Most presume my book Covens in the Church addresses witchcraft, curses and attacks against the church. They are correct, but they misunderstand just what type of witchcraft I’m dealing with until they read the book—and are shocked.
I deal with (among other things) those in the church who are spiritualizing their manipulation, control and rebellion by abandoning the local church, rejecting authority and church government and launching home churches without blessing or qualification. When birthed out of a heart that resists authority, home churches are little more than coven meetings. I have been a bold advocate for what many call the institutional church while shining the light of scrutiny on the exodus to house churches.
It’s important for all who read to understand I’m a staunch supporter of local church pastors and any movement that attempts to circumvent biblical government must be exposed and renounced.
I also want it to be clear that I actually do agree with many house church advocates on many points. They have legitimate disagreements with the way the local church is functioning today, and their issues have been largely ignored by pastors and those who are in leadership. Their evacuation out of the institutional church and into house churches may be the wrong move for some of the right reasons. There are serious issues to deal with, and pastors, it’s time to wake up and lead the church into the new wine skin.
The institutional church is at great risk of irrelevancy and extinction. However, I’m not convinced house churches are the best move if they develop at the expense or exclusion of the local church.
WHY ARE SO MANY REJECTING THE LOCAL CHURCH IN FAVOR OF HOUSE CHURCHES?
I asked a question on Facebook earlier today:
What are some reasons people are choosing home churches over the institutional church?
It didn’t take long for comments to start flooding in. It’s obvious to me that the anti-institutional church sentiment is unapologetic and passionate. The reasons they shared demand some analysis.
I should make it clear that there are most definitely house church movements, when rightly aligned in the government of the city church, that are biblically appropriate and full of fire and power. I’m not anti-house church. I’m anti-rebellion.
Before I get into the reasons people are leaving the church in favor of home churches, I wanted to share a reply that I just received from someone who read my Facebook post. It comes from a pastor’s wife. She gave me permission to publish it. As we continue through this local church/house church debate, let’s keep in mind just how precious God considers his pastors and leaders to be, and how many are laying down their lives for what God has called them to:
As a third generation pastor, who has seen both my parents and grandparents pour themselves out for the local church, selflessly giving and loving the body of Christ it saddens me to see so many abandon what so many paid such a steep price for in faithful service to the Lord. I get it. No church is perfect. Be it a home church or an “institutional“ church. Let me tell you though, it is not easy being a pastor in this day and age. Everyone has instant access to the greatest and best preachers and teachers out there via social media. I know for myself and my husband we are revivalists. We desire a move of God, and give space and place for the Lord to do what He desires. I see many people post online how they’d love to find churches that do that but then in real life we have people come in, decide it’s too steep a price, and go to an easy believeism church or someplace they can be hit and miss with no accountability. The reality is that for the presence and the glory of God to invade an atmosphere it’s because someone has paid a price for it. In intercession, fasting, years, faithfulness.
Just to be honest, as a pastors wife, sometimes reading these kinds of posts adds to the feeling of discouragement. ~Debra McBride
Here are ten reasons people are leaving the local church in favor of house churches:
They desire genuine community.
It’s true that people can get lost in a larger church, especially if they are gathering people together just an hour or two a week. The Sunday service typically doesn’t provide opportunity for people to authentically connect and develop relationships.
Those who are yearning for deeper friendships can feel their frustration grow every week as they shuffle into a row and sit through a programmed service, only to shuffle right back out and into the parking lot.
I agree that godly relationships are valuable, though I believe people’s frustration can be misplaced. I affirm the desire for relationships can be overwhelming, and loneliness can eat away at us if we don’t handle it rightly. However, the purpose of the church, the Ekklesia, is not mostly to make friends. It’s to gather together as Believers under apostolic leadership and vision to pray and prepare for Kingdom advance.
Relationships will never be developed on a Sunday morning. There’s no way. They aren’t supposed to. And, pastors, please abandon all attempts at trying to fit them in. The three-minute window you give people to walk around and greet one another is a sad and unnecessary attempt at nurturing togetherness. The right approach is to admit the Sunday services are meant for prayer, worship and apostolic instruction. The fellowship can happen at other times and in other places. Any attempt at fellowship on a Sunday morning is misguided.
For those disappointed because the pastor won’t connect closely with you, I have some news for you. Your pastor isn't supposed to be your best friend. He's probably not going to be your friend at all. He may rarely connect with you personally. It may never happen.
His job is to pray, study the Word and facilitate an atmosphere of intercession and equipping. His relational energy will be reserved for just a few, just as Jesus modeled. Those who are prone to rejection, or those who presume the church is supposed to be ultra-relational, will suffer in such environments.
I don’t know when it became the church’s job to become matchmaker, developing circles of friends and facilitating the relationship building process. If people want to hang out, let them connect in the prayer rooms and on the mission field and then head out for coffee or initiate a Bible study on their own time. It doesn’t have to be organized, and it shouldn’t distract from the greater mission.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the local church hosting small groups. They can be enriching and very good. The problem is when the living room instead of the prayer room becomes the glue that holds the church together. Relationships are actually critically important, but they can’t be the premier goal. The church has a much greater purpose. There’s a world to change. There’s revival to pursue. If people trusted that process, they would develop life-long friendships from the fox hole of ministry. The first church was birthed just like that.
1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. Acts 2:1 (ESV)
They are tired of unnecessary hype, productions and programs.
Every few weeks it seems there’s a new project or ministry focus that is instituted just to prove the church is getting bigger and better, is alive and moving forward. People can see right through these attempts and, quite frankly, are tired of investing so much money, time and energy for such a small return. They have had enough of the “bigger is better” mindset and simply want to give themselves to simple, organic church life.
The stage productions, expensive programs, lights, smoke and Hollywood style video presentations might look good, but the house church crowd is rejecting them wholesale. The vision the pastor might have for such a ministry isn’t shared by them.
I’ll be the first to argue that we need to shut pretty much everything down and simply gather together to pray. Filling the calendar with ministries, groups, programs and other endeavors without clear vision and buy in from the people is simply not attractive or, in most cases, effective.
