A Free Book: An encounter 23 years ago that keeps me wrecked every day of my life

The Terror of Hell: I prayed for fifteen years after this encounter that God wouldn’t give me any more.

2nd last version of The Terror of Hell Box Shot 2011 A Free Book: An encounter 23 years ago that keeps me wrecked every day of my lifeI never saw it coming.

What happened to me that fateful night 23 years ago is the reason I am unrelenting in bringing attention to anything that puts the people God so desperately loves in harm’s way.

Nearly a quarter of a century has passed, and I still shudder in brokenness and desperation every time I think about the encounter.

THEIR FREEDOM IS MY MISSION

Just a couple of years ago, twenty years after the encounter, I had a vision of multiplied thousands of people, mostly professing Christians, stretching in front of me, to my right and to my left as far as the horizons. As I looked at the sea of precious people, God spoke clearly to me: Their freedom is your mission.

I was overwhelmed with the weight of the mandate, and terribly distraught at its scope. So many people were in peril, and I couldn’t imagine even one of them not being rescued.

God was reawakening me to my mission that was given two decades prior—to shake the church and sounds alarms to a casual, sleeping people.

Every day I am in prayer, seeking the most impactful means possible to fulfill this mandate. Every day that passes without meaningful advance, without the message of awakening spreading to an unsuspecting church, is a day that grieves my spirit. There are millions of people who are unaware of their true condition, and who God is zealously pursuing. He is using prophetic messengers to help in that pursuit.

As I’ve said many times before, I am convinced that the greatest threat to today’s church is the false-grace movement. So many presume that movement to be simply another expression within the body of Christ. I am convinced that, to the contrary, that movement is actually resulting in massive amounts of false or compromised conversions.

I believe the hyper-grace message could be the end-time deception that will cause millions of people to fall away from God. ~Sid Roth

This is why it’s so critical that we are deeply devoted to the Word of God. The Bible is our final authority, and we need to, now more than ever, stay true to what it teaches. We must relay biblical truths to the masses!

The answer to false-grace is so simple that I wonder why so many are resistant. Simply, be intimate with Jesus, let him search your heart, and when he finds sin, immediately repent. That’s it! It’s so easy!

THE MISSION

I am going to include free of charge, in its entirety, the story of my encounter as told in my book The Terror of Hell.

First, I’ll reveal to you the end of the story—God revealed very clearly to me, “Many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”

At that moment I had my life mission. Every day I am burdened with the reality that the blood of millions will be on my hands if I shrink back and refuse to sound the alarms. I can’t allow a day to pass without somehow doing what I can, with all of my weaknesses and limits, to shine a light on this tragic reality. People have to be rescued from a path that is leading them to Hell.

The cost of delivering such a message to a sleeping or comfortable church has been significant—but absolutely worth it. It’s a hard message to relay as it’s intended for those who are convinced of their security. It’s an offensive message because it introduces a radical redefinition to people’s concept of God.

For me, I willingly embrace such challenging, provoking, troubling messages. I crave to hear truth no matter how irritating it is to me.

This is why I have said that I give myself about an 80% chance of making Heaven. If I were to die today, I’m about 99.9% sure I’d be there. However, it would take arrogance to presume I’m exempt from the great falling away, that I, unlike millions of others, have no risk of ever turning my back on Jesus. I am sober.

However, I’m not fearful or depressed regarding this. I’m full of joy! Why? Because I’m not focused on avoiding Hell! I’m focused on intimacy with Jesus—and I have that! That intimacy results in joy, peace and the ability to wrestle with the realities of my heart.

Understand one thing prior to reading about my encounter in the next session: If you fear Hell more than you are grieved at not being intimate with Jesus, you are not in a safe place. The first giant step to take is one right into the arms of a loving God. Pursue him with passion.


THE TERROR OF HELL

    How could I be going to Hell? What I was experiencing messed with my theology to a radically uncomfortable degree. The Holy Spirit was making sure I would never be the same again. Mission accomplished.

    I count the early 1990’s as the most significant season of my life to date. God had invaded my life. (Do you feel the weight of that reality? The burning, raging Creator thrust himself into this mere mortal!)

    The Holy Spirit took me beyond a mere understanding of my need for a savior and a simple acceptance of Jesus as that savior to a place of breath-taking experience in his extreme, fearful and surprisingly vivid invisible realm. The sudden all-consuming desire of my heart was to be intimately joined with the Lover of my soul every moment of my life. I was craving and experiencing a legitimate, reportable and constant weighty manifestation of the presence of God in my life. I was burning! The desire and the cry of my heart was, “More!”

    In those early years, as I was diving into the increasingly deeper realms of life in God, many things happened that I’ll never forget–but one event shook me like no other before or since. 

I had a Dream

   
    The night I had this uninvited invasion of both God and Hell into my sleep, I was living in an old, vacant church building as the care taker. The dramatic scene was what you would imagine–the church was a relatively ancient stone structure. I would regularly encounter God as I walked through the now empty corridors, hidden rooms, sanctuary and other mysterious places throughout that relic. The countless hours praying in this vacant building resulted in forming me as a young burning man in some very memorable ways. 

    One destined evening I prepared for bed as I did every other night. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I prayed myself to sleep in the weighty and wonderful presence of the Holy Spirit as I had done so many times before.
    What was about to happen as I slipped into sleep that fateful night would result in a tremble that is with me to this day–twenty years later as I am revising this book. I was invited into an other-worldly encounter that I had no freedom to turn down.

    Because of the unimaginable panic and terror I experienced that night, I would often pray as I went to sleep, “God, please don’t give me any dreams tonight.” I prayed that way for thirteen years.

    Thirteen years! God eventually spoke clearly to me, after thirteen years of receiving many visions, but no dreams of God, “John, I need you to stop praying that prayer. I have things to reveal to you. I need to talk to you. I have dreams for you to dream.” I relented and have since craved dreams, angelic visitations and other forms of communication from the heavenly realm.

    During this night of terror I fell asleep in the old, empty church building and found myself dreaming.

    In my dream I was laying on my stomach in a one room building. It was very comfortable inside, though there was nothing in the room. It was empty. I rested on the carpet and looked out of the two windows, one in front of me and one to my right. The overwhelming feeling that I had was one of comfort and relaxation. I had no concerns and no thoughts beyond enjoying the atmosphere I was in. This feeling is what drove my entire experience. Obviously nothing could be wrong if I was feeling so good, right?

    Through the windows I could see a peaceful, lazy and bright sunny day unfolding. It was beautiful! The trees were blowing in a gentle breeze. The birds were chirping and flying from tree to tree. What a brilliant Creator we have! Everything was so refreshing and alive! I couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon.

    Then, suddenly, I experienced a changing of the scene. Like time lapse photography, as I was in the same position on the floor looking out the window, I watched the atmosphere suddenly change. There was an immediate and progressive shift. The clouds were ever so slightly darkening and increasing in coverage in the sky. The gentle breeze picked up velocity and the brilliant brightness started to go in and out as periodic shadows covered the area while the sun hid beyond the advancing clouds. It seemed as if some rain may be moving in. I rested there, stretched out on my belly with my head in my hands as I watched it unfold. I remained immersed in my own comfort. I was taking deep breaths and enjoying every moment of my day.

    Time lapsed again and I saw the sky completely covered in clouds–clouds much darker than just a few moments ago. I could now smell the fresh and unmistakable scent of the coming rain.

Matthew 24:36-39 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. or as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

    The birds were taking cover as the wind picked up significantly. In the distance I saw several lightning strikes. It sure seemed as if this could be quite a storm. How was it that I was feeling no concern, no urgency to prepare as I enjoyed my personal, careless experience in that small, one room shack? I stretched out and relaxed even more. The greater the threat, the greater the “peace.” What a wonderful day I was having.

    Again, for the third time, I watched the scene in front of me change suddenly. Now, it was fully obvious the storm would most definitely hit–and soon. The wind was intense and large, ominous drops of rain started to hit the windows. Violent and arrogant lightning that seemed to have a personality all its own struck less than 300 yards away. The thumps of hail hitting the roof started and quickly increased in force. It was time for concern. The threat of danger was increasing by the second, but I didn’t feel any urgency or need to respond. I remained prostrate on the ground, refreshed and at ease, just as I did when it was a beautiful sunny day. I was enjoying the perceived safety of my environment. I was feeling so good.

    Once again, time lapsed and I found myself in the center of a churning, dreadful force that seemed powerful enough to split the Earth in two. The storm of the century was upon me. The massive trees were nearly snapping in two as they bent over parallel to the ground. The hail was massive in size and was slamming every surface around me. The windows were buckling in and out as the incredible pressure of the storm weighed on them. The lightning that burned hotter than the surface of the sun was literally striking mere feet from the shack. The walls were shaking. You can imagine what I was experiencing in that terrible and fearful moment. You guessed it: beautiful peace, safety and comfort. It truly was a wonderful day, until…

    In a fraction of a moment my overwhelming sense of peace and safety and relaxation turned to the most gripping terror I had ever known. It was as if every source of life and good had been eliminated from the atmosphere. Evil dominated the place that just moments ago was so enjoyable.

    My mind raced in an attempt to figure out what had just happened. The fear I was experiencing was beyond description. It made no sense. What was going on? Everything was so perfect! Today was supposed to be about enjoying life!

    Suddenly, as I was confused, horrified and trembling on the floor, two hands grabbed my ankles. My terror instantly escalated to levels I cannot describe. I quickly looked back and saw nothing–but I knew a demonic entity had grabbed on to me.

    The grip on my ankles was like a vice. The thought of escaping was a ridiculous one. It was impossible. My life, which seemingly just moments ago had been under my own control, was now overpowered by an invisible yet horrifying force. A force that I knew had intents–and the ability–to destroy me.

    Again, the terror immediately increased nearly to the point of literally losing control of my mind as that demon started to pull me backwards–and then down. My feet and legs were disappearing below the floor of that shack. I knew I was going to Hell.

    How can this be? It’s impossible! I’m going to Hell? But, I’m saved. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. This is contrary to everything I have ever learned in church. Yet, the moment was real, and I was losing every ounce of hope. I was about to enter an eternity of continual torture. Never ending panic, madness and torment was upon me.

    The demon kept slowly pulling me downward, as if he was relishing every single moment. My feet were well below the floor and my waist was at ground level. Then, suddenly my hope increased. I thought to myself, “If I say the name of Jesus, the demon must flee!”

    So, in my new state of hope I was able to squeeze out, “In the name of J—–. In the name of J—–. Ahhhhh!”

    I couldn’t say it! The demon was controlling my very breath. I was suffocating every time that name was about to be said. I could have said any word in the dictionary–but that one. My hope instantly was lost and I started to cry out as I convulsed under the unbreakable control of that demon.

