A suffocating spirit was out for destruction as we were contending for revival.
I’ve waited fifteen years to write this article. I implore you to read every word.
As young church planters in one of America’s darkest regions, Amy and I along with our two oldest boys, who were little guys back in 2001, launched Revolution Church. The vision was intense and our passion was for revival that would launch in that strategic city and impact the nations.
Manitou Springs, Colorado is famous for its dark history and present liberal leanings. Rumor has it that Anton Levey wrote at least some of the Satanic Bible from his home there. It’s a quirky town at the base of Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs. We started the church there in a 700 square foot office space and then quickly grew to a core of 25 people. We moved to our second of four ultimate locations, a 2000 square foot storefront right downtown Manitou Springs. It’s there where we met Janet (name changed for the sake of this article).
I’ll never forget the Sunday morning service as the sun shined brightly through the large plate glass windows in our small meeting place at the Arcade in Manitou Springs. Janet was a first-time guest, and she seemed to be attempting to engage during the service. Understand, at the time, Christians in Manitou Springs were few and far between, so it was not common to see Spirit-filled people visiting, unless they drove from Colorado Springs. In fact, I was invited to preach at a Manitou Springs festival the first year we were there. The organizer had no idea what he had done! In the middle of my fiery message, a bold declaration of the power and necessity of the blood of Jesus, a tall man in flowing garments stormed to the front and demanded equal time. This alternate religious, New Age leader was agitated by the anointing. It was uncommon in Manitou Springs and his turf was certainly being threatened.
At the end of the service I invited people to come forward to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Janet sprung from her seat and kneeled at the altar. I quickly realized she was not even saved.
After spending time with her, introducing Jesus to her and ministering to her, she boldly asked a question, “Do you ever pray for people in their homes?”
We agreed to meet at her townhouse that week to pray and encourage her. We had no idea what we were about to get ourselves into.
We arrived one evening, sat on the couch and prayed for Janet and her baby. It was an unusual moment for us as I felt little to no anointing. Something was hindering our prayers. Janet confided in us that she had dabbled in witchcraft and was ready to move on from it. I applauded her courage to break away from what I know is a very strong, seductive spirit. She repented of her involvement and we prayed some more. The breakthrough remained elusive. I asked her if she owned anything inappropriate that she should get rid of. She reluctantly admitted she did and disappeared upstairs to retrieve some items.
She emerged down the stairs with a T-shirt with some occult symbolism on it. She also held the witch’s handbook.
She surrendered these two pieces of occult paraphernalia to us, and we again prayed. I thought it would be easier to pray now that she had removed them from her life. I was wrong. Amy and I didn’t understand why it felt so dead in her home, but we had done all we knew to do. We encouraged her again and prepared to leave. She then asked us, “I’ve heard of anointing homes in oil. Do you do that?” I told her to find some Crisco.
We anointed doorways, windows and anywhere else we could dab some oil. After we finished anointing and praying downstairs, I led the way up the staircase. At the top of the stairs I saw a guest room and a bathroom. I also saw Janet’s room. I was not prepared for what happened next.
I stepped into her room and immediately could not breathe. It felt like I stepped into a swimming pool sideways. I was engulfed with a suffocating, heavy, evil presence. I stepped back outside her room. Relief.
I didn’t share my experience with Amy or Janet, but instead prayed through the guest room and bathroom. I then stepped back into Janet’s room. Crushing suffocation.
I attempted to pray in tongues, but there was absolutely no way I could. Every prayer fell dead to the ground.
I urgently asked Janet if there might be any additional items she should throw in the trash. She slowly, casually looked in her closet and pulled out a couple things and placed them on her bed. That didn’t work. I was gasping for air, but not only air, for the breath of the Holy Spirit! We needed God to move in that place, and quick!
I was very direct with her. I said, “Janet! I will not pray for you and you will not find freedom if you don’t immediately eliminate every single thing from your life that is impure!”
I was standing between her bed and the wall, next to her night stand. She placed several more items on her bed, but it was not helping. One final time, as I was ready to get out of there, I said, “There is something you are holding on to that is much more evil than anything you’ve surrendered so far. What is it? No more delay!”
