Disqualified people are rushing to social media to establish illegitimate ministries. Are pastors to blame?
There's a level of toxicity regarding the prophetic in today's churches that must be addressed if we hope to hear God's voice and advance with clarity and power in these end times.
People who have had their ministries rejected in the church are taking their services to Facebook and other social communities in hopes of developing influence. The problem? Influence without authority is birthed out of deep dysfunction and it can lead people into that same dysfunctional, unauthorized spirituality.
They would argue they receive their authority and their authorization from God directly. This tired argument is evidence of resistance to being rightfully responsive to flesh and bone people that God has called us to serve and honor. We don't have the option to reject human authority while, in the same breath, attempting to establish ourselves as an authority. It's silliness.
Listen to the podcast on this topic…
PROPHECY IS CRITICAL IN THE CHURCH TODAY
We cannot go on without pure, potent and mature prophecy filling our churches every single week. The lack of God's rhema voice is telling as churches are resorting more and more to sociological mind tricks instead of advancing according to supernatural revelation.
It has become quite rare to see a body that's healthy and strong in the prophetic as people are rightly equipped and released to communicate oracles from heaven. Faith is epidemically low as millions of Christians have no idea what God's voice sounds like.
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
The word “word” in the above verse is translated as rhema. This is the “now” word of God, the revelation whether it's a prophetic word or the words of Scripture leaping off the pages. When this active, precise and timely message from God pierces a people, faith skyrockets.
Not only does a strong prophetic culture give a local church body the ability to move ahead in the direction God has determined, but everybody involved is wildly invested as a result of hearing God speak. True prophetic messages don't stop at the ears or the mind, but they sear our spirits and impact our emotions like no other message can. When this happens, faith goes up and we respond in unity, power and joy.
Sadly, most churches could not be described as prophetic churches. There are reasons for this. Blame rests both on the pastor and on the people. Let's deal with the people first.
10 REASONS WHY PASTORS DON'T LET YOU PROPHESY IN CHURCH SERVICES
ONE: A LACK OF HUMILITY
I'll begin by communicating loud and clear something many prophetic people won't want to hear: never, ever start attending a church with the intention of mentoring, teaching or refining the pastor via prophecy or otherwise. What arrogance it must take for you to presume such an uninvited role in your church. If your wealth of wisdom, knowledge and experience are needed, be sure the pastor will request your counsel. Otherwise, keep quiet.
Whether in this scenario or another, pastors have no use for people who want to minster to those they have been commissioned to protect if they aren't truly humble. Meekness is a prerequisite for prophetic ministry as any measure of arrogance or selfish ambition will taint the messages being delivered.
This following passage of Scripture speaks to this issue perfectly:
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:13-17 (NKJV)
Wisdom is demonic if self-seeking and envy is what drives it. Follow the advice in verse seventeen and be willing to yield.
Speaking of being willing to yield, undisciplined prophetic people tend to enjoy rebelling against the order of the house. Influencing the service with the spiritualized sound of their voice is what drives them.
Many years ago as I was planting my first church a visitor asked me about our prophetic protocol. I explained that we value prophecy and that she could deliver a prophetic word to me or leadership for review during the worship service. She didn't like that answer. She went on to say that she would have to interrupt the service, even if I were preaching, if God gave her a prophetic word for the body.
Ummm, nope. She presumed her supposed prophetic insight was important enough to violate order. We were interested in investing in her and in her prophetic gift and in developing a very active, life-giving prophetic culture, but she didn't want to function within those boundaries. She ended up leaving the church and we were the better for it.
There's a difference between someone who is actively and willingly growing in their gift and someone who refuses to grow up. Those who are intentionally undisciplined and who are not giving themselves to everything that needs to be done to grow and develop their gifting should not be set free to prophesy in the church. A lot of damage can be done.
These people love to prophesy, but you don't see them in the prayer rooms. They are unresponsive to leadership. They aren't in the Word.
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:12-14 (NKJV)
Those who are prophesying are most definitely functioning in the arena of spiritual discernment. If they cannot discern spiritually due to a lack of maturity, there's no way they can be trusted to deliver prophetic words. Does this mean their prophecy is always wrong? No. But it means they are reckless in their devotion to stewarding their gift, and if they are driven by the wrong spirit, they can do damage.
FOUR: ADVERSE TO CORRECTION
There's no pastor alive who should allow someone to influence the body who won't take correction. This is not only an indicator of immaturity, but also of a dangerous, unsubmitted person. It reveals their heart and that's a heart that should never be trusted to minister.
1 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid. Proverbs 12:1 (NKJV)
FIVE: YOU WON'T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER
The pastor has the right and responsibility to refuse to allow someone to deliver a prophetic word (or to minister in any fashion) if he chooses. If someone reacts wrongly to this, that's evidence enough that they shouldn't have been allowed to share the message.
Understand, much of the time a leader will disallow a prophetic word simply because he doesn't feel it fits. It may have nothing to do with the character of the person who desires to share the word. It may just be a timing issue. We need to yield to our leaders and not get uptight or feel rejected if they don't believe our ministry is appropriate at that time.
If you are a prophetic person, you need to understand that what you wish to share in a public setting isn't always what others feel should be shared. Since you are a person under authority, you need to be okay with the reality that your leaders may not want you to share your revelation at times. If not, you'll grow bitter very quickly, and then we should run far and fast from any prophetic word you try to impose on us.
SIX: A POOR TRACK RECORD
It wouldn't make sense for a pastor to allow someone to preach on a Sunday morning if they have a history of teaching error. Further, they shouldn't allow someone to minister as a part of the worship team if they are always off key or don't show up for rehearsals on time. This simple and obvious realty applies to prophetic people as well.
If they repeatedly deliver wrong, confusing or unscriptural messages, they can't be allowed to continue. Pastors must ensure truth is communicated and if someone can't be trusted to deliver truth, they must be benched until they can grow as a Believer.
This is a big, big point and I want to make sure I have your full attention: If you are attempting to use your supposed prophetic gift to steer the church in a direction not sanctioned by the leadership, you are functioning in witchcraft. You are in rebellion and your ministry is dark and it should not be tolerated.
Charismatic witchcraft is rampant and we must have bold pastors who fear God more than man to deal very aggressively with it. If you are operating in this unruly spirit and attempting to pass it off as prophecy, you need to go. Leave. Don't come back. I'd be quick to show someone like this the door, unless they were truly repentant.
Don't underestimate the damage that such a demonic spirit can do in a church, especially if the leaders God ordained to protect the flock refuse to act. Their silence can kill an entire church, and it happens every day.
God will protect a leader who is “wrong” (I'm not talking about sin, I'm talking about organizational direction) before he affirms a prophetic person who is “right” yet manipulative, rebellious and fueled by an evil spirit of witchcraft.
EIGHT: DOMINATING THE SERVICE
There goes Sister Linda again! Oh, Brother Joe is about to stand up and deliver a word…I can just feel it!
We know the all too predictable scenario all too well. In many churches there's one or two people who, week after week, dominate the prophetic culture by delivering word after word after word after word after word…you get it.
Again, the counsel is to yield! Do you have any idea how much cringing goes on in the church, by the pastor and by most of the body, when the same people are giving nearly the same words in most every service? Oh, it's true. The cringe factor is high.
Pastors, the body is often wondering why you don't put a stop to it. You need to do your job and lovingly encourage these types of people on how to rightly minister in your local church setting.
Closely related to manipulation, and equally as deadly, is gossip. Sadly, unrestrained prophetic people are famous for their ability to gossip. Stopping with a manipulative prophetic word is definitely not enough for them. When leadership doesn't change the course of the church after repeated doses of prophetic pressure, their next step is to gather people around them and to sell their perspective. Any good charismatic witch would do just that. All it takes is a Christianized coven meeting to give real power to their motives.
Gossips are some of Satan's most anointed salesmen, and when that person is looked up to as a prophetic voice, you have some incredible manipulative, supernatural and extremely evil power behind their words. They can destroy a church overnight, and they cannot be tolerated.
TEN: YOU ARE NEEDY/YOU HAVE IDENTITY ISSUES
People who need to minister for the sake of affirmation, or to feed their misguided identities, shouldn't be given a platform, unless that platform is at the altar. Too many wounded prophetic people have developed a craving for affirmation in their gifting, and that weakness has compromised that gift, no matter how precise or developed it is.
Our identity must be found in nobody and nothing else than Jesus. It should be easy to lay our gifts and callings down, with the only grief coming from our passion to see lives transformed. Our own need to minister should never be a factor.
Those who need to minister should not be allowed to minister. Instead, they should spend time with Jesus and give themselves to the process of healing. Then, they will be free, healthy and trustworthy when it's time to step into ministry again.
PASTORS, THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE NEED FROM YOU REGARDING THEIR PROPHETIC CALLING
A key reason there's so much dysfunction in prophetic people today, and a reason they are running to Facebook to minister, is because pastors have failed to equip them. It's as simple as that. Prophetic people are yearning to be trained, but it's nearly impossible to find a church today that includes a prophetic school as a part of their foundational culture. Heck, you can barely find a Sunday School class focusing on it.
Pastors, it's your responsibility to equip the people in the prophetic. How can you hear what God is saying if you don't? Church is a corporate venture, and while you are the point person, and while God will speak directly to you in most situations, you need others to confirm those words and to introduce additional revelation that's critical for the mission.
If you shut down the prophetic in your services to avoid the issues I addressed above, you are wrong. It's as clear as that. Their failure is most often your failure.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 (NKJV)
TWO: AN OUTLET
People need an outlet. Prophetic messengers especially must have a place to release their revelations. If not in the church, then where? If not in a safe place with the oversight of leadership it will happen unmoderated, uncontrolled and undisciplined in public.
Pastors, you have no option but to nurture your prophetic culture in such a way that the body can minister the various impacts the Spirit of God is having on them. If they are muzzled they will most usually break free and unleash those words from a place of rebellion. Their rebellion is not only their fault. Very often, it's also yours.
26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 1 Corinthians 14:26 (NKJV)
Prophetic people want feedback. Those who are thin skinned will be revealed, which is advantageous to you. Those who are truly humble and teachable will come alive as you share your heart regarding their ministry.
