Those who don't know Jesus should not be expected to act like those who do.
(Looking for the article Dueling Puppet Masters: Controlling Pastors vs. Manipulative Congregations? Read it HERE.)
If you follow my ministry you'll know that I am an unapologetic preacher of holiness. You'll also know that most of my messages are directed to the church. Preaching holiness to the lost doesn't work well unless it's coupled with a powerful invitation to surrender all.
Those who haven't had a life-rocking encounter with Jesus are at a disadvantage and it's unfair for those who have been transformed to expect them to see things the way we do. In fact, to attempt to coerce them to adhere to our set of standards, in violation of their own free-will and their right to also have a say in morality is ineffective, and in most situations, unfair if not outright arrogant.
Who are we to say that pornography is wrong? What makes our version of truth regarding homosexuality more valid then theirs? To Christians, babies were created by God, given human spirits at the time of conception and they clearly, obviously deserve protection. Except, those who don't believe in God the way we do simply disagree that they are fully human at points of development prior to birth. They have a right to that belief, as horrifying as we think it is.
The result is a holy war between a group of people who have one set of standards and a group that has an entirely different set. Coercion in the political realm, in the high courts and in the battleground of public opinion becomes the only tool left in our tool belt. We vote or legislate our way to victory, further enraging those who oppose our paradigms.
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YES, WE SHOULD STILL GO TO BATTLE AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE
Now, please understand, with humble hearts, we as people who are zealous about protecting the unborn and who have a responsibility to guard our children from being indoctrinated by the homosexual agenda, I absolutely believe we must use whatever tool we have in our tool belts. Yes, it's right to fight for laws that stand aggressively against human trafficking. We should work hard to overturn Roe v. Wade. Pornography, the legalization of narcotics and other destructive cultural vices that are being normalized in our society must be met with resistance.
However, it remains true that the unredeemed simply cannot understand things the way Believers in Christ can. This isn't because we are better. It's because we have surrendered to Jesus and our entire way of thinking was renewed. We were once compromised and unable to discern right versus wrong. Then, God touched us as wicked, confused, arrogant and very lost people and the light came on.
HOW ARE THE UNREDEEMED AT A DISADVANTAGE?
I pray you begin to mourn and weep over the lost as you grow in understanding as to how terribly the enemy is assaulting them. Yes, every person who has ever lived and who ever will live will be without excuse on Judgment Day. Yes, everybody has a choice, and the lost have made their choice. That shouldn't result in us marking them off as enemies while we puff ourselves up and sneer down our noses at them. We should be broken and our intercession should be taken to a much higher level.
BORN THIS WAY VERSUS BORN AGAIN
Those who argue that they were born gay, for example, may have something to their argument.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:5 (ESV)
We were all born in sin, in iniquity. It shouldn't take much for us to understand this. Sin comes very naturally to all and it takes the momentous event of being born again by the Spirit of God for that to shift.
In fact, the Bible calls those who are not his own, children of wrath. Are you seeing the extreme disadvantage the lost have when attempting to discern good versus evil? All they know are the inner urges that, in their minds, makes up the very core of their identity? If they have been attracted to the same sex for as long as they can remember, then, it seems clear that they were born this way. That should validate their homosexuality, or so they would argue.
Without a dramatic encounter with Jesus, without being born again, we can't expect people to understand biblical freedom or morality.
NO RELIEF FROM ANXIETY, FEAR AND DEPRESSION
The enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy, and based on the rampant addictions to opiates in our generation, it appears that he's winning.
Spirit-filled Christians can fill their days with praying in tongues, meditating on God's Word and by singing songs of praise to break off the debilitating, suffocating assaults of depression, fear and anxiety. We have a very present friend in Jesus ministering to us, interceding for us, talking to us and walking with us.
The lost are limited to positive thoughts, drugs, counseling and, sadly and all too often, suicide. Truly, the only hope in the battle of emotional trauma is Jesus, and they haven't met him yet.
Can Christians also be in need of counseling and medical care including the administration of appropriate medications to help deal with chemical imbalances and other physiological and emotional difficulties? Yes, absolutely. As long as it takes place on a foundation of faith, such care can be an important part of the healing process.
10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO PEACE
Those who don't know Jesus simply cannot know peace. For Christians, peace rests on us and it is not dependent on circumstances or in understanding our situation. God is with us and his supernatural peace displaces the darkness.
It's not hard to understand why so many politicians, protesters and others who are advancing their various ungodly causes become enraged when they experience push back. They have no peace, and in their minds, the road to a life that is more centered and devoid of resistance is to hate, curse and attempt to slay anything and anyone that gets in their way.
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)
THEY DON'T EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF GOD
The thought of not having that constant burning of God's Holy Spirit within is enough to make me shudder. The glory of God and his anointing on our lives is irreplaceable and without it we would spiral out of control.
Our decisions, our mindsets, our emotional well-being, our belief systems, our desires and everything that make up who we are would radically shift. It would be a deeply disturbing way to live, yet the lost live in that reality every moment of every day of their lives.
11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED LOVE
No matter how determined society is at convincing us that they do what they do because of love, it's simply not true. They have fallen for a faux love that does not originate from the only one who can manifest love. Outside of God, we cannot know love. The reason is simple: God is love.
I want to encourage you to read my article The Great Love Deception. It's eye-opening.
Sure, the lost can experience infatuation, attraction, appreciation, strong desire, lust and many other emotions, but love is the one experience they can't have outside of Jesus.
The next time you hear about someone who is militantly promoting what we would call perversion, just remember they are yearning to love and to be loved. This isn't a defense of perversion, but rather it's a call to weep for our culture and to stand in the gap so people can finally discover the only true source of love.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Psalm 32:10 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO ACCESS TO SUPERNATURAL WISDOM
The unredeemed are limited to their own logic and human ability to reason. That's it. They have no resource when their own abilities or the abilities of others to understand comes to an end.
The ceiling of understanding becomes their version of truth and they will fight to the end to support it.
For Christians, there is such a relief knowing that we won't ever understand it all, and that our own logic is often fallible. We simply read the Bible and believe it. God speaks and we respond. The lost cannot do that.
They will argue that getting drunk, for example, is just fine, as long as you don't get behind the wheel of a car. It makes sense to them. Christians, however, have no need to attempt to wrap their minds around the topic. God says don't get drunk, and he's much wiser than we are, so we buy in wholesale to what he says. As a result, life is much, much better.
Further, decision making becomes much easier as Christians. We may not know what job to take, what house to buy, where to go, who to marry or how to resolve life's problems. Thankfully we have a supernatural source of direction that goes well beyond humanity's resources.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 (ESV)
HAPPINESS IS THEIR ONLY HOPE
We all have the right to pursue happiness in our nation. Sadly, that's the limit for people who don't love and serve Jesus.
Christians, on the other hand, live with overwhelming, immeasurable, supernatural joy! Happiness is dependent on circumstances. Joy is not.
Instead of pursuing wealth, sex, fame, materialism and other pleasures as sources of happiness, Believers are fully satisfied by knowing God. It's a supernatural reality that can only be understood when experienced. It's not mind over matter. I'm not talking about mental gymnastics that turn bad situations to good. I'm talking about an actual Spirit that fills us up and brings supernatural joy to our hearts. Those in the world can never understand this.
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 (ESV)
THEY LIVE OUTSIDE OF THE REALM OF MIRACLES
The lost have absolutely no hope of relief from life's woes unless mankind can come up with a solution. They are dependent and desperate and all too often, hopeless.
Believers in Christ live in the realm of miracles every day! Healings, wonders, signs, breakthroughs, prophetic revelation and much more are our portion!
The lost are feverishly doing all they can to avoid or avert dire circumstances in their own abilities. They turn to man, not God when they are in a time of need.
12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians. 2 Chronicles 16:12 (ESV)
Seeking the Lord is necessary for us to survive and thrive on the earth, and those in the world simply can't enjoy the miracles that result from such a devotion.
THEY HAVE NO REASON NOT TO SIN
Above I revealed the mindset regarding drunkenness. In the minds of the lost there is absolutely no reason not to get drunk. This logic can be used in other scenarios too. Lust is pleasurable as is pornography. Getting high on drugs feels good. Foul language and other behaviors are morally benign. If it's legal, it's okay.
