Posts Tagged ‘preaching’

Dressing Up Jesus—Misguided Attempts to Make Jesus Attractive

imageEvangelism and church growth strategies have gone off the rails in an attempt to close the sale.

Enough. The church has been failing far too miserably for far too long in one specific area—dressing up Jesus.

This tragedy is rooted in movements that refuse to embrace the severity of God. Their infatuation with emotional love, intimacy and connection to the exclusion of an inner tremble and utter brokenness that can only come from a revelation of the terror of the Lord has compromised a generation.

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This puppy dog, cuddly Jesus that so many yearn for is a fantasy. If the extent of your relationship with God is enjoying his kindness and goodness to the exclusion of his terror and severity, you actually may be developing intimacy with an angel of light instead of the lover of your soul.

The church has knee-jerked away from the bold, passionate street preacher declarations in favor of a message that presents Jesus in a softer, more affirming light. The problem? Jesus is both a lamb and a lion.

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The answer to mean-spirited street preachers is not to change the message, but to change the spirit. Unfortunately, today’s Christian culture has surrendered to the accusations of hate and intolerance that have been hurled by many. So, instead of a potent, burning and convicting message, we are hearing little more than “Jesus loves you,” and “You are special.”

This methodology and theology has infected much of today’s church growth strategies and even worship. Take note of how many songs we sing today in churches all over that are about how great we are instead of how great God is. The focus is on how irresistible we are as opposed to how desperate we are—and how holy, perfect and magnificent God is.

Today’s church has dressed up Jesus, almost as an apology to the world for previous generations staying true to the truths of repentance, holiness and eternity. This new fashioned “jesus” stays well away from the topics of hell, brokenness, our depravity, surrender and anything that has even the faintest scent of negativity.

IT’S TIME TO GOVERN!

I’m disgusted at how the world has so successfully neutered so many in the church. We have been on the defensive for far too long as liberals, homosexual activists, atheists, pro-abortionists and others have continually hurled accusations of intolerance, convincing many that we don’t truly love as they do. Our response has been mostly pathetic. The church has shrunk back as the world has painted us into a corner, demanding WE repent for a lack of love, tolerance and affirmation. No more!

My job isn’t to get you to like Jesus. It’s to get you to admit he is God and you are not and your only hope is full surrender to this magnificent, fearful deity.

Of course we should all continually check our hearts, and we must be driven by true love. But, let me tell you, the love of God looks little like what we are seeing today. Yes, his love absolutely can be tender, caring and gentle. It can also fuel his anger, wrath and judgment.

The church must repent, not to the world, but to God for allowing it to be disempowered, neutered. The threat of revival is fading every day. We must stand firmly and decree without a hint of apology or political correctness, sin is sin! God is holy. The Bible is true. We need prophets not wordsmiths.

The church’s job isn’t to convince the world that Jesus is a really great guy. Our job is to expose darkness, preach truth, allow the love and terror of God to explode into lost souls and allow the Holy Spirit to move. We are to govern with great authority and immovable resolve to stand for truth. Do it with a right spirit, but, please, finally, just do it.

WATERED DOWN EVANGELISM

11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. Mark 6:11-12 (ESV)

Yes, there are some evangelists who are mean spirited. Others have great intentions but poor delivery. However, as I stated above, we cannot discard the message. Simply address the spirit and then proclaim the offensive truth with explosive anointing.

Today, so much of evangelism looks little different than fortune telling and New Age mysticism. Instead of soul-piercing, convicting messages being shouted at camp meetings and through the streets like were heard in generations past, today the messages are centered around how wonderful everybody is.

We need preachers behind the pulpits and in the streets who unapologetically and with great burden shout, “Repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand!”

I find it fascinating that John the Baptist, as the forerunner, made this decree famous (Matthew 3:2). Then, when he was arrested, look what happened:

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 (ESV)

This is the model of evangelism. John the Baptist started it and Jesus confirmed it.

Evangelism that encourages people to consider following Jesus because of his benefits and how special and amazing he thinks we all are deviates from that model to serious detriment.

SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD

Theologically deviant evangelism and powerless preaching from the pulpit have resulted in millions of people filling churches who are apathetic, lukewarm and who are following Jesus in an unsaved condition.

It’s time the church repents for attempting to dress up Jesus in order to make him more appealing to a resistant culture. Somehow we’ve been duped into believing that we can’t preach cutting and dividing truth without also loving the people we are delivering it to. The enemy has done well in his attempt to convince us that we need to be soft, casual and emotionally sedated in order to sell our religious goods. The problem, of course, is that we are not salesmen. We are prophets! While we all don’t hold the office of prophet, we are all called to carry the mantle of Gideon who, without apology, tore down altars. We are to be like Elijah who confronted culture like no other. We are to be like Paul confronting the magician:

8 But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Acts 13:8-11 (ESV)

Jonathan Edwards delivered what many consider to be the world’s most famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Consider these points from his message and then consider the messages that are being preached in the streets and behind pulpits today:

So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of; all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God. ~Jonathan Edwards

Evangelism and preaching must include the truth of mankind’s condition and position should they refuse to repent. Love demands we do. If God’s wrath, anger and vengeance is directed at someone, and they are a breath away from falling into an eternal abyss, how could we not reveal that to them with tearful urgency?

36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36 (ESV)

THE TERROR OF THE LORD

The fear of God, the terror of the Lord, the power of his wrath and his violent assault against the forces of Hell both at the cross and coming soon at the end of the age must be acknowledged as key, foundational truths. We can’t ignore them. We shouldn’t want to.

11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. 2 Corinthians 5:11 (KJV)

As a result of knowing the fierceness of God and the soul-shocking terror of the Lord, we persuade men. We evangelize. We preach. With tears in our eyes and fire in our veins we boldly reveal the ferocity of God and the love that has driven him to reach out to mankind.

Make no mistake, when the fear of the Lord is mentioned in Scripture, it doesn’t always mean respect as some teach. No, the terror of God is just that—pure terror.

The Greek word may sound familiar to you: phobos

This word literally means:

alarm or fright :- be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror, “that which causes fright, a terror,” “fearful sights”.

We need to preach in such a way that terror lands on the hearers.

17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. Acts 19:17 (KJV)

In the above scripture, the word “fear” translates the exact same way it did in 2 Corinthians 5:11. Terror. When the terror of the Lord lands on the people, the name of the Lord Jesus is magnified. We cannot dress Jesus up and hide his terrifying attributes. Remember, He is not safe, but he is good.

