WATCH the series conclusion: Four Fires—A Personal Fire
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FOUR FIRES: FIRE NUMBER FOUR—A PERSONAL FIRE
This nine part series concludes with this message on the fourth fire-a personal fire.
When we go through the intense process of discovering our own fire and intentionally fanning the flames, a great end time drama is set into motion.
There are people who currently don't know God who have an earth shaking destiny on their lives. God is waiting for fire breathers to awaken and start a fire that consumes a city…so these world changers will be provoked to surrender their lives to Jesus.
Arguments against a fiery church and a movement of prayer are already arising. Unbiblical theologies that oppose such a lifestyle are emerging, and the demand of the majority is to tone it down and to avoid an extreme life.
In response to that, I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry. Let the resisters resist. God's remnant will carry the fire of the Holy Spirit to the cities of the earth.
The concept of compliance to prophetic voices and even to God himself is diminishing in our culture—and the consequences will be disastrous.
…A Greek word for proclaim…is kerusso… It means “to be a herald.” A herald was a public crier who was a speaker of divine truth. The message delivered by the crier was a public and authoritative announcement that demanded compliance. When you kerusso, you are like a town crier making an announcement that requires the hearers to comply. How powerful! ~Barbara Wentroble
Today, prophetic voices are neutered by a culture that is extremely independent, and, as a result, are declaring the sharp word of the Lord less and less. Instead, those with prophetic ministries have abandoned the call for compliance to a correction or redirection of God for words that tickle ears and communicate positive destinies even for those who are in direct rebellion to truth.
I was at the Detroit Prayer Furnace recently, and, prior to seeing this message by Barbara Wentroble, God dropped a very clear, weighty word into my spirit: COMPLIANCE.
I immediately knew that we as a nation were moving into a very troubling and dangerous time where prophetic voices must unapologetically call the church into compliance with God’s very costly, inconvenient calibration. No longer can we act as salesmen, forming our words in such a way that people will buy what we are saying! Prophetic messengers will be shunned, assaulted, resisted and accused due to the calls out of a theology of comfort and independence.
It is beyond critical that these prophetic messengers are living holy and are sensitive to the leading of God.
MINOR IS MAJOR: TWO PERSONAL LESSONS
Minor is major with God. Two recent minor sins had a major impact on my life. I’m about to confess those sins to you.
Additionally, there’s a decrease of the fear of the Lord and any concern at all over eternal destinies.
Read this disturbing account of a young Christian at a homosexual parade as told by Dr. Michael Brown:
When asked why they were at the gay pride event, the young women stated with enthusiasm that they were there to support people they love. (To watch the entire, extraordinary video interaction, click here.)
The same girl reiterated that gay s-ex was sinful but that supporting the gay pride event didn’t mean she agreed with it since, again, being gay was a “lifestyle.”
When asked once more if she believed gay s-ex was sin, she replied, “It’s a sin, but I’m not against it. I think you’re forgiven no matter what.”
She was then asked, “If you’re a Christian, you’re forgiven of the sin?” She replied, “Yeah, absolutely. You’re forgiven of everything except not believing.”
When asked, “So, you support people having gay s-ex?” she answered, “Yeah, I think that you can’t help your heart sometimes.”
Did you notice that the false-grace believe that she held to? Christians can sin without any fear of judgment. This belief is sending so many to Hell.
As I said above, minor is major with God. So often we hear the argument regarding the “big sins” of homosexuality, murder, etc., that “all sin is the same.” The argument is that God can forgive a murderer just as quickly and completely as he can forgive one who gossips, lies or lusts. I do agree with that. (For the record, I don’t believe all sin is the same, and you can read more about that here. But, for the sake of this point, let’s agree that God can forgive all sin equally.)
What if we turned the argument around? If all sin is the same, then the sin of gossip is as detestable and eternally destructive as the sin of murder. Lying can send one to Hell just as quickly as premarital sex. Minor is major. And, no, we aren’t exempt from eternal threat simply because we consider ourselves to be Christians. That is one of the greatest, most devastating fallacies in the church today. Christians who sin absolutely are at risk of eternal separation from God.
Hebrews 10:26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
LESSON NUMBER ONE
I know a key assignment for me is to call the church back into radical holiness and consecration, and my authority to do so comes via the blood of Jesus. When I sinned in what I would consider a minor way, my assignment was compromised.
I temporarily lost my authority to prophetically call the church to corporate holiness when I didn’t respond to God’s call to personal holiness. I no longer could impact the major because of my failure in the minor.
A couple of weeks ago I was writing a post just as I’m writing this one now. Many people presume that I haphazardly write and say anything that comes to mind in a cavalier way. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Every word that comes out of my mouth is measured and ordered via the fear of the Lord. It’s a daily, weighty matter for me to ensure I’m not withholding anything due to the fear of man and that I’m not saying what I should not due to the fear of God. To be a prophetic messenger requires this wrestling match.