    He continued to pull me down, one grueling inch at a time. Finally, my neck and then my mouth were entering Hell as my body was taken below. At the height of my madness and terror, and as my eyes were about to descend beneath the floor, I woke up.

    I sat straight up, trembling in my bed in that old church building. I was sweating in such volume that my entire bed was saturated. The light switch by my bedroom door was no more than seven feet from my bed. Just two quick steps to the wall would have been all it took to lighten the room. But I was frozen. I sat there for at least three hours in the darkness in absolute terror.

What Just Happened?

   
    I finally fell back to sleep and awoke the next morning. I didn’t realize how radically my life had taken a turn the previous night. As I tried to gather my thoughts while the events of the previous night overwhelmed my spirit and my mind, I looked outside the two windows that were there in my bedroom in that old church building. It was a beautiful sunny day–but I did not feel comfortable or relaxed. I was shaken.

    I begged God to tell me why I had that dream. What had just happened? Finally, later on that day, He spoke to me, “John, you represented the church. You were comfortable in your place of supposed safety. The storm was intensifying yet you were lulled into a state of apathy. Many in the church will be surprised one day, just as you were surprised in the dream, to find themselves under the control of demons as they are taken to Hell.”

    Proverbs 14:11-14 The house of the wicked will be overthrown, But the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, And the end of mirth may be grief. The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied from above.

    There is a way that seems right. Intellectually it makes sense. Other people seem to confirm that it is right. Common sense tells us that it is right. Even our theological dispositions confirm it is right. But, it leads to death. And, if it’s the type of death I experienced in my dream–it must be avoided at all costs. 

    A backslider is focused on his own condition, on his own comfort zone while a good man is in tune with the heart of God. His pleasure comes from intimacy with Father God. His pleasure comes from going where God is going, doing what he is doing and feeling what he is feeling. There is no sense of ease in the storm, but there is satisfaction and joy in the presence of God and by being in active agreement with him.
    This message is a wake-up call for every one of us. Many wonderful people will be terribly shocked to find themselves separated from God forever.

    Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

    This scripture is in reference to those who would call themselves Born Again Christians. People who have understood and actually flowed in the power of the Holy Spirit. They understood their heavenly position and earthly authority as they overcame demons. These were your miracle workers.

Two Critical Keys to Salvation

  • Knowing Jesus–To be received by Jesus we must know Jesus. We must be hungry and intimate. We must ask, seek and knock. The pursuit of great intimacy with our Bridegroom has to be intense and continual. It’s not about our position, it’s about our love. It’s about our obedience and union with God in love, in life and in mission.
  • Lawlessness–This issue is addressed further in my book, Covens In The Church. In my dream, I represented a lawless church, or a lawless person. Someone who maintained control of my own experience. I was focused on what satisfied, on what comforted. I was not alert to the storm or surrendered to a place of radical participation in the moment.

    Again, many people will be devastated to find themselves in Hell one day. Many church-goers. Many who prophesy, many who smile when they see their friends, many who live a good life. Why is this? They refuse to pursue intimacy with God as they focus mostly on maintaining control of their own experience on the Earth.

    The call to intimacy is one of the most precious rewards for those who follow Jesus! Who could ever reject such an opportunity?

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

    The reward is intimacy with God! It’s the all-consuming fire engulfing us as we tremble in his presence! What a God we serve! His goal for us, and our life focus must be this–to be with him continually as he hovers over us and adores us as a Lover.

    However, this simple yet overpowering reality is so often avoided by people who are seeking comfort and control of their personal situations.

    Might I offer some sobering news to you? If our primary reason to follow Jesus is to avoid Hell and to go to Heaven one day, we are operating in the same self-centered, controlling attitude that resulted in my journey to Hell. Salvation for the sake of personal satisfaction is not salvation at all.   

Zechariah 7:5-6 “Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me–for Me? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves?

 

The Sinner’s Prayer

   
    The sinner’s prayer is one of the most misused evangelism techniques in the church today. This misuse has had devastating results.

    Listen to me closely: The sinner’s prayer has become a ticket to Hell for countless people. To ever present someone with a guarantee of Heaven if they simply say a prayer is irresponsible. How many people have you met that believe they are going to Heaven because they repeated a prayer at an earlier point in their lives? How many of these people have become deeply intimate with their Lover? 

    Let’s dispel something right now–salvation is not primarily about making it to Heaven. It’s identifying with the Lover of our souls, the Alpha and the Omega, the Healer, the Deliverer, and coming to a place of agreement. A place of complete surrender. An intimate encounter with God will result in adoration and desire for him alone.

    It’s saying, “Yes, I agree that you are God, that you love me, that there is nothing bad in you. You are perfect. You actually died for me. I deserve nothing, and regardless of my eternal destiny I will choose to love and serve you every moment of my life.” All I want on this planet is to spend every moment of my life in passionate union with my Lord and Master and wonderful friend.

    Salvation is falling so deeply in love with Jesus that we’ll gladly sacrifice everything to spend just a moment with him. God is so great that he lovingly extends this moment with him into an eternity. It’s all about being with God. This is salvation.

    I have a difficult question for you. I admit it is an imperfect question as it leaves many theological truths hanging in the balance. It’s a question that will never have to be answered, but it does make the idea of salvation for all of us crystal clear.         
   
    If Heaven was never guaranteed for you, would you still crave and love Jesus so much that you would give up everything you have on the Earth just to spend the next 30-60 years with him in wonderful intimacy?

    Of course, when Jesus finds his lovers on the Earth, those who have an intense yearning in the depths of their hearts to be with Him, he simply can’t wait to spend eternity with them! That’s what the cross was all about! It wasn’t a ticket to Heaven or immunity from Hell. It was a model of perfect love in an imperfect and hateful world. That’s why he is calling us to carry our cross–it’s the evidence of our love and desire for our Bridegroom.

 

The Rich Young Ruler

   
    Consider a great and critical bible story about a Rich Young Ruler that we all know very well:
    Very interestingly this story comes right after Jesus was talking to his disciples about allowing innocent, loving children to come to him. He said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

    Why is this? They just wanted Jesus! They wanted to crawl up in his lap! They wanted to embrace him! Now, let’s look at the Rich Young Ruler.
   
    Matthew 19:16-22 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “ The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

    Now, consider how this story goes. Someone decides he wants to follow Jesus, yet on his own terms. This person could easily be found going to a vibrant church every Sunday, repeating a sinner’s prayer, lifting his hands in worship, leading a small group, witnessing on the streets and owning several bibles.

    Remember, the Rich Young Ruler made the choice to follow Jesus. Most any pastor or evangelist would quickly rejoice and lead this man in a prayer. He would fill out a card and would be directed on how to connect in the church.

    This scenario plays out day after day after day around the world. Yet, in this story Jesus did not offer a sinner’s prayer, a card to fill out or membership in the church. Jesus knew he didn’t have this man’s heart, and made that reality clear.

    This man was what we would call a good man. He kept the commandments.

    However, Jesus was after something all together different from him. Jesus will always search the hearts of those who wish to follow him. In the end of this sad story, Jesus literally communicated to this man who wanted to be a follower of Jesus that he may not follow! Incredible!

    I heard a story of a great revivalist who was preaching in the first night of a week long revival. The anointing was so strong that a man rushed up to the altar to get saved right in the middle of this preacher’s message. He wanted to get saved!

    The revivalist rebuked him publicly and commanded him to return to his seat.

    “You, sir, are not ready to get saved. I have yet to reveal what it will cost you. Come back each night and I will let you know when it is time to respond to the call of Jesus.”

    Wow! Where is this type of gutsy presentation of the costly Gospel today?

    I often hear of salvation as a free gift. I completely understand the point that people who use that phrase are trying to get across, but I believe it can have damaging impact to those who are responding to it when it’s repeated without explanation. The reality is that salvation is very costly to every one who receives it.

    The point is that we did not have the ability to get saved on our own. We were not able to control the situation and do anything in ourselves to get saved. Jesus loved us so much that he did it all. He did what we could not do and extended his free gift. 

    Romans 6:22-23 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    The free gift of eternal life must be responded to. We become servants and friends of the Most High God. If Jesus’ death on the cross was all that was required for salvation, then every person on the earth would be saved. The cost of our own surrender is high and cannot be overlooked. Every one of Jesus’ disciples, except John, were martyred, for example. High cost, yet worth it all.

    To extend the point, if a sinner’s prayer, or a decision to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior was all that it took, much of what is revealed in scripture would have to be overlooked.

    Remember, salvation is all about intimacy with our Bridegroom and not simply a ticket to Heaven. Many who acknowledge the free gift of Jesus’ death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead, and who repeat a prayer and make a decision to follow Jesus will end up eternally separated from God.

    The story of the Rich Young Ruler demonstrates this.

    Jesus will say to many, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

    The attitude of the Rich Young Ruler is that of personal gain. I’m sure he wanted his sins washed away. The problem is this: Jesus didn’t come to relieve us of our guilt. He came to free us of bondage to sin. Presumed freedom from guilt and the penalty of sin can easily result in a passionless connection with Christ, and in a casual response to the call of holiness and intimacy. Jesus didn’t come so we could sin without guilt, he came to reveal himself as more satisfying and powerful than sin!

    When we are intimate with Jesus, embracing his emotions, his personality, his passion, we will buy into a life of fiery devotion. It won’t be possible to relax in the midst of the storm! We won’t desire sinful pleasures! It’s not about freedom from guilt, it’s about freedom from bondage that leads to death!

    For the sake of clarity on this very important subject, allow me to qualify briefly the point that is being made. The argument is that salvation is a very serious issue, and that a casual desire to go to Heaven and to take the name of Jesus is dangerous. The qualification is this–God is in charge of who goes to Heaven, and his heart cries out for all to be saved. 

    2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

    He is longsuffering and deeply desires for people to be saved.

    We don’t try to pay for or work for our salvation in lieu of full-blown surrender of our lives. Rather, fruit born in intimacy with God is the expected result of true salvation. Evidences. 

    With that in mind, scripture does make it clear that some who haven’t stepped into deep intimacy with Jesus will most definitely make it to Heaven. The thief on the cross is probably the best example. 

    While the Word tells us that those in the church who are lukewarm will be rejected by God, there is apparently a type of person who will live a substandard Christian life who will make it to Heaven.

    1 Corinthians 3:14-17 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
   
    This scripture reveals a very narrow exception for people whose fruit is proven to be lacking and unacceptable. This person will be saved–but barely. Can you imagine being in that terrifying position of waiting for God’s judgment to land on a life that was barely connected with him? Additionally, why would anybody want to live outside of God’s intimate presence? Why choose this low, risky level? What’s to gain?