We see terror striking Paul as well:

3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:3-5 (KJV)

He live a life driven by the terror of the Lord, marked by much trembling, and he preached from that place. the power of God, and not man’s wisdom, brought the results that we are feeling 2000 years after his ministry on the earth ended.

Consider the following verses that all translate to mean terror:

20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. 1 Timothy 5:20 (KJV)

11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. Revelation 11:11 (KJV)

27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:27-28 (KJV)

I’m certain that many who read this are thinking about the verse that reveals that perfect love casts out fear. I’ve met many wonderful people who have been mightily confused about this. They unwittingly evaded all fear, even the fear of the Lord.

The truth is that perfect love does not cast out the terror of the Lord. If that were the case, God would be working against himself and we would have to deal with contradicting truths in the Word.

I’d encourage you read my article, Should we reject fear in all forms? Does God affirm certain types of fear? It will answer a lot of questions for you.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I know many who are fully invested in the “happy Jesus” movement have probably stopped readying by now. If you are in that camp, and you’ve made it this far, please read just a little further. Your passion for intimacy with Jesus is good, but make sure it’s not incomplete. Deep, transforming intimacy with Jesus is a core message of mine. Without that vulnerable, close and otherworldly relationship with Jesus, I’d give up. Knowing God in this way is something that can never be described or replaced. However, several times in my life, God provoked me to something deeper. He didn’t allow me to stay in that sweet, tender place. He changed the way he was manifesting and I was faced with his severity.

I’ll never be able to forget my experience with the forces of Hell. My life was forever changed that night many years ago when God allowed me to experience the feeling of being taken to Hell. His severity was vivid and terrifying, yet it in no way contradicted my intimate heart connection with him. Knowing him as both lamb and lion is critical, and I’m personally desperate to have a greater revelation of him in his fullness. I pray you are too. Jesus will one day shock us all as we see him as he truly is:

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 19:15-16 (ESV)

5 Seeker Sensitive Strategies That Threaten Revival

Is it possible your church is risking revival by adopting Seeker strategies?

All these new methods of how to build the church has left me confused. ~David Wilkerson

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing revival is defined by an influx of new Believers into the church. After all, we see this happening in the great revival chapter of the Bible, Acts 2:

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 (ESV)

YOGA-000000065The ultra-simple protocol seems clear: Provide opportunities for the lost to get saved and as a result the church will grow. Ultimately, it is presumed, with enough such impact, that revival will land.

Unfortunately, many pastors are adopting this paradigm, and, due to the necessity it creates, they are also adopting many of the strategies that Seeker Sensitive churches are known for. Most of these pastors would be shocked and horrified at such an accusation. Yet, the truth remains that many pastors who are passionately pursuing revival are compromising that pursuit due to a misunderstanding of just how revival will come.

Friend, the ultimate goal of revival is not a church full of new Christians. It’s a church full of the presence of the Holy Spirit and an army of fully surrendered burning men and women of God. You'll know revival has hit when the church is full of people who can't stop praying on fire, which is a key evidence of legitimate salvation. The desire to be with God night and day consumes us!

The Seeker model results in some very tempting false positives. Keep the bar low, the atmosphere naturally familiar and the pace slow and you absolutely can gather a crowd of people who are interested in Jesus. Churches can become mega in size, leaders can gain a reputation of success and a lot of people can entertain an affinity for God as their busy lives allow.

I could buy a large building, fill it with comfortable leather couches and serve the best coffee in the city for half the price of everybody’s favorite chain. Add in some connection opportunities, possibly some live entertainment and some ten-minute sermonettes and I would have a large group of people almost overnight.

Or, I could call a prayer meeting and wait for the remnant to show up.

5 SEEKER STRATEGIES THAT THREATEN REVIVAL

1. A Non-Threatening Environment

The purpose of the church, including the Sunday service, is not, nor has it ever been, to draw in visitors. It is not to be an evangelistic tool.

The purpose of the church is clear in Scripture. It is to be a Believer’s intercession meeting with a focus on the nations.

And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” Mark 11:17 (ESV)

When I was pastoring several years ago, I became increasingly frustrated with our pre-service prayer. I have always held raging, explosive intercession for one hour before the start of every service. I started this as a youth pastor and continued as a senior leader.

I wasn’t frustrated with participation because people filled up that room every week. It was often my favorite part of the day. I wasn’t frustrated with the level of passion or focus. The roof regularly came off that prayer room.

My frustration hit after a simple revelation. If the church is a house of prayer for all nations, why was prayer intentionally scheduled to end when the church service began?

I have always been aggressively given to prayer. I’ve taught on it, written a book and innumerable articles and based a school of ministry on it—yet I was embarrassed by my error.

The obvious reason why a fiery prayer meeting would end prior to the start of the service was because many people who would be uncomfortable in such an atmosphere would feel out of place. It seemed right. It felt appropriate that we would be sensitive to the seekers who might not enjoy such a supernatural environment. Oh how that human wisdom grieves me today!

My job as a leader is not to create an atmosphere that is naturally familiar! It’s to invite everybody into a shocking, burning atmosphere of Holy Spirit activity that will cause the flesh to cringe and spirits to explode!

The most important shift I ever made in church ministry was to extend the hour of pre-service prayer right into the first half of the service! When the service began, the firebrands were already on their face, pacing the room, praying in tongues, dancing and shouting and declaring the Word of the Lord with boldness. The previous hour of fire would launch the beginning of the service like a rocket. Not only did we start the service with raging intercession, we also moved musical worship down a notch. It would come in later, after prayer set the foundation for the rest of the service. The service was finally a prayer meeting; the church, a house of prayer.

My promise to those under my leadership has always been clear: I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry. This means we must promote an extremely threatening, costly, uncomfortable church atmosphere that results in only the hungry and surrendered locking in.

You see, the church wasn’t “added to daily” through natural means. Don’t forget how it all started:

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 (ESV)

2. Overemphasis on Connecting People

So often today, churches are marketing themselves as the perfect place for YOU. YOU matter. Come as YOU are. We have saved a place for YOU. I have to wonder if it’s a club or a church, a place for natural man or our magnificent God.

Again, the primary goal of the church is to nurture a habitation for the Spirit of God to dwell and for the people to pray for the nations.

I cringe at church marketing strategies that emphasize just how well I would fit in if I attended their church. Pastor, it’s not about me! Tell me how much Jesus is glorified and how massive your vision is for prayer, revival and Kingdom advance and then I’ll get excited. The moment I hear about how special I am and just how I can fit in is the moment I realize filling seats is a little too important.

