no resource when their own abilities or the abilities of others to understand comes to an end.
The ceiling of understanding becomes their version of truth and they will fight to the end to support it.
For Christians, there is such a relief knowing that we won't ever understand it all, and that our own logic is often fallible. We simply read the Bible and believe it. God speaks and we respond. The lost cannot do that.
They will argue that getting drunk, for example, is just fine, as long as you don't get behind the wheel of a car. It makes sense to them. Christians, however, have no need to attempt to wrap their minds around the topic. God says don't get drunk, and he's much wiser than we are, so we buy in wholesale to what he says. As a result, life is much, much better.
Further, decision making becomes much easier as Christians. We may not know what job to take, what house to buy, where to go, who to marry or how to resolve life's problems. Thankfully we have a supernatural source of direction that goes well beyond humanity's resources.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 (ESV)
HAPPINESS IS THEIR ONLY HOPE
We all have the right to pursue happiness in our nation. Sadly, that's the limit for people who don't love and serve Jesus.
Christians, on the other hand, live with overwhelming, immeasurable, supernatural joy! Happiness is dependent on circumstances. Joy is not.
Instead of pursuing wealth, sex, fame, materialism and other pleasures as sources of happiness, Believers are fully satisfied by knowing God. It's a supernatural reality that can only be understood when experienced. It's not mind over matter. I'm not talking about mental gymnastics that turn bad situations to good. I'm talking about an actual Spirit that fills us up and brings supernatural joy to our hearts. Those in the world can never understand this.
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 (ESV)
THEY LIVE OUTSIDE OF THE REALM OF MIRACLES
The lost have absolutely no hope of relief from life's woes unless mankind can come up with a solution. They are dependent and desperate and all too often, hopeless.
Believers in Christ live in the realm of miracles every day! Healings, wonders, signs, breakthroughs, prophetic revelation and much more are our portion!
The lost are feverishly doing all they can to avoid or avert dire circumstances in their own abilities. They turn to man, not God when they are in a time of need.
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)
Seeking the Lord is necessary for us to survive and thrive on the earth, and those in the world simply can't enjoy the miracles that result from such a devotion.
THEY HAVE NO REASON NOT TO SIN
Above I revealed the mindset regarding drunkenness. In the minds of the lost there is absolutely no reason not to get drunk. This logic can be used in other scenarios too. Lust is pleasurable as is pornography. Getting high on drugs feels good. Foul language and other behaviors are morally benign. If it's legal, it's okay.
In the world the line is drawn when one person's sin negatively impacts another. That's what defines morality in a culture that's not surrendered to Jesus. What the world defines as lawless and what God defines as legal are very different.
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4 (ESV)
Christians understand how destructive sin is and we embrace consecration and repentance eagerly. Sin kills even if we don't understand why. We don't define what is morally legal, God does.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO HOPE OF A WONDERFUL ETERNITY
Every ounce of life must be experienced in a window of approximately 80 years to those who don't know Christ. The thought of preparing for eternity is nonsensical to them. This over-magnifies the importance of fulfilling dreams and desires on the earth, as they do all they can to soak up all their short earthly journey can provide.
Of course, Believers know there are an unlimited number of years ahead of us. Every person, whether lost or saved, will live somewhere forever. This is what drives our lives. We do all we can to awaken the sleepers, to warn the apathetic and to rescue the perishing. This world means little in comparison to eternity.
Further, those who know Jesus are exhilarated knowing they will experience never-ending joy, abundant life, freedom, love and peace as we live day-by-day with God. This isn't some euphoric pipe dream. It's truth. It's going to happen. Those who don't know Jesus simply cannot understand this.
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:1-6 (ESV)
CHANGE OUR DISPOSITION
I pray this will at least cause you to think differently the next time you get agitated at people who are promoting beliefs and behaviors that are repugnant to you. Pray hard for them. Battle for their souls.
Trust me, the moment one of these vile, wicked people truly find Jesus, they will turn on a dime and renounce everything unrighteous they previously supported. Meeting Jesus does that to a person.
