750 police officers were injured defending Americans from violent rioters. Now the defended are demanding the police are defunded.
9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers… 1 Timothy 1:9 (ESV)Make no mistake, anyone with the slightest hint of discernment can agree a vile spirit of lawlessness is overtaking this nation. This buildup has been at work for years. It's clear we are blazing quickly toward the end zone of the end-times.
3 Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (NLT2)Lawless people are ravaging our cities, businesses and lives, most often, black lives. The core of my emotions as a human have been rocked by what I've witnessed. A lawless act of murder by a police officer has resulted not in love or forgiveness, but predictably in revenge. Lawlessness. Don't misconstrue my words or my motive. Racism is pure evil. We should all be deeply hurt by what has ravaged our black brothers and sisters. If we don't, we have no soul. My motive is to shine the light on the invisible realm, on the spiritual reality of our natural situation. Truth must prevail in the midst of a volatile emotional situation.
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4 (ESV)
DEFUNDING THE DEFENDERSIt doesn't take a theologian to appreciate the connection between the call to disband and defund the police and the spirit of lawlessness. The extremely high majority of police officers in America are amazing individuals, driven by passion for people and operating in extreme integrity. Demonizing the world's greatest peace force is shameful. Our nation's police, though imperfect as any and every human institution is, represents law and order. A push to disband and defund exposes the motives and spirit of those seeking to uproot and tear down. Lawlessness. Racism is evil. Most everyone agrees. Police brutality/murder is evil. Most everyone agrees. We should all be horrified by the murder of George Floyd. Most everyone agrees. We don't have to be convinced. Now, don't get mad at me, I'd like to ask you something, something that is on the minds of people all across the nation. Here's the question: What evidence is there that George Floyd's horrific murder was racially motivated? To expand on that critical question, are people just presuming it was because the cop had run-ins with minorities in the past? Or simply because a white cop killed a black man? Is it because other cops have targeted blacks in the past? How does that relate to this specific cop? Further, does that mean all cops, or most cops are racist? Are they the enemy? This is a VERY important question as the supposition that it was racially motivated has resulted in SERIOUS reactions like riots, violence, attacks, murders, destruction of businesses and assaulted lives (including black lives). This is a VERY important question as it attempts to confirm that there's racism in our nation (which there is) AND systemic racism in the police department and other American institutions (which is debatable at best). This is a VERY important question as it draws a line in the sand and forces people to reject deeply held personal beliefs and values that are contrary to the narrative. Beliefs like Drew Brees holds (held?), a refusal to kneel during the National Anthem. The assault against his patriotism was disturbing. This is a VERY important question because EVEN IF IT WAS RACIALLY MOTIVATED, the violence and the general spirit of many (not most) of the reactions have not only been inappropriate but destructive to our nation. And, most recently, this has become a VERY important question as the belief that racism motivated the killing is resulting in defunding and disbanding police departments, launching cities into a state of dangerous lawlessness. Friends, it's possible to hate racism and to love blacks, whites and everybody else in our nation without buying into narratives that are contrary to our personal values. We can love while agreeing or disagreeing. Depending on what the proposed beliefs and solutions others may adhere to are, we can voice concern while still honoring each other. We can agree to disagree while still authentically loving and valuing each other. We can still hurt when they hurt, even if our analysis of and solutions to the matter differ.
DELUSION AND CONFUSION
9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan… 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9,11-12 (ESV)It's imperative that we take pause for a moment in the natural and lock in to the rapidly evolving spiritual climate. The spirit of lawlessness is not to be taken lightly. Satan is possibly more active on the earth today than he has ever been as his end is drawing nearer every day. The lawless one is gathering an evil army, anointing all who are interested to assist him in fulfilling his diabolical purposes. Don't be surprised as the demonization continues to spike and ramp up. Confusion and delusion are overtaking many. This is a terrifying reality as it sets into motion people's eternities. Lawlessness produces a confused, enraged, demonized and delusional people who will do all they can to destroy. Defunding and disbanding of the police is merely a natural result of an invisible reality. So are the riots, violence and hatred. So is police brutality. So is every sort of wickedness that is suffocating America. It takes a confused and delusional people to do such a thing. It's contrary to common sense.