My favorite church growth strategy actually results in an empty church building, not a full one:

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. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. 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.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3 (ESV)

The church doesn’t need seats filled with people who receive a gold star for showing up. We need pavement people! Those who will hit their face on the pavement and declare God’s goodness! We need an army to stand in position, ready to train and do battle against the enemy! Warriors are needed to assume the position on their knees in intense, Holy Spirit-driven prayer!

I don’t know how many times I would get excited when a small group of prophetic, prayer-fueled warriors showed up for a church service because I knew we were actually going to get something done!

And, yes, a function of the church does include ministering to orphans and widows. Without question that must happen, but not as a foundational goal. First comes a culture of raging, burning prayer, and then we can invite the orphans and widows into that blaze!

I propose eliminating most strategies and programs that focus on connecting people and drawing them in, and starting giving much more energy to prayer and training the remnant, which brings me to my next point:

3. Underemphasis on Training People

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:35-38 (ESV)

Jesus had compassion on those who were ready to become part of the remnant church. Trained laborers are needed to fan the flames that revival ignites in people’s lives.

The plan is simple. Train laborers in fervent prayer, the prophetic, revival, the Kingdom and other key disciplines while simultaneously praying in the Spirit together several hours every week. Then, invite the harvest into those prayer and training sessions and watch them get set ablaze!

When I was leading Revival Church in Detroit, we had a powerful, prayer based ministry school called theLab. It was an intense, three-month training program that was required for anybody who wanted to serve in any capacity in the church. We strongly encouraged every member to enroll in the school. It was in this furnace of intercession and discipleship where the vision was caught and the passion for Jesus consumed them.

I believe we need intensives like that one at the foundational level of every church. It will quickly identify those who are merely socially or naturally interested while revealing your remnant warriors, those who can take their place on the wall of intercession in the house of prayer.

4. Being Naturally Familiar

The church is a strange, other-worldly entity. It is meant to be unusual, supernatural and confounding to human intellect.

And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” Acts 2:12-13 (ESV)

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. Acts 2:14-18 (ESV)

I believe there is a day coming when worship will be mostly sung in the Spirit. Groans of intercessory worship will radiate out of the people. Screens with words that assist with karaoke sing-alongs in today’s church experience will go dark as remnant intercessors are erupting with spiritual songs.

Prayer will follow the same pattern as English (or the language of the culture) gives way to tongues of fire! Prayer lists will no longer be needed as people prophetically cry out and decree the prayer on God’s heart in perfect sync.

In this atmosphere, the desperate and unsaved will yearn for God as they cry out in repentance and hit the floor in tears under the weight of an invisible Savior. We are a peculiar, supernatural people!

…But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 1 Peter 2:8-9 (KJV)

Such a spiritual Sunday morning experience is rare even in churches that would laugh if you suggested they have adopted seeker strategies.

The simple litmus test is this: Are we doing anything to make visitors comfortable that would be different if everybody was a part of the on fire remnant?

Are the teachings deep or shallow?

Is prayer low key or moved to a different part of the day or week?

Is the atmosphere intentionally not “scary” or strange to ensure visitors are welcomed?

5. Lack of Fiery Preaching

I'm not about to put up a silly skit and preach a 15-minute message on ‘how to cope' to a multitude of people who are dying and going to hell. I tremble at the thought. ~David Wilkerson

Those who are zealous for Jesus and who are part of the remnant absolutely crave in your face, challenging, convicting sermons.

It’s time we stop apologizing for preaching hard truth and deliver what is necessary to refine and prepare the people.

The remnant church is quickly becoming bored with all of the teachings that are directed at the seekers and marginally interested. It’s time for bold, prophetic preaching to erupt from our pulpits again!

We are so easily offended today. I say, let the truth offend and clear the pews of the pretenders! They are a risk to revival and are costing the hungry the meal they so desire.

If our preaching doesn’t often result in some running out into the parking lot with cursing, at the same time others run to the altar in tears, something is wrong.

I’ll never forget the time I was a guest speaker at a church and was preaching with an extremely sharp edge on the reality of Hell. I made clear that Christians are at risk of an eternity there if we aren’t sober and alert.

Suddenly someone in the back started shouting and cursing me. They ran into the foyer and then out the door screaming into the parking lot.

When anointed preaching lands, there is a spiritual reaction that can’t be denied.

Pastor, when you preach truth it will be controversial. It will trouble. It will cause some of your best tithers to leave the church. It will result in a continual disturbance in your ministry.

Do you know what Finney did? Finney preached sometimes, and the whole congregation got up and walked out on him. That's a good meeting! He sent them out horrified! I only preach for two reasons these days: either to send people out that door blazing mad at me or blazing with the peace of the Holy Ghost! That's all! ~Leonard Ravenhill

There are many other seeker strategies that put revival at risk. These are but a few. I want to challenge you to let our holy God grip you. Burn with fire so hot that flesh can’t stand in your presence. Preach with a tremble in your voice. Shock and shake a dead religious culture with truth. Love people deeply but build the ministry around God. Minister to him first and watch the nations report about the strange and wonderful things that are happening in your region!

Adele, Manny Pacquiao, homosexuality, gender insanity and the radical failure of the church

Homosexuality & gender insanity: What happened to the bold, unapologetic declaration of truth in the church today?

Cool mom Adele let son wear ‘Frozen' Anna costume in Disneyland. ~Mashable http://mashable.com/2016/02/17/adele-son-frozen-costume/#VBnXeZDuIuq2 

Nike cuts ties with Manny Pacquiao after derogatory comments. ~ ESPN http://espn.go.com/boxing/story/_/id/14793389/nike-ends-endorsement-contract-manny-pacquiao

Dell-000050404Whoever told you that love equals tolerance was lying. I’m grateful that God is actually quite intolerant, that he doesn’t celebrate deviance and immorality as if it were an expression of mankind’s true nature that’s worthy of honor. I’m blessed to know that God refuses to budge on his righteous standards that, in his unmatchable wisdom, can do nothing but enhance the lives of all who respond.

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! 2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, 3 who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! Psalm 119:1-3 (ESV)

The greater the revelation of the love of God, the more intense the separation between light and darkness becomes. True love warns and protects people from behaviors, belief systems and decisions that put them in harm’s way. What is harmful becomes vivid in the light of God’s perfect Word.

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 (ESV)

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Matthew 5:14-15 (ESV)

The fact that so many in the church today are shrinking back from being that light in favor of a position of tolerance for what is deadly in the lives of others is shocking. Well, it was shocking. I’m beyond that. Now, it’s inexcusable. Church leaders who are so confused about what love really looks like must allow God to bring a recalibration to them. Truth must be preached from the pulpits today more than ever, in the face of rapidly increasing evil.