Pastors, it’s time to get back to the basics. It’s true that those who have been conditioned by media and today’s culture might reject the basics, but we aren’t here to pander to culture. We are here to shake the nations.
So, does this mean the pyrotechnics, media and high production value are inherently evil? Absolutely not. Those who are abandoning churches simply because a church has implemented such tactics need to re-evaluate their heart. It’s not okay to abandon ship just because you don’t appreciate this style of ministry, but I can’t deny that’s it’s your right to be troubled if the theatrics veer the ministry off it’s proper course.
I’ve often said that I despise hype and exaggeration. When we employ such psychological methods to project our efforts beyond where they actually are, we limit God to our own imagination. We get overly excited about what we can produce instead of allowing God to blow our minds!
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)
They want to be released to minister according to their giftings.
This argument is common. People are discouraged because they cannot function according to the gifting God has placed within them. They are chomping at the bit to be activated. They were created for a purpose, yet, so often in the local church, they are not released to move in their ministry.
As one who has planted and given senior leadership to churches for years, I’ll be the first to come to the defense of local church pastors. Just because you have a gift and calling does not mean you are ready to function in it in the church. There are a lot of broken, immature, untrained, prideful or simply weird people out there who should not be given a place in public ministry—until they have been made ready.
There is significant process involved in the ministry development incubator. If you aren’t willing to submit to authority and give yourself to the process, and allow significant time to pass as you die daily and gradually grow stronger, your ministry cannot be validated.
Many people are launching house churches because their ministry was not confirmed in the local church. This is where a lot of immature people are launching premature ministries. Their authorities have determined they are not ready, but they turn aside from that counsel and move out in childish rebellion—all in the name of spiritual freedom.
That being said, pastors, you must do a better job at equipping the saints. While there are many pastors and church leadership teams that excel at this, most don’t.
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children… Ephesians 4:11-14 (ESV)
The church only goes as deep as the majority will allow.
The house church crowd is typically a spiritually hungry one. We can’t deny that most local churches simply don’t go deeper than the majority will allow. I’m not talking about seeker sensitive churches, I’m referring to Spirit-filled churches that promote exuberant worship and devotion to Jesus.
There are many churches like this that will just go so deep. There’s a limit. They know if they get as passionate and as supernaturally infused as the zealots in their midst, the majority will leave.
Pastors, you must wake up! Let the pretenders leave! It’s time to bring the fire, the shock and the awe back into the church! How can you fault people who desire to leave because they want to experience Jesus more than you do?
For those who are hungry for the deep, I won’t pull any punches. This alone is not a reason to leave a church and to start your own. You can go as deep in God as you want regardless of how far your church goes. I challenge you to burn hot, pray without ceasing, stimulate dreams and visions and raise the temperature of every atmosphere you walk into.
Will God eventually move you on to another church or to build a new ministry yourself? He most certainly may. Just make sure you handle the move with integrity and honor. If your current church is apathetic, you can be sure God will bring resolution one way or another without your intervention.
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16 (ESV)
Being guilted into serving more, giving more and building the church.
House church people generally are more interested in Kingdom activity than the local church. They are more passionate about God’s expression among a people in a region than a local ministry. They are tired of building a single man’s kingdom by giving and serving and enhancing that local church instead of investing in the advance of the Kingdom of God.
Again, as one who has been involved in the church for decades, I understand. There’s so much pressure today to grow big ministries, to be successful and to keep everybody active and on task. Leaders want people to take ownership. In our American culture we are individualistic and laser focused on whatever project we deem most beneficial to us. The problem? There is much more that needs our focus than a single local church.
I believe it’s healthy and important for people to have a home church while also engaging at a high level in other local churches, ministries and Kingdom activities. When I was giving leadership to churches, I would strongly encourage people to frequent other ministries in addition to our own. Investing in the city church is more important than the local church.
I started this message by mentioning my book Covens in the Church. That book as directed at those who wrongly abandon assignments for the sake of pursuing their own spiritual endeavors. This point requires I highlight the follow up book titled, Pharaoh in the Church. This book was written to pastors who are so focused on building their own ministry that the people are wrongly used, expected to continually serve, give and sacrifice for that never ending project.
In the words of Brian Ming, “God forgive us for building kingdoms of man on doctrines of demons in your name.”
Pastors, right or wrong, this is another reason people are leaving your church for the more efficient, simple and authentic house church.
The power of God isn’t there.
I’ll admit that I’ve been to some small group meetings that are electric! The Holy Spirit was blowing through that living room or office space like a wind and a fire! When you gather people who are all likeminded and hungry for Jesus, you can’t help but to see God respond.
I’ve been to local church meetings like this too, but they are rare. How often do you leave an institutional church remarking about how powerfully and supernaturally the Holy Spirit moved? Some of you reading this are truly blessed, and you’d respond by saying, “Nearly every Sunday!” Most would have to honestly admit that it’s extremely uncommon or nonexistent.
Understand, I’m not talking about a great worship experience or an encouraging message. I mean, when is the last time the supernatural presence of God flooded the place to such an extreme that people were trembling, crying, and laying out all over the place? This should be the norm for the church. Pastors, until you can steward this call and facilitate a white-hot atmosphere of Holy Spirit power, it will be easy for people to be disappointed in your church.
1 As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3 (ESV)
Services are predictable, overly structured and polished.
People who are hungry for authentic encounter with Jesus are done with perfectly orchestrated worship sets and precisely ordered services. House churches offer an opportunity to ditch the set lists and eliminate the clocks in favor of spontaneous, unpredictable and untimed worship, prayer and teaching along with a fervent pursuit of an ever increasing tangible presence of the Holy Spirit.
Instead of the spit and shine, they long for the messy, unpredictable, uncontrollable move of God that simply won’t allow for manmade organization.
How often are the people in the pews crying out for the pastors to get out of the way and to let the Holy Spirit move? It’s time we admit that our messages really aren’t that great, and our worship sets aren’t that special. Let’s move aside, hit our knees and let the Holy Spirit run our services! I’ll tell you this, when it happens, people won’t be frustrated and disappointed, fleeing the church, they’ll be flooding out from wherever they are to the place where the fire is burning!
