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Enough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church.

Today’s church has stricken a sympathetic pose in the hopes that it will help turn hearts. It won’t.

We love old saints, missionaries, martyrs and reformers… We will do anything except imitate them.- Leonard Ravenhill

image6 Enough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church.Enough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church!

We have become little more than a socially aware sympathetic ear to a culture that, if we are honest, we have sold our birthright to as well.

The emerging strategies to impact culture today look little like the powerful, bold, prophetic messages that were delivered by the burning messengers of old.

In today’s religiously correct society (yes, I’m talking to the Spirit-filled church) the primary methods of evangelism and cultural impact are driven by human sympathy instead of the supernatural revelation of the Word of God.

We are being nice, cautious, soft-spoken and relevant while convincing ourselves that the true Church is advancing because of it! It’s time our messages result in the mass exodus of our friends and the ferocious resistance of our enemies!

“Why in God’s name do you expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it the world couldn’t get on with the holiest man that ever lived, and it can get on with you and me?” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

The offense of the cross has been traded for appealing camaraderie in marginalized, religious social structures that couldn’t be further from the model of the biblical church.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:6-10

If we don’t change our approach by adopting the historic blueprint of preaching holiness in light of the realities of both Heaven and Hell, Christianity will become little more than a myth or fable to nearly every person on the planet.

“The only reason some of us are not exiled or thrown into prison is simply because we do not preach as fervently and as sternly as did Paul, John, Peter and others. This modern “santa claus” religion that is sweeping country today is not the religion Jesus taught and John practiced.” ~Oliver B. Greene

“It is not enough to do God’s work; it must be done in His way and for His credit.” ~ Erwin Lutzer

Duck Dynasty & Phil Robertson opposed by…a Spirit-filled mega-church pastor?

When I read a Charisma Magazine article today about Carl Lentz, the pastor of Hillsong NYC, standing in opposition to public messages regarding homosexuality, I couldn’t stay silent. Can you imagine Leonard Ravenhill saying what this pastor said? How far has the church fallen? Very, very far.

While Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson is currently facing serious backlash in the wake of his comments about homosexuality, a popular New York City pastor has made it clear he will not take a public stance on the controversial issue.

Carl Lentz, who leads megachurch Hillsong NYC, told Katie Couric in an interview on her self-titled show that he did not believe he had a “moral imperative to speak publicly about some of these more controversial issues” because, he says, “We try to be like Jesus.”

“Very rarely did Jesus ever talk about morality or social issues,” the 35-year-old pastor explained in a pre-recorded interview that aired Thursday. “It was about the deeper things of the heart, and often people want to talk about behavior modification. Our church isn’t about that.”

When Couric asked Lentz if his church has a position on issues like gay marriage, he said, “We have a stance on love, and everything else, we have conversations.”

Sure, it’s great to have conversations. It’s important to walk with people through their struggles. But, he actually said that he refuses to make a public stand on homosexuality! Does he forget that Jesus, Paul and others had no problem whatsoever taking a public stand?

“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

Our Christianity is degenerating into a middle class culture, a comfortable nostalgia, in the avoidance of the Cross of Christ Jesus. ~ Art Katz

Is it possible that our churches are full of people who have been seduced by culture and, thus, blinded by God himself?

“He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.” Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. John 12:40-43

as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” Romans 11:8

When preaching truth is avoided due to fear that most will reject it, the fruit of our ministry will be little more than a gathering of spiritually blind people—people who have rejected God and who are rejected by God.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3:19

We cannot avoid the controversial social topics of our day (which, in fact aren’t controversial, they are simply resisted by blinded people). We need a bold prophetic people who will renounce the shameful ways of the world and who will refuse to distort the Word of God!

Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 2 Corinthians 4:2-5

Love

When did the definition of biblical love shift to mean little more than human sympathy?

I wrote extensively on this topic in an article that should awaken you to the reality of true love. You can read it in a new window here: http://www.johnburton.net/2013/09/21/the-great-love-deception-a-false-love-movement-is-on-the-rise/

The passage so often trumpeted in today’s watered-down Christian evangelism culture is in Romans 2:

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2:1-4

God’s kindness leads us toward repentance. This is truth! Without question.

However, this has to be applied appropriately. What this passage is saying is that we can’t be cruel and spiteful and condemning when people don’t live up to biblical standards. There is a nasty spirit out there that can lead people to operate much like Westboro Baptist Church who terribly and unapologetically pronounces condemnation on people. They cry out, “God hates fags!” They picket funerals of people who didn’t live up to their standards. It’s this type of approach that God is dealing with here. He’s reminding us that he is kind by not judging us prematurely. He’s longsuffering.

What it doesn’t say is that we put on some cheesy smile, affirm people’s apathy and casually nudge them toward the light at the end of their dark tunnel. Being kind does not mean being passive. It doesn’t mean we lose the fire in our bellies. It doesn’t mean we don’t have unction. It doesn’t mean we don’t have a fierce disposition as we renounce sin and reveal both the fires of God’s heart and the fires of an eternal Hell.

Preaching truth won’t cause most to cozy up to us. It will cause most to hate us.

All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. Mark 13:13

Please understand—this means that very possibly most in your current church will begin to hate you (though they may not publically admit it) when you call them higher than they are willing to go. Pastors will despise you too. A life surrendered to the cross in love is threatening and offensive as it reveals the lesser commitments of those around you.

Yesterday’s prophets focused on causing people problems, and today’s on fixing people’s problems. Pastors, do you understand that you are called to trouble the saints? You are called to wreck their pursuits of satisfaction while calling them to die. I’m not talking about taking a week or two out of the year to mention consecration, Hell or the cross. I mean the very culture of your ministry must be threatening, volatile and burning—like a volcano that impacts society hundreds of miles around.

God did not save Paul from the consequences of being Pauline. Men vowed to kill him, because He was a perpetuation of Jesus Christ Himself. ~ Art Katz

It’s time that we understand that our love-driven preaching of truth will cause most to hate us. The plumb-line of truth isn’t the level of response it generates. The greater the truth, the greater the resistance by both the world and the church. Mega-churches can easily shrink from ten thousand members to less than a hundred when the offensive, costly message of the cross is preached with power—and churches of one hundred can impact millions.

“If you’re going to be a true Christian, I’ll tell you one thing amongst others: it’ll be a lonely life. It’s a narrow way and it becomes narrower and narrower and narrower.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

“All you have to do is get in a closer walk with God and you’ll find your enemies are in your own church.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

Listen, we are absolutely kidding ourselves if we think simply being nice is going to result in mass salvations. Being nice can’t result in that—but preaching truth can.

I propose that it was Leonard Ravenhill’s deep love that provoked so many people to offense, and so many to freedom, and not his sober, intrusive, irritating attitude.

“What’s the condition of America like, spiritually, tonight? Zero. Why? Because we’ve got blind men coming out of seminaries. Men there don’t teach them; they don’t hear a word about Hell. They’re blind themselves, and as blind men, they lead the blind and they go to Hell.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

Wrath

How is it that we have fallen for the lie that toning down truth in such a way that people will cozy up on the couch next to a flesh-warming fireplace to listen to our spiritualized human wisdom is an appropriate strategy?

Our goal is NOT to gain more hearers! That approach will always result in compromised truth—always. The goal is to preach undiluted truth that results in extreme reaction—both for and against. If there is not a provocation in people’s inner man, than we have to question whether it’s truth being delivered or or if it’s Christianized philosophy.

When is the last time you’ve heard a message to our nation that includes Hell and God’s wrath as focal points? Today’s pop-religion rejects such approaches as unloving, even though they are clearly communicated in scripture.

 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. Romans 1:18-19

Is it possible the obnoxious street preacher with a megaphone is closer to preaching uncompromised truth than most pastors with a growing audience? I do think that may often be the case.

Christian! It is time to pull out the ancient messages from generations ago and shock a comfortably resistant culture with the truth of eternal torment in Hell, God’s judgment and his wrath that is currently resting on the unrepentant! Authentic Christians will celebrate even the most offensive, troubling message of the cross while the rest will resist it. Do you want to know who’s truly in line with scripture as authentic Christians? Preach truth and watch the pretenders get offended and scatter.

“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher”   ~George Whitefield

If we truly flow in God’s love we will unapologetically preach the truth of God’s wrath! Those two topics aren’t mutually exclusive, they are intertwined and flowing from the same heart of God.

There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men’s hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. — He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it.

They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them. 

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God’s vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. — And consider here more particularly. ~ Jonathan Edwards

Homosexual Agenda

The church’s response to the aggressive, militant homosexual agenda has been laughable at best. Attempts at relevance have resulted in being rejected both as Christians and as friends. They see right through us.

We’ve fallen for the fallacy that being nice equals loving people—and somehow that strategy gives us the best shot at winning them to Jesus. We’ve bitten at their accusations of intolerance, and we’ve surrendered our prophetic mantle. In fear of coming across as intolerant and unloving, biblical truth has been silenced. God’s methods have been traded for human wisdom in the hopes that it will result in peace, common ground and changed hearts.

“If the Holy Spirit guides us, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.” ~George Muller

First, it’s time that we understand that our primary goal isn’t to attempt to win everybody to Jesus via sympathetic strategies! It is to worship & reveal Jesus in the spirit of truth—and to function in the Holy Spirit as we reveal Jesus to the nations. Keep in mind, when Jesus is revealed as he truly is, he, and we, will be despised by most. That’s why our goal simply cannot be winning everybody. That just won’t happen. But, when we trust truth, the remnant will be revealed.

Historically when truth is preached, the core desire has always been to reveal Jesus to as many people as possible with the understanding that the extremely high majority will say no. They will reject Jesus when he is revealed as he truly is. It’s only a quasi-Jesus that’s accepted at a high level today. A Jesus that doesn’t exist.

“The Jesus that men want to see is not the Jesus they really need to see.” ~G. Campbell Morgan

The spirit behind the homosexual agenda is so destructive that we cannot use relational, sympathetic methods in an attempt to eradicate it.

We must have bold, offensive, authoritative, confrontational preaching that’s anointed by the Holy Spirit to tear down the arguments that are being embraced by by our culture, media and churches.

“The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s law and to show the nature of sin.”  ~Martin Luther

God himself is extreme in the way he deals with those who are vile and unrepentant. How is it that we think we can casually woo them in when God’s strategy is to turn them over to their desires?

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. Romans 1:24

Do you not see how successful that evil spirit has become?

All it takes is Phil Robertson to very simply affirm classic, historic biblical truth to set off a firestorm!

Will someone please trumpet the truth that homosexuals will not enter Heaven? Will someone let them know? Will someone reveal the undeniable truth that homosexuals will spend eternity in torment beyond our capacity to fathom? Will someone love them enough to warn them of the crisis that’s ahead? Is telling someone with a gun in his hand that he’ll go to prison for life if he pulls the trigger hatred? Intolerance? No! It’s love!

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Romans 1:26-27

God gave them over to their lusts—and they are under penalty for their perversion. The Bible makes this clear, yet we are afraid to make this known!

Their future is sure unless they repent! God wasn’t subtle or relevant or sweet as he revealed this:

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32

The accusation against preaching this way is that we are unloving, hateful and angry. Intolerant. Arrogant. Not nice.

We don’t have to defend ourselves. God will truly judge us if we are operating in a spirit of hate or pride. That is sure. But we don’t have to defend scripture. It stands on its own.

We must stand against the spirit of the age however it manifests. We have to stand for holiness. We can’t presume that many will respond. We can’t modify the message in hopes that more will receive it. We must present God and his Truth accurately.