Three simple yet powerful truths will help unlock your financial future.
Listen to the podcast here:
When my family of seven moved to Branson, Missouri, we were in uncharted territory after twenty years of local church ministry. We were excited to jump into this new season, yet we knew we'd have to get creative with our financial strategy. The Ozark Mountains have millions of beautiful trees, but money doesn't grow on any of them.
Super long story very short, we decided to start a new business in this tourist destination. Specifically, a new escape room attraction was our plan, and we had a lot work ahead of us in the next six weeks (yes six!) before we opened the doors.
THE SECRET SAUCE OF FINANCIAL FREEDOM
18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 8:18 (ESV)
Today, the escape room industry is quite saturated and it's difficult to start one in most cities. Competition is fierce. In late 2015, however, that was not the case. Nobody had started an escape room in Branson, and we felt it made sense to move toward being the first as being first to market in this industry is critical.
We believe this was a “God idea,” and we didn't hesitate in our planning for one minute. Time was of the essence. From that point on, we remained prayerful and diligent as we covered every base we could find, and then several we didn't even knew existed! We consulted with experts, researched (and visited) many other escape rooms in the nation and learned all we could about starting a business. We studied nonstop.
Understand, God absolutely has given us the power, the ability, to create wealth. What does this mean? He paved the way, but he's not going to do it for us. He has set us up for success. He's ready to move miraculously as we move obediently. He is the one who will bring the increase, yet, it's you and I who must move out and build the systems, do our due diligence and work smartly in the creation of wealth. Of course, we must be very careful to understand that it's God, and not us, who enables this wealth creating ability. (Wealth is simply financial resource, money and material goods that we can use in our lives and to advance the Kingdom Wealth and wealthy are not one in the same.)
For us, this step of applying wisdom also included hiring the best architect, consulting with the city's planning department, following every one of their rules perfectly, choosing the right colors and design for our logo and other branding, researching how to best market and how much to spend on ads and so much more. In fact, our diligence resulted in passing a state audit a few years later with flying colors. They were gladly surprised to see such honesty and attention to detail. Precise record keeping, among other disciplines is wisdom, and wisdom is one of the three keys to financial breakthrough.
When we understand God gives us the power to create wealth, it's important that we believe it, that we respond to it and that we do it rightly.
19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (ESV)
In the midst of learning how to relate to the fire department, the planning department and other city officials, it got a little scary. The little money we had was being devoured by the thousands, and if this didn't work, we were in trouble!
Even though the Branson, Missouri city leaders and employees are absolutely amazing, we were in the dark regarding approval processes and how much there was to do when opening a business here. At one point Amy, my wife, was in tears and ready to stop everything. It was too much. Today she shares that it was my faith that kept her on board. She's so thankful that we stayed the course!
As a side note, it's wonderful being in a relationship that exhibits such diverse giftings, strengths and weaknesses. Amy is absolutely brilliant in the wisdom department. Faith regarding finances specifically is a strength of mine. We both have to consistently monitor all of our various ventures in life to ensure both faith and wisdom are working together. Leaping out in faith without being wise is a recipe for disaster. Wisdom without faith will keep us hiding out in caves!
Knowing that God has promised to supply our every need makes it easier to keep moving forward. Faith is a result of trusting truth found in Scripture. God has gone before us and he understands we are fully reliant on him.
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way. Psalm 37:23 (NKJV)
This final ingredient in our secret sauce is one that may trigger financial breakthrough for many. Peace.
Peace is a manifestation of faith, and the above verse has been a very important one for the Burton family. God knows faith requires risk, and he doesn't want us holding back due to overreaching “wisdom,” which is actually fear. He wants us jumping, moving, shifting and advancing!
So, he makes it clear that, as we do this, he has our back. He's ordering our steps. As long as we are living rightly, moving ahead the best we can, trusting his voice and refusing to allow any measure of fear to keep us paralyzed, that he will keep us on the straight and narrow. Wisdom plus faith equals peace. If we aren't at peace, we need to evaluate why before moving forward. It may reveal a lack of wisdom or misguided faith.
