Death Row, the Gas Chamber and America’s Grave Distractions

In this end-time hour, Christians are distracted by everything from politics, masks, American freedom, building ministries and seeking all sorts of pleasures. 

“Leave it there, I'll finish it later.”

Standing in the gas chamber at the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri, I overheard our guide's story of the last moments of a prisoner's life.

The air-tight capsule took the lives of forty people between the years of 1937 and 1989. The Warden would pull a lever initiating the process that combined sodium cyanide and sulfuric acid. The resulting gas would painfully and all-too-slowly end a human life.

A few short feet from the cramped gas chamber was a cell. This is where death row inmates spent their last few hours before being secured with leather straps to the last chair they would ever sit in. The cell was also the place their last meal was eaten. 

As the story goes, after eating a portion of his meal, the unnamed prisoner was escorted from his cell toward the gas chamber. A guard took the unfinished meal to throw it away, which caused the concerned prisoner to say, “Leave it there, I'll finish it later.”

He wasn't joking. He didn't fully grasp what was about to happen. Eternity was not on his mind.

There was no need to save the food. He would not be finishing it later. 

I propose the whole of America, and the bulk of the church isn't grasping what is about to happen either. Eternity is not on the mind of most.

DISTRACTED IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING

I received a text message several years ago that launched me into one of the most bizarre, sad and thankful moments of my life. The message contained condolences from a pastor in Branson, Missouri. My dad died. I immediately called my mom and she confirmed the unexpected news. My head was spinning as I immediately started mentally preparing for a sudden trip from Detroit to Branson. Suddenly the phone call with my mom dropped as another call was coming in. It was from my dad.

Dazed and confused, I answered the phone. My dad was alive. I asked him, “What in the world is going on?” His voice was weak as he explained that news of his death was premature. My mom was bedridden and was not able to be with my dad in the hospital. She heard incorrectly and shared the false status with friends and family. News spread and my dad, who was literally on his death bed, called all over town (where he was very well known) letting people know he was still alive.

He told me, “I'm still in the land of the living, but it won't be long.”

He was peaceful, thoughtful, still with a sense of humor and focused on his soon coming transition into eternity. 

Our family made the long drive and I was able to see him, though he was sedated and unable to respond. He died that night.

Of course, I was deeply sad, but I was also thankful I was able to talk with my dad on that fateful phone call one last time.

Eternity is coming to all of us and it is of supreme importance that we talk about it. A lot.

Can anybody explain to me why it's so rare for pastors and preachers to prepare people for the end-times, much less eternity? Does anybody know why Christians are so distracted by the cares of life instead of staying intently zeroed in on the most dramatic moment of their lives, entering into forever?

We are distracted by lesser things in the land of the living while not understanding there is a transition coming soon and very soon.

MISGUIDED ENERGY

I've never seen such passion from people as I have in the last year. Sadly, it's not because of revival. The zeal isn't a result of encountering the Holy Spirit. People haven't been provoked by the soon coming return of Jesus. No, people are shouting with ferocity about masks, elections, riots and politics of every sort. They are energized by the short-term, temporal issues of this lifetime. 

Other passions people are exhibiting have nothing to do with the previous year in our nation. Many ministers have been drunk on growing bigger churches and email lists for decades. Christians are trying to live the American dream while forsaking their Kingdom perspectives. Idols, fears, desires and debates are distracting us.

I'm not saying we can't joyfully invest ourselves in the life God gives us. We can. We should. There's a right and good way to deal with politics, cultural issues, our jobs, family demands, dreams, building businesses and everything else that fills up the seventy or so years we are on the earth. However, the moment the land of the living takes precedence in our daily lives is the moment our lives become endangered. Everything we do must be in sync with preparing for the end-times and the coming trillions (endless) years of our eternity.

DEATH ROW

We are all on death row. It's a sobering thought, one that most of us want to shut out, but it's truth. 

I wish I could explain the feeling I had as I was standing outside of the small out-building that contained the gas chamber. The left door was for spectators of the execution. The right was for the inmate, Warden and others directly involved with the process. I was overwhelmed, spiritually more than emotionally, as I envisioned demons all around preparing to escort one of the parade of souls into their version of eternity. This literally played out time after time in years past as unrepentant criminals vacated their bodies and entered the torments of hell. Only those who authentically surrendered their lives to Jesus prior to the gas overwhelming them would see angels instead of demons. 

As I looked at the never-ending rows of claustrophobic cells in the main prison cell blocks, my feeling was only enhanced. Sadness struck me knowing the despair and hopelessness that possessed all who lived there throughout the years prior to the prison closing. While we are debating over Trump and Biden and viruses and vaccines, people are flooding into eternity. Imprisoned souls are hopeless as the church is distracted.