It’s time to expose the darkness! If we don’t, than the blood of many will be on our hands. We live in a culture where Romans chapter one is playing out before our eyes. People are full of greed, strife, gossip, disobedience and every kind of wickedness—and God says that they deserve death! God says that! Is he unloving?

Who will warn the world of its impending destruction? If we only tell them that God loves them, that is an insufficient, incomplete message! Definition must be given to that truth as it can be presumed that God’s love equates to his indifference. God is not indifferent. He is longsuffering but not tolerant!

God loves homosexuals, adulterers, gossips and the others who are willfully gripped by the powers of darkness—but that looks very different than we might presume. His anger and wrath are on them at the same time he is loving them!

Somehow we’ve fallen for the lie that hiding the fact that God’s wrath remains on the unrepentant will result in them wanting to get saved more quickly. We must never trade biblical truth for human wisdom! We can’t veil truth! It must be preached and we must trust God’s wisdom!

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Ephesians 5:11

The method we must embrace is a sharp, clear call to repentance! Sympathy won’t do it. Pop-psychology won’t do it. A demand for holiness in our nation must be decreed!

This powerful spirit of the age has nearly overtaken the church today.

We are entertained in media by the very things that required the death of the one we say we love.

It’s shocking that calls to holiness IN THE CHURCH are resisted and those delivering the message are called angry legalists!

No, it’s not OK to listen to cuss words in a movie! It’s not OK to see nudity! It’s not OK to play first person shooters! It’s NOT OK. We have been desensitized by crafty demonic spirits and it’s time to shut them down! How can we presume to have any authority to confront the homosexual spirit in our culture if we ourselves think lustful thoughts? We don’t have any authority whatsoever when we embrace the very spirits we are attempting to rebuke. It’s time to repent church! Wake up!

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Revelation 3:15-19

May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever. Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them. May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents. For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those you hurt. Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous. Psalm 69:23-28

This is hard core!

The answer is simple—repent! The church must see prophetic messengers arise who will boldly awaken sleepers, expose the spirit of the age and call people out of clearly defined darkness!

Almost Homosexual

As I conclude this message, I am going to include, in full, one of the most important messages I’ve ever given:

Almost homosexual: A crisis in the church

After I woke up from a significant dream about Ellen DeGeneres, I read my verse of the day… here it is:

Colossians 4:5 Be wise when you engage with those outside the faith community; make the most of every moment and every encounter.

I felt God had a message of love for Ellen that I should try to get to her.

I decided to email Ellen. I have no idea if she will ever get it, but I pray she does.

Here’s what I sent to Ellen DeGeneres:

Here’s a strange story for ya! I’m a pastor & author, and I had a dream about you last night. It was crazy long and detailed and the first two part dream I’ve had (I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle and the dream continued after I went back to sleep).

You aren’t someone I think about often at all (sorry!), so I have a feeling God may have dropped that dream on me. It started with you at the Academy Awards (or something similar) and you called me on stage from the audience. I was overwhelmed with grief and whispered to you, “Please forgive me for judging you.”

Later, you went on to share with me from your heart about some pain and you talked about your mom. Later on I met your mom and your brother at their home. (I didn’t realize you had a brother until I googled it just a moment ago.)

There were other pieces to the dream, but I thought I’d leave it at that for now.

A little about me; I may appear to fit the stereotype as I do believe any lifestyle that embraces activities that God, in his wisdom, deems unhealthy must be avoided. Homosexuality included. However, what’s also included is pride, which the Christian church is often steeped in. So is selfish ambition and having cold love. All deadly, all have hit the church at large. Again, please forgive me.

After the dream I decided to preach tonight on a crazy controversial message calling the church to repentance titled, “Almost Homosexual: The Church in Crisis.”

God likes you, he loves you. Me too.

I’d strongly encourage you to listen to this powerful teaching & intercession for Ellen from a Revival Church service here:

 

As I begin this urgent and troubling prophetic message, I must do my best to make several points extremely clear.

  • God is passionately jealous and zealous for his beautiful bride, the church. His emotions are extreme and deep as he yearns for love fueled intimacy with those he laid down his life for. His affection cannot be described by capture 000000596 thumb Enough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church.even the most romantic or poetic language.
  • When I mention the church in this message, I am referring to the global body of Christ. The global bride of Christ. I’m fully aware and thankful that there are many local expressions of the church that are radically surrendered and given to the lover of their souls—Jesus Christ.
  • The primary points I will expound on have little to do with sexuality, or sexual sin. You will have to intentionally keep this in mind so as to ensure you understand the issues when I deal with the spirits behind homosexuality and how these spirits are being embraced in the church (again, the global church; or, the church in general).

Massive Repentance

Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.

This is a powerful verse, and the more time we spend on our face in the presence of God, the more we realize how true it is.

Before we can go any further, we have to all agree on the above point that is found in Jeremiah 17: Our hearts are both deceitful and wicked. What does this mean? Very simply, it’s possible and common for impure motives to be rooted deeply in us even though we may be devoted followers of Christ.

The more time I spend in prayer the easier it is for the Lord to dig deep and bring to the surface issues that wouldn’t normally be evident. My heart has harbored pride at times though at the surface I felt meek. Other times I’ve verbally forgiven people, but then the Holy Spirit revealed to me a deeper reality—that I hadn’t truly done so.

This is why we must not only be OK with messages like this one, but we have to eagerly invite God to shine his burning light into every part of our lives.

Is 6:5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

When God is in our midst, a revelation of our own sin and issues are made known.  A key problem today is that God’s manifest presence isn’t with us as He should be!  Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.  He is the Revelation.  He is the Word.  Where God is, revelation is.  You can’t separate the two.

As God, in his burning love for us, reveals our hearts to us, we will find ourselves falling to our knees.

God is calling the church to massive repentance.

Almost Homosexual?

God has suddenly revisited me with a prophetic word that shocked me and those I shared it with a few years ago—and he’s added to the revelation.

Trust me, I’ve waited several days before deciding to write this (I usually write prophetic words the moment I receive them). I’ve considered the trouble it may bring. I’ve also considered God’s thoughts about the matter and I’ve chosen to trust his wisdom that this will free many more people than it will disturb. God’s word and his wisdom must return to the pulpits again.

image thumb2 Enough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church.“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” — Leonard Ravenhill

Deuteronomy 4:23-24 (ESV) 23 Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. 24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

God is jealous of his church—and the spirits that have not only invaded the church, but that have been embraced by the church, have made him jealous indeed.

As I was on the airplane flying into Colorado a few years ago, the Lord surprised me with a strong and striking word for the church. I was shaking.

The church is almost homosexual.

This is a word that I’m confident is tearing at the heart of God… he’s watching his bride become bewitched.

Question—Is it possible that we in the church are close to embracing the same spirits that fuel the homosexual agenda?

As I was watching the mountains of Colorado draw closer during the final approach to the airport that day, the Lord revealed three drivers of the homosexual agenda:

  1. Pride
  2. Identity
  3. Lust

Understand—the driver of the homosexual agenda is not same-sex attraction, but rather there are strong deceiving spirits of pride, self-promotion and identity, and lust.

I was on a train where two homosexual girls were very visibly hanging on each other, making it very clear that they were together. Their actions were not a result of raging hormones, but rather, they were making a bold declaration, a prideful pronouncement of their chosen identity as lesbians.

They wanted to force affirmation, be noticed and demand acceptance and equality.

“All of the acceptable sins in church are keeping us sick.”-Steve Gray

“Be careful about what you think is innocent. It may come back and choke you.”- Steve Gray

The church has been bewitched by the same spirits that give fuel to the homosexual agenda—and this is a primary reason we have not had success in winning homosexuals to Jesus. We can’t cast out the same demonic spirits we embrace.

Pride

We’ve all heard of gay pride. Pride is a hallmark of the homosexual movement, and, all too often, it’s a driver of the church as well.

I hear continually that it’s rare to find a church where the tangible, manifest presence of God can be experienced. I believe, sadly, there are more Ichabod churches than we realize. An Ichabod church is simply a church that is devoid of God’s glory. The ark of God’s presence has been captured. It doesn’t mean God hates that church. Quite the opposite—He is grieved that he must be removed from his lover, his bride.

1 Samuel 4:21-22 (ESV) 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

1 Peter 5:5 (ESV) 5…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

You may not have thought about it this way, but God, though he loves so deeply, actually opposes, or resists, those who are proud. God’s glory departs.

We live in a culture where we fight for success, we jockey for position and we can’t imagine being hidden or failing. Compromise has consumed the church as it seeks success, a larger building, more people, more influence, more money and other demands. Pride has resulted in worship of images made of gold where humility demands the gold is given as worship to God. Pride has resulted in worshiping a packed house where humility calls for laying down our lives for even one.

We wonder why the church isn’t having more success in the culture.

I believe a key reason is that we are attempting to attack worldly pride with religious pride.  We are actually retaining the services of the very same demons that we are attempting to battle!  A spirit of pride! God resists the proud! Is it possible that we are attempting to change culture from a position of religious pride all while God is not standing with us?

When humility reigns, the church will have the grace that God promises in 1 Peter 5.

Identity

This point is the most burning issue in my spirit right now.

I am fully given to seeing people step into their destinies, discover their true identity in Christ and finding freedom from lies and emotional scars that the enemy has given them. It’s a significant focus of my own ministry.

However, we have a growing problem.

  • Focus is on self more often that it is on God.
  • Focus is on living more than it is on dying daily.

1 Corinthians 4:10-13 (ESV) 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

Please understand, I believe we are seated in Heavenly places with Christ Jesus. We are kings and priests. We have great authority. We have overcome. We are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath.

But, our identities, when rightfully understood, don’t lead us to focusing mostly on personal benefit. When we embrace the cross of Christ, which is where our identities originate, we are now focused on going low, humbling ourselves, serving with passion and identifying with the scum of the world—so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

A focus on our own benefits, our own healings, our own identities as it relates to personal gain has actually resulted in us aligning with a key spirit that drives the homosexual movement.

Just as with homosexuals, God loves them and us too deeply to affirm a false identity—no matter how desirable and convincing that identity may be! God’s wisdom is much higher than ours, and it takes humility to admit that.

This is a huge, huge point!

When we fight for a false identity that feels so overwhelmingly a part of us, and when our focus is on acceptance, affirmation and human rights, we give up the call to die to our own desires. Suddenly securing our own identity is more important than serving the masses.

The goal is not to be affirmed, accepted, liked or honored. We aren’t to look for equality. We don’t compare ourselves with others. We can’t make demands when life is unfair. The church is to die so that others may life. Our identity is to be fully and entirely in Christ.

An improper attention given to the pursuit of identity (acceptance, affirmation, etc.) causes us to forsake the call to focus on our mission for the sake of devotion to narcissism. This is where the temptation to disobey God and submit to the demands of man can happen.

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:16

Lust

Lust is oozing through the church today. Yes, it’s true that sexual lust is rampant as pornography has been viewed by as many as 50% of Christian men recently.

However, lust is not limited to the sexual variety.

Simply ask the question, “What causes you to get excited, to come alive?”

Many honest Christians would admit that everything from money to fame to popularity to sex could be the answers.

James 1:14-15 (ESV) 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Lust results in death. It really is that simple. The life is sucked right out of people. Suicide is on the rise. Eternal death is another threat as well.

This is a tragic reality in the church today—we’ve lost our first love! False intimacy in the form of lust has take the place of a deep, satisfying, truly intimate and never ending encounter with Jesus! He yearns for us while his beautiful bride is yearning for other lovers!

The church has lost its desire for intimacy with Jesus. Many Christians don’t even know what it is to be overwhelmed by his deep, burning love. Jesus is more of a principle or a foreign character in a book than he is a real, tangible, literal person you can feel.