In the world the line is drawn when one person's sin negatively impacts another. That's what defines morality in a culture that's not surrendered to Jesus. What the world defines as lawless and what God defines as legal are very different.
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4 (ESV)
Christians understand how destructive sin is and we embrace consecration and repentance eagerly. Sin kills even if we don't understand why. We don't define what is morally legal, God does.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO HOPE OF A WONDERFUL ETERNITY
Every ounce of life must be experienced in a window of approximately 80 years to those who don't know Christ. The thought of preparing for eternity is nonsensical to them. This over-magnifies the importance of fulfilling dreams and desires on the earth, as they do all they can to soak up all their short earthly journey can provide.
Of course, Believers know there are an unlimited number of years ahead of us. Every person, whether lost or saved, will live somewhere forever. This is what drives our lives. We do all we can to awaken the sleepers, to warn the apathetic and to rescue the perishing. This world means little in comparison to eternity.
Further, those who know Jesus are exhilarated knowing they will experience never-ending joy, abundant life, freedom, love and peace as we live day-by-day with God. This isn't some euphoric pipe dream. It's truth. It's going to happen. Those who don't know Jesus simply cannot understand this.
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:1-6 (ESV)
CHANGE OUR DISPOSITION
I pray this will at least cause you to think differently the next time you get agitated at people who are promoting beliefs and behaviors that are repugnant to you. Pray hard for them. Battle for their souls.
Trust me, the moment one of these vile, wicked people truly find Jesus, they will turn on a dime and renounce everything unrighteous they previously supported. Meeting Jesus does that to a person.
These are words we never want to hear God say…DO NOT PRAY.
The LORD said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. Jeremiah 14:11 (ESV)
It’s common to hear evangelists encourage lost people wandering in the darkness of hopelessness by saying, “It’s never too late.”
While it is true that anybody who desires to surrender their lives to the love and leadership of Jesus will be welcomed with open arms, it’s not true that it’s never too late. If we want to return to God now, it’s because the Holy Spirit is drawing us. There can come a time where our rejection of God will be respected, and the drawing will cease.
I’ve taught previously on the very interesting and troubling topic of a great delusion. Due to repeated wickedness, there comes a time when people are given over a debased mind, to a delusion:
9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 (ESV)
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:28 (ESV)
Isaiah was commissioned to prophesy this very thing—that eyes would be blinded to truth.
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, Isaiah 6:8-11 (ESV)
How strange (and troubling) it is that God would do this. In his wisdom, he opens and closes the window of opportunity for people to come to him.
Most often we presume people have until the day they die to turn to the Lord. This isn’t the case. There are many who have been turned over to delusion. Eyes have been blinded. Others have committed the unforgivable sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. It’s too late.
Many are nearing the point of no return, and for a significant number of them it will come well before they die. They will be spiritually hopeless, fully dead, possibly decades before an obituary is written.
This is a terrifying reality, and it should increase our urgency for intercession and evangelism.
Of course, only God knows who has crossed this line, and our job is to continue to contend for all. Additionally, we know that at other points in the book of Isaiah we see him prophesying eyes that see and ears that hear.
6 “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. Isaiah 42:6-7 (ESV)
The reality remains, however, that many eyes will forever be closed, many people forever imprisoned in delusion.
DO NOT PRAY FOR THE WELFARE OF THIS PEOPLE
There can come a time personally when we cannot return to Jesus.
There can also come a time when a nation cannot return—until its people endure everything necessary to bring them to repentance.
Thus says the LORD concerning this people: “They have loved to wander thus; they have not restrained their feet; therefore the LORD does not accept them; now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.” Jeremiah 14:10 (ESV)
The weight of this verse is almost too much to bear—and God meant for it to be that heavy. He declared in no uncertain terms that he does not accept them. He will remember their iniquity and he will punish their sins. It would seem to be the perfect moment for a prayer movement to launch, for a cry of intercession to shatter the heavens. Unfortunately, it’s too late.
11 The LORD said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12 Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.” Jeremiah 14:11-12 (ESV)
From the Adam Clarke Commentary:
O, how dreadful is the state of that people in reference to whom the Lord says to his ministers, Pray not for them; or, what amounts nearly to a prohibition, withholds from his ministers the spirit of prayer and intercession in behalf of the people!
Can you imagine, intercessors, gathering together with every intent to contend for our nation, when God then clearly reveals that we are forbidden to pray. It will do no good. His mind is made up.
I know some of you might be thinking about Abraham’s negotiations with God as he interceded fervently for Sodom and Gomorrah even as God was intent on destroying them. Can we not do the same if God reveals his plans for judgment on a nation? For those who are truly compassionate, they won’t be able to help but to wrestle with God. With tears in our eyes we would have no choice but to cry out for mercy. Sadly, in this account, it would have done no good. The clear command was that prayer was not to be made.
In a spiritual culture like we have today, the common reaction to such a topic would be that God, in his perfect love, is smiling over the people and is ready to receive them back. The idea of God standing in opposition to those he so deeply loves runs counter to much of the faulty theology that’s rampant today.
This scenario plays out as we continue in Jeremiah 14. Read this passage completely. The message is very clear:
13 Then I said: “Ah, Lord GOD, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’” 14 And the LORD said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them—them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their evil upon them. Jeremiah 14:13-16 (ESV)
There are those who will reject truth for the sake of keeping people hopeful and happy. These lying prophets are everywhere today, and they will only increase, especially if our nation ever gets to the point that the people in this story did.
1 Then the LORD said to me, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! 2 And when they ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: “‘Those who are for pestilence, to pestilence, and those who are for the sword, to the sword; those who are for famine, to famine, and those who are for captivity, to captivity.’ Jeremiah 15:1-2 (ESV)
Adam Clarke explains the above passage (and the following verses in the account) well:
God declares to Jeremiah that not even Moses and Samuel, whose prayers had been so prevalent, could divert him from his purpose of punishing so wicked a people, v. 1. Accordingly their captivity is again announced in a variety of images so full of terror, vv. 2-9, that the prophet complains of his own hard fate in being obliged to deliver such unwelcome messages, v. 10; for which too he is reproved, vv. 11-14. Immediately he appeals to God for his sincerity, and supplicates pardon, vv. 15-18; and God tempers his reproof with promising again to protect him in the faithful discharge of his duty.
A QUICKLY CLOSING WINDOW
America is not at this point of no return—yet.
There are movements of holiness, revival and passionate, devoted intercession growing from coast to coast. Awakening is happening.
However, I don’t believe these movements are currently strong or numerous enough to outpace the movement of wickedness that’s both in the world and in the church today.
What this means is that the window of opportunity is quickly closing and if we don’t exponentially increase our efforts, judgment very certainly will come to us.
If judgment does come to America, I believe God will preserve the remnant, radically devoted church as he promised to Jeremiah and as he did at Goshen with the Israelites.
25 The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail. Exodus 9:25-26 (ESV)
This isn’t a time for fear as God’s own will be protected (though this doesn’t mean hardship or persecution won’t come). This is a time to be marked by tears, just as Jeremiah was.
Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Jeremiah 9:1 (ESV)
Don’t listen to the lying prophets who are saying that all is well and no judgment will come.
Do rend your hearts.
Do contend for revival.
Do pray, while there is time, before God tells us that we can pray for our nation no more.
Prayer is much different than many of us understand it to be. A revolution of prayer is needed!
The concept of offering up requests in the hopes that an invisible God delivers what we desire is the primary model of prayer for many Christians today. Read the list of prayer requests and hope for the best!
I remember growing up as a young Catholic boy people reciting the Lord’s Prayer over and over again as if I was fulfilling some religious duty. Those were not happy days as I lived in unhealthy fear presuming God’s rejecting of me unless I fulfilled the quota.
Now, I do agree that even simple, faith filled recitation of God’s living Word is healthy and extremely positive. However, too many presume reading the Lord’s Prayer or other scriptures is the totality of their assignment in prayer. Read it, agree with it and move on. This is the error I want to talk about.
Prayer isn’t a stale, tedious chore that, once accomplished, we earn favor with God as our desires (or demands) are met as requested. Prayer is the expression of the passion of our heart as we come into fervent, joyful agreement with God. That expression is explosive and it’s actually laughable to presume it can be limited to the mouthing of words! True prayer is comprehensive and it overwhelms us into radical agreement with God and aggressive response to his directives.