As I was writing the message, I boldly said what I felt the Lord would want me to, and I was making some sharp points.
I was also listening to a teaching about how certain sins can manifest in our bodies as sickness. For example, if we gossip and don’t repent, it’s not uncommon to have tooth pain or even to need expensive dental work such as a root canal. Gossip out of our mouth affects our mouth. As I continued writing, I was thinking to myself, “We need prophetic people who don’t wash their mouths out with soap, but with the blood of Jesus!” I kept seeing pure mouths of bold messengers filled with the blood of Jesus as they declared truth.
I came to a point in the article where I relayed an extremely minor, common issue that can come up in a messenger’s life. I wrote in an extremely generic, careful manner about a personal situation that happened in my life recently. The content wasn’t the problem, but the attitude of my heart was. Again, it was so minor. You’d laugh if you knew just how minor it was! But, as I wrote it, God gave me a gentle check in my spirit. I considered the check, wondering if it was just my own emotions—then I ignored the check. After all, there was nothing that I wrote that would raise alarms whatsoever.
I finished the article and prepared to send it out. I always post it to the web first, and then immediately send it to my email list.
Then, I got up from my office chair and I felt something in my mouth. I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Directly under my tongue, right in the center, I saw a blood blister! It was not there five seconds prior! God immediately reminded me that his prophetic voices must have their mouths filled with the blood of Jesus, and I was instantly convicted. I ignored Jesus. I immediately repented from a deep place of my heart. I was wrecked!
I went back to my office, troubled that the tainted message was now all over the world. But, then, I noticed something. I had actually forgotten to send the message to my email list, which would have been a point of no return! I quickly removed the questionable sentence, reposted it to the web and then sent it to my list. Less than three hours later, the blood blister in my mouth completely disappeared! God is so kind as he is training us in righteousness! I learned, as a seasoned minister of 22+ years, that promotion to new assignments requires trust of God that we will respond immediately and exactly to him. I learned that lesson…or so I thought.
LESSON NUMBER TWO
About a week later I had a great meeting with two state prayer leaders in Dearborn, Michigan. I can’t explain it, but God was REALLY getting my attention that day. It was as if there were an open heaven over me and God was calling me to engage with him. After I left the meeting, I felt compelled to stop by the Detroit Prayer Furnace on my way home and get along with the Lord. I craved him, and I could tell he craved time with me.
I had also wanted to go to Best Buy at some point that day to buy something I had really wanted, so that was definitely in the back of my mind.
I spent about 45 minutes getting into the zone at DPF and trying to hear what the Lord had for me that day. I was still extremely stirred.
A friend then showed up and we talked for just a little bit. He decided to leave, and, with the desire to head to Best Buy increasing, I did too.
I felt a minor check in my spirit that I needed to stay put and keep seeking after God. Instead, I responded casually and thought that I could pray in the car and possibly reconnect with God later that night or tomorrow.
Well, I couldn’t connect in the car, and my spirit was increasingly grieved, but I excused it away. I got to Best Buy, and almost left without buying what I wanted, and I felt that’s what God wanted. Keep in mind, this is all low level stuff. I didn’t see an angel with instructions from Heaven. I was discerning something that felt more like the story of the Princess and the Pea. That small irritating pea wouldn’t go away.
Before I left Best Buy, I checked one more aisle, and there it was—it was exactly what I wanted! And, they price matched Amazon.com, so I saved $20! I bought it, and my grief increased.
For one week my life was a swirl of God, Satan and flesh—all assaulting me. A very minor decision to casually respond to God and ignore his gentle prompts resulted in sleepless nights and non-stop feelings of demonization. Trust me, I am not exaggerating.
I was in rebellion. My minor sin was major. My rejection of God was real. He had called me up to the mountain to meet with me and I chose to remain at the bottom with a spirit of Egypt compelling me to worship a golden calf. I actually had a picture of my rebellion resulting in an eternity in Hell—just me, demons and that stupid item I bought at Best Buy! I was tormented!
You might try to encourage me by saying that there’s no condemnation in Christ Jesus. That’s true. But, I’m sober enough to admit that, in that moment of rebellion I really wasn’t in Christ Jesus—and that’s why the shouts of condemnation by the enemy were piercing me so effectively. Now, I believe God knew this trial would hit me, and he knows my heart is so deeply in love with his, so I wouldn’t be dying in that state of rebellion. It was a Peter denying Christ type of moment. However, I’m also convinced that continued rebellion by me, someone who leads ministries, has written books, teaches on holiness, goes to church, pays my tithe, prays continually—would absolutely put me at risk of Hell.