THE ANSWER: THE GOSPELNatural solutions can be helpful, but they will never bring resolution. The only thing that can, quite simply, is wholehearted surrender to Jesus Christ. That's it. Nothing else will work. When a nation repents, and when sinners surrender to Jesus, healing can begin.
6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” Romans 4:6-8 (ESV)It's time for preachers to preach this truth boldly. It's this message and only this message that can stand against the lawlessness. Pastor's refusal to regularly engage the topics of culture and politics from behind the pulpit has, in large part, resulted in the chaos in our nation today. No, you can't “just preach the Gospel.” Applying the truth of the Word to today's national situation is mandatory. Non-negotiable. If you aren't equipping the saints to be a spiritual force in our nation, exactly what are you training them to be? Ushers? Greeters? Your personal armor bearers? No. They are today's mighty warriors who will assault the kingdom of darkness and expose wickedness. They are a lawful people who will stand opposed to lawlessness. It's time for the people of God to preach, equip and confront with a mighty anointing of God. If we don't, our nation is lost. Cities devoid of police protection would be but the beginning of sorrows. Originally published by The Stream.
Another church has been seduced by wickedness, confusing it for love.
“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:13 (ESV)Eve's passion was for her eyes to be opened and to be wise like God. Sounds good, except that single decision resulted in immediate death for her and billions of others who would follow. Her redefinition of what godliness was paved the way for innumerable people throughout the ages entering into never-ending torture in Hell. Evangelism wouldn't be necessary if it wasn't for Eve. Tragically, another church leadership team has looked to redefine spirituality, and because of the cunning deception of a wicked serpent, they ate of the fruit, fruit that was good for food and a delight to the eyes. Their decision was catastrophic. I've attended Assembly of God churches at various times throughout my life, and I have so appreciated their devotion to holiness and classic, historic, Biblical Christianity. I was stunned to hear about a Assembly of God church in Texas making the decision to fully embrace homosexuality, without apology, becoming what is know as an inclusive church. Eikon Church in Kyle, Texas, led by Pastors Dan and Kelly Matlock has sadly, tragically been duped by modern, cultural arguments and is now fully affirming. On an interior page on their website, suggested resources are provided including a podcast titled How to Be a Girl Podcast: A Christian Family's Story of Raising Their Trans Child, a book titled God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines, a glossary of LGBTQ+ terms and much more. The following is also found there:
In our endeavor to promote unity over uniformity, we’ve compiled these resources that we believe will be helpful as you learn more and lean into conversations regarding our church’s decision to be a fully inclusive church for the LGBTQ+ community.I contacted the General Superintendent of the Assembly of God. Thankfully, he sent me a copy of a statement he released publicly this morning:
As many of you are aware, a certified minister at an AG church in Texas on Sunday announced a departure from the official Assemblies of God position on human sexuality. The Assemblies of God has a well-established process to deal with such departures. Immediately upon first knowledge, the North Texas District initiated appropriate action required in dealing with both the minister and the church. When it comes to matters of marriage, sexual orientation, and gender identity, the Bible is clear. That is why the only acceptable position for Assemblies of God ministers and churches is clearly outlined in this statement: CLICK TO READ THE STATEMENT
FALSE LOVEIn my article The Great Love Deception: A False-Love Movement Is On The Rise, I wrote:
Philippians 1:9-10 (MSG) 9 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings 10 so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of… We are to learn to love appropriately. This scripture is a critical exhortation! Why? It means there are inappropriate ways to love. There are deceptions that feel right, but are poor representations or even counterfeits of truth. As God’s love begins to manifest in such amazing, deeper ways at the end of the age, we have to be aware that the enemy will work hard to redefine, misrepresent and twist true love. He has a castrated version to offer us.Affirming wickedness is the furthest thing from true, holy love. Endorsing homosexuality and welcoming those who participate in this forbidden lifestyle as brothers and sisters in Christ eliminates any hope of deliverance and eternities are put at great risk. Heaven and Hell are very much in play. Their departure from Christian faith is made clear, in bold words, on their website: We believe in and practice full inclusion here at Eikon Church, which means that individuals from the LGBTQ+ community can serve and be involved in EVERY AREA of Eikon Church from serving to pastoring. This affirmation is not only heretical, it's spiritually deadly. This church family will most certainly experience a season of glee where the rush of false-love floods in. Understand, I'm sure these people are caring and tender-hearted and they want every person to feel their affection. The problem is in their theology, and, yes, bad theology can lead to destruction. When the church becomes more about the people than about God, more about welcoming them, affirming them and celebrating them than about worshiping a most holy, fearful God, flaws can be overlooked, sin minimized and wickedness redefined as the purest form of love. Wicked love. I wonder, will the leadership of Eikon Church preach on the topics of sin, Hell, holiness, consecration, repentance and surrender? Or, have they already fallen through the trap door of false-grace and Universalism? The terror of the Lord must hit every church and ever Christian in this hour. God's love is very different than what is humanly discerned. Many question how a loving God could sentence someone to eternal torment. A better question is how a wicked people could ever presume to deserve anything less. God is fearsome, he is holy, and yes, he is love. He is not, however tolerant. He is not affirming of that which he defines as an abomination. He is a good, good Father, and he is also a just, just judge. We need to intercede for the sheep at Eikon Church that are being led into wholesale deception, heresy and undeniable departure from the Christian faith.
20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Isaiah 5:20-21 (ESV)
Idolizing people has forever been the norm in the world. Sadly, the church is catching up, and fast.
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)For as long as any of us can remember, adoration of celebrities, athletes and others in the public eye has been rampant in our society. Kids and adults alike are endeavoring to become Instagram and YouTube famous. The red carpet, paparazzi life is the dream for many. Others are satisfied being awestruck and starstruck. Yes, this article is about people worship, but it's not really about the run-of-the-mill movie star fantasy. I'm going to take it a level deeper.
BOTH THE WORLD AND THE CHURCH ARE GUILTY
The hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. Ecclesiastes 9:3 (ESV)Looking beyond the glitz and glamour we will discover a wicked and brilliant strategy of the enemy to exalt mankind, and, in process, destroy all who are seduced. Our current generation, both the lost and the redeemed, has elevated mere humans into a status just south of deity. Tolerance has been the mantra of our secular society for the last decade. This demonic game plan has been wildly successful as what was once clearly an abomination has been established as normal and protected. People who embrace deviant ideologies are not only guarded but promoted. The argument is that people are supreme and their lifestyles, no matter what the Word of God has to say on the matter, are valid. In the church we see the same mindset manifesting in a different way. For many, evangelism has shifted in recent years from calling people out of sin to communicating how wonderful they are. Again, the focus is on their supposed value as opposed to their hopelessness and depraved state. The message is simply, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” The Gospel message, however, is much more comprehensive—and confrontational—than that. Would Jesus have died for a single person? I believe he would have. I believe his desire is to be in relationship with us and it grieves him deeply when people reject that invitation. That being said, we have to understand that it's not about our value. It's God's value that should be driving the conversation.