Prayer Isn’t Mostly About Us
Prayer is at its most powerful when the focus isn’t on us.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. Matthew 6:5 (ESV)
While we may not bring focus to us by religiously praying on the street corners, is it possible that the content of our prayer is at times narcissistic? Is it about bringing attention to us and our situation or to God and his?
6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6 (ESV)
Whatever I am passionate about is done as a part of my daily life, in public and in private. On a natural level, I don’t only watch Chicago Cubs games in public to attempt to seek positive attention from others (which would have not been possible until this past season!) but I watch them in private when nobody else is home. Why? I have a certain measure of passion for my home team.
Of course, that’s a sad example when compared to the glories of enjoying and encountering God! We should be praying continually, according to Scripture, because it just radiates in and out of us! It’s not about others being impressed with our religious fervor, it’s about being who we are—lovers of the Most High God!
Prayer Isn’t About Coercing God
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Matthew 6:7-9 (ESV)
I was repeating the Lord’s Prayer over and over again as a young child, convinced that my devoted work of speaking out loud would please God and result in a big thumbs up. If you think about that, it’s kind of demented thinking! It reminds me of tribal religions where people sacrifice chickens and mark their bodies as an offering to their gods in the hopes that they are spared from drought, floods and other natural disasters.
Prayer for the Christian comes from the place of deep, abiding love and a wondrous relationship with Jesus.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Psalm 37:4-6 (ESV)
Again, our prayer is simply an expression of our revelation of Jesus! We are ignited with passion as a result of knowing God intimately. We can’t help but to declare the wonders of our God!
Imagine what would erupt out of you after having an experience like is described in Revelation 19. That outburst, that response, is prayer!
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:11-16 (ESV)
The Prayer of the Lord
The Lord’s Prayer is just that—the passions of Jesus. It is truly the prayer of the Lord!
We aren’t to be limited to a simple recitation of words on paper. There is a fervent passion that should be sizzling in our veins as we declare this potent, culture rocking prayer!
16 …The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16 (ESV)
The Lord’s Prayer is an intense declaration of our lifestyles that are shaking and shocking our culture. It is an expression of agreement with the plan of God for the nations of the earth!
HOLY ARE YOU!
9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Matthew 6:9 (ESV)
This verse shouldn’t be easy to be casually read aloud! The call is for us to have a visitation of God and his holiness! A revelation that causes us to collapse to our knees with our faces buried in our hands as we tremble and cry, “Holy!”
Can you imagine what it will be like to gaze upon perfect purity in our beautiful God’s countenance second after second forever? Oh Lord Jesus come! What an eternity that will be! Day and night never ceasing to declare, “Holy is the Lord God Almighty!”
6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:6-8 (ESV)
YOUR KINGDOM COME
10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 (ESV)
The conflict of flesh versus spirit should be causing veins to bulge in our necks as we cry out to God, “I despise the limitations of the flesh! I reject my own natural wisdom and I declare with boldness that your wisdom, your government, your Kingdom is superior!”
This prayer can’t be limited to a one sentence, three second read. As we draw closer and closer to Jesus we develop a never-ending yearning for God and his leadership. Everything else will appear as foolishness in comparison with the government of Jesus.
OUR DAILY BREAD
11 Give us this day our daily bread, Matthew 6:11 (ESV)
Related to the previous point we are declaring our joyful dependence on God. Instead of our Santa Clause style requests flying heavenward in hopes of having our desires gift wrapped and delivered by God, we tell him, “Get me whatever you want.”
How powerful is it to move beyond asking God for the obvious and allowing him to surprise us! Talk about an addicting prayer life! Sometimes the best prayer is not to pray at all. What I mean is, if we have faith that he will supply all of our needs, why would we beg him for our needs to be met?
We can certainly have honest discussions with God about what we are struggling with, but we should do so without worry or frustration. We simply rejoice as we trust God to give us our bread every single day, and I think it’s best if he chooses just what that bread is!
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV)
12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12 (ESV)
Again, this cry of our heart should be automatic. The Lord’s Prayer is a passionate decree of the reality of our lives in Christ. Sin should cause us to weep and grieve as we again draw near to God with confession on our lips. Unholy decisions should so disrupt our flow in the Holy Spirit that we are nearly crushed under the weight—only to find God himself running to us to forgive us and give us new life!
The seriousness and destructiveness of sin should also cause us to quickly, instantly forgive others who have wronged us. That declaration of freedom for others bellows out of us as we unlock prison cell after prison cell allowing the guilty to go free!
In fact, this point in the prayer is so critical, that it is revisited again at the end:
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 (KJV)
A lifestyle of setting people free should mark every one of us. It’s what God does and it’s what we do!
DELIVER US FROM EVIL
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:13 (ESV)
As inhabitants of a fallen world, we are keenly aware of the power of evil and the enticement of the enemy. This passionate plea should be forever on our lips, or until we eternity at least.
The thought of anything compromising our energizing, fiery, zealous relationship with the Lover of our souls should result in sobriety and locked-in demeanor. We must understand the power of sin and we have no option but to continually be aware of it’s devastating force.
10 …so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 (ESV)
IT’S ALL ABOUT GOD!
13 …For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:13 (KJV)
Can you imagine declaring those words, …for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen… in eternity! Imagine how engulfed we will be in him and him alone!
This is true worship!
I want to exhort you to allow the Prayer of the Lord to become your own. Let it be an expression of your overflowing, all in lifestyle of worship and surrender to Jesus.
It’s not just a good group of words to read before bed. Prayer, especially prayer like this, is a testament to who we really are and what we really believe. It’s agreement with God and an unstoppable decree of our agreement with and position in him!
Pray for Bruce (not Caitlyn) Jenner. If we don’t discover who we are in Christ, and who Christ is in us, a crisis is all we can expect.
It’s easy to read about Bruce Jenner’s transition away from his God-given gender identity and experience a range of thoughts and emotions: sadness, compassion, anger, disgust, confusion
Certainly the appropriate reactions for blood-bought Christians should include intense intercession for Bruce, thankfulness for God’s power to keep us free from the enemy’s assaults in our lives and prayer for a better understanding of the issue of identity. Every one of us is at risk of losing our grip on our own identity if we don’t understand who we are in Christ and who Christ is in us.
Galatians 2:20 (ESV) 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
The answer to finding ourselves is to lose ourselves—to die. The old is to pass away so the new can come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
THE PURSUIT OF IDENTITY
Any youth pastor will tell you the issue of identity confusion, whether it’s gender based or not, is not unusual. Young people are famous for attempting to find and express their “true selves” by altering their bodies through tattoos, piercings, funky hair colors and various other methods. Of course, it’s not the outward manifestation that’s concerning. It’s the despair within that’s resulting in gasping for validation.
They are also experimenting with alternate sexual experiences, exhibiting attitudes of independence and becoming more narcissistic than possibly any generation in history. They are looking for life that makes sense and truly has meaning.
The problem? Without dying to self we can never discover our true identity.
Without Jesus, Bruce Jenner is hopeless—regardless of whether he struggles with gender identity or not. Eternity is a small and rapidly decreasing number of heartbeats away and he will live, as Bruce Jenner, not Caitlyn, for trillions of years (forever) in horrifying, unending torment—a never ending panic attack.
The same is true for every person who has ever lived on the earth. For those who don’t radically, completely die to their own pursuits and their own selfish identities and decide to make Jesus Christ the supreme loving master of their lives, Hell is their future. This is truth. This is terror.
However, the glorious promise for Bruce and everyone is that we can die to our flesh and experience a sudden invasion of love, freedom and clarity about the identity of Christ—and how that brings the definition to our own identity that is so fleeting without God.
John 8:32 (ESV) 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
With the increasing hostility toward God in our culture, people’s only remaining hope is to discover self through the magnification of their own desires and inclinations.
This confusion is being celebrated today with exuberance.
How often have you heard about a married man realizing that he is gay—and then leaving his marriage and his children to live life as he was “created to?” Increasingly that man is celebrated for having the courage to “come out” and live how he was supposedly designed to.
What if that same man abandoned his wife and children not because he discovered his homosexuality, but rather because he discovered his promiscuity? Would he be honored for having the courage to sleep with another woman? Just what is the difference?
Our culture is becoming increasingly nonsensical.
Isaiah 5:20-21 (ESV) 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!