The truth is it can be easier to fan the flames of revival in a small house church than in a local church simply because local churches aren’t typically focused on the remnant. They want the bigger crowds and are willing to compromise to ensure the people stay connected. Those in house churches aren’t focused on numbers or on drawing the seeker. They simply want God. Period. They have no order of service. They pray. They cry out. They minister to God and to each other.
While I acknowledge this reality, my belief is that we need to see such a remnant focus in the local church! I believe apostolic hubs, houses of prayer and house churches have emerged because local churches have abdicated their responsibilities to be centers of prayer and Kingdom advance. They have become fully local to the detriment of the city vision. Prayer has taken a back seat because most resist such a devotion.
I love houses of prayer, apostolic hubs, para-church ministries and even healthy, rightly aligned house churches. I also love the local church and am campaigning for it to break out of the old, tired and predictable in favor of a Holy Spirit who cannot be controlled.
13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ …Matthew 21:13 (ESV)
Pastors who are functioning out of ability, creativity or charisma instead of anointing.
Stage shows seem to be overtaking much of the church today. Instead of contending for hours in the prayer rooms, pastors are often functioning from their creativity and charisma. The anointing simply isn’t intense. They haven’t been branded by the fire that can only be found at the altars.
How rare it is to see the man or woman of God trembling behind the pulpit after emerging from an encounter with almighty God in the prayer room.
Leonard Ravenhill said, “Pastors who don’t pray two hours a day aren’t worth a dime a dozen.”
People can see right through pastors who are operating out of gifting instead of anointing. It’s leaves a very bad taste in their spirits. They want to be led by people who are continually encountering Jesus, people who aren’t so confident in their giftings that they simply put together “creative” programs, conferences, sermon series and whatever else they can orchestrate.
That being said, house church friends, I challenge you to re-read the appeal from Debra at the beginning of this article. Have enough compassion for God’s leaders that you don’t rise up in pride, determined to be more spiritually driven then they are. In fact, I bet most house church people are no more spiritually devoted than most local church pastors.
17 pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV)
A lack of focus on the greater church.
House church folks don’t like to be limited in their church experience. They don’t value, and actually devalue, the demand many pastors have to commit fully and only to their specific local church. It stinks of personal kingdom building instead of truly being Kingdom minded.
As I said above, we need to encourage people to invest in a variety of churches and ministries in our region. In fact, pastors should be very active in supporting other churches and ministries. Lead the people in your church to conferences, prayer events, special church meetings, revival services and strategic Kingdom happenings in the region.
House churches can easily become equally unhealthy when they become inward focused and disconnected from the greater city church. In fact, many, many house churches regularly fall into this trap.
Out of one side of their mouth they confess to being “Kingdom focused” while on the contrary they never visit and lock arms with other local churches, ministries or functions in the region.
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes… Acts 2:46 (ESV)
They are plain bored with the old wine skin.
Church as we know it is done. This is the driving message behind my book The Coming Church. I’ve preached about this, written about this and led movements with this in mind. The old wine skin must give way to the new. The house church, for many, seems to be a logical step out of the old and into the new.
The reality is that the new wine skin looks nothing like anything we see in local or house churches.
However, one key component that many house church enthusiasts may not be too excited about in the new wine skin is: authority. The government of God will be firmly established and the five-fold ministry will be foundational. No longer can people just do as they please presuming that God is their only authority. We will function within Kingdom government, and we must acknowledge the various leaders in the region.
22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:22 (ESV)
HOUSE CHURCH OR LOCAL CHURCH?
Both. Neither. Actually it’s the city church we should be advancing. Local churches are important as larger groups of people lock in to contend for revival and advance the Kingdom. Smaller churches that are more keenly focused will exist in homes along side the rest of the church of the city. Apostles, prophets and other leaders will serve with sobriety and boldness.
The key is having pure motives, honoring all and being faithful to the calling and the process God has given you to steward whether it’s in a local church, house church, apostolic hub, house of prayer or other community of faith.
We all want revival, or, rather, we all think we want revival. We crave God’s presence. We want the fire. But, let’s all be challenged. When the fire comes, will we honestly allow it to consume us? Will we stay devoted, humble and surrendered? Or will we rise up in pride, dissatisfied with the way things are unfolding and move out in rebellion to start an alternate, individualistic, isolated, coven in the church?
Today’s Christian generation in this nation at least is becoming quite the expert at right versus wrong. The fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil has been bit into, and not only does it taste great but it’s being shared among friends. Eve knew she needed Adam to taste and see that the tree was definitely good to make one wise—and the serpent was very pleased.
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6)
My recent article posted to Charisma Media on the debacle with David Dao and United Airlines and various related Facebook posts resulted in some disturbing retorts.
Time and again professing Christians were speaking as supposed experts in right versus wrong, and many eagerly supported the rebellious behavior of David Dao. They were proud of him for standing up for his ‘rights’ and sticking it to United Airlines. The point that David may or may not be a Christian doesn’t matter. It’s not his behavior I’m addressing, it’s the response from Christians that is disturbing. The behavior of United Airlines or the airport police are non-factors as well, at least in regard to the appropriate reaction we should be supporting. No matter how badly we are treated, we must respond rightly, biblically.
I’m glad Jesus didn’t stand up for his rights when he was wrongly convicted and then slaughtered on a cross. He didn’t have to prove his innocence. He didn’t have to plot revenge. He didn’t have a “how dare they” attitude. He wasn’t analyzing right versus wrong.
His famous words would be well repeated by all of us: Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.
If we support violating Scripture in our attempt to right wrongs we are utilizing a demonic anointing of rebellion and witchcraft to do so. It’s that serious.
There’s an unholy spirit of protest that’s gaining strength in our nation in recent years, and much of the church is cheerleading that spirit from the pews and from the streets. Is there a way to deal with improprieties? Of course, but it involves the fruits of the Spirit. When we advance strategically against the enemy, we can never adopt his own strategies and anointing. The fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control must be evident.