This lack of revelation and encounter in a very intimate, life giving way with Jesus has resulted in one more comparison with the homosexual movement:

The bride is becoming intimate with the bride.

What does that mean?

We have become more interested in reproducing after our own kind than in receiving a fresh impartation directly from God himself. How does this play out? Several ways:

  • We become enthralled with a certain stream in the body (Word of Faith, house of prayer, etc.) and want to have a relationship with that stream hoping that it produces life.
  • We turn to other people in the church instead of to God through prayer and study of the Word in the hopes that the union can result in the outcome we are looking for.
  • We are move connected socially to people than we are spiritually to God.
  • We believe our church growth comes through people, so we comprise the mission, cancel prayer, water down the message and get intimate with the body!

An intimate union with God will result in a fresh stream birthing through your ministry!

A deep encounter with Jesus will bring the results that a million human counselors never could!

“You can have all of your doctrines right—yet still not have the presence of God.”Leonard Ravenhill

The Solution

Intimacy. Repentance. Falling in love with Jesus. Humility.

“A sinning man stops praying, a praying man stops sinning” — Leonard Ravenhill

Yes, fervent, zealous prayer must return to our churches again!

2 Chronicles 7:14-16 (NKJV) 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.

We cannot anymore develop systems that enhance our own identities, stroke our pride or fuel our lust for power, recognition or anything else.

It’s time again to declare the cross, holiness, humility and passion from our pulpits and on our faces!

The core call is for a movement of humility and holiness.

It’s a call to become broken and undone, desperate and deeply intimate with Jesus.

It’s a call to a fasted lifestyle, to full surrender and complete saturation in the advance of the Kingdom.

It’s a call to the deeply humble, yet powerfully bold life of John the Baptist.

Are we ready to let the Lover of our souls invade the deepest parts of our inner man? He is wooing his glorious bride back to him…will we respond?

Song of Songs 1:4 (ESV) 4 Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers.

Enough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church.

Today’s church has stricken a sympathetic pose in the hopes that it will help turn hearts. It won’t.

We love old saints, missionaries, martyrs and reformers… We will do anything except imitate them.- Leonard Ravenhill

image4 Enough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church.Enough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church!

We have become little more than a socially aware sympathetic ear to a culture that, if we are honest, we have sold our birthright to as well.

The emerging strategies to impact culture today look little like the powerful, bold, prophetic messages that were delivered by the burning messengers of old.

In today’s religiously correct society (yes, I’m talking to the Spirit-filled church) the primary methods of evangelism and cultural impact are driven by human sympathy instead of the supernatural revelation of the Word of God.

We are being nice, cautious, soft-spoken and relevant while convincing ourselves that the true Church is advancing because of it! It’s time our messages result in the mass exodus of our friends and the ferocious resistance of our enemies!

“Why in God’s name do you expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it the world couldn’t get on with the holiest man that ever lived, and it can get on with you and me?” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

The offense of the cross has been traded for appealing camaraderie in marginalized, religious social structures that couldn’t be further from the model of the biblical church.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:6-10

If we don’t change our approach by adopting the historic blueprint of preaching holiness in light of the realities of both Heaven and Hell, Christianity will become little more than a myth or fable to nearly every person on the planet.

“The only reason some of us are not exiled or thrown into prison is simply because we do not preach as fervently and as sternly as did Paul, John, Peter and others. This modern “santa claus” religion that is sweeping country today is not the religion Jesus taught and John practiced.” ~Oliver B. Greene

“It is not enough to do God’s work; it must be done in His way and for His credit.” ~ Erwin Lutzer

Duck Dynasty & Phil Robertson opposed by…a Spirit-filled mega-church pastor?

When I read a Charisma Magazine article today about Carl Lentz, the pastor of Hillsong NYC, standing in opposition to public messages regarding homosexuality, I couldn’t stay silent. Can you imagine Leonard Ravenhill saying what this pastor said? How far has the church fallen? Very, very far.

While Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson is currently facing serious backlash in the wake of his comments about homosexuality, a popular New York City pastor has made it clear he will not take a public stance on the controversial issue.

Carl Lentz, who leads megachurch Hillsong NYC, told Katie Couric in an interview on her self-titled show that he did not believe he had a “moral imperative to speak publicly about some of these more controversial issues” because, he says, “We try to be like Jesus.”

“Very rarely did Jesus ever talk about morality or social issues,” the 35-year-old pastor explained in a pre-recorded interview that aired Thursday. “It was about the deeper things of the heart, and often people want to talk about behavior modification. Our church isn’t about that.”

When Couric asked Lentz if his church has a position on issues like gay marriage, he said, “We have a stance on love, and everything else, we have conversations.”

Sure, it’s great to have conversations. It’s important to walk with people through their struggles. But, he actually said that he refuses to make a public stand on homosexuality! Does he forget that Jesus, Paul and others had no problem whatsoever taking a public stand?

“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

Our Christianity is degenerating into a middle class culture, a comfortable nostalgia, in the avoidance of the Cross of Christ Jesus. ~ Art Katz

Is it possible that our churches are full of people who have been seduced by culture and, thus, blinded by God himself?

“He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.” Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. John 12:40-43

as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” Romans 11:8

When preaching truth is avoided due to fear that most will reject it, the fruit of our ministry will be little more than a gathering of spiritually blind people—people who have rejected God and who are rejected by God.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3:19

We cannot avoid the controversial social topics of our day (which, in fact aren’t controversial, they are simply resisted by blinded people). We need a bold prophetic people who will renounce the shameful ways of the world and who will refuse to distort the Word of God!

Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 2 Corinthians 4:2-5

Love

When did the definition of biblical love shift to mean little more than human sympathy?

I wrote extensively on this topic in an article that should awaken you to the reality of true love. You can read it in a new window here: http://www.johnburton.net/2013/09/21/the-great-love-deception-a-false-love-movement-is-on-the-rise/

The passage so often trumpeted in today’s watered-down Christian evangelism culture is in Romans 2:

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2:1-4

God’s kindness leads us toward repentance. This is truth! Without question.

However, this has to be applied appropriately. What this passage is saying is that we can’t be cruel and spiteful and condemning when people don’t live up to biblical standards. There is a nasty spirit out there that can lead people to operate much like Westboro Baptist Church who terribly and unapologetically pronounces condemnation on people. They cry out, “God hates fags!” They picket funerals of people who didn’t live up to their standards. It’s this type of approach that God is dealing with here. He’s reminding us that he is kind by not judging us prematurely. He’s longsuffering.

What it doesn’t say is that we put on some cheesy smile, affirm people’s apathy and casually nudge them toward the light at the end of their dark tunnel. Being kind does not mean being passive. It doesn’t mean we lose the fire in our bellies. It doesn’t mean we don’t have unction. It doesn’t mean we don’t have a fierce disposition as we renounce sin and reveal both the fires of God’s heart and the fires of an eternal Hell.

Preaching truth won’t cause most to cozy up to us. It will cause most to hate us.

All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. Mark 13:13

Please understand—this means that very possibly most in your current church will begin to hate you (though they may not publically admit it) when you call them higher than they are willing to go. Pastors will despise you too. A life surrendered to the cross in love is threatening and offensive as it reveals the lesser commitments of those around you.

Yesterday’s prophets focused on causing people problems, and today’s on fixing people’s problems. Pastors, do you understand that you are called to trouble the saints? You are called to wreck their pursuits of satisfaction while calling them to die. I’m not talking about taking a week or two out of the year to mention consecration, Hell or the cross. I mean the very culture of your ministry must be threatening, volatile and burning—like a volcano that impacts society hundreds of miles around.

God did not save Paul from the consequences of being Pauline. Men vowed to kill him, because He was a perpetuation of Jesus Christ Himself. ~ Art Katz

It’s time that we understand that our love-driven preaching of truth will cause most to hate us. The plumb-line of truth isn’t the level of response it generates. The greater the truth, the greater the resistance by both the world and the church. Mega-churches can easily shrink from ten thousand members to less than a hundred when the offensive, costly message of the cross is preached with power—and churches of one hundred can impact millions.

“If you’re going to be a true Christian, I’ll tell you one thing amongst others: it’ll be a lonely life. It’s a narrow way and it becomes narrower and narrower and narrower.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

“All you have to do is get in a closer walk with God and you’ll find your enemies are in your own church.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

Listen, we are absolutely kidding ourselves if we think simply being nice is going to result in mass salvations. Being nice can’t result in that—but preaching truth can.

I propose that it was Leonard Ravenhill’s deep love that provoked so many people to offense, and so many to freedom, and not his sober, intrusive, irritating attitude.

“What’s the condition of America like, spiritually, tonight? Zero. Why? Because we’ve got blind men coming out of seminaries. Men there don’t teach them; they don’t hear a word about Hell. They’re blind themselves, and as blind men, they lead the blind and they go to Hell.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

Wrath

How is it that we have fallen for the lie that toning down truth in such a way that people will cozy up on the couch next to a flesh-warming fireplace to listen to our spiritualized human wisdom is an appropriate strategy?

Our goal is NOT to gain more hearers! That approach will always result in compromised truth—always. The goal is to preach undiluted truth that results in extreme reaction—both for and against. If there is not a provocation in people’s inner man, than we have to question whether it’s truth being delivered or or if it’s Christianized philosophy.

When is the last time you’ve heard a message to our nation that includes Hell and God’s wrath as focal points? Today’s pop-religion rejects such approaches as unloving, even though they are clearly communicated in scripture.

 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. Romans 1:18-19

Is it possible the obnoxious street preacher with a megaphone is closer to preaching uncompromised truth than most pastors with a growing audience? I do think that may often be the case.

Christian! It is time to pull out the ancient messages from generations ago and shock a comfortably resistant culture with the truth of eternal torment in Hell, God’s judgment and his wrath that is currently resting on the unrepentant! Authentic Christians will celebrate even the most offensive, troubling message of the cross while the rest will resist it. Do you want to know who’s truly in line with scripture as authentic Christians? Preach truth and watch the pretenders get offended and scatter.

“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher”   ~George Whitefield

If we truly flow in God’s love we will unapologetically preach the truth of God’s wrath! Those two topics aren’t mutually exclusive, they are intertwined and flowing from the same heart of God.

There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men’s hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. — He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it.

They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them. 

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God’s vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. — And consider here more particularly. ~ Jonathan Edwards

Homosexual Agenda

The church’s response to the aggressive, militant homosexual agenda has been laughable at best. Attempts at relevance have resulted in being rejected both as Christians and as friends. They see right through us.

We’ve fallen for the fallacy that being nice equals loving people—and somehow that strategy gives us the best shot at winning them to Jesus. We’ve bitten at their accusations of intolerance, and we’ve surrendered our prophetic mantle. In fear of coming across as intolerant and unloving, biblical truth has been silenced. God’s methods have been traded for human wisdom in the hopes that it will result in peace, common ground and changed hearts.

“If the Holy Spirit guides us, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.” ~George Muller

First, it’s time that we understand that our primary goal isn’t to attempt to win everybody to Jesus via sympathetic strategies! It is to worship & reveal Jesus in the spirit of truth—and to function in the Holy Spirit as we reveal Jesus to the nations. Keep in mind, when Jesus is revealed as he truly is, he, and we, will be despised by most. That’s why our goal simply cannot be winning everybody. That just won’t happen. But, when we trust truth, the remnant will be revealed.

Historically when truth is preached, the core desire has always been to reveal Jesus to as many people as possible with the understanding that the extremely high majority will say no. They will reject Jesus when he is revealed as he truly is. It’s only a quasi-Jesus that’s accepted at a high level today. A Jesus that doesn’t exist.