This confusion is leading people to attempt resolution to past sins and struggles in some of the most extreme and bizarre ways. The enemy is most definitely stealing, killing and destroying in unprecedented fashion.
After admitting mistakes as a husband and father Bruce Jenner said, “I have high hopes that Caitlyn is a better person than Bruce. I’m very much looking forward to that.”
He is hoping that a transformation into a new identity—his true identity—can bring healing and strength. He is right. However, the transition isn’t from Bruce to Caitlyn or from man to woman. It’s from old man to new. His only hope is Jesus.
His announcement that he is changing his gender identification shouldn’t bring a celebration. His confusion is heart wrenching—and all of us who have been at one time dead in our sins (which is all of us) should relate to it.
The answer isn’t to encourage and celebrate a humanistic adventure of self discovery. That will only lead to hopelessness and increased despair, even if it brings a short lived respite.
Bruce Jenner, talking about how people didn’t understand what he was going through even at the height of his Olympic success: “Little did they know I was totally empty inside.”
He then continues to share why he decided to go through with his gender transition: “I’m not doing this to be interesting. I’m doing this to live.”
Bruce’s answer is not in becoming a woman in the hopes of starting over. It’s in allowing Jesus to forgive him and heal his past wounds. True peace can be his!
Hebrews 10:17 (ESV) 17 …“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Romans 5:1 (ESV) 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Without Jesus Bruce Jenner will always experience desperation. He freely admits he has been in trauma for decades.
How is it that such emptiness can dominate a person’s life for so long and Jesus is never invited in?
I’m not only talking about Bruce’s terribly sad situation. Countless others, including Christians, live every day in depression, despair, confusion, bondage to sin and powerlessness. All too often they turn to self-discovery methods and desire satisfaction in the hopes that they can find life. They transition not from man to woman, but from one deception to another, from one sin to another, from one attitude to another.
John 8:34 (ESV) 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
The answer is to surrender. Fully. Gloriously. Give Jesus leadership and refuse to seek after fulfillment in any way other than him. The love you experience will answer every question.
Romans 5:6-8 (ESV) 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
FALSE HUMAN RIGHTS
This spirit of entitlement convinces us to look inward and fight for our perceived rights. After all, we have a right to be whoever we want, right? We can express it in most any way we desire, according to today’s cultural standard. This attitude is fueled by pride that results in the pursuit of personal attention, gain and satisfaction.
Isaiah 14:12–15: How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
Lucifer was focused on self—entitlement. This pride resulted in destruction beyond anything we could measure. He fell and weakened the nations simply because he was focused on self!
Because of Lucifer’s attitude, millions of people have been destroyed, the Holocaust terrorized a generation, an ancient flood destroyed the masses, 55 million American babies have been murdered and Hell is growing in size to hold the increasing number of people who will live there for eternity.
Yes, a spirit of entitlement destroys.
Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 11:2: When pride comes, then comes shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
Proverbs 18:12: Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.
It’s easy to rally around one who’s operating in a spirit of entitlement, especially if they are pursuing a self-defining, self-satisfying identity that can be related to. People will champion another’s perceived rights if it means their own pursuits will be strengthened by it. The unity around false human rights is resulting in increased confusion, radical rebellion and an anti-Christ spirit growing in power in our culture.
Again, the answer is to surrender to Jesus. We need a move of God like no other time in history.
It absolutely breaks my heart that Bruce Jenner and others have seen no clear remedy to their many human struggles, fears, sins and disturbances. Where is the victorious church? They can’t find the power. They can’t imagine what deliverance would feel like. This, church, is on us.
PRAY FOR BRUCE JENNER
Bruce’s destiny is in Jesus, as a son. He is entitled to abundant life not because of his human determination to thrive, but because of Jesus’ determination to die for him.
John 1:12 (KJV) 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
John 10:10 (ESV) 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I once met someone who had quite a testimony. He was born a male and then underwent a complete sex change operation. After living as a woman he met Jesus—and made the decision to live in his permanently altered “female” body as a man, just as God created him. That man is a champion. That man should be celebrated for his bravery to die to self and surrender all.
There is always hope when Jesus is involved.
Bruce will never be a female. He can, however, be a son of God. Let’s believe together that he is touched by the unmistakable power of the Holy Spirit and falls in deeply love with him. His confusion will be replaced with clarity and his old man will make way for the new. What a mighty celebration we will have the moment that happens!
This is a MUST WATCH video on the uprising of rebellion in the church and how people are fleeing the corporate gathering—all at the cost of revival.
Today people are leaving churches and scattering, leaving the church vulnerable and the hope of revival threatened.
When Satan was attempting to gather people together to accomplish an impossible task, the building of a tower to Heaven, God came down and scattered them. Now, Satan is attempting to use that strategy against God!
More than ever, we must honor and serve leaders, be in the church every time the doors are open and pray with out ceasing.
Evan Roberts' famous prescription must be followed today more than ever:
“Congregate the people who are willing to make a total surrender. Pray and wait. Believe God's promises. Hold daily meetings.”
The time of daily prayer events is coming, and revival will be held back until it happens.
The demands of culture are warring against the demands of Scripture—why are the cares of life winning?
And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. Mark 4:18-20
As a first time church planter and first time senior leader in Manitou Springs, Colorado I heard the Lord say something to me that was more significant than I realized at the time.
We had just opened the doors on a 700 square foot “church” building. It sure didn’t feel like a church, but it’s what we had to work with. We were excited about the privilege to be called of God to plant in such a dark and spiritually devastated region. We had visions of a raging, city wide revival and of the masses running into this small town at the base of Pikes Peak to experience the fire of Jesus.
We also expected a passionate, ready remnant to eagerly, excitedly lay everything down for the sake of the mission.
It was in this place of zeal that we birthed Revolution Church and started calling people to the battle. It was also in this place where God spoke to me:
“The cares of life will be the greatest enemy to a fulfilled mission.”
It was an unexpected, interesting word. So, as any good leader will do, I taught a series on the cares of life! My thought was that I’d nip it in the bud and we’d all (all 20 of us at the time) be alert to the pressures the enemy would try to hit us with.
Now in Michigan, 13 years later, I understand how laughable my humble efforts to eradicate the cares of life with a sermon series was!
Listen closely: The greatest enemy of revival and the mission of God in our culture is the cares of life. These cares rob us of critical energy, focus, discipline, resources and the single-minded determination necessary to fulfill our calling in the church.
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36
The cares of life are not only threatening the strength of the church. They are threatening our very salvation!
A failure to take dominion over our calendars, stresses, demands and other external pressures is resulting in a playing, sleeping people. Check out the warning Jesus gave Peter in the garden:
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Matthew 26:39-41
What is the purpose of being alert, watching and praying? To avoid falling into temptation. Temptation to do what?
Check it out:
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don't know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Matthew 26:73-74
Peter’s failure to watch and pray resulted in his temptation to deny Christ! This is where the American church is right now! A great falling away is in front of us! Many will be tempted and many will give in to that temptation—to actually deny Christ! Peter called down curses—and a sleeping church will end up doing the same thing. This is extremely serious.
This is a core reason the 24/7 house of prayer must be full! Every Christian and every Church must be devoted to a life and culture of extreme prayer, corporately, daily.
It doesn’t matter if we enjoy it or not. It doesn’t matter if that environment ministers to us or not. It doesn’t matter if people like us, love us or affirm us there. It doesn’t matter. If the call is to gather together and pray, which it is, the church must respond fully. Nobody’s calendar is too full or too inflexible to make room for this. If a major nuclear terrorist attack is successful on our soil, and the threat of additional attacks remains, it will be easy to reprioritize everything. Suddenly prayer meetings will become more important than work, rest or play.
LOWERING THE BAR AND FILLING THE SEATS
The church of America has been waving the white flag for years.
The cares of life have won, or at least have the church pinned to the mat. We are celebrating a casual, two hours a week commitment. Prayer meetings are optional. Radical investment is unnecessary. Focus is on what God can do for us instead of what we are called to do for God. This is resulting in a false sense of strength and safety. The church is at great risk.
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47
The every day church was launched in Acts. The once a week church is what we have today.
The cost of following Jesus is very, very high, yet today’s churches are not communicating that critical truth.