Philippians 1:9-10 (MSG) 9 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings 10 so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of…

Adele

While taking your kid to Disney is awesome enough, passersbys also noticed that her son was sporting a costume from Frozen's of Princess Anna. Fans were quick to applaud Adele for bending gender norms and being the kind of mom who lets her kids wear whatever makes them feel best. ~Mashable http://mashable.com/2016/02/17/adele-son-frozen-costume/#VBnXeZDuIuq2 

It’s certainly not shocking that Adele would allow her son to dress as a girl. Before he was born she confirmed her defiance to biblical truth in a statement in Time Magazine that sounds loving, but in fact is setting her son up for disaster—both on the earth and in eternity:

“He makes me so proud of myself, and he makes me like myself so much. I’ve never not liked myself. I don’t have hangups like that. But I’m so proud of myself that I made him in my belly … I can’t wait to know who his best friends are going to be, who his girlfriend or his boyfriend is going to be…” TIME http://time.com/4155795/adele-time-cover-story-interview-motherhood-25/?xid=time_socialflow_twitter

Hayden Wright, in response to that statement by Adele, wrote in an article for radio.com:

This subtle message of tolerance is just a nugget of wisdom Adele revealed in her TIME interview.

It’s not surprising that people who don’t know Jesus would choose human wisdom over biblical wisdom. What is surprising is how silent the church remains.

22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Romans 1:22-23 (ESV)

Are we so terrified of being called names like hater, bigot, homophobic or other derogatory terms that we shut up in hopes that our silence will lessen the assaults? We should be ashamed.

Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me, right? Wrong. When truth is preached great trouble comes. Persecution will hit and that’s why so few today will open their mouths.

The enemy has been so effective in confusing Christians about what love really is that truth has been reworded, minimized or discounted altogether.

Our silence, timidity and lack of Holy Spirit given words for this moment has resulted in a global advance of a Satanic campaign that has nearly unstoppable momentum.

11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12:11-12 (ESV)

Persecution Avoidance

12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. Luke 21:12-16 (ESV)

How interesting that the above passage reveals that Christians who speak truth will be delivered to prisons and synagogues. Both the secular authorities and religious authorities will persecute Believers—some by putting them to death. Today, in America, persecution does not usually include penalties of death, but destroyed reputations and threats to financial ruin most definitely are upon us.

This is why heroes like Aaron and Melissa Klein should be honored. Instead of baking a cake supporting the sin of homosexuality they opted to allow the state to punish them with a fine of $135,000. They refused to bow down to a spirit of Mammon by surrendering to demands to embrace immorality.

10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” 13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Daniel 3:10-13 (ESV)

Wouldn’t it have been more loving to affirm the king and all of the people in their honor of the golden image? Couldn’t they have bowed out of respect but later on opened a respectful dialogue at a coffee shop somewhere? How ridiculous, right? Then why do we see supposed Christians refusing to take a stand today? It’s usually because they want to avoid conflict, keep their Facebook timeline happy and controversy free and exhibit false humility by declaring that other viewpoints are valid.

No, friend, other viewpoints are absolutely not valid if they contradict the timeless truth of God’s Word. They are wrong and we need to finally stand up with fire in our veins and let the world know!

It’s true that friends, family and many others will turn on us. The Bible predicts that.

16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. Luke 21:16-17 (ESV)

How can we allow sodomy and absolutely vile debauchery continue uncontested? Well known pastors have famously refused to take a clear stance on homosexuality and gender issues in the hopes of being “welcoming of all.” The argument too often is, “Well, you need to understand that homosexuality is no different than greed or lust or other sins.”

Really? That’s the defense? That makes it seem as if the other sins are somehow okay. We shouldn’t be sinning at all!

Pastors, get ready for some uncomfortable truth: our church services weren’t designed to be evangelistic meetings. They are to be Spirit-filled, prayer-driven meeting that would make anybody in a sinful lifestyle do one of two things—run to the altar or run out the door. Somehow welcoming them in and removing the conviction of God from meetings is an expression of love. Welcome them in, yes. Ask God to leave? No.

As I’ve said many times, I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry—or those who are in full on rebellion to his standards.

Standing on truth will result in many people leaving our churches, taking their money with them and leaving their bad reviews all over social media. If this is the persecution that pastors are trying to avoid I can only shake my head.

Manny Pacquiao

Nike released a statement on Wednesday that read: “We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent. Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community. We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.” ~NIKE

“It’s common sense,” the eight-times world champion, who later apologised, said. “Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female. If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals.” ~www.theguardian.com

Manny Pacquiao later stated he was “telling the truth of what the Bible says”.

While some might argue that Manny could have used less combative language, the truth remains that he was fearless to voice timeless truth. His boldness and commitment to God has resulted in great financial loss.

A petition was launched on Change.org by Rutgers University graduate student Aries Dela Cruz on Tuesday urged Nike to drop Pacquiao.

“Pacquiao's expressions of homophobia and bigotry disqualifies him from being honored, endorsed and sponsored by one of the world's largest publicly-traded and owned athletic companies, particularly one that is celebrated and well-known for their promotion of sportsmanship and excellence,” ~USA Today

Here’s the point I think must be made: Christians, especially Christian leaders, have become so afraid of troubling the waters by speaking truth that they have bought into a faux love that muzzles the very power that can set the captives free. Manny might have said what he did differently, but at least he didn’t shut his mouth. He didn’t suppress the truth. This is a serious issue!

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:18 (ESV)

Can someone behind a pulpit deliver the clear message that there are in fact enemies of God and that, unless they radially repent and renounce their partnership with darkness, they will be cast into unquenchable fire? That message has more love in it than any message of tolerance ever will.

28 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. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32 (ESV)

This next statement sounds harsh, and many would not say it in today’s politically correct world, but it is nonetheless true:

Homosexuals are enemies of God. Adulterers are enemies of God. Lovers of money are enemies of God. Those who practice sin are enemies of God and they will not be in Heaven when they die. Many have been given over by God to a debased mind. A delusion has been sent and we are attempting to reach them with sweet smiles and passivity! We must begin to war in the Spirit and shout piercing truth from the rooftops!

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 (ESV)

With that in mind, this is also true: Heaven won’t be the same without those who are not following Jesus today! A revelation truth will give them an unparalleled opportunity to renounce their alliance with evil and discover the wonders of knowing Jesus. Nice words, tolerance and political correctness will never do that. Only truth will set the captive free. But, that truth will cause problems.