The unhealthy spirit of protest actually plays out every day in churches around the world. People who don’t get what they want, and who are offended by pastors and leaders, do all they can to prove they were violated—while plotting revenge through gossip, complaining, accusation, slander or other devious means.
STOP USING LEADERS TO GAIN WHAT YOU WANT
It’s a spirit of religion that’s driving so much of the angst and anger that’s directed at those who stand in our way.
My definition of religion is: man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.
Further, when we use other people to selfishly advance in our own lives, especially as it relates to spiritual matters, we can know it’s a demonic spirit of religion that’s driving us. In fact, it was Eve’s desire for spiritual advance that caused her to eat the fruit. It’s appropriate to desire to advance but it’s improper to walk it out by using people and disobeying the Word of God.
In my nearly three decades of ministry my heart is grieved at how often people live defeated and then blame leaders, pastors, parents and others for their misfortune.
I love this Tweet by @IHOPKC:
We can do the will of God in our life without relying on others to open doors or be our source of promotion.
We don’t have to fight with pastors, bosses, airlines, the police or other supposed oppressors. We don’t have to blame them for misfortune. There’s a better way.
I come alive when I see people growing and stepping into their ministries. When they take their callings seriously and give themselves to the process of promotion, God takes notice, and it’s God, not man who will ensure our ministries are fulfilled.
FROM MY BOOK SIX ENEMIES: ENEMY NUMBER SIX—RELIANCE ON MAN
A foundational component of God’s government (His way of delegating and administering) on the Earth is the facilitation of ministry through mankind. God uses people in a variety of very important manners in order for Kingdom life to function well. In this divine and diverse system God has established a system of interdependence. I need you and you need me.
Added to this key truth is the very important principle of submission. We must submit to one another, and we must most certainly submit to our authorities. I address this topic more comprehensively in my book Covens in the Church. We are not called to be anarchists who embrace a non-Biblical methodology of self-governance. God’s government demands humble submission to others in our lives.
It’s from this position and attitude of service where God can more effectively trust His children to become holy dreamers. God can entrust divine missions to us when He knows that our heart is bent on loving others well and preferring them above ourselves.
The problem comes when healthy interdependence gives way to burdensome co–dependence. All sorts of issues arise when we find ourselves being frustrated and held back in ministry and attaching blame to other people. If we align ourselves with this enemy, we’ll be fooled into thinking that the fulfillment of our ministry is fully dependent on our pastor or leader.
Does God use others to help facilitate our ministry? Yes. Are we to take it upon ourselves to determine how others are to facilitate our ministry? No. God has called us to serve. True ministry is actually service. So, as servants, we humbly avail ourselves to others and do our best to help them in their ministry.
Luke 14:8-11 (NKJV)“When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
As we truly embrace the principle of preferring others above ourselves, it will actually feel unusual to expect others to make a place for us and our ministry. Instead of becoming frustrated when a place isn’t made for us, we’ll be at peace knowing that God is fully in charge of our destiny. We can serve well, expect nothing, be fearless of rejection and allow the process of biblical promotion to naturally take place.
When that issue is resolved, you can focus on the journey of personal development and preparation for the ministry that God has called you to. If a call to preach has been burned in your heart, then in due time you will most certainly preach, but not before you are ready. God may use others to create a divine delay in your ministry. Don’t blame others for this speed bump. You aren’t to be reliant on others, but you are to avail yourself to others. Serve them well.
Luke 14:11 (NKJV) For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Your promotion isn’t dependent on others noticing your greatness, but rather is on the revelation of your weakness! When humility becomes the driving force in our lives, God gets very excited about the powerful ministry that will eventually flow through us.
John 13:2-5 (NKJV) And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
Jesus was about to experience mankind enforcing their rule over him. However, no matter how resistant other people were to the ministry of Jesus, God would not be denied! Pontius Pilate couldn’t stop the earthshaking ministry of Jesus. Judas couldn’t. The guards couldn’t. Jesus prevailed.
This act of humility, as Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, was a visible revelation of the condition of His heart and character. Our call to humility is the same. No man can stop what God desires to do through our lives as we surrender in complete humility.
Our destiny will be facilitated in many ways through God’s government on Earth; however no man can stand in the way of our fulfilled destiny. Our reliance is on God, not man.
Often, people will leave churches because their ministry isn’t received. It’s hindered or even rejected. For example, someone may feel a calling to sing on the worship team. The worship team leadership, however, may not feel that this particular person is a good fit for the team. It can be very easy for the individual to allow offense to take root in their heart. Their thought is that the worship leader is standing in the way of God and is stifling the Holy Spirit. This person can easily embrace a divisive spirit, bitterness and anger. So, in frustration they just leave in hopes of finding a more enlightened leader who will allow them to minister.
This scenario tragically occurs every day in churches around the world. Rebellion to authority is embraced along with a heart of accusation as they take their immaturity to the next church on their unhealthy journey to personal affirmation.
Ministry is service. If a church doesn’t need our particular gifting to be expressed, then that’s OK. We serve another way. If God needs us to sing, to preach or to work in a particular function He will make sure that no man can stand in our way. Ministry, though personally fulfilling, isn’t about personal fulfillment. It’s about service.
Check out Paul’s description of ministry:
2 Corinthians 6:3-10 (NIV) We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
Are you sure you want to minister? Though the question is sobering and thought-provoking, the answer for all of us must remain “Yes.” We are called to minister, however true ministry as defined in Scripture may be something quite different than many think. It’s a call to wash feet and to die at the hands of others. It’s a tragic yet precious calling.
1 Thessalonians 2:6 (NIV) We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you …
2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (NIV) We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
If our destiny is to minister (it is!), then we must grab hold of the amazing example of Paul and other biblical leaders. In these two passages alone we discover:
- We are not to seek praise (affirmation, promotion, etc.) from man.
- We are not to be a burden.
- Though hard pressed we are not to be crushed.
Truly, our destiny, as Paul emphasized, is to die. The very people that we wanted our promotion to come through may actually be those that disappoint us and cause our flesh to die. God values the process of killing pride, selfish ambition and other obstacles to pure ministry. We must understand this if we are to come out of this healthy and invigorated! God is calling us to minister with power, and this reality should take us well beyond our own personal fulfillment when we are able to minister according to our own giftings and desires.