I was watching an interview of a member of an underground church in China. He explained that their focus on the church was extreme and necessary, so much so that every member gathered together in the church every morning at 4:30am before work. Mom, dads, kids, babies. Everybody.
Nothing is more important than the call to gather and pray—not even someone’s wedding day! This is a solemn assembly season, and everybody must be on board! The wheat and the tares are being revealed and the wheat will be identified by being gathered together in prayer.
Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. Joel 2:15-16
I also asked a leader in Africa what the reason for the great move of God they were experiencing was. He simply told me that one hundred percent of the church walks to the church, many for hours, every Friday night to pray all night together.
Where is this type of devotion today? Where are the pastors who will raise the bar and call one hundred percent of his church to an extremely costly life? I’d encourage you to read my article in Charisma Magazine about why I believe Haiti is closer to revival than America: http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/21400-6-reasons-haiti-may-be-closer-to-revival-than-the-u-s
Today we are cancelling services so as not to conflict with ballet, little league, football games and movies. My God. We are sleep walking while doing nothing more than dreaming about revival. What happened to the Acts 2 protocol? When will we make the main thing the main thing? When will we gather together daily for prayer? When will we allow the pretenders to leave so the remnant can get the job done?
As a ministry leader I always have a choice in front of me. Enjoy a low bar culture with little cost required and many people in the seats (and many dollars in the bucket) or raise the bar to the height of Scripture and watch the majority flee, leaving only a remnant who is ready as soldiers to fulfill the mission. We choose to pray for laborers and to communicate the radical investment necessary if they wish to follow Jesus with us.
I told God one day many years ago that if I responded to his extreme call to facilitate a white hot environment of prayer in our church I would lose my reputation. People would sever relationship with me and hurl accusations my way.
God said, “Good. My Son was of no reputation, why should you be?”
I was rocked. It was that day, many years ago, that I stopped trying to look good and build a ministry and make people happy about running with me. Selfish ambition died that day. The moment we make decisions based mostly on attracting people, keeping people or raising money is the moment we have failed as leaders.
…but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:7-8
I’m not trying to build a ministry—I’m devoted to obeying God and delivering the messages he has given me. I know these messages will directly hit theologies and ideals that so many hold dear. That’s the point. I crave people’s freedom from those harmful ideals! I desire the truth of Jesus to invade everybody’s life!
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34
One reason I’m OK with this divisive strategy (that Jesus affirmed above) is that it clearly reveals who’s for and who’s opposed. I’d rather make the message clear and know who I’m running with than to tone it down and have those who are opposed to it in our camp. So, we love and serve everybody in the camp, but we can’t get sidetracked from our mission for the sake of their comfort.
Trust me, the resulting remnant of burning ones will rejoice at such an atmosphere of clarity and fire! Those who are lukewarm today just may awaken and burn tomorrow—if we have the courage to preach the very difficult, costly truth!
WHAT IS THE COST OF GOING TO CHURCH?
Yeah, I know many will shout back, “We don’t go to church, we ARE the church!”
Nah. If you don’t go to church, you alone will never be the church. Church is corporate.
If we understand the meaning of the word ‘church’ we could never presume that we alone are the church. That idea is contrary to the origin of the word (ekklesia, meaning “assembly”). In fact, that word has secular origins. It literally means an assembly of people who have been called together by an authority in the city or region. Wow! That sheds a lot of light on what the church is.
The church is an assembly of people organized under defined governmental leadership. It’s a regular gathering of people who are deeply agreed and in pursuit of mission advance under God’s apostles, prophets and other governmental leaders.
This means that we don’t choose how and when to participate. We don’t use the church to serve us. We are called as holy soldiers to lock in and invest much in order to see the Kingdom of God advance.
The church isn’t there for us as much as we are there for the church. We are the laborers and we must ensure no cares of life, no worries, no conflicting activities and no other distractions keep us from showing up every time the doors are open.
The point where people disengage from a church is often the point they don’t feel the need or desire personally to continue. Focus is on self instead of the ekklesia.
Simply said, the cost of going to church, and being a part of the church is extreme.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Luke 14:25-30
What would happen if every church in a city shifted from one or two services a week to seven? What would happen if they were all prayer meetings? What if 100% of the church showed up daily? What if that price was paid?
Revival would come.
We need to pray in the garden and gather at the cross, at the most threatening, risky, costly place.
In closing, I want to share a description of a church that appears to be alive, but is dead. It has a low bar of commitment and it attracts many. The Triumphal Entry Church:
THE TRUMPHAL ENTRY CHURCH
Now this is church! This is a church growth model that is very appealing. Simply announce that Jesus is in the house and watch the people flood in!
The celebration began and people were ready to receive their new king. However, the focus of the people at the Triumphal Entry was similar to the focuses in the other churches we are discussing. They wanted their lives to be better. Blessing and personal gain were their motives.
As previously stated, the word Hosanna literally means, “save us now.” The people wanted a king who would give them life in a kingdom that would be personally fulfilling. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that desire—unless that’s the extent of the desire.
Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” Matthew 21:8-11
Hosanna! Most pastors and worship leaders would absolutely love such an environment! This was a blow-out celebration of Jesus! People were not only happy, they were jubilant! It was a revival atmosphere! If possible, Christian television would have covered this event. It was a historic moment!
Many local churches today have this as a key goal—to create a worship environment that’s electric and full of supposed “life.” Of course, the desire to have a true worship environment that affirms the abundant life that Jesus provides is appropriate. I love environments like this! I can imagine a Spirit-filled environment with people at the altar dancing, laughing and worshiping. I’ve seen that happen in churches I’ve led many times, and it’s great! Many churches are growing with this very positive, happy focus—but, the growth is, in my opinion, often (not always, of course) driven by people who will not stay the course if the cross is preached with boldness. They embrace anything that promises personal gain, but the call to daily death is resisted.
In my own ministry I had to make a hard decision—I could focus mostly on a satisfying, dynamic, happy culture that affirms the supernatural while minimizing the cross and the cost. Or, I could focus mostly on a culture that mostly affirms the cross and the call to die, repent and surrender, while expecting a supernatural outflow to come from it.
The first option would require compromise and bigger crowds. We chose the second option that has literally resulted in a diminished (pruned) crowd of like-minded firebrands who die daily and take up their crosses. We affirm that the cost of discipleship is so extreme, that few will respond. At Revival Church and the Detroit Prayer Furnace we are moving in unity with a small group of forerunners who are more interested in the cross and resurrection than in the Triumphal Entry. We chose dozens instead of hundreds, and it’s this group will burn in the night and change the world.
You will notice in this historic story of the Triumphal Entry that the people were willing to make a measured sacrifice, to pay a limited price, to experience what they hoped to. They gave their cloaks. They got to work and cut down palm branches. They were exuberant in their worship. However, we’ll soon see that their offerings had strings attached.
The word hosanna literally means “save us now.” The crowd was unified in their cry for their personal situation to improve, and Jesus was the man of the hour who they felt could pull that off.
Don’t forget the definition of religion: man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants. It was a spirit of religion that was disguising itself in a vibrant worship service.
See, Jesus was willing to save them now. However, his methods were nowhere near satisfactory for a crowd of people who were looking for safety, prosperity and life, not death. Jesus chose the cross as the means to answer their prayers. This crowd of energetic worshipers switched quickly to energetic crucifiers.
I’m all for wild, fervent worship. I am a proponent of continual joy. We should dance and smile a lot. However, we can’t dismiss the burden of the cross and the call to die.
Don’t presume a church is alive just because there’s an electric atmosphere. Human energy and desire can create quite an environment. Wait and see who remains when the call to surrender is high, and the alarms of intercession are sounded.
There is a new prayer-driven model of church that is emerging—and tonight you can enjoy a small taste of it.
JOIN US TONIGHT at 7pm for our first service in our new property! Revival Church is located at 26091 Sherwood, Warren, MI 48091.
Being different for the sake of being different has no real value—but, shifting back to the ancient model of the prayer-driven church does feel quite different as it has been forgotten for so long.
Prayer is simply being with the Lover of our souls. Tonight I will be teaching on this amazing, wondrous life of intimacy with Jesus. Get ready!
This is our first service in our new property, and our focus, more than ever, is facilitating an atmosphere of fiery prayer within a culture of equipping.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT REVIVAL CHURCH
We believe God wants to arrive in weighty glory in the Detroit region—in such a way that the addicted are freed, the depressed are suddenly joyful and the hungry are filled. I believe the move of God that we have an opportunity to participate in will be so shocking that news cameras from around the world will be on scene to capture the outpouring.