God is not waiting to crush us under the weight of his disapproval. He is cheering for us! Even if, after investing in the process that wisdom demands and after doing our best to respond to God's instructions in faith, we fail, he's got us! He will make things right. He will order our every step. We don't have to hesitate, delay or be afraid. God will take very good care of us, even if we stumble.
Miraculously, we opened Escape Code in Branson, Missouri six weeks after having the first thought about starting a new business. The sign was up, the rooms designed, the website published, marketing launched and the open sign turned on—and people started coming! Wisdom, faith and peace were the secret sauce that caused this to happen.
Since then we've received awards and recognition including being voted the fifth best escape room in the nation by USA Today in 2017! It's exciting to see God moving in a project from concept to implementation!
A NEW TEST(IMONY)
Tests are simply an opportunity for a testimony.
We believe it's important (and wise) to develop multiple streams of income. In addition to Escape Code I make a little (very little) selling my books and we enjoy producing travel videos on our YouTube channel that has recently become eligible for monetization (we can't wait for our first $100 check!). In addition to those endeavors, we decided to implement our wisdom/faith/peace strategy again by opening two additional businesses, both of then right next door to Escape Code in the same shopping mall.
The Axe Game's build out was more expensive than we had expected and Sagas Mysteries would have to wait an additional twelve months before we opened it, even though we were pouring money into the lease for an empty storefront (which we had to secure so we didn't lose it).
The investment and monthly expenses, even though we applied as much wisdom as we could have, and moved out in faith, with peace, resulted in a difficult season. It greatly impacted our overall financial situation.
The solution? This might seem insignificant, but it's what God prescribed: In addition to our regular tithe and our already established additional monthly offerings and other giving, in the midst of financial crisis, we were to start giving an additional one percent. We did that, and last month the entire investment in our new businesses was paid off! New seasons will have new tests, but if we implement wisdom, faith and peace, God will always be there!
It's wise to give. It takes faith to give. We should be at peace when we give. Add increased giving to the other strategies that also require wisdom, faith and peace and you'll start to see a new financial culture developed in your life and family.
Oh, and by the way, this secret sauce isn't really secret at all. It's all right there in the pages of Scripture.
Are Christians more afraid than those in the world? Look out! It’s motorcycles, guns and diet soda!
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 (ESV)
Surely I’m not the only one who has noticed that Christians tend to be an easily frightened bunch. Spirits of fear are in high demand in churches from coast to coast. Why is this? People take on these demonic spirits of fear because they very successfully masquerade as spirits of wisdom. The more afraid we are of anything that presents a threat, the more careful we will be, and the safer we will be, or so goes the logic.
In this article I want to offer a completely different method of confronting threats. Believe me, taking on a devilish anointing is not part of the plan. We can absolutely can live every moment of our lives without a troubled or afraid heart. The Bible tells me so!
Too many simply reject biblical truth as unrealistic, and fear is an all too familiar friend that can help with overcoming faith falters.
In fact, the carnal, unsaved people of the earth seem to exhibit more bold fearlessness than we see among those who have the most powerful, attentive and loving person that has ever lived on their side (Jesus!).
The “No Fear” mantra that took off years ago still emblazons T-shirts and bumper stickers across the land. Fearlessness is understood by those who don’t know God. But what about those who carry the immeasurable force of the universe within? What’s up with Christians who live in fear and worry every day of their lives?
MOTORCYCLES, GUNS, DIET SODA AND OTHER SCARY STUFF
“Worry shows God you are paying attention.” ~Frankie Heck, The Middle
God bless all of you who love me! I mean that with all sincerity. Being in church settings my entire life has provided me a never ending stream of suggestions and concerns delivered through some of the most wonderful people in the world. The more people love me, the more they worry. This is true for anybody. Frankie Heck (played by Patricia Heaton) revealed the wisdom, in humorous fashion, that many loved ones employ. They worry, hoping it will suffice as intercession. The truth is that worry is atheism. Worry decrees that there is no God. It’s evidence that we doubt any supernatural covering, provision or help is truly reliable.