We live in a day where our speech can bring great persecution to us—and, at the same time, bring eternity shaking liberty to many who are lost and hopeless.

It’s time to open our mouths, type on our keyboards and stand fearlessly against the spirit of the age. It’s okay to do so with unction. We don’t have to always sound nice. There should be urgency raging through us. It’s time to stopping offering biblical ideals for optional consideration and to declare with conviction that God’s Word is right and every argument against it is not only wrong but eternally deadly.

It’s time to go to war and absolutely destroy arguments against God! We do so not by worldly, fleshly means but via the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Such inspiration will cause Christians to say things that will result in extreme backlash, hatred, accusation and ultimately imprisonment and death.

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV)

And, it will draw a line in the sand, something clearly seen by everybody. A great revival in the land will come when enemies of God hear truth and finally cross over that glorious line.

Open your mouths, church. Draw the line. Be bold. Love deeply. Shock the culture. Trigger a great end time revival.

Confessions of a Frustrated Revivalist—Video & Article

Watch the video & read the article: Confessions of a Frustrated Revivalist

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!  Luke 12:49-50 (ESV)

Dell-000050257If Jesus is distressed I think we should be as well. I am. I’m frustrated. I’m angry.

I’m 46 years old and have greater clarity than ever in my life—I am running out of time. The pursuit for city-wide revival has never been more intense for me, yet the window of opportunity as far as my role is concerned won’t be open forever.

In fact, I fully realize that the firestorm I’m so fervently pursuing for our nation may arrive after I’m gone from my physical body. I think of people like David Wilkerson and Leonard Ravenhill, modern day heroes who gave their lives for revival. They both left the earth before that which they were so passionate about manifested. Their work, however, shall not be in vain! I believe there is an army that God is making ready—a people who live for little else other than fanning the flames of legitimate, nation shaking revival.

While I understand spiritual labor in the here and now may not result in an outpouring until much later, I am nonetheless in a constant state of healthy frustration. My estimate is that many other revivalists are as well. The driver of the frustration is that any city in any nation could experience historic revival in a matter of months if only the response and the focus were correct. That reality haunts me.

Before you presume that any attitude of frustration is inappropriate, jump into the Bible and experience the expressive emotions of David and many others. The circumstances varied, but the frustration and anger were passionate.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! 20 They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:19-24 (ESV)

6 I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. Nehemiah 5:6 (ESV)

34 So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame. 1 Samuel 20:34 (KJV)

I propose we need a movement of angry, frustrated saints who have had enough! Frustration without action leads to despair. Frustration plus action equals revolution! A righteous anger must rise up (there is an unrighteous anger the Bible warns us about) against every hindrance to God’s plans for revival in our generation. It’s time to contend for the fire to ignite before we finish our race on the earth!

SEVEN FRUSTRATIONS

Church cultures & movements that aren’t revival focused

It’s astonishing to me how rare it is to find churches that are radically invested in nurturing a powerful culture of revival. I really want you to hear me on this. The way you receive what I am communicating is critical. In no way am I dismissing or discounting the value of Christians who aren’t focused in this way—but, I am sounding the alarm. Focuses that don’t lead to or support revival will not be empowered or sustainable.

In fact, some of my favorite movements and streams can be a source of frustration at times. Let’s take the prayer movement, for example. I am a card carrying member of the prayer movement! The power of even the most simple prayer is enough to move an entire mountain, and that truth must be taught and modeled day and night all over the world. It’s that important. The frustration comes when the prayer is too often devoid of a fiery, other worldly explosion out of our spirits. I believe there are certainly times to soak in God’s presence, and I do that often when I’m alone with the Lord. However, to have a corporate prayer movement that doesn’t have that continual unction and the smell of fire is a movement that will fall short of the goal of revival.

We must return to gathering together in God’s raging presence, and during every church service or special event, breathe fire, fan the flames, awaken the sleepers and call the lost and lukewarm to repentance. No more sweet, happy services with sing-a-longs and nice teachings that give us a little extra knowledge. We must encounter God when we gather and cry out with groans for him to move in our city!

We need to see churches and movements that are intense and fervent, focusing on the fire of the Holy Spirit and with an atmosphere that is so hot that every lost soul that comes near it hits their knees and repents. In fact, a 2 Chronicles 7 church would be perfect:

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.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3 (ESV)

Can you imaging that happening at every service? I can. That’s why I’m frustrated.

A Focus on benefits

Is it not possible to gather hungry people to meetings without letting them know what’s in it for them? I’m frustrated—no, I’m angered—that today’s church has become so self-centered that we have traded in our mantles of prophet for those of salespeople, convincing they to buy what we are selling. Unless promises of healings, personal prophetic ministry, entertainment or other supposed values are given, the people will not show. I’m angry that exalting Jesus is not a sufficient enough of a reason for the masses to gather. This has to change. It’s about him, not us.

This self-centered attitude manifests in all areas of church and life. What if we didn’t give money to the storehouse for the sake of receiving more back? I’ve told people during the offering time that I can’t guarantee that they will be immediately financially blessed as a result of their giving—but those who receive their money will be. That should be enough to bring in millions of dollars! But, no, without promise of personal gain offerings tend to be quite small.

I’ve proposed that we hold an event called, “Come and Die.” A solemn assembly for those who are ready to surrender all no matter what the personal benefits are. We have too many Rich Young Rulers who will only follow Jesus if they can see the benefit.

21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Mark 10:21-22 (ESV)

Evangelism has been compromised by this method of church growth as well. Instead of telling people how great their life is going to be when they follow Jesus, we need to tell them they are hopeless, lost in darkness and infected by sin. We need to let them know that there is a God who is worthy of their surrender! He is worthy of their worship! It’s not about their blessing as much as it is about God’s glory!

Does this mean we never talk about the benefits of the Kingdom? Of course not. But, if I can be frank, I’m sick of it removing the focus from our glorious King.

Shock about hard preaching

When did we as Americans become so thin skinned? Political correctness and hyper-sensitivity to anything that’s not ultra sappy is neutering our nation and our churches.

You have to hear me on this point. I just can’t understand how some consider messages that I preach, or stances that I take to be hard or excessively challenging. Have we become so desensitized to truth, and so comfortable with sweet, encouraging messages that anything that calls us higher is too intense? It’s madness!

I am actually convicted often of my own tendency to hold back, to soften sharp truth for the supposed benefit of the hearers. I feel God pulling on me continually to be more, not less, intense as I deliver critical alarms and calls to repentance.