It wrecks me knowing the high majority of those inside that prison entered into madding torture that will never end. Friends, we must change our focus. 

I'm troubled by how few are waking up every morning preparing for the end. We should also be preparing others. It's coming very soon, and the distractions in our nation are killing us.

Our life now is but a vapor. What we focus on everyday matters, and that focus must absolutely be eternity.

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:13–14, ESV)

ABUNDANT LIFE

“…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, ESV)

Not only will we be full of life but others will be powerfully impacted when we are driven by eternity. 

Our life in Jesus is not as much about finding satisfaction here as it is in living with eternity as our prime focus. It's about Jesus and ruling and reigning with him forever! It's about sounding alarms and warning as many as we can about the reality of hell and the hope of Jesus. It's about capturing the heart of God and preparing our families for the end season we are quickly moving into. 

Let's reprioritize pretty much everything and look at politics, viruses, the church, our families, our dreams, our entertainment and all the rest through the lens of eternity. The flow to hell will slow and the church will be ready for all that is to come. Masks, viruses and politics won't be as important and will finally receive attention with a Kingdom perspective.

Both angels and demons are getting ready for our point of transition into eternity, not to mention billions of others all over the world. 

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2, ESV)

Originally published by The Stream.

God Gets a Lap Dance on Saturday Night Live — Where are the Tears?

Political agendas instead of brokenness over souls have overtaken the American church.

“People are freaking out about your new video, where you ride down a stripper pole to Hell then twerk on the devil. Why are they upset?” (an actor portraying Brittany) Spears asks.

“Would you be able to give a lap dance to God, just to even things out?” Spears asks, before welcoming on a man with long white hair and tan robes. (An actor portraying) Lil Nas X leaps up and begins twerking in front of him for several seconds to the cheers of the audience.

This ET.com story has also been reported by most of the major news sources, and Christians are enraged. 

“God” gets a lap dance on the eve of the most holy day of the year, Easter Sunday. Resurrection Day. The day when Jesus destroyed the shackles of sin and death, just three days after the most loving act in the history of mankind. Brutal torture and slaughter were what the mob wanted for the man who famously said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

THE RAGE OF CHRISTIANS

This article isn't really about yet another heinous Saturday Night Live skit, this one about new shoes introduced by Lil Nas X that are literally anointed with a drop of human blood. It's not about the blasphemy of SNL or Lil Nas X. Christian friends, it's about you and me.

Hatred, division, rage, finger pointing and shaming have been the calling cards for many Christians over the past year. Whether it's blood boiling over due to a supposed stolen election or unbridled agitation resulting from masks, lockdowns, vaccines and, as some would argue, violations of Constitutional rights, followers of Jesus are up in arms.

Sure, watching defiling wickedness overtake our nation should provoke a strong response from us. The last thing we need is comatose, apathetic Christians who presume lukewarm passivity to be equal to love and kindness. I agree that we need men and women of God to speak boldly on political and cultural issues that are destroying our nation. To remain silent from behind the pulpit on the far-left agendas that are killing America is enough to disqualify anyone from ministry. We need holy, anointed freedom fighters to emerge. However, it's critical to understand just what freedom we are fighting for. Yes, there's a battle for our nation, but too many have lost focus by identifying as American patriots ahead of Kingdom ambassadors. This war is a spiritual war.

If pastors would have vigilantly prepared the church for the end times, Christians would not have panicked when a virus emerged, churches were shuttered, persecution arrived, the election didn't go the way they wanted and government tyranny deprived them of the life they were used to.

Instead we have naturally minded, reactionary people scrambling to fight the oppression, demonize their enemies and blame all who have threatened their elusive American dream. 

It's telling when American Christians presume God has promised freedom in our nation while forgetting freedom in Christ can be found in prisons, in Communist nations and anywhere other people remove natural freedoms from us.
The Bible guarantees perpetual national freedom literally nowhere from Genesis to Revelation. In fact, an argument for the opposite could more easily be made. 

You might presume this famous verse about God's promise to prosper a nation would support an argument for perpetual national freedom:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)

However, you should back up one verse. National freedom won't come for seventy years:

““For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” (Jeremiah 29:10, ESV)

And these verses drive home the point:

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:12–14, ESV)

I might argue that America is closer to being sent into exile than it is stepping into promise. 

Our response should be a hardcore turning to God, national repentance and a heart-wrenching cry for revival.

WHERE ARE THE TEARS?

@LilNasX
Mar 27
i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the s**t y’all preached would happen to me because i was gay. so i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.

