Functioning primarily out of our soul results in division, fear, recklessness and arrogance.

Riots.

Violence.

Pandemic.

Lockdowns.

National Election.

Social media has been distressing to my spirit this year. Really, all media has been, including the few sources that might be considered trustworthy. I'll be the first to admit it's easy to dive into debates at a soul level, arguing logic that seems so obvious while being legitimately confused at how anybody else just cannot see it the same way.

Everything from masks to President Trump to racism has polarized our nation. The damage left in the wake of the raging debates has been devastating. More concerning, the church has been caught up in the exact same soul-level social battles.

When our soul leads the way in our debates and decisions, the results can be quite toxic. We've seen fear and division overcome the people of the “home of the brave.” Arrogance has been masquerading as authority and recklessness as freedom.

The soul is the center of emotions and logic, and without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, arguments initiated from that level are not to be trusted. Powerful emotions with the help of seemingly obvious logic will convince people they are functioning from a place of wisdom when in truth they are reacting in fear. Faith is eliminated from the equation. Wisdom (fear) trumps faith when we don't live, breathe, pray and walk in the Spirit.

25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:25-26 (NIV)

DIVISION IS NOT ALWAYS NEGATIVE

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 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 36 a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' Matthew 10:34-36 (NIV)

The true church will always introduce division simply because of the topics we are promoting. There is an agenda. Jesus made it clear that ecumenical unity wasn't his goal. World peace wasn't the focus.

We can expect division when the Gospel is preached. When revival hits, people will be split like the Red Sea with many running to the altar and many running out the back door.

Many pastors today are attempting to avoid the very necessary schisms that clearly define the remnant and the pretenders. Truth rightly presented demands decisions. In the end the Final Judgment will bring the greatest division of all, separating the sheep and the goats for all humanity to see.

Many Christians have attempted to apply this principle of biblical division to their own humanistic stubborn opinions. They celebrate as their pet positions cause others to get riled up and split off. They feel spiritual, but this is soul-level activity and it is grieving to the Lord.

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another… Ephesians 4:30-32 (NIV)

Preach the Word of God and, often times, you can expect division.

Preach masks, politics, the Constitution and on the racial issues of the day? We as Spirit-filled, blood-bought children of the King should speak with great love and grace. Is there ever a time to strike against wicked arguments with force and precision? Absolutely. But, not from our soul. This type of engagement must be led fully by the Spirit.

WHAT IS GOD SAYING?

Church, it's time to come up higher. In this toxic season of politics, sickness, murder and distress, we need to resist the urge to function from our soul. It's time to minister from our spirits.

We've heard all of the arguments about masks, both pro and con. We know all of the reasons people are going to vote for Trump or Biden. People are dogmatic about taking a knee or not. The memes and GIFS and posts and rants about all of these volatile issues and others have become predictable — and nauseating.

Where are those who have emerged from their closets of intercession, those who have a clear word from the Lord? Where is the tangible anointing that pierces through arguments? In this critical, historic hour, where are the true prophets?

Understand, this doesn't mean we can't discuss issues at a logical level. I'm not even saying the soul (emotions and logic) should be minimized. God gave us a soul and he will certainly cause us to speak intelligently and even passionately on secular matters, with wisdom, love and clarity. Debates and discussions can be beneficial. The critical call, however, for every Christian, is to do so with the mind of Christ.

The greater the activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the more impacting our words will be. I would challenge you to disengage from the madness that has bewitched so much of the world and the church. Pull back. Stop functioning mostly from your soul. Don't get so excited about your logic. Be teachable. Die to your own opinions. Speak truth under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and people will be absolutely confounded.

When the truth you speak causes both people and demons to react, you know you've moved from soul-level arguments to spirit-driven, authoritative declarations:

22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching–and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. Mark 1:22-28 (NIV)

TAKE A BREAK

As I said above, it's easy to get sucked into the soul-level debates of the day. And, as I said, not all of these debates are unhealthy. However, a whole bunch of them are.

They can distract those who are supposed to be functioning in the realm of the Spirit and cause us to fight in the flesh. If your revelations on the matters of the day aren't burning with anointing, take a break. If you aren't having dreams and visions about how to address the madness of this hour, take a break.

Seriously. Resist the urge and stop posting to Facebook. I'm not talking about the infamous month-long breaks from social media that people regularly announce. Those folks are back and active usually in less than 24-hours.

I'm talking about going deeper in God than you ever have. See the futility of your arguments. Humble yourself. Finally understand that nobody needs to hear what your soul has to say. Find your prayer closet and discover what God is yearning to reveal to our nation.

The whole world will want to hear what you have to say then.

Originally published by The Stream.

Addressing error without compromising our credibility

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The need for people who rightly divide the truth is only going to escalate as the end-times season we are in continues to unfold. These Bereans are valuable and it would do us all well to embrace the opportunity to analyze our belief systems and to grow.

Instead, all over social media especially, we see critical and arrogant spirits assaulting others they disagree with theologically. For Christians to be rude and to operate in a spirit of accusation makes one wonder if they are saved at all. In fact, the moment we utilize methods of communication that contradict the fruits of the Spirit, we lose our credibility. Fortunately, there are many people who confirm their credibility by debating and discussing with love and honor. Communicating with them is a pleasure. However, all too often, supposed guardians of theology are zeroed in on proving their point and on shaming all who disagree. On the contrary, the shame is on them as they attempt to demoralize and invalidate people’s ministry. The focus is on mistakes, errors, disagreements and weaknesses instead of building them up, honoring them and encouraging them in the Lord.

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 (ESV)

As one who absolutely affirms bold and provocative messages, I’m dismayed that so many who name the name of Jesus presume boldness equates to cruelty and divisiveness. Haters and debaters who are driven by a contentious agenda against those they disagree with are doing great damage to the church. Strangely, they presume to be the champions of truth, knights in shining armor who are to be celebrated for defending their absolutely “perfect” view of Scripture. They presume themselves to be Bereans when in reality they are aligning themselves with a dark spirit of accusation and assault. These are no Bereans. They are, in fact, Thessalonians.

THE SPIRIT OF THE BEREANS VS THE SPIRIT OF THE THESSALONIANS

2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. Acts 17:2-3 (NIV)

In Thessalonica, Paul was reasoning in the synagogue and revealing the glorious truth of Jesus. Some were persuaded, but many weren’t, and instead of exhibiting love in disagreement, they started a riot. This riotous spirit is driving the religious today, people who are not at all interested in life-giving truth. Their motive is selfish, protecting their own way of life and belief system.

5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. Acts 17:5 (NIV)

I think I’ve met some of the bad characters the verse mentions. They are all over Facebook. In the face of this, Paul and Silas moved on to Berea.

10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Acts 17:10 (NIV)

Many presume the Bereans heard the message and then, with a nasty, suspicious look on their face and thick theological walls built up, they put their noses into the Scriptures, looking to refute all that was being said. This is not what happened at all. Many modern “Bereans” are some of the meanest, most arrogant and unteachable people in the church. They are so tightly wound up, fearing even the slightest threat to their personal doctrines that they often slander and accuse people they oppose. This is not how the Bereans in the Book of Acts responded. Not at all.

11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11 (NIV)

Did you notice that the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians? Did you notice why? They received the message not with great suspicion, but with great eagerness! They were excited about this fresh, life-giving message that Paul was revealing to them! Their energy wasn’t spent discounting the message but rather in searching the Scriptures to see if it was true.

Because of this, many Jews and Greeks were transformed.

The story doesn’t end there, however.

13 When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. Acts 17:13 (NIV)

The Thessalonians actually went to Berea to hunt down Paul and agitate the people because of his message!

I propose many who assume themselves to be Bereans are actually Thessalonians—people who are more intent on hunting, agitating and stirring up instead of eagerly receiving revelation from the Word of God.

imageLET LOVE LEAD

When engaging in conversation, especially online on social media or in the comments section of articles like this one, simply be nice. Discussions and healthy debates are supposed to be fun and edifying!

