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.
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.