“The Jesus that men want to see is not the Jesus they really need to see.” ~G. Campbell Morgan

The spirit behind the homosexual agenda is so destructive that we cannot use relational, sympathetic methods in an attempt to eradicate it.

We must have bold, offensive, authoritative, confrontational preaching that’s anointed by the Holy Spirit to tear down the arguments that are being embraced by by our culture, media and churches.

“The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s law and to show the nature of sin.”  ~Martin Luther

God himself is extreme in the way he deals with those who are vile and unrepentant. How is it that we think we can casually woo them in when God’s strategy is to turn them over to their desires?

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. Romans 1:24

Do you not see how successful that evil spirit has become?

All it takes is Phil Robertson to very simply affirm classic, historic biblical truth to set off a firestorm!

Will someone please trumpet the truth that homosexuals will not enter Heaven? Will someone let them know? Will someone reveal the undeniable truth that homosexuals will spend eternity in torment beyond our capacity to fathom? Will someone love them enough to warn them of the crisis that’s ahead? Is telling someone with a gun in his hand that he’ll go to prison for life if he pulls the trigger hatred? Intolerance? No! It’s love!

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Romans 1:26-27

God gave them over to their lusts—and they are under penalty for their perversion. The Bible makes this clear, yet we are afraid to make this known!

Their future is sure unless they repent! God wasn’t subtle or relevant or sweet as he revealed this:

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32

The accusation against preaching this way is that we are unloving, hateful and angry. Intolerant. Arrogant. Not nice.

We don’t have to defend ourselves. God will truly judge us if we are operating in a spirit of hate or pride. That is sure. But we don’t have to defend scripture. It stands on its own.

We must stand against the spirit of the age however it manifests. We have to stand for holiness. We can’t presume that many will respond. We can’t modify the message in hopes that more will receive it. We must present God and his Truth accurately.

It’s time to expose the darkness! If we don’t, than the blood of many will be on our hands. We live in a culture where Romans chapter one is playing out before our eyes. People are full of greed, strife, gossip, disobedience and every kind of wickedness—and God says that they deserve death! God says that! Is he unloving?

Who will warn the world of its impending destruction? If we only tell them that God loves them, that is an insufficient, incomplete message! Definition must be given to that truth as it can be presumed that God’s love equates to his indifference. God is not indifferent. He is longsuffering but not tolerant!

God loves homosexuals, adulterers, gossips and the others who are willfully gripped by the powers of darkness—but that looks very different than we might presume. His anger and wrath are on them at the same time he is loving them!

Somehow we’ve fallen for the lie that hiding the fact that God’s wrath remains on the unrepentant will result in them wanting to get saved more quickly. We must never trade biblical truth for human wisdom! We can’t veil truth! It must be preached and we must trust God’s wisdom!

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Ephesians 5:11

The method we must embrace is a sharp, clear call to repentance! Sympathy won’t do it. Pop-psychology won’t do it. A demand for holiness in our nation must be decreed!

This powerful spirit of the age has nearly overtaken the church today.

We are entertained in media by the very things that required the death of the one we say we love.

It’s shocking that calls to holiness IN THE CHURCH are resisted and those delivering the message are called angry legalists!

No, it’s not OK to listen to cuss words in a movie! It’s not OK to see nudity! It’s not OK to play first person shooters! It’s NOT OK. We have been desensitized by crafty demonic spirits and it’s time to shut them down! How can we presume to have any authority to confront the homosexual spirit in our culture if we ourselves think lustful thoughts? We don’t have any authority whatsoever when we embrace the very spirits we are attempting to rebuke. It’s time to repent church! Wake up!

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Revelation 3:15-19

May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever. Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them. May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents. For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those you hurt. Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous. Psalm 69:23-28

This is hard core!

The answer is simple—repent! The church must see prophetic messengers arise who will boldly awaken sleepers, expose the spirit of the age and call people out of clearly defined darkness!

Almost Homosexual

As I conclude this message, I am going to include, in full, one of the most important messages I’ve ever given:

Almost homosexual: A crisis in the church

After I woke up from a significant dream about Ellen DeGeneres, I read my verse of the day… here it is:

Colossians 4:5 Be wise when you engage with those outside the faith community; make the most of every moment and every encounter.

I felt God had a message of love for Ellen that I should try to get to her.

I decided to email Ellen. I have no idea if she will ever get it, but I pray she does.

Here’s what I sent to Ellen DeGeneres:

Here’s a strange story for ya! I’m a pastor & author, and I had a dream about you last night. It was crazy long and detailed and the first two part dream I’ve had (I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle and the dream continued after I went back to sleep).

You aren’t someone I think about often at all (sorry!), so I have a feeling God may have dropped that dream on me. It started with you at the Academy Awards (or something similar) and you called me on stage from the audience. I was overwhelmed with grief and whispered to you, “Please forgive me for judging you.”

Later, you went on to share with me from your heart about some pain and you talked about your mom. Later on I met your mom and your brother at their home. (I didn’t realize you had a brother until I googled it just a moment ago.)

There were other pieces to the dream, but I thought I’d leave it at that for now.

A little about me; I may appear to fit the stereotype as I do believe any lifestyle that embraces activities that God, in his wisdom, deems unhealthy must be avoided. Homosexuality included. However, what’s also included is pride, which the Christian church is often steeped in. So is selfish ambition and having cold love. All deadly, all have hit the church at large. Again, please forgive me.

After the dream I decided to preach tonight on a crazy controversial message calling the church to repentance titled, “Almost Homosexual: The Church in Crisis.”

God likes you, he loves you. Me too.

I’d strongly encourage you to listen to this powerful teaching & intercession for Ellen from a Revival Church service here:

 

As I begin this urgent and troubling prophetic message, I must do my best to make several points extremely clear.

  • God is passionately jealous and zealous for his beautiful bride, the church. His emotions are extreme and deep as he yearns for love fueled intimacy with those he laid down his life for. His affection cannot be described by capture 000000596 thumb Enough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church.even the most romantic or poetic language.
  • When I mention the church in this message, I am referring to the global body of Christ. The global bride of Christ. I’m fully aware and thankful that there are many local expressions of the church that are radically surrendered and given to the lover of their souls—Jesus Christ.
  • The primary points I will expound on have little to do with sexuality, or sexual sin. You will have to intentionally keep this in mind so as to ensure you understand the issues when I deal with the spirits behind homosexuality and how these spirits are being embraced in the church (again, the global church; or, the church in general).

Massive Repentance

Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.

This is a powerful verse, and the more time we spend on our face in the presence of God, the more we realize how true it is.

Before we can go any further, we have to all agree on the above point that is found in Jeremiah 17: Our hearts are both deceitful and wicked. What does this mean? Very simply, it’s possible and common for impure motives to be rooted deeply in us even though we may be devoted followers of Christ.

The more time I spend in prayer the easier it is for the Lord to dig deep and bring to the surface issues that wouldn’t normally be evident. My heart has harbored pride at times though at the surface I felt meek. Other times I’ve verbally forgiven people, but then the Holy Spirit revealed to me a deeper reality—that I hadn’t truly done so.

This is why we must not only be OK with messages like this one, but we have to eagerly invite God to shine his burning light into every part of our lives.

Is 6:5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

When God is in our midst, a revelation of our own sin and issues are made known.  A key problem today is that God’s manifest presence isn’t with us as He should be!  Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.  He is the Revelation.  He is the Word.  Where God is, revelation is.  You can’t separate the two.

As God, in his burning love for us, reveals our hearts to us, we will find ourselves falling to our knees.

God is calling the church to massive repentance.

Almost Homosexual?

God has suddenly revisited me with a prophetic word that shocked me and those I shared it with a few years ago—and he’s added to the revelation.

Trust me, I’ve waited several days before deciding to write this (I usually write prophetic words the moment I receive them). I’ve considered the trouble it may bring. I’ve also considered God’s thoughts about the matter and I’ve chosen to trust his wisdom that this will free many more people than it will disturb. God’s word and his wisdom must return to the pulpits again.

image thumb2 Enough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church.“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” — Leonard Ravenhill

Deuteronomy 4:23-24 (ESV) 23 Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. 24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

God is jealous of his church—and the spirits that have not only invaded the church, but that have been embraced by the church, have made him jealous indeed.

As I was on the airplane flying into Colorado a few years ago, the Lord surprised me with a strong and striking word for the church. I was shaking.

The church is almost homosexual.

This is a word that I’m confident is tearing at the heart of God… he’s watching his bride become bewitched.

Question—Is it possible that we in the church are close to embracing the same spirits that fuel the homosexual agenda?

As I was watching the mountains of Colorado draw closer during the final approach to the airport that day, the Lord revealed three drivers of the homosexual agenda:

  1. Pride
  2. Identity
  3. Lust

Understand—the driver of the homosexual agenda is not same-sex attraction, but rather there are strong deceiving spirits of pride, self-promotion and identity, and lust.

I was on a train where two homosexual girls were very visibly hanging on each other, making it very clear that they were together. Their actions were not a result of raging hormones, but rather, they were making a bold declaration, a prideful pronouncement of their chosen identity as lesbians.

They wanted to force affirmation, be noticed and demand acceptance and equality.

“All of the acceptable sins in church are keeping us sick.”-Steve Gray

“Be careful about what you think is innocent. It may come back and choke you.”- Steve Gray

The church has been bewitched by the same spirits that give fuel to the homosexual agenda—and this is a primary reason we have not had success in winning homosexuals to Jesus. We can’t cast out the same demonic spirits we embrace.

Pride

We’ve all heard of gay pride. Pride is a hallmark of the homosexual movement, and, all too often, it’s a driver of the church as well.

I hear continually that it’s rare to find a church where the tangible, manifest presence of God can be experienced. I believe, sadly, there are more Ichabod churches than we realize. An Ichabod church is simply a church that is devoid of God’s glory. The ark of God’s presence has been captured. It doesn’t mean God hates that church. Quite the opposite—He is grieved that he must be removed from his lover, his bride.

1 Samuel 4:21-22 (ESV) 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

1 Peter 5:5 (ESV) 5…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

You may not have thought about it this way, but God, though he loves so deeply, actually opposes, or resists, those who are proud. God’s glory departs.

We live in a culture where we fight for success, we jockey for position and we can’t imagine being hidden or failing. Compromise has consumed the church as it seeks success, a larger building, more people, more influence, more money and other demands. Pride has resulted in worship of images made of gold where humility demands the gold is given as worship to God. Pride has resulted in worshiping a packed house where humility calls for laying down our lives for even one.

We wonder why the church isn’t having more success in the culture.

I believe a key reason is that we are attempting to attack worldly pride with religious pride.  We are actually retaining the services of the very same demons that we are attempting to battle!  A spirit of pride! God resists the proud! Is it possible that we are attempting to change culture from a position of religious pride all while God is not standing with us?

When humility reigns, the church will have the grace that God promises in 1 Peter 5.

Identity

This point is the most burning issue in my spirit right now.

I am fully given to seeing people step into their destinies, discover their true identity in Christ and finding freedom from lies and emotional scars that the enemy has given them. It’s a significant focus of my own ministry.

However, we have a growing problem.

  • Focus is on self more often that it is on God.
  • Focus is on living more than it is on dying daily.

1 Corinthians 4:10-13 (ESV) 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

Please understand, I believe we are seated in Heavenly places with Christ Jesus. We are kings and priests. We have great authority. We have overcome. We are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath.