Lil Nas X sells out of 666 pairs of Satanic shoes, each containing a drop of human blood, and he reveals the reason for his provocative business venture: Christians. 

Where are the tears? Where is the compassion? Where is the cry, “Father, forgive him, he knows not what he does?”

Where is the brokenness over lost souls and devastated hearts that have been seduced by the enemy of humankind? Do we understand both saved and lost share the same enemy? Those who don't know Christ are not our enemies, and we aren't theirs. It would be hard to believe that in today's volatile American culture however. 

Instead, we are witnesses, many of us participants, in the war against any and all who oppose our “righteous” ideologies.

It's rare to find people crying out with passion for God to move on the hearts of people like Lil Nas X, President Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bill Maher, Whoopi Goldberg and others who are commonly in the sights of our holy sniper rifles. 

Instead, we do in fact snipe. We pull the trigger time and again with our “righteous” banter in an attempt to out them, shame them, accuse them and bring correction to them. How our gossip could ever reap positive results is beyond me.

INTERCESSORS ARISE

When I call intercessors to arise, I'm speaking to every blood-bought Christian reading this. Intercessors aren't a special brand of Believer. We are all called to pray with fiery zeal for those who are targeted for eternal destruction by Satan. 

The last year has revealed yet another angle of the ugly side of Christianity. It wrecks my heart that so few are exhibiting love for the lost. It's rare to find those who will put aside differences and truly fight the horde of hell for people God so deeply loves.

How can we expect those who have not had a genuine encounter with the Holy Spirit to ever buy into our brand of morality and values? It makes no sense, yet Christians are still enraged when people don't see things the way we do.

An intellectual or emotional affirmation of the truth of the Bible will never transform a human heart. Yes, they may engage positively at a logical or emotional level. Yes, they may try to understand our point of view. Most, however, will partially or fully reject a biblical worldview unless a supernatural, unmistakable, life-altering, soul-shocking invasion of God's glory floods into their being. 

This is why I so passionately preach the need to live, walk, pray and move in the Spirit. We exist in an invisible world that only those with spiritual eyes can experience. We need the blind eyes of the lost and deceived opened to the abundant life of Jesus. Contend for this in determined prayer. Push back the enemy. Battle for souls. Love deeply. Weep for the wandering. Stand in the gap for those who mock God. Preach with anointing. Pursue a spirit of revival to overtake Hollywood, Washington, and, oh yeah, the church. Some good old fashioned repentance at an simple, holy altar, Christian, would be a good first step.

Photo Credit: “Satan (after Botticelli)” by Maxwell Hamilton is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Origionally published by The Stream.

Blaming, Shaming and Avoiding: How Christians are Mishandling the Current Political Crisis

Trump Biden

Love and honor have been abandoned by too many in this volatile political season.

It’s been said the two topics we should avoid around the family reunion dinner table are politics and religion. Of course, I disagree, but the point is well taken.

It’s nothing new that people tend to be more passionate about their political and spiritual positions than they are about guarding the hearts of the people they are debating with. Sadly this reality has reared it’s extremely ugly head again and again over the last year.

HAVE WE FORGOTTEN THE THREE PRIMARY REASONS WE ARE ALIVE?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s not to debate politics and it’s not to save America.

“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. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37–39, ESV)

One: Love God.

Two: Love people.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” (John 13:35, ESV)

Yes, there are many expressions of love including both tough and tender, but we need to understand that blaming and shaming our enemies are excluded. Anger expressed toward the liberal left will never win them to Jesus, which, by the way, is the third primary reason we are alive.

“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5, ESV)

WE ALSO CAN’T AVOID POLITICS

Preachers avoiding politics from behind the pulpit and keyboard is like a police officer refusing to confront crime. It makes no sense. The police are authorized to make arrests and Christians are authorized to tear down strongholds.

We as Christians have been granted a level of spiritual authority that few will ever grasp. When culture is steeped in wickedness, we have no option but to expose the darkness.

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11, ESV)

Unrighteous laws, widespread corruption, the darkness of immorality and national evils must be dealt with, and Christians are those who are most authorized to do so.

Silence by passive preachers is a violation just as a fleshly, carnal response is. There’s a way to move in love and honor while bringing dangerous political and cultural agendas to light. To stay silent, for example, on the issue of abortion would be inexcusable. To spew venom toward those who affirm or even administer abortion would be equally inappropriate for followers of Jesus.

THE GREATER SIN

While avoiding the spiritual clash in today’s deeply wicked society is unfathomable, my opinion is that the greater sin is a wicked reaction guised in high-minded righteousness by Believers in Jesus.

We must be aggressive with issues and tender towards people.