Did they prophesy from a healthy heart? Let them know. Was their message a little confusing? Coach them. Be invested in their development and your church will be the better for it.
FOUR: NO FAVORITISM
First things first. It's okay for pastors to acknowledge prophetic people who have passed tests, proven themselves and been faithful. They absolutely should be favored. Further, those who have failed the tests should not be favored.
That being said, all things being equal, it's important that pastors give room to everybody who's healthy and ready to minister. The young need room to grow, the new people need a family to thrive in and those who have been trusted for years need to mentor the next generation.
If you want to ensure a church stays in a spiritual rut, refuse to acknowledge anybody except those who have been in the inner circle for decades.
FIVE: A RIGHT RESPONSE
Prophetic people don't simply want to share a legitimate word from God. They are excited about the shift in the atmosphere that it will bring. Too often, pastors want to grab the reigns as fast as possible after a prophetic word is given and redirect back in the previous direction.
Pastors must humbly admit that God will use prophetic people to bring fresh wind that demands the sails are repositioned so the boat starts moving the direction the Holy Spirit desires. These prophetic people simply want to see the fruit of their obedience to release oracles instead of the resistance and rejection that is so commonplace in the church today.
Everybody needs encouragement, especially prophetic people! Speak life into them and let them know how blessed you are because of their ministry. Thank them for their heart, for their devotion to humility, for their growth. Let them know you see them developing and that you appreciate them. A healthy, loved and encouraged prophetic person is a valuable member of your team.
There comes a time to publicly validate a ministry. This holds true for every ministry, but it seems those with prophetic callings are all too often overlooked. If someone has passed tests and proven themselves, over an extended period of time, let the body know you trust them and that their ministry is valid.
Not only will this encourage the individual and give them a track to run on, it will show everybody else the type of person and what it takes to be validated. It will give them a goal. It will communicate that others, who have not proven themselves, are not affirmed, at least not at that level.
A bunch of the above points could be applied to the other party. Pastors also must be humble. They shouldn't manipulate. They must be mature, teachable and not a gossip.
The prophetic person should encourage their pastor. They should have a right response to leadership.
However, lets start the way I laid it out. We must see health come to the church, especially today, and most certainly in the arena of the prophetic.
God has a lot to say to us.
Bizarre, supernatural manifestations should be normal in the church. What happened?
When given the choice between hearing another sermon and witnessing invisible and very active demons being cast out of a precious soul, I'm buying the ticket to the deliverance. Why then, if deliverance is even allowed at all, is it so often stopped so they can escort the individual into a back room somewhere? Today's church needs to see the power of the Holy Spirit overcoming the power of the enemy in people's lives right before their eyes!
Here's a podcast on this topic:
In fact, supernatural manifestations are consistently shut down as irritations or some sort of spiritual disorder. Manifestations should be expected, not avoided. We must allow our all-powerful God to interact with the people. When such a mighty force touches weak, finite humans, it's simply impossible to maintain our casual or dignified disposition. We will react with shock, awe and wonder!
THIS REACHES BEYOND SIMPLE SUPERNATURAL MANIFESTATIONS
Too often the Western church is functioning in the safe, natural, middle ground, and the demons remain in hiding, very active and unconcerned about any Christian interference. There is no threat.
However, when a deeply determined and wildly prophetic people who are devoted to intercession and warfare unite, the unseen world starts to shake under the weight of their authority.
When people like this advance together, they are met with dramatic and often bizarre supernatural reactions. Demons and angels engage and respond, and this will be easily discerned by men and women of God who live their lives in the spiritual realm. The invisible realm becomes exposed.
We must have mature warriors who understand the realm of the invisible and who function in great authority giving key leadership in our churches. It's laughable to think that a church is truly having impact if the enemy isn't provoked and if the Holy Spirit isn't manifesting.
A DEMONIC COMMAND CENTER IN MANITOU SPRINGS, COLORADO
I'm astonished at how often Christians live in disbelief (or disinterest) regarding the demonic world. The story I'm about to share can easily be dismissed as too extreme. They'd prefer to climb back under their safe, comfy blanket and deny reality—all while the demonic army gains strength and momentum. Hiding under the blankets or sticking your head in the sand is no strategy against such a formidable force.
The Lord had revealed to me that Manitou Springs was a demonic communication center, a command center, much like NORAD, which was an active center of defense for our nation for years just a few miles from our town at the base of Pikes Peak. Further, it was expressed that Manitou Springs, at the base of America's mountain, was called to be an angelic command center of revival for the nation. We had a lot of work to do. A complete take-over and shift in authority must occur.
My lead intercessors and I were prayer walking through the streets of Manitou Springs, Colorado several years ago. This city is well known for it's occult roots. Anton LaVey, who wrote the Satanic bible, lived there. Witchcraft is rampant and homosexuality and liberal ideals promoted. In fact, the pastor of the city at the time led a profoundly heretical church.
During this particular prayer walk, which was one of hundreds, we were interceding on the grounds of a very old Episcopal church property. Suddenly, I saw a dark entity, a hooded creature. I told my intercessory friends, Miles and Jodi, about the encounter and we quickly moved closer to the church building where this demon was seen (and had since ducked into hiding).
It's extremely important that we are all prophetic people, able to hear God's voice very clearly. If we don't, we can miss some life altering instructions and revelations. What God said next was absolutely critical for the advance of the Kingdom in this dark city.
God told us the demon was a messenger on assignment, and that he was there to receive the keys of authority to the city. He was to transport them to his leaders. Understand, the enemy is granted great authority to advance its agenda when humans are in agreement. It gives power to their assignments. God revealed this particular messenger, on a very important mission, was fully surprised to see Spirit-filled children of God at his rendezvous point. It was even more shocked that I saw it. We prayed, seeking instructions on how to deal with this situation. God told us to intercept the keys. The authority in Manitou Springs was being transferred that day in surprise fashion.
AN ASSIGNMENT DEEP INSIDE THE EARTH
Very shortly after this transfer of authority I, along with very experienced and high ranking intercessors from the surrounding states gathered together for a prayer assignment in Manitou Springs. After some dramatic prophetic experiences that day, we capped it off with our primary assignment deep within a cave system.
The intercessors knew Manitou had very evil roots and a wicked history, and they wanted to gain spiritual intelligence so they could devise a strategy. As we were all about to enter the cave, the regional intercessory leader, who was a little older than the rest of us, told me she wouldn't be going into the cave. She would stay back and cover us in prayer. She then privately gave me an assignment: determine whether the deep part of the cave where we were going to end up was a demonic command center.
I eagerly accepted the challenge and then I, along with the rest of the team, started our journey into the depths. As I was walking deeper into the cave, I began to understand the severity of the assignment. I certainly didn't want to presume anything. I didn't want to guess. I needed to hear from God clearly about whether our final destination was in fact a center of demonic activity that was focused on destroying the people of Manitou Springs and the nation, or not.
When we finally entered the furthest room in the cave system, I was absolutely stunned at what I was experiencing. All I could think was, “The Holy Spirit isn't welcome here.” It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The void created by the absence of God's manifest presence was something I never want to feel again. It felt like Hell without the fire and torment, and I can't imagine spending even a few seconds in there. However, I was on assignment and I had to deal with this supernatural reality. I couldn't leave. We stopped and turned off our lights and began to pray. It was perfectly dark.
I hit my knees, trembling, wondering what was going to happen and what God wanted us to do. In the spirit, I saw the earth open underneath me. A massive entity emerged from the depths. This was a portal between the demonic realm and the land of the living. I did in fact discover a demonic command center.
I was experiencing intercession unlike any time in my life. It's impossible to describe the experience. I was beyond overwhelmed, shaking, undone, disturbed.
It was confirmed that the determined agreement of humans in Manitou Springs with the Satanic realm was extremely strong, and demons emerged from the depths to give instructions to people and to receive information from them. These were messenger demons much like the one I experienced on my prayer walk by the Episcopal church.
Wait! The Episcopal church!
God reminded me of the encounter I had there. As this massive portal was opened up under my feet, it was clear what I was to do. I had taken the keys of authority. I had them! I was to use this new found authority to shut this portal down. Lock it up. Seal it shut. Take dominion.
I shared all of this revelation, in that pitch dark cave, with the other prophetic intercessors, and they all immediately agreed that I was discerning everything correctly. In that evil place where the Holy Spirit wasn't welcome, I felt a mighty shift. The anointing of the Holy Spirit filled me and I commanded, in the authority of Jesus Christ, that the enemy's assignment was over and that the portal must shut. We all roared and groaned in the Spirit, prayed with power, declared truth of the Word and successfully fulfilled our mandate.
As we emerged from the cave, the faithful general in the faith who remained behind to pray had a smile on her face. She asked me, “Well, was it?” I said, “Yes!” I went on to explain what happened. She nodded her head and told me that God revealed the same thing to her as she was praying.
Understand, this never could have happened if we didn't embrace the wild and bizarre supernatural realities that are all around us.
In fact, a secular drama company from Broadway in New York City put this experience and others into a production and toured it from Washington D.C to New York City to Chicago to Los Angeles. My prophetic decrees, powerful personal freedom and other supernatural stories from our ministry were depicted on stage in front of thousands of mostly liberal, atheistic people who were in a prime position to meet Jesus!
Isn't it amazing how God works when we start moving in the supernatural, spiritual realm?
A TEAR JERKING EMAIL
This assignment in the cave along with many others over several years (some even more dramatic than this one) resulted in powerful breakthrough.
This week, I received an email that moved me to tears. You see, we passed the baton to others as we eventually moved out of Manitou Springs. This message shows how much prayer, the prophetic, endurance and obedience can do to the enemy's camp. I pray this encourages you to allow God to move exactly as he wants, to invade the realm of wickedness with authority, to expect supernatural manifestations and to contend for freedom, even if you don't see the results on our watch.
I love getting your emails – they are so challenging and so good. Thank you for what you do!
I’m a huge believer in giving credit where it’s due – and since you were such a HUGE part of our transition and journey to Manitou, as David and I are a week away from transitionIng our, I wanted to give you an update – because you sowed seeds for so many years and made this ground so fertile.
You wouldn’t recognize Manitou today! It’s becoming a beautiful community – restoration taking place in the supernatural and in the natural. Houses and buildings being restored and families moving in seeking community.