But, our identities, when rightfully understood, don’t lead us to focusing mostly on personal benefit. When we embrace the cross of Christ, which is where our identities originate, we are now focused on going low, humbling ourselves, serving with passion and identifying with the scum of the world—so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

A focus on our own benefits, our own healings, our own identities as it relates to personal gain has actually resulted in us aligning with a key spirit that drives the homosexual movement.

Just as with homosexuals, God loves them and us too deeply to affirm a false identity—no matter how desirable and convincing that identity may be! God’s wisdom is much higher than ours, and it takes humility to admit that.

This is a huge, huge point!

When we fight for a false identity that feels so overwhelmingly a part of us, and when our focus is on acceptance, affirmation and human rights, we give up the call to die to our own desires. Suddenly securing our own identity is more important than serving the masses.

The goal is not to be affirmed, accepted, liked or honored. We aren’t to look for equality. We don’t compare ourselves with others. We can’t make demands when life is unfair. The church is to die so that others may life. Our identity is to be fully and entirely in Christ.

An improper attention given to the pursuit of identity (acceptance, affirmation, etc.) causes us to forsake the call to focus on our mission for the sake of devotion to narcissism. This is where the temptation to disobey God and submit to the demands of man can happen.

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:16

Lust

Lust is oozing through the church today. Yes, it’s true that sexual lust is rampant as pornography has been viewed by as many as 50% of Christian men recently.

However, lust is not limited to the sexual variety.

Simply ask the question, “What causes you to get excited, to come alive?”

Many honest Christians would admit that everything from money to fame to popularity to sex could be the answers.

James 1:14-15 (ESV) 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Lust results in death. It really is that simple. The life is sucked right out of people. Suicide is on the rise. Eternal death is another threat as well.

This is a tragic reality in the church today—we’ve lost our first love! False intimacy in the form of lust has take the place of a deep, satisfying, truly intimate and never ending encounter with Jesus! He yearns for us while his beautiful bride is yearning for other lovers!

The church has lost its desire for intimacy with Jesus. Many Christians don’t even know what it is to be overwhelmed by his deep, burning love. Jesus is more of a principle or a foreign character in a book than he is a real, tangible, literal person you can feel.

This lack of revelation and encounter in a very intimate, life giving way with Jesus has resulted in one more comparison with the homosexual movement:

The bride is becoming intimate with the bride.

What does that mean?

We have become more interested in reproducing after our own kind than in receiving a fresh impartation directly from God himself. How does this play out? Several ways:

  • We become enthralled with a certain stream in the body (Word of Faith, house of prayer, etc.) and want to have a relationship with that stream hoping that it produces life.
  • We turn to other people in the church instead of to God through prayer and study of the Word in the hopes that the union can result in the outcome we are looking for.
  • We are move connected socially to people than we are spiritually to God.
  • We believe our church growth comes through people, so we comprise the mission, cancel prayer, water down the message and get intimate with the body!

An intimate union with God will result in a fresh stream birthing through your ministry!

A deep encounter with Jesus will bring the results that a million human counselors never could!

“You can have all of your doctrines right—yet still not have the presence of God.”Leonard Ravenhill

The Solution

Intimacy. Repentance. Falling in love with Jesus. Humility.

“A sinning man stops praying, a praying man stops sinning” — Leonard Ravenhill

Yes, fervent, zealous prayer must return to our churches again!

2 Chronicles 7:14-16 (NKJV) 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.

We cannot anymore develop systems that enhance our own identities, stroke our pride or fuel our lust for power, recognition or anything else.

It’s time again to declare the cross, holiness, humility and passion from our pulpits and on our faces!

The core call is for a movement of humility and holiness.

It’s a call to become broken and undone, desperate and deeply intimate with Jesus.

It’s a call to a fasted lifestyle, to full surrender and complete saturation in the advance of the Kingdom.

It’s a call to the deeply humble, yet powerfully bold life of John the Baptist.

Are we ready to let the Lover of our souls invade the deepest parts of our inner man? He is wooing his glorious bride back to him…will we respond?

Song of Songs 1:4 (ESV) 4 Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers.

The coming shift in the church away from senior pastoral leadership : The Coming Church

Possibly the most shocking shift coming to the church is the transition away from senior pastoral leadership.

The church army became a nursery. We want to play all day and cry for our needs to be met. Grow up! ~Isaiah Saldivar

image6 The coming shift in the church away from senior pastoral leadership : The Coming ChurchI’m currently writing my next book titled The Coming Church, and I am continually stricken by fear and trembling as I communicate what is about to hit. The coming fire will be consuming everything that is outside of God’s design. The coming church will look so different than the church of today that we will find ourselves speechless. Everything man-made is going. Everything that God deems good but outdated is going. The coming church will be a defined by fire and it will repel the lukewarm and religious—as it draws in the hungry and desperate.

I continually hear people eagerly declaring that they are done with church as usual. Their heart is for God to move in and explode in power. I count myself as one of those people. However, the shift necessary to see this happen will upset what has been setup, and that price may be too costly for most.

Consider the radical differences between the United States Marines and a spa.

Today, the church structurally has the makeup of a spa that is setup to draw people in via programs and promises of personal attention. The coming church will function like a military that is setup to draw people in compelled by the magnitude of the mission. They will not show up to be served by to serve.

People join a spa to be nurtured and enjoy life with themselves in mind. People join the military to serve unto death with others in mind.

False Expectations

After 22+ years of ministry my opinion is that one of the weakest links in the church today is false expectations—expectations perpetuated by leaders who want to fill the pews. Let me explain.

In the local church context today, most want to connect in the place that will meet their expectations. There is a predetermined set of expectations that people enter the church with, and If those expectations aren’t met, negativity creeps into the camp. So, today, people won’t continue in a church if it doesn’t offer what they want, and pastors can’t imagine the thought of losing them, so they adjust course and focus on giving them what they expect.

In the Western church, the pastoral office is the natural office to lead a church that’s fueled by people’s need for nurture. After all, it’s presumed that pastors, by design, are the ones to meet the expectations of the people. They have the heart to do so. Therefore, pastoral leadership is widely embraced by those who are more inclined to receive than to give.

Does that sound like American culture? Does a consumer mentality have its touch on most every area of our lives? Absolutely, and, it has nearly overtaken the church, and we as leaders have left that problem largely unresolved.

What happens now is that pastors are overwhelmed with connecting with people, feeding them what they prefer and ensuring they are attended to—and that has compromised the strength and outward mission of the church.

Now, of course, helping people is absolutely appropriate and necessary, and pastors are the ones best equipped by God to do that, but this ministry was never meant to be the primary function of the church!

Today, churches act much like hospitals. Their key function is to deal with the wounded. In reality, they should look more like MASH units! Soldiers who are wounded in the mission are quickly stitched up so they can get back to the war!

God is raising up people who want to get challenged, not fed. ~Isaiah Saldivar

Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

image thumb2 The coming shift in the church away from senior pastoral leadership : The Coming ChurchThe nurturing, equipping process is important, but it is not the goal! Notice that the equipping is for a reason! To work! Additionally, we have every opportunity and responsibility to feed ourselves instead of relying fully on the church. Today there are countless teachings online, in books, on CD’s and more. There is no excuse for any of us to rely on anybody else for our nourishment. We should not be showing up to the church empty waiting to be fed. We should arrive full and overflowing with the richness of the Word that we have fed ourselves with that week!

As an prophetic apostle, my focus is over the horizon. It’s on just a few narrow topics. I need everybody on their face praying, and I’ll do everything I can to teach them how. I want everybody going after regional revival, and I’ll teach week after week on how they can do that. I prophetically have a pulse on the church and I’ll constantly relay that information to the church so they can respond. But, they will have to take it upon themselves to learn most everything else. Of course, I’m not the only teacher in my context either. Others can and do impart knowledge and revelation, but it is still limited and it’s still required that we devour the Word ourselves.

Today, pastor led churches nurture and feed as the goal so much of the time without casting the vision that they are about to call everybody to pick up their weaponry and move out to battle!

The coming shift will result in less feeding and a higher bar of committed and focused response. The problem? Pastors are not the ones best gifted or called to lead this transition. The pastor led church is functionally compromised.

Simply stated, the church is out of biblical order.

Apostles and Prophets are Coming

Prophets announce, among other things, the coming governmental order and apostles bring the order.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28 (ESV) 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.

These offices are listed in order of importance and function in the church.

Life Application Commentary: Paul specifically ranked them as first, second, and third to show their prime importance above all the other gifts.

ESV Study Bible: First… second… third… then seems to be a ranking of importance or benefit to the church, with apostles being primary and then prophecy and teaching also contributing greatly to building others up.

Rich Murphy:

The apostolic ministry is actually the first one that our Lord, Jesus, established in the New Testament church.

Lk 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.

Why did Jesus establish the apostolic ministry first? Because it was to be the foundation of the church government in the New Testament, as the priesthood was the foundation of the ministry in the Old Testament. So, without apostles in the ministry, the ministry gifts are literally without the necessary foundation.

Eph 2:20 And (you) are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.

There are governmental levels in spiritual realms. These are called “principalities, powers and rulers.” Each has a different realm of authority, a different authority level, and a different manner of operation.

Eph:6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Likewise, we have different levels of authority in the different ministry gifts. Here is where the apostle’s authority is truly needed. At times, a pastor is confronted with different types of spiritual attacks. Without the spiritual covering of an apostle, he can be battling against powers and rulers that he is not actually anointed, or prepared to battle against. With the apostolic covering, he is able to draw upon the apostle’s anointing, understanding, and experience in these battles. Instead of fighting alone, he has the spiritual support he needs.

Jonas Clark:

The current structure or model of church ministry revolves around the pastoral paradigm (model) of ministry. A paradigm is a structure of ministry that serves as a model or pattern. It’s astonishing but the word pastor, Greek poimen is only mentioned once in the entire New Testament. From one occurrence in scripture we have built thousands of pastoral churches. Yet there were no churches ever built in the New Testament by pastors. Even the one started at Antioch soon received Barnabas as an apostolic leader. Barnabas was a sent-one (apostolic gift) from the church in Jerusalem.

In reality we have created a structure of church services that is designed to bless, nurture and comfort attendees. After all, that is the dominate grace on the pastoral ascension gift to comfort, bless, nurture, protect and lead to still waters. There is nothing wrong with being a pastor. What we are discussing is the transition into an apostolic model of ministry that enables us to be more effective in establishing and advancing the Kingdom of God.

Let’s face it the pastoral-only model of ministry is not working. We need something that is more effective and that’s going to be the apostolic model of ministry that we are experiencing today, the new apostolic prophetic church.

There will always be a set man over a congregation. Scripture says, “Let the Lord the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation” (Numbers 27:16). Apostolic ministry models may have a plurality of leadership gifts working together to equip believers known as a presbytery but there will always be one set man that is ultimately responsible before God to apostle a church.

The Holy Spirit is going to restore an effective structure of ministry that will empower you to raise-up strong sons and daughters in the Lord that will take the battle out of the church and into the city.

Apostolic ministry gifts are spiritual master builders that carry the revelation of Christ governing Church. As Paul said, “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon” (1 Corinthians 3:10).

The Purpose of the Church

The church is not a house of teaching or a house of evangelism or a house of friendships. The very purpose of the church is prayer! It is a house of prayer for all nations! If someone in the church is resistant to the call to pray corporately, they can’t consider themselves to be a functional part of the church.

This is a huge problem!

In today’s church very few live a lifestyle of prayer. In fact, most pastors don’t either!

Leonard Ravenhill said: Pastors who don’t pray two hours a day aren’t worth a dime a dozen!

Mark 11:15-18 (ESV) 15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.

