Posts Tagged ‘prophet’

No Judgment Zones are Crippling the Church and Devastating the Nation

The church has been duped by a wicked and crafty culture.

The world is boldly and unapologetically preaching it's version of truth to the church, demanding compliance, and it has successfully caused change in theologies, church mission statements and a large segment of the body of Christ. In fact, the spirit of the age is working hard at redefining love in the minds of many Christians. Anything short of tolerance and everything smelling of judgment are branded as pure and utter hatred. Again, Christians by the millions are falling for the deception and the fiery unction of the Holy Spirit has been shut down in their lives.

I'll make the point of this article clear:

God still judges today and we desperately need his loving judgment. We also need preachers, prophets and Christians everywhere to rise up with fire in their veins and a steel rod in their backs and confront sin, renounce wickedness and expose the darkness in the land. 

WE NEED JUDGMENT IN AMERICA TODAY

I've written on this topic before, yet it seems the church is slipping further and deeper into the tainted theology the world is promoting today. The no judgment zone is expanding and anybody who violates it is immediately renounced.

Can you imagine parenting without any form of judgment? It's ridiculous to consider. Can you imagine a workplace without any repercussions for violating company rules? How about a government with no judges and no judgments? It would result in anarchy and absolute disinterest in justice as the thugs run free. On the contrary, we celebrate justice and are thankful when rapists, killers, shoplifters and reckless drivers must stand before a judge and be held accountable for their crimes. Yet, many in the church are tragically renouncing justice (judgment) in the context of our modern Christian experience.

We can trust God's judgment. We need him to make wrong things right. Our nation is spiraling out of control. We must not take his demands lightly, and the fear of the Lord must strike the church and our nation again.

I wrote an article titled, “Revival or Judgment: Is God About To Move Positively Or Negatively?” for Charisma Magazine several years ago. Check this out:

Then the trees of the forest will ring out before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth. Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures forever” (1 Chr. 16:33-34).

We should be singing for joy regarding His judgment!

Let me make something clear right up front—judgment isn't the result of an evil God doing evil things. Judgment is a vehicle used by a loving God to positively impact those who will respond (though the impact will certainly be negative for the rebellious). Judgment is an act of deep love. It has to be, as God is love just as He is the Judge. He doesn't lay down love when He moves in judgment and He doesn't forsake justice when He pours out His love.

We as end-time Christians should be ardent supporters of God's judgment, of His act of love.

Many who have a distorted view of biblical grace have adopted an unbiblical “God is always in a good mood” mindset, diminishing him to a passive, disconnected and nonchalant personal buddy instead of a good yet fearful Master. They have created a mythical image of a god that is more appealing and less severe than the Lord truly is.

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

If you continue reading in Romans chapter one, you will see God's judgment in action:

28  And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:28 (ESV)

If that isn't judgment in the New Covenant, I don't know what is. What follows reveals God's severity against sin as well.

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

AN EASILY OFFENDED PEOPLE ARE MUZZLING THE PREACHERS AND PROPHETS

Today's society has gone mad. It takes little more than a sideways glance to trigger people and send them crying and accusing and attacking. The #nojudgment hashtag is a warning to all who engage with today's social media posts to step cautiously in conversation and to avoid sharing personal and biblical convictions. They'd rather remain imprisoned to their passions than be confronted with truth.

It's time for the preachers to preach again! We must rip into the vile behaviors and paradigms that are destroying our nation and infecting the church. Today's Christians have become so timid in response to the demonic indoctrination of the world that they refuse to stand boldly against sin out of fear of being branded as haters, judgmental or religious. They have become psychologists and sociologists instead of piercing mouthpieces of God, attempting to soften their delivery from a place of overreaching sympathy instead of simply preaching truth and calling sin what it is—sin.

I want to encourage you to follow The Activist Mommy. She is fearlessly, humbly and powerfully standing against the putrid wickedness in our nation. When our preachers go silent, thank God we have “mommies” like Elizabeth Johnston who will rise up with conviction, passion and anointing. What God has judged as good and evil is clearly being revealed through this woman of God.

We need to understand that God is still a righteous judge, and it's our job as Christians to reveal this reality to the world. We absolutely need hellfire preachers again! His wrath remains on the lost, and they are in grave danger, yet we have been muzzled, paralyzed, unable to speak, disallowed from pointing this truth out to them. We are haters if we do.

Yes, we need hell fire preaching in the church again.

It's also true that God is longsuffering, but only He knows how long his suffering will be. The full force of his wrath will be released one day, and many lesser though terrible judgments will come before that happens. ~Is It Time For Hellfire Preaching Again, John Burton

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

Ephesians 2:3 also clearly communicates that the lost are children of wrath. God's wrath remains on the lost. His judgment remains on both the lost and the saints.

When we see culture diving deeper into wickedness, we must understand this is God's judgment in action. In Romans we see God giving people up to the lusts of their flesh. He gave them up to dishonorable passions. He ultimately gave them up to a debased mind. This is judgment.

Further, God's judgment isn't restricted to the world. It actually begins in the church. While true Christians (who are much fewer in number than professing Christians) are not under God's wrath, we are all subject to his judgment. The two are not one in the same.

We must have burning prophets arise who will fearlessly call out professing Christians who are dabbling casually in sin. It is wisdom to embrace God's judgment. It's foolishness to minimize it, or worse, to reject it as no longer in effect.

Today, a large percentage of professing Christians (and pastors) regularly view pornography (per a Barna report). The statistics are astounding. Many more watch movies and television with inappropriate language, sexual innuendos, nudity and other debauchery without even the slightest concern. This is not a sick and twisted world I'm referring to, it's a sick and twisted church, and the preachers have gone silent. These people are at risk of judgment, and they must be warned.

I'll never forget the time a pastor told me that foul language doesn't bother him. F-bombs and other filth are no big deal to him. I felt sick and angered, and I wondered just when it became more important to consider what's a big deal to him instead of what's a big deal to God. We must see God's judgment come to the church, and fast.

We need preachers to reveal clearly what the Word of God judges as holy and unholy, as truth and error. Those who practice sin are in serious trouble as the judgment of God hangs over them. Without a preacher, how will they hear, and respond, and repent?

2  We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things.
3  Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?
4  Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:2-4 (ESV)

Seven ways the local church can be a catalyst for revival

Are you among the remnant people who will embrace the firestorm from Heaven that will bring revolution to the church?

We need a reformation in the church of the Western culture—and fast. I’m not talking about a tweak or adjustment, but rather a costly, troubling, invasive, offensive and radical change to what we know as the church. A firestorm from Heaven is coming, and only those who are ignited in that fire will embrace the coming shift. Religious traditionalists and those who are resistant to the deeper call will sadly reject this transition. This is why we must prepare the people under our care now! The Holy Spirit wants his church to be ready!

This great end-time verse has universal application:

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; Revelation 19:7 (ESV)

Sunday go to meeting church was great for previous generations, but it’s gotten us as far as can go. A revolution must come. That revolution will come from within the local church, however, not in spite of it.

I can’t imagine not attending a local church with a faithful, passionate pastor leading the way. I am an unapologetic, determined supporter of the church in its current form, and I am excited about seeing reform emerge from my view in the pew on the inside. Sadly, too many are disconnecting from their local church, presuming an advance into culture without its restraints is somehow more spiritual. They are hurting, not helping, the cause of revival.

I was talking with my pastor and good friend today about this issue. He affirmed the importance of being a champion of the local church, and I fully agree. More than ever I want to go above and beyond in my communication to ensure everybody understands my heart regarding the local church. Talk of reformation can easily give fuel to the anti-church crowd, and we must avoid that at all costs. Without the local church, we will have little hope of seeing the revival that we so desire last more than a year or two—if it even sparks at all.

Often, my quick, 140 character, social media quips may give the impression that I’m anti-church. Please forgive me if I have done this! That grieves me deeply! That couldn’t be more opposite of my actual belief system and heart! I am contending for powerful local church explosion and the strength and honor of pastors here in Branson, Missouri and in every city around the world! The anti-local church/anti-pastor crowd is doing great damage to the Kingdom and I can’t afford to be counted among them.

So, to clearly communicate my position so there is no misunderstanding whatsoever:

I fully embrace and support the local church, and I endeavor to honor pastors and leaders unreservedly. From that place, with a healthy and pure heart, I also embrace reform.

As we prepare for the coming revolution, we all must be connected in a local church that’s led by anointed, Spirit-driven leaders. That’s non-negotiable. The coming reformation requires we are zealously submitted and devoted as the shift draws near.

That being said, I need to write a raw, unrehearsed message about the growing threat that the current local church wine skin can be to revival. Instead of being a strategic support to city-wide revival, it’s at risk of hindering the cause. As we proceed toward a reformed model and a new wine skin that can hold the new move of the Holy Spirit, the resulting shock will be a catalyst for an immeasurable move of God that has yet to be imagined.

What I’m going to share will certainly require a full blown reformation in the church if we are going to see revival come. Church as we know it must come to an end. God isn’t planning on enhancing the church systems that are already in place—he’s planning on eradicating many of them for the sake of something so otherworldly that few will even recognize it as the church—and many will resist with religious fervor.

The cost will be great and most will reject it, yet God is raising up a hidden remnant that will be a clear and present danger to the religious systems that refuse to bend.

From my book The Coming Church:

We soon won’t be able to define going to church the way we do now. God is coming to reform, to crush structures of old for what is to be introduced very soon. Our call isn’t to stand strong until the shift comes, it’s to prophetically sound the alarm and awaken those at risk! God is coming!

20-Elements-of-Revival-PaperbackFrom my book 20 Elements of Revival:

There are over 19,000 cities in America, and not one of them is experiencing revival. Some have pockets of Holy Spirit activity, and certainly there are true moves of God dotted all across the land—but there are no cities that are fully engulfed in revival. No cities have been taken—yet.