We’ve prayed over every inch of this city. The bridge over rainbow falls was restored, and the day it reopened, we prayed over it as a city gate and renamed “beautiful” at the Lord’s prompting. The same weekend, we dedicated the old Masonic lodge as the new worship space for new life Manitou – cleansed the ground, and claimed that gate as well.
The mineral springs by the Loop was recently refaced, and, “coincidentally,” a new life member was contracted to do the work. He wrote our prophetic passage for Manitou on the back of each rock – Isaiah 41:17-20 – “the poor and needy are searching for water where there is none, and I THE LORD will answer them…” and now scripture is hidden in one of the central fountains in Manitou. It’s our little secret. 🙂
Not long after that, a sign that had been decades missing from the rainbow falls bridge was replaced. It says “Manitou Springs – healing waters.”
New Life Manitou has been a full-fledged, weekly church for 3 years now. We beat the odds! It’s a thriving community of believers serving the city and accepted as part of the community. We’re meeting in the renovated (and very well-cleansed!) Masonic lodge on El Paso and running around 150 each Sunday. Every week, it seems, a new family shows up saying they just felt called to Manitou. We’re literally the only evangelical church here – but Manitou has embraced and not just tolerated us.
Hiawatha Gardens, where you guys met for the HOP, is being restored. Interestingly, your banner is still hanging on the back door – even though they’ve been in there cleaning and renovating. There sign remains. Just a reminder of your mark on this community.
David and I have been here for 4 years, and now we’re being called away. My heart is so torn – I have grown to adore this town and its people – our neighbors who are atheists and lesbians and agnostics who we are leaving we now have to entrust to Jesus. We’re headed back to San Antonio to pastor a church there. I can’t help but think of your story of leaving and how it must have been so bittersweet for you and your family.
We have certainly felt the weight of living here – the call and yet the resistance and pressure – and yet the yearning to see more of God’s movement, knowing that you wouldn’t be here to see the completion firsthand.
Because of that, I wanted to tell you again that your hard work and toil and trials and prayer and faithfulness did not go unseen, unnoticed, or unfruitful. Your obedience here in Manitou for all those years paved the way for what is happening now and for the restoration and revival that is happening here in Manitou. I know from firsthand experience that it wasn’t easy and that you suffered for the call. But your legacy lives on here. Your faithfulness and intercession and prophetic words spoken over this city tore down strongholds and softened hearts. You pastored this city so well. Well done, good and faithful servant.
And thank you for giving us so much insight and comfort 4 years ago when we were so freaked out about moving here. Thank you for being the forerunner and for giving us the courage to carry the torch. Thank you for introducing us to Miles and Jodi, who passed the prophetic torch to us. I still have the house of prayer banner they gave us and still weep at the thought that our weekly prayer meetings were held in the very same room as your early prayer meetings were held.
God has such a heart for this place, and my heart breaks to leave it – We have wept over it, loved it, and learned so much in our time here – but our time is done and we did what we came to do – 4 years of so much joy, so much travail, so much beauty. And you were such a huge part – so thank you so much for your labor, John. You are a giant in the kingdom, and I just wanted to let you know that we recognize your sacrifices and work here. It lives on and you are part of a very beautiful story that God is writing in Manitou Springs.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. The Father is well pleased.
Sarah and David
I cried tears of joy.
Either the extreme activity of the Holy Spirit is critical to every Christian, or it is not.
I've resisted writing this article for a long time, as there doesn't seem to be a way around causing a schism, or at least provoking people to pick a side. Then again, maybe this is just what we need—an honest evaluation of the value and purpose of allowing the Holy Spirit to be fully free in our lives and in our churches.
Is the movement of the Holy Spirit vital to our success as Christians? Or, can we choose to tone down the manifestations due to personal discomfort or outright disagreement over how appropriate it is?
One of the reasons writing this article is such a struggle is because of how many truly amazing, godly and humble men and women of God there are who don't affirm the gifts of the Spirit. Additionally, there are many others who affirm the gifts and activity of the Holy Spirit, but don't emphasize them or give room for them in the church. In fact there are many “Spirit-filled” churches today that are sadly restrictive of the Holy Spirit. Yet, I've met so many of these pastors and leaders, and they are remarkable people.
I'm continually humbled by people like this who are lovers of God, faithful givers, students of the Word, brilliant leaders in the church and who possess truly tender hearts toward people. You won't find any praying in tongues, deliverance of demons, mention of dreams and visions or supernatural manifestations in their ministry. However, they are feeding the poor, visiting prisoners, giving to the needy, standing for righteousness, preaching with conviction and loving those God brings across their path.
There are those who would argue that people who discount or minimize the gifts and workings of the Holy Spirit are not saved at all. While I personally feel this is a serious issue, I could never jump to such an extreme conclusion. However…
BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT IS CRITICAL FOR ALL
I must admit my spirit is grieved terribly when Christians attempt to shut the Holy Spirit and his workings away.
I recently heard someone raise the question as to why the activity of the Holy Spirit is even necessary today. He argued that if we focus on the basics, on salvation and preaching the Gospel, that is more than sufficient. He wondered out loud, “Just what else is necessary?”
He felt the outward expressions, the loud groans of intercession, tongues, deliverance of demons, and other manifestations were hindrances to the advance of the Gospel. I do understand why he has arrived at his position. There are too many people acting out in bizarre, emotional and strangely spiritual manners while excusing it away as the activity of the Holy Spirit. While I fully embrace the truth that it will become supernaturally intense and even quite messy when God invades a people and a church in great power, too often overly zealous people are getting a little nutty when the power really isn't there. Their passion can get the best of them and, for better or worse, it turns a lot of people away from such theatrics.
With all of this in mind, I must clearly reveal the core of my heart and my position on this matter:
Those who dismiss, reject, minimize or tone down the gifts and activity of the Holy Spirit due to discomfort or theological position are at great risk of rejecting God himself—and encouraging others to do the same.
Yes, the baptism in the Holy Spirit which results in a remarkable life of power, praying in unknown tongues, experiencing the supernatural realm and living a prophetic life is critical, not simply optional, for all.
WHY IS THE HOLY SPIRIT SO IMPORTANT?
No, preaching the Gospel and winning the lost isn't all that we are called to do as Christians. Not even close. However, it's easy to argue that the very act of preaching the Gospel and leading the lost to Jesus can't be done with any real effectiveness, anointing or power without the very direct and active influence of the Holy Spirit.
Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. Acts 16:6
Only the Holy Spirit knows when, where, how and to whom we should be preaching the Gospel. Of course, we should default to preaching and ministering everywhere we go—unless the Holy Spirit tells us not to.
If we are not tuned in to the clear and present words of God, we will not be able to discern his will on anything, including our ministry strategy.
Further, we know that praying in tongues edifies us, and the Bible teaches clearly that this gift is available for all. While some of the different gifts of tongues (tongues and interpretation, for example) are reserved for select people, as is true for most spiritual gifts, the prayer language of tongues is a critically important gift for every Christian. We all need the edification that only the Holy Spirit can bring, and his chosen vehicle for that edification is praying in tongues. There is no substitute. No tongues, no edification. That is a recipe for disaster.
He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 1 Corinthians 14:4
Also, the Holy Spirit enables us to prophesy. We can hear God's voice, receive prophetic revelation, have dreams and visions and discern spiritually as the Holy Spirit moves in and through us.
Those who are not baptized in the Holy Spirit may occasionally receive rare and unusual revelation from the Holy Spirit, but such an important part of the Christian life is not supposed to be rare and unusual. Our lives should be filled with never-ending revelation from God. This is part of the wonder of the Spirit-filled life!
From my Charisma News article, Should the Church Get Scary?
We need a church on fire today more than ever. The lost are being introduced into lukewarm, natural, Ichabod religion instead of a supernatural shaking that can only come from the great I Am. They are convinced they are saved as they are assimilated into a community of like-minded quasi-spiritual people who would love to see God manifest in their natural realm—yet have no interest in manifesting in the spiritual realm where the Holy Spirit broods.
If you eliminate the activity of the Holy Spirit, you remove the navigator from your life. You fly blind without any unction in the depths of your spirit, without the supernatural stirring and unmistakable glory and presence of God radiating within.
Words of knowledge, words of wisdom, discerning of spirits, prophecy, power to do miracles, gifts of healing and other Holy Spirit endued abilities would disappear.
I often wonder how any Christian could ever attempt to live their lives much less lead a ministry, preach, write books, lead worship or do pretty much anything else without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, without tongues, without a prophetic spirit and without supernatural gifts.
Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, evangelism, preaching, teaching and every other form of ministry reproduces not the electric, supernatural life of the Spirit, but, rather a simplistic, humanly understandable depiction of God. I'm not saying it's impossible to lead someone to Jesus or to teach the truth of Scripture if you aren't baptized in the Holy Spirit, but the efforts become more difficult at best and compromised at worst. If you aren't filled with power, just what are you imparting to them?
Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit and embracing the extreme activity of the Holy Spirit, and while attempting to subdue intense supernatural manifestations, deliverance won't happen, people will remain demonized, instantaneous healing will be rare, church services will be dead and naturally orchestrated, faith will be manufactured instead of imparted, prophecy will cease and power will fizzle out.
LIVING AN IMPOSSIBLE LIFE
I could write a book, no, many books, on this topic. This article is woefully incomplete, but I wanted to at least stir the waters and initiate some conversation.
We are called to live wildly supernatural lives. The experiences and mandates God has for us are fully impossible without moving in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The revelation that God has given me and my family over the years is so absolutely remarkable and other-worldly that I would be an entirely different person today if it had not come. The miracles and wonders that God has performed have marked us and moved us in directions that would have been impossible without the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Yes, I'll say it loudly: The Holy Spirit is that important as are his gifts, revelation and power.
We need a company of true prophetic messengers to impact the earth.
I wonder if we realize not only the urgent need, but also the opportunity God is providing for true prophetic messengers to rise up and bring order and life to the world.
Many who read this will admit they have been tapped by God to reveal life-altering mysteries and to deliver powerful truths to a confused and deceived culture. I believe God is preparing his messengers to interpret the handwriting on the wall today, a word from God that will shake up kingdoms and bring cleansing, reformation and revival. We must use caution, however, as there will be temptations and stumbling blocks that can fully wipe out not only the message but the messenger. We must be a humble people, fashioned after God’s very heart.
