New Prophetic Prayer Group Starting

I will be leading a new group based on my book Revelation Driven Prayer!

If you are in the Branson/Springfield, Missouri area, I’d like to invite you to a brand new prophetic prayer group!

I will be teaching out of my book Revelation Driven Prayer each week, and we will also be spending time in various expressions of prayer and intercession as well.

This will be a powerful experience and a great place for people of all types—from brand new Christians to seasoned veterans—to grow in prayer in a fun, joyful and casual environment.

The first meeting will take place in my home on Wednesday, September 9th.

If you’d like more info or want directions, contact me directly at john@johnburton.net.

I can’t wait to see you there!

(Oh, yes, we’ll have coffee and snacks each week!)

Revelation Driven Prayer Life Group

Ashley Madison: Possibly millions more Christians have committed adultery than previously thought

Adultery: The cause for concern in the church is much greater than many realize.

Mark 7:21-23 (ESV) 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

I have found myself sickened and angrier than I’ve been in a long time over the recent controversy surrounding Ashley Madison, a website that makes it easy to commit adultery.

In fact, I am shocked that this can even be considered a controversy. Check out the definition of that word:

controversy: discussion marked especially by the expression of opposing views

Are there really two sides? Is it possible there are those who would argue for the appropriateness of having sexual encounters with people other than their spouse? Unbelievably yes. The darkness is truly getting darker.

Isaiah 5:20 (ESV) 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…

Romans 12:9 (ESV) 9 …Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman recently said, “Up until the creation of AshleyMadison.com, there wasn’t really a place where women could go to pursue their desires to have an affair. Now that there is, it’s clear that women aren’t the more faithful sex – they just hadn’t been offered the same opportunities to cheat in the past.”

He continues by saying, “Members are not cheating on their spouse because they’re looking for divorce, more often than not they’re seeking out an affair to help keep their marriage together.”

Sure, go ahead and read that again. He really said that.

Matthew 12:33-37 (ESV) 33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Mr. Biderman, if you are reading this I implore you to honestly evaluate the extreme destruction you are shamelessly perpetuating. Your actions are reckless and you deserve a stern rebuke. You have brought great pain upon the world and have absolutely devastated people’s lives. Your supposed marital wisdom is embarrassing.

Mr. Biderman, did you know the only reason you were born was to deeply love Jesus Christ and to have a very real, intimate, powerful and holy relationship with him? That is why you are on the earth. That is why you are breathing today!

Through the current scandal God is sounding alarms and flashing lights right at you, crying out for you to turn from wickedness and discover the amazing truth and power of the cross. Jesus was brutally, savagely murdered for you because of love. He would never cheat on you, leave you or forsake you.

I pray for you. Heaven is real and so is Hell. Please consider your life and surrender everything to Jesus, no matter the cost, no matter if you lose your reputation or your millions made through immorality.

CHRISTIANS IN ADULTERY

I’ve heard various reports of Christians being exposed as registered users of Ashley Madison. One source revealed at least 400 pastors were named in the leak. Of course we already know about Josh Duggar who was caught.

Yet, consider this: there are most probably millions of additional Christians who are guilty of adultery yet who have not been exposed. Your spouse very well may be on that list. You may be as well.

Before you dismiss my previous statement as ludicrous, please read the following:

Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

That’s all it takes to be as guilty as every Christian who took advantage of the filth and immorality that AshleyMadison.com provides.

If you reject that as extreme, if you believe there is a significant difference between lusting after another person and actually having a sexual encounter with them, it’s evidence that you don’t truly believe the Word of God. It’s also evidence that the fear of God is not in you.

How many women have Christian men actually committed adultery with? What about women who have fallen for the 50 Shades of Gray deception? This is so intense! If you lust over someone you have fallen into sexual immorality, and that person doesn’t even know they have been violated!

A DEMAND FOR HOLINESS

1 Peter 1:14-16 (ESV) 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Enough is enough! The church has nearly entirely eliminated preaching on sin and holiness! People are living in casual, accepted sin and are convinced that all is well. Their blood is on our hands if we refuse to preach the sharp, unapologetic truth of Scripture.

Sin must stop. The casual approach to wickedness must cease!

