Exactly what value is there in prophesying all the great and wonderful things that are coming in the new year and in the next decade if we aren't dying to self and catching fire for Jesus?
Before all of you prophetic folks get triggered, understand that I am a mega-proponent of legitimate prophecy. While there is a seriously unhealthy prophetic culture in our nation today, God is still speaking and we need mature, broken and consecrated prophetic people to relay critical information. The messengers most certainly must cry out and awaken the church in these end times.
That being said, the prophetic nonsense must stop. Not once have I read or heard about any prophecy for 2020 that includes judgment, correction, rebuke or warning. To stuff our spiritual faces with nothing but happy prophetic thoughts is utter foolishness at best. At worst it will seal the fate of our nation as one that started godly and ended suddenly under God's wrath.
33 They have turned to me their back and not their face. And though I have taught them persistently, they have not listened to receive instruction. 34 They set up their abominations in the house that is called by my name, to defile it. 35 They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. Jeremiah 32:33-35 (ESV)
While there are many amazing, consecrated and anointed men and women of God in our nation, people who tremble in the fear of the Lord and who are standing for righteousness, there are many more who are casual, lukewarm and sleepwalking.
Abortion is destroying the next generation as children are sacrificed at the altar of Molech. You'd be shocked at how few pastors and prophets speak out against it. You'd be sickened at how many actually support abortion. Homosexual activists are forcing their agenda, pornography is being devoured by the high majority of Christians including pastors and leaders and it's nearly impossible to find a church with a spirit of prayer driving it. We are in crisis yet the prophets seem to think God is well pleased and ready to pour out blessing without any thought of dealing with the depravity that both the church and our culture refuse to renounce.
16 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. 17 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.’” 18 For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? Jeremiah 23:16-18 (ESV)
Am I saying we can never prophecy blessing, promotion and open doors? No, I'm not. What I am saying is that simply focusing on the positive to the exclusion of the undeniable and terrifying reality that's staring us in the face is a serious misuse of a prophetic gift. Effectively, it's lying. Even worse, it's taking God's name in vain as his name is attached to impure and/or incomplete messages.
It's time the professional prophetic voices take a break and follow the instructions of Jeremiah 23:18. We need every prophetic person to give themselves night and day to prayer, consecration, tears, groans of intercession and the fear of the Lord. We all must stand in the council of the Lord!
There are warnings that must be sounded so we know how to respond. I can see America collapsing and people fuming in anger asking why nobody warned them of what was to come. Where were the prophets, they will say.
To publish word after word about how blessing and promotion is our portion in 2020 will do little to nothing to prepare the people for what is to come. Honestly, it doesn't take much of a prophetic gifting at all to know the call for 2020 must be radical consecration, intercession, repentance and a fresh revelation of both the love and the fear of the Lord. We must stand in his council.
A LUKEWARM CHURCH
An apathetic, lukewarm church is at serious risk. Apathetic, lukewarm followers of Jesus are as well.
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Revelation 3:1-3 (ESV)
Where are the prophets who are warning the church that God himself will come against it? Where are those who are shaking people out of their mediocrity and casual connection to God, awakening them from a lethal slumber? Do we even realize how dangerous such a life of apathy is? Most don't. The prophets aren't telling them. The pastors aren't either.
If we aren't burning white-hot on fire for Jesus we better stop and consider where we are in God. Our passion, fire and level of intimacy with Jesus absolutely impacts where we will spend eternity, not to mention the future of our nation. There are millions of people who are lifting their hands in worship, praying, reading their Bible, serving and “living right” as they faithfully follow Jesus in an unsaved condition. They don't have passion for Jesus and they have no oil in their lamps.
16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Revelation 3:16-17 (ESV)
8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 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.’ 10 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. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:8-13 (ESV)
AN ARMY OF PROPHETIC WARRIORS
We must see prophetic schools emerge, training young and old to step into an assignment that has been mostly ignored by the current generation. We need an army of prophetic warriors, and warners, to emerge, people who have zero fear of man and who are functioning with the penetrating love of God that is perfectly synchronized with the paralyzing fear of God.
These warriors will spend their lives trembling, crying and interceding in the fire, standing in the council of God and releasing strike after strike of prophetic shock waves into our churches, regions and the nations of the earth.
While I am cautiously thankful for our President, and I do believe God is doing great things through him, I believe the prophets have erred in one critical area: many of them have prophesied President Trump's emergence as the goal, as the end game, as the answer to our nation's woes. The result is a people who are now putting too much hope in a man without concern for their own holiness, passion or part in the story. The prophets must call God's people to repentance. This nation's ills should be resolved by the church, but instead much of the church has abdicated that responsibility to a politician. Again, I am thankful God is using him, but I am also grieved that we have placed so much reliance on him. This national problem lays squarely at the feet of the prophets.
The army of raw, undignified and irritating prophetic messengers that God is raising up will bring a correction to this prophetic crisis. They will have no tolerance for the prophetic games that are being played by so many today. The terror of the Lord will drive them. Low level, feel good, happy words won't be entertained. In fact, they will irritate their spirits.
Too often those who are immature in the prophetic will communicate a low level impression or an uninvited, spontaneous thought as a prophetic word. The more abstract or unusual it is, the more they think it's God.
Folks, most of the time these are simple imaginations. We have to stop encouraging people to prophesy haphazardly. So many of today's prophets never matured out of this, but have been elevated to the public stage because of their charisma. As a result, the words that are coming out of their mouths are meant to create a positive vibe among the people and to enhance their ministry. They know negative words of judgment and correction won't do that. For the sake of their status they steer clear of such prophecy.
2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:2-4 (ESV)
A lot of itching ears in our nation can support a prophetic ministry very nicely. Well, a false prophetic ministry, at least. The emerging army of prophetic warriors won't care at all about money. The thought of focusing on building their ministry and solidifying their status is nonsense to them. The fear of people attacking them, speaking out against them and causing them trouble doesn't exist. Filling up their ministry calendar isn't a goal. They'd rather turn down invitations than accept them if God isn't burning in them to go.
2020 is here. Does God have good plans for his true, remnant church? Sure. However, his true church isn't mostly concerned about that. Those aren't the words they want to hear. They are in tune with the assault of the spirit of the age, with the immorality in the land, with the abominations that both the world and the church are in alignment with and with possible judgment and wrath that can strike our nation if we don't turn. They are crying out for God to prophetically speak about this stuff. They want to be warned and they want to share those warnings with the world.