My heart is broken over the lack of revival in Hollywood, Nashville and Washington D.C. I think about people like Nancy Pelosi, Jim Carrey, Ellen Degeneres,Taylor Swift, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Alyssa Milano and hundreds of other influencers who are attacked non-stop by Christians because of their political positions.

Will they feel love by our mean-spirited assaults of righteous indignation? No.

I may write a separate article on this issue as it’s just wrecking my heart, but suffice it to say that I’m deeply grieved that so few celebrities and national leaders are falling in love with Jesus. Church, we are not handling their hearts well. Demonizing them will not win them.

OUR LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER

Rude, snarky and unloving behavior among Christians thrives on social media.

The moment a Christian is condescending and divisive on a Facebook thread is the moment their credibility is shot. While I understand we are living in a different era, there’s a part of me that yearns for yesteryear when yes sir’s and yes ma’am’s were indicative of respect in our culture.

Today it’s normal for followers of Jesus to attack, shame and ridicule anybody who disagrees with their viewpoints, especially when it comes to politics and religion. Many are unteachable, stone-hearted, immovable and more in love with their ideals then the people they are dialoguing with.

At the end of the day, I don’t care who the President is if we can’t discuss and debate with love and honor.

THE BLAME GAME IS STRONG THIS YEAR

Possibly the best litmus test for spiritual health and maturity when it comes to politics and culture is blame. If we lash out and blame and accuse and attack others who believe differently than we do, we are not in a good place.

The moment we blame is the moment we create unnecessary division. We need to stop blaming President Biden, President Trump, teachers, parents and others who, in our opinion, are opposing our personal agendas or beliefs, no matter how righteous those beliefs are.

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44, ESV)

Don’t blame. Love. Pray. Don’t be an angry, complaining victim. Go low. Humble yourself. Serve. Contend for the souls of those who are making your life difficult. Again, be ruthless on issues, loving toward people.

There’s a better way, friends. Being mean-spirited isn’t it. Blaming doesn’t help. Shaming is simply cruel. People are more valuable then positions and agendas. Our enemies should be blessed and prayed for more than our friends.

The lyrics of a quirky and boldly honest bluegrass gospel song by Rhonda Vincent seem to fit here:

Oh you don't love God
If you don't love your neighbor
If you gossip about him, if you never have mercy
If he gets into trouble, and you don't try to help him
Then you don't love your neighbor
And you don't love God

One more time, deal strongly with issues and go out of your way to make sure people feel the love of Jesus. As we do this, we can most certainly hate evil, love good and establish justice in our nation.

“Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate…” (Amos 5:15, ESV)

You can submit a text or 60-second audio prayer for celebrities and influencers at www.prayerteam.tv.

Photo credit: “Trump and Biden” by uwwvmzjh8 is marked with CC PDM 1.0

Originally published by The Stream.

Prayer Team: 30 Second Intercession for Influencers

ANNOUNCING A NEW INTERCESSION INITIATIVE: MOBILIZING FIREBRANDS TO CONTEND FOR INFLUENCERS

VISIT WWW.PRAYERTEAM.TV!

My passion is legitimate, authentic and indisputable revival. Interestingly, I often find myself burdened for people I've never met, and usually, people I know little about. Yet, more times than not, those who suddenly land on my spirit to pray for are influencers. Celebrities, politicians and others who are shaping our culture.

I'm convinced God is speaking to many others who have been awakened to the call to intercede for them as well. This site is devoted to serving people in Hollywood, Nashville, Washington D.C. and other locales known for national and world impact.

Satan surely rages against us all, and possibly to a greater extent, those who have great influence over millions. Let's contend in prayer for them together. Jesus died for them. Heaven wouldn't be the same without them.

John Burton

TODAY'S CALL FOR INTERCESSION: President Donald Trump

Please post your audio or text prayer for President Trump below. Please always keep the intercession life-giving, understanding the individual you prayer for is deeply loved by God. Consider that they may potentially hear or read your prayer.

I declare in the powerful name of Jesus that every enemy, every scheme and every force opposing our President must relent. God, we pray a massive angel army surround Donald Trump today and going forward.

Holy Spirit, fill President Trump with your fire. Give him rest and give him zeal for you and for our nation.

Let every instance of fraud in the election be exposed. Bring those who are promoting wickedness also be exposed, with an opportunity to repent and surrender to Jesus. I decree that justice will prevail!

Thank you God for the man of God who has been faithfully serving the United States of America for the last four years. As you will, allow him to remain in that position of leadership.

Amen.

Photo credit: “Donald Trump” by cornstalker is licensed under CC BY 2.0

2020: A Toxic Season of the Soul

Functioning primarily out of our soul results in division, fear, recklessness and arrogance.