Ephesians 4:30 (ESV) 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

NO NAKED PEOPLE

No naked people. That concept seems nearly ridiculous in today’s sexually driven culture.

Sexual images are flashing before our eyes from every angle through media, marketing, video games and other invasive sources.

I’ve actually had Christians challenge me by saying it’s not possible for a man to avoid lust, as if it’s an expected part of our make up! I heard about another who said that the Bible doesn’t forbid lust, only lusting about married women! The culture is causing many hopeless and some defiant Christians to believe that freedom from sexual fantasy is not possible, or even necessary. God help this nation.image

My wife, two daughters and I were walking through a mall in Wisconsin recently. We were stopped in our tracks right by the food court where families with impressionable children were scattered all around. There was a massive mural that stretched from floor to ceiling of a nearly naked woman. My wife immediately said, “I’m going in there to complain to the manager.” So, into Victoria’s Secret she went.

You might be thinking, “Where have you been the last few decades John? This type of imagery is everywhere!” Yes, that is true. Sadly. Since this is the case, do we simply surrender to the culture? My thought is that Christians are to take dominion and be the drivers of the culture. We can’t sit back and give up. We must fight! However, before that battle can truly begin in the malls and movie theaters, we have to wage war at home—in our own minds.

Consider how far our culture has fallen—including the culture of the church where only 3% of Christian men admit that they never view pornography! Per the Barna Group, 97% of Christian men are actively looking at porn! 87% of Christian women are entertained by pornography! Many Believers don’t “believe” it’s necessary to abstain from sex before marriage. My God!

Check out how it all began:

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3:4-7

The serpent pleaded his case by telling Eve that she would not surely die if she enjoyed a deadly fruit that promised a deeper personal experience. The fruit was pleasing to the eye, and Adam agreed. We can see the striking similarities between the first sin and today’s rampant sexual sin. What is different is that they recognized their sin—and covered up their nakedness. Today? While Christians aren’t joining nudist colonies, they are embracing and celebrating nudity by enjoying that forbidden fruit in their minds. Today’s Christians have naked people performing sexual acts in their thoughts that are strictly and clearly forbidden by Scripture.

Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes… Proverbs 6:25

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant…” Exodus 20:17

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. Matthew 5:27-30

I know there are many out there who will disagree with my position regarding eternity, but I firmly believe that continuing in the sin of lust (or any other sin) can result in eternal separation from God. The above passage of scripture in Matthew 5 speaks to this very directly. The reason I want to make this point is so you don’t casually dismiss this warning. Your eternity is at stake if you are entertaining lust. This is a battle we must fight with passion!

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27

The results of lust are tragic. In addition to the possibilities of destroyed marriages, illegal sexual activity and other natural repercussions, I submit the most terrible result is what Adam and Eve both experienced:

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:8-10

Separation from God. As I stated above, we risk being separated from God forever. We also risk being separated from God now. Those who are in bondage to porn and lust would easily admit they feel that separation. Just as Adam and Eve hid because of their nakedness, Christians today are missing out on their walks with God in the cool, refreshing garden.

INTIMACY LOST

Adam and Eve lost their intimacy with God. I propose they started to lose it before their banishment from the garden. There was a void there, and they sought to fill it with something unholy.

By the grace of God I’ve been blessed to be free from the traps and destruction of pornography, and I am humbled to say that God has enabled me to live lust free.

Several years ago I was deep in the Rocky Mountains on a prayer and fasting retreat. It was just God and me in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. I was connecting with God about a variety of things that night and a simple thought entered my mind.

Even though I was living a sexually pure life, I had a question for God. I’ll be transparent with you and share it.

If God’s design for sex is the perfect model, which it is, then it should bring the highest level of satisfaction. There should be absolutely no other competing desire that’s compelling enough to give in to. If this is the case, why would this happily married man who has the most amazing wife on the planet have an occasional temptation enter his mind? Why would the thought of thinking about someone other than my wife in a sexual way be the least bit tempting? Please understand, I wasn’t acting out on that temptation, but the question remained. Why is the temptation even there?

I understand today that most married people fantasize about people other than their spouses. That reality caused further curiosity. Again, if God’s design for sex is the best, why is there temptation for an alternative?