With this in mind, we understand that no move of God has ever launched without an unusual and consistent prayer culture.
While we know a powerful worship movement will function at Revival Church, it simply cannot trump a foundation of continual intercession. In fact, the prayer meetings in our nation are so weak because they are relegated to second (or third, or fourth!) place in the strategy of the church. Prayer meetings usually take place on off nights instead of during the primary service.
With this in mind, our services often start with music playing in the atmosphere behind us as we fervently pray as a church! Where you might expect a worship leader, you’ll see a prayer leader.
After a time of intercession and often times personal ministry, we move into teaching and more personal ministry.
Additionally, at 6pm, with coffee in our hands (optional!) we launch into 45 minutes of prayer to set the stage for the night. You are encouraged to join us! Tonight! 6pm!
The City Church
We value the city church, and our heart is to run with other local churches as intercessors for Detroit. We have been in over 70 Detroit region churches to lead prayer events, and that is the template we’d like to see set over this city.
Lets all gather together often to pray somewhere in the city! Every Friday we do have an opportunity for you to hit the streets of downtown Detroit, or to join us in another church to pray! We have been doing this for years, and I also did the same thing when I was leading a church in Colorado Springs. It’s powerful!
Check out our calendar for upcoming events! www.thelabdetroit.com/events
If you’ve read my book 20 Elements of Revival, you’ll know we believe in the emergence of the 24/7 church. We will be invested in ministry to God every day!
You can run with us 5 nights a week in prayer and teaching at Revival Church, with much more to come!
RICHARD CRISCO IS COMING IN TWO WEEKS!
Tonight is opening night, but July 27-28 is even better—it’s our GRAND OPENING WEEKEND!
Saturday, July 27th at 7pm there will be a short time of prayer and teaching followed by a FEAST! Bring food to share
Sunday, July 28th at 7pm Richard Crisco will join us in our prayer-fueled atmosphere of fire! Spread the word!
Revival Church is located at 26091 Sherwood, Warren, MI 48091.
As promised, here is information about a special opportunity to invest in the prayer movement!
If you missed it, read about the exciting news we announced yesterday HERE! Revival Church and theLab University have a new home!
We have connected with many amazing people around the world who are contending for a movement of prayer that initiates revival and transformation.
We now have an opportunity to invest into that passion!
Revival Church and theLab University are moving into our new mission base in the Detroit area. The mission is significant, and our army is small—so we are reaching out to that army AND to those around the world to help us get moved in and functional in our new property.
We have broken down the needs, placed a dollar amount on them, and made it easy for you to cover the cost of that purchase!
View the needs and donate here: http://www.explorerevival.com/specialgift
Needs include everything from children’s materials to signage to furniture to sound and lighting equipment.
Your donation will help enable us to:
- Provide a place for the Detroit region to gather and pray seven days a week
- Equip end-time intercessors, revivalists and prophetic messengers at Revival Church and theLab University
- Equip children to know God deeply, pray and prophesy
- Provide teachings online for anybody around the world to experience
- Much, MUCH more!
We are about to move into a feverish month of preparation—and your donation this week will help us do all we need to do before the first service on July 13th.
Thank YOU for your heart and passion for revival!
If you prefer not to designate a specific item to donate toward, there is a place on the form to choose the amount of your donation and allow us to apply it to whatever is most pressing.
Donate TODAY: http://www.explorerevival.com/specialgift
Read the following passage on passionate investment in the place of prayer:
1 Chron 29:1 And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the Lord God. 2 So I have provided for the house of my God, so far as I was able, the gold for the things of gold, the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, besides great quantities of onyx and stones for setting, antimony, colored stones, all sorts of precious stones and marble. 3 Moreover, in addition to all that I have provided for the holy house, I have a treasure of my own of gold and silver, and because of my devotion to the house of my God I give it to the house of my God: 4 3,000 talentsa of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and 7,000 talents of refined silver, for overlaying the walls of the house,b 5 and for all the work to be done by craftsmen, gold for the things of gold and silver for the things of silver. Who then will offer willingly, consecrating himselfc today to the Lord?”
6 Then the leaders of fathers’ houses made their freewill offerings, as did also the leaders of the tribes, the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and the officers over the king’s work. 7 They gave for the service of the house of God 5,000 talents and 10,000 daricsd of gold, 10,000 talents of silver, 18,000 talents of bronze and 100,000 talents of iron. 8 And whoever had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the Lord, in the care of Jehiel the Gershonite. 9 Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.
A premature outpouring of God's spirit would result in people vacating their place of prayer to experience an adrenaline rush.
Let me say this clearly: If you are a Christian, deep, continual, strategic intercession is your primary daily calling!
As in the days of old, every time the church doors are open, we should be there ready to pray!
The 24/7 church is coming and we will soon find ourselves together in intercession most every day of the week! Will you wait for another bomb to detonate and for more lives to be lost or will you start your new life of corporate intercession THIS WEEK?
When this precedent of continual prayer is established, revival will eventually come. It may take a decade of continual prayer before God sees our devotion to keep praying without stopping when the outpouring comes.
►Detroit needs a house of prayer like never before, and EVERY CHRISTIAN must show up day after day to pray! Start now!
There is an emerging remnant of pavement people who understand this, who will forgo personal comfort and hit the concrete in prayer and worship as we saw in 2 Chronicles 7:
2 Chronicles 7:1-3 (ESV) 1 As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
I have been continually grieved and disturbed for more than two decades of ministry by the lack of fervent prayer in the church. I literally can’t think of a single place in the world that I’d rather be than in the prayer room—even if it’s a concrete floor. The fact that calls to prayer are resisted with excuses of busyness, disinterest and the ever increasing cares of life is evidence that we still don’t understand a primary reason we are alive—to minister to God in personal and corporate intercession.
With that in mind, prayer rooms remain empty because we as leaders know people are averse to prayer…and we offer them alternate activities.
Instead of burning intercession for the nations, many use prayer as an attempt to achieve or protect their own definition of a normal life. When normalcy is stable, prayer ceases. If someone is sick, they pray for God to restore them to the normalcy of health. If they are short on finances, they pray for God to bring them to financial normalcy.
The problem with that is that prayer isn’t mostly about focusing on self and securing the life we hope for—it’s for deeply knowing Jesus and interceding for the world to experience the life that he paid the price for.
A CONFUSING EXPERIENCE
More than two decades ago, as a new burning child of God, I was met with confusion that is still with me today.
I was helping give leadership to a monthly regional youth event that was drawing around 100 young people for all over the Dayton, Ohio area. I’ve always believed the hour of prayer before the service was actually much more important than the service itself. (Anything driven by prayer carries extreme importance.)
I was truly confused each month as we sounded the alarm, spread the word, plastered signs in the foyer and let everybody clearly know that they were needed in prayer prior to the service. Each month we’d have 5-10 people in the huge sanctuary in prayer for an hour, while I watched a hundred people cram into a tiny foyer waiting for the service to start.
Was my promotion insufficient? Did I not make it clear enough? It was so packed in the foyer that faces were nearly squished up against the glass on the doors—right next to the signs inviting them to enter and pray.
I’ve watched this scenario play out time and again through my youth and senior ministry years. In San Diego I’d load up the bus with 50 kids to take them to the beach on Thursday, and then have 5 or 6 join me on prayer walks on Friday.
I will continually be confused and disturbed by the lack of passion for intercession—especially in a time of crisis like we are now in in America.
THE CRISIS IN OUR NATION
Last night at theLab House of Prayer, we prayed about the recent bombings in Boston, the earthquakes around the world and the explosion in Texas, and we interceded for Detroit. There have been many urgent prophecies and dreams about a nuclear level event downtown Detroit.
For those who only pray to achieve personal normalcy, there is little reason to fill the prayer rooms. Detroit is still standing.
However, even now, Detroit is not in revival. Even now there is suicide and murder in this region. Children are abused. Political corruption is extreme. An outpouring is no where to be seen.
Additionally, we are experiencing a Jeremiah 2 crisis. Check it out:
Jeremiah 2:4-8 (ESV) 4 Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. 5 Thus says the LORD: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? 6 They did not say, ‘Where is the LORD who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’ 7 And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination. 8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit.