I try to make it a point to address false theologies while never assaulting the minister. I know, there are many who would argue that there are times in Scripture where false teachers were named and they were addressed quite bluntly. Yes, there absolutely does come a time to do that, but it is not as often as many might presume—and it’s always in a spirit of great love.

I do my very best to honor all, even if I believe their theology is way off. What benefit is there in being rude, arrogant or aggressive toward them as a person? When I engage in discussions on Facebook or other places online, a core value of mine is to be nice. I never want the person I’m engaging with to feel like I’m attacking them or that I presume to be superior. While I will boldly communicate my position, I don’t want anybody who might disagree to feel unsafe or devalued. They are precious people created in the image of God. Yes, if they pose a risk because of their doctrine, we must deal with that. But, it’s usually more beneficial to attack beliefs than to call out and defame people.

If I’m not exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit in my conversation, I should not be communicating at all. It’s time to shut off the computer and head into the prayer room. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control should dominate our discussions.

Quit calling everyone you disagree with a heretic. Quit commenting on articles like this one with the sole intent of exposing the author as deceived, false or in some sort of error. Share your perspective. Offer your point of view. Reveal your concerns. Be teachable. Communicate with honor and humility without abdicating your mandate to be a true Berean. Your eagerness to receive truth will open the door for many to believe in Jesus.

Please understand, I have thick skin. By the grace of God I’m nearly unoffendable. When people are aggressive toward me personally when I write or preach, I honestly don’t take offense. Reading mean tweets and comments can be entertaining and even enlightening. I understand the messages I’m called to deliver are provocative and I do know the arrows will fly.

But, I will say this. As someone who is deeply troubled when other preachers and prophetic people are attacked simply because of a disagreement over their theology or style of ministry, I want to simply ask you to be nice. Don’t aim your arrows in their direction. Understand the accusations and cruel things you say don’t only hurt them, but they hurt their spouses and children. Do you have any idea how many tears wives have cried because their husbands are mercilessly assaulted by others in the church through gossip and all over the internet? This is a very real and terribly sad problem, and it simply shouldn’t be.

Let love lead. Be kind. Be gentle. Be patient. Be bold. Stand for truth. Don’t hate. Be tender in your debate. Put the arrows down and simply love.

Everything changes when we become radically devoted, raging on fire and deeply intimate with Jesus.

I’ve been asked countless times throughout my years of ministry, “John, how can I experience the miracles and wonders of God?”

People are so hungry and desperate for an encounter with deity! The zeal they have to escape the trappings of the world and to dive into the glories of God is intense, yet so many just can’t tap into that lifestyle. They find themselves gazing into the heavens and crying out, “God, where are you!”

My answer to these passionate people is not complicated. In fact, it couldn’t be more simple: Live holy and pray in the Spirit—a lot.

HEARING GOD IS THE GOAL

17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 (ESV)

One of today’s greatest tragedies is being invited into to the depths of God and the supernatural realm he moves in—and declining. So many are crying out for God to manifest in the natural realm while he is calling us to manifest in his supernatural realm! There are wonders to behold when we live consecrated lives and pray on fire night and day!

Please hear me: You can begin your journey into the place where the Holy Spirit broods right now! In fact, I feel in my spirit as I write this to invite you to contend in prayer with me for just a moment:

Jesus, I decree in your magnificent name that the person reading this is free from disillusionment, disappointment and unbelief. I command, in Jesus’ name, that every haunting and taunting evil spirit to loose your grip and break away from them, right now! I declare wild freedom, joy and exuberant faith, NOW! Faith rise up! Zeal increase! Expectancy come! It’s time for them to step into the wonders of God! Amen!

As we eliminate anything that would hinder a walk in the Spirit from our lives, and develop a lifestyle of fervent, urgent and enjoyable intercession, both in our prayer closets and with other brothers and sisters, the heavens will open up over our lives.

It’s at this point that we will be able to start hearing God. I’m convinced the only way to consistently hear God’s voice is if we are living holy lives, walking in the Spirit and praying in the Spirit. However, the price is worth it. When God starts talking, everything in our live shifts dramatically! A prophetic force will radiate from within. Dreams and visions will become regular. We will be undone as a fresh revelation of the glory of God shocks and rocks us to the core!

Yes, when you start hearing God, everything changes. Read on for an important truth God revealed to me—a truth I could only receive because I had developed a life of supernatural prayer.

STOP! YOU’RE PRAYING WRONG!

That’s what God told me one day as I was in some deep prayer. I was currently working part-time at a call center. I had been fairly frustrated that I wasn’t able to leave that job so I could work full-time in the church I was planting in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

That day, I was praying from a place of frustration. “God, oh God, please grow the church! Let the finances increase! Please God!”

That was when, as clear as a bell, I heard God say, “Stop! You’re praying wrong!”

What? How could that be? I was praying so hard. As I walked around the 1000 square feet of sanctuary space in the early days of Revolution Church, I really felt like I was doing well. Didn’t God want the church to grow?

Then God said something I’ll never forget. “You are praying as if I’m resisting you. Don’t you realize I put those desires in your heart? Why are you begging me for a desire that I initiated? I gave you the desire in the first place!”

Wow! That ruined my whole perception of what prayer was! I had to think differently.

God then said, “There is one who IS resisting you though. The enemy doesn’t want these desires I placed in your heart to come to pass. It is the enemy whom you must fight.”

So, I launched into a new dimension of faith filled and violent prayer!

I felt impressed that God wanted me to practice this new revelation he gave me. He told me He wanted me to have more time to pray and initiate revival in the city. He wanted me to quit my job at the call center. I had captured the heart of God and I knew it was my turn to enforce His will. The enemy must move!

“In the powerful name of Jesus Christ, I command you devil to release! Get off of my schedule! I declare the heart of God is for me to quit my job and to advance His Kingdom full time in Manitou Springs! How dare you touch the plans of God!”

1 John 5:14-15 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

I prayed according to His will.  He wanted me to work full-time in the ministry.  One week later, as a church of about 35 people, we received a check in the Sunday offering for $50,000. The following week we received $25,000.

I was full time two weeks later.

That money was “more than enough.” We also used it to move into a 27,000 square foot building. God wanted us to have that all along. The enemy didn’t. I was praying wrong. I was praying as if the provision had to be coaxed away from God. In reality, God had already released it and I just had to go get it–and blast through the enemy’s resistance on the way.

Another story had an equal impact upon my life.  I was again in a place of  ‘frustration prayer’.  I was crying out for needs to be met.  I was banging on the doors of heaven in passionate prayer for finances, among other things.  Once again I heard the voice of God deep within my spirit, “Your prayer is hindering you.”  What?  Did I hear correctly?  God told me that my prayer in that moment was doing more damage than good.  I should stop if I planned on continuing in that vein.

He then said, “Without faith it is impossible to please me.”  He added, “Doubt in prayer will ensure that prayer goes unanswered.”  Ok, He had my attention.  I pondered this, and wrestled with these issues.  I didn’t want to doubt.  I wanted more than anything to be a man of faith.  I wanted these pieces to fit together so I could arrive at some conclusion.  God was telling me not to pray!  Yet, I still had unresolved issues that demanded a miracle.  Oh how alone I felt!

Then the answer came.  God asked me why I was praying for something that was already promised in His Word.  He has promised to supply all of my needs according to His riches in glory.  The very act of asking God for my needs to be met revealed my lack of faith that it has already been done! I was attempting to convince God to do something that He already had resolved!  My prayer evidenced my doubt which resulted in my prayer being unanswered!

The Bible reveals, as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Doubt was in my heart. It also reveals that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. I was speaking unbelief. Finally, the Bible reveals that the power of life and death are in the tongue. The unbelief in my heart was manifesting as decrees of death over my finances! It would have been better if I didn’t pray at all!

Mark 11:24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

No begging, no coercing, no convincing, no doubting allowed in prayer!

