Woe unto you religious spirits! You appear righteous but are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. You shut up the Kingdom of heaven. You tithe on mint and dill and neglect justice, mercy and faithfulness. You are full of greed and self-indulgence. You make a show out of prayer. You travel over land and sea to win a single convert and then make him twice the son of hell as you are.
If you looked in the natural, you might say the Kingdom of God is not increasing, but withering up and dissipating. You see Islam, Hinduism and secular humanism taking over the earth. According to Christian researcher George Barna, thousands of people are leaving the church every week. Why are they leaving? What are they looking for? People are hungry for truth; searching for meaning and purpose. They are looking for kingdom structure and government that would provide them with relevance and opportunity to make a difference in the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen in the right corner, weighing in at 2 tons, the need-meeting, care-providing, sinner’s prayer-saying, heavyweight champion of the church world… EVANGELISM! And on the left, at 50 lbs., but standing 40 feet high, the leadership-developing, people-challenging, vision-carrying… DISCIPLESHIP!
The Liberty Counsel on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation.
The Liberty Counsel alleges that the state policy used by park officials to threaten citation of members of Grace Baptist Church violates their right to freedom of speech.
The Liberty Counsel is representing Pastor Tony Rivers and other church members in the case against the state of North Carolina, Lewis Ledford, Director of the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, and several park officials.
If the Prophet Isaiah were with us today, he might repeat a declaration from the 43rd chapter of the prophetic book he penned. Since he’s among the great cloud of witnesses, I’ll make this Spirit-led declaration instead. Behold, the Lord is doing a new thing! We need to move forward with His Spirit so we don’t get left behind in the desert.
Interestingly, Isaiah was the same prophet who announced John the Baptist’s day, another time when the Lord was doing a ‘new thing.’ John was a voice crying in the wilderness (Isaiah 40:3). The Bible says he was filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb, and when he launched his ministry – to prepare a way for the Lord – he was visibly anointed.
In fact, despite his less-than-luxurious meeting place, his uncouth exterior and his fire and brimstone message, the Baptist probably drew some of the largest crowds since Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal hundreds of years earlier. The Bible says people went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.
As anointed as was John, though, there came One mightier: Jesus of Nazareth. Baptizing Jesus and announcing him as the “Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world” was among John’s last assignments. Indeed, this was a defining moment in both men’s ministries.
With companies of young prophets rising up and armies of prophetic believers awakening to the order to establish the Kingdom of God throughout all the earth, spiritual guidance is vital to a stable Church that the world will look to for answers.
Governments and other secular leaders won’t bow their ears to the utterances of super spiritual fruits, emotional flakes and hypocritical nuts. The governing church demands unwavering voices that refuse to compromise in the face of opposition, yet with a wisdom and grace that persuades even the hardest heart’s that God’s will is the only way.
The manifestation of the sons of God depends on spiritual fathers who will invest time and energy into their spiritual children. So as we consider Elijah and his miraculous ministry let us also consider this powerful prophet’s role in shaping the life and ministry of young Elisha, who went on to do far greater things than his spiritual mentor.
When the Lord sent me to a small Georgia town to pioneer a church, I knew very little about the ministry of the apostle. (Little did I know at the time that He would soon reveal to me my own apostolic identity.) What I did know – and what I was absolutely sure of – was that I did not fit the traditional mold of the five-fold pastor, despite God’s clear direction to become the overseer of a local church. In obedience to the Spirit of God I started the church anyway, but as the years went on it became increasingly obvious that I was unquestionably different from other pastors I knew.
Are you thinking the same way today as you thought yesterday? God’s goal is to change our thinking from revelation to revelation as He takes us to new levels in Him. When we get revelation that propels us to a new level, we build on that revelation. Then God pours out more revelation.
In this hour, God is revealing purpose, identity and His Kingdom. These really aren’t new revelations, though. Jesus preached the same message in His day. In fact, the first message that Jesus taught after He was baptized and anointed was “Repent, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). And in Luke 16:16 Jesus declared, “Change your thinking. The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the Kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it.”
A season to everything, a time for every purpose under the sun. To every king’s reign there is an end, a time for the next generation to rise up and lead God’s people. To every movement there is a transition, a spiritual changing of the guard to advance the Church.
Just as the Preacher recognized God’s timing in all things, believers today are faced with a choice: follow the Spirit of God into a new time and season of reformation or resist Him by grasping for past glories. The Body of Christ is at a critical turning point and its members are facing an age-old dilemma not unlike Zacharias, a priest in the days of King Herod.
The pain of racism is real for thousands of minorities in the Church. As an African-American growing up in the segregated south I experienced first hand the ugly effects of racism with its repeated blows of mental degradation, spiritual chains of deprivation, suppression, and humiliation. I’ve seen it in the workplace, in the schoolyard, in the political arena, and, sadly to say, even in the Church.
We must acknowledge that racism and prejudice exist among Christians before we can rid ourselves of its stench. Sure, there have been small steps toward unity since King’s day. In the 1960s, Caucasian evangelist A. A. Allen gathered both black and white believers together under one tent and encouraged them to give each other a hug. This simple act of integration was uncommon and it marked a bold stand against prejudice in the Church. Allen was looked upon as radical and risky, but he was willing to face the spiritual opposition head on.
Without a unified front, however, Allen’s efforts did not bring sweeping change. The Southern Baptist Convention just a few years ago made headlines when its leaders renounced racism, condemned slavery and apologized for the Church’s intolerant past. That was another step in the right direction, but the demographics of the local church still didn’t reflect lasting change.
There are a lot of Christians sad, angry and confused right now. Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley, leader of the Lakeland Florida Revival, announced that he and his wife Shonnah are divorcing.
“It is with considerable sadness then, that we must temper the jubilation we know you all feel with the sobering news that Todd and Shonnah Bentley are presently experiencing significant friction in their relationship and are currently separated,” the statement read.
“We want to affirm that there has been no sexual immorality on the part of either Todd or Shonnah, nor has there ever been. Undoubtedly the pressures and the burden of the Outpouring, which approaches 144 days on August 23rd, have helped to create an atmosphere of fatigue and stress that has exacerbated existing issues in their relationship,” the statement continued.
Should New Testament prophets pronounce judgments and curses or should they edify, comfort and exhort the people of God and nations? From Isaiah to Jeremiah to Elisha, Old Testament prophets commonly pronounced judgments and curses on nations and peoples. In fact, prophesying doom and gloom on nations and pronouncing judgments on individuals was seemingly part and parcel of the prophetic ministry before Jesus Christ, the Prophet, became a curse for us.
Thousands of years later, some New Testament prophets are still operating in this flow, but are all of them speaking on behalf of the Spirit of God? Or could some of them be prophesying out of hurts and wounds, pride or some sinister spirit? The apostolic is posing some pointed questions in the spirit of order and stabili
ty of the essential prophetic ministry. At the heart of the matter is a single, yet critical question: Is it Biblical for modern day prophets to pronounce judgments and curses on people and cities today? It’s a controversial question that many are not bold enough to ask, but it’s one that needs to be discussed among apostolic and prophetic believers who are committed to restoring the accurate prophetic ministry. No matter how controversial the question, the answers are always found in the Word of God.