We are in a Mark 11:15-18 season in our nation. In that situation, the people were using the church for personal gain. They had expectations of personal benefit. They entered the church with the expectation of leeching off of it, of using it, and leaving with more than they entered with. This is a defilement of the church!

The call is to go into the church with the expectation of leaving with less than we enter with! We bring an offering, a sacrifice! We minister to God!

This is critical! Pastor led churches more easily seek to give people what they expect out of the church. Now, please understand me. Pastors are God ordained! But, when they function outside of their appropriate governmental position, it brings disorder. The same would be true of any of the offices. You probably don’t want a prophet trying to nurture people! Thank God for pastors!

The House of Prayer

In the coming church, everybody will pray as their primary ministry! Yes, everybody!

This means a great offense is coming as suddenly those focused on their own expectations and who are resistant to the call to prayer will have nowhere to go!

The governmental order in the church will require a mass exodus of uncommitted, unwilling hearts as intercession takes first place again. This type of dramatic shift requires the skills of an apostle to pull off.

You might presume that intercession is to be reserved for the mature, for those who have graduated from the equipping process. No! No! No!

The best equipping center is the prayer room! If an 18 year old pimple faced young person fresh out of high school with no experience, no knowledge, no wisdom can join the Marines and fight for our country, he can do the same in the prayer room!

Again, there is a place for pastors to nurture people like this, and, in fact, we need pastors not as senior leaders, but as smaller group leaders who can invest time into individuals. They need to prepare them quickly to respond to the coming instructions from the apostles and prophets. It would make sense to have serving with an apostle maybe ten to twenty pastors for every one hundred people in a church.

Islamic prayer: The second pillar of Islam is salat, the requirement to pray five times a day at fixed times. Children are often required to fulfill this daily requirement by the age of 7.

If a mosque can be jam packed full of people praying early in the morning on a weekday as happens in our area, and if children as young as 7 are praying five times a day in that system, certainly an all consuming, Holy Spirit fueled life of prayer for a Christian is not hard to imagine at all!

Act like priests!

When you stand as a priest before the Lord, you aren’t representing yourself, you are representing others in corporate identificational prayer. ~James Goll

You are a priest, and that means that you have a job to do. You are a priestly intercessor before God and the call is to pray individually and corporately continually!

In the coming church, under apostles and prophets, we all will show up and pray! That is church! Church services will be prayer meetings again!

Personal expectations will be replaced by assignments to serve, give, pray and lay down our lives! We won’t show up with our prayer lists or our own issues but rather we will represent the nations as we invest into them in prayer.

We are all priests and we all carry extreme authority! This is church at its best!

The Simple Blueprint

Apostles and Prophets

  • The shift: Corporate leadership will shift from pastors to apostles and prophets primarily. Instead of merely relaying information, messages will be mostly challenging and directive with a clear expected response as the body is rallied to fulfill a corporate mission together. They will lead with the expectation that the entire unit will be moving in step with them as they fulfill the vision of the church in unity.
  • The difficulty: Those that are averse to responding to prophetic instruction or who simply want a ‘pick me up’ each week to help them make it to the next Sunday will suddenly find themselves well outside of the vision of the church. There will be costly calls to serve, give, pray and function as a priest before the Lord, and that will be unappealing to many. The new aggressive, fast moving military will be challenging to say the least.

Pastors

  • The shift: In the coming church, pastors will mostly be relieved of primary church leadership responsibilities and will be released to spend most of their time one-on-one with people and in small groups.
  • The difficulty: Pastors who are senior leaders will be asked to relinquish their positions, their salaries and their influence in favor of an apostle God is calling them to serve under.

The Body

  • The shift: Many programs of the church will be eliminated, possibly including children’s ministry, youth ministry, drama, etc. and will be replaced by prayer meetings, training and outreach.
  • The difficulty: People will have to change their expectations and make themselves ready to serve by growing intentionally on their own in a significant way each day. They probably won’t have close, direct access with the leader and will have to trade personal desire for close friendship for a readiness to respond to the sound of the alarm.

The Culture

  • The shift: Most services will look more like prayer meetings than anything else. Everybody will spend the bulk of the service ministering to God in intercession and community will surround that emphasis.
  • The difficulty: The desire to be entertained and overfed will no longer be met. Mostly receiving will change to mostly giving. Rapid maturity will be required as apostolic leaders move ahead aggressively in a rapidly and ever changing culture of ministry to the nations. Those resistant to growth or to change won’t easily find a place to connect. Additionally, relational community will occur only around the mission. The prayer meeting will be the gathering point for friendships to develop. People looking for these types of connections will be disappointed if they aren’t willing to jump in the bunker in a risky mission with their fellow soldiers. Gladly, the pastors will be in the bunkers with them.

The Lost

  • The shift: Seeker churches will quickly fade away as the fire of the Holy Spirit rages in the houses of prayer. The lost won’t be relationally converted as much as they will be converted by fire. We will trust God’s wisdom as in Acts 2 and allow the fire of God impact a region. The prayer room will become the place of choice to bring the lost.
  • The difficulty: Everybody will have to drop most everything and tend to the fire in the house of prayer. To ensure the atmosphere is supernaturally charged, everybody in the church will be spending hours a day in the prayer room together. False salvations will drop to near zero as they won’t be based on a simple prayer but rather on an encounter with the God of fire.

To Conclude

It’s important that I do say that many current pastors are actually gifted with apostolic and/or prophetic offices. They will help lead the shift!

We will all have to trust God as our personal finances, plans, dreams, influence and structures are threatened. God really does have plans to prosper us even in this dramatic, unsettling shift!

A new house of prayer for the Detroit region: Pastors, leaders, intercessors, musicians…

A house of prayer to break down competition and build up unity in the pursuit of revival in Detroit and beyond!

FIRST: The worship and teaching and atmosphere at Revival Church has shifted into prayer-fueled culture of extreme joy, faith and expectancy! I’m humbled!

Listen to last night’s message…Joshua Generation Part Two: http://media.johnburton.net/7468076 I’ll include the notes below.


SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Register for thelab school of fire Colorado!

Travel to Colorado for a six-month series events and conferences! You DON’T want to miss this fiery, prophetic shock to the Colorado Springs region! Visit www.thelabdetroit.com/manitousprings!

SECRET PRAYER

Secret PrayerThumb A new house of prayer for the Detroit region: Pastors, leaders, intercessors, musicians…I was once asked by a reporter for Pray! Magazine a very interesting question.

The interview was about an underground prayer movement called Secret Prayer in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In total, we prayed in over 100 churches in the city and God was uniting people in remarkable fashion.

Pastors, who sadly are historically nervous and territorial, were opening up their pulpits to our team—usually without ever meeting us first! We would arrive at 10pm on a Friday night and pray in fire for two hours. At times we’d have over 200 people from churches all over the city converging together to intercede for Colorado Springs until midnight every Friday!

With this unusual openness following our team every week, I was asked, “John, how is it that pastors, who are often resistant to one another, are coming together like this? Where is the contention?”

I responded by simply saying, “You can’t hate or despise someone you are praying blessing over.”

I was also interviewed by the Christian Examiner. Read that article here: www.thelabdetroit.com/secretprayer

CONTENTION IN DETROIT?

After four years, I’m no longer the new kid on the block. I’ve had an opportunity to check out the landscape of the church in this region, much like I did in Colorado Springs.

We have been in over 6o churches here, and have experienced much of the same freedom and fire that we did in Colorado.

Fundraising Image A new house of prayer for the Detroit region: Pastors, leaders, intercessors, musicians…I’m happy to say that there are many, many pastors and leaders who are humble, hungry and ready to lay it all down for the sake of revival in Detroit!

However, it’s also true that there are murmurings, contentions and division in the land as well.

THE REMEDY

Prayer. Continual prayer. Unified prayer. Fervent prayer.

We won’t oppose other leaders, churches and movements we are aggressively asking God to bless.

If we ask God to cause another church to grow faster than our church, have more money than our church and radically increasing impact, our own jealousies are diffused!

If we are willing to release the people in our church to move to another church, we will no longer struggle when transfer happens!

I’ve said before, at Revival Church and thelab, we have an open hands policy. We don’t own sheep and therefore it’s not possible for someone to steal them from our ministry. Anybody, any pastor, any leader can come to our church at any time and freely, with out any guilt, recruit anybody to leave our ministry to join theirs.

I’d encourage you to read another article I wrote about the Sheep Stealing Myth here: http://www.johnburton.net/2011/09/06/church-competition-and-the-sheep-stealingtransfer-growth-myth/

THELAB HOUSE OF PRAYER

To break down a spirit of competition and jealousy and to promote a unified pursuit of revival in this region, we are inviting pastors and leaders to join with us in prayer—and to join in the building of a new house of prayer for the region!

thelab house of prayer is functional ever Sunday night at Revival Church, and the next step will result in an explosion of daily intercession, training and worship.

We are inviting intercessors, musicians, leaders, pastors, revivalists, prophetic messengers and others to partner in the development of this new regional ministry!

Contact me at john@johnburton.net for details. We are ready to develop worship teams and intercession watches!

You can help us raise the remaining $40,000 by giving here: www.thelabdetroit.com/payment.

Ancient & emerging: 5 major changes coming to the church

The Coming Church will look nothing like the church we know today. Here are some of the significant changes on the horizon.

image3 Ancient & emerging: 5 major changes coming to the church Over the last 22+ years of ministry, one of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced has been effectively communicating just what changes are coming to the church.

The current church paradigm is so prevalent and saturating in our culture that people just can’t seem to wrap their minds around the shift that is coming. It seems nonsensical, threatening or just plain bizarre. They wonder how their ministry stream or focus or gift fits in that structure. The reality is that it may not, or it may be radically redefined. The discomfort level will be quite high, and it will take a radical remnant to truly sign up for the reformation—for the revolution of the church.

The disciples of Jesus had an idea of what it would look like in Acts 1, but Jesus radically violated their dreams, plans and comfort zones by leaving—and commissioning them to establish what they hoped Jesus would build!

Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, jwill you at this time krestore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, l“It is not for you to know mtimes or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive npower owhen the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and pyou will be qmy witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and rSamaria, and sto the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, the was lifted up, and ua cloud took him out of their sight.

The Coming Church

This book that I’m currently writing will be addressing some of the spiritual and practical changes that will be coming to the structure and expression of the church. Trust me, it will shock our nation severely. Those who hold on to a structure or a ministry instead of Jesus himself will not be willing to go where God is leading.

I call this the ancient and emerging church. Ancient because it’s rooted in scripture, emerging because the biblical structure has been largely forsaken.