Riots.

Violence.

Pandemic.

Lockdowns.

National Election.

Social media has been distressing to my spirit this year. Really, all media has been, including the few sources that might be considered trustworthy. I'll be the first to admit it's easy to dive into debates at a soul level, arguing logic that seems so obvious while being legitimately confused at how anybody else just cannot see it the same way.

Everything from masks to President Trump to racism has polarized our nation. The damage left in the wake of the raging debates has been devastating. More concerning, the church has been caught up in the exact same soul-level social battles.

When our soul leads the way in our debates and decisions, the results can be quite toxic. We've seen fear and division overcome the people of the “home of the brave.” Arrogance has been masquerading as authority and recklessness as freedom.

The soul is the center of emotions and logic, and without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, arguments initiated from that level are not to be trusted. Powerful emotions with the help of seemingly obvious logic will convince people they are functioning from a place of wisdom when in truth they are reacting in fear. Faith is eliminated from the equation. Wisdom (fear) trumps faith when we don't live, breathe, pray and walk in the Spirit.

25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:25-26 (NIV)

DIVISION IS NOT ALWAYS NEGATIVE

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law 36 a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' Matthew 10:34-36 (NIV)

The true church will always introduce division simply because of the topics we are promoting. There is an agenda. Jesus made it clear that ecumenical unity wasn't his goal. World peace wasn't the focus.

We can expect division when the Gospel is preached. When revival hits, people will be split like the Red Sea with many running to the altar and many running out the back door.

Many pastors today are attempting to avoid the very necessary schisms that clearly define the remnant and the pretenders. Truth rightly presented demands decisions. In the end the Final Judgment will bring the greatest division of all, separating the sheep and the goats for all humanity to see.

Many Christians have attempted to apply this principle of biblical division to their own humanistic stubborn opinions. They celebrate as their pet positions cause others to get riled up and split off. They feel spiritual, but this is soul-level activity and it is grieving to the Lord.

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another… Ephesians 4:30-32 (NIV)

Preach the Word of God and, often times, you can expect division.

Preach masks, politics, the Constitution and on the racial issues of the day? We as Spirit-filled, blood-bought children of the King should speak with great love and grace. Is there ever a time to strike against wicked arguments with force and precision? Absolutely. But, not from our soul. This type of engagement must be led fully by the Spirit.

WHAT IS GOD SAYING?

Church, it's time to come up higher. In this toxic season of politics, sickness, murder and distress, we need to resist the urge to function from our soul. It's time to minister from our spirits.

We've heard all of the arguments about masks, both pro and con. We know all of the reasons people are going to vote for Trump or Biden. People are dogmatic about taking a knee or not. The memes and GIFS and posts and rants about all of these volatile issues and others have become predictable — and nauseating.

Where are those who have emerged from their closets of intercession, those who have a clear word from the Lord? Where is the tangible anointing that pierces through arguments? In this critical, historic hour, where are the true prophets?

Understand, this doesn't mean we can't discuss issues at a logical level. I'm not even saying the soul (emotions and logic) should be minimized. God gave us a soul and he will certainly cause us to speak intelligently and even passionately on secular matters, with wisdom, love and clarity. Debates and discussions can be beneficial. The critical call, however, for every Christian, is to do so with the mind of Christ.

The greater the activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the more impacting our words will be. I would challenge you to disengage from the madness that has bewitched so much of the world and the church. Pull back. Stop functioning mostly from your soul. Don't get so excited about your logic. Be teachable. Die to your own opinions. Speak truth under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and people will be absolutely confounded.

When the truth you speak causes both people and demons to react, you know you've moved from soul-level arguments to spirit-driven, authoritative declarations:

22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching–and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. Mark 1:22-28 (NIV)

TAKE A BREAK

As I said above, it's easy to get sucked into the soul-level debates of the day. And, as I said, not all of these debates are unhealthy. However, a whole bunch of them are.

They can distract those who are supposed to be functioning in the realm of the Spirit and cause us to fight in the flesh. If your revelations on the matters of the day aren't burning with anointing, take a break. If you aren't having dreams and visions about how to address the madness of this hour, take a break.

Seriously. Resist the urge and stop posting to Facebook. I'm not talking about the infamous month-long breaks from social media that people regularly announce. Those folks are back and active usually in less than 24-hours.

I'm talking about going deeper in God than you ever have. See the futility of your arguments. Humble yourself. Finally understand that nobody needs to hear what your soul has to say. Find your prayer closet and discover what God is yearning to reveal to our nation.

The whole world will want to hear what you have to say then.

Originally published by The Stream.

Troublers of America, Arise!