God spoke simply and clearly. “The one you are intimate with is the one you will desire.”

Intimacy. It’s all about intimacy.

That made so much sense to me! It’s true! When I am emotionally connected with my wife in an intimate way, any other competing thought would be an unwelcome invasion. It’s easy to reject such thoughts when I’m connected in a deep way relationally with her. However, in those seasons where we may be a little more distant due to busyness, stress or arguments (yeah, get over it…we argue it out sometimes!) then intimacy is negatively impacted. It’s easier to desire other things and to find temptation pressing in.

Of course, the same is true with God. If we are madly in love with him and are cultivating intimacy, the unrighteous invasions into our lives will be soundly rejected. We will guard our love connection with God jealously. This is where holiness dominates in a sin wrecked world. Can you imagine trembling before the Lord as his glory overwhelms you and then, five minutes later, watching a movie with nudity and foul language? That makes no sense.

I propose we refuse to be entertained by anything in media or in our thoughts that required the brutal torture and murder of the one we love. That unholy sexual fantasy required the death of Jesus. The cussing and sexual content in movies demanded the nine inch nails that were driven through his flesh. The simple lustful image that tries to dance around in our heads isn’t simple at all. It took a slaughtered Lamb to deal with that.

That slaughtered Lamb is the lover of your soul. His passion is for you!

You can find powerful and satisfying freedom from lust as you draw near to the Lord.

…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:21-22

THE COMMAND TO LOVE

Let’s talk about the call to love.  This is the call that God has for us to be intimate with him. Have you ever considered this mandate?  It’s very, very intriguing.  I can understand calling someone to serve, to give money, to feed the poor or to avoid sin.  That makes sense very easily.  However, a mandate to love?

Certainly the act of love in many ways is fully intentional and can often be void of feeling.  We act in love toward others.  This is also quite easy to understand.  But this idea goes well beyond a call to act out in right ways.  It’s a call to intimacy,  a mandate to be deeply intimate with our Lover.   

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 (NKJV)

In the original Hebrew, the word love is ahab. 

It means: to have affection for, sexually or otherwise.

Additionally it means to like as a friend.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I can be forced to like anybody, much less have deep affection for them.  But this is what Scripture is telling us.  Could it mean that the call isn’t for instant intimacy, but rather a determined and unwavering process of pursuit and faith toward the promise of experiencing an enjoyable God? 

As we, in faith, more easily believe that being with God in a continual and significant way will result in continual and significant enjoyment, we will allow the old things to pass away.  We will not stop until we discover the joy that only God can provide.

So, if we are to understand that God is mandating us to fall deeply in love with Him, there is a disciplined process that must commence.  The goal is deep and passionate intimacy with our Lover, the invisible God. 

It makes sense that when we discover this ultimate of pleasures, that we will not be as inclined to pursue the human desires that demanded so much of us in years past.  It’s been said more times and in more ways than we know, “Our sin causes separation from God.  We, in effect, trade intimacy with God for intimacy with the world.”

Certainly there is truth to that statement.  However, if we view the issue from the other side, we could say, “Intentional pursuit of intimacy with God carries with it the reward of perpetual discovery.  Deliberate surrender of human desire coupled with a craving for the manifest presence of God Himself in our lives will lead, sooner or later, to fulfillment that cannot be measured or effectively explained.  It’s that extreme.  It’s that good.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you … Matthew 5:43-44 (NKJV)

In the above passage, the Hebrew interpretation of the word “love” is different than ahab.  It is agapaō, which emphasizes the attitude of love.  It’s the moral and socially appropriate act of service and attention to others, including both mankind and God Himself.

Throughout Scripture we do see various translations of that single word “love”, and God is the central figure regardless of the interpretation.  However, it’s that unique call to ahab love that has captured my attention.  It’s a mandate to intimacy.

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, If you find my beloved, That you tell him I am lovesick! Song of Songs 5:8 (NKJV)

Lovesick!  What a word that is.  As you might guess, the Hebrew translation is ahab.  In the Song of Songs we see this amazing story of love unfold beautifully.  In the following verses the word “love” is translated ahab each time.  As we gain insight into the intimate longing of our God for us, our hearts melt and our understanding changes.