I'm not saying the following passage is a prophetic word, but it sure is a much better exhortation than many I'm reading concerning the new year. I propose we do this:
13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (ESV)
If a church is small, does that mean God’s favor isn’t there or that the pastor has failed? Not always.
Given a choice, I’d attend a large, impactful and vibrant church. That’s simply a preference of mine, though I understand why many others prefer smaller churches. Additionally, given a choice, I’d prefer to lead a large, impactful and vibrant church instead of a smaller one. The key words are impactful and vibrant. Over nearly three decades of ministry, however, I’ve learned that large does not always equal successful, small doesn’t always equal failure and a lack of numeric growth doesn’t always equal stagnant. It’s time we overcome the stigma of the small church.
Like most young church planters or pastors, my vision for the church I was leading included explosive numeric growth. That seemed to be the non-negotiable, obvious part of the ministry plan that required no explanation. Starting and developing a church clearly demanded attracting people to the mission as a core strategy. In fact, the Ekklesia is defined by three distinct marks: People. Leadership. Instruction.
The Ekklesia is a gathering of people in the region under governmental authority in order to receive apostolic instruction. More simply, it’s people coming together under God ordained leadership to fulfill a mission. So, yes, people are needed if you want to lead a church.
Some of my most memorable church planting moments include an empty 700 square foot room in Manitou Springs, Colorado where I’d pray, usually alone, in the early stages of our church launch there. Eighteen years have passed and a lot of lessons have been learned, but those hours on my knees or pacing around that room were the foundation of my church planting experience.
I’ll eliminate the countless remarkable stories, miracles, supernatural encounters and other happenings that spurred the church development process, both there in Manitou Springs and also in Detroit where we planted our second church. I’ve written about these miracles and wonders in some of my books (www.burton.tv/resources), but suffice it to say, I’m humbled at how God moved. In fact, I’m stunned at just how much God did. I and many others will never be the same, and for all eternity we will be able to praise God for what he did in those seasons.
To this day I wonder if my two church planting exercises were massive tests—for me. I know for sure that both contained many tests, but my question is about the comprehensive experience. Did God call me to plant two churches mostly to develop me personally and to test my heart? Certainly there were enough stories of impacted lives to fill many books and countless articles, so I don’t question whether the ministry was legitimate or not. I’ll be forever wrecked by the transformation that resulted in people in those two regions, in those two seasons. Watching lives supernaturally transformed before my eyes caused tears to flow.
Yet, as God truly branded many people with his fire in those many years of ministry, I do wonder if God was mostly testing me. Would I be more interested in growing my legacy, my ministry, my church and my reputation—not to mention my bank account—or, was I truly in it for love and to minister to the heart of God?
In both Manitou Springs and Detroit we saw the churches grow. People to this day count those years among the best of their lives. God was drawing people together and we were contending for revival together.
In both Manitou Springs and Detroit, God tested my heart. It was difficult to say the least. Crushing even. To simplify what he was doing, he called us to go deeper and to raise the bar higher. The cost of consecration and the call to fervent intercession became a much greater focus (and we were already known for being an edgy, intense ministry). While we had amazing people in both churches, I knew the decision to become even more revival focused, even more intercession driven and even more devoted to a consecrated, holy lifestyle would result in many people disengaging. I knew it. I was troubled. God was calling me to “intentional failure.”
I’ll never forget the key moments in both places when God nailed me to the ground and directed me to surrender all, including my reputation. There were many cries and questions during the many hours of prayer in those two defining seasons in Colorado and Michigan. If I obeyed God and introduced a new wine, reformation church that was very unique and specific to our particular mission, those who were mostly invested in the church experience for reasons other than revival, reformation, intercession and revolution would most definitely jump ship. That would be almost everybody. Literally. No exaggeration.
I was right. That’s exactly what happened. I could have stayed the course and watched the churches continue to grow and “thrive,” possibly into several hundred in number. I have no doubt that I could have chosen growth over God, and that freaks me out. It would have been very easy to spiritualize my decision and avoid the pointed fingers and accusations of failure by continuing on the way we started. And I would have failed some of my most critical tests. I would have satisfied people and rejected God and the church would have grown. That is absolutely terrifying.
Attempting to transition a passionate, Spirit-filled, fiery church into a church that’s even hotter, more costly and one that results in a terrifying tremble in our spirits is not for the feint of heart. You see, there are many who absolutely love to warm themselves by the fire, but very few who are willing to lay across the fire as it consumes their flesh as a sacrifice to the one they love.
If small churches have a stigma attached to them, and failure has a stigma attached to it, failed churches most definitely have a stigma attached! But why?
Stop and think about it. Pastor, I want you to be free from the finger-pointing and cruel accusations if you struggle to grow your church or if you fail altogether. Has anybody figured out why failure in this manner is such a negative for some people? Failure in man’s eyes means little. The question is, are you growing in God? Are you truly obedient to God even if such obedience results in people presuming you are weak? (By the way, we are all weak!)
Here’s a portion of an article based on my book Piece of Cake, which deals directly with the stigma of failure:
One of the greatest fears man has is that of failure. It invites scrutiny, accusation and mocking—but society’s greatest leaders embrace a culture of failure!
The goal isn’t to look like you know what you are doing, the goal is to experiment, try, fail, try again, grow, have epiphanies, gain knowledge, fail again and ultimately succeed!
Success doesn’t develop experts nearly as well as failure does.
Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” (attributed to Thomas Edison)
If we understand the scope of our project, it’s actually quite insane to presume we will accomplish it without significant and repeated failures.
Yes, you are going to fail. Go ahead and wrestle with it now, you can’t avoid it. I don’t mean ultimate failure, of course. But, I do mean that you will pray much, do your best to gain insight from God, consider your best options, seek wisdom from others and then move out with at least a measure of confidence—and you will experience failure!
Failure should not intimidate you! People will presume you to be inadequate, confused or immature during your experimenting.
Most young ministers crave for others to see them as successful and steady with a pipeline directly into the command center of Heaven. The reality? We see in part. We understand little. We have clarity on a small part of the big picture, and when we initiate action, others will watch as we stumble and struggle. Are you OK with that?
THE STIGMA OF SMALL CHURCHES
I’ve heard it said that small is the new big. I believe that is true for many, though we have to be careful not to use that as a cop out. There are some leaders out there who have what it takes to grow a large church yet their lack of personal growth, faith and surrender is standing in the way. Small is the new big only if God has called a particular ministry to be small. There are a lot of silly excuses pastors give for having a small church, just as there are many compromises pastors make to have a large church.