In order for us to experience revival in the church, we have to understand that it’s going to occur at the city level, not the local level. Why? The church is Scripture is identified by the city, not by the street corner. For example, we have the church at Ephesus, the church at Corinth, etc.

Instead of hundreds of churches in a city, John identified a total of seven church in all of Asia at the time. They were designated by cities. Certainly there were many local expressions within the city, but they weren’t entities unto themselves. They were a part of a greater whole.

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come… Revelation 1:4 (ESV)

This is why reports of revival that are limited to a single local church must be viewed as a single piece of a much greater movement. Unfortunately, local church moves of God, as wonderful as they are, rarely impact the city, much less the world, and ultimately they die out.

The local church cannot be an end in itself. The local expression isn’t to be the primary experience for Christians. It’s one gear inside of a massive machine. It’s one leg of a table. It’s one organ in the body.

For most Christians, the Sunday service is the epitome of their church experience. It’s the greatest experience of the week. This must change! The church culture they are participating in must evolve from local only to local/regional. The coming fire of God will most likely ignite outside of their local, Sunday experience, and they will need to be right in the middle of it when it happens. This means they must be connected regionally and not only locally.

If fact, when I was giving leadership to Revival Church, I communicated regularly in our services that the spark of revival would most likely not occur in our church. Statistically, it wasn’t probable. Others in the city were contending for fire to fall in their churches too. Why would we presume our church, instead of any of the other hundreds in the city, to be the landing point God would choose for the region? A regional outpouring would gather people together from many churches. That means they’d move out of their local church and into another location with their pastor and others in their congregation to join with the rest of the city church.

When the fire fell in Brownsville, the other churches of the city should have cancelled most of their services so they could have joined others around the fire. The same is true for Lakeland, Florida and Toronto and other places where God moved in a single location.

While we were contending for revival to erupt, we were doing so with the city in mind, not our local expression. The goal wasn’t a move of God in our church. That would be too limiting and even self-serving. I was going after an entire city. The God of the city was on the move, not the God of Revival Church alone.

I explained that, when that spark of revival lit in another church or ministry somewhere in the city, we’d have no option but to excitedly lock arms with that church and serve the work of fanning the flames. At that time, the instruction would be to cancel as many of our services as necessary to join with the movement in the city. If we and other churches didn’t do that, the flame would die out.

To give you a better understanding of why the local church is in such a critical place of either being a hindrance or catalyst to revival, I need to spend a little time explaining what the reformation may look like.

THE COMING CHURCH

What is coming to the Church is not an enhancement or an adjustment. The destruction (or we could use the word deconstruction) will be so comprehensive and total that it will not only remove current structures, but also the faulty foundations (anything other than the foundation of Christ) they were built on. The coming Church will look nothing like the Church we now know.

Disgruntled people are leaving churches by the thousands, frustrated with their experience. These people must not leave the church. They must surrender their desires and lay down their lives for the church! If today’s disappointed Christian can’t withstand this current low level, marginally supernatural structure, what will they do when the fireball from Heaven crushes them fully? What will their response be when they are called into the humbling ministry of nameless, faceless night and day prayer? How will they react to an atmosphere of groans and cries of deep repentance and Holy Spirit intercession that cuts to the heart? What will happen when they are called to lay down their lives for the very system they despise?

In my book The Coming Church, I detail several key changes that are coming to the local church in the reformation. Here’s one:

Local churches will be regionally focused. The level of impact that the rock from Heaven will bring will not be confined to local churches. Pastors and leaders will stop focusing mainly on developing their own local ministry and will instead shelve much of what they did in the old church model and focus on serving the regional mission. The local will give way to the regional as leaders lead the people into encounter, into regional mission and into the greater vision of revival and reformation. The spirit of Pharaoh that focuses on personal goals and keeping people locally focused will give way to the spirit of reformation and Kingdom advance that was manifested through Moses and Joshua. (Read more about this in my book Pharaoh in the Church.)

In the coming Church, we will be entirely focused on God showing up and visitors being troubled, not the other way around. The only way we can impact the people of the world is if we jealously guard the ark, God’s presence. The coming Church will result in a ferocious invasion of God’s presence into the Church, and this will result in a mass exodus of the naturally minded and lukewarm.

The remaining remnant will automatically have a regional, city focus. They will zealously submit to local church leadership while simultaneously advancing with others under apostolic and prophetic leadership on a city level. There won’t be any conflict or competition. The local will serve the regional and the goal of revival will be common among all.

On the other side of the reformation I believe we will see clear, anointed, governmental and biblical leadership on a city level. Pastors will be submitted to apostles in the city, not only those in their denominational headquarters. The church will run with great precision as everybody is on the same page, often in the same place and functioning according to their specific role in a clearly communicated grand design.

AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THE CITY CHURCH MIGHT FUNCTION

SUNDAY MORNINGS

As an example, people will be in their local churches on Sunday mornings, as their local pastor leads in fervent prayer and worship and trains for battle after receiving key instructions from city apostles. These wouldn’t be seeker focused events, but rather furnaces of Holy Spirit activity that would result in a tremble in the people!

SUNDAY EVENINGS

Sunday evenings the local church pastors and those in their congregations would join with the other Christians in the region in a large venue such as a convention center or possibly the largest church building in the city where the apostles of the city cast vision, instruct and keep everybody on the same page.

MONDAYS

Mondays would be devoted to several hours of prayer in the larger venue as the apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists publicly lead people into intercession for the region.

TUESDAYS

Tuesdays could be devoted to teaching specific to what God was revealing the previous two nights. Teachers in different parts of the city would gather people together for a few hours of small group instruction.

WEDNESDAYS

Fellowship and personal ministry would fit great mid-week. People could gather together in small groups and simply have fun, pray for one another and encourage each other in the battle. This would most easily function under the leadership of the individual local churches.

THURSDAYS

Outreach and various ministries could be the focus of Thursdays. Some teams would hit the streets to witness while others would minister deliverance while still others could hold events for children and youth.

FRIDAYS

Prophetic training and impartation would be an important part of the week. God will reveal key regional strategies to prophets and apostles, and as they communicate that and train people in the prophetic, the city church will grow stronger, more powerful, precise and activated.

FRIDAY NIGHTS

All night prayer, from 10pm until 6am, would be attended by all, either in the large venue or spread out in homes and local churches throughout the city.

SATURDAYS

Rest!

Of course, days and actual focuses are interchangeable, but you get the idea.

With this model, pastors of local churches don’t have to fulfill every need for the people under their leadership as they release and lead them into other venues for growth and training. They literally only have to lead one or two events per week. The rest of the time they are getting filled, serving in other capacities and supporting the greater regional vision.

Similarly, teachers will have a constant outlet to teach, and they will do so under the leadership of the apostolic leaders of the city. They will train people according to what is timely in the city. The same is true for the regions prophets and evangelists.

This also means most Christians will be involved in regional ministry, in several different venues, under different unified leaders, six days a week. The church will be strong, alert and at the ready.

Additionally, apostles and leaders in the region will have the flexibility to call special meetings, solemn assemblies and other events with the confidence in knowing every Christian in the region will respond.

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; 16 gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. 17 Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” Joel 2:15-17 (ESV)

Wow! Everybody had to respond to the regional call to pray. Even those who were nursing infants or getting married had to cancel their plans and gather together for the sake of their nation. No excuses allowed!

We need instant, regional response again today.

SEVEN WAYS THE LOCAL CHURCH CAN BE A CATALYST FOR REVIVAL

ONE: MINIMIZE BUSYNESS

There are a lot of tired pastors and people in churches today because of overstuffed, inflexible schedules. It’s common to fill church schedules with all sorts of programs and ministries, special events and other activities. It’s true that a lot of wonderful ministry occurs at the local church level, and it’s easy to expend a lot of time and energy on those activities.

The problem comes when a call for the church of the city (which is how the church is defined biblically) needs the participation of Christians in the region to support a greater cause.

I propose, with few exceptions, local church schedules should be flexible enough to cancel in a moment’s notice so the people can be released to attend to regional church focuses.

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)

TWO: UNDERSTANDING REGIONAL PRIORITY

I was part of a large, city-wide event that was to be held at the Palace of Auburn HIlls in the Detroit area. Unfortunately, the event had to be cancelled because pastors wouldn’t release the people under their care from their Wednesday night church responsibilities to attend.

Not only should the pastor have released his people, he should have led the charge!

How unfortunate that a lesser, local church weekly service kept people away from the more important regional event.

When regional prayer events, revival meetings or other key, strategic meetings are called, it’s critical that the local focus yields.

We must see a time come when every pastor and every Christian in the city shows up at the city events. Solemn assemblies are nearly non-existent today due to misplaced ministry priorities.

 Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Joel 1:14 (ESV)

THREE: REJECTING A FOCUS ON SURVIVAL AND LOCAL CHURCH GROWTH

Instead of focusing on the success of the regional church and the advance toward revival at that level, local churches are often focused mostly on growing or surviving themselves.

If we were honest, we’d admit primary reasons we as pastors and leaders might not want people under our care involved in other ministries and churches is because they might leave and take their money with them. I believe this insecurity is a serious violation of the trust God has given us as leaders. We must have open hands and encourage people to move in and out of our local churches easily so they can fulfill their vision, and the city vision, instead of our own.

FOUR: RELEASING RESOURCES

Regional events and ministries often need the people who are part of the various local churches in the city to serve. People, finances, time and energy are often guarded by local churches which leaves regional assignments under-resourced. They often fail.

Several years ago, I knew it was critical to cancel my own church plans for a month so people could be free to serve at a regional revival event about 40 minutes away. It would have been inappropriate for me to keep them focused on our own local church ministries when the fire was lit elsewhere. The regional event needed intercessors to support that move of God, so I eagerly released those precious resources, amazing prayer warriors, along with any finances they wanted to give there, to undergird that regional event.