HANDWRITING ON THE WALL
1 King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand. Daniel 5:1 (ESV)
The self-indulgent spirit that drove King Belshazzar and the culture under his reign was obnoxious, much like we see today. There’s a spirit of excess and drunkenness in the land and nothing short of a move of God will bring it to an end. There is a remnant of people who are yearning for the Kingdom of God to come down and for righteousness to dominate the nation, and God will use that hunger to his advantage. These zealots are about to be called on to release the word of the Lord and renounce the overwhelming wickedness we see today. These messengers will operate in the spirit of Daniel, people who are only interested in being called on as God’s vessels.
3 Then they brought in the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. 4 They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. Daniel 5:3-4 (ESV)
This passage reveals the defilement that had overtaken the people. I suggest it may be worse today—much worse. God’s house has been desecrated. What was meant as offerings has been stolen and used as worship to other gods, gods of gold and silver. The worship of money has become a stench in our world, and many in the church have been seduced by the very same spirit. An overturning of the tables is coming.
5 Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote. Daniel 5:5 (ESV)
This verse is causing a tremble in my spirit. So many are crying out for a move of God in our nation, yet might it come in the form of a terrifying message? The moment King Belshazzar saw this otherworldly invasion into his palace, he was desperately looking for resolution. A move of God must result in the people today becoming so desperate that they forget the party, surrender their selfish pursuits and focus on resolution. Many spiritual people will willingly offer their services to help interpret what is going down, but only true godly, prophetic people who have lived in the secret place of prayer will have the interpretation. It’s the only interpretation anybody should trust.
BRING ON THE ENCHANTERS
6 Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. 7 The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. The king declared to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” Daniel 5:6-7 (ESV)
The supernatural message that was written by the finger of God caused the king to drop to his knees. We must pray for our leaders to hit their face, for their own strength to fail them, and for them to cry out! The king, clearly not a man after God’s own heart, sought after help from the enchanters and astrologers. He knew he was up against something spiritual, something that originated in another realm, and his immediate thought was to call on his supposed experts on the supernatural. They offered no help.
CAUTION NUMBER ONE
The first caution for God’s messengers comes in right here.
7 The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. The king declared to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 8 Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or make known to the king the interpretation. 9 Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, and his color changed, and his lords were perplexed. Daniel 5:7-9 (ESV)
In today’s prophetic culture, it can be tempting to deliver a prophetic word when the pressure is great. It’s not uncommon for ministers today to invent prophetic words or to deliver one that is general, safe from scrutiny.
1 Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not resort to sorcery as at other times, but turned his face toward the desert. Numbers 24:1 (NIV)
It’s entirely possible to be called of God and to have his words put into our mouths, while utilizing sorcery to deliver a tainted message. This is a serious, sobering reality and we cannot dismiss the ramifications.
Jude highlights Balaam to warn against his prophetic greed:
11 Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion. Jude 1:11 (NIV)
Balaam was a prophet of God who sold out to God’s enemies—and it cost him dearly.
22 In addition to those slain in battle, the Israelites had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination. Joshua 13:22 (NIV)
Often when I travel I will minister prophetically. There is commonly an expectation that I will release prophetic words for the church, the city and also for individuals in the meetings. There can be pressure to perform, to give them what they want. It’s not uncommon for me to avoid giving prophetic words at all on some trips, even when asked. I wonder if the church may have felt like they were short-changed, but the fear of the Lord is very real for me. I simply cannot lie in the name of God, taking his name in vein. We should be terrified at such a thought!
In fact, there have been times when I did have a prophetic word for the church or the city they were laboring in. I can remember feeling a bit unsettled after delivering the word due to the reaction of the leadership. They became extremely excited about the word and I could tell they were going to hang too much of their hope on it. Prophecy was never meant to be the end-all of divine revelation. If a pastor is called to lead his church in a specific direction, prophecy can be encouraging and even directional to a point, but if they are seasoned and mature, they won’t become giddy. They will take it in stride, judge it, weigh it and appreciate whatever assistance it offers as they add it to their prophetic history. They simply stay the course and keep moving.
13 Then Daniel was brought in before the king. Daniel 5:13 (ESV)
After the enchanters fail, God’s people will be summoned. A prophetic people will be called on to bring understanding to the crisis in the land. We must understand the great cost that such an honor demands. A causal connection to God will never suffice. This prophetic company will be those who are firebrands, burning night and day in the place of intercession.
16 Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” Daniel 5:16 (ESV)
CAUTION NUMBER TWO
Caution number two comes into play here. King Belshazzar was in close with the gods of money, and he was ready to reward Daniel from that domain. Remember, the king was desperate, terrified and was willing to pay greatly for resolution. Too much of today’s prophetic culture is wooed and conditioned by the temptation of financial reward. The words of God are too sacred for such a carnal approach to prophecy. Even today people are not only willing but eager to pay prophets for an encouraging word. The fortune tellers are better off as they are at least prophesying without putting God’s name behind the message. I fear many of today’s prophetic ministers have jumped at the chance to prophesy for leaders in exchange for wealth.
What we read next is what we must see emerge in our nation if we have hope of delivering a pure word to a desperate people:
17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. Daniel 5:17 (ESV)
Did you pick up on the humility and purity of what Daniel said? It’s enough to take pause and just mediate on that verse! He was in no way motivated by financial gain. His passion was to function in his God-given gift and to be faithful in his opportunity to impact the king and the kingdom.
Daniel goes on to explain how God had so favored the king’s father, Nebuchadnezzar, and went to great lengths to reveal his greatness when the fear of the Lord disappeared. Even though Belshazzar witnessed God’s undeniable activity in his dad’s life, and his dealings with him when his heart grew hard, he still turned to the gods of gold.
23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know… Daniel 5:23 (ESV)
Today’s prophetic culture rewards prophets who deliver what the people want to hear, but God is looking for those who, in the spirit of Daniel, will with great love and humility, reveal the hard truths.
What happens next is remarkable. Daniel prophesies the end of Belshazzar’s reign, and the very wealth that Daniel refused before delivering the prophecy was given him after he obediently served God’s purposes. He was ultimately named as one of three leaders of the new administration. Provision and promotion will follow obedience.
26 This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; 28 PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” 29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. 30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old. Daniel 5:26-31 (ESV)
CAUTION NUMBER THREE
I contend it’s only the fear of the Lord that will enable today’s end-time messengers to deliver the very hard words to a hard-hearted people. It will be extremely easy to soften the word, to pull back, to hesitate or to be muzzled entirely. Great caution must be considered when dealing with God’s weighty, timely prophetic declarations. Daniel refused to shrink back. He wasn’t focused on the financial benefits for bringing a word that the king approved of.
Will you be included as part of the end-time remnant that is available to God, who is not seduced by wealth or notoriety and who lives in the fear of the Lord? Will you with love and humility speak only the words of God even if it comes at a price?
We need people like this who will be ready when called on by the leaders of the world to bring clarity to a move of God they can’t understand.
I believe prophesy is going to become more important than it has ever been in history, with the exception of the compilation of God’s prophetic messages that resulted in the Bible.
True prophecy that is delivered accurately without modification will result in mind-blowing advance of the Kingdom of God. We can see a demonized earthly kingdom fall in a day and the life of God advance in power if we are faithful to reveal the truth. You are invited to be a part of this sober, God-fearing end time company of prophetic messengers.
Whose sheep are you? What voice do you hear most regularly? The answer makes all the difference in the world.
When I travel for ministry, I regularly speak on the topic of Revelation Driven Prayer. I wrote a book on the topic, and in many ways this invitation to living an exciting prophetic life is my signature message. The undeniable and other-worldly miracles and wonders that I’ve experienced would never have happened had I not discovered a life in the Spirit. It truly troubles me that it’s so uncommon for today’s Spirit-filled Christians to walk in the Spirit and to hear God’s voice.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 (ESV)
Not only do people regularly admit to not being able to hear God’s voice, very often they honestly confess that they continually hear the voice of the enemy. My response is often intentionally direct, as I believe this is a crisis that must be addressed with urgency.
I ask them, “Then, whose sheep are you?”
A more comprehensive question would be, “Whose counsel are you receiving and what are you doing to ensure that counsel is only coming from the Holy Spirit?”
Simply, we must reject the incessant bombarding of unholy lies, counsel and revelation. Our minds must be renewed. Our walk must be not in the soulish, natural realm. God mandates that we live and walk and pray in the Spirit.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:16-17 (ESV)
24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:24-25 (ESV)
In fact, the ability to pray in the Spirit is a key part of our spiritual armor.
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)
WHOSE SHEEP ARE YOU?
The enemy of your soul works overtime to grab your attention, to introduce fear and unbelief and to take on the persona of the Holy Spirit—he wants to counsel you.
The question, “Whose sheep are you” isn’t necessarily one that deals with our position in Christ directly, though it could come into play. Enough demonic counsel will most certainly draw you away from Jesus. Satan’s goal is for that to be your eternal reality.
But, there are many steps and phases prior to such a finality. It’s possible, for a time, to be gloriously saved by Jesus while not allowing the Holy Spirt to be our primary counselor. We can, and many do, refuse to nurture a life of prayer and growth in the Word, instead casually attempting to live life as we always had. The enemy will take advantage of such an apathetic approach and appeal to our common sense and to our vulnerabilities.
The result? A life under the leadership of the wrong shepherd.
Again, most people, it seems, don’t hear God’s voice while, at the same time, decreeing with no uncertainty that the voice of the enemy is loud, clear and continual. This is a problem we must address.
PROPHETIC SHOCK AND AWE
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:16-21 (ESV)
The call is clear: we must be carried along by the Holy Spirit!
Peter was emphasizing that everything he was sharing was because of his first-hand revelation. He was there and he experienced it all. Of course, you and I weren’t there when Jesus walked the earth. However, that absolutely doesn’t hinder our opportunity to have first-hand experience!
6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. John 16:6-7 (ESV)
We are at an advantage because Jesus left the earth and the Holy Spirit arrived on the earth!