I know we could have easily seen our churches grow moderately large, but I also know I’m probably not gifted enough to lead anything in the thousands. But, in reality, if I honestly analyze God’s mandate on my life, I may not be able to stay true to God’s call while leading more than a hundred—if that. Twice I have traded my ability to grow a church for God’s mandate for a small army of zeroed in warriors. You have no idea how thankful I am that I didn’t fail those tests (though I’ve certainly failed a bunch of other tests over the years! I’m thankful for God’s grace and mercy!).
Further, many pastors simply are not equipped or called to lead a large ministry, yet they expend ridiculous amounts of energy trying to fill the seats.
Pastors, if you have a small church, it could be that you aren't gifted to lead a larger one. God didn't give you that ability. Leadership doesn't come naturally to you. The quicker you can admit that, if it's in fact true, the quicker you can shift expectations and pivot into strategies that take advantage of what you are gifted at.
There's such a stigma regarding small churches. People presume them to be failures. Why is that? Numeric growth should not be the barometer of health and success.
The moment you realize it's okay to be small, the stress and pride and anxiety will fall off. Joy will return as you enjoy being who God created you to be.
The truly scary reality is that many people are naturally gifted to lead a large church or ministry, but God has actually called them to lay that on the altar—and they don’t. They can’t imagine the ridicule, the mocking, the accusation and the massive price that would come if they took their church in a direction that few would join them in.
In fact, I wonder how many mighty church growth visions are being fulfilled as Ishmaels instead of Isaacs. I propose churches all over the world be laid on the altar of sacrifice as God brings redefinition and redirection. The revival we are yearning for requires a sacrifice—a surrender of personal ambition and dreams of success. Put it all on the altar. It requires the church is birthed supernaturally, as Isaac was, not naturally as Ishmael was.
I often think about heroes like Leonard Ravenhill. I would imagine if Ravenhill had decided to start his own church, it would probably be initially well attended, and then a colossal failure. His rebukes of the church that he’s so well known for in his writings would most definitely drive the typical church goer away with mocking and accusations flying out of their mouths. You see, if he would have experienced failure such as this, it wouldn’t be his failure, it would be the failure of those who rejected the call to respond.
Leonard Ravenhill received a lot of criticism about his view of the church being weak witnesses for Christ. He sought to rekindle the fire of the church into the devotion that the first century church had. To him, the greatest tragedy was not sinful activities of the world; it was a sick church in a dying world and so he thought, “Save the church and you will save the world!” Leonard Ravenhill was an old time preacher that warned of the wrath of God, hellfire, heaven, the need for repentance, confession of sin, living a life of holiness. ~Jack Wellman
IF I DECIDED TO PLANT MY THIRD CHURCH
I’d encourage you to read an article I wrote about just what my third church plant might look like, should God direct me to launch one: What My Third Church Plant Might Look Like.
Here’s a portion:
We Will Be Intentionally Small
Understand, I'm someone who absolutely loves large-group meetings. I love praying and contending with thousands of people at various conferences and events. I also would have no problem with a church that does in fact explode in number as a result of revival. I believe we will see that.
However, after 26 years, much of that in pastoral ministry developing churches, I no longer value growing numerically for the sake of numbers. I don't get excited when more people show up, unless those people are hungry and ready to engage God with us at an extreme level.
I believe the sharp, offensive messages that will be preached, the call for 100 percent of the people to be invested in supernatural, fervent prayer and the extreme commitment necessary to advance apostolically will repel most people. Only a remnant will be left. It's with that remnant that we can preach what much be preached, pray what must be prayed and do what must be done to prepare a region for revival.
IT’S TIME FOR REMNANT CHURCHES—WHICH MEANS MOST CURRENT CHURCH MEMBERS WILL LEAVE
Large churches can be a serious threat to revival—or a great strength to revival. We cannot measure success by the number of people who are attending. We must measure by the number of remnant Christians who are fully devoted and being equipped and marked by God in the fires of intercession. Again, some leaders can gather a small group of firebrands and some can gather hundreds or thousands. The key is the temperature of the fire and the level of surrender. When the fire gets hot, many will leave.
We have too many churches filled with people who are marginally interested in a move of God. They would be counted among those who rejected the call to the Upper Room. Understand, what happened in that Upper Room resulted in the launch of the church. If we don’t see tongues of fire igniting above everyone in attendance, and we don’t feel the wind of the Spirit of God blowing through the place, we have to know our church is either compromised or not ready.
The call must be so severe that most people reject it. Hundreds rejected the opportunity to be a part of the Upper Room prayer meeting. Those who did respond changed the world and ultimately impacted billions.
So, yes, when I gave leadership to the churches in Manitou Springs and in Detroit, I was so hungry for God to move more in the region than in my own meetings that I refused to pursue church growth at the cost of obedience and the greater vision. Those were painful years that resulted in a lot of tears as people moved on to other places. Understand, I don’t blame these people. Many are great friends who simply had a different focus in their lives. It’s easy for us to presume such decisions are black and white, but they rarely are. People are at all different places in life, and sometimes one crazy and wild church may just not be what God has for them at that time. I understand that.
I blessed those who left, as difficult as it was to see them go, but I knew my heart was pure and my decision to contend for revival and God’s plan instead of growing my church was correct. Would I do some things differently? Of course. But, the final, big decision to say yes to God and no to personal ambition was the only decision that really mattered.
Simply do what God calls you to do. Period. It really is that basic. There are many pastors that would be better served entering the marketplace. Others need to come to terms with the size of their ministry. Others have to mature and develop before they will see the next level. But, don’t allow people’s analysis of your progress control you or impact you emotionally. People, even many Christians, love to capitalize on someone who is down, and they will use that opportunity to elevate themselves. Just let them. It’s okay. Love them and trust God. All eternity will be marked by the way you respond to people and challenges. It truly is a glorious thing to be free from the scrutiny of others as we allow the fear of the Lord to overcome us. He is truly a very good Father who is cheering you on, not stepping on your neck when you are down and broken.
My name is John Burton and I’m a church planter.
I find it hard to go long before the itch for advancing the Kingdom through new works starts to really get to me.
Recently I’ve been praying and thinking about just what it would look like to plant my third church. The first two were exciting, full of adventure and supernatural. They were also both challenging and sprinkled with heartache! Like any church planter my wife and I experienced good old fashioned betrayal at times and glorious comradery at others. The brand God left on us and on our team and the countless people who were a part of the ministry at one time or another seared us like a hot iron. I’m sure it will be an eternal mark.