And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. Acts 19:22 (ESV)

FIVE: REFUSE TO GIVE IN TO JEALOUSLY, OVERPROTECTIVENESS AND RESISTANCE

As I stated above, the revival in your region most probably will ignite in a church other than your own. We must avoid the temptation to be jealous if that happens. We also can’t be so nervous about other people, visiting evangelists or other leaders that we resist or avoid what is happening through their ministry.

I’ve been involved in true moves of God that died out simply because leaders were taking a wait and see approach to it. They were nervous about what was happening there—for no reason. They held back and pressured people in their church to stay put. I’ve shared about my experience in Detroit before. God was moving. Pastors were resisting. I’m still grieved about that. Jealousy will kill a move of God, and it will bring judgment speedily.

8 And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 And Saul eyed David from that day on. 1 Samuel 18:8-9 (ESV)

The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul.. 1 Samuel 18:10 (ESV)

SIX: SUPPORT GREATER GROWTH

If people are limited to connecting at a local church level, their growth can’t help but to be stunted. Today, few are ready for revival because local churches are, by design, only focusing on a limited set of tools they are equipping their people with.

I can’t imagine, as a leader, only sitting under one pastor and being limited in my growth to their awesome yet limited strengths. While we are called to radically support and serve a local pastor and body, we can’t stop there. I believe it’s important to connect in various churches and ministries in a region on a regular basis. Not only can we grow much faster, we can connect local churches together and experience greater strength on that regional level as well.

SEVEN: UNDERSTAND LEVELS OF AUTHORITY

Senior pastors of a local church are not the senior authority in the region. It will take quite a reformation for us to step into city-church government, but we can start now by acknowledging that leaders on a regional level must have the support and participation of the more localized leaders.

Apostles are the gatekeepers of a city, and it’s critical to know who they are if we are to advance toward revival.

Peter Wagner says:

…recognizing and affirming apostles of the city might well be the most vital missing link for seeing our cities truly transformed.

Several years ago I worked as a supervisor at a T-Mobile call center in Colorado Springs. There were over 1500 employees, and it required at least 50 supervisors to manage that many people. I was the local leader, if you will, of my group of 25 employees. It was quite obvious that I was not the senior leader of T-Mobile. I had certain liberties to lead according to my style and local vision for developing my team, however, there were both limits to that freedom and serious expectations. I reported to one of a handful of managers, who in turn reported to the Associate Directors. That small team reported to the Director of the call center. That wasn’t the end of the org chart, but you get the idea.

My job was important, and I had limited authority, and a lot of responsibility. However, I could only function in that authority as I submitted to the greater authorities. The Director of the call center was, in effect, the gatekeeper of the call center. It was an important position.

The authority structure wasn’t there to stroke egos or to build individual departments of the call center. It was there to most successfully impact the world with cell phones!

The same is true for the church, but the mission is much more serious and important.

Today, pastors are often only submitted to denominational leaders that aren’t even based in their city. They leapfrog city authorities, and, in turn, ignore the call for them to lead the people into regional assignments.

I agree that such a reformation that I touched on in this article will be extreme. It won’t happen overnight, or even in a handful of years.

What can happen immediately, however, is that we embrace the shift and come into agreement to serve the city church and to advance toward revival at that level.

A local church move of God will be wonderful, but it won’t last. We must see a foundation built regionally that will support a massive move of God.

Maybe your region will be the first of 19,000 that will see the church of that city set ablaze in revival!

Pastors don’t rule the city—but they can hinder God’s plans for it.

The pursuit of city wide revolution must no longer be resisted by the spiritual leaders.

I’m risking a lot by writing this article, but the grief in my heart is telling me it’s a risk that is well worth it.

I’m beyond disgusted, and I am going to reveal to you the source of that sickness that’s churning in my spirit in a moment. First, since I’m jumping way out on a limb in a way that will make it very easy for people to misunderstand my heart, I have to make some qualifying statements.

First, I am a radical, unapologetic lover and supporter of pastors and leaders. What many of them go through for the sake of the advance of the Kingdom is worthy of high honor. I am quick to defend a ‘wrong’ pastor against a ‘right’ congregant due to the fact that God has ordained them. God establishes all leadership. I absolutely love pastors!

Additionally, I embrace with great passion the local church, even in it’s yet to be renewed wineskin. We must commit to the ministry of the local body God has placed us in with great zeal.

For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me. Psalm 69:9 (ESV)

Lastly, I understand how terribly an outsider can wreck havoc and bring destruction to a local body. We should guard our pulpit from wolves. I’ve been ravaged by wolves in ministry before and, trust me, the knee-jerk reaction is to reject anybody outside of my circle of trust.

However, it’s that last point that brings us to our current crisis. The gun-shy dog syndrome is causing pastors to be tentative at best and outright dismissive and cruel at worst toward God’s circuit riders that are on assignment in their city.

PASTORS DON’T RULE THE CITY

I continue to hear from people that God desires to use to impact a city, people who are outsiders but who carry key authority, messages and ordination to function with apostolic and prophetic strength in a region.

They are rejected, one after another. They are gossiped about. They are murmured about. They certainly aren’t celebrated, as they should be.

There was a particular well known evangelist that came to a city, and God was working wonders. The pastors were few in number at the meetings. The gossip and suspicion and rejection of this ministry was being whispered through the town. That makes me sick. I just can’t hold back anymore. You have to be kidding if you think God is going to bring revival to your city if you treat God’s messengers like this. It’s shameful.

Pastors, you have to get over it. When revival comes to your city, your ministry will be threatened. People may flock to the greater city meetings—and you should too. If I was asked whether it’s best to stay in position in our local church or to rush to an outpouring in the region, with grief I’d counsel the person to stay submitted in their local church. However, I’d probably leave with tears in my eyes and fire in my veins. The pastor of that church should never put that person in such a terrible position. They have to choose between the sudden and timely fire of God in the city or fulfilling their duties in their local church? The pastors should be shouting to everyone of his sheep, “Follow me to the pillar of fire!”

But, unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Rejection is the norm. Evangelists know that in order to get the pastors on board they have to choose a neutral location such as a convention center. If they hold their meetings in a local church, other pastors won’t come. Again, this is disgusting. Shameful.

I’ve experienced this type of resistance myself. Many tears have been shed in the Burton family through the arrows of other ministers. And, by the way, the arrows that hurt aren’t only the ones that are clear, vicious attacks. It also hurts when other pastors in the city don’t encourage and visibly support the mission of revival. Rejection and resistance can be felt by God’s messengers. Silence is loud. 

Such treatment is par for the course for prophetic and apostolic people especially. However, don’t worry. We signed up for this. It’s not about us.

It’s not about tending to the wounds of the prophets, but rather it’s about, once and for all, dealing with the rejection of God’s ministry through them.

1 Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. 4 But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. 5 When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, 6 they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, 7 and there they continued to preach the gospel. Acts 14:1-7 (ESV)

Paul and Barnabas didn’t visit Iconium for a vacation. They were there to lay down their lives for the sake of God’s call on their lives. Instead of being celebrated, instead of leaders rallying around them, they were mistreated. In fact, the leaders tried to kill them—for delivering good news.

So, what did they do? They fled. They went to Lystra. A new chapter and a fresh start was upon them. What happened there? Paul was stoned.

19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. Acts 14:19-20 (ESV)

He was left for dead, but survived. While I don’t want to make it sound like the trials of God’s messengers in America today are at the same level of those that Paul experienced, or of those in other nations that have outlawed Christianity are experiencing today, I do want to offer a parallel. Today the religious leaders, those who don’t want their status quo touched by an outsider with another focus or level of authority or charisma, are attacking them through gossip and other forms of rejection. Often their credibility, their motives, their ministries are assaulted and threatened.

The attacks of supposed spiritual leaders can be relentless.

In fact, the ministry of Paul and Barnabas so incited the region, Jews from Antioch and Iconium actually followed them in order to defame them in their next city!

It would seem that the spiritual leaders, the pastors of today, presumed to rule their respective cities. They banded together and resisted with violence the messengers of God. However, I love how the story continues, without any pretension whatsoever:

21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. Acts 14:21-23 (ESV)

They would not be denied! They returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch! The spiritual leaders of the cities would not dictate whether they would advance the Kingdom of God there or not!

The desire of Paul and Barnabas certainly was to work together with the leaders of the Jews and Gentiles, and to be welcomed in with open arms so they could tend to the difficult assignment God had given them without any unnecessary resistance.

This is the passion of evangelists, prophets and others that God is raising up today to initiate reform in cities. They desire the pastors of the city to rally around them! Don’t be suspicious. Open your pulpits! Let them cast their vision for revival!

It pains me to say this—if pastors won’t honor those God is bringing to labor with them, there comes a time to either shake the dust off your feet and move on, or to power through without their support.

14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. Matthew 10:14-15 (ESV)

What would the Pensacola Revival have been without Steve Hill being received from the outside?

What would Toronto have been without Randy Clark?

Evan Roberts was rejected, and then the Welsh Revival broke out.

William Seymour’s message was rejected and the door to the building he was ministering in was padlocked—so he moved to 214 Bonnie Brae Street. After outgrowing that space, his next stop was Asuza Street.

Until pastors value the pursuit of a move of God in the region more than a move of God in their own local church, conflict, resistance and disunity will reign. Local churches are merely departments of the greater city church and MUST be in sync with what is going on at that level. If revival is being pursued, will doors be padlocked? What happens when the meetings are being held in a church other than yours? Will you still radically support it, lead the people there and honor those God is calling to give leadership to it? It continually grieves my heart when I hear about pastors who refuse to unite at a strategic level with other pastors. God will raise up a lay remnant if today's senior leaders can't lay down their own pursuits for the sake of the greater call in the region.