One of the riskiest things any Christian can do is drink a diet soda in the foyer of the church when the resident essential oil/practitioner of health/organic foods promoter might be lurking. In fact, many years ago someone in the church I was leading jabbed me with a quick comment as I was drinking a diet soda. He said, “I hope you enjoy your brain cancer.”
I gave him a sharp, loving rebuke. I rejected his curse and made it quite clear that he may never say that again. He apologized and all was well. You see, I didn’t fear soda then, and I don’t fear soda now.
Today we are experiencing an increase in evil in America as mass shootings are becoming bigger and more devastating. Just as with the attacks on 9/11, the goal of the enemy is to instill fear. Of course, he’s out to steal, kill and destroy, but an even more effective strategy is to cause people to fear that he will steal, kill and destroy. That paralyzes us so he can finish the job.
So, the cry of many is to eliminate guns. Many Christians are saying the same thing. Instead of dealing directly with the spirit of fear while standing in our authority, we presume that dealing with the natural threat is the prime answer. It is not. If guns were done away with, fear would visit us in even more horrifying ways. The enemy would be sure of that.
Let’s see, so far I’ve dealt with diet sodas and guns. Oh yeah, we can’t forget the motorcycles.
Many years ago as a teenager I owned a motorcycle and I had a blast riding through the hills of Arkansas and Missouri. I’m 48 years old now, and I’ve wanted to buy another bike ever since my early years.
My wife, as many wives would understandably, was nervous about the idea, and we had many discussions. I was not winning any of our friendly arguments.
On a Saturday God spoke very clearly to me. He said, “Tomorrow morning at church, I’m going to speak to your wife through the message. You will own a motorcycle on Monday.”
I was unable to be at church that day. My wife went and God did speak to her quite remarkably.
She told me the message was breaking off a spirit of fear and entrusting your life and the lives of others into God’s hands. The time of our death or their death is up to him and we can rest in that.
I was stunned! The next day we drove to a motorcycle dealer in Ozark, Missouri and I bought a 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS. Now, admittedly, my wife is still not in love with the idea of me on a bike, but we both agree to trust God with the lives of our family members and others we love.
Many other people have reacted to my purchase in love, but also in fear. Now, if you are one who shared your concern, you are off the hook. I appreciate your love! But, I just couldn’t hold back in dealing with an issue of fear that is devastating the church and keeping people both in bondage and with a very dangerous false sense of safety.
While there are natural cautions that we can take when dealing with risky endeavors, fear cannot be a part of that strategy. Fear does not protect, it exposes us for attack.
Of course, if you own a gun, keep it locked up. If you drink diet cola, don’t over do it. If you own a motorcycle, wear a helmet, a riding jacket, gloves, boots and riding pants every single trip. Take a safety course. Don’t speed. If you drive a car, wear a seatbelt. Don’t drink and drive. If you go boating, wear a life vest. You get the idea. But don’t be afraid! Don’t allow yourself to be possessed by a demonic spirit of fear! It will feel good for a while as the enemy deceives you into a false sense of security, but worry and anxiety will certainly overtake your life. The Holy Spirit will not have access and the Prince of Peace will not be felt. God has truly called us to be at peace always.
Remember, the enemy wants to masquerade as a spirit of wisdom. He wants us to be so concerned about life that tragedy is a certainty unless we cower and lock ourselves into our homes as we nervously nibble on our fingernails.
THE RIGHT RESPONSE
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19 (ESV)
Instead of predicting a crash, instead of sharing horror stories of other motorcyclists who have died, instead of decreeing that I’m going to develop brain cancer because I drink diet sodas, instead of projecting spirits of fear on everyone who takes risk, a right Christian response would be to decree life! We have the keys of the kingdom of heaven! We bind! We loose! We have authority! We decree protection and believe that it will come!