Consider this portion of a parable. This is not sweet, encouraging teaching! It’s a demand for action!

47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. Luke 12:47-48 (ESV)

I’m begging preachers to finally say something worth listening to! Again, if I can be direct, if I hear another message that affirms people in their apathy, their casual approach, their passivity and their sin I think I’m going to vomit. I’m crying out for true prophetic voices to rattle the nations and to rebuke the resistant! I honestly can’t believe good Christian people shut their ears to messages like this in favor of those that have no cost or expectations attached to them. This is unacceptable! This is why we must aggressively alert people to the signs and seasons!

54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? Luke 12:54-56 (ESV)

Pay close attention—those who are zealous for God and who are yearning to go deep in Jesus will always celebrate when direct, hard and costly messages are preached. They won’t reject them. They will respond to them immediately and shout for others to do the same.

One discerning person once told me the reason some people reject my messages as confrontational or too hard is simple—my messages, no matter the subject matter, have an unapologetic call to action attached to them. People would rather hear a word that they can easily forget or quietly reject, or, better yet, a word that lets them know how much the preacher affirms them! The focus is on feeling good and responding at their own pace instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to stare through their souls demanding an immediate and extreme change be made.

Please, God, give us a generation of unapologetic, raging, passionate, burning preachers like Leonard Ravenhill again.

Surrender to culture and schedules

Revival requires full immersion. Every Christian must invest extreme amounts of time, energy and money. There’s no other way around it. If we want revival we are going to have to be available virtually non-stop, day after day. I just don’t understand how any other activity compares to gathering together with others every day to contend in fervent prayer for revival. Why are other things given preference? Why are secular things given preference? It’s nonsensical.

Many people are interested in revival. Few are invested.

Can you imagine doing anything else in life after revival actually breaks out? We’ll get a few hours of sleep each night just to make room to be in the presence of God with others for hours every single day. But now, before revival breaks out, when the laborers are most needed, almost everything else is more important.

It’s embarrassing for our nation to model such a pathetic church culture. When I was in Haiti over a thousand people walked to the church every single night, many of them for two hours. There was no air-conditioning. It was not comfortable. But, they had nothing better to do! They were hungry for Jesus and they showed up. They responded to the call of their pastor. They were instant. They were expectant.

4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business… Matthew 22:4-5 (ESV)

It’s almost impossible to find a church that has Sunday morning and Sunday evening, not to mention Wednesday evening, services. In fact, Sunday morning services have been cut down to just an hour or two long. What in the world are we doing church? Instead of boldly leading change in the culture the church is being driven by culture!

Horizontal vs. vertical relationship

Please make sure you read this closely and don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to say. I absolutely believe God is fully in favor of people developing life-giving relationships with other people. It would be foolish to try to deny that. In fact, we need to see even greater community develop where unity and love are modeled to the world.

The frustration I’m dealing with has to do with priority. I have known some of the most intense lovers of Jesus experience setbacks because their desire for human interaction was more immediate than simply loving, serving and enjoying Jesus. They have pulled back from churches when they couldn’t connect with others, even if the opportunity to connect with God was there. This wrecks me!

Because of this, churches have lessened the emphasis on a vertical focus and majored on connecting people horizontally. Dysfunction follows.

I’m not unsympathetic to this issue. I understand how alone one can feel when attending a new church. However, we must power through that and keep in mind the very reason we are in the church service—to minister to God. It’s not mostly about making friends or finding a place to fit.

Even churches that reject the concept of church as a social club have erred on the side of a horizontal, social focus. If they don’t, people will leave, so they presume.

Though God is very much pro-relationship between people, he will never allow that to get in the way of our focus on him.

51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:51-53 (ESV)

59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-62 (ESV)

I suppose I just wish we could all gather together and, without the need to know everybody’s name and an interesting fact about their life, simply hit our face and worship! Pray! Contend! Grow! The rest will come in time.

Too many churches have gained people and lost the Holy Spirit. They have connected people to each other as a priority and God is the next one in line, yearning for their attention.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26 (ESV)

Prayerlessness

Please, pastor, lets do away with prayer meetings. Develop a prayer culture.

10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 11 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! 1 Chronicles 16:10-11 (ESV)

18 praying at all times in the Spirit… Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)

It’s rare to find a church that actually has prayer as the main thing. Sure, they have prayer meetings—in a side room, at a time when most of the people aren’t in the building.

I was speaking in a church in Lakeland, Florida recently and I absolutely loved that their pre-service prayer was actually taking place in the sanctuary all the way up until the worship team started playing at 10am! Go figure! Prayer in the sanctuary!

17 …My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer… Mark 11:17 (KJV)

If every single person in the church doesn’t participate in fervent, corporate prayer, if it isn’t a primary reason they attend the church, if their face doesn’t light up when intercession goes up, something in that church is terribly broken. We should be disturbed. Alarms should be sounding. The house of prayer is prayerless!

This is a major issue, much more serious than we realize. Prayerless churches are easily at risk of being labeled Ichabod.

21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” 1 Samuel 4:21-22 (ESV)

Having a church full of Christians who don’t pray would be like hiring bank tellers who can’t count money, a radio DJ who refuses to talk, a mechanic who can’t change spark plugs or a Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer who can’t swim. A church that has people who aren’t burning in fervent prayer simply does not make sense.

Jesus was frustrated with prayerlessness in the church as well:

37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Mark 14:37 (ESV)

To say I’m frustrated with such an extreme de-emphasis of prayer in the church today would be an extreme understatement. I’m indignant that more people aren’t rebuking that system and calling the remnant Believers to a lifestyle of solemn assemblies. We must have bold, prophetic voices in the church again. The church that doesn’t pray cannot be considered a church.

My own issues

Night time is my time to ponder and pray. Lately I have been growing extremely frustrated with my own condition. I am crying out for God to deliver the hard, sharp word to me. Rattle me! I don’t want there to be the slightest measure of unbelief, resistance to Him, pride or anything else that would hinder my walk with Jesus. Search my heart oh Lord!

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 (KJV)

I am craving more than any other time in my life rapid growth and a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. Anything less than explosive passion, a life of miracles and great faith is unacceptable!

God is longsuffering, but I don’t want him to suffer long. My desire is to grow at his pace, not mine. Am I doing okay? Sure. But I was not born to do okay! You and I were born to dominate! We are to take dominion! We are to heal the sick and raise the dead! Anything less would be tragic.