No, pastors don’t own the city. We must honor them and support them as they work tirelessly in the assignments God has given them. However, I’m done with the ridiculous rejection of people who are paying a great personal price to serve God among them. Visitors to town, people that have quit jobs and uprooted their families to contend for revival in a new place, those who have no friends in the city they are assigned to, those who feel alone and would love to be well received, should be celebrated and encouraged to move ahead with no resistance and with the zealous support of the town’s spiritual leaders.

And, yes, there’s an entirely different article that can be directed at the evangelists and prophets. If they can’t handle the heat, they should get out of the kitchen. But we’ll leave that article for another day.

For now, is it possible even to have revival at a city level? Will pastors finally embrace those who God has called to help facilitate an outpouring? Will they stop building their own little kingdoms for the sake of revival in their city? If not, it’s time to advance in humility and boldness, whether the pastors like it or not. If the pastors don’t yield, love and honor God’s messengers, there’s a remnant waiting to step into position, and their time may be soon upon us.

Video: Lying Prophets

I’m wrecked as I burn with critical messages that will prepare the church for what is ahead.

Dell-000050254

21  I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. 22  But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds. Jeremiah 23:21-22 (NIV)

We are hearing endless supposed prophetic words that are happy and positive, without revealing the critical, troubling warnings from Heaven. It's time to repent and to declare the truth of God no matter if it's disturbing or engaging.

God is raising up those he can trust his Word with. His messages will shake us to the core, and he can be trusted to deliver what we need to hear. He needs prophetic voices to also trust God's words, and to deliver them unedited.

WATCH THIS MESSAGE FREE FOR THE NEXT 30 DAYS HERE.

Video Podcast: Shock Christianity: What is love?

Watch the video: What is love? Is it possible we’ve been confused about what love really looks like? Yes.


imageWe are seeing the beginning of the greatest movement of love the world has ever known—and the greatest confusion about love in history.

In our self-centered, narcissistic generation, the demand for others to respond rightly to us seems to be overwhelming the command to respond rightly to others.

In ministry I have had the unfortunate opportunity to witness people spinning out time and time again when they aren’t affirmed the way they think they should be. The enemy is offering his anointing of accusation to wounded people so they can point a finger and identify failures in others. The truth is that most often they simply don’t understand what love really looks like in the Kingdom.

It’s extremely easy to point out self-defined lack in another’s life with the accusation that they are not acting in love. This is an accusation that I and many other aggressive & prophetic leaders, who shock and rock and tear down idols and altars, have received more than once.

The problem? There’s confusion about what love is. True love will often shock us, and we are most certainly in a time when that jolt must come.

Here’s the questions we have to ask ourselves to ensure we are personally living in the love of God:

  • Am I patient? This doesn’t mean we aren’t bold or that we don’t challenge people to pick up the pace. This is a heart issue. Can we advance with determination while also honoring people who are slower than us?
  • Am I kind? This is also an attitude of the heart. It doesn’t mean we are passive or soft spoken. It just means we are looking out for the needs of others.
  • Do I envy others? Jealousy divides. Enough said.
  • Do I boast? Do I have pride that results in attempting to outshine others?
  • Am I arrogant? Boldness and arrogance are closely related. One is Holy Spirit driven, the other is not. I’m sure people might accuse me of arrogance due to my aggressive, urgent focus on life, and my unwillingness to entertain lukewarm theologies, but I am consistently asking God to search my heart on this. I desire to be bold without reservation, even if it looks like arrogance. I’m not out to prove I love people. I’m to love them, and sometimes it can get testy as I promote God’s messages that irritate the resisters.
  • Am I rude? I post a lot on Facebook and Twitter. My goal is to be extremely provocative (to shock!), and I’ll talk about that more in a bit. But, it is always extremely important for me to not be rude. It’s critical that while I provoke, that I also honor and refuse to react in a rude or condescending manner.
  • Do I insist on my own way? This is about selfishness. Am I self-centered and demanding? Or, do I prefer others above myself?
  • Am I irritable? I will admit that I wrestle with this one at times! It’s usually small but nonetheless meaningful issues. I have to be sensitive to my family by not getting irritated when they aren’t in the car ready to go on time or when the kids chores aren’t done. I have improved much, but I must remain sensitive to this.
  • Am I resentful? When life doesn’t go as planned, do I resent God or other people who didn’t live up to my expectations?
  • Do I rejoice at wrongdoing? Or, do I do the opposite as revealed in Ephesians 5 by exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness?

Even when accusations of lacking love fly, we can humbly go to prayer, let God search our hearts and review the above scriptural revelation of what love looks like.

True Expectations: Same love, different manifestations

I once mentioned to Chuck Pierce that it would be powerful to have a resource that explained how we can relate to various personality types, giftings and offices. What type of manifestation of love is typical in a pastor? What about a prophet? I was hoping he would write this book on interactive Christian love, but maybe I’ll have to tackle that at some point!

For example, I often hear people slander the prayer movement by shouting that those who lock themselves in the prayer room for hours a day don’t love people. If they did, they would be out on the streets feeding the homeless or doing something else that relational and meets and immediate need. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While certainly some people who pray all day might struggle with issues of love, the same is true across the board. It has nothing to do with the manifestation (intercession, serving the homeless), but rather it has to do with the condition of the heart.

So, what should we really expect from others? Here’s a short, extremely simplified explanation that should set you free. If you don’t expect someone to express love in a certain way, you won’t be offended when they don’t!

Pastor

In America, church leaders are almost always called “Pastor.” We need to fix this. Why? There are expectations associated with the offices, and if someone is not truly a pastor, when you call them pastor you are putting a burden on them they can’t bear.

In a true pastor, you might expect someone who loves to listen to your story and is ready to encourage you in it. They may be very relational, conversational and invested in people one-on-one.

Teacher

A teacher might spend most of his time behind closed doors in study, and might not have a relational bone in his body—but he loves people by rightly dividing the Word. He love is manifested not through smiles and handshakes but through hours of investment in you through study and prayer.

Evangelist

An evangelist will show love by leading people to Jesus. This can get confusing for some who get saved, and then don’t understand why the evangelist isn’t his best friend. After all, they shared a life changing moment together! The reason? The evangelist is off loving the next person!

Prophet

A prophet will show love through irritating you! I’m a prophetic Apostle, so this is my area of expertise. Prophets may have tears in their eyes and fire in their veins in the place of prayer that results in an uninvited confrontations. In fact, you can consider a prophet an uninvited teacher. He delivers what is not desired to a people who are asleep. Whenever you awaken someone from their sleep, you can expect them to be irritated—yet this irritation is a result of a man or woman of God who loves you so much that they can’t leave you in your condition.

So, you can expect sharp words of warning that are love-fueled alarms designed just for you. You probably wouldn’t expect a prophet to be ultra-relational (they make too many enemies for this to work!). They make horrible counselors most of the time. They love you much as the teacher does—through prayer-driven messages from God.

Apostle

Apostles are always on the move. They show love by inviting you on the journey. However, they usually don’t wait for too long for you to catch up. For some that feels unloving, but the opposite is true. Their love compels them to move and build and advance into new territory so that many can be saved! While an apostle may not wait long for you, he will always be there to pick you up on his next loop through!

Don’t expect apostles to be locally minded. If you need someone to help with your current life situation, an apostle will show you his love by inviting you on a journey regardless of your current situation! You may need to find a pastor if you aren’t looking for that quite yet!

Shock-Christianity-Paperback

ONLY $1.99! ORDER NOW!

Are reformation churches ready for prime time?

Are today’s churches and Christians ready for the extreme nature of reformation churches? Is there any hope for revival in our lifetime?

This is a follow-up message to the one I released earlier today. I strongly encourage you to read it first, and watch a the video that you’ll find there. I share the future of Revival Church and the importance for reformation ministries in our cities. Check it out here in a new window: https://burton.tv/2014/11/30/the-burtons-future-and-revival-church-important-schedule-changes/ 


imageAre reformation churches ready for prime time?

Can we have reformation ministries? Yes.

Can we have reformation churches? I don’t think so. Not yet. And I doubt true revival can come without them.

We can have ministries staffed by a few radicals who will faithfully carry and release the burning messages of God. People like Leonard Ravenhill did this powerfully.

But, to gather a people who burn night and day with a spirit of reformation and revival into a reformation church culture is extremely difficult—finding those who are ready for a daily life of intense intercession, surrender and continual prophetic shocks to the system is even harder. The reformed church will strike and trouble every Believer, and this transitional season of moving from the old to the new wineskin is more costly than most are comfortable with.

Reformation requires bold prophetic voices that do more correcting than comforting, more rebuking than affirming and more commanding than suggesting. Yet, such voices are soundly rejected in today’s casual, sleepy, independent culture. Reformation churches led by people with a never-ending shock in their voice are rare today.

We need prophets who are more skilled at revealing the ancient truths and calling people to repentance than prophets who are more given to revealing the future and calling people to their conferences.

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” Jeremiah 23:16-17

The prophet in his day is fully accepted of God and totally rejected by men. The prophet is violated during his ministry, but he is vindicated by history. The prophet comes to set up that which is upset. His work is to call into line those who are out of line! He is unpopular because he opposes the popular in morality and spirituality. There is a terrible vacuum in evangelical Christianity today. The missing person in our ranks is the prophet. The man with a terrible earnestness. The man totally otherworldly. The man rejected by other men, even other good men, because they consider him too austere, too severely committed, too negative and unsociable. In a day of faceless politicians and voiceless preachers, there is not a more urgent national need than that we cry to God for a prophet! ~Leonard Ravenhill

Forerunners are prophetic messengers who blaze new trails and call out with passion to the remnant church to follow them into new territories, new models and new wine skins. They are awakeners who understand the urgency to gather the church on the other side of the Jordan River—away from the old and familiar and into the land of promise. This type of advance requires a new form of leadership, a type that we see in Joshua as he boldly, urgently commanded the people to follow God into a land of risk.