Where are the firebrands who will fearlessly confront the wicked systems of the day?

Handcuffs, ankle monitors and locked church buildings are the new normal for many Christians in America today. The state has threatened worshipers of Jesus at the same time they are opening the “essential” doors of Planned Parenthood wide. Somehow it's safe to congregate at Walmart, Home Depot, liquor stores and on golf courses but gathering in worship, prayer and repentance are a threat to national safety.

A closed church isn't the most disturbing reality, however.

PROPHETIC TROUBLERS

17  When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 1 Kings 18:17 (ESV)

The pathetic extent of many Christian's response to the lock-downs and governmental threats is to remind people to wash their hands as they shelter in place and fearfully wait it out as they hope for the best. It's shameful. Washing hands is a great common sense idea, but how can that be the best insight and advice a blood-bought, Spirit-filled, fire-breathing Christian can offer?

The most disturbing reality in the midst of this crisis is a muzzled, cowering church. Where are those who have a reputation as troublers? The church shouldn't be afraid of the United States government. The church should cause politicians to tremble!

The time is now for humble yet bold prophetic people to use every medium available to them to strike cultures and unholy systems with ferocity! Cast down arguments, assault wickedness and become defenders of our rights as Americans to assemble, to worship and to be free from tyranny. The Constitution wasn't written to protect us from a virus at the cost of our liberty. It is in place to protect our rights, and those rights aren't suspended in the midst of a pandemic or any other crisis.

After being accused of troubling Israel, Elijah, in the anointing of the Lord, struck back with the sword of truth:

18  And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. 1 Kings 18:18 (ESV)

Holy indignation must erupt from within as we clearly stand against the threats, taunts and attempts to shut down the only governmental authority that outranks that of the United States of America: the church.

The secular leadership of our nation, our states and our localities need to hear loud and clear, whether they might identify as Believers in Jesus or not: America has abandoned the commandments of the Lord!

Troublers of America Arise! from John Burton on Vimeo.

POLITICS IN THE PULPIT

I would suggest pastors who refuse to consistently and without apology confront the spirit of the age, including vile cultural and political positions that are embraced, celebrated and promoted by our nation's leaders and influencers, have disqualified themselves from ministry. Ichabod may soon be stamped above the doorposts of their church if it hasn't been done already.

When pastors understand their prime call is to equip a prophetic people to expose and assault the kingdom of darkness, it will become clear that it's not possible to go silent on the politics and immoralities in the land.

Sadly, there is but a small number of fervent, devoted, highly trained and radically surrendered people who are prepared to respond to the taunts and assaults that the enemy is bringing through this testing season. Instead of equipping the people diligently over the last few decades, many pastors have instead played around in the shallows in the hopes that they keep everybody comfortable and happy. Instead of trained warriors they have produced sloths who have little interest in the things of the Spirit.

PROPHETIC SYSTEMS

21  And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. 1 Kings 18:21 (ESV)

Elijah demanded a decision. He fearlessly confronted leaders, false prophets and all of the people and called them out. He didn't stop there. He went to war in the power of God and ultimately killed all 450 of the prophets.

There are extremely powerful prophetic systems in America today that must be not only confronted but taken out via the power of the Holy Spirit. The media is prophesying lies twenty-four hours a day. Many politicians are releasing oracles that originate from wicked hearts that are in radical rebellion to God. Lawmakers are enforcing demonically influenced restrictions on the church. Satan is gaining ground while Christians sleep.

We need troublers of America to arise! This prophetic army will be deeply humble, surrendered and functioning from a place of sobriety. They won't sound mere opinions but will rather trumpet prophetic truths. They won't stand still when liberties that so many gave their lives to protect are ripped away from us. They will aggressively and with fire in their eyes stare down the enemy and remove him from his place.

It's time the unrighteous leaders of America hear loud and clear that they have been disobedient to the Lord God and that God has an awakened, equipped and determined people who will confront their unholy advances in this hour.

A REPAIRED ALTAR

31  Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 1 Kings 18:31 (ESV)

Holy confrontation isn't the ultimate goal. A restored altar is. America must be taken back and we can't get there without you and I standing up boldly to the spirit of the age. Jezebel must go. False prophetic systems must go. The rains of refreshing must return but that will only happen as the nation repents as a result of God's people taking a stand.

A restored altar to the one true God in America is the goal. This is a season of divine reset and every one of us must shift dramatically. Repentance must hit us deeply as we renounce a casual, shallow life. Today is the day for you and everyone of us to respond to the call of the Lord to fight against deeply wicked systems in our nation. The altar will be built, the false prophets will die and the fire will fall. Only then can we call America a Christian nation again.