She reluctantly glanced over to the night stand, inches from where I was, and pointed at something I had not noticed. She said, “Well, that’s where I perform my sacrifices.” I looked at a small altar with ashes all over it. Yes, that was it.
She ran down and grabbed a large, plastic trash bag. We renounced what was happening at that altar and threw it away. Immediately I could pray in the Spirit. The wind of the Spirit was refreshing beyond description. The fire in my prayer was a stark contrast to how debilitated I was previously.
Amy then began to pray with Janet and talk with her. I was praying in tongues and doing my best to hear what God was saying. God instructed me to ask Janet about demons visiting her room. God had given me incredibly precise revelation. I revealed to her that those demons require written documentation about her interactions with them. Her jaw dropped and her eyes spread open. She had never been more stunned at something someone said. I read her mail.
She went to the closet and pulled out a stack of at least 20 spiral notebooks. She said she had much more stored on her computer. She confessed that demons visit her every night and terrorize her. She is forced to write about their visits. That is why she invited us to her home. She wanted the demons to leave.
She put the notebooks and many additional things on her bed. Six trash bags of occult and witchcraft materials were taken to the dumpster.
JANET’S STRUGGLE CONTINUES
After that experience in Janet’s tiny townhouse, you’d imagine she would have gone on toward radical deliverance. Sadly, that didn’t happen, at least as far as we know. She disappeared. We aggressively searched for her and finally, after several weeks, did track her down. She would attend church occasionally, but would manifest demonically at times. She aggressively confronted my wife once and then ultimately vanished again. That was the last time we ever saw Janet, well, sort of. Janet was about to visit some people in their dreams.
HALLOWEEN SEASON IN MANITOU SPRINGS
October in Manitou Springs is always extremely volatile. Witchcraft is rampant and the atmosphere in that town is heavy. Creepy. Threatening. Also, it was my favorite time of the year. We knew we were called to contend against the darkness as we we were advancing toward revival.
Each year in Manitou Springs we’d prayer walk the city as we witnessed small fires in the foothills of the mountains ignite. The flames would dance as thought the mountains were alive. Witches were having their meetings, and we were having ours. We’d never consider hosting a harvest party or other event like that on Halloween. It was all out war, a spiritual war, and we had no option but to be alert, armed in the Spirit and on assignment. It was time for prayer.
The attack during October each year was intense. Three years in a row, precisely on October 31st, our oldest son was admitted to the hospital with a severe asthma attack. The suffocating spirit was assaulting him every October, until God gave us some revelation on how the enemy was assaulting us. We responded and the Halloween attacks on him then ceased.
In 2003, two years after we had planted Revolution Church, and quite some time since we’d seen Janet, Amy was pregnant with our third child. One night, in the middle of October, Amy shot up in bed, frantic, and woke me up.
She was shaking. She said she just had a horrifying, vivid dream of Janet wielding a large knife. She drove it into my wife’s stomach and killed our baby.
After praying we went back to sleep, shaken but confident that God was in control. The next morning we awoke and prepared for a scheduled church staff meeting at our home. At the beginning of the meeting, I asked our staff for prayer and started to mention Amy’s dream. I was interrupted by one of our staff members. She said, “Amy, I had a dream about you too last night. It was disturbing. I saw Janet with a knife. She stabbed you in your stomach and killed the baby.”
We were speechless. Another staff member was beside herself. She said, “I didn’t have a dream, but I had an vision about the exact scenario you both described!”
Later that day, a friend of Amy’s who had never met Janet or known anything about her called. She was upset. She didn’t want to scare Amy, but she had to share about a dream she had. “Amy, there was this girl (she went on to describe Janet’s unique appearance precisely), and I saw a large knife in her hand. She attacked you, stabbed you in the stomach and killed the baby!”
Amy and I proceeded to do literally everything we could. We prayed, of course. We stood in our authority. We had a powerful deliverance minister and his team conduct a spiritual house cleaning in our home. They reported it was the cleanest house they had ever been in.
A CHRISTMAS EVE TO FORGET
A couple of months passed, and we had shaken off the disturbances that October visited on our family. In fact, we were excited about a special doctor’s appointment on Christmas Eve. We were going to hopefully discover the sex of our baby!