Of course, the longer you do anything, the wiser you become, as long as you are teachable. After 26 years of ministry, and after two years removed from giving senior leadership in a church setting, I find myself wondering just what a new church would look like. I have learned much, and I’m at the point where I’m not willing to waste energy on anything other than the main things.
A RISING REMNANT
Everywhere I travel when ministering I run into burning, hungry, desperate people. There is a rising remnant in our nation that is yearning for a corporate experience in the supernatural that shocks our culture. They can’t handle church as usual any longer.
God is moving on the hearts of pastors and others in preparation of a powerful, otherworldly new wine skin, and it’s a skin that most will initially reject. It’s for this reason that I’m slow to launch a new wine skin church. Resistance will be extreme. Timing is critical.
At Revival Church I’m on the hunt for what I call Pavement People. These are the 2 Chronicles 7 people who couldn’t even enter the building due to the glory of God filling it—so they hit the pavement and worshipped. No comfortable chairs, no music, nothing but them, the pavement and God.
As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Nehemiah 8:6
KEY ELEMENTS OF A NEW WINE SKIN CHURCH
PRAYER WILL BE THE MAIN THING
…“Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?…” Mark 11:17
This foundational element will be enough to cause most to run. Today, even the most prayer based churches limit intercession to secondary times and venues. Usually the prayer meetings are relegated to a side room at an odd hour, which means only the few who are available and wired to respond to the challenge of corporate intercession will do so. Sadly, it’s important in today’s model to keep prayer at bay so as not to make the visitors or those who are less interested in spiritual matters uncomfortable.
I envision prayer saturating everything that goes on in the context of the church. I believe it’s an indictment on today’s church that the house of prayer isn’t mostly a ministry of prayer. Sunday morning must become the main prayer meeting of the week, and everybody in the church must pray on fire as their primary ministry. I’m not talking about logically praying through a prayer list. I mean facilitating an electric atmosphere where groans of intercession, fervent tongues and prophetic decrees shake the building off its foundation!
Imagine walking into the sanctuary at 10am and everybody is on their face or pacing the aisles crying and groaning in the Spirit. I see that becoming the regular Sunday morning experience in the coming church. Worship and teaching may or may not always occur. The common experience will be to spend two hours in intercession with some occasional worship and teaching being interjected at key moments.
Simply, Sunday mornings will become intercession sets. Sunday evenings will become intercession sets. Youth services will become intercessions sets. Children's ministries will become intercession sets. Then, in that environment, apostolic instruction, prophetic decrees, songs of worship and other important expressions will occur.
Everything will take a back seat to an earth quaking atmosphere of prayer. Worship, programs, assimilation, outreach, everything. Meetings will sometimes be devoid of these things, but prayer will never be compromised.
How can we even presume to be a legitimate Christian church if prayer isn’t primary? According to scripture, the church is a house of what? Worship? No. Teaching? No. Fellowship? No. The church is a house of prayer—except in America. Except in the Western world.
Regarding worship I’ll qualify this one time as I dive deeper into this point—I am zealous about worship and affirm it is critical and biblical, without question. I have worship music playing hour after hour as I go through my day. Misty Edwards is leading worship on the screen as I write this, and I love it!
That being said, I am troubled at the attention musical worship receives in the church today. It has become an idol for many and is all too often devoid of a spirit of prayer.
I’ve said before that worship music in its current state can be used as a lazy man’s intercession. It’s entertaining. It feels good. It feels spiritual. Yet, it by no means defaults in spiritual maturity or true worship. ~Prayer and Worship: The church I crave and may never see
THE EXPERIENCE WILL BE MOSTLY VERTICAL
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
I’m grieved at how much energy is given to making visitors comfortable while neglecting the call to make the Holy Spirit comfortable. Sometimes those two pursuits are mutually exclusive. A key reason why prayer doesn't fill the atmosphere on Sunday mornings is because visitors and most others would feel out of place. As much as we'd like them to minister to God with us, it's time we are okay with visitors heading back to the parking lot.
As I’ve said often, I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry. We must nurture environments that are raging with fire, an atmosphere that will cause those who are living in the flesh to either run to the altars or out the back doors.
Instead of waiting by the door to greet a visitor, I propose we stay on our face under the weight of God’s presence. Model that. Don’t worry, you’ll have a chance to introduce yourself at some point. What I’m trying to get across is that the focus of the church isn’t developing relationships for the sake making new friends, and it’s not about adding people to the ministry. The goal of church growth will finally be put to rest as we focus on the goal of ministry to God.
WE WILL BE INTENTIONALLY SMALL
Understand, I’m someone who absolutely loves large group meetings. I love praying and contending with thousands of people at various conferences and events. I also would have no problem with a church that does in fact explode in number as a result of revival. I believe we will see that.
However, after 26 years, much of that in pastoral ministry developing churches, I no longer value growing numerically for the sake of numbers. I don't get excited when more people show up, unless those people are hungry and ready to engage God with us at an extreme level.
I believe the sharp, offensive messages that will be preached, the call for one hundred percent of the people to be invested in supernatural, fervent prayer and the extreme commitment necessary to advance apostolically will repel most people. Only a remnant will be left. It’s with that remnant that we can preach what much be preached, pray what must be prayed and do what must be done to prepare a region for revival.
MESSAGES WILL CAUSE PROBLEMS
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” Matthew 15:12 (ESV)
Pastors can be neutered no longer. We can’t be muzzled. The leadership necessary to bring a shock to a nation will result in many becoming offended—not because of the fault of the leader, but because of their own unresolved issues.
We just came through a volatile election season—a season that had most pastors silent out of fear that those who disagreed with their position would leave the church—or that the IRS would revoke their tax exempt status.
I lost that fear long ago. We must refuse to hold back truth and key prophetic messages out of fear that some will revolt. In fact, we need to know that our words will cause great damage, both actual and collateral, when we speak with authority. They will also set the captives free.
This will result in regular heart checks in the camp. Will we murmur and complain as the Hebrews did under the leadership of Moses—and die in the desert—or will we rally around leaders in the spirit of Joshua who refuse to give in to the taunts and threats of the people?
LOVE WILL BE REAL
We will experience a connection with others in a way that we have never known as we endeavor to advance as soldiers together. Friendships will be forged in the fox hole. Nobody will be involved simply for the sake of finding a friend. Mission will come first, but in that mission we will discover a love for people that is real, deep and alive.
Many will reject love like this since it turns focus from them and their desire for social interaction to God and his mission.