38  Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39  And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” 40  And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there. 41  And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” 1 Kings 18:38-41 (ESV)

Originally published on The Stream.

7 Reasons Pastors are Silent, Passive and Disengaged

Pastors are refusing to confront culture, sound alarms or to address today’s political crisis—and it may be time for them to step down.

17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. 1 Kings 18:17-18 (ESV)

God is raising up a new generation of bold, prophetic messengers who are fearless, broken and undone by the weight of what’s happening in our world. They couldn’t care less if people leave churches they minister in. They aren’t looking for accolades or book deals. They are criers in the wilderness, a new breed of burning ones who aren’t into building churches, but they are very much into confronting culture and shocking the nations with prophetic unction.

We need bold, confrontational leaders formed after the spirit of Elijah, people who are commissioned and unafraid to expose the wickedness in the land. Sadly, it’s rare to find men and women of God like this today.

You can listen to a podcast on this topic here:

Though I’m going to share seven reasons pastors are refusing to confront culture or to dive into politics from the pulpit, the honest truth is that I am so disturbed that I even have to write about this. How can supposed men and women of God just go on teaching generic Sunday School style messages every Sunday morning when the escalating crisis in the world demands an immediate and Spirit-led response?

Pastors, it’s time to repent for your silence—or step aside!

Repent from your tired, unimpressive and self-centered attempts to grow your church. Repent from being a wordsmith instead of a prophet. Repent from being careful when you are called to risk everything. Repent from keeping people happy and controversy at bay. You have lost your voice!

Pastors, if you don’t have a prophetic voice, you don’t have a ministry.

We live in a day where babies are being butchered and many people are campaigning for the slaughter to be extended to those who survive the womb. Homosexual activism has muzzled so much of the church as they force their vile beliefs on us. Pornography and human trafficking are destroying millions. Where is your response?

“If Thou canst do something with us and through us, then please, God, do something without us! Bypass us and take up a people who now know Thee not!”― Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries: A Classic on Revival

7 REASONS PASTORS ARE SILENT IN A WICKED CULTURE

ONE. Fear of man

5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV)

Fear of man is possibly the most obvious reason, though I don’t believe it’s the greatest reason in most cases. However, it’s true that many pastors do fear confrontation. They lack confidence in their ability to tear down arguments and to advance with boldness. It’s the Holy Spirit that enables this boldness, and, sadly, it’s true that many pastors are not filled to overflowing with the activity of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

It’s also true that many pastors are muzzled by their boards, elders and others who exhibit control in the church. It can be easy to succumb to the demands and expectations of those and others who have the ability to make life difficult if the pastor doesn’t move in the direction they expect.

The opposite of the fear of man just very well may be the fear of the Lord. Where is the tremble in our pulpits today? Where is the troubling, weighty terror of God in our churches? What will it take for the fear of man to be displaced by fear of the Lord? It’s embarrassing that there is so much fear of man, that pastors today are working overtime to keep the peace, instead of calling people into a place of urgent response to a threatening, deadly spirit of the age.

The sword will divide, and those who are bound by fear of man will keep that sword in their sheath, if they possess one at all.

“A man who is intimate with God is not intimidated by man.”― Leonard Ravenhill

TWO. Fear of loss

24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” Matthew 27:24 (ESV)

I believe the fear of loss is an even greater motivator for pastors to keep their mouths shut than the fear of man is. Today we have pastors who are wordsmiths instead of prophets, people who are experts at framing their words in such a way that no possibility of offense or disagreement is there. They are keenly focused on being balanced, avoiding controversy and developing a happy, encouraging atmosphere in the church that helps ensure there is no loss. People remain in their seats, money keeps coming in and everybody is happy.

Pilate would have given different leadership if the threat of riots and of losing his position and influence weren’t there. He surrendered because he feared loss. While it might be quite offensive to compare a pastor to the man who turned Jesus over for death, we have to honestly consider the scenario. Instead of doing the right thing, Pilate caved. Pastors are turning on Jesus all too often today by rejecting his directives as they would prove to be too costly. Great loss would certainly come.

Pastors are right. The moment they actually have a strong opinion and take a strong position on a controversial topic, they absolutely will experience pruning.

While there are some absolutely amazing churches out there, in most churches you won’t hear messages that cause any problems with your theology, cause offense or provoke you in any way. When is the last time you heard a message about abortion, homosexuality, pornography or other cultural issues? When is the last time your pastor has pierced the atmosphere with prophetic unction in response to something happening in our society? In some churches it happens. In most it does not. Why? Fear of loss. Pastors can’t afford to lose people, money or their dream of a happy, growing church.