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet Revelation 1:10 (ESV)
We have no option but to be in the Spirit! What an invitation! As we live in the Spirit, we will begin to see and hear and encounter the great Shepherd. The counsel of God will blow away the dead, humanistic, demonic wisdom we had been living according to.
6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 (ESV)
This should launch you into a passionate pursuit of the wisdom of God! The truth that Spirit searches the depths of God is something that wrecks and rocks me every time I consider it. I yearn to live my life according to supernatural, other-worldly, holy revelation. The deep things of God are there to be discovered, and I’m provoked to live every day contending for the uncovering.
12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:12-14 (ESV)
The deep things of God will be revealed to us by the Spirit. This means we must learn how to shift from being driven by human understanding to being driven by revelation. If we don’t, we will not receive these truths because they must be spiritually discerned. This discernment doesn’t come simply because we are saved. We must allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to receive this supernatural data.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)
GROANS OF THE SPIRIT
I’ll leave you with a powerful first step that will help you transition from living a life driven by worldly or demonic counsel to one driven by revelation.
The following is from an article titled The Tone of the Groan:
I've been privileged to give leadership to some events where intercessors and hungry people have shaken and shocked atmospheres. The loud, erupting sound of groans have been resounding in our meetings. It's been prophesied many times that a new sound is going to be released. A new tone. I am convinced that this is not a new musical style, but rather a new groan of the Spirit. It's the tone of the groan that will be heard around the world.
One of the most misapplied scriptures is Romans 8:28. When people are struggling, it's common to share this verse with them. It's actually pretty bad counsel if we don't let them know that this verse is dependent on the preceding verses. Romans 8:28 (ESV) starts with the word “And,” which should reveal that it's connected to what came before it:
Romans 8:26-28: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Things work together for good when we allow the Holy Spirit to intercede through us with groans! No groan, no guarantee of success.
This is talking about a literal groan. Just as praying in tongues requires a literal sound to come out of our mouths, the groans are also deep, zealous sounds, tones, emitted from the depths of our inner man.
Churches must begin to become prayer- and groan-driven! The sound will break strongholds and usher in deliverance into our nation.
Yes, it will make a lot of people uncomfortable, but the Holy Spirit will be radically comfortable.
When the groans begin, Romans 8:28 initiates. As the powerful mysteries of God are exploding out of us in prayer, we easily find ourselves loving God with deep intimacy. We embrace the calling on our lives. We have a resounding yes in our spirits even though we don't know logically what we are agreeing with! In fact, bypassing our logic and intellect through groans of intercession is a primary reason why we are in agreement with God.
Our minds can't understand what's being prayed and therefore can't come into disagreement with it.
A life of fervent, supernatural prayer will take us out of the natural and into the Spirit. Praying in tongues and allowing the groans that follow to rumble out of us will train us to tap into the spiritual realm of the Spirit. Our discernment will become sharp. Dreams and visions will start to come. Revelation will spike. Intimacy with Jesus will increase.
The result? We’ll finally hear clearly just what the Shepherd is saying. We’ll go where he is going and our lives will change so dramatically that we’ll wonder how we ever lived any other way.
Powerful strategies to eliminate templated, programmed church services
An Azusa Street report:
…disgraceful intermingling of the races…they cry and make howling noises all day and into the night. They run, jump, shake all over, shout to the top of their voice, spin around in circles, fall out on the sawdust blanketed floor jerking, kicking and rolling all over it. Some of them pass out and do not move for hours as though they were dead. These people appear to be mad, mentally deranged or under a spell. They claim to be filled with the spirit. They have a one eyed, illiterate, Negro as their preacher who stays on his knees much of the time with his head hidden between the wooden milk crates. He doesn't talk very much but at times he can be heard shouting, “Repent,” and he's supposed to be running the thing… They repeatedly sing the same song, “The Comforter Has Come.”
It’s becoming less common for Christians to jump out of bed on Sunday mornings, excited about heading to church. Of course, many do still love their church experience. The worship environment is powerful, the vision is alive and the part they play causes them to feel the fire of the Holy Spirit coursing through them. However, sadly, if we were honest, we’d have to admit that many church services are much less powerful, less anointed and less impacting than we’d like. In fact, a church that looks anything like what was described in the above Azusa Street report can hardly be found.
There is a way to fix that. The end result is an atmosphere that’s placed in the Holy Spirit’s control. I’ll tell you this, it’s impossible to be bored when God moves. Impossible. It can’t happen. It’s possible to be provoked, irritated, offended or troubled, but not bored or disconnected. What this means is that, in many churches, God isn’t moving in real power. It may be hard to admit that, but we must if we want to prepare for revival and an outpouring that will make us say, “I can never do church the way I used to again.”
An Azusa Street report:
All who are in touch with God realize as soon as they enter the meetings that the Holy Ghost is the leader.
SEVEN SURE-FIRE STRATEGIES TO END BORING, PREDICTIABLE CHURCH SERVICES
1. Lead in lengthy sessions of corporate praying and singing in tongues.
True Christian leaders will confidently, passionately and continually lead people in fervent and supernatural prayer. Lack of a powerful prayer emphasis on Sunday mornings is an indicator of a lack of a powerful prayer discipline throughout the week. When we are burning in intercession throughout the week, there is an explosion that simply must come on Sunday mornings and any other time the saints meet together.
Nurturing an atmosphere where everybody is praying in tongues and singing in the Spirit simply cannot disappoint. How easy would it be, in the midst of worship, to spend fifteen or twenty minutes pacing around the room, laying out at the altar or finding a place to pray in tongues with a zealous spirit? I recommend integrating this into every church service, understanding that the wind of the Holy Spirit may blow the program for the rest of the day well of course.
In fact, it would be valuable to bring the worship team down off the platform on occasion during this part of the service so they can be free to let the groans and cries of their heart out. Often, worship team members find a comfort spot behind their instrument or microphone. You’d be sadly surprised at how many people who have been entrusted to lead us into the Holy of Holies don’t operate from a burning, overwhelming spirit of prayer.
6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. Acts 19:6 (ESV)
An Azusa Street report:
Singing was sporadic and in a cappella or occasionally there would be singing in tongues. There were periods of extended silence. Attenders were occasionally slain in the Spirit.
2. Embrace a vibrant prophetic culture. Invite people to submit prophetic words during the service.
In order to stay right on track with the order of service and to ensure the focus of the day isn’t threatened, definitely do not promote a prophetic culture! Unfortunately, too many pastors have embraced that advice by eliminating or rejecting prophetic ministry on Sundays.
I’ve always believed one of the best ways to promote an absolutely electric church service is by allowing God to speak. When people are trained in the prophetic and are also given an outlet to reveal what God is desiring to communicate through them, the supernatural energy in the room spikes. I often wonder how many sermons have been delivered and how many church services have been conducted in such a way that God’s plan for the day was entirely missed.
As we effectively equip people in prophetic ministry, and facilitate an environment that affirms and promotes prophetic expression, God will blow through the saints and the atmosphere will shake under the weight of God’s Rhema word.
1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 1 Corinthians 14:1 (ESV)
An Azusa Street report:
…devotees of the weird doctrine practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories and work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal. Colored people and a sprinkling of whites compose the congregation, and night is made hideous in the neighborhood by the howlings of the worshippers, who spend hours swaying forth and back in a nerve racking attitude of prayer and supplication.
3. Have open mic intercession. Invite people to pray 10-15 second prayers, to make decrees and to stir the atmosphere.
Praying in tongues corporately will naturally lead to some incredibly potent revelation stirring within the people. I believe it’s extremely valuable to invite people, in that Holy Spirit infused moment, to release that in the form of short prayers and decrees.
Simply open the microphone and watch the line grow as hungry, passionate saints of God prepare to lead the people in intercession, one after the other. Imagine twenty or thirty people or more shocking the atmosphere with Holy Spirit driven decrees! Not only is it powerful corporately, but it also empowers people individually to take ownership of what God is doing within. As they all respond to the impact of the Holy Spirit, they become stronger and the service will definitely be marked with fire.
15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. Psalm 34:15 (ESV)
An Azusa Street report:
There was spontaneous preaching and altar calls for salvation, sanctification and baptism of the Holy Spirit.
4. Invite people to make biblical declarations.
At another point during the service, open the microphone again. Invite people to release biblical declarations. The Word of God is alive, and when that sharp sword pierces the atmosphere as people read it and then call everyone to come into agreement with it, it will result in supernatural shockwaves.
5 Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore. Psalm 93:5 (ESV)
An Azusa Street report:
…in most services preaching consisted of Seymour opening a Bible and worshippers coming forward to preach or testify as they were led by the Holy Spirit.
5. Promote prophetic art, flagging, dance and other expressions during the service.
It’s disappointing that prophetic expression such as art, dance and flagging are almost extinct in the church today. I suggest we allow the dancers to dance! There’s serious prophetic power when anointed people flag, paint, dance and contend in the Spirit.
Put up the easels and allow the artists to draw or paint. Provide whiteboards for people to write down prophetic words anytime during the service. Celebrate the dance and encourage the flaggers. God has given them important gifts and it’s a mistake to shut them out.
I know many pastors would argue that they can be undisciplined. They might steal attention as they exhibit their gifting during the service. My question would be, what have you done to guide and equip them? Have you invested in them by training in protocols and equipping in prophetic ministry? If not, you can’t blame them if they don’t know exactly how to respond when their God-given desire to function in ministry is stirring within.
20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. Exodus 15:20 (ESV)
6. Have prayer for deliverance, healing and freedom.
When’s the last time you saw someone vomit at the altar? Yeah, I know, that’s a funny question. I personally don’t prefer to clean up the mess! (I love that some pro-deliverance churches have “bucket brigades!”) The point is valid, however. When is the last time deliverance has happened on a Sunday morning?
The weight of God’s glory should be so intense that demons easily manifest and deliverance commences right there at the altar. I’ve had demons react in some intense ways in services I’ve been in. It’s actually a thrilling adventure, not something to be shut down for the sake of keeping nice, quiet and sanitized order. When we know who we are and the authority we walk in, deliverance is something we should all get excited about.
As we contend for deliverance, healing and freedom on Sunday mornings, the order of service will often have to be violated. I’d personally rather see people free than hear the prepared sermon or get out of the service on time.