OUR GAZE MUST SHIFT
17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Revelation 3:17 (ESV)It's time we shift our gaze from the mirror to the throne. Or, at least clearly see just what the mirror is revealing when we are self-focused instead of gazing upon the glory of God. Nakedness. Blindness. Wretchedness. The world doesn't know God, so it makes sense, as sad and maddening as it is, that they are given to self-worship and to idolizing people. We as the church should know better. Have you noticed how worship songs have changed in recent years? Instead of mostly being about the greatness of God, so many are choruses to the wonder of mankind. The beautiful music can turn ugly quite fast when hands are lifted and eyes are closed as the congregation sings boldly about how great they are instead of how great God is. The identity crisis in the church has resulted in a musical pep talk in an attempt to raise the spirits of people who don't know who they are. I would suggest instead that we become okay with the truth of our human condition and then, with all eyes keenly focused on Jesus, we discover our identity in him. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…” We aren't wonderful people who would benefit from discovering just how much God adores us. We are wretches, people who are fully hopeless, given to wickedness and children of the devil who will end up in Hell one day unless we repent. How glorious is it that God's love explodes through us the moment we surrender! The intimate, other-worldly relationship that follows such a radical and zealous decision to renounce the darkness and to give up our selfish pursuits is phenomenal! I propose we can't get from point A (wretchedness, wickedness, hopelessness) to point B (repentance, surrender and life in Jesus) unless we honestly come to terms with who we are and what we've done. We aren't to be worshiped. We aren't to be adored. We are evil and our sin is an abomination. God's wrath remains on us. We deserve death.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:18 (ESV) 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV)If we have to convince people to “get saved” by revealing how giddy God is about them, I would suggest many of those salvations are illegitimate. Invalid. It never happened. When we truly follow Jesus, everything changes. We die daily and we discover our identity in Jesus. We are seated in heavenly places with Jesus. We are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. These realities are not evidences of how great we are, but how great God is. The world has been seduced by the enemy as it worships and protects people in most any identity they adopt, unless that identity is in Jesus. We need broken, humble and surrendered Believers who are no longer identified as sinners, but as saints. People who die every day, who exalt Jesus and not self, who stand for truth and righteousness no matter the cost. When we pull down strongholds and expose the wicked altars in our culture we will be mercilessly assaulted. When we refuse to worship or even acknowledge the evil, self-centered identities that society places great value on, we will be targeted. That's okay. It's not about us. It's about Jesus. It's time we stop worshiping people. The song isn't, “I exalt me.” It's…
For Thou, O Lord, art high above all the earth Thou art exalted far above all gods For Thou, O Lord, art high above all the earth Thou art exalted far above all godsI exalt Thee, I exalt Thee I exalt Thee, O Lord I exalt Thee, I exalt Thee I exalt Thee, O Lord
A sinister spirit is behind much of today’s church growth movement.
Leonard Ravenhil: “We need to close every church in the land for one Sunday and cease listening to a man so we can hear the groan of the Spirit which we in our lush pews have forgotten.”
A recent post on Facebook resulted in a long stream of comments from people shouting amen, asking me to start a church, sharing heartbreak over today’s church and dropping in a bunch of fire and bullseye emojis. Here’s part of what I wrote:
I'm more convinced than ever that attempting to grow churches and develop programs and ministries has made it nearly impossible to see the remnant church so many are yearning for.
Pastors, please hear me. Stop the madness! Stop counting how many people show up every Sunday morning. Stop analyzing metrics. Stop setting numerical growth goals. Stop casting vision that’s centered around your local church growing. Stop. For the love of everything holy, just stop.
I know, I know. The Bible tells us that the church was added to daily.
47 …And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:47 (ESV)
Notice, however, the Lord added to their number, not the assimilation team or the marketing team.
In fact, if we back up in the text just a bit, we’ll clearly see it wasn’t marketing or a seeker sensitive, low water level approach that resulted in growth.
40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2:40-41 (ESV)
Unapologetic preaching and a call to repentance was the impetus for growth. A Holy Spirit infused message calling people out of a lifestyle of wickedness is what triggered the awakening—not assimilation strategies. The apostles had no need for church growth. They simply preached a transforming message in the power of the Holy Spirit and watched God move. Can you imagine the early Apostles sitting around a table in the Upper Room discussing how to form greeter teams, what coffee and donuts to buy and how to attract people to their services? The thought of it feels like blasphemy! Yet, today’s churches do just that every week. The fear of the Lord is nowhere to be found.
31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. Acts 9:31 (ESV)
The fear of the Lord and the moving of the Holy Spirit—not programs and ministries—resulted in growth and impact.
In fact, consider this powerful truth: False prophets and false teachers are smart enough to know what will truly attract is an encounter with the supernatural—not programs and pastries.
24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:24 (ESV)
If false prophets are focusing on the (unholy) supernatural, why are so many pastors and leaders tied to natural ideas and gimmicks to draw in the people? It’s foolishness. We need the fresh fire of the Holy Spirit to fall. We need to eliminate the distraction and undue stress of most of our church ministries and programs—and simply gather the remnant to pray.
