This is humanistic religion at its best! Did those in the Upper Room tone down the Holy Spirit so as not to confuse and trouble the seekers in the city? Absolutely not! In fact, the power was so extreme and so unusual that the people were provoked to wonder and proclaim, "they must be drunk!" What was happening was off of their grid.
When man moves, it's naturally familiar. When God moves, it's supernaturally shocking. Keep in mind, there's always a spirit giving leadership in a service—the spirit of man, a demonic spirit or the Holy Spirit.
I told God one day many years ago that if I responded to His extreme call to facilitate a white hot environment of prayer in our church I would lose my reputation. People would sever relationship with me and hurl accusations my way.
God said, "Good. My Son was of no reputation, why should you be?" I was rocked. It was that day, many years ago, that I stopped trying to look good and build a ministry and make people happy about running with me. Selfish ambition died that day. The moment we make decisions based mostly on attracting people, keeping people or raising money is the moment we have failed as leaders.
"But He emptied Himself, taking upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in the form of a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:7-8).
I'm not trying to build a ministry—I'm devoted to obeying God and delivering the messages He has given me. I know these messages will directly hit theologies and ideals that so many hold dear. That's the point. I crave people's freedom from those harmful ideals! I desire the truth of Jesus to invade everybody's life!
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34).
One reason I'm OK with this divisive strategy (that Jesus affirmed above) is that it clearly reveals who's for and who's opposed. I'd rather make the message clear and know who I'm running with than to tone it down and have those who are opposed to it in our camp. So, we love and serve everybody in the camp, but we can't get sidetracked from our mission for the sake of their comfort.
Trust me, the resulting remnant of burning ones will rejoice at such an atmosphere of clarity and fire! Those who are lukewarm today just may awaken and burn tomorrow—if we have the courage to preach the very difficult, costly truth and call every person to the fire of continual prayer!
I'm sure there are some who translate boldness and refusal to soft-step issues as arrogance—but I do not apologize. Yeah, I know that sounds arrogant! The reason I don't apologize is because I wrestle with the call to humility continually, and I check my heart nonstop. The possibility of pride and arrogance is there, without question, and I take that very seriously. I check my heart to ensure I'm humble and full of love. It's wisdom to receive insight from your critics, at least to a point!
People that are close to me do know my heart—and they know I'm broken before the Lord. My call is to aggressively sound alarms, gather people around the mission of revival and provoke people to pray night and day. It can't be a soft-spoken suggestion if we hope to awaken a great end-time army!
Several years ago in Colorado, the Lord directed me very urgently to learn how to walk in extreme humility and extreme boldness at the same time. It was a full year of intense prayer and discovery—a personal school of the Holy Spirit. In that school, I learned much, including this—I was not to attempt to appear humble, I was to be humble. Why was this important? Because the Elijah-level boldness that is required to impact a region would often look like anything but humility. It would appear as arrogance and selfish ambition.
We are not in a season where we need to gather around a table and water down the message in the hopes of finding common ground that results in handshakes and smiles. The message of the hour will overturn that table with violence.
I endeavor to love every person deeply, but I refuse to affirm systems, methodologies, theologies and lifestyles that are an offense to the Word of God. I will, in humility and boldness, be relentless in provoking the sleepers to awaken and those given to a lukewarm life to be shaken. Prophetic threats against human systems and unholy altars results in accusation, gossip and resistance.
"When the men of the city got up early in the morning, the altar of Baal was torn down, the Asherah pole beside it was cut down, and the second bull had been offered on the new altar that had been built. They said to each other, 'Who has done this?' When they had inquired and asked, they responded, 'Gideon son of Joash has done this.' Then the men of the city said to Joash, 'Bring out your son so that he may die, for he tore down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.' Joash then said to all who stood against him, "Would you plead for Baal? Would you save him? Whoever fights for him will be killed by morning. If Baal is a god, let him fight for himself, for someone has torn down his altar" (Judg. 6:28-31).
I know the accusations will continue, but you need to know that, if you are bold, you will provoke. You must be OK with that! Love people deeply, hate the enemy powerfully and know there will be a crisis in the middle as God, people and demons step into the ring. Don't wrestle against flesh and blood! Be innocent! But don't presume a passive spirit is the same thing as a humble spirit.
The assault against the prayer movement is extreme and we must advance against the spirit of the age with fire in our veins and tears in our eyes.
John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-after teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer- and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called theLab University. John also has a web- and graphic-design business and is continually developing new and exciting ventures. He and his beautiful wife, Amy, have five children and live in the Detroit area. He can be reached via his website at johnburton.net.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
- << Prev
- Continue reading
Great Resources to help you excel in 2019! #1 John Eckhardt's "Prayers That..." 6-Book Bundle. Prayer helps you overcome anything life throws at you. Get a FREE Bonus with this bundle. #2 Learn to walk in the fullness of your purpose and destiny by living each day with Holy Spirit. Buy a set of Life in the Spirit, get a second set FREE.