Our destiny will not be held back by pastors, leaders, friends, parents or anybody else, but God will use these people to facilitate the process of brokenness that is so necessary in our lives.
As we allow this process to happen, and refuse to indict others, a humble and burning man or woman of God will emerge as a powerful weapon in the hands of the living God!
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (NIV) Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
It’s from a humble, vulnerable place where we can allow God to flow through our weaknesses. God receives the glory and we boast in Him alone. It’s our reflection of the glory of God that will most quickly result in fulfilled destiny. As we shine Jesus, the world will crave what we have to impart.
Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
So, the message of humility should be quite obvious at this point. The very simple conclusion for us as we pursue a fulfilled destiny and ministry is this: Rely on God and trust His process. God will use people to both encourage us and discipline us. They will be used to refine us and promote us. They are instruments in God’s hands. Don’t get upset at the instruments if they don’t recognize you. Serve them well and trust God to make you ready for the ministry that He has called you to.
Watch: A spirit of independence and a lack of response to leadership will put any hope of revival on a city level at risk.
FOUR FIRES PART 7 – SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY
Where is our heart in regard to honoring and submitting to human authority? How will we respond when city leaders call the church into a certain direction? Will we be instant in our response or will we maintain control of our own situation and rebel against the mandate?
There is much pastor and leader hatred in the church and this will absolutely affect our ability to see a move of God in a region.
You are sure to be challenged and possibly deeply convicted into freedom as you watch this passionate, heart felt message.
This is a MUST WATCH video on the uprising of rebellion in the church and how people are fleeing the corporate gathering—all at the cost of revival.
Today people are leaving churches and scattering, leaving the church vulnerable and the hope of revival threatened.
When Satan was attempting to gather people together to accomplish an impossible task, the building of a tower to Heaven, God came down and scattered them. Now, Satan is attempting to use that strategy against God!
More than ever, we must honor and serve leaders, be in the church every time the doors are open and pray with out ceasing.
Evan Roberts' famous prescription must be followed today more than ever:
“Congregate the people who are willing to make a total surrender. Pray and wait. Believe God's promises. Hold daily meetings.”
The time of daily prayer events is coming, and revival will be held back until it happens.
Watch the video: Discover a divine strategy in defeating a vile, demonic, church destroying spirit—Absalom.
A major strategy of the enemy is to destroy church unity. This Absalom strategy is one of the most vile and effective church shattering assaults Satan uses—and it’s critical that we learn how to respond.
This is specifically for both leaders and those who run with leaders. The way we respond in times of dispute will determine whether we advance in love or get derailed by accusation and division.
A strategy of self-preservation will result in a modified, powerless message that draws people to you instead of God.
If you are called as a prophet, you will feel moved to root out and to pull down, and to destroy and to throw down, and to build and to plant (see Jeremiah 1:10). Intense spiritual warfare will be a frequent reality in your life. You will have a sense – a “knowing” – that you are being called to walk a narrower path than some around you. You will feel a sense of duty to honor God's will and be crushed with godly sorrow when you misstep. ~Jennifer LeClaire
So many don’t have a clear ministry goal, so I thought I’d offer one here. This is the calling of the end-time messenger:
The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. Mark 11:18
The call is to teach in such a way that people actually want to kill you! What a life mission that is!
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. Luke 6:26
While true prophets were hated, excluded, reviled, spurned, beaten, tortured, and killed (cf. Heb. 11:32-38), false prophets were well spoken of, for they prophesied what people wanted to hear. This is a warning against seeking the approval of the world rather than being faithful to God.
ESV Study Bible, The: English Standard Version.
There is a GREAT fallacy that has castrated the messages of the end-times: We have to appear to be humble, meek and loving.
I deal with this in detail in my article The Great Love Deception. The thought is that we must expend energy to convince people that we are humble, when that mandate is simply not found in Scripture. We are to BE humble, and that humility very often manifests as a fierce, fearless anger against the spirit of the age. The goal isn’t to affirm others when challenge and correction is necessary. We aren’t to put on a plastic smile with alligator tears pouring down to convince people we care.
Of course, we aren’t to be careless or unloving either. We just preach with a broken heart and the fear of the Lord. The messages in the Word are so often radically offensive that we just let the Holy Spirit do the work.
There are ignored, shunned messages that are coursing throughout the Bible that must be taught again—with such conviction that the religious, independent, self-serving resistors will want to eliminate us.
Thank God for those who have not shrunk back from preaching “negative” messages. People like Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson and others have refused to shut up when the critics attack. We must boldly proclaim the Word of the Lord, no matter how bad of a light it shines on us or how open it leaves us to scrutiny.
Here’s one example of such a message:
SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY
Submission to authority. GASP! Yes, I said it. Clearly, since I’ve been focusing on this topic in recent Facebook and Twitter posts, I must be reacting to some people who just won’t submit to my authority, right? I am overbearing, self-centered and insecure…motivated by my need for people to submit to me. Ha! Wrong. It has nothing whatsoever to do with me or my personal endeavors. (I actually just chuckled as I wrote this.)
On the contrary, this message is a core life message of our ministry that God has required me to communicate, and it’s not uncommon for me to spend a lot of time teaching on it. My book Covens in the Church addresses this issue in detail and I’ve been teaching on it in our school and at other venues for years. I spend time counseling people who are ready to leave their church due to wounding, controlling pastors and other very real issues. Simply, it’s a clear, scriptural and healthy message that most pastors avoid teaching due to their fear of accusation. However, pastors would do well to embrace it and teach it with boldness. The Absalom spirit would be diffused before he even began to operate.
But, unfortunately, the fear of accusation is too often too great.
Pastors don’t want people to presume they are being controlling, manipulative and self-serving by teaching on this particular topic, so they ignore it entirely—to the detriment of the church. Today people are scattered, disconnected and driven by a casual, independent spirit that has greatly compromised the mission of the church and has left them unhealed, bitter and defensive. This is a direct result of selling people a spiritual eat-what-you-want buffet instead of calling people as holy soldiers to sign up to die.