At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people. Joshua 3:2-6

Moses surrendered to popular opinion as a bad report was given about the very land they had been pursuing for years. The decision was to remain in the place of familiarity instead of paying the price to advance. Today’s church is in the same place. It’s foolishness to think revival is to be had if we are still standing in fear next to the water in the desert. Giants are in the land and we must have a fearless people who are willing to lay down their dreams and personal endeavors for the sake of corporate advance. God is waiting for such a people to arise—and when they do we will have true reformation churches.

Revival tarries because we presume it's a rare & extraordinary work of God alone. It also requires a rare & extraordinary work of man. The response must be significant, immediate and extreme. Revival costs much, and right now too few are willing to pay the price.

FIRST CHURCH OF STARBUCKS

As I sit here in a Starbucks with my headphones on listening to some worship music I wonder if this is just the atmosphere today’s church is looking for. Great coffee, amazing music, potential friends all around, lots of comfort and people behind the pulpit (oops, I mean counter) to get me what I need.

I was downtown Chicago one day, driving behind a bus. On the rear of the bus was an ad that still troubles me to this day: 

Vineyard Church…Experience God and great COFFEE.

Yes, the word COFFEE was in all caps. I know it’s just an ad, but it bothered me. I think it speaks something. It speaks to surrender to our culture. What if instead the ad said:

Vineyard Church…come and die.

It doesn’t have the same zip, does it? I actually like it better.

A toned down message can certainly result in bigger numbers, but, in my 45th year of life, I have no desire to modify the message or deemphasize the cost for the sake of butts in seats. For me, it’s a reformation church or nothing. And, as I shared in the previous article, numbers are greatly suffering at Revival Church and we are in a place of considering whether this nation is ready for such an extreme call—but we will not compromise the call in order to pay the bills or provide the appearance of success. Hell is begging me to do that and I refuse to listen.

So, I do wonder if a reformation church is ready for prime time. I don’t think it is. Too many people are still sleeping and disinterested in the call to the cross—to carry it and to lay down everything for its sake.

…“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:14-17

AWAKENING

Alarms of awakening are always extremely irritating to disinterested, comfortable sleepers. Alarms of awakening are even more irritating to those who are convinced they are already awake. Those convinced they are awake are at the greatest risk of spiritual death as they intentionally ignore warnings they presume are not for them. We all must be willing to question whether we are as awake as we think we are. I ask myself the question often: Am I kidding myself? Am I possibly talking it up without walking it out? The fear of the Lord rests on me day and night.

…I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:1-2

But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:6-13

I live every day with a God given disturbance in my gut…knowing that so many people who are convinced that they know God, convinced there’s time to fill their lamps with oil, are actually on a track toward Hell. Awakening them is my number one job in my short time on the Earth. I grieve daily over this.

As I drive by various churches I have a constant, underlying question that wrecks me…is it possible that everybody in that church is going to Hell? I'm not talking about obviously heretical churches…I'm talking about mainline, Spirit-filled churches. I'm even talking about my own church! I don't presume it to be the case…but I always have the question. Do they, do we, really know what it is to be surrendered to Jesus? Has apathy, sleepiness and deception crept in? Is Hell growing larger because of us? My God. Reformation must come!

So for me to simply tell people how much God loves them and to encourage them to rejoice in that fact would be a major violation of my calling. There are possibly millions of people today who are celebrating God's love for them while living in an unsaved condition. I can't encourage them in that…my passion is to call people into radical extravagance, surrender, death daily, deep intimacy and night and day prayer as we prepare for even greater troubles ahead.

As I’ve shared before, I only give myself an 80% chance of making Heaven! Why? Not because I'm insecure in my salvation now…but because I'm keenly aware of my vulnerability to failure in the future. I can't presume myself to be exempt from the great falling away. I will have many options to allow my love to grow cold and to fall asleep. It's that message that I need to get out there. We can be joyful and full of life while being sober and broken over the reality of our situation. Without holiness we cannot see God. If we leave that message out then we will lead people right to Hell. Reformation churches major on the call to repentance—and most don’t want to live in such an atmosphere.

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:12-14

This is what must be preached!

Leonard Ravenhill said he doubts that 5% of professing born again Christians in the USA are truly saved. That means in a church of 100 worshiping, dancing, tithing, Bible reading people… 5 of them might go to Heaven and 95 will burn forever in Hell.

Somebody needs to warn them before it's too late. We must have bold, and yes, aggressive, unapologetic prophetic leaders who draw a line in the sand and call the church to stop the madness. We must see the apathy come to an end and awaken today’s comatose church into mandatory response. We can’t be passive. We don’t have time.

Be careful not to reject such an invasive, direct messenger as arrogant. A lesser known but very real threat to revival is false humility. So many hold back offensive messages so they don't come across as brash, arrogant or presumptuous. They hope to display humility, but at the expense of truth. The thought is, if we appear loving as defined by what the recipient desires to feel, then we are loving and the person hearing the message is more likely to respond. This simply isn't true or biblical. I once heard, “You can't sacrifice truth on the altar of love.” Be bold. Love deeply. Shock the dead to life. Reformation churches will do just that.

CAN WE HAVE REFORMATION CHURCHES?

This is the question of the hour. I honestly wonder if we can, or if they might be extremely rare.

To fill the seats we have to bring the bar down a bit so as not to scare away the less committed. That grieves my spirit terribly.

I believe we must embrace this wheat and tare season that we are in and refuse to lower bars. Let God prune and define the true remnant. The question is, will there be enough people left after the pruning?

7000

He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 1 Kings 19:14

Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:18

Yes, there is a remnant who will not bow. They are very small in number, but they are out there. Now is the time for them to gather. Where are you remnant? Awaken church! Strengthen! Pray! Gather! The 24/7 church is needed and YOU are the warrior God has created for this hour! If the remnant gathers in full force, then, and only then will we have enough to have reformation focused remnant churches in our cities. Until that happens we are left with a choice: Lead low key churches that satisfy people of various commitment levels or raise the bar to the level of Scripture and wait for the few burning ones to arrive for battle.

Pastors, the choice is yours.

New ebook: Prophecy Games: Hearing God’s Voice Through the Static of Me Focused Prophecy

Prophecy Games: Hearing God's Voice Through the Static of Me Focused Prophecy

BUY AND DOWNLOAD NOW!

Dell-000010445Prophecy Games: Publication Date: September 2, 2014

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!

BUY AND DOWNLOAD NOW!

Prophecy games: A culture of eagerly misled people yields few winners

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.

“Both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil, declares the LORD. Therefore their way shall be to them like slippery paths in the darkness, into which they shall be driven and fall, for I will bring disaster upon them in the year of their punishment, declares the LORD. Jeremiah 23:11-12

imageIt’s important that you know as I begin this article that I hold a high value for prophecy. I’ve written and taught on it for years, and I strongly encourage everybody to live a bold, active prophetic life.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21

It would be equally as easy, and important, to write about movements that are defying scripture by quenching the Spirit and despising prophecies. Today, more than ever, the church must live and walk in the spirit as it hears God’s Rhema voice. God is absolutely talking and we must absolutely hear him—and relay key end-time prophetic data to the church and the world.

“For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. Amos 3:7

God has established the office of Prophet, and we need to embrace that office. Additionally, we are all called to live prophetic lives, and we should embrace that gift.

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 1 Corinthians 14:1

With that established, we have to ensure the prophetic revelation is accurate, and that we don’t modify it at all—even if the message will be violently rejected. The way we handle prophecy will result in people either knowing God in the clarity of truth, or in people living a life of deception that may very well lead to an eternity in Hell.

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.

Salvation Deception

Wrong information will lead to a tainted analysis.

While many of today’s prophetic voices trend toward affirming people in their current condition via false words, these people are falling into deception that puts their very souls at risk.

How often have you heard someone affirm somebody’s salvation in order to bring them comfort? This is an example of a violation of prophetic protocol. We should never assure someone of their salvation, especially since we don’t know the depths of their hearts and we don’t know what type of decisions they will make in the years to come. False information like this is dangerous. Just as the disciples did, we need to all wrestle with our own salvation.

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-26

Theologies and prophetic insights today rarely address the issue of salvation in any way other than affirming it—even for those who are only marginally devoted to Jesus. Somehow, there appears to be a certain valiance associated with the idea of easy salvation. What it communicates is that Jesus is willing and able to save every person regardless of their personal commitment and relationship with him. That feels heroic, and it is great news for those who are not fervent in their relationship with Jesus. Unfortunately, that great news is not the Good News.

Not everybody who hears the Good News receives it. In fact, the Good News doesn’t usually feel like good news at all. Most reject it.

And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 18:18

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Luke 18:22-23

I am convinced that it is exceedingly rare for people to be legitimately saved. I’ve said before that I often wonder if even 10% of people in vibrant, Spirit-filled churches will end up in Heaven. Of course, there is no way to scientifically arrive at a literal percentage, but the inspection and analysis is appropriate. This is a prophetic process that is much different than the sugary prophetic imitations that are most common today.

When I have this discussion about uncommon salvation with fellow Christians, the reaction is most usually a mixture of shock, anger and fierce resistance. How dare somebody question their salvation!

It’s love that propels me to shine the light on the “angel of light” belief systems that are temporally satisfying yet eternally damning. Feel good messages are delivered which are actually not good at all—they are doctrines of demons.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 1 Timothy 4:1

In fact, as I’ve said before, I only give myself an 80% chance of “making Heaven.” I am not exempt from deception. I am not immune to temptation. I have a free will and I can walk away at some point in the years ahead. The great falling away is coming, and every one of us will be courted by it. If I died today, I’m confident I’d be with Jesus, but tomorrow is another day.

Salvation is not a status, it’s a dynamic lifestyle that isn’t gauged by an on and off switch. It’s measured by a deep, growing, intimate love relationship with Jesus that manifests radical obedience and surrender.