James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

I hear God and then declare how the situation must conform to His will.  It turns us from a position of defeat and passivity to a position of victory and spiritual violence and powerful faith!  We change from the afflicted to the afflicter!

I’m SHOCKED at how many Christians aren’t generous tippers and givers—and many argue against the need to tip their servers at all!

7 But just as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us–see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 2 Corinthians 8:7-8 (NIV)

imageAre you the most extravagant giver among those you know? Do you tip passionately? Are you looking for opportunities to bless? Or, are you holding back, expecting others to serve you? Has a spirit of entitlement and poverty gripped your life?

Here’s a truth that will set you free: If you expect other people, systems, the church, the government or any other entity to meet your financial needs, you are destined for a life of frustration and lack. However, if you are focused on giving to others, no matter your current financial condition, your joy will abound and your faith surrounding your finances will skyrocket.

19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

  • A spirit of poverty will cause us to keep the dollars that are actually meant to be sowed and multiplied back to us.
  • A spirit of entitlement will result in a lack of gratitude, causing us to keep our money in our pockets while waiting for others to give us more.
  • A spirit of offense will cause us to reject the call to use our money to bless others who we have determined don’t deserve it.

These three spirits must be eradicated from our lives. I’m offering a powerful, free resource at the end of this article to help you find freedom. Keep reading.

HOW COULD ANY CHRISTIAN ARGUE AGAINST TIPPING?

12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

I’ve heard arguments against tipping by Christians who honestly admit that sometimes they simply can’t afford it. I understand the seasons of scarcity, and I know that these seasons can come for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s our fault and sometimes it’s not. However, to presume in seasons of scarcity that we can still live large is a sign of these spirits having a root in our lives.

Entitlement demands they experience life the same way those who prosper do. They argue they have a right to eat out just like everyone else, even if they can’t afford to tip. This is absolutely nonsensical. In fact, it’s selfish and rude to expect a server to wait on us and then to tip poorly or not at all. Everybody is in a different financial position, and some can afford to eat out, some can’t. Some can afford to buy a new car, some can’t. Some can afford to go to the Super Bowl, some cant. Some can afford a new computer, some can’t.

Nobody has a right to things they can’t afford, including eating out. Some actually presume the tip to be an optional but unnecessary bonus for servers if they do a good job. I wonder how many people actually think that the majority of waiters and waitresses are mostly supported by their paycheck every two weeks. They aren’t.

In fact, are you aware that most servers receive ZERO dollars in their paychecks? They live solely on the generous tips from those who are eating at their tables. Taxes on those tips wipe out the $2.13 per hour that most servers make today. This means, if I don’t tip $20 or $30 on my $100 check, my server may miss a student loan payment or they may not be able to buy their children new shoes or take them to the amusement park they were promised. I take this responsibility very seriously. I want every person who serves me to be more blessed than I was by the time the hour-long dinner is over.

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

Our resolve to bless those who live on tips (servers, valets, hairstylists, bellhops, your Uber driver, etc.) should be a core value—even when their service is poor. My wife and I never decrease the tip by even a penny if we receive poor service. Why? There are many reasons. They may have had a bad day. The kitchen may actually be at fault. They are dealing with depression. Their family situation is bad and declining. They dealt with rude customers at their last table. Or, possibly, they have yet to meet Jesus. I guarantee I am not going to try to “teach them a lesson” by decreasing my tip instead of blessing them in the love of Jesus.

If we can’t bless those who don’t refill our drinks quickly enough, how can we presume to bless those who use and curse us?

27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:27-31 (NIV)

When the Bible talks about curses, that includes verbal assaults, insults and all sorts of mistreatment. We don’t seek revenge. We don’t try to teach them a lesson. We don’t leave a nasty note on the check. We don’t decrease our tip. We don’t attack them back. We love them. We bless them. We give.

BREAKING FREE FROM POVERTY AND ENTITLEMENT

I know many who are reading this are rejoicing. Many Christians are tired of others being such a poor representation of Christ. Many servers are tired of dealing with selfish, entitled people. There is a black mark on Christianity because of many in the after-church crowd on Sundays who eat together. They can be demanding, loud, difficult to deal with, entitled and absolutely terrible tippers. It’s embarrassing and many Christians out there have had enough. I know servers who despise working on Sundays. Great job Christians. You’ve made quite a name for yourself. Here’s some advice: If you can’t love your server and financially bless them radically, just stay home.

Nobody has the right to eat out if they can’t afford it. I was engaged in a Facebook discussion on this topic, and some came out of their skin with indignation that I would say such a thing. They feel no obligation to tip their server, and they believe their financial condition should have no bearing on whether they can eat out or not. I wondered if they also might just pay whatever they want instead of the total on the check. Do they just pay what they can afford when checking out at Walmart? Of course not. But, they choose not to pay their server’s bill (their tip). This is a clear indicator of being driven by poverty and entitlement. If you can’t afford to tip at least 20%, you can’t afford to eat out. Most definitely stay home or eat somewhere where tipping isn’t expected.

In order to break free from from poverty and entitlement, we must crucify our flesh and become radical givers instead of expecting others to meet our needs. There are many mad people in the world. Mad at pastors, government, friends, their church family and others for not meeting their financial needs. This mindset will ensure they remain sad, angry, disillusioned and in lack. We break the demonic grip of poverty and entitlement by turning the tables and giving with passion instead of expecting others to give to us.

1 As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4 (NIV)

The poor widow had every right to be bitter at the church and at the rich. The natural reaction when in lack is first to look to others to resolve our problem, and second to despise them when they don’t. The widow was applauded by Jesus because of her heart. She had the greatest need yet still gave everything she needed to live on. She wasn’t entitled, and, believe it or not, she didn’t have a poverty spirit. She certainly wasn’t offended.

Here’s a comment by my wife, Amy:

We have always tipped both in times of plenty and in times of lack. During our first year of marriage we were very poor, with (nearly) no money for Christmas presents and a sack of potatoes for Christmas dinner. We were barely scraping by. However, if we chose to eat out we calculated the tip amount into the cost when deciding whether we could afford to do so. I'm sure our server made a better living than we did at the time. It didn't matter. It's never appropriate to withhold what a server is due in an attempt to better our own financial situation.

I remember that season very well! In fact, I still vividly remember standing next to the sack of potatoes in the grocery store in Cleveland, Tennessee 23 years ago wondering if we should use our few remaining dollars on it along with a frozen chicken. That was to be our Christmas dinner. We did buy the potatoes and had just a little cash left over. On Christmas morning, my gift from my wife was a belt (that didn’t fit) and my gift to her was a Jenga game (that she was upset I bought because we needed that $10 for bills). That afternoon we had friends over to eat our chicken and potato feast—and then my wife burned the chicken. One of our friends ran home to get a frozen pizza. We enjoyed a wonderful mashed potato and frozen pizza Christmas dinner!

In that season finances were scarce, though we were working hard. Our car was bashed in on the passenger side and the doors didn’t open. We had to steer about 30 degrees to the right in order for the car to drive straight. We replaced the tires with $5 used tires once every couple of weeks due to the misalignment. We couldn’t afford a repair.

The bottom line is we had almost nothing and we very rarely ate out. Why? because we knew our $40 check would end up being $50 after tip. Instead we’d eat at home or grab something from McDonalds. It wasn’t our right to eat out if we couldn’t pay our bill—including what was owed to the server.

It wasn’t only our faithful giving to the church and to ministry that broke us out of lack. It was a “widow’s mite” attitude. We expected nobody to pay our way and we knew that we must be radical givers at restaurants and other places. If we couldn’t afford to tip, we stayed home.

The same is true with the church. I can’t imagine how anybody would attend a church, utilize their children’s ministry, receive teaching and be welcomed with open arms without giving extravagantly. We should give radically to the church, period. We should attend church with the same attitude as when we eat out. We are there to bless them instead of expecting them to bless us. We want to give with passion.