In the natural, it was quite a sight to behold watching the Chicago Cubs advance through the regular season, then through the post-season to win their first World Series in 108 years. All-Star and team leader Anthony Rizzo cried very real tears during the victory parade, in front of five million people, as he talked about his love for retiring catcher, and father figure, David Ross. It was moving to say the least.
Understand, the Chicago Cubs didn’t invite people to participate on the team so they could develop relationships with one another. That’s laughable. The right people who were locked in to a magnificent mission were invited to join the team. Those people fought together and discovered respect and love. It was real, or as real as it can get without God in the mix. I trust you understand the point I’m trying to make.
Of course, the church isn’t going to invite only the most gifted or talented to participate, but, the end result will be that only those who are willing to focus on the mission will want to stay.
PROGRAMS WILL BE FEW
In the past I intentionally limited programs, ministries and outreaches in the churches I led so we could all stay focused and energized for the main thing, which was prayer. The truth is that a culture of prayer will result in more fruit and legitimate disciples being made that typical programs or outreaches would. The effects might not be as immediate, but truer conversions and lasting disciples will result.
I see this strategy continuing.
In past churches, we’d all gather as a group a few times a week for prayer and training. We had our school of prayer that trained in revival, prayer and the apostolic. We'd prayer walk the streets. We initiated prayer movements in over 170 different churches. Everybody involved in our churches at a core level was either praying, being trained in prayer, preaching on prayer or giving attention to supporting topics such as revival, deliverance, authority or other key focuses.
The goal was for the remnant to be so full and so united in the pursuit of revival, that it spilled out everywhere they went. They would invite people to come to our prayer events, to the school and to other ministries. They’d develop supplemental ministries on their own. They would explode on fire night and day!
As an example, one of my key leaders in Detroit took on a specific part of downtown Detroit as her mission field. She would develop teams to go down there for prayer. We would often join her as a church to pray on site. It was an important ministry project that she initiated and that we supported. We could remain focused on the main thing and people had the freedom to launch out and fulfill their callings.
MY PERSONAL ACCESS WILL BE LIMITED
But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4 (ESV)
I will be relentless in protecting my call to pray, to training and to developing a revival strategy.
This means most of my time will be spent alone in prayer. Some of my time will be spent with my core leadership team. A small portion of my time will be spent with others.
Those who need a strong pastoral connection will most probably struggle, and I believe the struggle is a good one. I believe you can grow much faster in that culture than you can otherwise.
The focus will be unapologetically apostolic/prophetic.
So, as I sit here writing this, I’m craving the opportunity to give leadership to such a church. However, I am not convinced that it’s quite time. In fact, while it may be time within the next month, it may not be for the rest of my lifetime. I fully understand that.
I’m excited about the local church I’m running with now and believe God will continue do wonders through their ministry. I’m privileged to be a part of that revival and prayer minded family!
There’s a lot more I could share than I did in this article. I also understand there are many invisible, hidden parts that I have yet to discover as I continue to consider the future of the church. The passion in my heart for such an end-time church is real, and it will only grow. As more clarity comes, I’ll know how to proceed.
But, let me leave you with a question. Regardless of where you live, would you jump into a church culture like I described? Or does it sound good, but too challenging? Is it possibly not attractive? Do you hold to a different paradigm? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them!
I want to encourage you to read a related article I wrote previously HERE.
Also, DOWNLOAD a free chapter of my book The Coming Church. It comprehensively covers this topic.
theFurnace: Pastors, leaders, intercessors and the remnant church that is hungry for revival must come together.
NOTE: Our next revival event is MONDAY, JUNE 27 AT 7PM!
NOTE: Our next prayer event is FRIDAY, JULY 8 AT 10PM!
Meetings and services alone won’t cut it. We must to gather a company of firebrands from the region to contend together. This is the first phase of the strategy for revival in Branson.
What would happen if every pastor of every life-giving church in the region gathered together each week in fervent, Spirit-driven intercession and prophetic impartation? The atmosphere in the region would receive a continual shock of holy fire!
I’m looking for a revival company in Branson. These are pastors, intercessors and others who are ready to move past meetings and programs and burn hot with others in the region.
We will meet in churches for intercession, as we have been already in Branson. We will also meet on certain Monday evenings for prayer, training and prophetic messages.
Frank Bartleman, who was instrumental in the Azusa Street outpouring over 100 years ago, sent Evan Roberts a telegram. Evan was giving leadership to the great Welsh Revival and Frank Bartleman wanted to know what he could do to see a similar move of God in Los Angeles.
What Evan instructed goes down in revival history:
Congregate the people together who are willing to make a total surrender. Pray and wait. Believe God’s promises. Hold daily meetings.
This is what we are working toward in Branson.
While local churches are an important part of the overall plan, local churches alone have no hope of initiating or sustaining regional revival without significant, strategic unity with the greater spiritual blueprint. It’s time to bring focus to the city church and to lock arms together with Believers in our region at a much higher and consistent level.
THEFURNACE MISSION STATEMENT & STRATEGY
theFurnace exists to gather forerunners who are united in the mandate to initiate reformation in the church and revival in the region. As carriers of the fire of God, we are single-minded in our mission to rally a generation that will embrace the cross of Christ, pursue radical holiness, engage in fervent prayer, live a life of repentance and experience both the freedom and the fear of the Lord.
CONSECRATION: As a company of reformers we are alert and intentional in our mission. The call for all is to gather together continually, free of distraction, with surrendered hearts, in unwavering agreement and with an unusual investment of time, energy and passion.
FIERY PRAYER: The biblical church is a house of continual prayer, and we commit to upholding that standard. Every Christian has the sober responsibility and wondrous opportunity to pray in such a way that the fire of God burns night and day in our lives, our church, our region and the nations.
FEAR & TREMBLING: The fear of the Lord will always be before us. Brokenness and repentance is a continual reality in the resulting atmosphere that will facilitate a historic end-time revival.
CULTURE SHOCK: When truth is preached, religious spirits react and the hungry marvel. Comfort zones are threatened and personal endeavors are disrupted. In the fear of the Lord, we will prophetically decree shocking and liberating realities of the Kingdom of God.
WONDERS: A supernatural baptism of fire will hit all who have given themselves to Jesus without measure. Death to self, humility and a bold, burning spirit of prayer will open the door to a life of wonders.
YOU ARE NEEDED
I am looking for a small company of people who will pray and advance together every time we have an event scheduled.
You are invited to be on that team.