“I will rise now,” I said, “And go about the city; In the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love.” I sought him, but I did not find him. The watchmen who go about the city found me; I said, “Have you seen the one I love?” Song of Songs 3:2-3 (NKJV)

[The Shulamite to the Daughters of Jerusalem] He brought me to the banqueting house, And his banner over me was love. Sustain me with cakes of raisins, Refresh me with apples, For I am lovesick. His left hand is under my head, And his right hand embraces me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the does of the field, Do not stir up nor awaken love Until it pleases. Song of Songs 2:4-7 (NKJV)

He made its pillars of silver, Its support of gold, Its seat of purple, Its interior paved with love By the daughters of Jerusalem. Song of Songs 3:10 (NKJV)

How fair and how pleasant you are, O love, with your delights! Song of Songs 7:6 (NKJV)

[The Shulamite to Her Beloved] Set me as a seal upon your heart, As a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised. Song of Songs 8:6-7 (NKJV)

Read the last passage, Song of Songs 8:6-7, over and over.  Its communication of passionate desire is intense.  As we establish a vow with our Lover, the intentional and disciplined pursuit of intimacy with Him is alluring and strong.  It is a vehement flame that even water, the fierce enemy of fire, cannot drown.  It’s this that we are pursuing, the fire of passion that will overcome the waters of human desire.

In the following Song of Songs passage, we discover a different translation of love.

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.

[The Shulamite] Rightly do they love you.

Song of Songs 1:4 (NKJV)

The Hebrew word used for “love” in the part of the passage that says, “We will remember your love more than wine” is dôd.  The literal meaning is to boil.  The idea is that God’s love is actively boiling.  It’s hot and constant and intentionally set on us.

The enemy of human desire is a very strong one.  A simple resolution to avoid sin and do good is far too weak to be seriously considered for inclusion in our arsenal.  The burning fire of passion for God, ahab love, is our most effective weapon.  The reward of the perpetual discovery of new depths of God’s zeal for us is enough to keep us burning with a vehement flame that the waters of carnal human desire cannot put out.

Yes, my friend, you can be completely free from lust, and you can live a powerful, joyful life full desire for Jesus.

If you are struggling with lust, don’t despair. Don’t quit contending for intimacy with God. You can absolutely find freedom! God loves you with a passion that’s deep…and he is longsuffering. He will be with you in your journey to freedom.

I pray for radical freedom to overwhelm you as you discover wave after wave of the other worldly, immeasurable love of Jesus! You were born for this!

Let’s make a decree over this nation together. We release a spirit of awakening, revival and holiness. As we go hard after God we will entertain NO NAKED PEOPLE. Not in media or in our minds. Amen!

Video: Breaking free from a spirit of entitlement

Watch today’s powerful video! God has called us to consider others more significant than ourselves. It’s time to be free from pride driven entitlement.

It’s time for the spirit of entitlement to be eradicated from the church and the nation.

We must go low, serve others and quit making demands that promote our special interests.

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Everywhere we look people are demanding what is presumably rightfully theirs. This spirit of entitlement drives major, evil movements today such as abortion, homosexuality, feminism. It’s also fueling crusades and campaigns that are generally good, but tainted because of this foul spirit.

What if we stopped focusing on our own rights and started loving people even if it costs us comfort, money and vindication?

In a self-centered, narcissistic world one can only presume entitlement would be in the mix as well. This attitude is doing great harm to our testimony as Christians in addition to creating a proud, lazy people who expect to be served instead of to serve.

    23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (ESV)

We can presume we are entitled to something because it seems right. If other people stand in the way of what is rightfully ours, we might presume we have the right to obtain it—even at the cost of others. It might be lawful for us, but is it helpful? Does our pursuit of that build others up?

WATCH TODAY’S POWERFUL VIDEO FREE FOR THE NEXT 30 DAYS HERE!

An attitude of entitlement is taking over our nation—and the church.

It’s time to repent for a spirit of entitlement that is destroying our testimony.

entitlement
noun en·ti·tle·ment:

the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something
the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges)

In a self-centered, narcissistic world one can only presume entitlement would be in the mix as well. This attitude is doing great harm to our testimony as Christians in addition to creating a proud, lazy people who expect to be served instead of to serve.