Unoffendable PaperbackIt’s true that the church is called to take care of widows. But, here’s the problem: when we stomp our foot and demand to be served because of this instruction in Scripture, we align ourselves with the spirit of entitlement and poverty, even though the church should in fact be helping. We should give and bless even when we aren’t taken care of in ways we should. Don’t blame, don’t point fingers.

Here’s a portion of my Charisma Magazine article The Spirit That’s Taking Over Our Nation—And It’s Not Jezebel:

It's time to repent for a spirit of entitlement that is destroying our testimony.

entitlement
noun en·ti·tle·ment:

the condition of having a right to have, do or get something
the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges)

In a self-centered, narcissistic world, one can only presume entitlement would be in the mix, as well. This attitude is doing great harm to our testimony as Christians in addition to creating a proud, lazy people who expect to be served instead of to serve.

I’ve heard about godly people who always tip double their check. I love this! While I wouldn’t suggest it’s mandatory to do this, I would suggest it’s mandatory to tip at least 20%. In fact, I’d encourage you to consider other opportunities to break off spirits of poverty and entitlement such as tipping double the check, paying for another patron’s check (including a huge tip), occasionally tipping five or six times the amount of the check or more and other opportunities to radically bless. When we give to others instead of demanding they give to us the spirits of entitlement and poverty lose their grip.

A SPIRIT OF OFFENSE WILL ENSURE YOU REMAIN ENSLAVED TO POVERTY AND ENTITLEMENT

Too many live offended lives. Offended that others aren’t taking care of them financially, offended that others are prospering and they aren’t, offended that they are continually overlooked. We should live free from offense. In fact, I’d like to offer my most popular teaching titled “Unoffendable” at no cost to you. Trust me, it’s revelation that will change your life dramatically!

You will receive the audio teaching, the eBook and teaching notes at no cost whatsoever. You can get this powerful resource here: www.burton.tv/free.

A spirit of offense is absolutely deadly. It will cause your love to grow cold and your heart to harden. It’s a death sentence. This spirit will cause you to rise up against others instead of serving them. Your unmet demands and expectations will result in a dark soul, a life of lack and deep resentment. This three-fold cord of poverty, entitlement and offense will imprison all who embrace these evil spirits.

When we break these three spirits off our lives, and discover the power of Kingdom finances, we can live free and full of joy, no matter how much money is in our account.

Faithfully giving and passionately tipping all who serve us out in the world will result in remarkable, prosperous, victorious lives!

What about the “freaky stuff?” How concerning is it when supernatural manifestations are rare in the church today?

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My four-year-old daughter Eva just said something as I’m sitting here writing this article at a Starbucks in Branson, Missouri. While scanning through cartoons to watch on Netflix on her tablet, she zeroed in on one.

“I want to watch this one. But I don't. It's freaky and I love freaky stuff. But I also hate freaky stuff.”

I just had to laugh. In a way, that might sum up the tension of the Christian heart. Discerning good and evil is important for all of us. I’m proud of Eva at her young age!

Further, from an entirely different angle, it may also be the way many people think about the supernatural. Church experiences widely range from absolutely stoic and dead to bizarre and flamboyant. Freaky.

I think there are many mildly hungry yet cautious Christians out there in the middle who are intrigued by the “freaky stuff” but, then again, are tired of the ridiculous manifestations in many churches that aren’t Spirit-driven at all. It's just people acting strange in the name of freedom. Too often, they default to calm and safe instead of wild and risky. Many pastors fall into this category as well.

America needs to take a bold, confident step toward wild and risky. We need the freaky stuff in the church to emerge as it did at Azusa.

William H. Durham recorded his testimony in the sixth issue of The Apostolic Faith (February-March, 1907), p. 4, where he wrote:

On Friday evening, March 1, His mighty power came over me, until I jerked and quaked under it for about three hours. It was strange and wonderful and yet glorious. He worked my whole body, one section at a time, first my arms, then my limbs, then my body, then my head, them my face, then my chin, and finally at 1 a.m. Saturday, Mar. 2, after being under the power for three hours, He finished the work on my vocal organs, and spoke through me in unknown tongues. (http://www.scrollpublishing.com/store/Azusa-Street.html)

Another local paper reporter in September 1906 described the happenings at Azusa with the following words:

…disgraceful intermingling of the races…they cry and make howling noises all day and into the night. They run, jump, shake all over, shout to the top of their voice, spin around in circles, fall out on the sawdust blanketed floor jerking, kicking and rolling all over it. Some of them pass out and do not move for hours as though they were dead. These people appear to be mad, mentally deranged or under a spell. They claim to be filled with the spirit. They have a one eyed, illiterate, Negro as their preacher who stays on his knees much of the time with his head hidden between the wooden milk crates. He doesn't talk very much but at times he can be heard shouting, “Repent,” and he's supposed to be running the thing… They repeatedly sing the same song, “The Comforter Has Come.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azusa_Street_Revival)

WE NEED MORE THAN EXPLOSIVE CHURCH SERVICES

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)

It’s true that I firmly believe we need a massive shift toward “groaning churches” with atmospheres of searing hot intercession that cause the building to shake. I’ve been in many, but nowhere near enough, such services that have left me in tears, trembling and under the influence of fire, drunk on something out of this world. The supernatural moments, in very legitimate ways, forever marked my life and my relationship with Jesus. When you add authentic experience to life-changing truth, you can’t help but be transformed from someone who is simply “devoted to Jesus” to someone who is raging in love, undone, undignified and suddenly alien. Everything changes through authentic encounter with Jesus. Nobody can remain the same.

Too often we presume we can achieve such an electric atmosphere in our church services through charisma, exuberance and a decent dose of exciting worship and expressive prayer. This is common in your more “alive” churches. People are just deep and hungry enough to “jump a little higher than before,” as the song goes (which, at some point becomes humanly impossible. Insert grinning emoji here.).

The point I’m making is this: It takes a leadership team and a zealous people who are setting a culture of deep and extreme prayer, sharp spiritual discernment, and who are wildly prophetic to experience breakthrough into the supernatural.

Natural and predictable church services are the result of spiritually lazy and naturally minded people who are not moving into the realm of the invisible.

FREAKY STUFF WILL SET THE STAGE

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My life in ministry has been shaped by unusual and powerful supernatural conflicts and encounters. I say that not because it’s really cool, but because I’m really dumbfounded. A simple man praying fervent prayers has somehow triggered invisible entities into manifesting in the natural. As I started witnessing more and more, I began to understand how absolutely critical it was to live, walk, breathe and legislate in the Spirit—especially for those engaging in a dark world with an apostolic assignment.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV)

How many Christians are actually confronting evil forces as a part of their ministry strategy? This takes way, way more than simple prayers. We must go deeper than ever. When we do, the fight is on and it will absolutely manifest in the natural realm. Get ready for some wild church services!

SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY

Definition of Authority: the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience; a person or organization having power or control in a particular, typically political or administrative, sphere.

Check out this breakdown of a powerful passage of Scripture:

Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power (MIRACULOUS FORCE) through his Spirit (PNEUMA: BREATH, WIND, SPIRIT) in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend (SEIZE, POSSESS, APPREHEND) with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (DOESN’T EXIST IN THE VISIBLE REALM, OR EVEN IN THE DREAM REALM), that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (WOW! FILLED, FULLNESS OF GOD!) 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power (MIRACULOUS FORCE) at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Paul was praying for the Ephesians to be awakened to the reality of the power that God has given them. Growing in that revelation is key for anybody assigned to a church (that’s all of us). We must know our assignment and we must be equipped to conquer via the Spirit of God. When we are assigned by God in a region, as an authority, we have the power and right to give orders, to enforce obedience in the spiritual realm. This is a governmental, supernatural call.

One key principle I discovered years ago was invaluable. God will establish authority in regions, and it’s absolutely mandatory that those governing leaders learn how to discern in the spirit and conduct business in the spiritual realm.