Yesterday, I was exhausted as I keep trying to connect with Jesus who I love so much, and who loves me so much. I prayed, I worshiped, I listened to anointed music. Nothing worked. I had my intercessors praying for me. I was in darkness and I was wiped out. I cried out to God, “Please talk to me! Give me something that will reveal what I am to do! I can’t go on feeling alone and separated from you!”
Within moments, my good friend Julia Palermo posted this on Facebook:
Any place in our lives and heart where we are exerting our will and ways over God's will and ways will inevitably drain us of energy and resources. Exertion=Exhaustion. On the other hand, death to self requires only that we lay down at the foot of the cross and give up the right to run our lives. We say with Christ, “Not my will but Yours be done Father.” The Crucified life is the entrance into true rest. #ComeAndDie
Jesus! I immediately packaged up what I bought at Best Buy to take it back. I crucified my flesh and returned my idol. Peace flooded my soul. The life and love of Jesus IMMEDIATELY returned. I felt him instantly! The anointing spiked.
It’s absolutely stunning how simple, minor sins can have such a profound impact on those called to serve the Lord!
Minor is major! The sins of apathy, gossip, independence, selfishness, materialism, idol worship, homosexuality, murder, rape and all of the others, major or minor, required the same death of Jesus.
Sins that are repented of, that have the blood of Jesus applied to them, are eradicated! But, if we refuse to repent and confess and allow Jesus to have Lordship again, we cannot presume to be in a safe place.
God is going to hold ministers to a much higher standard. This is why we must pursue holiness and refuse to participate in the sins of culture through media, rebellion, materialism and independence.
It’s time to embrace a spirit of repentance. God is extremely kind. He was in my two back-to-back sins. But, he’s equally serious. He will discipline those he loves. I am so thankful that he loves me.
This brings us back to compliance.
God is raising up voices that will walk in true consecration and holiness. Not perfect people, but responsive people. People who will quickly repent and who will walk in true authority—authority to call the church into compliance to the Word of God.
When this generation’s true prophetic messengers sound an alarm, it won’t be open for discussion. We won’t have the option to consider whether we want to obey or not. We will have to comply. Are you one who will awaken the church and call it to holiness, to prayer and to consecration? Are you walking in holiness? Are you listening to God, or are you casual, as I was in the two above stories? Pray for your discernment to increase, and get ready to gather the ready, responsive remnant that will offer no excuse as they respond to the alarms of the Lord as they are shouted through your blood filled mouth!
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.
Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep
and say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’” (Joel 2:15-17, ESV)
Revival is not a guarantee. In fact, the chances of revival breaking out are extremely low.
Detroit is marked for revival, yet revival is not here. It’s delayed. We have a problem. This is an issue not only for Detroit, but for the nations of the Earth. God has planned revival, but we have not.
First, I have to qualify the comments you are reading in this article. The driving force of my mandate is revival and reformation in the church. As a prophetic messenger, a primary focus of my ministry is calling the church into the fire of revival. That fire will only ignite as the church becomes flexible and ready for momentous change. The church must agree with an inconvenient revolution.
Revival Is A Corporate Mission
Church is corporate. Revival is corporate. Ministry is corporate.
The first point we have to understand is that the pursuit of revival requires a corporate strategy. The mission of the entire church requires the participation of the church. Church is defined by the corporate gathering. It's the ministry of many. Personal desire, personal prayer and personal pursuit does not result in revival—unless it first spreads to a larger unified group of people.
Acts 2:1 (NIV) 1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
This is why being together corporately and continually in the church is so important. Satan used God’s principle of unity to start building his church, the Tower of Babel, and God surprisingly revealed that they would accomplish their task—unless he attacked their unity and scattered them. Now, Satan is trying to pay God back by attacking the unity of the church and causing people to scatter. He has also been successful. What is maddening is that God’s strategy of Kingdom advance and revival would also be unstoppable if Christians simply gathered in unity. That’s all it takes! Go to church, minister with passion, embrace corporate mission and go after revival!
Now, many Christians who are unwilling to battle through personal struggles are now convinced that revival can come without devotion to corporate gathering and unity.
Revival is threatened by:
- Inflexible focuses: We live in a society that is extremely independent, and this results in people locking into their own plans with little regard for the dynamic and demanding development of the church. Revival demands our attention.
Acts 1:4 (NIV) 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
Their leader, Jesus, invaded their personal space and their personal plans. He demanded flexibility and that they cancel their plans. Their ideas of ministry were challenged by Jesus and the call was to drop them. Jesus needed all of them to go in another direction, to cancel their plans, to respond even though the reason was not at all clear.
Today, when leadership calls on the church to turn on a dime, to respond corporately, they are usually faced with unresponsiveness due to other personal life focuses. This is a threat to revival.