Jesus warned about false prophets that will put people’s salvation at risk. This is very real, and we are in those days right now.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:9-14

Lying Prophets

Lying prophets would never think of alerting an at risk person of their eternal future. Instead, they serve what is demanded—a promise of a future and a hope.

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” Jeremiah 23:16-17

As people are flooding into Hell while thinking they are on the road to Heaven, it’s horrific to think that we wouldn’t warn them!

Today’s lying voices who are building their own reputations are about to experience the reformation of the Lord in their lives. This reformation is coming to the entire prophetic culture in today’s church.

…spirits like Baal and Jezebel are working through those who accepted the call to ministry but have given in to the financial pressure of building their own kingdoms rather than serving the kingdom of God. ~Jennifer LeClaire

When supposed prophetic voices share nothing but happy, encouraging words, they lose credibility. There is absolutely no way, in today’s volatile world, that everything is OK and getting better. Where are the warnings? Where are the rebukes?

True prophets will warn as often as they encourage. They will rebuke just as they build up.

One of the most often misused verses in scripture is Jeremiah 29:11:

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

This is one verse that doesn’t stand on its own very well. Context is necessary.

This is a perfect example of today’s prophetic culture—encouraging people without supplying the context and the often challenging instructions that are attached. Lets look at the context.

“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. Jeremiah 29:10-14

Instead of receiving a nice, comfy personal prophecy that all will be well, that there’s a great future ahead, the truth is that there’s much more to this prophetic process!

The future comes after seventy years! The hope arrives when God’s plans are reactivated after the exile is over. It’s then that they can pray and be heard. It’s then that they will find God, but only if they seek him with all their heart! Not only is the prophecy about the far off future, it’s also conditional.

The process is spelled out precisely:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD. Jeremiah 29:4-9

The prophecy they wanted to hear was that they would be freed immediately. God warned them not to listen to lies, false prophecies that would be exactly what they wanted to hear, and even words that seemed to validate their view of the goodness of God. Certainly, a good God would never approve of being held captive by their enemies, right? Wrong.

Remember, God assigned a demon to Paul. He cast Jonah into a fish. He threw Joseph into a pit. God’s ways most certainly aren’t our ways, and he most definitely is not compelled to fit within our definition of what is good and right.

For those in exile, the true word was inconvenient, disappointing, challenging and irritating. It even put the hearers at risk of losing hope and having an emotional meltdown!

The truth remains—they were to build houses, plant gardens, get married, have kids and even wait for them to get married and have kids. What a prophetic word! Their was no hope until they were grandparents!

Here’s a huge point—God was certainly interested the individual’s plight, but, as always, he was more interested in the bigger picture. This is such a critical issue in today’s narcissistic Christian culture! Yes, God loves us as individuals, but he is more interested in the future of his entire people. He will allow one to go through great trouble for the sake of the freedom of many. Of course, Jesus is the perfect model of this truth.

Martyrdom is another model of this truth. God will allow one to be tortured and murdered for the sake of the advance of the Kingdom. What if today’s prophetic messengers started revealing people’s call to die at the hands of a terrorist for the sake of the Gospel? What if they started affirming our call to die before we live? True prophecy will be troubling as often as it is affirming.

What this means is that our process is not only about us, but for many others.

So, instead of demanding the flaky, invented prophetic words that promise a quick improvement to our personal lives, we need to hear the difficult messages that deal with our sin, our struggle, our disobedience and what should be done to correct. We need the words that call us higher.

There are generally three types of messages:

  1. What God has done for us and the benefits that result
  2. What God is about to do to benefit us
  3. What our responsibility is

The first two are all too common, and when delivered appropriately, these messages are great.

The last one is what we must see an increase of. In fact, we need to hear what we are doing wrong! We have to be OK with that so we can be calibrated to God’s plan for our lives. This is great, great news indeed!

Lets move beyond generic, incomplete words that reveal that God has a future for us. Instead, we need to know what he expects from us, how we have failed, what we can build on, how we can grow and what the big picture is.

Prophecy should propel us to action, not satisfaction.

Eat the Scroll

The prophetic words of God will be weighty, and won’t usually be received very well.

And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them. For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel— not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you. But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.” Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ whether they hear or refuse to hear.” Ezekiel 3:1-11

Today’s false or flaky prophetic movement is not birthed in the place of trembling intercession. It’s open to hear the most satisfying words that will result in the church elevating it, affirming it and celebrating it.

That’s why we need true prophetic messengers who will eat the scroll, carry the weight of the revelations of God and fearlessly confront the stubborn rebellion in the church. When we eat the scroll, we are undone, fearful and trembling.

Watch how Ezekiel, a true prophet, responds:

Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me the voice of a great earthquake: “Blessed be the glory of the LORD from its place!” It was the sound of the wings of the living creatures as they touched one another, and the sound of the wheels beside them, and the sound of a great earthquake. The Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the LORD being strong upon me. And I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who were dwelling by the Chebar canal, and I sat where they were dwelling. And I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days. Ezekiel 3:12-15

He was lifted up by the Spirit and experienced bitterness and heat in his spirit. His investment resulted in him being overwhelmed for a week. We need prophets who are overwhelmed.

Prophecy on Demand/Paying for Prophecy

I wrestle with the issue of prophecy on demand. On one hand, I do believe that God is always talking and that we can receive messages about others on a regular basis. On the other hand, all too often the prophetic words are nothing more than encouraging words that may or may not be accurate. There’s great immaturity and a lack of the fear of the Lord all too often.

True, biblical encouraging words are great, but I believe we need to take the prophetic label off of that ministry if it’s not truly prophetic.

That being said, there’s something that I am absolutely alarmed about—a growing trend of payment for prophecy. This must stop.

I see this in the prayer movement and there are many who affirm ministries that offer prayer and prophetic words in exchange for financial support. Boy, this is dangerous.

Not only is the financial exchange iffy, it puts people on the spot. If a prophecy is ordered, the supposed prophet must come up with a prophecy. What if God isn’t talking? What if the word is negative? What if the prophetic person is having a bad week? What if they can’t hear easily? We could go on and on with the issues.

The spiritualized fortune telling has to stop. I’m not saying it’s all entirely inappropriate, but the precedent it’s setting is dangerous at the least. The fear of the Lord must hit the prophetic movement, and by all means, ministries that charge for prophetic ministry must be shut down.

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. Acts 8:18-22

Prophecy for payment is functioning today in the spirit of Balaam—administered by for prophet false prophets.

Balak paid Balaam to deliver a specific word of the Lord. Balaam was not invested in the process, but God did in fact put a word in his mouth, as a test. Balaam delivered this word, but Balak was furious—it wasn’t the word he paid for!

Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD. Numbers 31:16

Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. Jude 1:11

Prophecy for payment feels right—Christian people are delivering words that even God may have initiated, just as he did with Balaam, but the foundation is that of divination.

The money changers in the temple are about to be overturned.

If someone wanted me to be their resident prophetic counsel, I’d direct them to a much more reliable source—the Bible.

The Bible

All of this brings me to the issue that’s burning hottest in my spirit. The purest prophetic messages are those that are read directly from scripture.

The Bible must return to front and center in the prophetic culture.

The greatest anointing won’t come when we are foretelling or reading somebody’s mail. It will come when a prophetic spirit comes upon us as we declare the ancient truths of scripture.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Psalm 19:7-11

Wow! It seems everything people are looking for in personal prophecy can already be found in the Word of God. Rejoicing, enlightening, reward.

The issue is this—we must invest our lives into the Word of God. It takes effort. Personal prophecy is easy. We ask and receive.

Have you ever wondered why God is intentionally silent when we pray? Is it possible he doesn’t want us to have the information that a supposed prophet would be more than happy to divulge? Is it possible God wants us to search scripture for ourselves?

Personal prophecy has a place, but a reformation must come. It’s time we stop being lazy and resistant to the tough love of God as he either withholds information for a season or requires our radical participation in the process.

The prophecy games must come to an end. It isn’t harmless encouragement if it’s contrary to truth. The players in this game are being setup for eternal loss, and God is about to hold all of us accountable.

Shock Christianity: Can this be love? Just what does love look like?

Shock Christianity: A prophetic alarm is sounding as a code blue church is under the shock paddles of the great Physician.

I’m going to take the opportunity to lay some very important things out on the table—in the hopes that God will bring clarity to what is expected in this end-of-the-age season that we are in.

**Near the end, I will share very important information about why I focus on such a narrow, offensive, troubling message. It’s important that you hear my heart on this.

Here is a provocative podcast on this topic:

I had planned on writing an article dealing with the issue of love as it’s revealed through prophetic voices for the last week, and since then I’ve had at least a few key unexpected discussions regarding what one called “Shock Christianity.”

image

I believe this is evidence that it’s time to both humbly ask God to inspect our hearts (as I always do when I find myself in such active and controversial seasons) and clearly communicate what is truly to be expected.

It’s extremely easy to point out self-defined lack in another’s life with the accusation that they are not acting in love. This is an accusation that I and many other aggressive & prophetic leaders, who shock and rock and tear down idols and altars, have received more than once.

The problem? There’s confusion about what love is, and also about how to react when someone isn’t manifesting love in the way we think they should.

Friendship & emotional intimacy

For many, especially those with a high mercy gift, the seemingly obvious, non-negotiable manifestation of love is close friendship and deep, emotional intimacy.

This isn’t an inappropriate desire—it’s the way many are wired. But, it is inappropriate to presume that a lack of emotional intimacy is evidence of a lack of love.

It’s too easy to point a finger at someone who has healthy boundaries setup and accuse them of not loving you. The accurate analysis would actually be that they most probably do love you, but they don’t desire emotional intimacy with you.

In fact, it may hurt, but we have to understand that not everybody wants to be our friend! That doesn’t mean they don’t love us, it just means that they don’t feel impressed to develop that type of relationship with us. They are limited in their ability or desire to befriend certain people, and that’s OK. It’s normal.

I personally know that not everybody will like me, and not everybody will want to be my friend. It would actually be really bizarre if that weren’t true!