THREE. They have no prayer life/prophetic unction

Pastors who don’t pray two hours a day aren’t worth a dime a dozen. ~Leonard Ravenhill

This one is obvious and easy. If pastors are not spending time in the fires of intercession, they simply will not be alerted to much of anything in the spirit. On the contrary, it’s absolutely impossible to live in the prayer room and not hear God’s voice and to discern the crisis in the land.

Spending hours in that place of prayer will result in a burning and an inner tremble that will result in a cry and a shout and a decree from the pulpit on Sunday morning. There will be a fierce spirit that won’t be silenced. The fear of man becomes laughable. Fear of loss is a willing price to pay. Their passion is no longer building their own dream but rather becomes all about being a voice in the wilderness, tearing down strongholds and refusing to be muzzled!

Peter went from a man driven by fear to a fearless wonder, coming out of ten days in the prayer room and carrying a Pentecost fire that would not be ignored.

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. Acts 2:22-24 (ESV)

FOUR. They misunderstand the governmental purpose of the church

Ekklesia: A governmental gathering under apostolic leadership

I have long been frustrated at the misunderstanding of the purpose of the church that is epidemic today. The key, foundational purpose of the church is to be a house of prayer for all nations. Further, the ekklesia is a governmental gathering. Under apostolic leadership, the church is called to be a governing force in a city.

Sadly, many pastors and people presume the church to be little else than a place to meet together, to sing and learn and to involve themselves in various ministries, programs and projects. Of course, there are many supplemental ministries and projects that are absolutely appropriate and valuable, but they can never supersede the primary call—to pray and govern.

Pastors should absolutely be responding to the crisis in the land as they are the ones who have been commissioned to do so! They have been authorized, ordained, anointed and given a mandate to invade the darkness and command in the spirit!


FIVE. They want to stay out of politics

28 …“We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:28-29 (ESV)

Many pastors reveal they intentionally stay out of politics. Often they communicate this as if they are operating in some form of wisdom or caution, when in reality they are abdicating their responsibilities.

We are called to legislate. We are called to govern. If the church is a governmental agency, as I shared in the previous point, it makes absolutely no sense that pastors would not address political issues in the nation. Often a desire to avoid politics has to do with fear of man and fear of loss. They understand the moment they get political is the moment they draw a line in the sand. We need leaders, not managers. We need people who will boldly draw that line and make it very clear that they won’t be stopped as they deal with the crisis at hand.

We wouldn’t be as concerned about finding the right candidate for office, whether it’s mayor of the city or President of the United States, if our church leaders had some guts and gave political leadership themselves.

Peter responded to politics just as we must. We must obey God rather than men.


SIX. They just want to preach the bible

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22 (ESV)

It sure sounds spiritual to say they just want to focus on the Bible, but it’s not possible to only do that. You can’t simply preach the Bible and ignore what’s going on in culture. What do you do with all the accounts of the apostles and others who confronted culture, wickedness and the spirit of the age?

If they are preaching and teaching the Bible then they must model their lives and ministries after the people they are studying. We need pastors with the spirit of Elijah. Where are those who lead like Gideon and tear down ungodly cultural altars?

We must, without question, not only be hearers but also doers. If these heroes of the faith confronted culture, than we must as well.


SEVEN. Wrong theologies and a culture of positivity

“One of these days some simple soul will pick up the book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed.”― Leonard Ravenhill

There are streams today that only focus on what is positive and encouraging. They presume to find strength there and it gives license to ignore the negative and troubling issues of the day.

These are false-grace tainted doctrines and they are a threat to the call for the church to go on the offensive against wickedness in the world.

We need prophetic leaders who will speak with unction and with fire in their guts, people who will aggressively assault the kingdom of darkness and deal directly with the great evil that’s increasing in power.

PROPHETIC VOICES RISE UP

The days of carefully guarding our churches, salaries, security and reputations are over. It’s time to let churches die if necessary. We need prophetic voices behind the pulpits, people who will scare away the pretenders and provoke the sleepers and confront the wickedness that is among us.

The demonic hoard that has been released upon the world have been mostly uncontested. Their threats have gone unmet. We need governmental leaders in churches to finally stand firm for truth and to tear down arguments and altars with no thought of their own safety or well being.

Video: The God Card and a Nasty Church Climate

How do you respond to people when they boldly disagree with your political or theological positions?

Watch an important video on how inappropriate it is to attach God’s name to a political candidate, personal desire or agenda when he has not said a thing.

I discuss the sad, nasty reaction people often have when confronted on their political positions or theological stances. It’s an indictment on the church when people divide away from another when another brother or sister challenges their theology.

This has to stop.

Watch the video HERE and discuss.

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