- Family:When confronted with the call to gather as the church, a very easy excuse is, “I have a family activity to attend.” Little League games, family fun, movies and other family activities are pulling people out of the corporate mission of revival. It’s often said that we are to put God first, family second and ministry third. I strongly disagree. That model leads to a separation, to division, when God is calling for unity. We don’t compartmentalize God, family and ministry. We involve ourselves with all three at the same time.
There used to be a time when families would be in the church every time the doors were open. That was the model. God, family and ministry all happening together, all the time. The revival fueled 24/7 church is coming, and we have to discover now how to implement this model in our families. We’ll be together most every day of the week. This is how it started, this is how it must be again. In fact, if you are intent on prioritizing these three focuses, check out Jesus’ viewpoint in the second passage below! If anything, God and ministry come before family.
Acts 2:42-47 (NIV) 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Luke 14:25-33 (ESV) 25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
- Time & energy: American culture has won. Or, at least it is winning by a huge margin. Revival and the church has lost. Cares of life have nearly destroyed any hope of people having the time and energy to fulfill their call as revival soldiers in the church. The culture of society is driving the church schedule. Churches have waived the white flag of surrender by cancelling and shortening services. This is absolutely tragic. The church’s warriors have willingly gone AWOL due to wrongly prioritized daily focuses. A worn out church body now uses the church for something it was not designed to do—be their servant. They are tired and they use the church to recharge. Only when we take dominion over our schedules, turn off the TV, shut down time and energy thieves and refocus on the main thing will we have the capacity to personally charge up so we can serve the church mission. Check out this powerful warning:
Luke 21:34-36 (ESV) 34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
- Church conflicts: It’s better to unify around an imperfect church vision than it is to divide & argue about what is the perfect vision. It’s common to pull back from our devotion to the mission of the church when we don’t fully embrace their strategies. We want it to be done our way, and if it’s not, then we presume we have the option to lessen our commitment. That results in a weakened and threatened mission. In order for revival to come, we must understand this is an ‘all hands on deck’ level mission. Revival needs us. The church needs us. Revival is waiting. We can’t use the church for personal gain, we must serve the church to ensure there is corporate gain and full blown revival. The church struggles because those who are called to serve it are making demands on it to serve them.
- I’ll wait and see: People who adopt this strategy are deeply loved by God, but will most likely miss the full thrust of the impact of the revival and outpouring. The issue is not one of love and acceptance, but rather of function. If we presume that God is going to do the work of revival, our perspective is flawed from the beginning. Our follow through will then also be compromised. Revival is dependent on our determination to initiate it. We aren’t waiting for God, he’s waiting on us. We aren't waiting for revival, revival is waiting for us. We are called to minister, to serve. Revival is calibration to Kingdom life, and that life is marked by Believers doing the work. We heal the sick. We preach the Gospel. Not only do we initiate revival but we also facilitate it. We work and serve God as opposed to expecting ourselves to be served.
Deuteronomy 23:21 (NKJV) 21 “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you.
Psalm 119:60 (NKJV) 60 I made haste, and did not delay To keep Your commandments.
- I don’t fit in: If we understand the definition of ministry, we’ll find there is always a place for us. To minister is to serve. Simply serve and you will find acceptance! The church needs you! Revival needs you! You fit in revival and you fit in the church!
When I was 15 I got my first real job. I was a busboy in a tiny country restaurant. I’ll never forget my first day. It was awful! For those of you who know me you’ll be shocked to know that I was tragically shy and not outgoing whatsoever. There were a few other workers there the day I started my job and I found myself just standing all alone presuming rejection from my new coworkers. One of them looked at me and said, “Hey, you don’t have to stand over there by yourself. Come on over here.”
There are two takeaways from this story. First, I was disqualified relationally by myself, not by the restaurant. In fact, the restaurant welcomed me! Not only was I welcomed, I was hired! I wasn’t rejected, I was accepted! Second, and more importantly, I wasn’t there to develop relationships! I was there to clean dirty dishes off of tables so others could enjoy their stay. I was there to serve. So, the excuse that I didn’t fit in simply didn’t have any bearing on my responsibility. There was a job to do, people to serve and a mission to fulfill. The same is true in the church. Never let this excuse cause you to stop serving. The cause of revival needs us to serve with passion.
If Jesus’ goal was to avoid rejection in the midst of his mission then he would have never made it to the cross, and you and I would be destined for Hell.
Psalm 118:22 (ESV) 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
Matthew 8:34 (ESV) 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.
John 1:11 (ESV) 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
- I don’t want to: This is the most honest excuse. However it’s rooted in unbelief and a misunderstanding of the importance of the mission. If we truly believed that revival was the biblical norm for all of us, we’d give everything, every moment in the pursuit of it. An apathetic church is putting the mission of revival at great risk. It’s time to awaken to the call of God for the fire of revival to ignite in our nation.
Ezekiel 22:30 (ESV) 30 And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.
Haggai 1:4-11 (ESV) 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5 Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. 7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. 9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”