FOCUS MUST SHIFT TO THE REMNANT CHURCH
I absolutely believe in church growth, but I don’t believe every local church must grow numerically in order to fulfill their purpose. The stigma of small churches has haunted many a pastor. Our focus must be on the city church and regional revival as opposed to local church numeric growth. The group of people on the local level that will spur on the pursuit of revival in the city is the remnant. It’s the remnant church. These are your champions of intercession, holiness and passion for Jesus. They will zealously dive deep and advance into uncharted waters. Note that I didn’t say these people are your core group or your leadership team. The remnant should be the whole of the church. Everybody going deep together. The lukewarm, apathetic people that so many pastors attempt to grow their churches with will be alerted to their condition and then left with a decision. They will either dive into the depths with the rest of the body or they will, by their own choice, shrink back. In fact the Bible says they will ultimately die. Pastors, why are we trying to grow our churches with the spiritually comatose?
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:1-2 (ESV)
We need bold messages of awakening in our pulpits today! The call to holiness, prayer and revival must be continual. Their must be a prophetic unction burning in the guts of pastors today. The goal is not church growth! It’s obedience to Jesus and a lifestyle of intercession and fire!
From a recent Charisma Magazine article Should the Church Get Scary?:
We need to stop trying to attract the lost to church. The purpose of the church, of the ekklesia, is NOT to draw in the lost. Entire church mission statements and vision statements should radically change.
While the church isn't for the lost, it remains obviously true that we want to see the lost come to Christ. When the church is again a house of prayer, we will again see the necessary power to truly impact the world. The spirit of revival will explode as will the church.
When we understand that a group of twenty or fifty fiery, praying, devoted remnant Believers can do more to minister to God and shake a city than a thousand mildly curious church goers, our energy will shift from church growth to Kingdom impact. Are both mutually exclusive? No. But, the risk of compromise is great when we are attracted to numbers.
THE REMNANT IS DONE WITH CHURCH AS USUAL
Pastors have been duped into believing they need to (witch)craft their services in such a way that the seekers will be drawn, and not overwhelmed. They manipulate the environment to attract the largest possible group.
First, as I have already explained, the church wasn’t designed for the lost. The call for all is to radically and immediately surrender and turn from their wicked ways. Creating a culturally relevant atmosphere that gives people a comfortable warming up period to the concept of God is no way to run a church. The church service was never meant to be used for evangelism. It's a Believer's prayer meeting, not a place to assimilate seekers.
Second, when the lost do come in, when a move of God shakes the foundation and the neighborhood bars empty and the desperate line up at the church doors, they are not looking to be pacified and affirmed. They are ready to break! They want an encounter with deity! They don’t want your programs or ministry philosophies. They want Jesus!
The remnant has had enough of these low water approaches to ministry.
Those who are desperate for a move of God don’t really care that much about being greeted with a handshake and a smile at the door as they arrive on Sunday morning, yet pastors invest much energy and focus on assimilation, hospitality, visitation and other people-centric strategies. The remnant doesn’t care about being assimilated. They want to burst through the door and head to the altars alongside other desperate people.
They aren’t impressed by a perfectly produced and executed worship experience led by people who haven’t had an encounter with God in years—if ever.
They are not interested in the pastor’s latest, greatest teaching if it’s not burning with fire and dosed with anointing that can only come from hours in the prayer room.
They are bored with today’s predictable, powerless, structured and forgettable church services.
The remnant simply wants to gather together with others that have the smell of fire on them and pray. They aren’t looking to shake hands with others and they really could not care less about announcements, programs and special events. They want to be wrecked and rocked by the glory of God.
How far have we fallen as leaders when we think an unthreatening, casual environment would be the medicine for a spiritually apathetic people. Churches have the smell of death on them because they are attracting the dead to something devoid of resurrection power. Sometimes I wonder if there’s any difference between those in the pews and those in the ground in the church cemetery next door.
When the fear of the Lord manifests in a church service, people will immediately either hit the floor or hit the door. The travail, groaning, and agonizing over sin will either grip people to the core or they will simply run out the door. The fear of the Lord directly confronts neutrality and exposes all immorality.