17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; Mark 16:17 (ESV)
An Azusa Street report:
Among first-hand accounts were reports of the blind having their sight restored, diseases cured instantly.
7. Expect manifestations of the Holy Spirit and don't shut them down when comfort levels are threatened.
How is it we can worship God, preach about God and gather together because of God but shut God out when he starts to interact in a supernatural way? Manifestations of the Holy Spirit should be expected. If God’s not moving, something is wrong!
I remember a meeting many years ago where God was moving in extremely intense power. People were absolutely rocked. God was touching people for at least two hours before the preaching even began. When the preacher was bringing the message, one lady was laughing and crying, under the power of the Holy Spirit. Some in attendance kept looking her way as God ministered to her. The preacher became agitated and said something like, “Can you not hear me? Should I have the sound crew turn my mic up? Pay attention. Do you really want me to shut down God’s ministry to that lady just because you can’t stay focused?”
That was a powerful moment indeed. One I’ve remembered for over two decades.
17 “‘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; Acts 2:17 (ESV)
An Azusa Street report:
Soon the crowds became very large and were full of people speaking in tongues, shouting, singing and moaning. Many people would continually shout throughout the meetings. Finally, the front porch collapsed, forcing the group to begin looking for a new meeting place. They shouted three days and three nights. It was Easter season. The people came from everywhere. By the next morning there was no way of getting near the house. As people came in they would fall under God's power; and the whole city was stirred. They shouted until the foundation of the house gave way, but no one was hurt.
The attendees were often described as “Holy Rollers“, “Holy Jumpers”, “Tangled Tonguers” and “Holy Ghosters”. Reports were published throughout the U.S. and the world of the strange happenings in Los Angeles.
CHURCH SHOULD NEVER BE BORING
While I’m not at all proposing that church should entertain us, I am saying that it’s just not possible to be bored in an environment where the Holy Spirit is moving, touching, engaging, healing, delivering, wrecking and encountering the people.
I’d challenge every pastor to initiate all seven of these strategies. The result will be a church on fire that draws in a hungry, passionate remnant that is ready to release the oracles of God…and shake the nations.
An Azusa Street report:
Christians from many traditions were critical, saying the movement was hyper-emotional, misused Scripture and lost focus on Christ by overemphasizing the Holy Spirit. Within a short time ministers were warning their congregations to stay away from the Azusa Street Mission.
Proud, well-dressed preachers came to “investigate”. Soon their high looks were replaced with wonder, then conviction comes, and very often you will find them in a short time wallowing on the dirty floor, asking God to forgive them and make them as little children.
It’s time for the fear of the Lord to land on the prophetic movement as we enter the new year.
16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? 17 For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. Psalm 50:16-17 (ESV)
“Financial breakthrough is coming in 2017!”
“This is the year of fulfilled promises!”
“No more delay! Prosperity is yours in the new year!”
“This is the year of promotion!”
Prophecies like these or any variety of variants are shouted from rooftops online and in other venues about this time of the year, every year. Many of these such words are being given by those God is addressing in Psalm 50. What right do they have to recite God’s statutes? They are undisciplined and God’s true words are cast off.
It’s time for the fear of the Lord to hit the prophetic movement in full force.
7 “For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. 8 The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken; who can but prophesy?” Amos 3:7-8 (ESV)
Lest you misunderstand my intention, I’ll make it clear: prophecy is critical in this late season. We must see an increase in clear, true prophetic revelation now more than ever. I believe God is hand picking key voices who will not shrink back and who refuse to carelessly play with this supernatural gift as if they were some Disney-level wizard.
It’s time for the Lion to roar with such force that these prophetic messengers are blown back as if standing behind a jet engine at full thrust.
The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary notes: As when “the lion roars” none can help but “fear,” so when Jehovah communicates His awful message, the prophet cannot but prophesy. Find not fault with me for prophesying; I must obey God.
What a striking contrast to so much of today’s fortune-telling promises of wealth, health and happiness.
I read a “prophetic” word for the new year earlier today that promised miraculous wealth in the early part of 2017. My initial question was, “Is this word true for literally every Christian in the world?” Of course that is absurd, but that prophecy follows the pattern of so many that we hear at the first of the year. Big promises, freedom from anything negative and extreme satisfaction for all who hear. Yes, the fear of the Lord must return to the prophetic movement. The Lion must roar.
I propose we embrace a prophetic protocol that has Jesus as the central figure. It’s found in Isaiah chapter eleven:
1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, Isaiah 11:1-3 (ESV)
The shoot from the stump of Jesse and the roaring Lion are Jesus, and the prophetic role that he plays is worthy of aligning with. As we endeavor to reveal accurate prophetic words it would do us well to pray according to this passage in Isaiah:
ONE—The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (and us): There is too much divination in today’s prophetic culture. The spirit of Balaam is strong. Instead of the Spirit of the Lord we are experiencing too much revelation from the realm of the soul or from the realm of the demonic.
Another problem that arose was the spirit of Balaam. To give you some history of this, Balak, the pagan king, literally bought the prophet Balaam’s ministry. Balak eventually sent women to seduce the men of Israel, thus bringing judgment upon them. It was Balaam that sold out the people of God. In keeping the spirit of Balaam, too often today, money has become the goal and prize of many in the church. Popular preaching has replaced prophetic preaching. Image has replaced anointing and the church is reduced to no more than a place where pop psychology tickles the ears of its parishioners on Sundays. The image-makers and the politically correct have dulled the sword of the churches and its men of God. ~Ron Phillips, Charisma Magazine article, “7 Demons that Attack the Church”
TWO—The Spirit of wisdom and understanding: Godly prophecy is the result of revelation received in the place of prayer. Why is this? Human wisdom and human understanding are all too eager to share their soulish revelation. It’s only when we pray and live in the Spirit that we can truly adopt supernatural wisdom. The mysteries of God will be revealed and human logic will be confounded. It’s sadly rare to hear prophetic words today that shock our senses instead of satiating them.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7 (ESV)
THREE—The Spirit of counsel and might: The Hebrew translation of the word “might” is power or force. When the Lion roars you can be sure that immeasurable power and force will be felt. Instead of turning our stomachs like too many softball prophetic words do today, God’s prophetic force will knock us to our knees. There will be clear direction, counsel, as to how we are to respond to the revelation. Cover to cover in Scripture we read prophetic directives that are intense and dependent on the right response of the hearer.
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 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. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 3:1-6 (ESV)
You can be sure John felt the force of those words, and the counsel was clear and urgent. I yearn for prophetic unction like this today.
FOUR—His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord: Words that don’t contain enough weight to cause the fear of the Lord to strike us are suspect. Even true, positive messages that would cause us to rejoice should still bear the marks of the fear of a most holy God. Instead of avoiding such sharp messages the next generation of prophetic warriors will delight in the safety, the plumb line, that the fear of the Lord is.
1 “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. Deuteronomy 28:1 (ESV)
15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Deuteronomy 28:15 (ESV)
God is ready to bless us beyond measure, and that blessing is even brighter in contrast to what will come to the disobedient. This is the delight that the fear of the Lord produces–the realization that God is full of love and mercy and we can be free from his wrath.
FIVE—He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear: It’s all too easy to gaze upon the landscape of our world and produce supposed prophetic revelation that will capture people’s attention. We can’t have anymore tabloid style prophecies that capitalize on the current events of our day. Proclaimers are much different than reporters. We need those who will hear God’s voice in secret and proclaim it to the people much more than we need to hear opinion on what is going on in society.
2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the LORD!’ 3 Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! Ezekiel 13:2-3 (ESV)
MY PROPHETIC WORD FOR 2017
I don’t mean this to be a snarky or creative way to end this article. I feel something burning very strongly in my spirit; something extremely simple.
While timely Rhema revelation must be received, the church must return to confidence in the Logos. The infallible written Truth. The Bible.
When timely prophetic words are given to me, I value them highly. However, I don’t seek after them. I don’t crave them. I only need them when God knows I do. What I do long for is the Word of God, the Bible. I deeply desire for it to explode in my Spirit in fresh new ways. I want God’s eternal Word to capture me!
8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8 (ESV)
89 Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Psalm 119:89 (ESV)
35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35 (ESV)
I exhort you to dive into the Word of God. The wealth it contains will transform your new year much more powerfully than a low level prophetic word ever will.
Consider some of the following and begin your quest to encountering God through his Word. Take note of the promises and also of the conditions associated with them. Let the Lion roar. May the fear of the Lord delight you. May your new year be marked by the force of the very breath of our mighty God!
22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! 23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” Psalm 50:22-23 (ESV)
7 “The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. Deuteronomy 28:7 (ESV)
22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! 23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” Psalm 50:22-23 (ESV)
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, 15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:14-15 (ESV)
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:34-36 (ESV)
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (ESV)
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 (ESV)
That’s a start. Now go ahead and receive the remaining promises in the Bible that are waiting for you in the new year. There are thousands.
Donald Trump revealed some issues that demand discussion.
There is a spirit of euphoria spreading through much of the church thanks to the overwhelming and unprecedented election results. As many of you know, I was one who wasn’t sold on the idea of a Donald Trump presidency, but as it stands now, we must all honor him as the soon to be inaugurated President of our nation. Many are saying he was God’s choice. I don’t know that any of us can know that for certain, but what we do know is that God has established him, just as he does with all leaders, be they good or evil.
That being said, we must contend for God’s purposes as Donald leads us from one national experience into another. We have to pray that his steps are ordered and refuse to complain no matter how vexing his leadership may be.
Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” Numbers 14:1-4 (ESV)
We do not want to go back to Egypt. And, no, at this point, we absolutely do not want a new leader.
No more cries, no more tears, no more grumbling.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Romans 13:1-2 (ESV)
Donald Trump is our authority and he has been instituted, established, by God. Resisting and complaining can only result in judgment. It’s time to serve, honor, love and contend for revival in America, and we must do so with Donald Trump at the helm of our nation’s government.
And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing up a bad report about the land— the men who brought up a bad report of the land—died by plague before the LORD. Of those men who went to spy out the land, only Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive. Numbers 14:36-38 (ESV)
Joshua and Caleb determined they could advance under the leadership of Moses into very threatening territory. The others? They grumbled and died on the wrong side of promise. This same scenario is before us today. How will we respond? We need people who will spy out the land, who will view into our prosperous future with Donald Trump in leadership, and bring back a good, confident report. We need pioneers, apostles, warriors who will advance in the face of any enemy, without excuse, without fear.