Pastors, leaders, intercessors, prophetic people and everybody hungry for a move of God—will you contact me today? Share your story and let me know if you have any questions. Then, let’s commit to advance toward revival in Branson together!
Contact me at email@example.com TODAY!
I preached my last message at Revival Church last night—and it’s a MUST WATCH!
Last night’s service and message were intense from beginning to end. BY ALL MEANS watch my last message at Revival Church.
Will American Christianity finally rid itself of a casual approach? Will we reject an independent spirit? Will we pray continually or just focus on nice church services?
It’s time for fire to erupt! That fire must explode out of God’s remnant people who are ready for massive change—a shift that will result in the old model of church giving way to an extreme, demanding and troubling new wineskin.
I bless Detroit as I move on to Branson, Missouri. Amy Smith has been prepared for such a time as this and I’m excited about her continuing leadership at Revival Church!
Join her and the team of passionate warriors every Saturday at 7pm!
Revival Church is located at 26091 Sherwood, Warren, MI 48091.
Here’s the video:
Here’s the notes:
Teacher: John Burton
Teaching Title: Transition Commission
- A Prophetic Company
- Six years of sounding the same message seems like a long time, but this group is barely getting started.
- The prophetic word of reformation that God is delivering to this region is critical, and until there is response the alarms must continue to sound.
- Remember, this ministry is called to awaken the church and call it into revolution—don’t ever lose that.
- Leonard Ravenhill: The greatest need tonight in America is prophets!
- Leonard Ravenhill: 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 other-worldly. The man rejected by other men, even other good men, because they consider him too austere, too severely committed, too negative and unsociable.
- The call is for the pavement people—those who are found on their faces crying out day and night for revival.
- Their focus isn’t on crowds, polished worship or programs for the whole family.
- The focus is on the groan. Until people are seen on their face and heard groaning in intercession we will know the assignment is not complete.
- Rare China video: www.johnburton.net/messages
- The reformed model of church is not only shunned, it’s renounced and soundly rejected by even some of the most zealous Christians. They consider them opinions or suggestions instead of mandates.
- The cost is too high.
- It’s radically uncomfortable.
- It’s seen as extreme and too far reaching.
- Will the church heed the word of the Lord?
- Six years of sounding the same message seems like a long time, but this group is barely getting started.
8. Leonard Ravenhill: “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! The function of the prophet, as Austin Sparks once said, “has almost always been that of recovery”. The prophet is God’s detective seeking for lost spiritual treasures. The degree of his effectiveness is determined by the measure of his unpopularity. Compromise is not known to him. He has no price tags. He is totally “otherworldly”. He is unquestionably controversial and unpardonably hostile. He marches to another drummer!”
b. The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: For twenty-three years–from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day–the word of the LORD has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened. Jeremiah 25:1-3
- For 23 years, the Lord had spoken to His people through His prophet but to no avail.
- Jeremiah means: whom Jehovah appoints
- Jeremiah lived to see his nation go down into sin, war, and, finally, judgment. Through it all, he was faithful to preach the Word of God.
c. And though the LORD has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. They said, “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the LORD gave to you and your fathers for ever and ever. Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not provoke me to anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.” “But you did not listen to me,” declares the LORD, “and you have provoked me with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.” Jeremiah 25:4-7
- For over two decades, the prophet has warned God's people to repent or perish.
- Jeremiah's message fell on deaf ears and defiant hearts.
- Will you still boldly call people to response as Jeremiah did?
- Leonard Ravenhill: “Our pulpits today are occupied with puppets rather than with prophets, with organizers rather than with agonizers.”
- Pastor Dan Parton of Manitou Springs: Twenty-three years is a long time for a man to preach with no results. Twenty three years is a long time for a man to preach to deaf ears. Twenty-three years is a long time to be ridiculed and punished for your ministry, yet Jeremiah remained faithful.
- Those who know their purpose and who are burning with a message rarely quit. Will you quit?
b. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
- Like Jeremiah you were formed, you are known, you are sanctified and you are ordained.
c. “Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:6-10
- This is what Detroit needs.
- You are the prophetic voices.
The old wineskin is becoming less and less useful—and God is looking for some Kingdom risk takers to usher in the new.
Watch this short video podcast I recorded on my ministry trip in Maryland.
My gut says there is a remnant that is feeling the same raw emotions I am about God, the church and revival.
- First: TONIGHT at 7pm, you are invited to experience the fire of the Holy Spirit with us at Revival Church! He has been showing up in an EXTREMELY powerful way over the last week!
- Second: You can now sign up to join the1000 Intercessors for Detroit here: www.detroitprayerfurance.com/the1000, AND request info about joining theCore Leadership Team at the Detroit Prayer Furnace here: www.detroitprayerfurnace.com/thecore.
Sometimes it’s therapeutic to simply write—and let the raw emotions of one’s heart to be exposed to the masses in the hopes that a few can relate. I’m absolutely wrecked and near tears regarding the dire need for end-time warriors to emerge! Rise up burning ones! Be awakened to the alarms of Heaven!
23 years ago I was alone in an empty church room in Dayton, Ohio. It was a crossroads moment for me, much more than I realized.
I had witnessed a lot of what we are familiar with in the Charismatic stream—people dancing, falling over, praying in tongues and exhibiting a lot of passion. Some of it was legit, some of it was not—and I knew it.
I craved God so deeply, though I had never truly experienced him—or, at least I hadn’t in a way that I was immediately convinced I had an encounter with a supernatural force. I wanted God to touch me in an undeniable way—but, I had no patience for anything fake. It must be a legitimate move of God in my life.
I told God, “If you aren’t really a healer, a powerful force, a mighty God, a sign and a wonder, I don’t want anything to do with you…but, if you are, I’ll die for you.”
That simple yet profoundly deep, emotional cry of my heart changed my life—and it has caused me trouble. I didn’t realize it then, but I had just signed up for a very lonely life. Those who would run with me at that pace would be the most precious people in the world—but they would be very few and far between.
I signed up as a forerunner—and today my heart isn’t satisfied if I’m not moving aggressively, with extreme commitment, with a team of other end-time forerunners—or raw, hungry emerging forerunners. I am possessed by the Spirit of God with a never ending passion for finding those people.
If you know me, you understand the daily wrestling of my heart. I’m provoked, troubled, wrecked—yet joyful and expectant. The vision God has given possesses me, and I will see it to the end!