A great majority of American churches have never actually experienced the fear of the Lord and it’s coming to this nation. Messengers with a hardcore message of repentance are arising who will enter into cities and regions with a mandate to break up the fallow ground of the hearts of men and usher the fear of the Lord back into the Church.
The sign to you that the fear of the Lord has arrived is when people only have two options: to either hit the floor or run out the door.
My friend Jeremiah Johnson also posted this recently:
When the offerings are down…
When attendance is low…
When the attacks won’t stop coming…
Will you continue to preach the gospel or go back to manipulating people?
If asked why they want their church to grow, pastors will offer some spiritual answers:
- We want to win the lost.
- Anything healthy grows.
- We want to impact our neighborhood.
While those points are good, and while there are many phenomenal pastors who are doing their best to serve God with obedience, I know there are other more honest answers to the church growth question we must consider:
- If the church grows, it’s evidence that people like me.
- I need the money a larger group will bring into the church.
- My reputation will take a hit if I can’t grow the church.
- If the church doesn’t grow, I’ll have to get another job.
- I’m being pressured by my board or overseers to grow numerically.
- We can only fulfill the vision if a lot of people buy into it.
- I’ll feel like a failure.
- My identity is tied to my performance in ministry.
- We have been seduced by the success of other ministries, and want to have the same success.
The pressure to grow numerically is insane. Pastors are falling into depression. Recently there have been horrible headlines of pastors committing suicide. The stress of leading ministries and meeting metrics can be too heavy to bear.
The allure and demand of church growth can be seductive indeed. If the Lord isn’t bringing increase (due to a failure to host the Holy Spirit and to boldly preach offensive truth), there is another spirit that is more than willing to extend a wretched, crooked hand. A demonic, wicked spirit of witchcraft thrives on control and manipulation. This spirit rebels against the methods of the Kingdom and against the purity of the Holy Spirit with tactics that will minister to the leader’s need for success.
Please understand me. I’m not saying all focuses on numeric growth are impure. I’m really not. It’s possible to possess an apostolic and prophetic spirit and to see through the eyes of God into a future of impact and explosive growth. It’s possible to discern a coming harvest. It’s possible to have the heart of an evangelist and to cry out for the lost and for a church filled with new, Spirit-filled, hungry converts. It absolutely is. In fact, a passion for the harvest, a cry for souls, must radiate out of every pastor and leader. Sadly, however, the allure of church growth is rarely born from such a pure desire.
Instead, an evil spirit is invoked, rarely deliberately, usually by default as an impure passion of the heart that demands satisfaction. Pastors souls are sold for the promise of a full house—a promise that is rarely delivered on. Further depression and failure is usually the result. Sometimes the church does explode, but not with burning zealots. Instead it’s a morgue, filled with people who are numb, cold and without signs of life.
The remnant church is wising up. While I have and always will teach that we must honor pastors and refuse to move in rebellion to God’s established authority, a disturbing shift must come to the church, and fast.
Pastors, we must stop using people to build our own kingdoms.
God forgive us for building kingdoms of man on doctrines of demons in your name. ~Brian Ming, as quoted in Pharaoh in the Church
The witchcraft necessary to coerce people to give financially, to serve the pastor’s vision and to build a ministry for impure reasons is extreme. It truly requires quite a few very powerful demons to anoint such a venture.
Please understand, I’m not talking about pastors who are intentionally evil and manipulative. I’m talking about pastors who have heart issues, those who try to spiritualize their ventures, those who are attempting to grow their church just like most every other pastor they know, those who have been seduced but don’t know it. They need to be shocked out of their deception and into the rest and peace that comes from allowing the Lord to bring the increase instead.