Now, before you accuse me of equating Donald Trump to Moses, please bear with me. We all know that Donald has some serious personal issues that must be dealt with, but we must also serve him in intercession and by refusing to speak evil of him. We must be his advocates.
That’s my clear message of how we must respond to Donald Trump’s Presidency. Now, at this point I must switch gears. Having an appropriate attitude towards Donald Trump is but the beginning. There are some very real issues to be discussed. There is an issue with the church that must be addressed.
You see, Moses and Joshua were not only focused on taking new territory. They also called for the consecration of the people. Success depended not only on the leader and on the support of the people but also the consecration and continual refining of the people. This is where we must now focus. Attention now shifts from Donald Trump to you and me—the church of America. Repentance and consecration must come. Our tomorrow depends on it.
Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” Joshua 3:5 (ESV)
TROUBLING ISSUES THE CHURCH MUST DEAL WITH AFTER THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP
The reason I was disturbed with the wholesale support of Donald Trump by many Spirit-filled Christians was not because I didn’t believe God could eventually move through his Presidency. The trouble in my spirit, which is still there today, has to do with violations by the church that put our nation at risk regardless of who the President is. In fact, Donald Trump could have a Damascus Road encounter and become a revivalist in the White House overnight, but that wouldn’t resolve the national issues that have been created by American Christians this election season. The enemy is not those who didn’t support Donald Trump. The enemy is a segment of the American church that dipped into corruption in its efforts to elect the President of their choice.
SHRUGGING OFF IMMORALITY
I wish it was possible for me to express to you my thoughts and emotions every time I witnessed Christians shrugging off immoral behavior by Donald Trump. While I didn’t engage with as many Hillary Clinton supporters, the same confusion would have resulted had I heard people defend her indefensible immorality.
The immediate, almost scripted and prepared statement I heard time and again from legitimate, God-loving, Spirit-driven Christians was, “That was in the past,” or “It was only locker room talk,” or other similar verbal and written shrugs of the shoulders. Others often argued that nobody is perfect and therefore we couldn’t hold them to any standards whatsoever. I was stunned!
Further, it was determined that anybody who didn’t sin greater than King David was approved for leadership. This extreme biblical illiteracy is shocking. When a corrupt, indecent politician writes some psalms revealing the cry of their heart for intimacy with God, I’ll listen to you.
Many were defending Donald Trump by reminding us that he’s a baby Christian and that he needs time to grow. The problem? Nobody actually knows if he’s truly converted or not. At the time of the election, the fruit hadn’t started to show. My argument is not that Donald is not saved. It’s that we don’t know if he will or will not continue in the extreme immoral behavior that he has exhibited his whole life. It’s an immature, desperate person who will ignore warning signs in the hope that all is well. We simply cannot minimize immoral behavior. I don’t believe politicians must be Christians, but I do believe they must adhere to a moral code.
Remember, I’m not talking about our new President now. I’m talking about the failures of the church to support righteousness.
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan. Proverbs 29:2 (NKJV)
I was legitimately concerned that we were risking four years of national groaning by closing our eyes to indiscretions. But, cries for righteousness in our leadership fell on many deaf ears. That is an indictment on the church, not on Donald Trump.
For the life of me I couldn’t find many who would honestly acknowledge how serious the violations and accusations of racism, hatred, sexual indiscretion and other behaviors were. I’ll admit, it was strange. The reaction felt like a well rehearsed political script. The church’s extreme support of a man has, in my opinion, resulted in opening the door to conditional morality and an increase in sexual deviance in our nation. I’m not saying we can’t fight against that tide, but it’s a situation we should not have initiated. If those who supported Donald Trump would have at least admitted the controversy exists, and that they are grieved about his demeanor and behavior, whether its past or present, righteousness could have prevailed.
In 1988 I was at the epicenter of a global, spiritual moral crisis in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I was near the front of the auditorium at Family Worship Center as I, along with countless news reporters and thousands of other people, watched Jimmy Swaggart famously repent for his sexual sin. The world lost trust in Christianity, and especially in popular evangelists and ministers, that day. The moral code was violated and it should not have been shrugged off. It was devastating.
Years later I had the privilege of leading regional prayer meetings with Ted Haggard in Colorado Springs. Ted also preached in my church twice and, like Jimmy Swaggart, I experienced his tangible, powerful anointing. Like Jimmy, Ted was a true general in the faith. I also felt the impact of failure when Ted gave in to sexual sin. Again, people were shocked, in tears and grieved. They had a right to be.
I also had the opportunity to meet personally with Todd Bentley in Lakeland, Florida during the outpouring. I experienced the power of God on his life too. Then, his failure became known and it rocked many. The outpouring was suddenly over as people lost trust in Todd.
Years and decades later there are many Christians who refuse to support these men of God or even watch them on television. Many of these same Christians were lining up to vote for a man who probably violated the moral code exponentially more than Jimmy, Ted and Todd combined.
Please remember, I’m not talking about whether Donald is forgiven or not. I’m not pointing my finger at him. This segment of the article is aimed at the church.
I’m calling out a permissive, passive church that was so afraid of one leader in Hillary Clinton that they were willing to sell their birthright for another.
No, Donald Trump isn’t a pastor or a spiritual leader. I’ve heard that excuse too. It seemed that people were looking for any loophole to excuse immorality. The argument has resulted in a new standard: give us what we want and we will overlook crimes, lies, sexual deviancy, hatred and anything else necessary.
I’ve asked the question more than once, “What must a candidate do in terms of morality that would make him or her impossible to vote for?” Believe it or not, I never received an answer! What if both candidates in the next election are pro-abortion, but one would limit it to the first trimester while the other supports partial-birth termination? Would situational ethics give us license to vote for a pro-abortion candidate if they were the lesser of the two evils? Truthfully, I believe many Christians would actually cast a vote for a murderer—the lesser of two murderers.
This is what happens when biblical truth and core values are placed on a sliding scale. Those values have been constantly moving in this election and we must repent and react to the new immorality that was introduced as nothing more than locker room talk this year.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin. Proverbs 21:4 (ESV)
Pride and arrogance reared their ugly heads during the election season, and much of it in the name of prophecy. “God said to vote for Donald Trump so I’ll assault you until you see it my way.”
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers… James 4:11 (ESV)
I value prophecy highly. I teach on it and one of my signature teachings is on living a prophetic life. We need more prophecy, more people activated in the prophetic, not less. I also value many of today’s prophetic leaders who live in the prayer closet and do their best to communicate the heart of God.
That being said, I’m almost embarrassed to call myself a prophetic Believer today. The rate at which mature Christians are dismissing biblical truth in favor of the apparent word of God of the hour is appalling. We must have a reformation in the prophetic culture of the church if we hope to give true leadership in the trying days to come. The Bible must return to center stage. Logos must be given priority over Rhema. It must again become the plumb line.
I’ll tell you this. The Bible demands that we love one another, but I experienced such nasty behavior from mature Believers just because their candidate was opposed. Shaming, accusations, arrogance and a ridiculous presumption that they were hearing God perfectly, and others were missing God completely filled social media. Friends were lost. Pride drove many of those who were supposedly promoting God’s prophetic word about Donald Trump.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 (ESV)
We must honor those who didn’t hear God the way we did. We must also promote the Scriptures ahead of prophetic revelation, and value people who are doing their best to rightly divide the Word.
During this election season it was non-negotiable that I give my energy to hearing God through the Word, which also resulted in supporting Rhema revelation. What I mean by that is I believe it’s important, actually critical, that we start with the Bible when making key decisions and then allow the prophetic to bring clarity and to highlight specifics. Instead, many, many people that I talked to were relying solely on dreams, the revelation of other prophetic people, inner senses and other insight instead of hearing what the Word says about the matter. Biblical truth was regularly discounted by many or ignored at any point their prophetic revelation was threatened.
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34 (ESV)
This verse was commonly ignored almost every time I shared it. Ears were shut and eyes were closed out of fear that something in the Word would create a conflict in their support of their favorite candidate. My passion is to see righteousness reign in the church even if that means a less desirable leader is in office. Time and again the response I heard was simply that “God said Donald Trump is his man. He’s a Cyrus. God will deal with his heart later.” I’m trusting that God will do that too. But, again, I’m not dealing with Donald in this portion of the article. I’m talking about the many Christian’s exuberance in dismissing clear, biblical truth in favor of pipe dreams in the name of prophecy.
Please understand, I’m not saying that God can’t use Donald as a Cyrus. He absolutely can. Those prophecies may prove to be true. What I am saying is that we were too quick to ignore the Bible in favor of prophecy.
Prophecy is conditional. We see in part. The Bible is unconditional. We absolutely must move in great humility, admitting that we may not be hearing clearly and ensuring we remain teachable and flexible, ready to admit we were wrong at any time.
In a recent Charisma Magazine article I expressed the need for a pastor as President now more than ever. I wrote that when many were using yet another excuse for immorality by saying that we weren’t electing a pastor. Many Christians were laughing at that idea, declaring that we are electing a secular business man, a leader, and not someone who has righteousness as a mandate. Again, I was grieved. Apparently the prophecies trumped (yeah, a pun) the biblical call for righteousness.
Stands for holiness and calls for righteousness actually resulted in attack after attack by Christians who were guarding their prophetic revelation. Prophetic assaults were constant. I’ve heard from many who can attest to this fact.
Add to the unloving, prophetic assaults the increasingly bizarre “prophecies” that people are putting God’s name on, not only in the election but in the Charismatic experience in general, and you have a very strange, contentious situation indeed. Too many in the prophetic community are reaching for little more than coincidences and slapping God’s name on them. This is truly quite dangerous. It’s taking God’s name in vain.
I’d encourage you to read my article titled: Stop the Madness! A Prophetic Reformation is Needed. We must simply put an end to the strange prophecy that isn’t from God, but from the soul. The witchcraft that’s behind that is stronger than we may understand.
PUTTING TOO MUCH TRUST IN MAN
I value leadership and I acknowledge that we want the right leaders in position, whether they are pastors, bosses or politicians.