That being said, can I try to relate to you? I, like you, have emotions and a lot of unanswered questions and I wonder what in the world is going on at times! It’s not uncommon for me to consider just what God means when he says it’s time to shift. What is that cost? What will I really have the guts to lay something down so that I can pick the new thing up? Is it possible that he’s calling me to something radically uncomfortable and out of the box? Absolutely.
I have actually come to the place of understanding the true impact of the ministry may not be felt for another one hundred years or more. This is actually not uncommon. Consider Jeremiah. I think of people like Leonard Ravenhill who may not have seen even a fraction of the impact that they will ultimately have during their lifetime.
I tend to ponder and pray a lot, and I’m at my best when I lay all of my cards on the table and give God permission to radically shift my life. I’m in that place now. What is God saying? How will our current, ongoing efforts of intercession and training emerging leaders in our ministry impact the world? Of course, as we continue to pray and equip at Revival Church and our various ministries, there will certainly be a significant handful of people who will be transformed now—but what about the vision for masses of people who will live and breathe Jesus, serve with passion, pray continually, burn hot and change the world? When will they emerge? The laborers are truly few.
I think about the hundreds of houses of prayer that closed last year alone. Where are the forerunners and intercessors that were assigned to those ministries? Will they not respond?
One of the greatest challenges is leading a “church” with all of the baggage and false-expectations that are attached to our American understanding of it.
Though I hear so much about how people are “tired of church as usual,” when presented with the cost of the reformation, church as usual becomes the more desirable direction.
I’d strongly encourage you to watch a video about a dream I had the other day. It’s titled “Assisted Suicide.” The dream was intensely personal and it revealed something hard core: the church is attempting to kill off the prayer movement. Those who don’t pray will aggressively react against those who do—and it will increase as the end draws near.
Of course, as you’ll see in the video, quitting is not an option—but the emotional desire to do so is an important indicator for us! The enemy is most forceful with the breakthrough is near.
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE: http://youtu.be/VXP3h6SHrls
We have to break through the resistance, cares of life and other life issues and lock in. Period.
The end-time army of forerunners will be so radically distinct from typical church goers that it will sear your spirit just by looking at them!
The coming church won’t fit into our busy lifestyles. It will jealously demand our full attention and that we take captive the distractions to the prayer movement.
For me, I need 40 people—weak yet disciplined and hungry for revival—who will run with joy this race with us.
The call? Show up. Pray always. Burn continually. Serve passionately. Die daily. Give cheerfully.
Sign up for theCore Leadership Team here: www.detroitprayerfurnace.com/thecore.
I still hold out hope that this small group of zealots in Detroit will have enough Upper Room power to turn this city upside down.
I’m also looking for 1000 people, from all parts of the world, who will pray every week for Detroit. This mission is so simple, yet the enemy is fighting fiercely!
Sign up for the1000 Intercessors for Detroit here: www.detroitprayerfurnace.com/the1000.
What’s next? The advance of the prayer movement! The enemy will feel the impact of burning prayer!
If it’s only me and a handful of other fiery people, so be it. It’s time to pray and shock the planet!
Does the American church have the desperation and the guts to return prayer to first place?
TONIGHT at 6pm! Julia Palermo is going to bring a potent message that will awaken your spirit! You MUST watch a short video of her preaching to a crowd of people—many of which were on drugs and radically demonized. The call is for the firebrands—the generation of youth to lead the prayer movement in Detroit and our nation! Watch here: http://youtu.be/EZ9CClOVNJE
Revival Church meets at CENTRAL CHURCH, 1529 E. 12 Mile Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071.
RETURNING PRAYER TO FIRST PLACE
When our worship leader recently moved on, I made a bold decision. Fiery intercession is every Christian’s most foundational calling, and in place of a typical musical worship environment, the atmosphere is now filled with passionate prayer, decrees and expressions of worship and surrender.
I’ve often said one reason the prayer rooms are empty is because prayer has been relegated to a secondary activity in the church. It’s usually an afterthought. It’s certainly not primary in our nation.
When fervent prayer is returned to first place, everybody in the church will be in the prayer meeting—because the prayer meeting will be THE meeting.
My wife asked me a question the other day that caused me to come alive:
We have Prep Room, which is pre-service prayer, from 5:15pm-6pm. We then roll right into an hour of corporate intercession as light instrumental music is played behind us.
Amy asked, “So, just what is the difference between Prep Room and the first hour of the service?”
Nothing! Nothing at all! I love it! Finally, prayer is the main thing in the church!
I often hear that prayer like this is not for the new Christian—they will feel out of place. That is a doctrine of demons that must be rebuked! The prayer room must be the first stop for every new Christian! It’s absolutely nonsensical to say that ministering to God is reserved for those who have been a Christian for a while! As a very young Christian, I was awakened in the prayer room. Prayer is not complicated, only costly. It is for everybody.
Will musical worship return? Yes, but only as it’s birthed out of burning, groaning intercession. There will be a tremble on the worshippers. Worship will exist in the realm of the Spirit and we will all sing from a place of brokenness, encounter and surrender.
John 4:23-24 (ESV) 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Everything that takes precedence over prayer for the nations is about to be overturned in the church.
This shift in the church will be extremely offensive to those who don’t value connecting with God in prayer. Today’s system affirms a casual connection. In fact, church systems and programs are set up to remove responsibility from the people—to make it easy and costless for them to participate. This is our current American church culture, and it will soon be overturned.
I so often hear angry Christians mention how there should be no leader/laity division—yet, when the call to the body is sounded to serve like a leader, to pray like a priest, to do the work of intercession, to advance with passion and to be in position as a ready soldier, there is a spirit of resistance that often rises up.
I’m all for laity to serve as leaders—but it’s rare to find those who will actually do it. The cost is too high and the return on investment seems to be so low. (We forget that the return on our investment isn’t personal blessing but rather blessing for the nations—and the fruit of our prayer may not be fully realized by them for decades.)
The money changer mindset results in us focusing on self—on using church for personal gain, on expecting ourselves to be served or entertained or blessed instead of surrendering all and praying for the nations.
I’d encourage you to read my article titled God 2.0 where I address the danger of being a Money Changers Church here: GOD 2.0.
Today, worship teams lead while the body engages at the level they prefer. This is about to change—and those who want to be served rather than serve are at risk of great offense. This reformation in the church will change our expectations radically. The body won’t simply sit and soak as others sing over them. We will all do the work of intercession in a corporate setting. It’s not about receiving from God, it’s about ministering to him. This is pure worship.