What will this ancient and emerging church look like? Here’s just a small peek into a grand shift in the structure of the church:

  1. Services will become more like prayer meetings. One of the greatest indictments on the church today is that prayer is not the driving force. Today, people tend to choose churches based on the appeal of the teaching and the worship instead of the fervency of prayer. If the church was a house of teaching, or a house of worship, that would make sense, but it’s not. The church is a house of prayer for all nations. Every person in the church will function as a burning intercessor and the services will be marked by this unified groan of fiery prayer.
  2. Personal need will give way to personal mission. Today, churches are often more like organic, socially driven hospitals. People tend to use the church as a way to meet their personal needs instead of serving it as a minister of God. This is going to change. Of course, there will still be personal ministry and true needs will be addressed. However, instead of the church functioning as a hospital, it will once again function as a mission-driven military. The mission will take precedence. The saints will be equipped for service, not for personal survival. In this ancient and emerging model, their will be MASH units that will take very good care of the wounded with the primary purpose of getting the soldier back into battle. Apostles will again lead with governmental authority and pastors will be seen as the main leader less and less as they focus more on shepherding and less on primary leadership.
  3. Teaching will be minimized while instruction is emphasized. Teaching is mostly for personal edification while instruction is mostly for corporate assignments. Today, most churches focus on teaching principles of scripture, providing truths that will help Believers navigate through their lives and giving nuggets of biblical info. While there will still be important Bible teaching, apostolic instruction will emerge as a necessary new ministry. There is enough Bible teaching online, on CD’s, in books and on video to turn every one of us into personal spiritual giants. We need to take it upon ourselves to grow. What is lacking, however, is apostolic leaders, military commanders, who give instruction, assignments, to a ready army. Teaching is personal growth based while instruction is a call to corporate action for the sake of mission fulfillment. An example of apostolic instruction is this: The apostolic leader gives a corporate assignment for everybody in the church to fast for a week and then show up together to prayer walk through the city streets. It’s a corporate call to action vs. biblical study. It’s mission focused vs. personal growth focused. Personal growth will be largely our responsibility between services so we can be ready to respond to the corporate instruction where we will receive our assignments.
  4. We will gather together most days of the week. The 24/7 church will again emerge as the church drives culture instead of reacting to culture. Cares of life will lose their power as we simplify our lives and put corporate prayer and mission ahead of most everything else. This may be the most challenging change for Christians. Today, Sundays are the days to set aside for corporate worship while we give precedence to our ‘normal lives’. In The Coming Church, the very reason we live will be to pray on fire together every day, receive apostolic assignments and then move out into our lives as Kingdom ambassadors. It wouldn’t be surprising if a tithe of our time is what became the standard. Two to three hours a day, whether it’s in the morning, afternoon or evening, or even in the late night hours, will be given by every Believer to praying on site together with others, ministering, and giving ourselves to intercession fueled Kingdom ministry. Of course, much of what we have been giving ourselves to will have to be eliminated so we have the time necessary to devote.
  5. Worship will be supernaturally driven. There is a new sound coming to worship, and it’s not simply a new style. There is a supernatural, otherworldly groan of intercessory worship that will explode out of the entire body as a new breed of trembling worship leaders lead the way into the shock and awe of the glory of God. We will no longer simply sit in a pew or stand with a raised hand while a familiar worship song is sung. The prophetic, groaning sounds of Holy Spirit facilitated worship will make it normal to shake and fall to our faces as we cry Holy! The natural, logical sing-a-longs will be no more. We will have a hard time standing as God’s Shekinah and Kabod glory resides in his church. Worship teams will practice less and pray in the Spirit with tears in their eyes more.

image4 Ancient & emerging: 5 major changes coming to the church Of course, this is an extremely limited glance into the many, many changes that are coming. I wanted to share this to provoke you to preparation. There is much that you and I enjoy in the church, or that is comfortable to us, that we will have to let go. Again, the coming church will be troubling and shocking, but it will result in the power and life that we have been crying out for.

God is about to answer that cry.

I strongly recommend that you read my book 20 Element of Revival. It’s only $2.99 on Kindle. That book reveals much of the shift that we must embrace right now. If you truly take in all that it has to say, you’ll never participate in the church the same way again.

ORDER HERE

Ministry opening: Senior Associate at Revival Church

image4 Ministry opening: Senior Associate at Revival Church

Ministry opening: Senior Associate at Revival Church

Hi, please forward this to anybody you know who may be interested in this open position. Thank you!

Revival Church in Madison Heights, Michigan is a vibrant, exciting ministry of revival that was planted by John and Amy Burton in 2009. (www.detroitrevivalchurch.com) Revival Church is an active member of Barbara Yoder’s Breakthrough Apostolic Ministries Network.

We are prayerfully seeking the right person, or married couple, to assume the role of Senior Associate.

Revival Church is a unique prophetic environment that is unapologetically focused on prayer-fueled revival, regional transformation and raising up forerunners and leaders. In addition to a powerful local atmosphere, we are developing theLab School of Fire (www.revivallab.com) and the Revival Tribe (www.revivaltribe.com) church planting strategy. The Senior Associate must both embrace and be a catalyst for the vision of the house and region.

The Senior Associate will report directly to John Burton who will be assuming a more regional apostolic and prophetic role. Locally, John will be the primary communicator and overseer while the Senior Associate will be directly responsible for a variety of functions including:

  • Developing and overseeing a pastoral care strategy for both staff and the body (including hospital visitation, connecting with members, etc.)
  • Giving direct supervision and pastoral care to senior staff
  • Choosing and training new staff
  • Providing administrative leadership
  • Leading staff meetings
  • Visitor assimilation
  • Developing and overseeing a membership strategy
  • Developing and overseeing local church growth strategies
  • Supporting John and Amy as they continue to cast vision, develop ministries and fulfill the vision
  • Occasional Sunday teaching and service administration
  • Provide pastoral care for theLab School of Fire and Revival Tribes as needed
  • Be a liaison for John and Amy

The candidate must exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Maturity
  • Humility
  • Be a strong and visible servant to the body
  • Be teachable
  • Faithfulness
  • Have a commitment to holiness
  • Have a deep and growing prayer life
  • Be extremely proactive on a daily basis
  • Ability to counsel
  • Ability to plan and conduct services, conferences and events
  • Ability to lead teams effectively and raise up new leaders
  • Available and responsible to set and meet goals
  • Ability to work well under pressure and maintain a professional demeanor, servant’s heart and a can-do attitude
  • Ability to teach
  • Ability to receive direction and feedback from supervisors
  • A determination to support the theology of Revival Church

This is an unpaid yet demanding position. At least ten hours per week in addition to services and events will be required. Salary will be discussed as the church grows and at regular staff evaluations.

Revival Church isn’t easily defined by any one of the prevailing leaders or streams, but is flavored by several of them including:

  • IHOP-KC (Prayer, end-times, intimacy)
  • Brownsville/Bay of the Holy Spirit (Revival, repentance)
  • Classic Vineyard (Worship)
  • Bethel (Worship)
  • Leonard Ravenhill
  • John Bevere
  • Lou Engle

If you are a zealous follower of Jesus Christ with experience in church leadership, and you feel you would be a good fit on the Revival Church team, please send your resume to info@detroitrevivalchurch.com.

Please include your vision for ministry, your experience and why you feel you’d be a good choice for Senior Associate. Keep in mind, this role requires someone who is highly pastoral and who can be viewed functionally as the Senior Pastor of a growing church.

Be the Buzz: A practical guide on how to follow your leader and fulfill your ministry

God is identifying an emerging army of end-time leaders—discover how to respond to this critical call.

FIRST: Listen to the latest teaching in my series Ten Threats to Revival here: http://media.johnburton.net/5044148 


I had a meeting with two of my several amazing leaders at Revival Church last night—and I felt impressed to share some practical tips on how you can be equally amazing as you serve in your ministry.

theLab School of Fire is a three month school that trains people to grow fast, run well and to serve with passion in the ministry God plants them in. If you want to learn more than this article could ever hope to relay, by all means, apply for theLab today! www.revivallab.com

OUR CRAZY DNA

image Be the Buzz: A practical guide on how to follow your leader and fulfill your ministryI believe we are seeing some great leaders emerge at Revival Church because of our wild and crazy DNA, not in spite of it. It’s a thrill ride and a challenge to run with someone like myself. The pressure cooker that is Revival Church is openly revealing those who are responding and being formed into the next wave of leaders in Detroit!

To help you understand our context, I’ll share some of the primary vision points that will reveal the challenge of serving in a ministry like this. The challenge, for those who take advantage of it, leads to rapid promotion, favor and honor.

  • Revival Church is an apostolic and prophetic church. As an apostle/prophet with a regional and national focus, we are leading from that edge. The constant focus around here is reformation, revival and regional impact which means we are always shifting and redirecting in our methods as we pursue the ultimate goal. Following a prophetic leader is a challenge to say the least. The vision is always expanding and the methodology is always changing which requires that everybody involved is ‘instant in season and instant out of season’. New projects are often initiated well before old projects are completed.
  • Revival Church’s message isn’t locally limited. I say often that I’m a one string banjo. We are all about revival on a regional and national level. So, what this means is that those in our church will be hearing the same revival thread in our messages over and over again. We are intentionally focused and limited instead of diverse in our teachings. I understand that the messages I deliver are mostly for the region and nation, and the primary vehicle we are using is the Sunday evening Revival Church service. I’m certainly preaching to those in attendance, but I’m equally targeting those who will be hearing the message online. If I have to say the same thing over and over until those in attendance have it memorized word for word, that’s OK as long as the message is impacting those who are listening in our target areas around the world.
  • Revival Church, by design, does not give all five of the offices equal attention. This is not to say that we don’t value all of the offices, but it does say that we know who we are and who we are not. In the current church structure the presumption is that all five offices must be active in every local church. That’s not true. First of all, that’s not realistic for smaller churches. Secondly, in scripture we know the church is identified by the city, not by the local expression. The five-fold offices must be in effect in the city church, which will require that we as leaders are OK with people in our church participating in other local churches that are anointed in another office.
  • Revival Church, again by design, is not a Pastor led church. The current Pastor led church system in our nation has resulted in a lot of false expectations that are placed on leadership. This is one of our greatest challenges. Again, it’s not that we don’t value the Pastoral office, we do. However, our focus, time, energy and resources are not to be used to focus at a significant level on developing pastoral ministry. Interestingly, the presumption might be that without a strong pastoral focus that people can’t easily grow. It’s quite the contrary around here. We are raising up people who are growing at a faster pace than I’ve ever witnessed—and these people are self-motivated. When they notice a struggle in their lives, they proactively take steps to resolve it. False expectations can lead people to presume I as the Senior Leader will be fulfilling the role of pastor in their lives when, in reality, I’m not a pastor at all. This is a challenge to communicate and it can often feel like rejection to those who want close and constant access to me. However, it’s not rejection at all. It’s simply that a prophet/apostle interacts very differently with people than a pastor does.
  • Revival Church has an unapologetically high bar of commitment. We believe the 24/7 church is coming, and the call around here is to start modeling this emerging church structure. Additionally, we are launching 50 new churches in this region alone, and we are asking everybody to consider how they will participate in this mission. Everybody here has the goal of changing the Detroit region and working toward revival.
  • Revival Church has a vision that demands we expand and look outward. There is much that feels undone in our local church due to our focus to continue expanding in the region. We refuse to wait until everything is perfectly in place and mature before we move out and launch other ministries and projects.

HOW TO FOLLOW YOUR LEADER AND PREPARE YOURSELF FOR PROMOTION

If people can learn how to follow leadership with crazy DNA like we have at Revival Church, you can certainly do the same in your church.

Remember, the greatest servants make the greatest leaders. And, leaders who take their mission seriously are on the lookout for the rare few who will be the next great leaders in the church.

Your leader (Pastor, Prophet, Apostle, etc.) is looking for armor bearers, not in title but in function.

Definition of an Armor-bearer: An officer selected by kings and generals because of his bravery, not only to bear their armor, but also to stand by them in the time of danger. — Easton’s Illustrated Dictionary

In my book Covens in the Church I point out that most people think leaders should make it easy for people to follow them. I disagree. People should make it easy for leaders to lead them. Why? The very call of leadership is to lead people into the challenging, threatening new land of promise. True leaders make your life harder, not easier. They challenge you to your very limit so you can fulfill a naturally impossible mission.

I wanted to make this as raw and practical as I could, so here it goes!