I will never, for the rest of my life, forget what happened in the waiting room. Amy, our two sons and Amy’s parents were there as we waited our turn to meet with the sonographer. Our appointment was the last of the day and doctors, nurses and receptionists were scurrying around, closing up shop and preparing to head out to various holiday festivities. Joy was in the house!
Suddenly, I felt an extremely heavy, holy blanket of grace descend upon me. My emotional strength suddenly tripled at least. I was spiritually tuned in, sensitive, wondering why God had decided to strengthen me in that manner. I was about to find out.
“Amy Burton,” called the nurse. It was our turn.
Amy and her mom joined me in the ultrasound room. Amy laid back as we were all excited about seeing our wonderful, new baby. The sonographer placed the instrument on Amy’s belly, and instantly removed it.
She said, “Wait here. I need to see if I can find a doctor before they all leave for the day.”
The next two minutes were spent in silence. Joy and gladness gave way to nerves.
The doctor finally arrived, took a quick look, and said, “I’m so sorry, your baby has died.”
WITCHCRAFT KILLED OUR CHILD
The next day was Christmas morning. We did all we could to make sure it was a wonderful one for our boys. We unwrapped gifts as we sat around the tree. Literally every single present I got for Amy was either maternity clothing or a gift for the baby. She carefully unwrapped each as her turn came and placed them in a pile to return to the store.
The following day we were in a hospital room, waiting for Amy to deliver Elizabeth Hope Burton.
As the labor inducement was quite a ways from taking effect, Amy said I could go to a late-night prayer meeting a few blocks away. My phone was kept on and I remained ready to rush back to the hospital at any moment. At that prayer meeting, God again strengthened me. Shortly after returning to the hospital at around midnight, we both met Elizabeth.
The doctor was shocked at the cause of death. It was a cord accident. Cord accidents aren’t unusual, but this particular one was. He said he’d never seen a cord wrapped five times around a baby’s neck. Elizabeth was suffocated to death. Witchcraft killed Elizabeth.
WE WRESTLE NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD
Amy and I bless Janet. We pray for her, wherever she may be. We don’t hold her accountable in any way. She was a hurting, lost young lady. She didn’t kill Elizabeth. Extremely vile, destructive, evil entities did. At the time, we did all we knew to do to help Janet. We also did all we knew to do to cancel the curse and to wage war against hateful, murderous evil spirits. We failed. We learned.
We lost six more babies after we lost Elizabeth, but we are so blessed to have three wonderful boys and two precious girls in the Burton family.
Amy has been a champion. She has ministered to those who have lost babies to stillbirth or miscarriage. She has cried with them, grieved with them, prayed with them and stood with them.
While our faith was hit, it was not shattered. We have learned over the years to war, to wrestle with the enemy and to contend with faith and passion. Life isn’t about some set of rules that Satan has to obey. He cheats. He hates. He does all he can to rip us to shreds, and he wastes no time finding just the best way to do that.
I know many of you who are reading this are already thinking about theological issues with my story. You might think Christians can’t be touched by witchcraft. You’d be wrong.
The slightest open door or lazy approach to intercession, or pride or even ignorance can give the enemy access. He doesn’t fight fair. He knows our weaknesses. In fact, some of you may be considering Job. He was upright, yet struck.
Understand, the blood of Jesus doesn’t grant us immunity. It grants us authority. We need to enroll in the school of the Spirit and learn how to battle. If we don’t fight, the fight will come to us. If we don’t engage, we will be hit.
I held off for fifteen years in writing this article because it’s not a happy story. But, I realized that so much of today’s church has become inauthentic by only highlighting that which makes us happy.
In order to win battles, and ultimately the war, we have to learn from struggles. We must understand the ferocity of the enemy. We need to be in the Word, in prayer and free from even the slightest sin or compromise.
The lesson we learned was not that we were steeped in sin. We weren’t. We were living holy lives as young though immature Jesus lovers. The lesson is that we must clearly understand that the enemy is ready to pounce, and that we must be ready.