This shift in the church will result in a violent assault by those who have their pet church focuses, relationships, levels of commitment and expectations threatened. Instead of simply showing up for a Sunday service and enjoying good worship and positive teaching, the expectation is now for everybody to go hard in fervent, violent prayer for the billions of people in the nations of the Earth who are nearing an eternity in Hell. Check out what happened to Jesus when he set the church in order:
Mark 11:15-18 (ESV) 15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.
They wanted to destroy him. Their personal blessing was threatened.
If the scriptural call is to pray without ceasing, is it not strange that people so often run when the prayer meeting is called?
The thought of having a two-hour prayer meeting as the primary Sunday service shouldn’t be a strange idea at all if we are already praying the remaining 166 hours throughout the week. It’s simply an glorious corporate expression of what we should already be doing individually. Every one of us should walk into the church building burning, trembling, praying in tongues and coming out of perpetual encounters with God.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV) 17 pray without ceasing…
I have extreme patience for those who are struggling to connect with God as they devote themselves to finding him. (Ask, seek, knock)
But, let me be clear—those who complain that they don’t encounter God, they don’t feel God’s love, yet do not devote themselves to wrestling with God in prayer until they break through are without excuse.
No amount of teaching, anointed worship music, positive thoughts or counsel from others will result in a life of encounter with Jesus. Only prayer based on the truth of the Word of God will do that. Others can help you learn about God, but you have to meet him on your own. And, meeting him doesn’t always feel sweet and happy. It will actually burn our flesh and crush every part of us.
Julia Palermo: “People want loving God to be an emotional experience, but loving God has a very practical expression. Obedience.”
John 14:21-22 (ESV) 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”
Intercession isn’t about emotionally enjoying God, though that can certainly happen at times. It’s about work. It’s about carrying the burden of God’s heart. This is what must lead our church services and our entire lives again.
Mike Bickle: The revelation of the Bridegroom filled with tenderness leads some to laziness because they have not seen the revelation of His heart of abandonment or His call for us to be abandoned to Him.
A CORPORATE REBUKE FUELED BY LOVE
God is so zealous about his Bride, his church, that a love-fueled rebuke is coming—and it will hit most every one of us.
The money changers spirit has so infiltrated the church that judgment is necessary just to save God’s precious Bride.
A critical correction is coming to those use the church as their personal blessing machine. In Revelation we see God lovingly rebuke the churches. It’s time for an end-time judgment to hit our churches. Judgment isn’t a bad God doing bad things to bad people. Judgment is an act of extreme, passionate love. Judgment draws the remnant to God, and exposes the pretenders as they run from God. It’s a wheat and tares reality.
Connecting in the church because of good friendships, good teaching, good worship, good programs, good children’s ministry, good environment—and disconnecting when any of that doesn’t meet our standards—is coming to an end.
The Upper Room mandate is upon us—we gather and pray. If prayer is there, so are we—every time the doors are open.
THE LOOK OF THE COMING CHURCH
Again, the 2 Chronicles 7 pavement people are the model of the remnant church. Acts 2 is a New Testament example of it—the whole house will be filled with the fire of God as every single person prays in the Spirit.
Acts 2:2-3 (ESV) 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.
This is some of what we can look forward to—and what we can start working towards right now. God is building his church through his apostolic and prophetic remnant and it will be a white hot center of intercession for the nations.
- We will walk into the meeting praying in the spirit, trembling, in the fear of the Lord, often coming out of dreams of God.
- There is no concern for comfort, who likes us or who doesn’t like us.
- Our position in the church won’t matter—we will know our position is on our face in fervent prayer.
- The room may simply be a giant warehouse with a cement floor—it won’t matter. We’ll bring a blanket, throw it down and prepare to encounter God with other desperate people.
- When we enter the room, we hit our faces without prompting, music or no music, and start praying passionately in the spirit for the nations and the burdens on God’s heart.
- Kids may be right next to us, or in a similar environment in a classroom elsewhere. Either option will work just fine.
- An hour or two later, teaching will boldly call us to action as the Word lands on our burning hearts.
- Teaching will be mostly prophetic/apostolic. Prophetic alarms and decrees will be constant and extremely anointed.
- We will all respond to the instruction corporately and prepare to fulfill our assignments.
- We will return to the corporate gathering for intercession and apostolic equipping several times a week instead of waiting for the next Sunday.
- Between meetings our personal lives will be filled with prayer, reading the Bible, listening to sermons and fulfilling our ministries. We will have plenty of time to do that as TV, movies, entertainment and other cultural norms are put under submission.
Are you part of the remnant church? Are you ready to join a company of pavement people? Will you jump ship when the old wineskin is removed, or will you embrace the fresh fire of God in our nation? Are you burning hot for God? Or, are you lukewarm?
These are critical questions we all must answer. Do we attend church because of what we get out of it? Because people like us? Because we enjoy it? Or, do we understand our call to die, to surrender, to pray and to burn night and day?
See you tonight.
An emerging burning army of young people will usher in revival…theLab is a training ground for this raging remnant!
FIRST: Tomorrow (Sunday) at Revival Church, I’ll be teaching on the next threat to revival: FEAR. Get ready to have fear broken off of your life!
Revival Church meets Sundays at 6pm at CENTRAL CHURCH, 1529 E. 12 Mile Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071.
SECOND: Don’t forget to apply for membership to Revival Church! This is an exciting time to lock in with a family of revivalists in Detroit whether you are local, or participate online! www.johnburton.net/membership
THELAB: MOTHERS AND FATHERS, SONS AND DAUGHTERS
Some churches have youth groups. We have a School of Fire.
For the very first time, theLab School of Fire is open to everybody in high school and on up. Only $100!
LEARN MORE AND APPLY TODAY! The next session begins January 20th!
God is marking the young generation with fire, and he’s awakening them into a prayer-fueled life of wonders.
theLab is a fiery and focused movement of revival that refuses to allow anyone, young or old, to live below their call and destiny.
CARRIERS OF FIRE
Elizabeth was barren and old—yet she carried a burning prophet who would prepare the world for the coming of the King.
Luke 1:15-17 (ESV) 15 …and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.
Mary was a virgin and young—yet she carried the King of glory.
Luke 1:34-37 (ESV) 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
The two generations converged, the baby leaped, the Holy Spirit arrived and the world was shocked into freedom!
Luke 1:39-42 (ESV) 39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
theLab School of Fire is an extreme and unapologetic movement of revival, and our mandate is to raise up carriers of fire who shock the world with the prophetic, burning word of the Lord.
TIME IS SHORT! Applications must be received no later than December 20th, 2012.