Shortly after my wife Amy and I planted Revolution Church in Manitou Springs, Colorado, we started experiencing some powerful and revealing things. Our primary ministry method was prophetic intercession. We’d prayer walk that quirky town day after day. We’d receive fresh prophetic revelation and instructions by the Holy Spirit. After it was all said and done, I bet those streets had been prayer walked thousands of times. One particular target of our prayer was a specific church, the largest of five churches in Manitou Springs. This church was part of an apostate denomination and led by a man many considered, including the police department and City Hall, to be the pastor of the city. This man admitted to someone in my church that there was no Hell and demons didn’t exist. He refused to participate in a ministry alliance in the town because he didn’t want to offend his “pagan and Muslim brethren.” Clearly, this individual walked in unholy authority and had significant influence in the spirit in Manitou Springs, and that reality demanded a confrontation.

Our young family moved into an old home in Manitou Springs near the beginning of our ministry time there. Instantly I started discerning something very heavy. Every morning I’d wake up with a distinct “taste” or feeling in my spirit. It was demonic, disorienting and honestly a bit debilitating. Strangely, I couldn’t pray it off or shake it off, but as the day wore on, it would dissipate. This happened every day.

Some time went by, and I received an invitation to meet the pastor of the apostate church. The church building was just beyond the back yard of our house, so I walked there one afternoon for our meeting. The heavy oppression that I woke up with every day had worn off that by then and I was eager to connect with this city leader. I wasn't prepared for what was about to happen. The moment I walked through the doorway of the church, the EXACT same taste, the same distinctive oppression that I had experienced for so long every single morning, slammed me with force. I pulled myself together, put a smile on my face and shook hands with the pastor. We sat down and engaged in small talk. I mentioned to him that their church was very close to my house. He asked me to describe the house. I told him what it looked like and where it was located. We then compared notes on what it looked like inside. What he then said rocked me. “Oh, yes! My family and I lived there for years!”

I didn’t have to be a math genius to put two and two together. The demonic anointing the pastor walked in lingered. I bet those demons were quite surprised when a man of God on assignment moved in. After that fateful meeting with the pastor of the city, the oppression stopped. God communicated what I needed to understand. From that point on I was able to govern in the Spirit with precision. The spirits that were anointing that man’s “ministry” were uncovered.

Rumor has it that past city officials have also lived in that house. It was clear that, for whatever reason, authorities had lived there and I needed to consider what my apostolic, governmental responsibility was. I sensed in the Spirit a baton had been passed to me and our team. That revelation was invaluable as I truly understood God had our back and we could be confident in our advance.

WE CANNOT SURVIVE AS A CHURCH WITHOUT THE SUPERNATURAL

From that time, our prayer and apostolic strength increased. We would pray on the top of Pikes Peak and in caves under the earth. Many undeniable supernatural happenings would stun us time and again. We’d confront witchcraft and watch God work wonders. Demons would come out in the middle of services leaving visitors wide eyed. One deeply resistant and demonized young man vomited in the parking lot the moment we were praying for him with his girlfriend in the church. Moving in authority brings a shift to the atmosphere as demons can’t help but respond in obedience.

And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” Luke 4:36

Is our ministry causing people to be amazed? If not, go deep into the spirit and, as it happened at Azusa, you won’t be able to stop the presses. Word will get out and the amazement and mocking will both commence! Some will run to your church. Many will flee.

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

The message I’m attempting to communicate is that we must go extremely deep behind the scenes. We have to stand in our authority. We must learn how to decree and declare and legislate in the Spirit. Leave the prayer lists and prayer topics behind. Defer to tongues and prophetic intercession when you don’t have a theme to focus on. Let revelation drive your prayer meetings. Lean not on your own understanding.

As I look back at my time in Manitou Springs I know it would have been impossible to break through and do what we were called to do without constant prayer meetings, prayer walks, engaging the enemy, moving in the Spirit, stimulating a prophetic culture, having dreams and visions and moving in great authority.

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19

My recommendation is to avoid trying to manufacture a vibrant atmosphere. Many worship teams and charismatic preachers are very skilled at this, but those who are sharp spiritually can see right through it. Let’s just stop the production and go deep Monday through Saturday and come into our Sunday services rocked and shocked by the revelation of Jesus and the spiritual battle we’ve run to. Live a life that provokes demons and angels. Expect the supernatural to happen. Shake Heaven and Hell. Enlist people who know how to groan and intercede night and day. When that happens, the lid will blow off our Sunday meetings. Whatever you do, DON’T PUT THE LID BACK ON! Let the supernatural scare away the resistant, awaken the sleepers and activate the remnant!

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. John 6:66 (ESV)

If you don’t stand in your authority, how will the church advance? If you don’t pray non-stop, how will you have strength and insight to advance against witchcraft and all that the enemy is bringing against you? Most curses and strategies that witches and others are targeting local churches with go unnoticed. People have no idea there are demonic beings wrapping their arms around the congregation like a vice.

I could share story after story of shocking and bizarre and absolutely critical encounters in the invisible realm we’ve had over the years. We must learn how to see in the Spirit. What is happening? How should we contend in prayer?

The American Spirit-filled church simply isn’t Spirit-filled enough. We are barely touching the surface. We are too concerned with keeping the visitors. A church full of those who would be scared away if God showed up is a church full of false-positives. Those particular people in the pews may very well not even be saved. We can’t just have happy services with laughing and dancing and handshakes and presume all is well. There is warfare raging and spiritual forces to be exposed, confronted and taken out.

I’ve said many times, I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry. Supernatural, messy services that break human control must come. The only way human control releases is if those humans encounter God day after day. God has to convince them.

When we dig deep and uncover the demonic roots in our regions, and invade the darkness, and refuse to ask the Holy Spirit to “settle down,” the church will experience powerful advance.

It’s time for the freaky stuff to return to the church.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 (ESV)

The hyper-spiritual too often wait for God to do what he’s not going to do.

At first glance, those who know me might raise an eyebrow at the title of this article. Many might consider me to be hyper-spiritual myself. Most wouldn’t use the term in a derogatory manner, but they would argue that my life has been marked by a clear supernatural focus. They would be right.

I’ve been awed throughout my life and ministry by the way God has performed stunning and miraculous works. I mean, I’m floored every time I think about any of the numerous times God moved outside of my natural grid.

Further, I’ve written on the prophetic, have led prayer movements that are fueled by tongues and fire and unapologetically call those who are naturally minded on the carpet. The call to live, move, walk, pray and function night and day in the Spirit is non-negotiable. Further, it’s there that the Christian life begins to make sense…and produce joy, freedom and a load of fun!

So, no, I am absolutely not calling anybody to pull back from living in that spiritual realm. What I am doing, however, is highlighting an error that causes many people to be spiritually minded to the exclusion of understanding God-given abilities and opportunities that exist in the natural realm. They are hyper-spiritual instead of appropriately spiritual. They are hesitant instead of proactive. They spiritualize their timidity.

NATURAL MAN POSSESSES AMAZING ABILITIES

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Genesis 11:4-6 (ESV)

God gifted every human, Christian or not, with abilities that are profound. Of course, everybody’s gifts, talents and abilities are different, but the truth remains, even outside of a life devoted to Jesus, mankind can do remarkable things.

Consider man’s ability to build the Great Pyramid of Giza. Even today’s most brilliant minds are astonished by that ancient architectural accomplishment. Think about the Hoover Dam, the Great Wall of China, the Superdome in New Orleans, the world’s tallest buildings and other marvels. The engineering required to build such impressive structures is mind blowing.

Think about life-changing inventions, medical advances, air and space travel and even military weaponry. Not only did all of these come about outside of a hyper-spiritual life, most of them were accomplished by unbelievers who had no spiritual focus whatsoever. Mere humans produced wonders.

Man was building the Tower of Babel and God knew they had the ability to do so, which is why he stepped in and stopped their progress. If unbelievers and even evil people can accomplish so much, why do so many Christians over-spiritualize decisions they make and presume that floating on some supernatural cloud will result in progress? It sounds so spiritual to say, “I’m waiting for God to open a door,” or “God hasn’t spoken to me about that yet.”