    The scripture goes on to clarify the serious nature of eternal life. It’s not a simple matter, nor a light matter. If we destroy God’s temple, we will be destroyed. If we reveal inappropriate fruit, we may still be saved. But, if our work endures, and our temple is pure, salvation is a guarantee. 

    We can be confident in our eternal position, though I often find myself crying out to God something like, “Father, my heart longs for intimacy with you. I know I fail so often. I know I choose comfort over you at times. Please, Lord, help me ensure that you and I remain intimate. We remain in love. I don’t take your relationship or your salvation lightly. I know it’s possible to lose that relationship and that salvation. Help me surrender all, take up my cross and excitedly follow you. I love you.”

    Note that in that prayer I don’t reveal my fear of missing Heaven. My fear is losing intimacy with Jesus. Of course, I don’t want to go to Hell and I don’t want to miss Heaven–but that’s not my motivation. Our focus must be on the wonderful relationship with Jesus that we will either enjoy or lose sight of in our day-to-day experience on this planet.

    The churches in the book of Revelation reveal great truths in regard to the serious nature of salvation. God was not pleased with all of their works. In fact, in Revelation chapter 3 we see it revealed that names can be removed from the Book of Life.

    Revelation 3:5 “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

    If we overcome, our name is securely kept in the Book of Life. If we do not overcome, our name which was written in that Book at the time of our salvation will be blotted out.
    Salvation is serious stuff.

 

False Grace

   
    There is a false grace message that’s spreading fast, and it’s critical that we deal with this eternally devastating message with vengeance. False grace can lead people out of intimacy and action.

    There is a need for sober, humble and bold prophetic messengers to rise up and declare the piercing messages from God. These messages will provoke people to rush into the presence of God that results in trembling and collapse to their faces.

Matthew 23:33-34 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,

    The call to intimacy with God is a call to slow the flow to Hell! The church must awaken and sound the alarm! We can’t rest in our comfort any longer! We have been called to steward this weighty reality.

Matthew 25:29-30 For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

    Note, that passage of scripture is referencing servants. Those in the church. Followers of Jesus!

    We must understand that salvation is not free. Jesus did what we could not do by defeating death, Hell and the grave. Now, we do what Jesus will not do. He said, “It is finished.” Now it’s our turn to respond to his Kingdom design.

    A false grace message would relay that we have no participation in the process of salvation (other than accepting Jesus into one’s heart). A true grace message actually embraces the power that was made available to us to obey the impossible directives of God.

    Grace empowers us to draw very close to God and to respond to his mandates. A true grace message will always have a biblical works message attached to it. Because of grace we can now work.

1 Corinthians 3:10-13 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.

    I have a definition for religion that brings clarity to both unbiblical grace and unbiblical works positions. Here it is:

Religion: man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.

    If we attempt to use God through grace by excusing ourselves to laziness or by abdicating our responsibility, we are driven by a religious spirit.
    On the contrary, if we try to buy or work our way into good favor with God outside of his radical sacrifice, that is a spirit of religion as well.
    Grace is favor. We have favor given by God so we can be in deep relationship with him and respond in supernatural power to his plans for our lives. He did what only he could do so we could do what only we must do.
    Jesus was favored. He was full of grace, yet he also had a responsibility. He walked in supernatural favor, and that favor enabled him to fulfill the necessary work of the cross.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

    His grace enabled him to fulfill his assignment, and because of his fulfilled assignment, we now have the grace to fulfill our assignment. Grace enables. It doesn’t relieve responsibility.

    Further, Jesus’ grace resulted in a paid price that we had no ability to pay. No amount of work or payment on our part could get us to eternity with God. We were destined for Hell, but because Jesus’ allowed grace to enable him to embrace the horrors and wonders of the cross, we can now run to him freely.

    But, we’re called to do more than run to him. We must run with him and for him. We are his graced, favored and empowered instruments on the Earth.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

    Paul ensured God’s grace was not in vain by allowing that power to result in abundant labor for the Kingdom.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.

    Grace will establish us in work. Grace has an expected outcome, and we have a part to play in that story.

    So, just what is work? It is simply response to the passionate and active heart of God. This is why deep intimacy is so critical. It’s only in this place of intimacy (which is also a work) that we can more fully embrace the wild, challenging and seemingly impossible assignments of our loving Father. His grace lifted some burdens from our lives, but also placed new ones upon us. It’s when, in the place of intimacy with God, we trade human burdens with holy burdens that we come alive and grace is most fully activated in us.

 

Wonderful Surrender

   
    I’ll share another experience that, I strongly believe, was critical in securing my relationship with Jesus. I believe a negative response to what the Lord was speaking to me would have put my eternal position at jeopardy. Would I have lost my salvation? I don’t know and I don’t want to play with that fire.

    In the season of life where this experience took place, I knew that once saved, everything changed. A great barometer of salvation is to ask whether everything in our lives was open for change or not. I agreed that once I surrendered my life, God would begin to change me and require much from me.

    2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

    Additionally, I understood that simply acknowledging that Jesus was God, or even agreeing that he was the only way to the Father wasn’t sufficient to guarantee salvation. I had to surrender all.

   Acts 10:43 “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
   
    This scripture does not indicate that all we have to do is have some belief that Jesus existed, and that he died and rose from the dead. Even the devil knows that! The word believes literally means, to be committed to, or to commit oneself to. It’s an all out surrender to the Living God.

    Now, allow me to share with you the life-changing experience with God that radically changed my understanding of what it was to follow Jesus.

    This event occurred shortly after I had the terrifying dream in the old church building. God was wildly challenging me and drawing me closer to him. I was in my early twenty’s at the time. Our church, along with several others in the area participated in a lock-in at a local YMCA. There were a few hundred people there enjoying everything from wallyball to basketball to ping-pong.

    They had also set up a prayer room in one part of the building. As a young man who was getting blasted by the Holy Spirit with amazing regularity I presumed the room would be full of hungry young men and women of God. Sadly, I was wrong, though the nearly empty room provided me quite an atmosphere to pray in.

    In many ways, that room was similar to the one in my dream. I was looking out of the windows over the city as I spent some time with the Lord. However, unlike the dream, I was passionately enjoying God with intensity. The atmosphere was full of the presence of the Holy Spirit and, to date, it was literally one of the most powerful God moments of my life. I was so full of life that I found myself pacing around with lifted hands and a fire in my belly for quite a long, wonderful time.

    All of a sudden, I heard something in my spirit.

    “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life.”

    Huh? Where in the world did that thought come from? What an unwelcome interruption it was! I shook it off and moved back into prayer and worship. But, something was wrong. The warm and consuming presence of God had left the room. I didn’t realize it then, but God’s presence didn’t leave the room–it had simply changed. God was honoring me with a serious call to follow Him.

    I tried for the next fifteen minutes to enter back into prayer, but I felt entirely alone. No unction, no flow, no passion.

    I kept hearing the words, “John, will you let me take your life?”

    I finally realized that the warmth of God’s presence had transitioned into the challenge of God’s purposes. He was testing me. Was I really ready to take up my cross? Was I really in it for Jesus? Or, was I into this Christian life mostly for what I could get out of it? You see, this crossroads question from the most Holy One would result in ensuring my destiny–either in one direction or in the other. And, it wouldn’t make any difference if I kept paying tithes, going to church and lifting my hands in worship if I chose the road toward personal satisfaction that fateful night.

    The Holy pressure in that dark prayer room was extreme. I honestly thought, beyond any doubt, that the decision I was about to make to my Lord would result in my physical death that very night. The call was that urgent. But, I immediately realized I couldn’t stand to live the rest of my life outside of the warmth of the tangible presence of Jesus that I felt as I first entered that room.

    “God, if it will result in warming your heart, and in advancing your Kingdom on the Earth, you can take my life. I love you and you are teaching me more about love in this moment than in my previous two decades. I trust you.”
    The split second I communicated that in my heart, the fire of the Holy Spirit rushed in with power. It was better than any previous experience with God I had ever had. Far better. I was consumed by his love. I was surrendered to him unlike anytime in my life. I was his.

Song of Songs 1:2-4 THE SHULAMITE Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth– For your love is better than wine. Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; Therefore the virgins love you. Draw me away! THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM We will run after you. THE SHULAMITE The king has brought me into his chambers. THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM We will be glad and rejoice in you. We will remember your love more than wine.

    To this day I don’t know if God will suddenly take my life–and while I wish to live for a long time on earth, I am longing to live for eternity with my Lover.
    Calls from the heart of God like this one come to me from time to time. How serious am I? Am I in it for the benefits? Do I live my life for what I can get out of it? Or, am I a walking dead man? The positive response to the call of God is an indicator of the intimate love that we have for our Lover. It is a fruit of our salvation.

The Barometer of Prayer

    I have many barometers in my life. I am an imperfect man who loves to discover lack in my life. That discovery leads me on an adventure of pursuit and acquisition of the new things of God for me. For example, if I don’t easily heal the sick, then I am thrilled to read books, study the Word of God, watch teachers on TV and pray a lot so I can grow in this gift.

    I believe an absolutely critical barometer for any follower of Jesus is that of prayer. Prayer is simply being with God, engaging with him on a very real and personal level.

    I shared a moment ago about my experience in the prayer room in the YMCA. Something else that was tragic and striking to me was that it was nearly empty. Volleyball was more desirable than being with God.

    I remember another time during that year just after a youth worship service. I was experiencing God so dramatically and so continually that I was probably glowing in the dark! I went outside after that service, and with a goofy smile on my face, told some of my new friends just how amazing God is.

    “Wow! Guys, God is so amazing! Whoa! His anointing and his fire is powerful! I can’t imagine ever living without him!”

    These guys, whom I would pray with on a regular basis, just looked at me with a half smile and said something like, “John, that’s great. Yep, God’s good.”
    Where was the passion for Jesus and the explosion of emotion that I was experiencing?

    During that particular season of my life, every Thursday night just prior to the youth service there was an hour of prayer in the sanctuary. The leaders heavily announced the prayer meeting, put signs on the doors, talked with people one-on-one and ensured the prayer was the most emphasized portion of the entire night.

    Week after week between 60-100 young people would arrive early–and stand outside of the sanctuary in the foyer. The large sanctuary looked empty as 5-6 zealots pressed into the presence of God for one hour and the small foyer looked like a fire hazard as it was jammed to its limits.

    You may be saying, “Well, John, many of those young people may not even be saved. They were just babes in the Lord at best.”

    OK, that may be true. But, let me ask a question–how many times have you seen a similar scenario take place with adults?

    I talked to someone just the other day regarding prayer. She stated that her church of about 500 people is resistant to the idea of prayer. The prayer room was on the second level of the church and it had six chairs in it. Then, to make room for another church program, the prayer room was moved from the second floor to the third floor, and in the process they removed three of the chairs. How can this be?!