HALLOWEEN IS EVIL—AND NO CHRISTIAN SHOULD PARTICIPATE AT ANY LEVEL
Witchcraft is permeating the atmosphere this and every October. It’s time to war, not party. Pastors, call solemn assemblies instead of holding harvest parties. This is an all hands on deck season.
I’ll leave you with some short bullet points that I posted to Facebook earlier today about Halloween. If you didn’t understand before why I so vehemently renounce this unholy day, you now should.
Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Joel 1:14
Eleven reasons Christians celebrate Halloween
- They don't believe witchcraft is a big deal.
- They wrongly think the way they celebrate doesn't involve witchcraft.
- They incorrectly assume Christians are immune to curses and the power of witchcraft.
- They can't imagine the thought of their kids missing out.
- They celebrated Halloween as children and conclude it didn't have any negative impact on them.
- They wrongly equate it with Christmas, which “also has pagan roots” yet is universally embraced by Christians.
- They believe it can be sanitized and Christianized.
- They believe it's a great opportunity to evangelize, but without exposing the darkness or revealing how wicked the holiday is.
- They have fallen for false-grace deception that allows them to be free and have fun no matter what.
- They haven't experienced the wonder and terror of the spirit realm.
- They lack discernment.
Manitou Springs Flood and Tornado: God is orchestrating the advance of revival though we are sad to announce the closure of RHOP in Manitou Springs…
RHOP’S CLOSING & REVIVAL CHURCH’S NEW PROPERTY
Our team just returned from our third Manitou Springs, Colorado prayer journey this year—and instead of advance, Revolution House of Prayer has been shut down. Only 10 people remained to carry the burden of intercession unto revival, and that burden was too great. A greater army was required, and that army didn’t respond.
I believe it was God’s “Plan B” for the church to close. “Plan A” was simple: soldiers respond in force and pray night and day in this city that is so critical for revival regionally and nationally. Plan A didn’t happen. The goal wasn’t a mega-church as that size of a people would have compromised the mission. The call was for a team of remnant Christians to gather and advance revival through the house of prayer mandate.
Though it’s sad our twelve-year-old ministry closed this past week, we can see God’s redemptive plan in the midst of it.
We were presented with the opportunity to cancel return flights and rent a U-Haul to transfer RHOP’s equipment to Revival Church’s new property in Detroit.
So, as I stated above, the needs have diminished considerably. We aren’t quite there yet…so, your donation will bless us considerably!
You can donate NOW: www.explorerevival.com/specialgift
My vision for Manitou Springs is increasing, not decreasing.
However, the vision for revival in that region has yet to spread to many others. We held conferences there two separate times this year to rally support and gather the hungry, yet beyond those events, the response was limited.
I can boldly say that the heavily resourced church of Colorado Springs has been missing in action. They must show up for work immediately and send masses of intercessors, revivalists, musicians, leaders and others into Manitou multiple times a week to advance the vision of revival.
If people like Dutch Sheets agree that Manitou Springs may be the darkest city in the nation, why wouldn’t the soldiers of Christ get their boots on the ground and stay until God breaks in? Colorado Springs, you are resourced wonderfully and you are needed for battle.
If I sound frustrated, I am. I unapologetically am. We spent a few months rallying musicians to help lead worship for three nights at our last conference by contacting large and prayer driven ministries in the area. We literally received zero response. We called the pastors of the churches in the region to gather. They did not. We have personally prayed on site in over 100 churches in the Pikes Peak region…we have served with passion with nothing in return expected…well, expect for a fervent spirit of prayer to ignite in those churches.
Again, my heart is to communicate the need, to cast the vision and to sound the alarm. That alarm will continue to sound, though Manitou Springs is now without a governmental prayer covering.
THE FLOOD WAS PROPHESIED
One day before I loaded up the U-Haul truck at RHOP, my father-in-law had a dream.
In the dream I was loading the truck and he saw a flood coming. He said, “John, you have to go! The flood is coming! The water is rising! The time is now! You must get out!”
I continued to get a few more items to throw in the truck before I left.
The next day I did in fact load the truck and we prayed and released Manitou Springs into the hands of God. We prayed for Miles and Jodi and released them from their assignment there as they moved into another.