Someone in a motorcycle video I watched mentioned people ask him how in the world he could ride a bike if he wants to live. His response (as a non-Christian, mind you) was, “I want to LIVE which is why I ride my bike!”
I’ve met a lot of Spirit-filled Christians who won’t go on missions trips to dangerous or third-world nations because of fear. Others fear death right here in America. Fear has imprisoned millions of Christians, people who have a good, good Father! Everybody, fear must go! The right response is to stare fear in the face and to decree that we will not be stopped!
An overcautious life is not the answer. The Bible is filled with truth that we should apply instead of holding to demonic wisdom of self-protection.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, Psalm 91:5 (ESV)
Instead of decreeing devastation out of fear, we should command life! We are blood-bought Believers! We have supernatural power burning within! As we intercede and declare protection as friends and family are living every day in a risky world, we will celebrate with them and rejoice that they have nothing to fear!
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4 (ESV)
We must wholeheartedly reject any reaction that is tainted by fear. If we consider the tragic possibilities, and that information drives our emotions, we can know that fear has gripped us.
Instead of fear, we must stand in authority! We command safety! We intercede! We exhibit the power and confidence and great faith that God has called us to function in!
Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Luke 10:19 (ESV)
I propose powerfully declaring Psalm 91 as a powerful method of encouragement and intercession for us and those we love:
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:11-16 (ESV)
No fear. Long life. That, friend, is our decree.
God talks, a lot. What do we do when he’s silent?
One of my great joys in life revolves around helping people discover the wonder of hearing God’s voice. We are all called to be prophetic, which at it simplest simply means that we hear God and respond accordingly.
God talks, a lot.
The stories of God intervening in the lives of his children continually have me in awe of him. I can’t imagine a life devoid of that precious, stunning, other-worldly avenue of communication between this humble, created human and an immeasurable, indescribable, all powerful creator! There’s nothing like being in the zone that results in a regular stream of dreams, visions, prophetic words, fresh revelation and supernatural interactions. I thank God he is still alive and kicking today!
There are also times when God goes silent. I really do not enjoy those seasons, but I’ve come to appreciate them.
Here are some quick points that help me when I enter a silent season:
1. God loves me. Period.
It can be easy to feel rejected, or to presume that God has become tired of me and my weaknesses, when he stops talking.
Remember that God IS love. His passion for us is so extreme that it would be utter foolishness to think that he’d fall out of love with us just because we are experiencing some growing pains.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16 (ESV)
While it's true that God continues to love us, the enemy would love to use God’s silence against him by causing us to fall out of love with him! Be careful not to disengage in your adoration and worship, especially when you don’t feel his loving presence the way you are used to.
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37 (ESV)
2. God uses silence to awaken us to something.
When God stops talking, I go into a time of reflection and personal assessment. It is possible that I need to be more aggressive in shifting into a new season. I might also have a negative heart issue that might need to be dealt with.
During this reflection, however, it's important that I do so with a healthy heart. His silence should draw me closer to him, and not result in division between us. You’ll notice that accusation against God can result in silence:
And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Mark 15:3-5 (ESV)
Is it possible that I have accusation in my heart against God on a matter? Complaint or resistance to his Lordship in my life most certainly can result in Jesus refusing to respond to me. He will go silent, and the last thing we want during silence is more silence!
Instead of becoming more angry or frustrated, I propose we respond as Pilate did: Be amazed. Be humbled by the wisdom and unmovable nature of Jesus. As we do, our remedy is then to sincerely repent and embrace God as he is—whether we appreciate the way he is presently functioning in our lives or not.
3. Busyness will result in silence.
It’s truly rare for God to go silent for long periods of time when I’m praying in the the Holy Spirit, with passion and groans that can’t be uttered, on a continual basis. When I’m in that place of fervent pursuit and deep intimacy it’s uncommon for that electric connection between God and me to cease.