THE CHURCH WE ARE YEARNING FOR
Someone asked how I'd like to see church services go. Here's what I said:
Start with an hour of fiery intercession in the sanctuary prior to the service. Let it keep going as people show up for the service. Let the musicians play behind the prayer for the first 30 minutes or so of the service. Then, as prayer continues, let the musicians kick into some prophetic worship for a song or two. Open up the mic for decrees and declarations. Have the dancers and flaggers and others fill the altars. Encourage people to pace around the room or hit their face and contend. After a couple of hours or so, there might be a strong prophetic message, or just some declarations of the Word. Then flood the altars as people lead in prayers of repentance and reveal prophetic revelation that was received during the service.
Of course, that’s one model, but the point I’m making is that the coming remnant church simply isn’t interested in most of what is offered today—at all.
Pastors, when we realize the church service was never meant for assimilating seekers or evangelizing the lost, the stress of church growth falls off. The pressure to grow numerically can be replaced by the joy and passion of ministering to God.
Again, yes, we most definitely can believe God for numerical growth—if that’s God’s desire for our particular local expression of the church. And, also, there are those who will over-spiritualize their small congregation. They argue that their focus on holiness and revival don’t allow for numerical growth. Ridiculous. Remember, where the fear of the Lord, the power of the Holy Spirit and bold preaching exist, people will respond. Many will mock. Many will marvel. The city will be impacted. The local church may or may not grow numerically, but it will in spiritual depth and the church in the city will be impacted.
I’d encourage you to read my Charisma Magazine article, The Church We Crave But May Never See.
Here’s something to consider from that article. Keep in mind, the casual seeker won’t be attracted to a church on fire unless they are ready to surrender all. The church may shrink in number. However, the Holy Spirit will give leadership that will shock us to the core. Check it out:
For at least eight years specifically, and 23 years generally I've been teaching, writing articles, writing books, recording podcasts and posting videos about this very subject—extreme reformation in the church. Yet, the church service in nearly every Christian church looks the same (or worse) than it did decades ago.
I'm just about done. Finished. I can't stand the thought of additional years of church experiences modeled after a wine skin that's been outdated for years—yet, I acknowledge that it's all I may have to choose from while I'm still on the earth. Reformation seems to be far off.
The goal is not to hope for a more anointed old wine skin, but rather for such a radical reformation that it looks nothing like what we see today.
Simply, what's coming will look more like an extreme prayer meeting with people laid out all over the place with fire and tears in their eyes than the casual, tired and predictable worship and teaching services we see today.
Yes, the Sunday service will finally be the Upper Room experience that the burning, desperate remnant has been yearning for. Raging prayer, fervent prayer, passionate prayer will return to first place in the church.
These are words we never want to hear God say…DO NOT PRAY.
The LORD said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. Jeremiah 14:11 (ESV)
It’s common to hear evangelists encourage lost people wandering in the darkness of hopelessness by saying, “It’s never too late.”
While it is true that anybody who desires to surrender their lives to the love and leadership of Jesus will be welcomed with open arms, it’s not true that it’s never too late. If we want to return to God now, it’s because the Holy Spirit is drawing us. There can come a time where our rejection of God will be respected, and the drawing will cease.
I’ve taught previously on the very interesting and troubling topic of a great delusion. Due to repeated wickedness, there comes a time when people are given over a debased mind, to a delusion:
9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 (ESV)
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:28 (ESV)
Isaiah was commissioned to prophesy this very thing—that eyes would be blinded to truth.
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, Isaiah 6:8-11 (ESV)
How strange (and troubling) it is that God would do this. In his wisdom, he opens and closes the window of opportunity for people to come to him.
Most often we presume people have until the day they die to turn to the Lord. This isn’t the case. There are many who have been turned over to delusion. Eyes have been blinded. Others have committed the unforgivable sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. It’s too late.
Many are nearing the point of no return, and for a significant number of them it will come well before they die. They will be spiritually hopeless, fully dead, possibly decades before an obituary is written.
This is a terrifying reality, and it should increase our urgency for intercession and evangelism.
Of course, only God knows who has crossed this line, and our job is to continue to contend for all. Additionally, we know that at other points in the book of Isaiah we see him prophesying eyes that see and ears that hear.
6 “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. Isaiah 42:6-7 (ESV)
The reality remains, however, that many eyes will forever be closed, many people forever imprisoned in delusion.