I’ve met innumerable people who fit this description. They love to soak in God’s presence (as we all should!)…but without any forward, natural momentum as a result. The extent of their forward movement is a stream of semi-prophetic words they share in church, on Facebook or to anybody who will listen. They love to talk about their supernatural revelations (or imaginations), but, when it comes to actually doing something, they retreat back into their mystical, nebulous existence. They prefer to adopt the appearance of the monk on the mountain instead of the person with the shovel in their hands. They think they present themselves as spiritually wise and mature, but in reality they are spiritually stunted accomplishing little in the spirit or in the natural.

We should certainly develop a life of intimacy with Jesus. We should have a prayer closet where we encounter God in supernatural ways. We should be prophetic and on fire for Jesus. We should also move out and produce!

YOU HAVE TO GET OUT AND MOVE!

The Bible tells us that the steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. We can have great confidence that God will be with us when we advance!

Too often we are gazing into the clouds waiting for signs that we are to make a decision or to move out. Stop gazing and move! Stop waiting for God to do something. He’s already enabled you to do so much!

Write your book—THIS year! Start a business! Tell people about Jesus! Start a ministry! Go to a school! Learn a trade! Get another job! Do what is burning in your heart to do! Is there a place for seeking out wise counsel before making big decisions? Yes, there is. But, be sure the counsel is wise and not coming from someone as overly cautious as you’ve been!

My wife and I have enjoyed a remarkable life of advance, often because we just jumped out of the boat and went for it.

Escape Code Building 2THE STORY OF STARTING OUR LATEST BUSINESS

Understand, I’m not talking about moving carnally. I’m not talking about ignoring God’s leading. I’m not talking about living outside of God’s grace. I’m talking about acknowledging that God has very powerfully affirmed and enabled us and we have many permissions, resources and abilities to do things that don’t require the planets to align or a visiting prophetic minister to read our mail.

I’ve met so many aspiring authors who tell me they have a book in them, and have been waiting years and decades for the right time to write it. What? This is nonsense! Write the book in the next three months and move on to the next project! Is there a time to wait? Of course, but today’s hyper-spiritual Christian presumes a tentative life is a spiritual life. They stop until God says go instead of going until God says stop!

After years of full time ministry as church planters and pastors, my wife and I moved to Branson, Missouri. While I’d continue writing and traveling to speak at churches and conferences, we knew we’d need to develop additional sources of income. Additionally, we were excited about the opportunity to start something new. We knew God would be with us as we stepped out. He’d order our steps.

On a trip to Tulsa to visit Oral Roberts University with my son Skylar who was considering where to attend college (he ultimately decided on Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee) we had some down time. We jumped online looking for things to do and noticed something called an escape room. I had heard of them, but wasn’t exactly sure that they were. We decided to go. We played two games and were hooked. In the car afterward my wife said, “We can do this.” She was right.

Since we had developed a life of living, praying and moving in the Spirit, we knew God would redirect us if this wasn’t his will. We’d go unless God said stop. The other option would be to wait until God confirms it is his will. I’ll tell you, that is usually not the right decision. Be so intimately connected to Jesus in his supernatural realm that you can continually advance without delay, knowing that he will redirect you as necessary in the natural realm.

We returned to Branson and rented a storefront, dealt with the city code requirements, built out two different escape experiences, developed our branding, installed signage, advertised and opened for business.

The entire process, from the day we played our games in Tulsa to the day we opened and watched other people play our escape games in Branson was less than eight weeks! God’s grace was with us!

Two years later, as we continued to develop our business, we were awarded as the fifth best escape attraction in the entire nation by USA Today! We were humbled and excited that out of thousands of escape rooms in America, we are in the top 10! It’s not the Great Wall of China, but it’s at least a lot of fun for our family to develop and enjoy our little business!

We were the first escape room business in Branson, and now there are at least five others. The competition is fierce, and the limited tourist season here presents challenges for a business like ours, but God’s grace has empowered us.

We moved, God graced and now, instead of waiting for open doors and signs in the sky a few years later, our business is established and we are on to other ventures, assignments and opportunities.

Going until God says stop will save you years of delay!

YOU CAN DO IT!

God loves you and is on your side!

Live in the Spirit. Pray in the Spirit. Advance in the Spirit. Be spiritual. Don’t be hyper-spiritual. It will hold you back and stunt your growth.

God has plans for you and he’s ready to direct your steps if you just go!

The condition in our nation is so weighty that we must awaken ‘groaning intercessors’ who contend together for revival in the church.

YOGA-000000137Throughout scripture we see groans preceding a great deliverance—and this deep groan of the Spirit must erupt in our churches and in our cities now. The days of quiet, sedate church services built upon human order must come to an end—Sunday mornings must resound with a prophetic shock and a new sound of trembling people exploding in groans of the Spirit.

Acts 7:34 (ESV) I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them.

Romans 8:22-26 (ESV) 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

I've been privileged to give leadership to some events where intercessors and hungry people have shaken and shocked atmospheres. The loud, erupting sound of groans have been resounding in our meetings. It’s been prophesied many times that a new sound is going to be released. A new tone. I am convinced that this is not a new musical style, but rather it is a new groan of the Spirit. It’s the tone of the groan that will be heard around the world.

One of the most misapplied scriptures is Romans 8:28. When people are struggling, it’s common to share this verse with them. It’s actually pretty bad counsel if we don’t let them know that this verse is dependent on the preceding verses. Romans 8:28 starts with the word “And,” which should reveal that it’s connected to what came before it:

Romans 8:26-28 (ESV) 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Things work together for good WHEN we allow the Holy Spirit to intercede through us with groans! No groan, no guarantee of success.

This is talking about a literal groan. Just like praying in tongues requires a literal sound to come out of our mouths, the groans are also deep, zealous sounds…tones…emitted from the depths of our inner man.

Churches must begin to become prayer and groan driven! The sound will break strongholds and usher in deliverance into our nation.

Yes, it will make a lot of people uncomfortable…but the Holy Spirit will be radically comfortable.

When the groans begin, Romans 8:28 initiates. As the powerful mysteries of God are exploding out of us in prayer, we easily find ourselves loving God with deep intimacy. We embrace the calling that’s on our lives. We have a resounding yes in our spirits even though we don’t know logically what we are agreeing with! In fact, bypassing our logic and intellect through groans of intercession is a primary reason WHY we are in agreement with God!

Our minds can’t understand what’s being prayed, and therefore can’t come into disagreement with it!

PRAYING IN TONGUES: THE SOLUTION FOR DEAD PRAYER MEETINGS

I don’t know that you can really have a dead prayer meeting if people are erupting in tongues!

Honestly, it’s difficult to understand why so many Charismatic churches minimize tongues in their meetings. It makes no sense whatsoever!

We need Azusa-level reports to shoot around the planet as we explode in supernatural cries!

In a skeptical front-page story titled “Weird Babel of Tongues”,[17] a Los Angeles Times reporter attempted to describe what would soon be known as the Azusa Street Revival. “Breathing strange utterances and mouthing a creed which it would seem no sane mortal could understand”, the story began, “the newest religious sect has started in Los Angeles”.[20] Another local paper reporter in September 1906 described the happenings with the following words:

…disgraceful intermingling of the races…they cry and make howling noises all day and into the night. They run, jump, shake all over, shout to the top of their voice, spin around in circles, fall out on the sawdust blanketed floor jerking, kicking and rolling all over it. Some of them pass out and do not move for hours as though they were dead. These people appear to be mad, mentally deranged or under a spell. They claim to be filled with the spirit. They have a one eyed, illiterate, Negro as their preacher who stays on his knees much of the time with his head hidden between the wooden milk crates. He doesn't talk very much but at times he can be heard shouting, ‘Repent,' and he's supposed to be running the thing… They repeatedly sing the same song, ‘The Comforter Has Come.'