So, yes, I’m frustrated. But, it’s a frustration that will not lead to despair. There’s action involved. It’s time for a revolution. It’s time to act—right now.

Urgent/Important Matrix: The surprising reason I can’t shy away from provocative messages

Negative. Offensive. Irritating. Why provocative messages are so critical today.

To silence a preacher from preaching judgment is like being awoke from sleep by a fire alarm, and just silencing the alarm, and going back to sleep. –Unknown

Though they often cause a bit of a ripple, I honestly don’t see the messages, status updates, videos and other communication I release as very striking at all. I am often amazed at how a firestorm of trouble can result from what I consider to be simple, orthodox truths—truths that have been too often abandoned by today’s church, even churches that look vibrant and active.

So often, after I share a very basic post I hear people commenting on how edgy it was. That never ceases to amaze me. I personally feel weak, broken and living too far below the bar God has for me to communicate anything that’s truly provocative—not the way the prophets of old did, at least.

Yet, even the insufficient words from this messenger tend to cause trouble. The deeper I go in the Lord, the more troubling the messages become—and the messages don’t originate in my mind. They are delivered my spirit in dreams, visions and in Scripture. God is shaking his church, and he’s shaking me as well. The messages will only get stronger.

All you have to do is decide to walk a little closer to God and you'll be criticized more in the church than in the tavern down the street. ~Leonard Ravenhill

When compared with spiritual heroes of old, we still have miles to go before we are anywhere near the level of shock that their messages caused.

If we have another Pentecost and it was real , we'd all be in jail within a month. We're such an accommodating Christianity today. ~Leonard Ravenhill

We are living in a day where deception has so overwhelmed the church that anything less than clear, black and white preaching of the Word won’t suffice. The enemy has convinced millions of professing Christians that they are OK and in a good place as he craftily leads them to Hell.

The devil can counterfeit all the saving operations and graces of the Spirit of God. ~Jonathan Edwards

There isn't a “Pentecostal” Church in America. If there is, tell me where it is. ~Leonard Ravenhill

I'm embarrassed to be a part of the (so-called) church of Jesus Christ today because I believe it's an embarrassment to a Holy God ! ~Leonard Ravenhill

Simply put, some presume most in the world are saved and I believe they are not.

Many presume most in the church are saved and I have my doubts.

I doubt if 5% of professing Christians in America are born again. ~Leonard Ravenhill

For this reason, the disturbing messages of awakening to the church must continue. They can’t be occasional or squeezed between other less costly teachings. The alarm cannot be interrupted.

Someone asked me, “Do you pray for the dead?” I said, “No, I preach to them!” I think every pew in every church is death row. Think about that! They're dead! They sing about God; they talk about God, but they're dead! They have no living relationship (with God). ~Leonard Ravenhill

There's one thing we need above everything else; it's something we don't talk about these days. We need a mighty avalanche of conviction of sin. ~Leonard Ravenhill

Effectively Communicating the Struggle

As a communicator it’s so frustrating to me when I can’t effectively get a point across (which happens more often than I’d like to admit!).

I’ve been wrestling with how I can best represent the urgency I have in my spirit regarding the state of the church. Maybe the following will help.

image

Even the revival/prophetic stream that I most easily identify with would presume that, in general, most in the church are in right standing before God. They are saved.

This is where my internal struggle intensifies. I have a low level of confidence that that’s true.

This point of departure radically impacts how messages are delivered and received.

How you believe God perceives people will determine how you respond to them. –Jacquelyn K. Heasley

Consider the well known “Urgency/Importance Matrix.”

Urgent/Important

Urgent means that a task requires immediate attention.

Important tasks are things that contribute to our long-term mission, values and goals.

My messages are most often situated right in the center of the URGENT/IMPORTANT section of the matrix. What this means is that the calls for awakening are so critical that if they aren’t heeded, many praying, tithing, church going, professing Christians will end up in Hell—and the lost will remain lost. Simply, my message is to awaken the at risk church and to establish again the clear, biblical structure of the church—to be a house of prayer for all nations.

Additionally, for the remaining who are truly saved, the message retains its urgent status as it calls the remnant church to abruptly shock the rest of the world out of the grip of the spirit of the age. Billions are headed to Hell and anything less than a white hot burning church won’t work.

We're blind to the fact (that) we have an obligation to five billion people in the world. This generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of lost souls! ~Leonard Ravenhill

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 1 Peter 4:17-18

Even the righteous are scarcely saved, so we need a steady, continual sledgehammer approach to our messages. Awaken! Strengthen what remains!

Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:2

The American church is living so far below the bar, and it has become convinced that it’s normal. We have been deceived.

I don't believe 90% of people who claim to have the Baptism of the Holy Spirit truly have it. True power is missing. ~Morris Cerullo

I'm astounded, bewildered, confused, baffled when people tell me there are 75 million people in America that are filled with the Holy Ghost and we're the most rotten nation on earth. ~Leonard Ravenhill

God is taking His hands off of America. We've had so much light and we've rejected it. ~Leonard Ravenhill

Additionally, regarding revival, it’s easy to presume that the foundation has already been laid and that now we are to expect an outpouring. I depart from this perspective as well. Of course, revival can spark anywhere through anybody that is wholehearted toward God, but on a regional and national level I’m still in the URGENT/IMPORTANT square.

Instead of millions finding Jesus in a season of revival, the risk is high and immediate for millions to end up in Hell. The alarms should still be sounding. It’s not time to shift to another square on the matrix, and it won’t be for quite some time.

I'm concerned in my spirit (that) the reason the world goes to hell-fire tonight is because we've (the church) lost Holy Ghost fire. ~Leonard Ravenhill

Not Urgent/Important

It seems the majority of other preachers and teachers and Christian leaders don’t wrestle with this the way I do (though some definitely do so and at a much higher level than me). So, their starting point is different.

Since their feeling is that professing Christians are out of harms way, the urgency factor is not there. Their messages are most often categorized as NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT. They take on the feel of exhortation instead of proclamation, encouragements instead of mandates.

So, the starting point for those in the NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT quadrant is that we are safe, and now we can start the process of improvement, enhancement and development. With the urgency factor removed, there is no need for strong preaching or offensive messages. There’s no call to desperation in the place of prayer.

Without the urgency of prayer, the importance of reaching the masses and seeing revival is a pipe dream. Daily gatherings of prayer must return to the church!