You see, I’m more concerned about the corporate mission of the church to set multiplied millions of people free than I am the reaction of the resistant religious (or true brothers and sisters in Christ who simply disagree) when teaching on submission to authority. Beyond that, I’m exhilarated by people who were once operating in a religious, independent spirit finding freedom through the message of healthy submission. It’s a win/win!
When people submit, the enemy tells them they are in bondage, but God reveals they are free!
From Covens in the Church:
The enemy has caused many to believe that we can’t experience freedom while being submitted. This is simply not true.
- Freedom from authority is rebellion.
- Freedom in the absence of authority is anarchy.
- Freedom under authority is liberty.
Why is it so critical that this sensitive issue be discussed? I’m fully aware that many have been wounded by poor leaders in their lives. While some difficult points will be discussed over the next several pages, it must be made clear now that while God desires leaders to serve with great love, humility, passion and care, there are some in the body who simply do not do so. While God will hold those leaders deeply accountable for their leadership, God will hold the rest of us accountable for how we respond to them.
The call is not to validate poor leadership. It’s to validate leaders who, in their weakness, were positioned by God. It’s to ensure that we go through the proper processes in the face of disagreement so as to keep all of us as holy soldiers in position. We simply must serve the greater mission in love and mature to the place where we can trust an infallible God, who is the one who actually appointed our leaders. We are to allow God to work with and through those leaders, who are without question weak and fallible (as we all are). If we don’t, the greater mission of the church is compromised. A failed mission at this stage of Church history is not an option, and we must weather some mighty storms if we are to succeed.
God needs these messages to be released! We can’t be afraid of teachings like this having the appearance of being self-serving. We can’t back down when the accusation flies. We must preach truth, take the hits, let our pride and ego die and trust that God’s wisdom in the Word will set the masses free.
Submission to authority is dealt with clearly in Scripture, and it’s critical for us to understand it, and communicate it without apology…because the church today has been compromised by a casual, self-interested people. We need to see a passionate army that’s locked in and unoffendable and ready to serve with precision at the sound of the alarm.
I continually run into people who are offended at pastors and other authorities in their lives, and they have absolutely no idea that they are largely disqualified from effective ministry until they rectify that. Why? Because nobody is teaching them about this critical reality.
They are stunned when I start to unpack the issues and share about healthy submission to their previous leaders. They most always had no idea how they should have acted toward them. Some of them have lived in defeat for decades due to this issue! God wants them free! I am much more afraid of God than I am of man, so the accusations that will be hurled won’t hurt as much as if God was bringing judgment to me!
“You will lose your job, and then die.”
I was talking with a powerful, humble man of God in another nation recently. He shared a fearful story that highlights how serious God is about honoring and submitting to authority.
A lady was making inappropriate advances toward this pastor, and while initially subtle, she became more emboldened as time when on. She was initially counseled and ultimately removed from the church. She became deceptive and would attempt to make contact with him via a false name. Eventually, the pastor said, “If you don’t stop inappropriately touching the man of God, you will lose your job, and then, if you still don’t repent, you will die.”
Within weeks she lost her job. Then she died. The man of God conducted her funeral.
That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 1 Corinthians 11:30-31
This is just one example of necessary, costly end-time messages. Will you preach the truth, or just the part that draws people to you?
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law– a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39
The messages we carry should absolutely provoke people out of compromise, deception, apathy and slumber—and into challenging, costly, inconvenient and absolutely glorious truth.
Or, how about…Tithe. There I go again! If I talk about tithing, I clearly must want to use people and manipulate them so I can be more financially secure, right? Come on.
I’ve actually heard pastors say that they refuse to teach on financial giving because they want to gain people’s trust. I suppose their wisdom surpasses the wisdom of scripture?
Jesus talked about money more than any other topic other than the Kingdom of God. Maybe instead of avoiding the topic of tithing and giving so people will like us better, we should expose the demon named Mammon that is attached to so many of them today. Maybe instead of focusing on our own ministry and on self-preservation, we can actually preach the Word and set the captives free!
When you carry burning messages in your spirit, you have to know that the release of these messages will result in rejection, accusation and a fierce resistance by the religious spirits around us.
But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Matthew 12:14
Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” John 10:31-32
Even Jesus’ message was shut down by accusers and aggressors due to the trouble (salvation) he was bringing to the Earth:
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. John 7:1
So from that day on they plotted to take his life. Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. John 11:53-54
THE SPIRITUAL AND RELIGIOUS
In ministry, we must understand that MOST of those we are preaching to will soundly reject our message and will attack with a vengeance—oh, and these people are the spiritual and religious among us.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Matthew 16:21
Preaching of the Word, whether it’s from behind a pulpit or in sound bites on Facebook and Twitter will always divide. Always.
It will provoke, trouble, challenge and set a standard. The problems come when that standard is higher than the standards of the religious.
Take six months and talk about nothing but holiness, repentance and Hell. I dare you.
Your attacks won’t come from the lost. The lost is actually waiting for a church that will have the guts to stand with such conviction. The assaults will come from your friends and family.
Read this in full:
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. Genesis 37:5-11
It seems every time I hear someone teach on this passage, they presume that Joseph was arrogant, that the problem was with Joseph for communicating what God had revealed to him!
We have become so resistant of bold, provoking, disturbing messages of God that we accuse the messenger of pride or arrogance when they simply reveal the truth! Has this fear stopped you? Repent. It didn’t stop Joseph.
It was actually every one of his brothers and his parents that wrestled with pride, not Joseph!
Notice how his father ultimately responded rightly in his heart by keeping the matter in mind.
However, we know the story—his family set out to destroy him…simply because of communicating a message from God!
“…So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. Genesis 37:17-18
Those close to you must be expected to react wrongly toward you! Don’t presume you are off track when the arrows start flying! Stay humble, stay teachable, but simply know that the more pure your truth, the more violent the attacks will be.
(By the way, those who read this and are rising up in indignation will still presume I’m affirming arrogance—even though I just wrote that we must stay humble and teachable. Read it again…I affirm humility and teachablity. OK?)