    There is a GREAT SIN of prayerlessness in this nation! Again, prayer is simply being with God. Do we even understand the opportunity we have to encounter God in increasing measure every moment of our lives?

    Intimacy must follow salvation and prayer is the vehicle of intimacy. I’ll never understand why the call to intimately encounter God in prayer is countered with excuses and no-shows. It literally breaks my heart. 

    I don’t know how often I’ve heard people respond to the call to the prayer room with excuses like:

  • I am always in prayer–in the car, while doing dishes, at work.
  • God is with me wherever I go.
  • God knows my heart and my needs. I trust he’ll take good care of me.

    The fact that we attempt to validate non-aggressive, passive and non-costly methods of prayer above the wonderful experience of spending hours of hungering and groaning as the Holy Spirit breathes through us in the place of visitation reveals a tragic crisis in the Church!

    We should not be making excuses for not being with Jesus!

    There is a difference between being in the omnipresence of God and being in the manifest presence of God. Everybody is continually in God’s omnipresence. Satanists, witches, children, adults, preachers and sinners. However, it costs much to press into God’s manifest presence. It takes time, effort and passion. Period. It’s radically inconvenient to a naturally driven life. God is drawing us into the Holy of Holies, yet we have become satisfied with the outer courts!

    There is a difference between passively praying throughout our day and actively pressing into God’s presence. We must discover God’s heart in prayer. We talk a lot about lengthy prayer in our ministry. It is absolutely non-negotiable.

Prayer in the Cave

    We often hold a unique event called Prayer in the Cave. We crawl into a deep cave, turn out the lights and be with God. It usually takes at least an hour of sitting in perfect silence before our hearts are at a place of being invaded by the Holy Spirit. Then, as we transition into the next phase of repentance, we find that we’ve gone well over the two hour mark. Worshipping and crying out to God takes more time. Then, finally, we can hear God. We wait and wait as the prophetic Word of God is delivered to us. Then (and now it’s been 3-4 hours) we are ready to come into agreement with what’s on God’s heart. We war in the Spirit and experience wildly enjoyable and effective prayer. Our love of God is intense, our passion is hot and the outcome is amazing. People who experience this wouldn’t trade it for anything! Excuses aren’t made to avoid prayer, but instead declarations are made to friends, family and our own calendars that we have an appointment with God that will not be violated! Saying no to God’s wooing becomes a laughable idea indeed!

    Let me say this clearly–people who are legitimately saved simply crave to be with their Lover–Jesus. Lengthy prayer is an obvious reality for them as they understand the many issues of life that must be contended with in order to enjoy God freely.

    Does that mean everybody is glowing in the dark and full of life and fire every moment of their lives? Does it mean that prayer isn’t hard work sometimes? Of course not! It also doesn’t assume that everybody has tangibly experienced God–but those who love God, whether they have experienced him or not, will do whatever it takes to experience him initially and then over and over again.

    God yearns for us to be with him intimately and continually. Much of that time will be passive–while we are in the car or cleaning the house–and much will be very active. I consider the following passage of scripture to be one of the saddest in scripture. Its story was also indicative of things to come.

    Matthew 26:42-44 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

    The saddest phrase is, “He left them.”

    At history’s most critical moment, Jesus was craving intimacy with his friends, and when he found none, he went to be with his Father, alone. He had something to accomplish, so while he didn’t leave them in terms of his friendship with them, he did leave them when it came to partnering, or the lack thereof, in purpose.

    Our desire to be with God will be maintained through thick and thin. God has much to do, and he is calling his lovers to be with him as he does it. Our love of Jesus will keep us awake and alert. The disciples wanted to experience very passive prayer (it is very possible to sleep in the Spirit!) while Jesus was calling them to the most active prayer of their lives. When they didn’t respond, Jesus left them.

    I know some may quote a scripture at this point, which is one of my favorites:
   
    Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

    “But John, God has promised us a light burden. It seems as if you are preaching a very heavy burden when you discuss lengthy prayer.”

    First of all, let me say this–prayer is wonderfully enjoyable. Those who tap in to the heart of God simply become addicted to lengthy prayer.

    But, let’s also address the incredibly difficult and important seasons of prayer that require much of us. God’s burden in these situations is very light only when we enter them in his strength and not ours. God’s assignments for us are so heavy and severe that it is completely impossible and burdensome for us to accomplish. Many get very frustrated as they stare God’s impossible directives for them in the face.

    What’s the missing element here? The power of the Holy Spirit that can only be received through being with God! As we are with God intensely and with wild regularity, we will, day-by-day, discover the ability to obey God by carrying the burdens he has given us to carry.

    Romans 8:26-28 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

    We should literally find ourselves in our prayer closets realizing the monumental tasks that God has placed on us, identifying our incredible weaknesses and falling on our faces yearning and groaning before the Lord. Many have not allowed the Holy Spirit to physically groan through them. We intercede and cry out and pray in the Spirit day in and day out as we receive the burdens that the Holy Spirit is willing and able to carry through us. 

    We must hear God’s voice so we can know what he wants us to do. We’ve all heard the scripture that “all things work together for good…”, but we miss the point all too often. If we are intimate with God and if we are receiving his purpose for our lives, the heavy burden which is made light through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, things work together for good. If we don’t hear God, don’t pray, don’t receive his burden and aren’t intimate with him, things in our lives can be very bad. We must intentionally be with God, hear God, be intimate with God, receive God’s ministry and mandates and allow the Holy Spirit to work and groan through us. Our flesh then becomes crucified and our spirits dance and stir as we excitedly move into the realm of the impossible!

    Our flesh often tries to determine how much we will carry because it knows how much it can handle. Instead of surrendering to God’s plans, we attempt to manage our own burdens. Our tolerance for pain dictates how far we go.

    Our flesh tells us how much to pray, how much to fast, how much to serve, how much to give. Our flesh determines the extent of our obedience.

    However, when we are with God in the furnace of prayer, we become super-powered as the Holy Spirit takes over. We can now obey God and press into the incredible life God has called us to live.

 

Cares of Life

    When I started Revolution Church in 2001, I naively assumed that people who participated with us would see the extreme nature of the vision to take a city for Jesus and would quickly conclude that a radical departure from life as usual must occur. I believed people would get so excited about accomplishing the impossible that they would immediately respond to calls to fast, to pray and to reorder their lives.

    After all, the only way to do what God was calling us to do was to be empowered by the Holy Spirit through lengthy prayer. It seemed obvious to me.

    God then spoke to me very powerfully, “You must communicate the following message clearly and continually–cares of life must be eliminated!”

    Luke 8:14-15 “Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

    Those who are inward focused and pursue pleasure and comfort, and who focus on the cares of life, will not mature. I knew a call to take an entire city required people to very quickly respond to this truth regarding the cares of life. It would take serious and maturing people. It couldn’t be a long process, but a quick response to press in, pray, fast and reprioritize their lives.

    Those who hear the word keep it and bear fruit with patience. It’s a radical life.

    I believe God is restoring the church to be much like the first church in the Book of Acts. While today church leaders avoid scheduling too many events because of the demands of life on people, we will see these demands finally giving way to the structure God had originally ordained. God’s ways will trump life’s demands.

    Acts 2:46-47 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

    They were actually at church every day! They also met in homes. A lot of activity with God and other believers was taking place. They had favor and the harvest was large. Can you imagine people today praying in the church every day? Well, it is coming and it will mark the most powerful season the church has ever experienced! 

    The Lord spoke something to me recently. He told me the Holy Spirit is moving on the face of the earth right now, and he is recruiting. He’s recruiting those who will respond to him, and who will participate in a great end time move of God. A great battle. He said that he is not installing a draft. This end time army will be made up of those who are willing and ready–those who discern the signs of the times. Those who resist, some who will still be secure in their salvation and others who won’t, will feel the force of the move of God on the earth instead of partnering with God.

    God is calling us to surrender all. Many are just cruising along in life, relaxing and doing their best to be comfortable. Many will not make Heaven.

    Even Billy Graham’s own research shows a mere 2% of people who fill out a decision card at one of their evangelistic crusades ever end up pursuing their walk with the Lord.

    I’ve heard of a person who was taken to Heaven in real time. He watched as people entered eternity. Some went to Heaven. Most went to Hell.

    A recent Gallup poll reveals that 45% of people in America call themselves born again. On this particular day, this individual reported that only about 2% of the people who died that day entered Heaven. While this is not verifiable, it is nonetheless striking. We could deduct fairly reliably that well over 90% of people who had at one time repeated a sinner’s prayer, probably attended church and lived a good life were never known by God and ended up in Hell.

    Intimacy with God is achieved through prayer. I suggest it’s a matter of eternal life and death to ensure the prayer rooms of America’s churches are full.

    Revolution Church was transitioned to Revolution House of Prayer recently. God had spoken clearly to me about the deep importance of having entire cities that pray and worship him 24-hours a day. I decided to contact someone at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. I emailed several questions to them, and one of their leaders responded back to me.

    The answer to one question broke my heart and sent flags flying and alarms sounding.

    “How do visitors respond when you tell them that the mission of IHOP is to minister to God 24-hours a day in prayer?”

    The answer?“They often look back at us with a confused look on their face.” I too have experienced this tragic phenomena.

    How can this be? How can they be confused? It simply doesn’t make sense. Where is the deep longing to be with the Lover of our souls? Where is the lovesick bride?

    God’s house is a House of Prayer. Period. There is a trend that must be eliminated from our mind sets–the trend of participating in churches or spiritual activities based on what we can get out of them. Entire churches are set up with the mind set of having the most programs so they can serve the most needs of the most people! When did this happen?

    We are called to bring our sacrifices to the altar! We are called to surrender all! To minister to God! 

    I contend that one of the best things that churches in America can do is to cancel all of their programs, small groups, Sunday School classes and activities–and pray. For a year. Who will stay? Who will thrive? Who will leave? Who will complain?

    Can you imagine what this nation and this world would be like if for 365 straight days and nights every single church and every single pastor and every single believer would be in the prayer rooms? Revival would burn across this land and the harvest would be received in world record time!

    As it is now, churches call a prayer meeting and the people scatter–America, we have a problem.

    A reformation of ministry to the Living God is coming to our land. Churches are abandoning old wine skins and are transitioning to the original intent on God’s heart–for his house to be a house of prayer for all nations.

    Relationships will be developed in the prayer rooms. We’ll go out for coffee after our prayer watches and study the Word together. We’ll enjoy each other’s company in our homes. We’ll live a life of continual prayer, continual growth and continual relationships with other fire-breathing Christians–and it won’t be dependent on a program!

    What about the lost? I contend that they will finally have a good reason to get saved. And they won’t get falsely saved into a cozy, self-centered experience. They won’t ever have to face the terror of Hell that gripped me in that shocking and horrific dream. Salvation for the coming harvest will equate to passionate surrender to a zealous Bridegroom. They will be launched into a life of intimate pursuit of Jesus through the vehicle of continual, fervent prayer.