Additionally, for many leaders, their primary goal isn’t to connect with everybody, but rather it’s to connect everybody to God. That is a valid and important ministry.

I think of Mike Bickle who isn’t going to just befriend anybody who walks into IHOPKC, but he absolutely will invest every ounce of his energy to help you connect to Jesus. What love that is!

What is love?

That’s a loaded question. I feel all of us would agree that the answer is wildly expansive and multifaceted.

And that it is. If the definition of biblical love is so deep and wide, why is it that we get offended when someone doesn’t fit our shallow and narrow definition of love?

If you search for “God’s Love” on Amazon, it returns 311,863 available books. It’s an inexhaustible topic!

When you read scripture, it is, again, inexhaustible. Of course, we do have quite a wonderful definition here:

1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (ESV) 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 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. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I personally consider this passage often. Really, I do so continually. For me, loving with God’s love is non-negotiable, though it is so easy to fail. The fear of the Lord is on me regarding the issue as this passage reveals a sharp warning to those who minister without loving. For someone with a “shock Christianity” mandate, this is all the more sobering. I must love without fail while shaking the sleepers. If love doesn’t drive the shaking, if it’s selfish ambition or greed that does it, I am in big trouble.

Now, this passage isn’t to be used as ammunition against others who don’t measure up, but rather it’s to be a sword to our own hearts. We need to let God break us. Don’t look to others who seem to be failing in love and accuse them of failure. You love them without reserve! Cover them as Noah was covered by two of his three sons. Don’t be the son that exposed his father’s nakedness! That results in a curse!

Genesis 9:20-27 (ESV) 20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.”

Here’s the questions we have to ask ourselves to ensure we are personally living in the love of God:

  • Am I patient? This doesn’t mean we aren’t bold or that we don’t challenge people to pick up the pace. This is a heart issue. Can we advance with determination while also honoring people who are slower than us?
  • Am I kind? This is also an attitude of the heart. It doesn’t mean we are passive or soft spoken. It just means we are looking out for the needs of others.
  • Do I envy others? Jealousy divides. Enough said.
  • Do I boast? Do I have pride that results in attempting to outshine others?
  • Am I arrogant? Boldness and arrogance are closely related. One is Holy Spirit driven, the other is not. I’m sure people might accuse me of arrogance due to my aggressive, urgent focus on life, and my unwillingness to entertain lukewarm theologies, but I am consistently asking God to search my heart on this. I desire to be bold without reservation, even if it looks like arrogance. I’m not out to prove I love people. I’m to love them, and sometimes it can get testy as I promote God’s messages that irritate the resisters.
  • Am I rude? I post a lot on Facebook and Twitter. My goal is to be extremely provocative (to shock!), and I’ll talk about that more in a bit. But, it is always extremely important for me to not be rude. It’s critical that while I provoke, that I also honor and refuse to react in a rude or condescending manner.
  • Do I insist on my own way? This is about selfishness. Am I self-centered and demanding? Or, do I prefer others above myself?
  • Am I irritable? I will admit that I wrestle with this one at times! It’s usually small but nonetheless meaningful issues. I have to be sensitive to my family by not getting irritated when they aren’t in the car ready to go on time or when the kids chores aren’t done. I have improved much, but I must remain sensitive to this.
  • Am I resentful? When life doesn’t go as planned, do I resent God or other people who didn’t live up to my expectations?
  • Do I rejoice at wrongdoing? Or, do I do the opposite as revealed in Ephesians 5 by exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness?

Even when accusations of lacking love fly, we can humbly go to prayer, let God search our hearts and review the above scriptural revelation of what love looks like.

So, if someone is aggressive, bold, focused, not easily approachable, confrontational, controversial, troubling or intent on tearing down false ideologies that people hold dear, does that reveal a lack of love? Not according to the Bible. In fact, they may love with such a passion that they are more focused on loving than on convincing people they love.

False Expectations

In our culture, love is defined in a way that is often different than what we see in scripture. For example, there is a false-love movement on the rise that presumes that relational friendship is a required manifestation of true love. I disagree. That false expectation will leave many wounded when one who does truly love them doesn’t show it the way they would prefer. Offense will follow and division, hard hearts and cold love are next.

This is an eternal issue! We cannot allow false expectations result in cold love! If others don’t love us the way we want, do we ourselves lose our love for them?

Matthew 24:10-13 (ESV) 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

I’ll say it again—true love doesn’t demand that others respond lovingly. True love is seen on the cross where Jesus didn’t demand any affirmation, friendship, encouragement or any outward manifestation of affection. We know from the encounter in the garden just prior to his arrest that he desired relational closeness, but he didn’t get offended when his friends slept while he sweat and bled.

True maturity comes from our garden experiences. If we can’t escape the lonely bleeding in the garden without offense toward unconcerned, selfish sleepers rising up in our hearts, how can we expect to take up our cross for them? Do we demand that they manifest love toward us, or do we simply love them unto death?

People who struggle with fear and rejection are often hit by the enemy regarding this. They so crave affirmation (which feels like love), that when they don’t get it it’s easy to accuse the person of not loving them. The problem? Affirmation and love are not the same. You can love someone without affirming them, befriending them or even talking to them!

John doesn’t love people

I told you I was going to lay it on the table!

This one hurts so deeply!

There was a situation in Colorado many years ago that resulted in an underground, “spirit of Absalom” situation that was fueled by offense. I started to hear the rumors: John doesn’t love people. Amy and I felt like we were hit by a train.

Someone on my staff had a false expectation about something incredibly minor. I was unable to meet that need due to needing to be somewhere later that night. It wasn’t until months later that I put two and two together and realized that an underground movement of gossip was setting my staff and team against me. The accusation? I don’t love people because I wasn’t there for them that day, and since that situation revealed my true, unloving heart, and my motives in ministry were now compromised, there must be an effort to resist the ministry—and, for them, it was in the name of ‘love’!

My initial split second reaction when I received knowledge of the situation was this: That doesn’t make sense! I love that person and the others so much. Of all things how could that be the accusation?

I was really saddened that those who I expressed love to by welcoming them onto our team, supporting them in their ministries, encouraging them to be free to lead with passion, etc. were rejecting my expression of love! Wow! Isn’t it interesting how it all works together—how the enemy can twist and turn things in such a dastardly way!

This was the same individual that had come to me with a dilemma. She had to deal with a situation in the church, but she didn’t want to make waves. She asked, “John, how in the world can I handle this explosive situation and convince the person that I love them?” I simply responded, “Why are you trying to attempt to convince them you love them? Simply love them.”

If we try to convince people we “love” them, we won’t actually love them by administering true tough love, biblical discipline and challenges. True biblical love at times does not feel like the love our culture has defined.

This is the power of love languages at work. We can’t expect someone to respond in love according to our love language. They will naturally respond according to their love language.

Of course, we can try to reach out to people according to their love language, but, here’s the point I’m trying to make—a failure to manifest love according to another’s language doesn’t mean they don’t love—it means they aren’t expressing or manifesting love the way that seems obvious to us. That accusation must come to an end.

Can an introverted recluse so deeply love people he has never even met by writing checks for millions of dollars to charities? Yes! That is love though he would never hug you, seek friendship or even smile when you enter the room!

My heart breaks over situations like this. Can I love better? Oh man, YES! But, I also need to help bring this issue to the surface. Too many leaders are not living according to their calling because they are so busy modifying their personality and mandate to match what others expect!

We must love according to how God designed us. The cross wasn’t welcomed, but it was the method Jesus was mandated to use. It didn’t feel like love then, but boy was it.

True Expectations: Same love, different manifestations

I once mentioned to Chuck Pierce that it would be powerful to have a resource that explained how we can relate to various personality types, giftings and offices. What type of manifestation of love is typical in a pastor? What about a prophet? I was hoping he would write this book on interactive Christian love, but maybe I’ll have to tackle that at some point!

For example, I often hear people slander the prayer movement by shouting that those who lock themselves in the prayer room for hours a day don’t love people. If they did, they would be out on the streets feeding the homeless or doing something else that relational and meets and immediate need. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While certainly some people who pray all day might struggle with issues of love, the same is true across the board. It has nothing to do with the manifestation (intercession, serving the homeless), but rather it has to do with the condition of the heart.

So, what should we really expect from others? Here’s a short, extremely simplified explanation that should set you free. If you don’t expect someone to express love in a certain way, you won’t be offended when they don’t!

Pastor

In America, church leaders are almost always called “Pastor.” We need to fix this. Why? There are expectations associated with the offices, and if someone is not truly a pastor, when you call them pastor you are putting a burden on them they can’t bear.

In a true pastor, you might expect someone who loves to listen to your story and is ready to encourage you in it. They may be very relational, conversational and invested in people one-on-one.

Teacher

A teacher might spend most of his time behind closed doors in study, and might not have a relational bone in his body—but he loves people by rightly dividing the Word. He love is manifested not through smiles and handshakes but through hours of investment in you through study and prayer.

Evangelist

An evangelist will show love by leading people to Jesus. This can get confusing for some who get saved, and then don’t understand why the evangelist isn’t his best friend. After all, they shared a life changing moment together! The reason? The evangelist is off loving the next person!

Prophet

A prophet will show love through irritating you! I’m a prophetic Apostle, so this is my area of expertise. Prophets may have tears in their eyes and fire in their veins in the place of prayer that results in an uninvited confrontations. In fact, you can consider a prophet an uninvited teacher. He delivers what is not desired to a people who are asleep. Whenever you awaken someone from their sleep, you can expect them to be irritated—yet this irritation is a result of a man or woman of God who loves you so much that they can’t leave you in your condition.

So, you can expect sharp words of warning that are love-fueled alarms designed just for you. You probably wouldn’t expect a prophet to be ultra-relational (they make too many enemies for this to work!). They make horrible counselors most of the time. They love you much as the teacher does—through prayer-driven messages from God.

