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.

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.

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.

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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