    Let’s go churches of America–open up the prayer rooms again!

Risks of the upcoming Presence Movement | God is about to move in power, and we must rightly respond when he does.

An overwhelming experience in God’s presence is coming—and that is going to produce some issues in the church.

I often say that a 2 Chronicles 7 church is coming—and it is going to be shocking when it does.

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3

Now, that’s a good church service!

I am definitely wired to appreciate and crave encounters with Jesus that leave people wrecked and rocked. I’ve experienced visible glory clouds, manifestations of gold dust and oil and indescribable encounters that left me absolutely floored in the glory of God’s presence. I believe one second in God’s presence is enough to convince the most resistant skeptic and it’s enough to free people from years of demonic assault.

However his presence may not feel like what we think it might.

“I just want to feel Jesus.”

I was compelled strongly by the Holy Spirit in a recent season at Revival Church to call everybody back to the raw, elementary truths of Christianity. I shifted from teaching mostly on experience and encounter to the tenets of our faith for several weeks when I started to become troubled with the lack of maturity in the camp.

In fact, I was deeply grieved when I discovered one young lady who had connected with us and absolutely loved to worship and pray was actually steeped in extremely demonic New Age teachings. That was a wake-up call for me. How was it that we had a culture of experiencing God’s presence and someone could blend in who was so radically deceived? I knew I had to shock our culture with a fresh understanding of what God’s presence truly is—and it starts with his Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

My experience there was priceless—I had to gain an understanding of the risk that will accompany the coming moves of God that will result in unprecedented manifestations of his presence. Many fiery Christians will shrink back when God’s true presence manifests.

When we shifted, I began preaching and teaching on the hard topics of salvation, Hell, repentance, the cross and the blood of Jesus. I have to admit I was stunned at the fierce resistance that came as I was communicating the elementary tenets of the Christian faith. I believe it’s possible to experience God’s presence and be so undisciplined and focused on personal experience that one isn’t even saved. This is the main reason this topic has to be addressed. Is it possible some of the most fervent worshipers and wildest dancers weren’t saved? I don’t know. I tremble at the thought of it.

In this critical season, instead of a careless, party atmosphere that had become common at Revival Church, the bar was raised as I called everybody into intentional steps of maturity, repentance and brokenness before the Lord.

What followed broke my heart—and confirmed my suspicions.

With the happy, dancing, party dialed down as we invited God to reveal himself to us in a deeper way, I saw sad faces and disengaged people.

Someone said, “I just want to feel Jesus again.”

What they didn’t realize is that Jesus was actually moving in greater power than he had previously, even though those prior encounters were something to behold. God was calling us deeper, beyond the entertainment and warm fuzzy feelings that are very much Holy Spirit initiated, but limited greatly. There was more—and for those who are addicted to happy feelings, more with God can feel like less.

“I want you to give me your life.”

I understand the struggle with feeling God’s presence removed.

In the early 1990’s God had absolutely overwhelmed my life day after day. I wish I could communicate how remarkable that season of my life was. God was overwhelming me with his presence and I became a different person literally overnight.

After work every day I’d go to the church, by myself, and pray for hours. That’s all I craved to do! God met me there continually, and I was rocked over and over again. My entire life revolved around the prayer room and enjoying God. Nothing compared.

One night my life changed forever. In the midst of my amazing daily encounters with Jesus, I found myself in a prayer room at a youth lock-in in Dayton, Ohio. While 300 students were playing volleyball and basketball I was alone in a dark, glorious room overlooking the skyline of the city. God was waiting for me when I waked in.

I paced around praying and worshiping as the presence of God swirled all around me. I never wanted to leave.

Suddenly, as I was enjoying God, walking back and forth in his manifest presence, I heard a voice, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”

I was irritated. My focus on loving Jesus was interrupted by someone with what felt like a terribly different agenda. Little did I know, it was an agenda to grow me up and gauge my devotion.

I shook off that distracting voice, and attempted to enter back into the glory realm. I prayed and worshiped, but the presence of God was completely gone—or so I thought.

Again I heard, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”

Though I clearly understood I was being asked to give my life for Jesus, my emotions were negative. I was distraught, irritated, lonely and even afraid. My enjoyment was gone. However, what I didn’t realize was this—my feelings were not sufficient to analyze the situation. God’s presence had actually increased exponentially in that room of destiny, not dissipated. The fearful judge had arrived and he meant business.

You see, the contrast in experiences was so stark that I actually wondered if the voice was coming from Satan! My lack of maturity in spiritual discernment and biblical truth resulted in a misdiagnosis! This is the risk of the presence movement!

I ended up rebuking the voice that was speaking to me! I was rebuking God as if he were Satan! The lesson is clear—our analysis of the situation must include sources much more comprehensive than feelings alone.

After all, would Satan ask me to lay my life down for Jesus? My feelings should have been shelved in that critical moment in lieu of applying the Word of God.

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? Matthew 12:22-26

Though I tried to enter back into worship again, it was futile. I heard the voice one more time, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”

I didn’t realize it that night, but the reason I couldn’t enter back into worship is two-fold:

  1. I wanted to worship a God of my own design. I wanted to enjoy God conditionally. I cringed when he decided to reveal another part of his self to me, and since it wasn’t what I expected, I rejected him, at least temporarily as I was wrestling that night. God demanded that I worship him as he is, not as I presumed.
  2. I was resistant to embrace the costly, troubling part of Christianity—potential martyrdom. I was all in when the glory was on me, but I was quick to hesitate when something negative was required of me—my death.

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39

Finally, in a state of lonely desperation, I realized I couldn’t live my life without the fire of Jesus burning within me. I needed him. I wanted him, even if it meant the loss of my physical life.

Understand, I was convinced that I was going to physically die that night. It was very real to me.

I told God, “I can’t live without you. If my death will result in the advance of your Kingdom, I give you permission to take my life tonight.”

The moment I said that, his manifest glory flooded the room about one hundred times greater than I had experienced it before. I had experienced the glory and the severity of God, and I was forever changed.

Unreliable Feelings

image12 Risks of the upcoming Presence Movement | God is about to move in power, and we must rightly respond when he does.When the person said, “I just want to feel Jesus,” they didn’t understand what they were asking for. In my experience I felt Jesus in a variety of ways. My problem was that I presumed happy feelings equaled Jesus and difficult feelings equaled Satan. Boy was I wrong. Happy feelings can be Satan and difficult feelings can be Jesus! We can’t discern emotionally, we must discern spiritually. Confirmation must come from the Word.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

Spiritual discernment bypasses feelings and our human senses and draws from the truth of Scripture.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16

The Rhema and Logos of scripture must drive us. We can’t allow ourselves to check in and out based on what we are sensing. Our commitment is unconditional and it can’t waiver based on what we perceive. We always return to the Word.

We must lean on Jesus and his revealed will in the Word of God.

Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Isaiah 40:13-14

The point is that our counsel must come from the Counselor. Our discernment must come through the spiritual truths found in the Bible. As we yield to the Word, the Holy Spirit can awaken revelation to us as it is needed.

We must move beyond the subjective statements about what we feel God is saying or doing and truly understand his revealed truth.

It’s all too common to hear personal opinions about what someone feels God is saying or doing, and how they feel led to respond, while their discernment is simply off or incomplete.

As we mature we become less reliant on nebulous senses and more reliant on both God’s clear voice and what he reveals to us in scripture.

Truth

This issue of leaning on feelings can impact us negatively in many ways. It’s easy to feel like God doesn’t love us due to the lack of, well, feeling him, even though the Bible makes it clear that he does love us. It’s so sadly common to hear about people who struggle their whole lives with this issue. Does God even love them? It’s a black and white question with a black and white answer. Yes. Their feelings have led them astray and it affects their entire life!

The answer is to simply believe! That belief doesn’t come from an experience or a feeling. It comes from reading text on paper (the Bible) and believing it. We don’t have to feel it to believe it!

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29

I often tell God that I want to worship him with my belief.

Back to the discussion about my season of teaching on the tenets of the faith. They didn’t result in a euphoric sensory overload. It wasn’t a glory teaching. So, some withdrew when the feeling wasn’t happy even though the information was truth. It was important truth. It was time to go to school and to the altar with tears in our eyes, and not a time of dancing.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” Joel 2:15-17

The risk of the coming presence movement is that people will reject anything that doesn’t feel like glory, even when it is God.

The cry of our heart must be for God’s true presence to be with us always, regardless of the form it takes.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:10-11

His presence will hit us with truth as our hearts are cleansed, as we are consecrated. His presence can be glorious and it can be fierce.

The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. Psalm 97:5

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, Psalm 114:7

Apostolic Leadership

God will be raising up key prophetic and apostolic leaders who will be leading people into the presence of God and into the missions of God. There will be many focuses that don’t feel like God (note my experience of being asked to die above) that God’s leaders will call the people to. Will the people respond? What if they don’t sense the Holy Spirit on it? Feelings and senses are wildly subjective. I personally value counsel that’s directly from scripture much more than I do personal, subjective experiences or supposed discernment. That doesn’t mean I don’t at all value personal discernment, but that revelation almost always ends up on the shelf as I await confirmation.

Keep in mind, I radically affirm prophecy. I promote encounters and experiences. I believe in dreams and visions. I have an intercession team that evaluates prophetic data on an ongoing basis. But, the point remains—we see in part. And, we can often see wrongly. It takes humility to admit that.

Sometimes we are so in tune with our own historic personal encounters with the spirit realm that we can lose sight that we are human! I’ve had a lot of amazing encounters and I have a high level of sensitivity in the spiritual realm. I also know that I’m human and that I’ve been wrong in the past. I much prefer to submit prophetic data for evaluation and for confirmation in scripture. Just because something feels right doesn’t mean it is right. Feelings sit on the lowest shelf of the confirmation process. More revelation and confirmation is necessary to trust our feelings.

Apostolic leaders will call you to action very often in ways that are contrary to what you are sensing. Are you ready to respond regardless? Or will you declare that God isn’t in it and hold back?

Read the following point from my article “Five Reasons NOT to Leave a Church.” The reason I’m including it is to highlight how important it is to promote scripture over feelings:

When NOT to leave a church? When God tells you to. OK, I’m sure you are awake now! Have you ever played the God card? As a leader I’ve heard many times, usually through the grapevine, that, “God told so and so to move to another church.” Really? That’s odd. I was entrusted as their leader, which is a very serious position, and God just forgot to tell me about this? He left me out of the loop? Maybe Hebrews 13:17 isn’t what we think it is? The church I’m leading isn’t important enough for people to honor the mission?

I hope you are getting the point.