True humility results in true boldness that can look very much like aggression as the fear of man has disappeared. The fear of God takes over.
False humility results in false love that is focused on being affirmed instead of setting the captives free.
Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Mark 6:3
Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” Mark 6:4
PRESSURE FROM THE CROWD
Get a backbone.
If you can’t stand for truth in the face of resistance, what good are you? What impact will you have?
At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. Mark 6:25-28
When your family and friends and those you are trying to impress are in the picture, will you hold back or preach truth? Will you stay silent or sound an alarm?
Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Mark 15:15
A sign of a growing ministry just may be small numbers and a message that will be rejected by even the most devoted Christians you know. Will you be OK with that?
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27
If you are unmoved, God will give you such perfect, pure and life-changing relationships with those who will die daily with you…who will not forsake you when you bring the offensive messages of the Word…and you will be marked as a true minister of the Most High God for all eternity.
When the crowds come, get ready to follow the fearless example of Peter in Acts 2:
“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. Acts 2:22-23
Trust truth. Preach truth. Don’t temper it. Don’t hide from the offensive issues. Most will reject you. Some will hate you. A remnant will thank you. God will celebrate you for eternity.
The concept of compliance to prophetic voices and even to God himself is diminishing in our culture—and the consequences will be disastrous.
…A Greek word for proclaim…is kerusso… It means “to be a herald.” A herald was a public crier who was a speaker of divine truth. The message delivered by the crier was a public and authoritative announcement that demanded compliance. When you kerusso, you are like a town crier making an announcement that requires the hearers to comply. How powerful! ~Barbara Wentroble
Today, prophetic voices are neutered by a culture that is extremely independent, and, as a result, are declaring the sharp word of the Lord less and less. Instead, those with prophetic ministries have abandoned the call for compliance to a correction or redirection of God for words that tickle ears and communicate positive destinies even for those who are in direct rebellion to truth.
I was at the Detroit Prayer Furnace recently, and, prior to seeing this message by Barbara Wentroble, God dropped a very clear, weighty word into my spirit: COMPLIANCE.
I immediately knew that we as a nation were moving into a very troubling and dangerous time where prophetic voices must unapologetically call the church into compliance with God’s very costly, inconvenient calibration. No longer can we act as salesmen, forming our words in such a way that people will buy what we are saying! Prophetic messengers will be shunned, assaulted, resisted and accused due to the calls out of a theology of comfort and independence.
It is beyond critical that these prophetic messengers are living holy and are sensitive to the leading of God.
MINOR IS MAJOR: TWO PERSONAL LESSONS
Minor is major with God. Two recent minor sins had a major impact on my life. I’m about to confess those sins to you.
Additionally, there’s a decrease of the fear of the Lord and any concern at all over eternal destinies.
Read this disturbing account of a young Christian at a homosexual parade as told by Dr. Michael Brown:
When asked why they were at the gay pride event, the young women stated with enthusiasm that they were there to support people they love. (To watch the entire, extraordinary video interaction, click here.)
The same girl reiterated that gay s-ex was sinful but that supporting the gay pride event didn’t mean she agreed with it since, again, being gay was a “lifestyle.”
When asked once more if she believed gay s-ex was sin, she replied, “It’s a sin, but I’m not against it. I think you’re forgiven no matter what.”
She was then asked, “If you’re a Christian, you’re forgiven of the sin?” She replied, “Yeah, absolutely. You’re forgiven of everything except not believing.”
When asked, “So, you support people having gay s-ex?” she answered, “Yeah, I think that you can’t help your heart sometimes.”
Did you notice that the false-grace believe that she held to? Christians can sin without any fear of judgment. This belief is sending so many to Hell.
As I said above, minor is major with God. So often we hear the argument regarding the “big sins” of homosexuality, murder, etc., that “all sin is the same.” The argument is that God can forgive a murderer just as quickly and completely as he can forgive one who gossips, lies or lusts. I do agree with that. (For the record, I don’t believe all sin is the same, and you can read more about that here. But, for the sake of this point, let’s agree that God can forgive all sin equally.)
What if we turned the argument around? If all sin is the same, then the sin of gossip is as detestable and eternally destructive as the sin of murder. Lying can send one to Hell just as quickly as premarital sex. Minor is major. And, no, we aren’t exempt from eternal threat simply because we consider ourselves to be Christians. That is one of the greatest, most devastating fallacies in the church today. Christians who sin absolutely are at risk of eternal separation from God.
Hebrews 10:26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
LESSON NUMBER ONE
I know a key assignment for me is to call the church back into radical holiness and consecration, and my authority to do so comes via the blood of Jesus. When I sinned in what I would consider a minor way, my assignment was compromised.
I temporarily lost my authority to prophetically call the church to corporate holiness when I didn’t respond to God’s call to personal holiness. I no longer could impact the major because of my failure in the minor.
A couple of weeks ago I was writing a post just as I’m writing this one now. Many people presume that I haphazardly write and say anything that comes to mind in a cavalier way. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Every word that comes out of my mouth is measured and ordered via the fear of the Lord. It’s a daily, weighty matter for me to ensure I’m not withholding anything due to the fear of man and that I’m not saying what I should not due to the fear of God. To be a prophetic messenger requires this wrestling match.
As I was writing the message, I boldly said what I felt the Lord would want me to, and I was making some sharp points.
I was also listening to a teaching about how certain sins can manifest in our bodies as sickness. For example, if we gossip and don’t repent, it’s not uncommon to have tooth pain or even to need expensive dental work such as a root canal. Gossip out of our mouth affects our mouth. As I continued writing, I was thinking to myself, “We need prophetic people who don’t wash their mouths out with soap, but with the blood of Jesus!” I kept seeing pure mouths of bold messengers filled with the blood of Jesus as they declared truth.
I came to a point in the article where I relayed an extremely minor, common issue that can come up in a messenger’s life. I wrote in an extremely generic, careful manner about a personal situation that happened in my life recently. The content wasn’t the problem, but the attitude of my heart was. Again, it was so minor. You’d laugh if you knew just how minor it was! But, as I wrote it, God gave me a gentle check in my spirit. I considered the check, wondering if it was just my own emotions—then I ignored the check. After all, there was nothing that I wrote that would raise alarms whatsoever.