- Verse 5: There is a spirit of accusation against God on the rise in America. Today, people are finding much wrong with God—Christians and non-Christians alike—and the result is a move toward accusation and away from intimacy with him. A misunderstanding of God’s role in our lives will do that. If we expect him to perform for us instead of us responding to him, we will quickly become offended at God and turn to worthless things—and become worthless ourselves.
- Verse 6: Thanksgiving was nowhere to be found. God admits that he intentionally led them into a place of drought and darkness—and then led them through.
- Verse 7: America was given as a gift, a plentiful land with good things. Today, the land is defiled and the heritage of God is an abomination. Oh what we have forsaken!
- Verse 8: The priests did not seek the Lord! This is the state of the prayer movement! In a time of crisis, the priests (all of us) must continually give themselves to seeking God! Pastors are failing and prophets are sharing doctrines of demons in the name of God! There are a lot of “false positives” out there in the prophetic…hopeful messages that don't reflect what God is saying.
THE SEVEN MOUNTAINS
I personally don’t see the church fully taking over the seven mountains in this age as some do, but I do believe we are to have significant influence and impact, and to give leadership as God opens those doors.
This being said, the thought of an idolatrous church increasing in influence in the seven mountains should cause us all to shudder.
A consecrated, praying church that is intimate with God is mandatory!
Psalm 24:3-4 (ESV) 3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
Today, much of the church is at the base of the mountain fashioning an idol, a god of their own design, while Moses met with God on top of it.
The prayer movement that’s focused on the heart of God will result in continual repentance as we allow God to search our hearts and burn up any idol or any desire for one!
Check out how serious God is about the call to ascend the mountain:
Exodus 19:16-25 (ESV) 16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20 The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.” 23 And Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.’” 24 And the LORD said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, lest he break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.
So, Moses ascended, and the people played. The prayer movement will absolutely separate out those who are truly devoted to God and those who are focused on self:
Exodus 32:4-6 (ESV) 4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” 6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
Eat, drink, play. As long as the normalcy of personal consumption and entertainment is safe, the church will see no need to pray—all while the consecrated remnant, the pavement people, are on the mountain in the presence of God receiving instructions for revival and Kingdom advance.
My God. Help us.
God is identifying an emerging army of end-time leaders—discover how to respond to this critical call.
FIRST: Listen to the latest teaching in my series Ten Threats to Revival here: http://media.johnburton.net/5044148
I had a meeting with two of my several amazing leaders at Revival Church last night—and I felt impressed to share some practical tips on how you can be equally amazing as you serve in your ministry.
theLab School of Fire is a three month school that trains people to grow fast, run well and to serve with passion in the ministry God plants them in. If you want to learn more than this article could ever hope to relay, by all means, apply for theLab today! www.revivallab.com
OUR CRAZY DNA
I believe we are seeing some great leaders emerge at Revival Church because of our wild and crazy DNA, not in spite of it. It’s a thrill ride and a challenge to run with someone like myself. The pressure cooker that is Revival Church is openly revealing those who are responding and being formed into the next wave of leaders in Detroit!
To help you understand our context, I’ll share some of the primary vision points that will reveal the challenge of serving in a ministry like this. The challenge, for those who take advantage of it, leads to rapid promotion, favor and honor.
- Revival Church is an apostolic and prophetic church.As an apostle/prophet with a regional and national focus, we are leading from that edge. The constant focus around here is reformation, revival and regional impact which means we are always shifting and redirecting in our methods as we pursue the ultimate goal. Following a prophetic leader is a challenge to say the least. The vision is always expanding and the methodology is always changing which requires that everybody involved is ‘instant in season and instant out of season’. New projects are often initiated well before old projects are completed.
- Revival Church’s message isn’t locally limited.I say often that I’m a one string banjo. We are all about revival on a regional and national level. So, what this means is that those in our church will be hearing the same revival thread in our messages over and over again. We are intentionally focused and limited instead of diverse in our teachings. I understand that the messages I deliver are mostly for the region and nation, and the primary vehicle we are using is the Sunday evening Revival Church service. I’m certainly preaching to those in attendance, but I’m equally targeting those who will be hearing the message online. If I have to say the same thing over and over until those in attendance have it memorized word for word, that’s OK as long as the message is impacting those who are listening in our target areas around the world.
- Revival Church, by design, does not give all five of the offices equal attention.This is not to say that we don’t value all of the offices, but it does say that we know who we are and who we are not. In the current church structure the presumption is that all five offices must be active in every local church. That’s not true. First of all, that’s not realistic for smaller churches. Secondly, in scripture we know the church is identified by the city, not by the local expression. The five-fold offices must be in effect in the city church, which will require that we as leaders are OK with people in our church participating in other local churches that are anointed in another office.
- Revival Church, again by design, is not a Pastor led church.The current Pastor led church system in our nation has resulted in a lot of false expectations that are placed on leadership. This is one of our greatest challenges. Again, it’s not that we don’t value the Pastoral office, we do. However, our focus, time, energy and resources are not to be used to focus at a significant level on developing pastoral ministry. Interestingly, the presumption might be that without a strong pastoral focus that people can’t easily grow. It’s quite the contrary around here. We are raising up people who are growing at a faster pace than I’ve ever witnessed—and these people are self-motivated. When they notice a struggle in their lives, they proactively take steps to resolve it. False expectations can lead people to presume I as the Senior Leader will be fulfilling the role of pastor in their lives when, in reality, I’m not a pastor at all. This is a challenge to communicate and it can often feel like rejection to those who want close and constant access to me. However, it’s not rejection at all. It’s simply that a prophet/apostle interacts very differently with people than a pastor does.
- Revival Church has an unapologetically high bar of commitment.We believe the 24/7 church is coming, and the call around here is to start modeling this emerging church structure. Additionally, we are launching 50 new churches in this region alone, and we are asking everybody to consider how they will participate in this mission. Everybody here has the goal of changing the Detroit region and working toward revival.
- Revival Church has a vision that demands we expand and look outward. There is much that feels undone in our local church due to our focus to continue expanding in the region. We refuse to wait until everything is perfectly in place and mature before we move out and launch other ministries and projects.
HOW TO FOLLOW YOUR LEADER AND PREPARE YOURSELF FOR PROMOTION
If people can learn how to follow leadership with crazy DNA like we have at Revival Church, you can certainly do the same in your church.
Remember, the greatest servants make the greatest leaders. And, leaders who take their mission seriously are on the lookout for the rare few who will be the next great leaders in the church.
Your leader (Pastor, Prophet, Apostle, etc.) is looking for armor bearers, not in title but in function.
Definition of an Armor-bearer: An officer selected by kings and generals because of his bravery, not only to bear their armor, but also to stand by them in the time of danger. — Easton's Illustrated Dictionary
In my book Covens in the Church I point out that most people think leaders should make it easy for people to follow them. I disagree. People should make it easy for leaders to lead them. Why? The very call of leadership is to lead people into the challenging, threatening new land of promise. True leaders make your life harder, not easier. They challenge you to your very limit so you can fulfill a naturally impossible mission.
I wanted to make this as raw and practical as I could, so here it goes!
- Understand the vision. Do you know what the vision of your leader is and is not? If there is any confusion at all, seek out a clear, definitive explanation. Then, memorize it. Repeat it to others. Often. At Revival Church, my vision is most clearly outlined in my book 20 Elements of Revival. All of our leaders are required to read this book and then work hard to implement it. I continually teach on the vision here so everybody on board has it in front of them week after week.
- Don’t attempt to tweak the vision.Vision by design is limited—extremely so. Remember, your church is not supposed to dilute their vision by diverting energy and resources to your vision. You must follow your leader’s interpretation of the vision as the vision will come directly through him.
- Don’t try to fit your vision into your leader’s vision.We like to think that our vision will complement our leader’s, and sometimes it will. But, sometimes it will not. Some personal endeavors can threaten the vision of the house while others can strengthen it. Find out from your pastor what category your vision fits in, and refuse to pull back or take on offense if you discover it doesn’t fit in the current season.
- Resolve problems.I tell my leadership team that I expect them to deliver resolutions to me, not problems. In fact, when someone is known for recognizing and highlighting problems to me, it’s an indicator that they are not ready for leadership. Generals don’t report problems without taking on the responsibility to take care of business.