The Comforter has come! Oh, for a movement where the testimony of our heart was simply that! The Comforter is here! He is blowing in and through us and there is absolutely no denying his love and power!

Now think of a typical American prayer meeting. I know, I don’t want to attend either!

We must see the tone of the groan return to the church again! Oh, and a supposed “disgraceful intermingling of the races” would do wonders for the a movement of unity and revival too, don’t you think? We could fix dry and dusty prayer meetings along with the current racial turmoil in the land at the same time!

I often propose to churches, and model it often in our own ministry, to pray for one or two hours straight in nothing but tongues. No English. No petition. No prayer requests. No worship. Nothing but tongues, nonstop, for hours. Prayer meetings, Sunday meetings and every other meeting would begin to radiate brightly and new life would come to the church almost overnight.

TONGUE DRIVEN PRAYER MOVEMENTS

I’ve seen two powerful prayer movements impact two cities, Colorado Springs and Detroit.

Every Friday night our team of local zealots would be invited into a different local church in the city. We’d pray, without ceasing, for two hours in tongues. In all, we prayed in over 170 total churches between the two cities.

We had one foundational rule: tongues would never be sacrificed or minimized for anything, including unity. How could true unity reign if we ask the Holy Spirit to wait outside the door?

It was always tempting, because of our love for pastors and people from all Christian streams, to remove the tongues requirement. That would gain us entrance to hundreds of additional churches that didn’t embrace the gifts of the Spirit. I was always resolute, however. I knew the movement would die when tongues ceased.

I simply don’t believe prayer is sufficiently powerful without the burning of the Holy Spirit. We need tongues of fire that scorch atmospheres.

I’m believing for new movements of prayer that result in churches being baptized afresh in the fire and power of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t know about you, but I am craving revival in the church of our nation, and we can be sure that all things will absolutely work together for good in America if the church begins groaning in the Spirit. Time is short, open your mouth and let the fire of the Holy Spirit rage through you in an other worldly language. That supernatural cry will have a sound that shakes atmospheres and brings life to the dead. You absolutely have a unique tone. It’s the tone of the groan.

Then when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at his feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the Spirit and was troubled … Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lie against it … now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he who had died came out …” John 11:32-44

YOGA-000000121Today’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

Six-Enemies-PaperbackA 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. 

Branson, Missouri Church: An introduction to King’s Chapel, a Spirit-filled church in Branson, Missouri

Branson Church: As many of you are aware, my family and I recently moved to Branson, Missouri, which meant we would be praying for a new, passionate, Spirit-filled, prayer-driven Branson church to call home.

I found myself craving to dive into a new Branson church experience the moment I arrived on scene. I couldn’t imagine taking any time out, away from the church gathering, even though we’ve been in the crazy world of church leadership for so many years leading up to this! I wasn’t in the mood to church shop (which I really don’t believe in anyway), so I prayed, “God, let’s get this done. At least give us a place where we can visit that’s on fire—a church in Branson that is invested in revival, prayer and what God wants in this region. I don’t want to spend weeks trying to find that place. Amen!”

That was a Sunday afternoon. I searched the web and stumbled upon King’s Chapel Branson. I saw that they had Sunday evening services (which, sadly, are so rare today!). Then I noticed that their public gatherings didn’t begin until the next week. So, I emailed them and introduced myself and then took a nice, long nap on the couch. I woke up a few minutes before 6pm and checked my email. One of the leaders of King’s Chapel responded to my message and invited us to come to their final house meeting before moving to their new location. I shook myself awake and alert, grabbed Jet (my 8 year old) and cruised down to their house. We were about ten minutes late, but it didn’t matter—the moment I walked through the door of their home near downtown Branson I was enveloped by the presence of the Holy Spirit. I instantly knew I had walked into something special.

God answered my prayer, sent up just a few hours prior, and I was visiting a new Branson church plant that was burning for revival.

Pastor Chris Davis | King's Chapel | Branson, Missouri Spirit-Filled ChurchWhile we will certainly be connecting with a variety of Branson churches and ministries as we serve the mission of revival in the Branson, Missouri region, it was important that we would find a primary church home, a church family where we could connect, plant and grow. While we are just a few weeks into the process of prayerfully searching for that church, King’s Chapel in Branson has emerged as a wonderful surprise for us—as a place of refreshing and passion, of wind and fire—and we are excited about getting to know their team, vision and passions in deeper ways.

Just what has been evident thus far? They love Jesus. A lot. They value God’s presence. They are zealous for an outpouring in Branson, Missouri and the nations. They are a church on fire. They are real, raw, hungry and determined to see the people of this new Branson church impacted by the love and power of the Holy Spirit. They are legit.

A NEW BRANSON CHURCH PLANT

King's Chapel Branson Missouri | Spirit-Filled ChurchKing’s Chapel is a new Branson church plant that just recently moved from their home into their first public gathering place, the Branson Community Center, at 201 Compton Dr. Branson, MO 65616. They meet Sunday at 10am and 6pm, and I encourage you to enjoy both services. It’s a powerful way to spend a Sunday!

There are also life groups, youth meetings, prayer meetings and other events throughout the week.

Pastors Chris and Melissa Davis are seasoned veterans in ministry, and it shows. They are humble, focused, excellent communicators and they hold nothing back when it comes to expressing their love for Jesus and for people. I am humbled by their gifts and determination to impact lives for Jesus. I believe they will have dramatic impact in Branson and it would do you well to meet them and their amazing team.

Additionally, my kids have thoroughly enjoyed the strong focus they have on youth and children’s ministry. Amy and I are so blessed that they have a place to discover more of Jesus with a band of other young zealots and emerging leaders!

The times of worship have been powerful, deep and radically anointed. Jesus moves powerfully among the people as their team leads us into his presence through abandoned worship. It’s not a show. It’s not about the presentation. It’s all about the church exalting our Majesty, King Jesus as one.

King's Chapel | Branson, Missouri Spirit-Filled ChurchABOUT KING’S CHAPEL BRANSON

King's Chapel Branson is an extension of King's Cathedral in Maui, Hawaii, pastored by Dr. James Marocco.  What began in 1980 as a small church on a small island, has now grown to over 100 sites worldwide.  We are one church in many locations from Alaska to Tahiti, Japan to Spain, and Seattle to one of our newest, right here in Branson, Missouri!

Branson Pastors Chris and Melissa Davis have been serving with King's Cathedral and Chapels for over 25 years, previously in both Maui and Dallas. They have a vision to see the kingdom of God expand in Branson and the surrounding areas, bringing life, healing and a fresh flow of the Spirit of God. They are anointed speakers and worship leaders, traveling extensively, training teams and producing productions. They have produced 13 albums and Chris' songs have been recorded by Integrity Music, Brentwood Music, and many others. He has also written ten original musicals, which have been performed in churches across the U.S. as well as in other nations. They have three children, Austin and wife Genevieve, Dillon and Madison.

KING’S CHAPEL BRANSON STAFF

King's Chapel | Branson, Missouri Spirit-Filled ChurchKing's Chapel | Branson, Missouri Spirit-Filled ChurchYouth & Children’s Ministry

Minister Pua has grown up in KC since she was twelve years-old and believes in raising up a generation of world-changers.  Her desire is to see the children and youth of this generation know Jesus intimately and be able to release His love to others.

Worship & Media Ministries

Minister Darron has been a worship leader for 15 years and on staff of KC for 7.  He has a deep passion for worship and seeing people released in their God-given talents in worship arts.  He used to play the clarinet and hates celery.

Contact this Spirit-filled Branson Church: King’s Chapel Branson:

Phone: 417-413-1984 
kingschapelbranson@gmail.com
www.kcbranson.com

If you’d like more info about this amazing Spirit-filled, revival-minded Branson church, contact them or get in touch with me.

*An added perk is that the team hails from Hawaii, and I bet a ministry trip to the islands just may be in my future! Well, at least a vacation anyway!