What we experienced in this election season, however, is trust in man going way too far.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. Psalm 118:8-9 (ESV)
As I write this, protests and riots are taking place all over America simply because Donald Trump was elected. People were crying, angry, fearful and vengeful after he was voted in. Others were euphoric, rejoicing and overly celebratory. Both sides are putting way too much trust in a mere human being.
When those who lost are attacking and hateful toward those who won, that is evidence that God does not have the supreme place in their lives. The same is true on the other side. Too much relief, happiness and an elevated sense of victory can be evidence that they are putting too much trust in a human being. I’ve seen this result in a nose up attitude that creates division. Pride and arrogance seem to be leading the way for many.
Further, I’m still disturbed at those who were so angry and abrasive toward people who decided they couldn’t support either candidate.
I’m hoping Americans will truly respect the freedom to vote next election by honoring those who search their hearts, pray and decide to vote third party. There has been so much ungodly shaming, attacks and disrespect this election season toward those who exercised their right to vote for whoever they felt God instructed them to. That couldn't be more un-American or un-Christian.
My wife posted this on Facebook:
I certainly agree that we must be obedient to the Lord when deciding for whom to vote, which is the reason I felt I couldn't vote for Trump. I have been called selfish, proud, rebellious. I've been told I don't care about my country, that I can't hear God simply because I felt I needed to stand for righteousness in this matter according to the Word. My liberal friends have treated me better than some of my evangelical friends and that is truly sad. I voted, but not for Trump, Hillary, Johnson or Stein. I shouldn't have gotten flack from Christians for trying to vote as the Bible would prompt me.
I understand why some felt they had no choice (but to vote for Trump). Many times, I almost decided to vote for Trump for the reasons (many have) stated, but in the end it just didn't feel right to me. I was told I was sinning for following my conscious. How did that even make sense?
God fearing Christians were actually more afraid of Hillary being in office. The judgments and criticism was at historic levels, and towards true Christians who were doing all they could to vote according to biblical values.
IT’S TIME FOR REPENTANCE
This election brought out the worst in the church. Is it possible the prophetic revelation that Donald is a Cyrus, that he was God’s choice, is true? It absolutely is possible. However, this message isn’t focusing on that. I’m bringing attention the the ugliness that the church exhibited for all the world to see. From immature prophetic people assaulting anyone who departs from their point of view to minimizing immorality to nearly idolizing a human leader, the church should be licking it wounds. It definitely should be repenting.
We must have a prophetic reformation. We need a movement of holiness. We have to trust God like never before.
With that in mind, let’s join together to display the love of Jesus, pray for God’s established leader of America and contend for reformation in a spirit of repentance.
Our nation’s future depends on it.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV)
Christians are playing the God card during this election season. Could it be the Trump card?
WATCH A VIDEO BY JOHN BURTON ON THIS TOPIC:
The American Christian church has ventured into dangerous ground over the last several years. This current political season is making that quite evident.
The number of Christians who are using the God card to support their personal endeavors today is troubling. I’ve been in some form of Christian leadership for over 25 years, and I never stop being shocked at how casually someone can attach the name of God to their own opinions and desires.
Doing so is a serious violation. Stating that God endorses our personal desires when he in fact does not is taking his name in vain.
When immoral preachers announce that God said you’d receive a blessing if you sent them money, that’s taking the Lord’s name in vain.
When we prophesy over someone by saying, “God told me to tell you…” when you are selfishly advancing your own agenda, you are taking his name in vain.
Before you dismiss me as one who is opposed to the prophetic, I need to make it clear that I believe we need to hear God’s voice much more regularly in the church today. God absolutely is talking to us and we not only have the opportunity but the responsibility to know him intimately and receive what he is communicating to us. I am unapologetically a prophetic minister and I actually believe it’s quite impossible to follow God in fullness without being a prophetic people.
From my book Revelation Driven Prayer:
To default to human logic in neglect of the present voice of God Himself is a very average, not to say dangerous way to live.
The issue we have today is not the fact that we need people to dive deeper into a prophetic life, it’s the way so many are jumping in.
I'm hearing more and more people saying they are following the leading of the Holy Spirit, or that God said this or that…while ignoring truth that's already revealed in Scripture. It's time we stop using the God card and get back to the timeless principles in the Word of God. If Scripture doesn't support our mystical revelations, we have to throw them out.
I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve heard people attach a nearly indefensable excuse to a decision they are making: God said. That’s it. We are expected to accept their decision or behavior simply because they declare that, “God said.”
Except, so often, he did not.
I know, it’s extremely offensive to be challenged on our ability to hear God’s voice, but we have to be okay with some scrutiny for the sake of the health of the church, our nation and ourselves. We must stop stating what God is telling us to do unless we have firm biblical support to back us up.
People that use the God card to accomplish what they desire are very often the same people who barely have a prayer life, aren’t in the Word of God as they should be and who rarely hear God giving input on anything other than what personally benefits them.
God told me it’s time to leave my church without the blessing of my pastor.
God said it’s okay to leave my wife.
God said it’s okay to watch immoral movies since I’m mature enough to handle the smut.
The Holy Spirit wants more freedom in my church, and he chose me to give this information to so I can tell the pastor.
God said I don’t have to do this.
God revealed I can do that.
God said Donald Trump is his man of the hour.
If I lost you, I’m sure I have your attention again.
THE TRUMP CARD
I need to make a point extremely clear so there is no confusion whatsoever. God has not told me that Donald Trump is the one he has chosen to lead our nation. God has also not told me Donald Trump is not the one he has chosen. I think we must come back to sensibility regarding one of the most important decisions we as voting Christians will make over the next four years. We must be based on the Word of God as the plumbline, not a subjective sense that we call prophetic. Is it possible for God to speak in the moment to us personally about this issue? Of course. However, he will do so with clarity and without compromising principles in the Word.
Quit using the God card when it comes to the political future of our nation. Doing so just may be the trump card for Donald Trump’s campaign.
It’s a sad, revealing picture of today’s church when some truly amazing children of God are absolutely ignoring or dismissing clear and troubling issues just so they can promote the person they want for the office of President.
“Men acting under the belief and awe of God as their inspector and judge, to whom they consider themselves accountable for their conduct and whom they fear to offend.” Matthias Burnet, 1803 election sermon
“Nothing will so surely, so rapidly bring on the dissolution of society, and the loss of the liberties of a people, as a want of virtue and integrity in their rulers.” ~Chandler Robbins, 1791 election sermon
It's shocking how many Christians are using the excuse that we aren't electing a “Pastor in Chief”. What a strange argument! How can we be so eager to elect someone who does not know God? Would it not be preferable to have an anointed pastor running our nation? What a glorious four years that would be!
Prov 29:2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people mourn.
We have a duty to choose godly leaders. How is it so many are using the God card by saying that we are to ignore that scripture by choosing an ungodly authority? It’s been said that Donald Trump may be the most vulgar man ever to run for President! How can anybody not see the conflict? We had two Christian men in Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to choose from, but the evangelical church has rejected true children of God for a more popular secular leader.
So many are presuming God will work through an ungodly person, a Cyrus as it has been stated, more effectively than through a godly one. That, friend, doesn't hold scriptural muster. It's nonsense.
Our Forefathers must be turning in their graves. Why would we not want a godly man or woman in the nation's highest office?
I don't believe anyone can rightly govern without a legitimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I don't think it's possible. Yet, it seems millions of Christian men and women of God are rejecting that reality in favor of one who has achieved success by secular, worldly means. We can't afford an ungodly person leading our nation no matter how brilliant, bold or innovative they may be.
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
– George Washington
“Americans should select and prefer Christians as their rulers.”
– John Jay, The first Supreme Court Justice
“There are a good many problems before the American people today, and before me as President, but I expect to find the solution to those problems just in the proportion that I am faithful in the study of the Word of God.”
– Woodrow Wilson, 28th President
God said to vote for Donald Trump? If he really told you that, simply back it up with Scripture.
I would agree that God may want Donald Trump in office, and that he may desire to establish him as authority over our nation, but it would most probably be as a means of judgment, not blessing.
God has done that in the past. Scripture reveals that quite clearly.
On the contrary, God may one day move powerfully on Donald Trump’s heart and we could have quite an amazing leader.
However, that has yet to happen, and voting for him in hopes that it does is irresponsible, in my opinion.
After the election is over we will all have the opportunity to serve our leader with passion. That will be an honor.
For all of those who oppose Donald Trump as President, you better be ready to become his biggest advocate and servant in intercession should he get elected. That won't be a time for arrogant pouting, but rather for undergirding and prayer. Does that mean you should vote for him? No, not if your values would be compromised. But you must love him and go to battle for him for the sake of his soul and our nation. Pray with such humility that your position of opposing him is proven to be wrong.
In closing, in the midst of this unparallelled political season, we must remain humble and full of life.
If you aren't able to honor and bless others while discussing politics, you should stop the conversation. If you lose your joy, get angry, get offended or want to divide away from another brother or sister in Christ if they disagree with you, something's not right. Keep smiling. Rejoice always. Stand for truth. Love deeply.
Prophecy Games: Hearing God's Voice Through the Static of Me Focused Prophecy
The fear of deception is giving way to a demand for it—often at the cost of people’s souls.
We are living in the days of deception on demand—a prophetic culture that serves encouragement at the expense of truth. Prophecy is becoming a fun game that will entertain us, and so many are playing that game and devouring the resulting false information it’s conveying.
The scripture instructs us not to despise prophecies, BUT it also instructs us to test it and to only hold to what is good. This is what we must do now in the prophetic movement—bad prophecy is doing great damage.
Our goal is to hear the true voice of God through all of the static. The static can be best defined as me focused prophecy. When it’s about me and my blessing, my benefit, my dreams and my future the prophetic system becomes compromised. Tainted.
When we understand that it’s not about us, and that it is about Jesus, the way we steward prophecy changes radically.
God is absolutely still talking, and we can’t shut down his voice! In fact, the reduction of false and poor prophecy will result in a sharp increase in the timely, sharp messages of God shocking us and rocking us in the end-times.
This book will deal with the issue of selfish, me focused prophecy and also with the glorious opportunity we all have to clearly hear God's booming voice!