3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:3-8 (ESV)

Attitudes of entitlement have overwhelmed so many and it is actually a clear manifestation of the enemy. His character is defined by selfish ambition. Lucifer presumed it was his right, his portion, to be exalted.

12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ Isaiah 14:12-14 (ESV)

Lucifer desired to be lifted high while Christ went low, to the grave, in the greatest act of service history has ever known.  Our invitation is to serve and give ourselves for others just as Christ did.

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

A SIMPLE EVIL DESIRE

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (ESV)

We can presume we are entitled to something because it seems right. If other people stand in the way of what is rightfully ours, we might presume we have the right to obtain it—even at the cost of others. It might be lawful for us, but is it helpful? Does our pursuit of that build others up?

Understand, I’m not saying we roll over and become doormats. This is a heart issue.

When in Orlando recently my wife and I had the worst experience with a hotel we’ve ever had in our 20 years of marriage. In fact, this was a celebration of our 20 year anniversary and the room met us with scurrying roaches and hairs in the bed. We had prepaid for four nights, yet we absolutely were not going to stay there. The short version of our long drama was that the hotel only agreed to refund three of the four nights because we had checked in the first night. That was astonishing to us! We didn’t spend more than a couple of minutes in that roach infested hotel room!

So, we absolutely believe it’s lawful for us to receive our first night’s money back since we had to find another hotel to stay in that night. We made some phone calls and dealt with several people, but we continually had a heart check. We refused to cross the line that would have compromised our testimony. It’s better to lose some money than to put people’s eternity’s at risk.

We didn’t want to function in a spirit of entitlement. We wanted to do our due diligence, to honor those we were dealing with and to represent Christ as powerfully as we could. In a way we were being “cursed” and we wanted to bless those who were giving us trouble. Again, it’s a heart issue. It is possible to deal with significant violations of what is right if we learn how to handle the small problems with the right attitude. There’s no room for entitlement whether it’s a minor grievance or a major assault against us.

Entitlement is most usually a simple, subtle desire or expectation that we don’t give much thought to. This is why it’s so important to allow God to search our hearts and to reveal selfish motives, attitudes and issues that bring forth death instead of life.

Entitlement puts us on the throne as others are scrutinized and ridiculed if they don’t measure up. This is an Anti-Christ spirit and we have to allow the Holy Spirit reveal that deadly heart issue to us. We must endeavor to consider others more important than ourselves. We must go low.

AN EMERGENCY IN HAITI

On a recent ministry trip to Haiti, mere minutes after I preached my final sermon of the ten day trip, I suddenly came down with an extremely high fever and an unbearable pain in my lower right abdomen. I didn’t realize it at the time but I later discovered that I was hours away from my appendix bursting—far away from the familiarity of home and the medical care that I was most comfortable with.

A few hours later I was on a flight from Port Au Prince to Atlanta—possibly the worst three hours of my life. By the grace of God, for the first time in many years I was able to sit in first class. This minor perk was so appreciated. I must have been a sight to behold as I turned down the free meals and constant attention of the flight attendant. I was curled up almost in the fetal position with blankets covering me as I futilely attempted to get warm. My temperature must have been over 104 degrees.

The pain in my right side was off the charts. I had to unbuckle my belt under the blanket just for the slightest relief from the pain. I was convinced I would need to have the attendant radio ahead to Atlanta to have medics ready for my arrival.

As I shook from chills attempting to find the slightest relief someone tapped me on the shoulder. The person behind me demanded that I put my seat back up so they could be more comfortable.

This was also a first class passenger who had probably paid a lot more for the flight than I did (I found a ridiculous deal that was cheaper than coach). He was entitled to all the comfort he could muster, right?

Now, the reason I’m sharing this story is not to make you feel sorry for me or to get upset with the man who sat behind me. You see, a spirit of entitlement would want you to do just that!

The reason I’m sharing this is to reveal how simple it was for me to reject a spirit of entitlement and to serve the man in the first class seat behind me. Did I deserve to have the seat lean back a few inches?  After all, I was in the midst of a medical emergency.  That didn’t matter. If Jesus can be slaughtered by and for evil people, surely I could put my seat up. It really was quite easy! I simply had to choose to love a stranger more than myself.