When other things edge out our prayer life, or minimize it, one can only expect to stop hearing from God. Prayer is his medium for communication. The simple, obvious truth is that if we aren’t in that burning, fervent zone of prayer, we won’t have the ability to receive communication from God. When the radio is off the speakers are silent.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)
4. The Bible is never silent.
No matter how deafening God’s Rhema silence might be, the Word of God never ceases to shout!
Dive into the the Bible with determination to see it’s truths explode in your life. Get excited about everything you read and grab hold of all of it!
It's a powerful moment indeed when, at a time of divine silence, the eternal Word of God shakes us, invigorates us and causes our faith to rise. No matter how much or how little you are feeling God's presence in your life, read the Bible and believe every single word you read. It's just not possible to stay frustrated when the very words of God are being seared into our spirits!
Reject your personal experience, history or common sense when those messages conflict with the miraculous messages of Jesus. Reuse to doubt. Declare the Word in prayer. Move mountains with your faith. Don't get frustrated waiting on God to speak personally to you about a matter. He's already speaking more loudly than we have ever considered, in the Bible.
My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Proverbs 3:1-2 (NIV)
5. Nothing should steal your peace or joy.
If God’s silence results in you losing your joy, you might want to refer above to point number two again. He may be attempting to calibrate you to his heart.
Even when God is not speaking, we can and should still remain steadfast in a place of extreme joy, faith and love.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Psalm 32:11 (ESV)
6. Appreciate the calm before the storm of victory.
I’ve noticed my reaction to seasons where God’s activity is slowed directly results in my position in the season that follows. A right response and a refusal to give in to complaint, despair or apathy, and a resolve to go even deeper in God through both the Word and prayer, results in advance and promotion. It also strengthens my character and stretches me into greater maturity. Silence is a necessary part of growth and advance.
I’ve met a lot of people who stop in their tracks when God isn’t talking, opening doors, giving prophetic words or doing other such things to move people forward. God very often will refuse to relate to us in that manner when we are failing tests or ignoring truth that has already been established in Scripture. As we react in a right manner during the silence, and focus on obeying the Word of God, we will pass the test and experience glorious, divine open doors!
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 (ESV)
7. Ask. Seek. Knock.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 (ESV)
You are guaranteed to hear from God if you are unrelenting in your pursuit of him.
If you aren’t given to the sacrifice of seeking, don’t expect to find much of anything. Hearing from God requires a devotion to prayer and interaction with him at a degree that most are not comfortable with.
Press through the crowd and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. Wrestle with God until he blesses you. Cry out from your cave. Refuse to stop until you encounter God’s love, power and glory! It will be well worth the effort.
In the midst of an intense life of contending we can experience great and continual joy!
First, I want to encourage you to read my two latest Charisma Magazine articles. They are receiving a lot of feedback and one has nearly 30,000 shares from the Charisma Magazine site alone:
- Many in the church will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.
- Ancient and Emerging: 5 Major Changes Coming to the Church
Sometimes its easy to think that a call to contending means that we have to be grim and intense with no joy. This couldn't be further from the truth! We can experience joy, peace, life and an amazing relationship with Jesus always! Joy is strength and it is necessary for us as we advance in our callings.
It should be easy for us to smile, laugh, rejoice and experience abundant life even as we contend with a sobering, end-time calling.
You might be surprised at the danger in the worship movement and how we connect to it.
I had a prophetic dream that is extremely simple to understand—the prophetic warnings are being drowned out by casual spirits and, yes, even today’s worship movement.
Ezekiel 13:1-3 (ESV) 1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the LORD!’ 3 Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!
Ezekiel 13:6-9 (ESV) 6 They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the LORD,’ when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. 7 Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the LORD,’ although I have not spoken?” 8 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord GOD. 9 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
There is a rapidly increasing movement of people who are shutting their ears to any prophetic words that have any measure of alarm to them. The warnings are not wanted as they threaten the current structures of comfort and ease.
These people are at risk of a catastrophe that will mercilessly hit them and those who have been influenced by their messages of peace and safety.