I can think of one thing when I get to the Judgment Bar and Jesus will look down and say, “I had many things to tell you but you couldn't bear them.” We're too busy running our own lives: praying when you want to pray, eating what you want to eat, going where you want to go, spending what you want to spend, reading what you want to read, (Do you) call that a spiritual life? Brother, it is carnal as carnality! ~Leonard Ravenhill

At this level there is a false sense of unity that tends to take over. The unity is around a presumed state of salvation, and this common ground actually results in an aggressive rejection of URGENT/IMPORTANT messages. Those messages are disruptive, and in fact, are often re-categorized by the hearers as NOT URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT. Distractions. They disagree with both the message and the delivery. They are irritants to their focus on enhancement and development. They seem to be counter-productive and a threat to their mission.

There's is certainly a cry for unity in the church. The question is, will we unite at the lowest common level or at the highest & most costly?

Regarding revival, the lack of urgency has resulted in a premature focus on strategies and advance. The NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT approach toward revival reveals that most feel the church is in a good place, ripe for revival, and that now it’s time to plan. On the contrary, the church is in a deeply compromised place and we must return to the basics. We must do little else than pray, repent and proclaim truth in this very troubling phase.

A Culture of Nice

This NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT church position has resulted in what some are calling a “culture of nice,” or the “false gospel of nice.”

The strategy is simply to be nice in the hopes that people will get saved and that the church will be unified—and that sounds great. The problem is that many of today’s issues require that we aren’t nice and passive. A confrontation is necessary. There’s even a sharp increase in evangelism that eliminates any mention of sin and repentance in the hopes that they communicate a nice, loving God that simply wants to be befriended. That type of evangelism results in people shifting from rejecting God to appreciating God—but not surrendering all to him.

We don't preach salvation. We preach forgiveness. ~Leonard Ravenhill

There are many, many people who are extremely active in churches today that have not had their false theologies challenged, who feel no pressure to deal with sinful attitudes and who presume to be in right standing in Christ—because nobody wants to threaten the culture of nice. The challenge to their positions never comes. The rebukes are absent. The conviction of the Holy Spirit is hushed.

Instead, the focus is on affirming and encouraging people in their current state. The NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT approach casually encourages them to grow and to become all they can be—if they want to. It’s important, but not immediately necessary. It’s the equivalent of being encouraged to get a college degree. It’s important, but not urgent. But, if they decide not to grow and advance, if the cost is too high, that’s OK. God still loves them anyway and all is well.

“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 1 Corinthians 15:32

The incorrect understanding of God’s love also results in a non-urgent approach to social issues. Homosexuals are affirmed in the church in the hopes that someday, if they so choose, they can find freedom. Pre-martial sex is discouraged but not shunned. Gossip is tolerated since it’s seemingly nice and important to value people’s opinions and to allow them to share their hearts. After all, if those same people are also feeding the hungry, giving financially, serving in the ministry and being nice, it can be presumed that they are in a good place and that they are to be affirmed.

We're living in an unprecedented day (when) evil is no longer evil. We've changed the terminology– iniquity is now infirmity; wickedness is now weakness; devilry is now deficiency. ~Leonard Ravenhill

If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying “Peace, peace,” where is no peace; if I forget the poignant word “Let love be without dissimulation” and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love. –Amy Carmichael

We must stop avoiding the “negative,” false-unity threatening truths!

Jennifer LeClaire from Charisma Magazine said:

Jesus isn’t bending His standards for any generation, and if people choose to desert the faith to fit in with the crowd or because the truth is too hard to bear, it would grieve Him, but He still won’t change His mind.

When Jesus taught that He was the bread come down from heaven and said, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54), many deserted Him. The Bible says, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?'” (vv. 66-67).

Even if the 12 had left His side, Jesus would still not compromise the truth. We can’t compromise the truth either. Ultimately, it won’t serve youth, millennials or any generation to cave on 2,000 years of Christian orthodoxy. Especially not now. We’re in the last days. All signs point to a soon return of the Lord.

Not Urgent/Not Important

A lack of urgency, a culture of nice and a rejection of what’s important results in the lifestyle we see in our nation—NOT URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT.

Not only is there no urgency to go to church, for example, now the argument is that it’s also not important.

There’s no urgency to warn people of the destruction that media is bringing to our culture and it’s also no longer important to avoid that media ourselves.

There’s no urgency to gather together to pray, and, in fact, the call to prayer in the church is being rejected by many. It’s not important, or at least not as important as other things.

No church is going to have a revival with a prayer meeting (only) one day a week! ~Leonard Ravenhill

The surest thing in the world is not death and taxes, it's death and eternity. Yet, we're so unconcerned. ~Leonard Ravenhill

So now, a NOT URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT lifestyle results in laziness and a life-threatening misevaluation of what is important. Deception has taken over.

Pleasure and entertainment have filled the void and time is spent watching TV, relaxing and playing.

Doubt about what God deems important overtakes people and the result is a casual, happy-go-lucky approach to life.

It is now possible to live a “christian life” without doing the things that Jesus commanded us to do. ~Cal Thomas

The church is supposed to do what? To stop corruption? Is the church doing that? No! The world is corrupting the church! ~Leonard Ravenhill

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually! You spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain. All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross, therefore I love your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments. Psalm 119:117-120

Urgent/Not Important

This leaves us with the last quadrant—URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT.

It’s very easy to fall into this category while presuming we are in the URGENT/IMPORTANT category.

The easy way to explain URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT is this—it’s all about priorities.

I've heard a million words, sermons, and read books: (and) I'm accountable to God for everything I have. Every moment of my time, every dime of my money. ~Leonard Ravenhill

We live in a very busy culture that demands our attention continually. Additionally, we can give ourselves to goals and activities that require our focus immediately and continually, but that are less important than what God would have us involved in.

The cares of life fall directly into this section.

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

This is why we must be students of the Word. The Bible reveals what is most important to us, not our urgent, intense, demanding American culture.

The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible is the religion of Christ's church. ~Leonard Ravenhill

The pursuit of riches or other things results in an urgency to obtain them, even though we know in Scripture that it’s not at all important.

Tell the students to give up their small ambitions and come eastward to preach the gospel of Christ. — Francis Xavier, missionary to India, the Philippines, and Japan

What message are you preaching?

Do you presume all is well? Are you mostly focused on enhancing and developing, or is there a spirit of a reformer ready to be awakened in you?

There is a need for URGENT/IMPORTANT prophetic messengers to rise up.

You will be resisted by the NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT crowd—many of whom are wonderful, valuable Christians who sincerely see things differently. Their view on salvation and on the necessary level of intensity in our generation may differ. But, that doesn’t remove your mandate to urgently sound a critically important message—wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die.

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