8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:8-9 (ESV)

WAITERS AND WAITRESSES

My wife and I have a standing rule in our family. When we go to a restaurant we always tip at least 20%—no matter how great or terrible the service is.

An attitude of entitlement rises up possibly most often in our nation when seated for lunch or dinner in a restaurant. The expectation is that we are to be served, and if we are then we will give the server a small gift.

What would happen if we turned those dinner tables by determining to serve the server instead of demanding they jump through our hoops.

30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:30-36 (ESV)

I’ll say it bluntly: servers aren’t dogs we give treats to when they obey our commands.

Additionally, we aren’t there to train them or to punish them when they fail. What better place to break an attitude of entitlement than a restaurant? What better place to serve with passion?

Just as it was extremely easy to push the button to raise my airplane seatback up, it’s just as easy to write in a few extra dollars on the tip line on your receipt. In fact, maybe we should give more when service is poor. That sure would seem to follow biblical principles much more than punishing those who fail us does. 

If we are to bless those who curse us, surely we can bless those who fail to refill our drink as quickly as we’d like.

1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans 15:1-2 (ESV)

I was sitting in a popular national chain restaurant on a ministry trip recently. An older husband and wife were being seated by the hostess at a table near ours. Admittedly the hostess was a little quirky and possibly a bit insecure, but she was, without exaggeration, one of the most friendly people I’ve come across! She was pleasant, extremely attentive to everybody she came in contact with and did an amazing job. The couple she seated didn’t like that the sun was shining in their eyes so they asked if they could move. The hostess very nicely told them she could pull down the shade for them, which she did. After she left their table the couple grumbled. They were exhibiting entitlement. After all, they were the paying customer and they should be able to be accommodated per their wishes, right?

Or, maybe they could have endured the discomfort with cheerful hearts.

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 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, Philippians 2:14-15 (ESV)

I read a story the other day of a patron in a restaurant that wrote in LOL on the tip line of their check with the comment “1 hour for food” alongside it. The server lost out on over $20 because the kitchen didn’t turn out food quickly enough for the entitled customer. The customer took it upon himself to teach the server a lesson instead of blessing her extravagantly. This has to stop.

REVIVAL

Interestingly, one of the major manifestations of a spirit of entitlement comes when contending for revival in a region (or any manifestation of God’s plans and promises in any setting).

Something happens when the prophesies of a massive outpouring in a region start flooding in. Instead of resulting in a contending spirit in the church it most often results in a lazy, entitled church that presumes they are due a move of God. They wait and wait with eyebrows raised irritated that there’s a delay of the arrival of what’s rightfully theirs.

We need to remember that any prophecy not found in Scripture is conditional. It’s contingent on the response of the people. If revival is prophesied over a region then a primary enemy to revival is a people who are expecting revival to come—without being the laborer that revival demands.

I believe this is the result of a casual, American theology that emphasizes easy salvation and an easy life for those who name the name of Christ. If we jump through the hoops of tithing, praying, reading our bibles and asking Jesus into our hearts (which really isn’t biblical, but that can be addressed at a different time), then by all means we presume to be owed a mansion in Heaven!

It’s no wonder there are over 19,000 cities in our nation and none of them are engulfed in revival. Not one. Is there a presumption that we are entitled to revival and that it will come regardless of our participation?

In one particular region there was an extremely strong spirit of entitlement that had infiltrated the culture. Revival was extremely close to breaking out, yet you could pick up on that spirit as people were slow to respond, casual and lazy. The laborers didn’t show up in sufficient strength.

I’ll never forget a stern prophetic word that was given in that season: If this region doesn’t respond to the opportunity for revival than God will move on.

He named the next city that would be given an opportunity.

Well, the hope of revival did leave that region (not that it can’t return at some time, it absolutely can). Very interestingly last night I was in a meeting led by Mario Murillo here in Branson, Missouri. He named a few regions that are currently on God’s radar for revival. The city that the first prophetic messenger named a few years ago was on that short list. Mario mentioned that God will move if there isn’t a right response. That brought be back a few years, and the truth remains—we must say yes to the call of God and advance as if the prophesy may not come to pass—because it absolutely won’t if we hold back.