We are called to submit to authority—even ungodly authority like judges, elected officials and our bosses at work. Certainly it makes sense that God would include our godly authority in a decision making process as important as leaving one family and one mission for another.

The point is this—God wouldn’t just tell you to leave without your leader being involved in the process. In fact, can I just be blunt? It’s extremely disrespectful, presumptuous, rude and self-serving to abdicate your responsibility in your current church by leaving without honoring the authority in your life. Your pastor has every right to participate with you in your process.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (ESV) 12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.

Why was it important to include that portion of the article? To show how critical it is that we are biblical Christians. We can’t presume a feeling or a discernment exempts us from biblical protocol. I’ve felt on many occasions that a leader in my life wasn’t hearing God, and that I was, but in humility I had to surrender my opinion and follow my leader—and often I realize that my sense was in fact wrong or incomplete. We can’t gravitate toward what is easy, happy, glorious and enjoyable and away from what is troubling or negative by using the “God card.” God will often call us into his fearful presence, and we have to be unified with others who are being led in that direction.

Do you remember the Exodus? The Israelites were famous for analyzing their various situations based on their feelings. They felt alone and abandoned, so they crafted a new god made of gold. They presumed that the absence of God’s manifest presence meant something was off—yet, little did they realize one of the most astounding events in history was taking place up on the mountain! They then ended up dying in the desert when they presumed God was all about their comfort and happiness—and were indignant when he was asking them to put their lives on the line in a land of Giants—and a land of Promise.

I want to challenge you to get ready for a great outpouring of God’s presence. It will feel very different than you expect. It may be a glory cloud or it may be in the midst of a fiery furnace.

Ask yourself how you react to your feelings now. Do they drive you? Do you presume any negative feeling to be from the enemy? Do your feelings and emotions drive your decisions?

You need to wrestle with this now so you are ready to receive Jesus when he shows up. I am certain—he will manifest in ways we’ve never experienced before.

On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.” Exodus 19:16-22

Video: It has to stop! Competition, accusation and jealousy between churches

God forgive us for building kingdoms of man on doctrines of demons in your name. ~Brian Ming

(http://youtu.be/leedwHInzfQ)

IT HAS TO STOP!

Watch this short, raw video on the issue of competitiveness, accusation and jealousy in the church. It has to STOP!

When Amy and I first moved to Detroit and launched Revival Church we sent out 200 copies of my book Pharaoh in the Church to pastors in the Detroit region. The book is written to leaders and those who are called to lead the people of God into encounter.

In that book I deal directly with the issue of personal kingdom building & how it can be a threat to the advance of God’s Kingdom in a region.

Not shockingly, but sadly we only heard from one pastor. One.

When a new Kingdom building church arrives on the scene, the pastors of the region should celebrate their arrival!

PEOPLE, MONEY & REPUTATION

Too much energy is invested into keeping people, protecting our financial situation and enhancing our reputations as leaders—energy that can not be used for its intended purpose of going hard after revival in a region and leading people into encounter.

If we are serious about the city church exploding in life and power, we must be willing to lose people, lose financial security (salaries, benefits) and lose our reputation. Jesus was of no reputation, why should we be?

How can you deal with this issue? Have a healthy ministry policy!

HEALTHY MINISTRY POLICIES

  • PEOPLE: Have a policy that any pastor, leader or other person can come into your church at any time, with no fear or guilt, and openly recruit anybody, even your staff, to leave your church and join theirs. The fear of losing people and the resulting spirit of competition will disappear.
  • MONEY: Give regularly to other churches and pray for them to be blessed in a greater measure financially than your own. Giving always causes fear of financial loss to subside. Additionally, never hold back leading in a biblical direction with full unction of the Holy Spirit if key givers may get leave. Preach them out and trust God!
  • REPUTATION: Die. Surrender. Go low. Be humble. Allow people to ridicule you, accuse you, attack you and discredit your ministry. This happens when you preach truth. If you are of no reputation, then when you lose people, money, influence or anything else, your ego won’t drive you whatsoever.

image7 Video: It has to stop! Competition, accusation and jealousy between churchesDISQUALIFIED

Gossip.

Here’s a definition: Any conversation about an absent third party that wouldn’t meet the approval of that person.

Gossip is biblically forbidden communication.

When I, as a church leader, hear anybody gossip about a former pastor they are immediately disqualified from consideration for leadership in my church.

Why? I can’t afford to give place to a demonic anointing in my church.

This is how important it is to honor other pastors, churches and leaders—and everybody else in the body of Christ!

What do you do if you hear someone gossiping about a leader?

I am personally blessed when someone displays their honor, love and faithfulness when they won’t receive gossip about me. But, it’s not about me…it’s about the health of the church and the church of the city we are called to run with. It really is a big deal.

PROPHETIC VOICES

Why is it a big deal? Many reasons. One that will become very clear as the end of the age develops is that the church is going to be shifted violently to calibrate with God’s end-time plans.

The announcement of the shift will come through people. Prophets. Apostles. Those chosen by God to move into a region and reveal with boldness what is changing.

These people will be a serious threat to the status quo, and if pastors rely on the status quo to keep people in position, their salaries stable and their reputation under their control, they will resist these prophets of God with ferocity.

This is why we need to develop a culture of celebration, humility and honor for other leaders, new churches and people who are in the body of Christ in a region.

If we don’t, crosses may remain on the steeples while Ichabod is posted above the doors of resisting, self-centered pastors flowing in the spirit of Pharaoh as they remain focused on building their own kingdoms.

FINAL THOUGHTS

God led Amy and my family to Detroit to see revival land. God is bringing many others here as well. Many others have been laboring here for years and have been prepared for what’s coming. Let’s do all we can to unite and take advantage of the amazing convergence in this critical end-time season!

A super rough draft of the first 50 pages of my new book, The Coming Church

The Coming Church is a revelation of what God is about to do in the church of our nation—read the first 50 pages now!

FIRST: Tomorrow, Thursday, January 31st, at 7pm I want to encourage you to audit theLab class Revelation Driven Prayer! Pay $25 at the door (cash, check, credit card) and learn how to hear the voice of God and experience a life of 100% effective prayer!
Revival Church and theLab meets at CENTRAL CHURCH, 1529 E. 12 Mile Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071.


image18 A super rough draft of the first 50 pages of my new book, The Coming ChurchThe Coming Church

Many have been asking for a sneak peek, so here it is! It’s a very rough draft, so if you notice any grammatical edits that are necessary, I’d love for you to alert me via email at john@johnburton.net. Enjoy!

(I’ll include the first short segment below, and then you can download the PDF here: www.johnburton.net/files/docs/TheComingChurchp9-53.pdf)

~ One ~
The Encounter

Spiritual encounters, whether they are visions, dreams or visitations can go a long way in preparing individuals, groups, and even nations for the otherworldly, dramatic and critical shifts that God is setting into motion. Of course, we know in scripture that spiritual things must be discerned spiritually, and it’s important to understand clearly what’s being communicated. We also know that all dreams, for example, are not necessarily spiritual dreams. That must be discerned. I challenge you to stay up until 3 AM and then eat a bucket of hot wings, a can of Mountain Dew and a half a gallon of ice cream and see what kind of crazy images dance around in your head when you finally fall asleep. Experiences like that won’t shake nations. However, the encounter I had absolutely must.
    I had a vision of the soon coming church. For me, a spiritual revelation, a message delivered directly by the Creator of the world, is usually very easy to discern. It’s rare that I have to go to someone seeking out an interpretation. The scene and the message are almost always extremely vivid and revealing. I immediately understand what the players and the atmosphere and the story line are attempting to communicate to me.
    This particular encounter was no different – in fact, it was so striking, fearful, engulfing and overpowering that the imagery and message will keep me trembling in my spirit forever.
    In order to appreciate the magnitude of the message that was communicated to me in the vision, it will be helpful to understand the context. If you can imagine, at least to an incredibly small degree, the picture of the church that God himself sees, it shouldn’t be a stretch to realize the picture of the church that we see on the Earth clearly cannot match up. Meaning, when God drew up the glorious church leading up to its launch in the book of Acts, that diagram that was before him looks little like the church we see today. God’s church looks little like the church we have come to know.

Acts 2:1-3 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

    Do me a favor and read that passage in Acts chapter 2 one more time. I want those three verses to dive into your spirit and shake you up. When God started diagramming the church, this is what he envisioned — this is where he started. When you compare this passage of Scripture with descriptions of the modern-day church as we know it, it seems like were comparing apples and oranges.
    I’d like to ask you to read the passage one more time. As I’m writing this, I feel the Spirit of the Lord starting to burn in my inner man. Let me pray for you right now just before you read it again:

Mighty God, I pray the burnings of your Spirit would be transmitted into your friends heart. Give them a glimpse into the supernatural yet strikingly real realm of the church. Give them the capacity to release old paradigms, structures, traditions, mind sets and cultures as they come alive to the reality of the church as you see it. Amen.

    Okay, go ahead and read the passage in Acts chapter 2 one more time.

Acts 2:1-3 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

    Is it becoming a little bit easier to understand just what the church should look like? You see, as God designed and then launched the church, it was literally blowing and burning and every one of them in that upper room experienced it. As we begin to embrace the truth that passages like this are not science fiction, and that they communicate actual phenomenons that are to be normal for us as Believers, it will become easier to leave behind what we know and press toward the soon coming church. We will suddenly find ourselves so deeply dissatisfied that any thought of maintenance becomes quite insane.
    Now, keep in mind that this fiery reality was communicated to us by Jesus, by the Word. This passage is the Word of God, not simply a descriptive, historical report. So, God’s plan is for the church to be a supernatural raging furnace of Holy Spirit activity.
    I have heard it said that the only thing more powerful than the Word of God is tradition. The traditions of man overpower the greatest power in existence — Jesus Christ himself. Do you feel the weight of that? Is it possible that we need to embrace the fear of the Lord again? The thought of allowing man-made concepts, structures or agendas to push aside and nullify God’s plans seems ridiculous. Yet it happens with stunning regularity every day all over the world.
   
Mark 7:13 …making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down…

    Of course it’s true that the definition of the church cannot be limited to one perspective of one segment of the greater structure. It is certainly true, as is revealed later on in Acts chapter 2, that the healthy church will include wonderful fellowship, breaking of bread, powerful preaching, discipleship, evangelism, prayer and other critical activities. However, what we see in the church today is a lot of activity, even good activity, but usually without the tangible burning and blowing of God’s Spirit.

Read more here: www.johnburton.net/files/docs/TheComingChurchp9-53.pdf

Listen now! A sudden outbreak of the spirit of revival in Detroit last night!

I didn’t see it coming! The spirit of revival surprised a zealous people in Detroit!

image Listen now! A sudden outbreak of the spirit of revival in Detroit last night!This message will absolutely rock you with violence! Is it possible you have a crisis of revelation? Listen and expect a powerful experience with God HImself!