I sat at the table in my in-law’s house and said, “Wouldn’t it be crazy if a flood actually did come the day after we moved out!”
Crazy happened. The earth groaned. The next day, as I was driving to Detroit, the flood came.
The creek that runs under RHOP is usually only a few inches deep, but less than 24 hours after we left it was over 9 feet deep as mud and water raged past. Miles said it hit the foundation of RHOP, and he’s never seen it anywhere near that high before.
Then, the earth groaned again. The highest recorded tornado in American history landed on the top of Pikes Peak, America’s mountain that sits at Manitou Springs.
Job 27:20 Terrors overtake him like a flood;
in the night a whirlwind carries him off.
Pray. Pour money, musicians, intercessors and other resources into Manitou Springs. The Colorado fires were no coincidence. God is calling for the intercessors to rise up.
If this post pulls on your spirit, please contact me. My heart is broken for Manitou Springs. So goes Manitou, so goes the entire Pikes Peak region.
Is Detroit moving into God’s Plan B? Listen to a short podcast… AND, grill out with us TONIGHT at 6pm!
Bring some food to share. We will provide the hotdogs!
We will play corn hole, ping pong and just hang out and relax!
- WHEN: Tonight, Saturday, July 6th at 6pm
- WHERE: John and Amy’s house, 64639 Tara Hill Drive, Washington, MI 48095
- WHY: Are you serious?
PRAYER IN OUR NEW PROPERTY!
Last night we had our first prayer meeting in our new Revival Church/theLab property!
This is going to be the perfect place for us to gather many times each week for prayer and training!
Join us for our second prayer meeting THURSDAY, July 11th at 7pm, AND THEN for our first service at 7pm on Saturday, July 13th!
The address is 26091 Sherwood Avenue, Warren, Michigan 48091.
Our last service at our Central Church location is TOMORROW! I’ll be starting a new series, Enduring Prayer.
FLOODS, FAILED MISSIONS AND PLAN B
So, where does that leave us? God is a redemptive God, and revival is still a hope, so that’s good news. The troubling news is that it won’t come on time.
Listen as I discuss this by sharing the story of a prophetic dream about a flood, and THEN an actual flood that occurred exactly as it was seen in the dream! It was stunning!
Manitou Springs flooded, and it was not simply a natural reality.
THE COMING CHURCH : THELAB UNIVERSITY : MANITOU SPRINGS COLORADO : MAY-OCTOBER 2013
Something very interesting and urgent is happening this summer in the Pikes Peak region.
I want to do my best to communicate how critical this is, and how much we really need your help and participation.
Earlier this year I brought a team from Detroit and Kansas City to Colorado Springs to serve in the pursuit of tangible revival there.
The experience was the most powerful any of these extremely seasoned intercessors and revivalists had ever had. That’s saying a lot!
The impact was so overwhelming that every single person on the team is paying their own way (again) to travel and participate in the next event in May. I am beyond impressed and blessed that they are taking time off work and investing so much into a region they have no real connection to!
In fact, one young prophetic revivalist actually turned down an extremely prestigious job with a nationally known minister to be her personal assistant—the week after she experienced God so remarkably in Colorado. She said no to a guaranteed income and is now living fully by faith with near nothing in the bank—all for her call to both Colorado and Detroit!
We are looking for people in Colorado who have a similar heart and passion to partner with us!
We will be traveling to Colorado six times this year, and holding events each time.
►WE NEED YOUR HELP
Catherine Mullins will be leading worship Thursday and Friday on the May trip—and she needs some skilled musicians to volunteer to play on her team.
Our connections in Colorado Springs are limited, so we are scrambling to get the message out. Your help in spreading the word would be a HUGE blessing!
Additionally, we need to get the word out about the conference itself. Revivalists, intercessors, pastors and others who are praying for God to move in Colorado are invited!
►PLEASE CONTACT ME ASAP
This is happening in less than one month! Can you contact me asap and let me know how you’d like to serve? Again, we need:
- Skilled musicians (drums, bass, lead guitar, keys)
- Promotion assistance (put the event in your church announcements, etc.)
- Group registrations (register your church)
You can see all of the info, AND register here: www.thelabdetroit.com/manitousprings
Thank you! It’s going to be an amazing year in Colorado!