John Burton


King’s Chapel, Branson, Missouri | www.kcbranson.com | A Spirit-Filled Branson Church

Operation Houston: It’s time to launch a movement of Spirit driven prayer in the face of homosexual bullying

imageHouston has a problem.

For those of you who read my recent article titled 9 Prophetic Keys for Binding the Homosexual Spirit, you may know where this article is going. It’s time for a humble people to boldly advance with tears in their eyes and fire in their mouths. The homosexual agenda is advancing in unprecedented arrogance and the church must respond boldly in the authority it has been given.

With this in mind, I want to warn against any human zeal or pride that would result in combating against the aggressive demands of the city of Houston. The arrogance of those who are placing improper and unrighteous demands on pastors in Houston must not be met with arrogance and unrighteous demands by the church. True humility will result in true boldness and the power of God will be made evident. Keep in mind, this isn’t a political human rights or first amendment issue—this is a spiritual issue. If America were not a free nation, how then would we respond? It wouldn’t be in the courts of our land. It would be in the courtroom of Heaven.

This doesn’t mean human judges won’t be involved—they very well may be. It does mean, however, that they can’t win alone. The church must pray.

We have great authority as Christians thanks to what Jesus did for us.

…which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church… Ephesians 1:20-22

This authority grants us the right and the responsibility to govern on the Earth. God’s government trumps the government of the city of Houston and as we operate in our authority as a unified church entire cities will shift. We have the keys of the Kingdom and we have the authority to bind and to loose—and God will have our back.

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19

The church has historically had a tragically weak response to the homosexual agenda. We haven’t stood in our authority.

I believe this is mostly due to the fear of being accused of hatred. After all, our calling card is love and it would seem to make sense to protect that branding. The thought is that we should simply respond to assaults with a smile on our face and a bear hug. Unfortunately, that won’t work against principalities and powers. In fact, such a response is not the perfect expression of love. Not even close. It looks more like timidity.

It’s rare today to hear people clearly sounding alarms and warning those who are in grave danger. It seems that it’s more loving to avoid discussing someone’s possible eternal future than to warn them that they are at risk of eternal torment. The gut wrenching truth that causes me to shudder and break in my heart is that the Mayor of Houston is fighting against God and, based on Scriptural truth, is currently destined for Hell. Again, it’s love that communicates this horrifying reality, and it’s also love to go to battle on behalf of Mayor Annise Parker and her supporters in Houston.

God’s passion for them is intense and the enemy’s attack against them is continual. The church finds itself in between, warring for their souls.

WHO ARE WE FIGHTING?

First, we must agree that this is a fight. We have to move beyond our simple evangelism strategies and relationship building at the coffee shop. The church of America is at war and our weapons are not man made.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

When considering the homosexual advance, it’s important that we understand what our battle is. Our fight will look very different depending on the situation. Who are we engaging?

We don’t fight people, but we do fight an invisible enemy. That enemy will manifest differently depending on just who it’s attacking. Consider these two strategic focuses:

  1. The Homosexual Victim
  2. The Homosexual Agenda

There are millions of people who have been violated by Satan’s hordes and the result is extreme confusion regarding their sexual identity. The homosexual victim has been abused and confused and our approach as loving Christians must be tender. Of course, we will fight the enemy on their behalf but the point I want to make here is that a giant smile and a massive bear hug are absolutely appropriate in this particular scenerio. A personal, relational approach is necessary and we should take the time to serve those who feel hopeless and confused.

This article, however, is directed more to the homosexual agenda. Our response to this massive onslaught in our nation will look much different than it does to the homosexual victim. At this level, the war is on.

For the victim we are dealing with emotions, woundings and various demonic attacks. Regarding the agenda it’s a completely different story. We are dealing with extremely powerful, influential wicked powers that can’t be won with a hug.

The homosexual agenda is driven by a violent, organized and deadly demonic strategy that has little to do with same sex attraction—it’s all about taking dominion in America and it’s manifesting clearly in Houston.

This evil assault must be met with one key spiritual strategy—praying in tongues. Fervent, unified, passionate and continual prayer in the Spirit. This is a call to the church to always be in the Spirit and to pray without ceasing.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

Again, read my prior article for a more comprehensive explanation of this revelation. The present danger our nation is experiencing cannot be allowed to advance.

It’s time to bring confusion to the camp. The violent, intolerant homosexual agenda will be stalled via a massive movement of people who are praying in the Spirit. The groans of intercession need to be heard in our nation again!

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;  praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints– and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10-20

Praying in the Spirit is one of our weapons of warfare! It results in precise intercession being lifted up and a sword of the Spirit exploding out of our mouths! Just imagine the demons that are scattering as we pray!

I see stadiums filled with thousands of people who spend all day and night groaning and roaring in the Spirit along with myriads of angels waging war in the heavenlies over Houston!

Just as those in the homosexual movement have a common language, and just as those at the Tower of Babel had one language, the church’s response must be the common language that God gave us in Acts 2.

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. Gen. 11:1

Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:3-4

Just as confusion came to those at Babel, another unified language resulted in confusion in Jerusalem:

And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled… Acts 2:6-7

The difference? At Babel the confusion stopped the unified work of Satan. In Acts the prayer-fueled unity initiated outpouring caused people to marvel!

It’s time for Satan’s agenda in Houston to be confused and for the people of Houston to marvel!

ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD?

We all know the verse:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

This is one of the most misused verses in all of Scripture.

When somebody has a bad day—their girlfriend breaks up with them or they can’t pay their bills or they break their leg—it’s common to quote this famous verse. The problem? It’s terrible counsel and it doesn’t work. That single verse cannot stand alone. Context is necessary.

You may have noticed that the verse started with the word AND. That should tip us off to something that comes prior. There’s a condition that must be met for verse 28 to activate. Those conditions are found in verses 26 and 27:

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

It’s when we allow the Holy Spirit to intercede through us with groans that things start to come together.

America needs a groaning movement of deep intercession! The Holy Spirit knows what the mind of the Spirit is, and he prays through people who physically groan and travail. This prayer is perfect prayer as it’s according to the will of God. We don’t need human strategy when we pray in the Spirit!

When the groans are burning in and through us we find ourselves loving God more deeply and trusting him more fully. We agree with his calling on our lives. Then all things work together for good!

As the church of Houston and of our nation gathers together in unity to allow the Holy Spirit to pray through us, we will begin to see all things working together for good! The love of God will explode! The homosexual agenda will lose its power and the plan of our glorious Savior will advance in power! Let’s fill churches, streets, homes and stadiums with groaning intercessors! Can you imagine what tens of thousands of people groaning deeply in the Spirit would sound like? The stadium roof would explode!

UNITY

Unity always surrounds a cause, or a point of focus. The homosexual agenda is possibly the most unified movement in the world today. They are gathered around a singular focus.

Consider the three Hebrews who unified against King Nebuchadnezzar. The king called everybody to rally around an image. His strategy for national strength was brilliant—unity.

So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Daniel 3:7

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego chose a different point of unity—the fire.

Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” Daniel 3:15

God was the only one who could deliver them, and God was the only one who could change the nation. So, in the face of certain death, they stood together in unity.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

This is where the church is right now. What will we rally around? If we attempt to blend in and let the situation play out, we, by default, worship the image—the image that the homosexual agenda is gathering everyone in the city around.

When we make our stand, we will absolutely appear to be divisive, hateful and arrogant, and that will result in rage in the camp.

Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Daniel 3:19-20

It’s at this point, well into the battle, where Jesus will be made known to all:

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Daniel 3:24-25

Their radical unity in the fire resulted in a manifestation of Jesus that was undeniable. The nation turned at that moment. Our nation, the city of Houston and Mayor Annise Parker can all be transformed over night.

Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3:28-30

Operation Houston will result in a unified church in the midst of the fire, wielding their weapons, praying in the Spirit and impacting not only Houston but the nation and the entire world. The love of God will be made manifest and millions of people will have an unprecedented opportunity to experience it. Church, this is our hour.

Does anybody in Houston have a stadium we can borrow for a day?

It’s time to pray.