- Don’t have false-expectations.“My leader should be doing…” Fill in the blank. There are many things people want their leaders to spearhead or to give attention to, but it’s not his place to do so. I often hear people come to me with great ministry ideas and I almost always place the ball back in their court and encourage them to make it happen. It’s not your leader’s job to run with your vision, but if it’s complementary to the vision of the house, he can open the door for you to run with it yourself. I remember sitting in a class with Dr. Peter Wagner and Dutch Sheets one day. Dutch is an apostle. I don’t think he has a pastoral bone in his body, yet he at the time was leading a church in Colorado Springs. He’s one of the most important voices in our nation, in my opinion, and his attention had to be given to that. Peter Wagner said that day to everybody in attendance, “If you are sick in the hospital or in need of counseling, don’t expect Dutch to show up. That’s not his role.” Expect your leader to fulfill his function and his vision, not the function you want him to, or even a function that desperately needs to be filled by someone else. Just because there is a great need with nobody to meet it doesn’t mean it defaults to your leader.
- Champion your leader’s cause. This is a big one. If you want to be received by leadership and experience on-time promotion, you must champion your leader’s cause. The alternative is to be a threat to his cause, which will result in stalled personal development for you. Know your leader’s vision inside and out—and refuse to promote any competing viewpoint. This will require you set aside personal doctrines or ministry philosophies that are contrary. You will also have to confront those who are negatively impacting the vision. Few people are truly able to do this, but those who are most usually experience great favor and rapid promotion.
- Never gossip—ever. You do not have the right to discuss frustrations, disagreements or negative analysis of your church with anybody in the entire world—except your leader. If your church doesn’t focus on evangelism to the degree you think it should, for example, it would take a spirit of treason for you to discuss your frustration or disapproval with others. Keep in mind that the Absalom spiritis alive and well in the church today. Also remember that your church, by design, is lacking in many areas so they can focus intently on their God given vision. Many people will come to you in the hopes of gaining a sympathetic ear as they voice their concern about the church. Don’t receive their complaint. Don’t listen to their frustration. Stand firm and communicate without apology the vision of the church. Let them know the vision is not up for debate. My leader in Colorado is a rock star in this regard. When people came to him with their concerns, he took them by the hand directly to me so they could share their issues! Guess what, people stopped going to him with their gossip.
- Be faithful.I don’t look for people with great giftings, I look for faithfulness. Ask your leader what his expectations are, and go overboard fulfilling them. Be at every service. Lead the charge. Model extreme, sold-out faithfulness not only to Jesus but to the leader he placed in your life.
- Openly respond.When he’s teaching, let everybody in the building know you agree and are ready to respond. Shout amen! Don’t get distracted. Don’t text. Don’t post to Facebook. Be obviously engaged. One of my favorite worship leaders is Catherine Mullins. She’s a good friend too. I often tell people that my favorite part of her ministry isn’t her worship leading, but, rather, the way she immediately sits in the front row after worship and actively engages in the sermon. She shouts, she has her Bible open. She changes the atmosphere from her seat. Powerful.
- Address him and his wife with respect.I’m personally challenged regarding titles. On one hand, I really don’t like to call myself anything other than John. I’m OK with others calling me John. But, I also understand what it means to honor authority and to recognize that person’s role in your life. The greater challenge is that I’m not a pastor, though people do call me Pastor John. That’s OK with me, and in fact, it feels more appropriate than for people to call me by my first name. The most accurate title would be Apostle or Prophet John, but with all of the goofy and prideful demeanors that can come along with a title, it’s a bit uncomfortable. So, how do you relate to your leader? Simply, with respect. Use a title if that’s expected and show your respect in other ways if it’s not. Remember him and his family on birthdays, on Pastor Appreciation Day, anniversaries, etc.
- Understand that you can disqualify yourself for leadership for a season.I’m a very active listener and watcher. You may not think it’s fair or right, but leaders analyze people, in love, and with a sober spirit. They are mandated to protect the mission God entrusted to them. As one who comes alive when ‘the least of these’ are awakened to their destiny, and as one who has a lot of grace when it comes to failure, trial, error and weakness, I also am looking to see who’s rising above the rest. Your leader will have his own set of tests. For me, as an example, gossip will quickly disqualify someone, until the issue is resolved and repentance is clear. I have to ensure my leaders are fully on board and that they don’t threaten or compromise the mission. This doesn’t mean that I don’t love them. Not at all. My grace level is high as they grow through their challenge. I still see them one day leading significant ministries and changing the world!
- Don’t require your leader to say things twice.Leaders have expectations that are necessary for the development of the ministry. I am always impressed and will give favor to those who respond to my requests without the need to say it again. I don’t have the time to repeatedly make the same requests over and over. Understand, this is usually simple stuff… but, not insignificant stuff. Don’t make the mistake of presuming a simple request is an insignificant one or one that can be ignored altogether. As an example, in theLab we have a call to excellence that includes never being even one minute late to any class or event. We say, “Early is on time, on time is late and late is unacceptable.” Those who respond to this call the first time have my attention.
- Undergird him much more than you pull on him.Leaders are looking for those who lessen the burden of the vision, not those who add to it. Of course, we are to help, as we can, the leaders on our team. However, all of our energy can’t continually be tapped by resolving problems. The job must get done and we have to ensure distraction is at a minimum. Be the one who is vigilant in resolving issues so you can hold up the arms of your leader as he goes to battle.
- Love, honor and pray for him.A few of my leaders specifically communicate with me on an ongoing basis sharing how they are praying for me. They also usually pull me aside before the Sunday service to pray for me, to break off any attack and to stand in the gap for me. This is greatly appreciated and needed.
- Don’t use your church for your own ministry platform.I learned this lesson myself over 20 years ago. I started serving in a church that I thought was a great place for me to establish my own ministry. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my ministry was not welcomed by the leadership in the way I thought it would be. I wasn’t championing their vision, I was using them to fuel my own. Big mistake. I was humbled (humiliated is more like it) one day at a staff meeting. I was serving in the youth department, and was starting to have quite an impact. At the staff meeting the pastor said, without even looking at me, “John Burton is not someone we are considering for the position of youth leader in this church now or in the future.” I was mad, but years later I understand. I wasn’t truly there to enhance their vision, I was there to leech off of them. Lesson learned.
- Grow intentionally on your own.Come to every service stronger than you were in the last. Take it upon yourself to work out spiritually so you can be an ever increasing benefit to the work of the Kingdom.
- Financially invest in the vision.Go beyond the tithe. Give extravagantly to the endeavors and projects that are initiated in the pursuit of a fulfilled mission.
- Refuse to take on offense.True ministry provides opportunity for offense continually. Don’t fall into it. Don’t get offended when you aren’t recognized, when you aren’t listened to or when you aren’t valued the way you think you should be. Don’t take on other people’s offense either.
- Model expected behavior.A spirit of entitlement can easily hit emerging leaders and church staffs. The presumption that we don’t have to participate at the level expected of others can halt a mission. For example, I want our leaders to lead the way by always sitting up front during the sermon, listening intently, leading the charge during pre-service prayer, to be at the altars prior to service for a time of intercession, etc. As our leaders model expected behavior they set a culture. That culture is invaluable.
- Be a long-timer.Attrition is an extremely disruptive occurrence in the church today. Church leaders are most always anxious about whether they can count on people to stick with them for the long term. Make a commitment and voice it to your leader. Let him know that you will stand with them through good times and bad in a covenant relationship—and you’ll do what you can to model that in such a way that it becomes a key part of the culture of the church.
- Be joyful!Be that person that’s always smiling, rejoicing and positive! Trust me, leaders can’t get enough of people like that. I have someone on my team that is contagiously joyful. That in itself has her on my leadership radar.
- Be the buzz. Be the most visible, radical, exuberant cheerleader for your church! I’ve been involved in just a few ministries that do this very well. People excitedly spread the word about the church God planted them in. You see it on their faces. You read their Facebook posts. They can’t stop Tweeting. They are fiery evangelists! Around here people can’t stop talking about theLab. There’s buzz. Be that buzz for your church. I know when people are running with the vision when I see them actively advancing the cause Monday through Saturday.
Some books on this topic that I highly recommend to you include A Tale of Three Kings, God’s Armor Bearer, Under Cover and my book Covens in the Church.