  • Understand the vision. Do you know what the vision of your leader is and is not? If there is any confusion at all, seek out a clear, definitive explanation. Then, memorize it. Repeat it to others. Often. At Revival Church, my vision is most clearly outlined in my book 20 Elements of Revival. All of our leaders are required to read this book and then work hard to implement it. I continually teach on the vision here so everybody on board has it in front of them week after week.
  • Don’t attempt to tweak the vision. Vision by design is limited—extremely so. Remember, your church is not supposed to dilute their vision by diverting energy and resources to your vision. You must follow your leader’s interpretation of the vision as the vision will come directly through him.
  • Don’t try to fit your vision into your leader’s vision. We like to think that our vision will complement our leader’s, and sometimes it will. But, sometimes it will not. Some personal endeavors can threaten the vision of the house while others can strengthen it. Find out from your pastor what category your vision fits in, and refuse to pull back or take on offense if you discover it doesn’t fit in the current season.
  • Resolve problems. I tell my leadership team that I expect them to deliver resolutions to me, not problems. In fact, when someone is known for recognizing and highlighting problems to me, it’s an indicator that they are not ready for leadership. Generals don’t report problems without taking on the responsibility to take care of business.
  • Don’t have false-expectations. “My leader should be doing…” Fill in the blank. There are many things people want their leaders to spearhead or to give attention to, but it’s not his place to do so. I often hear people come to me with great ministry ideas and I almost always place the ball back in their court and encourage them to make it happen. It’s not your leader’s job to run with your vision, but if it’s complementary to the vision of the house, he can open the door for you to run with it yourself. I remember sitting in a class with Dr. Peter Wagner and Dutch Sheets one day. Dutch is an apostle. I don’t think he has a pastoral bone in his body, yet he at the time was leading a church in Colorado Springs. He’s one of the most important voices in our nation, in my opinion, and his attention had to be given to that. Peter Wagner said that day to everybody in attendance, “If you are sick in the hospital or in need of counseling, don’t expect Dutch to show up. That’s not his role.” Expect your leader to fulfill his function and his vision, not the function you want him to, or even a function that desperately needs to be filled by someone else. Just because there is a great need with nobody to meet it doesn’t mean it defaults to your leader.
  • Champion your leader’s cause. This is a big one. If you want to be received by leadership and experience on-time promotion, you must champion your leader’s cause. The alternative is to be a threat to his cause, which will result in stalled personal development for you. Know your leader’s vision inside and out—and refuse to promote any competing viewpoint. This will require you set aside personal doctrines or ministry philosophies that are contrary. You will also have to confront those who are negatively impacting the vision. Few people are truly able to do this, but those who are most usually experience great favor and rapid promotion.
  • Never gossip—ever. You do not have the right to discuss frustrations, disagreements or negative analysis of your church with anybody in the entire world—except your leader. If your church doesn’t focus on evangelism to the degree you think it should, for example, it would take a spirit of treason for you to discuss your frustration or disapproval with others. Keep in mind that the Absalom spirit is alive and well in the church today. Also remember that your church, by design, is lacking in many areas so they can focus intently on their God given vision. Many people will come to you in the hopes of gaining a sympathetic ear as they voice their concern about the church. Don’t receive their complaint. Don’t listen to their frustration. Stand firm and communicate without apology the vision of the church. Let them know the vision is not up for debate. My leader in Colorado is a rock star in this regard. When people came to him with their concerns, he took them by the hand directly to me so they could share their issues! Guess what, people stopped going to him with their gossip.
  • Be faithful. I don’t look for people with great giftings, I look for faithfulness. Ask your leader what his expectations are, and go overboard fulfilling them. Be at every service. Lead the charge. Model extreme, sold-out faithfulness not only to Jesus but to the leader he placed in your life.
  • Openly respond. When he’s teaching, let everybody in the building know you agree and are ready to respond. Shout amen! Don’t get distracted. Don’t text. Don’t post to Facebook. Be obviously engaged. One of my favorite worship leaders is Catherine Mullins. She’s a good friend too. I often tell people that my favorite part of her ministry isn’t her worship leading, but, rather, the way she immediately sits in the front row after worship and actively engages in the sermon. She shouts, she has her Bible open. She changes the atmosphere from her seat. Powerful.
  • Address him and his wife with respect. I’m personally challenged regarding titles. On one hand, I really don’t like to call myself anything other than John. I’m OK with others calling me John. But, I also understand what it means to honor authority and to recognize that person’s role in your life. The greater challenge is that I’m not a pastor, though people do call me Pastor John. That’s OK with me, and in fact, it feels more appropriate than for people to call me by my first name. The most accurate title would be Apostle or Prophet John, but with all of the goofy and prideful demeanors that can come along with a title, it’s a bit uncomfortable. So, how do you relate to your leader? Simply, with respect. Use a title if that’s expected and show your respect in other ways if it’s not. Remember him and his family on birthdays, on Pastor Appreciation Day, anniversaries, etc.
  • Understand that you can disqualify yourself for leadership for a season. I’m a very active listener and watcher. You may not think it’s fair or right, but leaders analyze people, in love, and with a sober spirit. They are mandated to protect the mission God entrusted to them. As one who comes alive when ‘the least of these’ are awakened to their destiny, and as one who has a lot of grace when it comes to failure, trial, error and weakness, I also am looking to see who’s rising above the rest. Your leader will have his own set of tests. For me, as an example, gossip will quickly disqualify someone, until the issue is resolved and repentance is clear. I have to ensure my leaders are fully on board and that they don’t threaten or compromise the mission. This doesn’t mean that I don’t love them. Not at all. My grace level is high as they grow through their challenge. I still see them one day leading significant ministries and changing the world!
  • Don’t require your leader to say things twice. Leaders have expectations that are necessary for the development of the ministry. I am always impressed and will give favor to those who respond to my requests without the need to say it again. I don’t have the time to repeatedly make the same requests over and over. Understand, this is usually simple stuff… but, not insignificant stuff. Don’t make the mistake of presuming a simple request is an insignificant one or one that can be ignored altogether. As an example, in theLab we have a call to excellence that includes never being even one minute late to any class or event. We say, “Early is on time, on time is late and late is unacceptable.” Those who respond to this call the first time have my attention.
  • Undergird him much more than you pull on him. Leaders are looking for those who lessen the burden of the vision, not those who add to it. Of course, we are to help, as we can, the leaders on our team. However, all of our energy can’t continually be tapped by resolving problems. The job must get done and we have to ensure distraction is at a minimum. Be the one who is vigilant in resolving issues so you can hold up the arms of your leader as he goes to battle.
  • Love, honor and pray for him. A few of my leaders specifically communicate with me on an ongoing basis sharing how they are praying for me. They also usually pull me aside before the Sunday service to pray for me, to break off any attack and to stand in the gap for me. This is greatly appreciated and needed.
  • Don’t use your church for your own ministry platform. I learned this lesson myself over 20 years ago. I started serving in a church that I thought was a great place for me to establish my own ministry. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my ministry was not welcomed by the leadership in the way I thought it would be. I wasn’t championing their vision, I was using them to fuel my own. Big mistake. I was humbled (humiliated is more like it) one day at a staff meeting. I was serving in the youth department, and was starting to have quite an impact. At the staff meeting the pastor said, without even looking at me, “John Burton is not someone we are considering for the position of youth leader in this church now or in the future.” I was mad, but years later I understand. I wasn’t truly there to enhance their vision, I was there to leech off of them. Lesson learned.
  • Grow intentionally on your own. Come to every service stronger than you were in the last. Take it upon yourself to work out spiritually so you can be an ever increasing benefit to the work of the Kingdom.
  • Financially invest in the vision. Go beyond the tithe. Give extravagantly to the endeavors and projects that are initiated in the pursuit of a fulfilled mission.
  • Refuse to take on offense. True ministry provides opportunity for offense continually. Don’t fall into it. Don’t get offended when you aren’t recognized, when you aren’t listened to or when you aren’t valued the way you think you should be. Don’t take on other people’s offense either.
  • Model expected behavior. A spirit of entitlement can easily hit emerging leaders and church staffs. The presumption that we don’t have to participate at the level expected of others can halt a mission. For example, I want our leaders to lead the way by always sitting up front during the sermon, listening intently, leading the charge during pre-service prayer, to be at the altars prior to service for a time of intercession, etc. As our leaders model expected behavior they set a culture. That culture is invaluable.
  • Be a long-timer. Attrition is an extremely disruptive occurrence in the church today. Church leaders are most always anxious about whether they can count on people to stick with them for the long term. Make a commitment and voice it to your leader. Let him know that you will stand with them through good times and bad in a covenant relationship—and you’ll do what you can to model that in such a way that it becomes a key part of the culture of the church.
  • Be joyful! Be that person that’s always smiling, rejoicing and positive! Trust me, leaders can’t get enough of people like that. I have someone on my team that is contagiously joyful. That in itself has her on my leadership radar.
  • Be the buzz. Be the most visible, radical, exuberant cheerleader for your church! I’ve been involved in just a few ministries that do this very well. People excitedly spread the word about the church God planted them in. You see it on their faces. You read their Facebook posts. They can’t stop Tweeting. They are fiery evangelists! Around here people can’t stop talking about theLab. There’s buzz. Be that buzz for your church. I know when people are running with the vision when I see them actively advancing the cause Monday through Saturday.

Some books on this topic that I highly recommend to you include A Tale of Three Kings, God’s Armor Bearer, Under Cover and my book Covens in the Church.

I repented to Ellen DeGeneres in a dream: Message change tonight at Revival Church

Money Magic will be taught soon… but, after a very emotional dream last night I will be preaching tonight on Almost Homosexual: A Crisis in the Church

image thumb1 I repented to Ellen DeGeneres in a dream: Message change tonight at Revival ChurchAfter I woke up from my dream, I read my verse of the day… here it is:

Colossians 4:5 Be wise when you engage with those outside the faith community; make the most of every moment and every encounter.

I felt God had a message of love for Ellen that I should try to get to her.

I feel such an overwhelming anointing even now… and I’m sure some extreme and very real freedom will land at Revival Church tonight.

I decided to email Ellen. I have no idea if she will ever get it, but I pray she does.

Here’s what I sent to Ellen DeGeneres:

Here’s a strange story for ya! I’m a pastor & author, and I had a dream about you last night. It was crazy long and detailed and the first two part dream I’ve had (I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle and the dream continued after I went back to sleep).

You aren’t someone I think about often at all (sorry!), so I have a feeling God may have dropped that dream on me. It started with you at the Academy Awards (or something similar) and you called me on stage from the audience. I was overwhelmed with grief and whispered to you, "Please forgive me for judging you."

Later, you went on to share with me from your heart about some pain and you talked about your mom. Later on I met your mom and your brother at their home. (I didn’t realize you had a brother until I googled it just a moment ago.)

There were other pieces to the dream, but I thought I’d leave it at that for now.

A little about me; I may appear to fit the stereotype as I do believe any lifestyle that embraces activities that God, in his wisdom, deems unhealthy must be avoided. Homosexuality included. However, what’s also included is pride, which the Christian church is often steeped in. So is selfish ambition and having cold love. All deadly, all have hit the church at large. Again, please forgive me.

After the dream I decided to preach tonight on a crazy controversial message calling the church to repentance titled, "Almost Homosexual: The Church in Crisis."

God likes you, he loves you. Me too.

See you all tonight at Revival Church. 6pm. Prayer at 5pm. Get ready for a shocking, rocking night!

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After an exhilarating weekend of teaching in Saskatoon, the pastor of the church strongly encouraged me to get the messages out to pastors around the world.

That is the plan. I am excited about serving pastors and leaders in this nation and everywhere else God highlights.

I can’t wait to meet you and bring these messages of freedom and mission advance to your church!

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