DO NOT PRAY FOR THE WELFARE OF THIS PEOPLE
There can come a time personally when we cannot return to Jesus.
There can also come a time when a nation cannot return—until its people endure everything necessary to bring them to repentance.
Thus says the LORD concerning this people: “They have loved to wander thus; they have not restrained their feet; therefore the LORD does not accept them; now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.” Jeremiah 14:10 (ESV)
The weight of this verse is almost too much to bear—and God meant for it to be that heavy. He declared in no uncertain terms that he does not accept them. He will remember their iniquity and he will punish their sins. It would seem to be the perfect moment for a prayer movement to launch, for a cry of intercession to shatter the heavens. Unfortunately, it’s too late.
11 The LORD said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12 Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.” Jeremiah 14:11-12 (ESV)
From the Adam Clarke Commentary:
O, how dreadful is the state of that people in reference to whom the Lord says to his ministers, Pray not for them; or, what amounts nearly to a prohibition, withholds from his ministers the spirit of prayer and intercession in behalf of the people!
Can you imagine, intercessors, gathering together with every intent to contend for our nation, when God then clearly reveals that we are forbidden to pray. It will do no good. His mind is made up.
I know some of you might be thinking about Abraham’s negotiations with God as he interceded fervently for Sodom and Gomorrah even as God was intent on destroying them. Can we not do the same if God reveals his plans for judgment on a nation? For those who are truly compassionate, they won’t be able to help but to wrestle with God. With tears in our eyes we would have no choice but to cry out for mercy. Sadly, in this account, it would have done no good. The clear command was that prayer was not to be made.
In a spiritual culture like we have today, the common reaction to such a topic would be that God, in his perfect love, is smiling over the people and is ready to receive them back. The idea of God standing in opposition to those he so deeply loves runs counter to much of the faulty theology that’s rampant today.
This scenario plays out as we continue in Jeremiah 14. Read this passage completely. The message is very clear:
13 Then I said: “Ah, Lord GOD, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’” 14 And the LORD said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them—them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their evil upon them. Jeremiah 14:13-16 (ESV)
There are those who will reject truth for the sake of keeping people hopeful and happy. These lying prophets are everywhere today, and they will only increase, especially if our nation ever gets to the point that the people in this story did.
1 Then the LORD said to me, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! 2 And when they ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: “‘Those who are for pestilence, to pestilence, and those who are for the sword, to the sword; those who are for famine, to famine, and those who are for captivity, to captivity.’ Jeremiah 15:1-2 (ESV)
Adam Clarke explains the above passage (and the following verses in the account) well:
God declares to Jeremiah that not even Moses and Samuel, whose prayers had been so prevalent, could divert him from his purpose of punishing so wicked a people, v. 1. Accordingly their captivity is again announced in a variety of images so full of terror, vv. 2-9, that the prophet complains of his own hard fate in being obliged to deliver such unwelcome messages, v. 10; for which too he is reproved, vv. 11-14. Immediately he appeals to God for his sincerity, and supplicates pardon, vv. 15-18; and God tempers his reproof with promising again to protect him in the faithful discharge of his duty.
A QUICKLY CLOSING WINDOW
America is not at this point of no return—yet.
There are movements of holiness, revival and passionate, devoted intercession growing from coast to coast. Awakening is happening.
However, I don’t believe these movements are currently strong or numerous enough to outpace the movement of wickedness that’s both in the world and in the church today.
What this means is that the window of opportunity is quickly closing and if we don’t exponentially increase our efforts, judgment very certainly will come to us.
If judgment does come to America, I believe God will preserve the remnant, radically devoted church as he promised to Jeremiah and as he did at Goshen with the Israelites.
25 The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail. Exodus 9:25-26 (ESV)
This isn’t a time for fear as God’s own will be protected (though this doesn’t mean hardship or persecution won’t come). This is a time to be marked by tears, just as Jeremiah was.
Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Jeremiah 9:1 (ESV)
Don’t listen to the lying prophets who are saying that all is well and no judgment will come.
Do rend your hearts.
Do contend for revival.
Do pray, while there is time, before God tells us that we can pray for our nation no more.