Revival is coming to the Detroit region through focused apostolic teams of burning ones.
In Acts 2, the revival that launched the church was released through an apostolic team of burning ones. People who had come out of an encounter with God that included fire dropping from Heaven onto each of them.
In Detroit, there are many of these types of teams throughout the region. God has worked on establishing them, and they will soon be surprised as fire consumes them, and prophetic boldness explodes out of them as they impart the fire of revival into to Detroit.
I am going to include an article by Bill Click that I received today that’s quite powerful. He talks about the difference between church planting teams and apostolic teams.
When we launched Revolution Church in Manitou Springs, Colorado we knew we weren’t simply planting a church. We were called very clearly to serve revival and Kingdom advance on a city level.
Ed Silvoso said: Pastors, you are called to a vision for the entire city and its workers.
Floyd McClung said: Apostolic teams are focused. They are not satisfied with just over-seeing the affairs of a local church!
We knew this was true in Manitou Springs. The goal was taking dominion, pushing back the darkness and calibrating with God’s plans regionally.
I am confident that one day we will the entire city of Manitou Springs become a missions base! From border to border we’ll see people engaging in Kingdom activity in homes, businesses, churches, etc. For example, there is a railway that takes people from Manitou Springs to the top of Pikes Peak. That will become a Kingdom property as we daily take intercessors up to the top of America’s mountain to pray. There’s also a commercial cave system in Manitou Springs. We will see the caves full of worshipers and others who are going deep in God. I see a continual fire burning there, and it will be extremely easy for people to find healing and life. A true open heaven will hover over that city.
Of course, I see similar realities coming to pass in Detroit and in other cities around the world.
Here’s the article by Bill Click:
NEW APOSTOLIC PURPOSE
THERE ARE CHURCH PLANTING TEAMS, THEN THERE ARE APOSTOLIC TEAMS
The purpose of Christ’s coming, crucifixion and resurrection was so mankind could be restored to God’s original purpose (Gen.2:7). The Father originally designed man for fellowship with Him and growth in stewardship of His resources (Gen.3:8; Dt.8:18). We see in Genesis, that when God “breathed” into Adam, what was originally received became polluted because he willfully disobeyed the Word of God (Gen.3:6). At that time, the enemy, Eve, and Adam received distinct judgment for their acts. And since, all mankind has been born in sin and dies (1Cor.15:22; Heb.9:27). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Father’s only way to restore man. This, only through the reconciliation of the cross (Jn.14:6; Col.1:20). A restored people will be those who function in the original intention of the Lord for His church (Eph.3:9-12). And that original intention as seen in Acts featured apostolic teams and ministries who were also fully prophetic in their function and authority (Acts 13:1-4; 14:14).
There is a difference between an apostolic team and what we have commonly come to know as a church planting team. First and foremost, an apostolic team will function in God’s original intention to restore people in fullness to the Father through Christ, while a church planting team will be rooted in establishing a group and/or place for worshipping God, fellowship, and spiritual growth. An apostolic team will be anchored in divine revelation in its identity, function and direction (Acts 13:2; 13:1; 13:4). A church planting team may experience divine revelation, but may be oriented more toward demographics, research, experience, and methods.
An apostolic team will be put together by the Holy Spirit. A church planting team may be assembled from those who are willing and available to work toward such an effort. An apostolic team will function together in a way that complements and builds up each other and multiplies the divine authority to dismantle strongholds and bring people into the Kingdom of God (2Cor.10:1-8). A church planting team may not be focused on giftedness, spiritual authority, or relational cohesion, but rather on the task that demographics, research and methodology lead them to conclude is to be done.
An apostolic team will be directed by the Spirit of the Lord in its geographical or spherical assignment. They may not only find themselves moving into new locales or realms, but also non traditional or parachurch endeavors; those which minister to the “sphere” by using their ministry and spiritual gifts “measure” in more evangelistic ways (Acts 16:6-10; 2Cor.10:8-18). A church planting team might aim at specific social strata also, but will be careful to promote and build its persona as a “church” in the eyes of those it encounters. And it may be intentionally aimed at population centers, places of recent growth, or even the locale of those who are putting together their efforts for the work itself.