The question is, will that city (Chicago) mentioned by both prophetic voices respond in this critical season or will entitlement cause the church in the region to expect the outpouring with no investment?

FALSE FAITH

Entitlement in spiritual contexts can feel a lot like faith. It’s not. It’s presumption.

Faith without works is dead. Maybe another way to say that could be, faith without works is presumption, or faith without works reveals a spirit of entitlement.

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? James 2:14-20 (ESV)

True faith results in action. Entitlement results in inaction.

True faith results in joyful expectation. Entitlement results in grumbling and disappointment.

True faith results in blessing those who curse us. Entitlement results in resisting and rejecting those who don’t meet our expectations.

We need a people to rise up who are dead to self, full of life, driven by faith, relentless in their pursuits and ready to serve others with passion, not expecting to be honored, served or counted.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

It’s time for the spirit of entitlement to be eradicated from the church and the nation.

We must go low, serve others and quit making demands that promote our special interests.

Everywhere we look people are demanding what is presumably rightfully theirs. This spirit of entitlement drives major, evil movements today such as abortion, homosexuality, feminism. It’s also fueling crusades and campaigns that are generally good, but tainted because of this foul spirit.

What if we stopped focusing on our own rights and started loving people even if it costs us comfort, money and vindication?

Planned Parenthood, homosexuality & the rising evil: It’s time to start talking about Hell again

When did we stop talking about Hell?

Dell-000050243Hell. Most people go there but few preachers talk about it.

Isaiah 5:13-14 (ESV) 13 Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst. 14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude will go down, her revelers and he who exults in her.

If ultimate, eternal judgment would visit God’s very people, Judah and Jerusalem, due to their drinking and partying ways, what is to become of those who openly rebel and reject God and his mandates?

The church has done itself a grave injustice by refusing to connect sinful living with the clear expected outcome of eternal torment. Our arguments against the homosexual movement and the horrifying evil on display at Planned Parenthood clinics in our nation have been reduced to a debate about morals and human rights. It’s no wonder we are accused of hatred when we are standing in the way of behavior that so many argue has no real impact on society. We have been forced into a position of analyzing metrics that reveal debatable negative trends in our culture that are a result of the behavior that we abhor.

For pro-lifers it’s extremely easy to be sickened by abortion—and certainly by what’s been uncovered in the recent undercover videos that have exposed the evil practices at Planned Parenthood. However, the pro-abortion crowd is convinced that legal abortion is healthy and appropriate. Is our best, most effective tactic trying to convince them that the baby is a person or is there another approach that would be more impactful?

Homosexuality has an even stronger position that their behavior is personal and private and what happens behind their closed doors has no impact on you or me. Of course, I disagree that their behavior has no impact on my life or on our nation. Their agenda has been possibly the most aggressive in recent history by forcing their beliefs on us through parades, sitcoms, legislation and other advances. However,the church’s response can easily be seen as selfish and hateful as it demands everybody adhere to a code that doesn’t even apply to those not in Christ.

I do feel there is a place to meet the mission of Planned Parenthood, the homosexual movement, immorality in Hollywood, corruption in government and the innumerable other strategies that the spirit of the age has been pushing on our nation at various more natural levels. We can and should support the defunding of Planned Parenthood. We absolutely must reject impurity that comes through movies and other media. We should be wise and understand that our liberties as Christians are at risk when we can’t even refuse to bake a cake for an event we don’t support. It’s important that we vote for political candidates that will help restore our nation to its Christian roots by confronting the advances of various special interest groups.

Additionally, as many Christians propose, we should function in great love when dealing with others who don’t support our biblical world view.

However, as I said, stopping there compromises our efforts.

We will always look like haters if we demand people adhere to our code of values.

We will always look passive and with little concern if we simply grin and tell people that Jesus loves them.

The reason we so passionately sound alarms and alert homosexuals, abortionists, pornographers, liars, thieves, murderers and others who are living outside of God’s brilliant plan for their lives is simple—we are broken over the fact that they will be tormented non-stop, forever with no relief in Hell.