I finished the article and prepared to send it out. I always post it to the web first, and then immediately send it to my email list.
Then, I got up from my office chair and I felt something in my mouth. I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Directly under my tongue, right in the center, I saw a blood blister! It was not there five seconds prior! God immediately reminded me that his prophetic voices must have their mouths filled with the blood of Jesus, and I was instantly convicted. I ignored Jesus. I immediately repented from a deep place of my heart. I was wrecked!
I went back to my office, troubled that the tainted message was now all over the world. But, then, I noticed something. I had actually forgotten to send the message to my email list, which would have been a point of no return! I quickly removed the questionable sentence, reposted it to the web and then sent it to my list. Less than three hours later, the blood blister in my mouth completely disappeared! God is so kind as he is training us in righteousness! I learned, as a seasoned minister of 22+ years, that promotion to new assignments requires trust of God that we will respond immediately and exactly to him. I learned that lesson…or so I thought.
LESSON NUMBER TWO
About a week later I had a great meeting with two state prayer leaders in Dearborn, Michigan. I can’t explain it, but God was REALLY getting my attention that day. It was as if there were an open heaven over me and God was calling me to engage with him. After I left the meeting, I felt compelled to stop by the Detroit Prayer Furnace on my way home and get along with the Lord. I craved him, and I could tell he craved time with me.
I had also wanted to go to Best Buy at some point that day to buy something I had really wanted, so that was definitely in the back of my mind.
I spent about 45 minutes getting into the zone at DPF and trying to hear what the Lord had for me that day. I was still extremely stirred.
A friend then showed up and we talked for just a little bit. He decided to leave, and, with the desire to head to Best Buy increasing, I did too.
I felt a minor check in my spirit that I needed to stay put and keep seeking after God. Instead, I responded casually and thought that I could pray in the car and possibly reconnect with God later that night or tomorrow.
Well, I couldn’t connect in the car, and my spirit was increasingly grieved, but I excused it away. I got to Best Buy, and almost left without buying what I wanted, and I felt that’s what God wanted. Keep in mind, this is all low level stuff. I didn’t see an angel with instructions from Heaven. I was discerning something that felt more like the story of the Princess and the Pea. That small irritating pea wouldn’t go away.
Before I left Best Buy, I checked one more aisle, and there it was—it was exactly what I wanted! And, they price matched Amazon.com, so I saved $20! I bought it, and my grief increased.
For one week my life was a swirl of God, Satan and flesh—all assaulting me. A very minor decision to casually respond to God and ignore his gentle prompts resulted in sleepless nights and non-stop feelings of demonization. Trust me, I am not exaggerating.
I was in rebellion. My minor sin was major. My rejection of God was real. He had called me up to the mountain to meet with me and I chose to remain at the bottom with a spirit of Egypt compelling me to worship a golden calf. I actually had a picture of my rebellion resulting in an eternity in Hell—just me, demons and that stupid item I bought at Best Buy! I was tormented!
You might try to encourage me by saying that there’s no condemnation in Christ Jesus. That’s true. But, I’m sober enough to admit that, in that moment of rebellion I really wasn’t in Christ Jesus—and that’s why the shouts of condemnation by the enemy were piercing me so effectively. Now, I believe God knew this trial would hit me, and he knows my heart is so deeply in love with his, so I wouldn’t be dying in that state of rebellion. It was a Peter denying Christ type of moment. However, I’m also convinced that continued rebellion by me, someone who leads ministries, has written books, teaches on holiness, goes to church, pays my tithe, prays continually—would absolutely put me at risk of Hell.
Yesterday, I was exhausted as I keep trying to connect with Jesus who I love so much, and who loves me so much. I prayed, I worshiped, I listened to anointed music. Nothing worked. I had my intercessors praying for me. I was in darkness and I was wiped out. I cried out to God, “Please talk to me! Give me something that will reveal what I am to do! I can’t go on feeling alone and separated from you!”
Within moments, my good friend Julia Palermo posted this on Facebook:
Any place in our lives and heart where we are exerting our will and ways over God's will and ways will inevitably drain us of energy and resources. Exertion=Exhaustion. On the other hand, death to self requires only that we lay down at the foot of the cross and give up the right to run our lives. We say with Christ, “Not my will but Yours be done Father.” The Crucified life is the entrance into true rest. #ComeAndDie
Jesus! I immediately packaged up what I bought at Best Buy to take it back. I crucified my flesh and returned my idol. Peace flooded my soul. The life and love of Jesus IMMEDIATELY returned. I felt him instantly! The anointing spiked.
It’s absolutely stunning how simple, minor sins can have such a profound impact on those called to serve the Lord!
Minor is major! The sins of apathy, gossip, independence, selfishness, materialism, idol worship, homosexuality, murder, rape and all of the others, major or minor, required the same death of Jesus.
Sins that are repented of, that have the blood of Jesus applied to them, are eradicated! But, if we refuse to repent and confess and allow Jesus to have Lordship again, we cannot presume to be in a safe place.
God is going to hold ministers to a much higher standard. This is why we must pursue holiness and refuse to participate in the sins of culture through media, rebellion, materialism and independence.
It’s time to embrace a spirit of repentance. God is extremely kind. He was in my two back-to-back sins. But, he’s equally serious. He will discipline those he loves. I am so thankful that he loves me.
This brings us back to compliance.
God is raising up voices that will walk in true consecration and holiness. Not perfect people, but responsive people. People who will quickly repent and who will walk in true authority—authority to call the church into compliance to the Word of God.
When this generation’s true prophetic messengers sound an alarm, it won’t be open for discussion. We won’t have the option to consider whether we want to obey or not. We will have to comply. Are you one who will awaken the church and call it to holiness, to prayer and to consecration? Are you walking in holiness? Are you listening to God, or are you casual, as I was in the two above stories? Pray for your discernment to increase, and get ready to gather the ready, responsive remnant that will offer no excuse as they respond to the alarms of the Lord as they are shouted through your blood filled mouth!
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
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.
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)