“SENT” & “SET” WITH SPHERE’S AS CALLED, PREPARED & COMMISSIONED
Apostolic teams and ministries which have received Christ’s strategy and been made ready will be “sent” and “set” with a specific “measure” to display and establish the Lord’s reconciliation, life, authority, and influence to that “sphere” (Ro.10:15; 1Cor.12:28; 2Cor.10:13). Although influencing social strata and possibly even visibly impacting the affairs of nations, this authority is neither social in origin nor politically intended. Instead, this reign is Spiritual, living in the hearts of individuals and groups submitted to the Lord, having been received and released through the Supernatural Grace of Christ. Because it results from a revelation of “the mystery,” the presence of the Kingdom of God is loosed in the lives of people (Eph.3:3-5; Ro.14:17; Lk.17:20-21).
Apostolic teams are used by God to fully establish Christ’s witness and presence within these “spheres,” restoring them to the degree people can receive what the Lord is offering. This is done as they continually preach and teach the Gospel of the Kingdom, willingly releasing the specific anointing they have been equipped with (Mt.10:8). Apostles do this by simply loosing the Spirit’s flow of the Word of God to unite people with Christ and each other (Ro.8:14; 10:16). Demolishing the demonic strongholds which have kept people bound, Apostles then orchestrate the body’s function, and bring “order” within that dimension (Lk.10:18-20; 2Cor.10:3-5; Tit.1:4ff). They plant their DNA of Christ deep within the soil of their “set” influence, in order to begin a process of rooting, growth, maturity and eventually, reproduction (1Cor.12:28; Mk.4:31-32).
Our tendency today is to intentionally draw people and their resources into activities which build our identity through celebratory gatherings of specific themes. But a true apostolic team’s strategy does not only set itself as the focal point of purpose and activity, but will instead spread divine refreshing, renewal, restoration and reformation beyond “the four-walls.” And over time, this “seed” will permeate every nook and cranny of the specific “sphere” (Ac.13:49, 14-52). The hallmark of truly commissioned apostolic teams will be the permeation of an influence, an audience, or geography with the uniqueness of the Lord through them. This will be how Apostles and their teams know they have persevered in any unique and distinctive apostolic strategy they receive and release.
In the New Testament we see this described by Jesus. In the Parable of the Mustard Seed, the man “threw” the seed into the garden of his sphere and it became a tree which created a habitation for the “birds of the air” (Lk.13:18-19 NASB). Historically, the early church interpreted the “birds of the air” to be those outside Christ. So we can see from this picture how an apostolic team is used to expand the presence of the Kingdom of God. When the anointing residing within a truly commissioned Apostle is >thrown= into the Christ-intended “sphere” of influence, it is planted deeply enough to be covered by the soil. It then begins to germinate in order to take root and break through above the surface: sprouting, blooming, and blossoming into maturity, harvest, and reproduction.
There is much need for reproducing apostolic authority, team work and ministries. But Apostles must “first” seed the garden they’ve been “sent” to and “set” over before they can ever begin to train and release others to do the same (1Cor.12:28; Ro.10:15). As they sow the Word of Christ’s foundation, they open the way for those given to them not only to be gathered, but also identified and processed into their divinely designed purpose and effectiveness as well (Jn.17:9-26). Such purpose and effectiveness always stays with restoring God’s original purpose, fellowship with Him, and growth in stewardship of His resources (Dt.8:18; 3Jn.2). It is as that foundational Word is released that the seed finds the good ground which produces and remains productive (Jn.15:16).
APOSTLESHIP IS NOT THE RESULT OF CONSENSUS
Apostles and their teams do not ask permission to operate in their function of restoring God’s original purpose. They are neither dependant upon a willing audience, nor at first make the condition of their ministry that of being received. Instead, they arrive at the ground of divine placement and begin to propel the seed forward by God’s direction and with the energy of His Right Hand, Jesus Christ (Psa.89:13; 98:1; 110:1-7). And through that powerful release the seed goes deep and the soil covers and nourishes it until it comes forth and produces, providing rest and habitation for those without a place to spiritually nestle and mature (Jn.12:24-26; Php.3:12-16; Heb.5:11-14).