Listen NOW here: http://media.johnburton.net/4086197

I boldly share three motivations that keep me burning every day—and this strategy will cause you to burn through every obstacle in your life.

In a day when unity in the church is so critical, I refuse to unify with anybody who is lukewarm! This means that we must discover a burning, white-hot remnant that loves not their own lives, who are ready to explode!

Are you in this remnant?

Are we ready to lay down our lives for our city, or are we simply interested in a move of God that brings personal blessing and prosperity?

There is an awakening that must happen! When we start desiring encounter more than breakthrough the spirit of revival will come.

Listen now and follow along with my notes below:

My Three Motivations

I. We must burn

a. We were born to literally and aggressively awaken the sleeping and to change environments.

i. I believe to live an average life requires continual sin.

1. Our call is to live by the most fervent faith and have the most zealous disposition.

b. Night and day, never taking a break…we are to be consumed with the fire of the Living God!

c. I’m going to share three personal motivations that ensure I stay on fire.

i. If our foundational relationship is with God as problem solver, we’ll find ourselves to be sleepy, tepid and dry.

ii. We are called to govern and to bring about the change ourselves. We are to solve the problems!

iii. You awaken! You prophesy! You pray! You burn!

d. Church at Sardis- we have a problem.

i. Revelation 3:1-3 (ESV) 1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.

1. God will actually come against the church!

2. Our very good God will take on the role of adversary, as thief, against his church if it isn’t pure, white, spotless.

e. Church at Laodicea-we have a problem.

i. Revelation 3:15-19 (ESV) 15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

1. We must burn!

2. We can’t make declarations of our own satisfactory condition if God sees us as poor, blind and naked!

3. White hot devotion is a must!

II. Motivation #1: Deep, experiential intimacy with Jesus

a. Critical point: I’ve met many who identify with one of the three motivations, and that single focus is not enough to sustain us.

i. Many would say that all we have to do is experience God’s love and everything will just fall into place.

1. Not true!

2. Have you ever met someone who loved God and then sinned?

3. Have you ever met someone who just soaks in God’s presence but isn’t available to do the work of the ministry?

b. That being said, nothing else will work if we don’t have a deep, abiding, experiential, overwhelming and intimate relationship with Jesus!

c. Intimacy with Jesus will form us!

d. A. W. Tozer: The love of Christ both wounds and heals, it fascinates and frightens, it kills and makes alive, it draws and repulses. There can be nothing more terrible or wonderful than to be stricken with love for Christ so deeply that the whole being goes out in a pained adoration of His person, an adoration that disturbs and disconcerts while it purges and satisfies and relaxes the deep inner heart.

i. My personal life is marked by continual and intentional encounters with Jesus.

1. I am extremely devoted to intimacy!

ii. It’s a major, daily focus of my life!

1. Worship music is playing almost continually in my office.

2. I pray in the Spirit, soak, mediate and spend time just enjoying the Lover of my soul, the bridegroom.

3. My desire is alive!

4. E.M. Bounds: The deeper the desire, the stronger the prayer. Without desire, prayer is a meaningless mumble of words. Such perfunctory, formal praying, with no heart, no feeling, no real desire accompanying it, is to be shunned like a pestilence. Its exercise is a waste of precious time, and from it, no real blessing accrues.

iii. Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV) 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

1. Asking, seeking and knocking must be continual.

2. God isn’t resisting us, he’s wooing us!

a. We too often want God to manifest in our natural realm when he’s hiding just on the other side of the border of natural and supernatural.

b. He wants us to manifest in his realm!

c. The Great Commandment

d. Matthew 22:37 (ESV) 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

e. Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV) 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

e. This is why the cares of life must be violently eradicated!

i. David Wilkerson Many of those who once were so passionately in love with Christ now run about pursuing their own interests. They’re burdened down with stress and problems, chasing after riches and the things of this world.

ii. If we are distracted by life, the Bible tells us we won’t mature, and we see a church out there that is immature and without time to be intimately involved with God.

iii. Luke 8:14 (ESV) 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

1. J. Oswald Saunders : We are at this moment as close to God as we really choose to be. True, there are times when we would like to know a deeper intimacy, but when it comes to the point, we are not prepared to pay the price involved.

iv. I’m looking for a store front for Revival Church North where we can devote many nights a week to fervent, intimate prayer! It’s a must!

1. Anna: Luke 2:37 (ESV) 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.

2. We must pray and refuse to allow anything to get in the way!

3. Oct 12.

III. Motivation #2: Fear, Trembling and Obedience

a. David Wilkerson: Love is not only something you feel, it is something you do.

b. Every day of my life I have a keen focus on working out my salvation, on obedience and on allowing God to reveal his justice to me.

c. Keep in mind we are not dealing with the friendly spirit, the cozy spirit…He’s the Holy Spirit!

i. Revelation 15:4 (ESV) 4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

1. Yes, he is the comforter…but, if you find yourselves comforted in sin instead of comforted from sin, it’s a demon you are dealing with.

2. God’s comfort comes in holiness!

ii. Philippians 2:12-16 (ESV) 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

d. Am I blameless? Do I grumble? Do I obey without questioning?

e. Adam Clarke: Considering the difficulty of the work, and the danger of miscarriage. If you do not watch, pray and continually depend on God, your enemies will surprise you, and your light and life will become extinct; and then consider what an awful account you must give to Him whose Spirit ye have grieved, and of whose glory ye have come short.

i. One way I know I’m doing well is if I experience the fear of God and not the spirit of fear.

ii. If the spirit of fear is there, I know I’m not pursuing intimacy with Jesus sufficiently.

iii. If the fear of God isn’t there, I know I’m blinded to his righteousness and judgment.

1. There is simply no way to approach God in fullness without trembling and considering our own depravity!

2. Abu Bakr: When you advise any person you should be guided by the fear of God.

3. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (ESV) 13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

4. Matthew 10:34 (ESV) 34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

a. The call to partner with God is a call to a hard core, sobering mission—and to sleepwalk through life, to pursue comfort and ease is to intentionally depart from God at the point of mission.

b. The fear of the Lord won’t allow us to leave when the loving feeling lets up.

c. I know my walk with Jesus will eventually lead me to the garden of Gethsemane, and I’ll have the option to sleep or to be with Jesus as he is about to shock the planet.

IV. Motivation #3: My Mission

a. If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice? - David Livingstone

b. I simply know that I can’t take a day off in my fervent pursuit of God because of the importance of my calling.

i. The same is true for 100% of you out there.

ii. If I don’t burn hot every day of my life, people will go to Hell.

1. James 3:1 (ESV) 1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

iii. I have been seeing 11:11 everywhere!

1. I don’t know exactly what it means.

2. Could judgment be coming on Nov. 11?

3. Revival?

4. I believe 1 Cor. 1:11 is a key verse.

5. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV) 1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

6. Follow me as I follow Christ.

iv. Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) 16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

1. Since I know others eternities are dependent on my connection with Jesus, I cannot be one that doubts!

2. The moment I am faced with circumstances that challenge my faith, I have no option but to cancel everything and stir up my faith!

3. Tozer: “Any faith that must be supported by the evidence of the senses is not real faith.”

4. Also, I am to teach others what I’ve been commanded.

a. If I am not a student, if I’m not in deep contact with God, I won’t be able to disciple the nations!

b. And successful or unsuccessful ministry always results in either heaven or hell.

c. That keeps me motivated every single second.

c. This is why I simply cannot ever understand how people can excuse themselves from ministry by giving into distractions and excuses, relaxation and personal pursuits.

i. Every day I have eternity in my windshield. Every single day.

1. - Luis Palau A nation will not be moved by timid methods.

2. - David Livingstone Christ alone can save the world, but Christ cannot save the world alone.

3. Do you have an overwhelming, all consuming heart to change the world for Jesus?

4. Consider Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China:

a. As child, at age 5:
When I am a man, I mean to be a missionary and go to China.

b. As a young man:
I feel I cannot go on living unless I do something for China.

c. Late in life, as a veteran missionary:
If I had 1,000 lives, I’d give them all for China.

Gold dust manifested again at theLab : Gathering the entire Detroit church every Friday night

10pm Friday nights are a wide open slot on the calendar to gather the church of the Detroit region.

image7 Gold dust manifested again at theLab : Gathering the entire Detroit church every Friday nightWhat would it be like if every Christian in Detroit gathered together every Friday night to pray for revival? Can you imagine that?!

That means, if you are in this region, you are a critical part of this vision!

I hear people say all the time, “John, I can’t imagine anything that could keep me away from encountering God at theLab on Fridays. What else could there be?”

GOLD DUST

Last night theLab was at an amazing church in Attica and the King of Glory revealed himself!

Suddenly gold dust started showing up all over people’s hands and clothes. Visible evidence of God’s presence was everywhere!

Check out a video on my Facebook Timeline at www.facebook.com/johnedwardburton.

This was the second time this happened in this particular church!

At Revival Church and theLab we’ve experienced gold dust, oil on people’s hands and the visible mist of God’s glory. It’s a sign of God’s glory!

EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT

So, by all means, help spread the word to the Detroit region church: Every pastor, leader, intercessor and Christian hungry for revival is called to gather in a different church each Friday night from 10pm-midnight at theLab!

THELAB SCHOOL OF FIRE

Has God been speaking to you about going deeper? Lives are being rocked and equipped at theLab School of Fire!

The next three-month session begins Saturday, January 7th at 10am.

Apply today at www.revivallab.com/apply!

theLab School of Fire early registration discount ends today : Session starts January 7, 2012

theLab School of Fire is fueled by deep and prophetic prayer and encounter. Check out these testimonies:

“It was an incredible time at theLab class yesterday. So much freedom! There is so so much breakthrough and clarity happening in my life right now! I am looking forward to even more very soon. God really knew what he was doing when He put me here on this journey with such an incredible group of people!!” Victoria

“The internship has completely changed my life. I have been marked, set free…” Valerie
“I’ve been waiting 36 years to see and experience the awesome power of the fire of God through theLab.” Shelly

“God has brought a shift in every area of my life since starting the internship. It is a can’t miss, mind blowing God encounter that will change your life.” Joshua

image18 theLab School of Fire early registration discount ends today : Session starts January 7, 2012EARLY REGISTRATION DISCOUNT OPPORTUNITY ENDS TODAY!

Save $200 by applying today. You ONLY have to pay the $25 application fee, and you will lock in the discounted rate when you submit your application before midnight tonight!

Join with a team of burning men & women on a journey into the fire of God’s presence. We believe there is a significant yet hidden company of Believers that God is gathering together to be trained, healed and infused with fire. These mighty people will carry and release the burning of the Holy Spirit into the revival-ready Detroit region…and beyond to the cities of the Earth.