Apostle

Apostles are always on the move. They show love by inviting you on the journey. However, they usually don’t wait for too long for you to catch up. For some that feels unloving, but the opposite is true. Their love compels them to move and build and advance into new territory so that many can be saved! While an apostle may not wait long for you, he will always be there to pick you up on his next loop through!

Don’t expect apostles to be locally minded. If you need someone to help with your current life situation, an apostle will show you his love by inviting you on a journey regardless of your current situation! You may need to find a pastor if you aren’t looking for that quite yet!

A one string banjo

As someone who’s not a pastor, I find myself, by design, extremely limited in my message. I’m a one string banjo. Maybe two string.

If I asked you what a particular pastor’s message is, you probably wouldn’t be able to answer. He will usually teach on many different topics.

But, if I were to ask you want John the Baptist’s message was, you’d have an answer—REPENT! PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD! Like John the Baptist, prophetic leaders are one string banjo players.

For me, EVERYTHING I do in ministry stems from one encounter and one message. After an encounter of being dragged toward Hell, God spoke this to me: John, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.

My love for mostly nameless, faceless people burns so hot that I simply cannot deviate from my message of warning. I am loving through provoking people into safety. I am, as someone used the terminology yesterday, a shock Christian. I’m a prophetic messenger that sees time running out.

The horrific confusion regarding the issue of salvation in the Western church is the key reason why I am so intense. I am intentionally WAY off balance due to off-balance theologies. People are going to Hell. They think they are saved.

Just so you know how I see things, due to this encounter that I had 22 years ago: when I’m in a vibrant, Spirit-filled church of, lets say, 1000 people…people who are lifting their hands, worshiping Jesus and paying their tithes…I see maybe 100 of them, on average, ending up in Heaven. That’s not a judgmental statement, as I have no way of truly judging that on a person by person basis. It’s a spiritually analytical reality for me. How can I stay silent even for a day if billions of unsaved people are going to Hell PLUS many more others in churches who are following Jesus in an unsaved condition?

In fact, I’ve often said that I give myself only an 80% chance of making Heaven. If I were to die today, I’m about 99.9% sure I’d be there. However, the Bible is clear that there will be a great falling away. Even the elect will be deceived. If I presume myself to be exempt from that, I am presuming myself to be among the elect—and I am surely deceived. I absolutely can fall away from Jesus, and I don’t take that lightly.

George Barna revealed in a recent poll that only 8% of Americans are Born Again. Only 4% have a biblical world view!

My mandate is simple—love people by communicating to them truth, sounding alarms and tearing down doctrines of demons and humanistic religious idols.

Additionally, as a prophetic Apostle, those warnings come with an invitation—to get equipped to do the same, and to run with me as I charge ahead. I’m looking for modern day Paul Reveres who will love people through shocking and shaking deadly systems!

Running with me will be a joy if you want to be rocked and challenged as your destiny is called out of you.

The label of “shock Christian” fits the movement I’m a part of. I’d rather you be shocked with truth now than shocked to find yourself in Hell one day.

I am extremely thoughtful, prayerful and boldly intentional with what I communicate. Do I always do it perfectly? No way. But I try. But, you can know that I love you deeply and will be in prayer continually as I get the ‘now message’ of the Lord. The message will probably trouble you at times. It is supposed to. The paddles must be placed on ALL of us at times to shock to life a dying part of our lives.

You may wonder why I don’t deviate from this approach. I hope you now know why.

And, let me say this. I think it’s an indictment on our passive, timid culture when, what I consider to be mildly jarring truths, seem to be so extreme and impacting. It’s an indictment on the church when truth is shunned when it troubles or causes discomfort. What I post, honestly, is simple, old school Christianity. I’m saddened that people find it drastic—but so be it. I will continue preaching it until drastic becomes normal again.

Deeply Grieved | Pavement People | Seven Mountains

A premature outpouring of God's spirit would result in people vacating their place of prayer to experience an adrenaline rush.

imageThis nation is in a state of extreme emergency, yet few are responding with a lifestyle of intercession.

Let me say this clearly: If you are a Christian, deep, continual, strategic intercession is your primary daily calling!

As in the days of old, every time the church doors are open, we should be there ready to pray!

The 24/7 church is coming and we will soon find ourselves together in intercession most every day of the week! Will you wait for another bomb to detonate and for more lives to be lost or will you start your new life of corporate intercession THIS WEEK?

When this precedent of continual prayer is established, revival will eventually come. It may take a decade of continual prayer before God sees our devotion to keep praying without stopping when the outpouring comes.

►Detroit needs a house of prayer like never before, and EVERY CHRISTIAN must show up day after day to pray! Start now!

There is an emerging remnant of pavement people who understand this, who will forgo personal comfort and hit the concrete in prayer and worship as we saw in 2 Chronicles 7:

2 Chronicles 7:1-3 (ESV) 1 As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

I have been continually grieved and disturbed for more than two decades of ministry by the lack of fervent prayer in the church. I literally can’t think of a single place in the world that I’d rather be than in the prayer room—even if it’s a concrete floor. The fact that calls to prayer are resisted with excuses of busyness, disinterest and the ever increasing cares of life is evidence that we still don’t understand a primary reason we are alive—to minister to God in personal and corporate intercession.

With that in mind, prayer rooms remain empty because we as leaders know people are averse to prayer…and we offer them alternate activities.

Instead of burning intercession for the nations, many use prayer as an attempt to achieve or protect their own definition of a normal life. When normalcy is stable, prayer ceases. If someone is sick, they pray for God to restore them to the normalcy of health. If they are short on finances, they pray for God to bring them to financial normalcy.

The problem with that is that prayer isn’t mostly about focusing on self and securing the life we hope for—it’s for deeply knowing Jesus and interceding for the world to experience the life that he paid the price for.

A CONFUSING EXPERIENCE

More than two decades ago, as a new burning child of God, I was met with confusion that is still with me today.

I was helping give leadership to a monthly regional youth event that was drawing around 100 young people for all over the Dayton, Ohio area. I’ve always believed the hour of prayer before the service was actually much more important than the service itself. (Anything driven by prayer carries extreme importance.)

I was truly confused each month as we sounded the alarm, spread the word, plastered signs in the foyer and let everybody clearly know that they were needed in prayer prior to the service. Each month we’d have 5-10 people in the huge sanctuary in prayer for an hour, while I watched a hundred people cram into a tiny foyer waiting for the service to start.

Was my promotion insufficient? Did I not make it clear enough? It was so packed in the foyer that faces were nearly squished up against the glass on the doors—right next to the signs inviting them to enter and pray.

I’ve watched this scenario play out time and again through my youth and senior ministry years. In San Diego I’d load up the bus with 50 kids to take them to the beach on Thursday, and then have 5 or 6 join me on prayer walks on Friday.

I will continually be confused and disturbed by the lack of passion for intercession—especially in a time of crisis like we are now in in America.

THE CRISIS IN OUR NATION

Last night at theLab House of Prayer, we prayed about the recent bombings in Boston, the earthquakes around the world and the explosion in Texas, and we interceded for Detroit. There have been many urgent prophecies and dreams about a nuclear level event downtown Detroit.

For those who only pray to achieve personal normalcy, there is little reason to fill the prayer rooms. Detroit is still standing.

However, even now, Detroit is not in revival. Even now there is suicide and murder in this region. Children are abused. Political corruption is extreme. An outpouring is no where to be seen.

Additionally, we are experiencing a Jeremiah 2 crisis. Check it out:

Jeremiah 2:4-8 (ESV) 4 Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. 5 Thus says the LORD: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? 6 They did not say, ‘Where is the LORD who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’ 7 And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination. 8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit.

The Breakdown

  • Verse 5: There is a spirit of accusation against God on the rise in America. Today, people are finding much wrong with God—Christians and non-Christians alike—and the result is a move toward accusation and away from intimacy with him. A misunderstanding of God’s role in our lives will do that. If we expect him to perform for us instead of us responding to him, we will quickly become offended at God and turn to worthless things—and become worthless ourselves.
  • Verse 6: Thanksgiving was nowhere to be found. God admits that he intentionally led them into a place of drought and darkness—and then led them through.
  • Verse 7: America was given as a gift, a plentiful land with good things. Today, the land is defiled and the heritage of God is an abomination. Oh what we have forsaken!
  • Verse 8: The priests did not seek the Lord! This is the state of the prayer movement! In a time of crisis, the priests (all of us) must continually give themselves to seeking God! Pastors are failing and prophets are sharing doctrines of demons in the name of God! There are a lot of “false positives” out there in the prophetic…hopeful messages that don't reflect what God is saying.

imageTHE SEVEN MOUNTAINS

I personally don’t see the church fully taking over the seven mountains in this age as some do, but I do believe we are to have significant influence and impact, and to give leadership as God opens those doors.

This being said, the thought of an idolatrous church increasing in influence in the seven mountains should cause us all to shudder.

A consecrated, praying church that is intimate with God is mandatory!

Psalm 24:3-4 (ESV) 3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.

Today, much of the church is at the base of the mountain fashioning an idol, a god of their own design, while Moses met with God on top of it.

The prayer movement that’s focused on the heart of God will result in continual repentance as we allow God to search our hearts and burn up any idol or any desire for one!

Check out how serious God is about the call to ascend the mountain:

Exodus 19:16-25 (ESV) 16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20 The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.” 23 And Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.’” 24 And the LORD said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, lest he break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

So, Moses ascended, and the people played. The prayer movement will absolutely separate out those who are truly devoted to God and those who are focused on self:

Exodus 32:4-6 (ESV) 4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” 6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.

Eat, drink, play. As long as the normalcy of personal consumption and entertainment is safe, the church will see no need to pray—all while the consecrated remnant, the pavement people, are on the mountain in the presence of God receiving instructions for revival and Kingdom advance.

My God. Help us.

X