There are true voices that must emerge and declare the word of the Lord in its pure form.
If we EVER temper a message in the pulpit, online or one-on-one in the hopes of maintaining an audience, we've become a 2 Tim 4:3-4 false-teacher.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV) 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Revival always includes the conviction of sin on the part of the Church. What a spell the devil seems to cast over the Church today! ~Billy Sunday
I was the guest speaker at a church, and I was burning with an extreme prophetic message that I knew every single person must hear. Not only must they hear it, but they had to allow God to break and wreck them so they could become carriers of that burning message. God needed them to proclaim the word with boldness and brokenness.
It was time to begin the service, and I was on the platform feeling troubled and confused. I had about eight friends with me, people who were absolutely given to the message and who were standing very close to me.
Other than my friends, literally nobody was listening. Even the leadership was absent. People were dressed in shorts and flip flops and casual clothing and were just slowly walking around taking to friends.
My disturbance kept intensifying.
To my right there were a couple large garage doors and they were both open. People were moving out of the building and out onto the grass. It was a beautiful, sunny day.
As people kept leaving the building, someone walked close to the stage as I was preaching with unction and urgency, and he attempted to drown out the message by singing a worship song. It was a brilliant tactic. After all, it’s good to sing songs of worship in the church, right?
When he finished singing, the building was nearly empty. In my desperation to get the message relayed, I too went outside.
My friends and I left the building and stood on a small slab of concrete outside. I continued to preach, but it was as if I was nearly invisible and inaudible. From time to time people would wave and wink to me as an indicator that they are “with me” and to thank me for my ministry. I didn’t want their thanks. I wanted their hearts.
My friends pressed very close to me…so close that we were all squished together as a single unit as I kept preaching truth.
The people kept playing while we kept trembling.
I then noticed that some chose to climb a tree. When they decided to come back down, one of them fell just a couple of feet and those around them were alarmed and looked right me. They demanded that I leave my place and come over to help. I was grieved.
I did leave the concrete and tended to the person who had an extremely minor injury.
Distraction and a casual, playful, self-centered spirit overpowered the prophetic word of the Lord.
I then woke up.
We live in a day where churches promote comfort and self-satisfaction. Coffee, personal ministry, blessing, programs and other lesser things are overshadowing the call to the cross. The alarm of the hour is not a welcome sound.
Casual spirits are driving the culture. The problem? The message of the cross is not a casual message.
The bottom line is this: A casual spirit will always reject a prophetic warning if it threatens their comfort. A prophetic spirit will always threaten something.
A.W. Tozer: I want the prophetic spirit upon me or I want to die.
In the dream it was significant that even the leaders were absent.
The pastors of that church should have been on their faces in deep repentance as they led their people into brokenness!
Nobody in that church had any concern about their own salvation (they should have), the condition of their city or the message of God. All was well. Peace and safety were the cries of their hearts.
My friends who were very close to me represented the remnant—those who are broken and surrendered and devoted to the call. They counted the cost and said yes.
Please keep this in mind—the remnant is an extremely small percentage of people in the church. Don’t presume that you have signed up as an end-time remnant Christian just because you go to church, love God and want revival. True remnant people aren’t only interested in revival, they are invested in it. To find a remnant Christian is actually quite rare, though every Christian has been extended that invitation.
Possibly the most interesting part of the dream had to do with the person who walked up to me and started singing a worship song.
I believe we are in a place of both great hope and great danger in regard to worship in the church.
True worship is going to return to the church. That’s the hope. There is a great movement of groan and intercession driven worship and adoration to Jesus that’s coming. It’s not here yet, but soon can be.
The present danger is great, however.
The worship service can easily become the lazy man’s intercession. Please consider this point carefully! The church is to be a house of prayer for all nations!
I’ve been in ministry for over 22 years and it has grieved me time and again when people would come and go based on the skill, style and feel of the worship team, but are indifferent regarding the prayer focus. In fact, when the call to worship is sounded, people flock, but when the call to prayer is sounded people flee.