Watch a promo video here: http://vimeo.com/27407425 

Apply TODAY! http://www.revivallab.com/internship 

CLASSES INCLUDE

  • THE MINISTRY OF THE FORERUNNER
    There is a rising remnant of prophetic messengers who are consumed by fire and propelled by a burning zeal for advancing God’s Kingdom. Discover more about this critical end-time ministry.
  • INTIMACY/LOVE
    The most critical fuel the church needs to go empower every key ministry is the same fuel we need to launch us in our personal lives. That fuel is the burning desire that results from an intimate encounter with the Lover of our souls.
  • UNOFFENDABLE
    Offended hearts are imprisoned hearts. This teaching has set many people free, and you will learn how to grow in God without the hindrance of offense slowing you down.
  • REVELATION DRIVEN PRAYER
    There is a dramatic and wildly dynamic life of revelation that is available to all of us. Learn how to hear God clearly, encounter his heart and advance with a precision focus of prayer and intercession.
  • INTERCESSION
    You are a carrier of the mighty presence of God. As you pick up the Ark of God’s presence and move ahead through rivers and around imposing walled cities, you will lead the people through their own seemingly impossible situations.
  • DELIVERANCE
    First, you will discover the wonder of freedom from personal struggles, fears and obstacles. Then, you’ll learn how to set the captives free!
  • 20 ELEMENTS OF REVIVAL
    There are over 19,000 cities in the nation, and none of them are experiencing the biblical normalcy of revival. You will investigate how to initiate a step-by-step process of transformation and revival in your city.
  • A SPIRIT OF INSIGNIFICANCE
    Many in the church are convinced they do not play a significant role in God’s great plan. That strategy of the enemy will be dealt with directly as we learn how God sees each of us-as mighty people of valor.
  • ENCOUNTERING AND RELEASING THE FIRE
    There is a baptism of Fire for every Believer in Jesus Christ. Experience this Fire personally and learn how to release as burning men and women of God.
  • COVENS AND PHARAOH IN THE CHURCH
    There is a way to interact with authorities in our lives that will result in a great escape into the wilderness of encounter. Learn how you can move out in abundant life and extreme freedom while running well with the leaders God has put into your life.

Sunday at Revival Church: Freedom from opinions that imprison and the power of agreement

Did you know negative thoughts about another person imprison you? And, it wounds them! Break free from prison Sunday at 6pm at Revival Church!

image thumb1 Sunday at Revival Church: Freedom from opinions that imprison and the power of agreementIt’s so hard for so many Christians to encounter God. It’s a tragedy that can be resolved!

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God. Matt 5:8 (NKJV)

Impure thoughts, thoughts that result in elevated opinions against others, actually results in the inability to encounter God! This must end!

We are either in alliance with God or with the enemy when we embrace an opinion. If that opinion comes in the form of accusation, we can be sure the devil is the one we are aligned with. He’s the accuser of the brethren.

PS 1:1Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked

God loves people, including the people we divide away from with our opinions. So, what happens is that our opinion, if handled wrongly, also violates our revelation and relationship with God. Opinions we have that are meant to better a situation actually do great damage to everybody involved. We absolutely must have a pure heart and be unified with our brothers and sisters!

Agreement is a powerful force!

Matthew 18:19-20 "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

1 Cor 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

See you tomorrow at 6pm!

From my new book : The Coming Church : Everything is threatened

Every church, every pastor and every Christian will tremble as God invades the landscape of the church.

I started writing the book and I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at what’s coming.

Let me know what you think!

The Coming Church PaperbackLyingDown01 thumb1 From my new book : The Coming Church : Everything is threatened

~ One ~

The Encounter

Spiritual encounters, whether they are visions, dreams or visitations can go a long way in preparing individuals, groups, and even nations for the otherworldly, dramatic and critical shifts that God is setting into motion. Of course, we know in scripture that spiritual things must be discerned spiritually, and it’s important to understand clearly what’s being communicated. We also know that all dreams, for example, are not necessarily spiritual dreams. That must be discerned. I challenge you to stay up until 3 AM and then eat a bucket of hot wings, a can of Mountain Dew and a half a gallon of ice cream and see what kind of crazy images dance around in your head when you finally fall asleep. Experiences like that won’t shake nations. However, the encounter I had absolutely must.

    I had a vision of the soon coming church. For me, a spiritual revelation, a message delivered directly by the Creator of the world, is usually very easy to discern. It’s rare that I have to go to someone seeking out an interpretation. The scene and the message are almost always extremely vivid and revealing. I immediately understand what the players and the atmosphere and the story line are attempting to communicate to me.

    This particular encounter was no different – in fact, it was so striking, fearful, engulfing and overpowering that the imagery and message will keep me trembling in my spirit forever.

    In order to appreciate the magnitude of the message that was communicated to me in the vision, it will be helpful to understand the context. If you can imagine, at least to an incredibly small degree, the picture of the church that God himself sees, it shouldn’t be a stretch to realize the picture of the church that we see on the Earth clearly cannot match up. Meaning, when God drew up the glorious church leading up to its launch in the book of Acts, that diagram that was before him looks little like the church we see today. God’s church looks little like the church we have come to know.

Acts 2:1-3 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

    Do me a favor and read that passage in Acts chapter 2 one more time. I want those three verses to dive into your spirit and shake you up. When God started diagramming the church, this is what he envisioned — this is where he started. When you compare this passage of Scripture with descriptions of the modern-day church as we know it, it seems like were comparing apples and oranges.

    I’d like to ask you to read the passage one more time. As I’m writing this, I feel the Spirit of the Lord starting to burn in my inner man. Let me pray for you right now just before you read it again:

Mighty God, I pray the burnings of your Spirit would be transmitted into your friends heart. Give them a glimpse into the supernatural yet strikingly real realm of the church. Give them the capacity to release old paradigms, structures, traditions, mindsets and cultures as they come alive to the reality of the church as you see it. Amen.

    Okay, go ahead and read the passage in Acts chapter 2 one more time.

Acts 2:1-3 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

    Is it becoming a little bit easier to understand just what the church should look like? You see, as God designed and then launched the church, it was literally blowing and burning and every one of them in that upper room experienced it. As we begin to embrace the truth that passages like this are not science fiction, and that they communicate actual phenomenons that are to be normal for us as Believers, it will become easier to leave behind what we know and press toward the soon coming church. We will suddenly find ourselves so deeply dissatisfied that any thought of maintenance becomes quite insane.

    Now, keep in mind that this fiery reality was communicated to us by Jesus, by the Word. This passage is the Word of God, not simply a descriptive, historical report. So, God’s plan is for the church to be a supernatural raging furnace of Holy Spirit activity.

    I have heard it said that the only thing more powerful than the Word of God is tradition. The traditions of man overpower the greatest power in existence — Jesus Christ himself. Do you feel the weight of that? Is it possible that we need to embrace the fear of the Lord again? The thought of allowing man-made concepts, structures or agendas to push aside and nullify God’s plans seems ridiculous. Yet it happens with stunning regularity every day all over the world.
   
Mark 7:13 …making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down…

    Of course it’s true that the definition of the church cannot be limited to one perspective of one segment of the greater structure. It is certainly true, as is revealed later on in Acts chapter 2, that the healthy church will include wonderful fellowship, breaking of bread, powerful preaching, discipleship, evangelism, prayer and other critical activities. However, what we see in the church today is a lot of activity, even good activity, but usually without the tangible burning and blowing of God’s Spirit.
   

The Crater

    If you take a look at the cover of this book, you will see a futilely poor attempt at visually communicating what I experienced in my vision. In the vision, I found myself in a dramatic, apocalyptic scene. Everything seemed to be colorless, or at best a variety of dark blues, grays and greens. The ominous clouds matched up with the dark and wild landscape all around me.

    Directly in front of me was the focal point of the vision, a tremendously massive crater. I can’t begin to describe in human language the overwhelmingly weighty, urgent, and fearsome atmosphere that gripped me and demanded my complete attention. I was trembling as I looked at the edge of the crater in the distance. As I slowly walked toward the gigantic hole in the ground, I knew I could not approach it casually. The fear of the Lord surrounded me. I couldn’t imagine what type of alien invasion could have created an impression this deep in such solid ground. The force had to have been greater than anything my human mind could comprehend.

    As I was analyzing the drama that I was experiencing, God revealed to me that the crater that I was drawing near to was the church.  The church? My mind certainly couldn’t even begin to analyze what that meant, but my spirit was raging. My mind presumed I should be looking at a small, white church building with a steeple, but that was not at all what my eyes were seeing.

    My spirit was provoked and alive, but I knew that those who were more logical than spiritual in their life experience would most probably resist what is just over the horizon.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    Note, this doesn’t mean the unsaved, it means those who are naturally minded. That’s a lot of Christians. Here’s what Paul says next:

1 Corinthians 3:1-2 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;

    I continued to tremble as the increasingly intense, colorless atmosphere engulfed me, and as I ever so carefully, fearfully, yet with intense curiosity approached the edge of the church, the crater.
    Again, I realized I couldn’t casually participate. This was a very clear message that I was receiving. The days of casually connecting in the church were over. The shaking and trembling rocked my whole being as I approached this invasion of Heaven into Earth.

    Once at the edge, I was stunned and my senses were overwhelmed as I looked at what seemed to be alive. While everything else around me was gray scale, I saw vivid, bright and glowing hues of orange, yellow and red and a prism of colors in between. The bright, colorful, burning lava was living and active. It was moving, coursing throughout the crater. My trembling intensified.

Audit The Terror of Hell tomorrow at theLab

Prepare to have your theology of salvation challenged as you dive into intimate encounter with Jesus!

image thumb18 Audit The Terror of Hell tomorrow at theLabThis is the FINAL session at theLab that we’ll be opening up our Saturday classes for people not in the internship. Starting in January, the Saturday classes will only be offered to those enrolled in the internship. So, now is the time to get in on these classes!


Don’t forget to join us TONIGHT from 10pm-midnight at theLab prayer event! Head over to www.revivallab.com for the location!


Tomorrow from 10am-2pm I’ll be sharing on the encounter that changed my life more than any other—I was dragged toward Hell by an overpowering demon.

As I came out of that encounter, God spoke to me clearly: John, many in the church will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.

I have been rocked for over 20 years since I had that dream in Dayton, Ohio.

Discover the truth behind the call for intimate encounter with God, and how that relates to our eternal position in Christ.

The cost is $15. You can pay online prior to arriving at www.revivallab.com/payment or you can pay be check, cash or credit card at the door.

As always, we’ll be holding the class at The Tabernacle, 14205 12 Mile Road, Warren, MI 48088.

See you there!

(You can order the book in print and Kindle versions at www.johnburton.net/resources.)