Christ became our nourishment (Jn.6:31-51). He is the “firstborn among many brethren,” meaning that His restoring work transforms us that we become like Him (Ro.8:29). We also, then, are to become nourishment to others. As a result of the apostolic team’s obedience, those ministered to receive the call to be transformed in Spirit, from a lump of meal into nourishing bread (Lk.13:20-21). In time, the bread is ready to be served. Having become readied for use in transforming others, the team is then given a specific “measure” (“3 pecks”) to relationally leaven others throughout the Apostle’s “sphere.” The leavening of others is the result. The loaf which emerges is the life giving presence of the Kingdom not only extended, but increased and even multiplied (2Cor.9:10; Heb.6:14).
Today, we see pressures of all types when it comes to all aspects of our lives with God (Jn.16:33) When yielded to, these can cause us to conclude that any growth from planting or reproduction in ministry must take place for our survival and security instead of for the eternal purposes of God in Christ (Eph.3:9-12). God’s growth in us and reproduction through us are the supernatural results of knowing the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Therefore, church is not called to make bread in order to survive. It’s that having become true bread, the result is the making of the same (Lk.6:43). The ongoing presence of those with true leaven activates the process in which lives can be changed and God-ordained potentials can be realized. This is the role of the Apostle and the apostolic team.
Those starving do not even know what they are hungry for until they smell the aroma of what God has for them (2Cor.2:14-16). By the Lord’s grace through the Apostle and apostolic team, those who were once starving become food to those who have yet to taste that which satisfies (Psa.91:16; Pro.13:25; Jn.6:35). And because those who are serving bread are not doing it for payment or reward, there’s no “catch” (2Cor.2:17; Isa.45:11-14). As a result of the Apostle’s obedience to “throw,” there is not just “seed” for the birds who gather, but a tree for them to gather and nestle in as well. And as the church becomes activated as a Divine Bakery, bread for those who flock to the garden is found all over the ground: in relationships, gifts, accompaniments, equipping–all provided by the Spirit through the Apostle’s obedience to the strategy given by Christ.
Simply put, truly commissioned Apostles can’t help but reproduce after themselves as they live life. They produce ones who become living epistles (2Cor.3:3). We see this happening again and again in Acts. But as intentional as it is done by the Lord, it can often seem to occur inadvertently and unintentionally by those participating (Acts 16:12-15). Pentecost, the arrest of Peter and John, the fate of Ananias and Sapphira, even the choosing and deployment of the Seven: none of these were intentional to apostolic extension. But all these resulted in multiplications of people, expanded geographical outreach, and explosions of the presence of the Kingdom of God in the hearts of mankind (Ac.2:41-47; 4:23-35; 5:12-16; 6:6-8).
Today just as in the book of Acts, Apostles are charged to take the high ground of being who Christ has called them by receiving and releasing the revelations He gives. At times, there are many Apostles within a territory and often there are even many strategies in the process of being received and birthed within the same Apostle as well. There should be multiple strategies being received, released, and unfolded within the same territory or “sphere” today. Ultimately, the purpose for the eventual reach of every strategy of advance is the whole earth (Mt.28:18-20; Ac.1:8).
Apostles focus specifically, however, andB even if they do notB are limited to those “recipes” on the “cutting board” of God’s “now” in order to be effective and remain protected (Ac.16:6-10; Heb.11:1). Faithfulness to the purposes of Christ’s strategy is a condition for continuing in authority and fruitfulness. This can be seen in the commissions recorded by Matthew and Luke (Mt.28:16-20; Ac.1:4-8). It is by continued faithfulness to what Christ reveals that Apostles and their teams become and remain effective. Sometimes their impact is highly visible, other times not so much, and at times not outwardly verifiable at all, but leaven accomplishes its purpose (Lk.13:20-21; Isa.55:8-13). Through Christ there will be reproducers who reproduce reproducers that continue reproducing (Mt.28:19; Ac.1:8).
Apostle Bill Click & Prophet Nancy Click are Ordained with: Christian International Apostolic Network, Dr. Bill Hamon, Bishop
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