This is disturbing and it’s an indictment on the church!
We don’t attend a church based on it’s ability to appeal to our desires! My God! How far have we fallen?
At Revival Church we recently made a bold decision for our current season—when our worship leader moved on, I decided it was time to bring intercession back to first place.
Instead of sitting back or lightly engaging as someone else leads in worship, we are calling the entire body to pray with us boldly for an hour prior to the teaching. Fervent prayer has replaced musical worship! The experience of worship or any other thing can no longer trump the call to pray and to deliver the prophetic messages of God.
In fact, I’m confident that biblical worship will emerge from this platform of prayer and no longer will we casually connect to God when the music plays. Musical worship has taken a back seat to the word of the Lord and it will again be calibrated to God’s heart.
If you want to gauge the spiritual maturity of your team, call a prayer meeting. Develop a prayer culture. Bring prayer front and center where nobody can hide. It may be offensive, but it’s simply true that only the broken, hungry and maturing will remain. It shocks me that people can lead worship, pastor a church or function in ministry without a vibrant, all-consuming life of prayer! It is actually rare to find praying church leadership in America!
There are individuals who have never done anything for Jesus Christ, and I have no doubt there are preachers as well, who have never done anything for the God Almighty. ~Billy Sunday
“If we do not praise we shall grow sad in our conflict; and if we do not fight we shall become presumptuous in our song.” –Spurgeon
Worship leaders who don’t burn night and day in intercession need to take a critical break to rediscover the God of their songs. A fearful tremble and awe must return to worship.
In the dream I moved to a concrete slab outside of the building as the people were scattering and playing. I have been crying out for the last several months for the pavement people to emerge! These are people in the remnant who are not looking for personal comfort, affirmation or anything other than hitting the pavement in true worship.
2 Chronicles 7:3 (ESV) 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
I was on the pavement with my friends who were staying very close to me. I continued to preach in desperation as people were in the vicinity, but who were not at all provoked by the message. They were certainly not responsive, and, of course, they were in no place to become carriers of that fiery word for the nations.
Again, my grief escalated.
The types of distractions that the enemy will attempt to force on us are extremely hard to counteract.
First, it can seem strange and wrong to label worship as a disturbance or distraction. The enemy is often using worship, as I shared above, to provide people with a false sense of intimacy with Jesus, or at least a radically minimized encounter with him. If the music is good and even slightly anointed, and it feels peaceful or invigorating, then our job of honoring God seems to be done. We don’t have to go any deeper in Jesus. We are satisfied. It’s time to move to other things.
Additionally, the person that fell out of the tree was wounded, ever so slightly, and all eyes were on me to help. So, the corporate prophetic alarm ceased.
The problem? The person should never have been in the tree. They were called to the pavement. Their improper positioning negatively impacted the masses.
When we are close together, there is safety. Risk is minimized. Even when there is an issue, we can all stay together, in position as we serve one another.
Those in the Upper Room in Acts 2 certainly tended to each other as they were all on that holy pavement, that place of coming encounter and intercession for the nations.
Those who are scattering and playing instead of gathering and praying are loosely connected until crisis comes.
It’s time that we are “all together in one accord in one place” as they were in Acts 2.
A RESISTANT CHURCH
As it was in the days of Noah, so it is today. The alarms are resisted.
Matthew 24:37-39 (ESV) 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Do we not know that God is raising up prophetic voices to help us? Why would we reject the warnings?
It’s time we gather and pray. It’s time.
I asked a question on Facebook recently:
If your church cancelled everything for a year…cancelled children’s ministry, teaching, programs, pot lucks, small groups…and replaced those activities with prayer meetings, would you stay in your church?
One response rocked me. It encouraged me that the remnant is out there:
That’s when I’ll return to the church.
Friends, it’s time that we embrace a God that loves us enough to keep us from slumber, to shake us with warnings and to prepare us for the tragic and glorious end-time shocks that are coming to the Earth.