We need to let them know that Heaven won’t be the same without them! Hell must not win on the day of their physical death!

Matthew 3:12 (ESV) 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

I had an encounter of being dragged toward Hell by an invisible demonic entity over twenty years ago. I almost went mad in that indescribable, horrifying experience. I can’t even think of that moment for more than a few seconds before I have to shut the thought down. It’s that terrible.

After I came out of that life-changing, uninvited revelation God spoke clearly to me: “John, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”

Just like those addressed in the passage I shared above from Isaiah, today many professing Christians will soon be in Hell with no chance of ever leaving. Some of those are people who are convinced they are Believers but who are following Jesus in an unsaved condition. Others are truly saved and will one day choose to fall away. That falling away will be great—and terrible.

If this is true for Christians, what than is to be expected for those who openly defy God?

We must see a return to Holy Spirit anointed preaching on Hell. We must warn people, with tears in our eyes, that they are headed there!

Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV) 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

GOD DOESN’T NEED A PUBLICIST.

I’m dismayed by the radical shift away from full counsel preaching of the Word of God.

I don’t know how often I’ve heard people say that preaching on Hell results in fear—and there is no fear in love—and so we must avoid it at all costs.

This demonically twisted wisdom has resulted in a massive resistance to large segments of the Bible in the hopes that highlighting the benefits would be enough to woo people to Christ.

Luke 12:5 (ESV) 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

Today we have evangelism that communicates how much God loves people without communicating how great their sin is, and what the result will be if they do not repent. This results in a new breed of deceived religious people who believe they are safe but are most likely not. Repentance is non-negotiable.

God does not need you or me as publicists, carefully reframing his words so they are received by the greatest number of people. We are preachers not politicians!

When people see how convicted we are that they are on a path to a place as horrific as Hell, they will at least see our love for them. They all won’t agree with us but they will say, “Wow, they may be nuts but I really think they are convinced that harm is coming to us. They don’t hate us after all.”

When we use more natural tactics alone to confront the various evil agendas in the land we communicate that we are more interested in the preservation of the society that we prefer—one fits into our definition of appropriate.

However, if we have the courage to take the battle to a higher level we can boldly preach the reality of eternal damnation as a passionate yet heart broken church. Our identity will be transformed from one that watches out for our own interests to true watchman—those who are invested in the eternities of others.

Ezekiel 3:17-18 (ESV) 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.

Our cry must be, “No! Please! Understand that your lifestyle will result in a horror that you can’t even imagine. You will never have even a moment of relief. Please, repent, turn, let God’s love overwhelm you!”

BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION?

Some might suggest that I’m suggesting that behavior modification is the key to salvation. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The keys to death, hell and the grave were retrieved by Jesus Christ, the only one who could do what was necessary to save mankind from destruction.

Revelation 1:17-18 (ESV) 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

However, it does remain true that unrepentant participation in sin absolutely does disqualify us from a relationship with Jesus. The fact that homosexuals unapologetically confess to participating in behavior that is forbidden by God is a clear indicator that they are not saved. The fact that those who are pro-abortion are set in their ways and determined to keep murder legal in America is evidence that they are clearly not in a legitimate relationship with Jesus.

It is fully appropriate to preach without apology that continuing in those (and other) sins without repentance and without making Jesus the Lord and Master of their lives will end terribly for them.

People need to hear the prophets shouting the alarms of eternal destruction that comes to those in rebellion to God!

Luke 16:24-29 (ESV) 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’

WHAT ABOUT SIN IN THE CAMP?

The next argument is that a focus on sin in the world while avoiding dealing with sin in the church is the perfect definition of hypocrisy. I agree.

As I shared above, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day. It’s a reality that haunts me every day.

Those who live in sexual sin outside of the camp will be judged as will those who live in sexual sin in the camp will. Unforgiveness, hatred, lust, gossip and many other sins will have the exact same result as those in the world who we would call wild and deviant.

Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

However, the truth that we must deal with sin in the camp doesn’t erase our responsibility to preach the full counsel of Scripture to all. It highlights it.

Hell is awaiting millions of people, both in and out of the church, and we must make that known! So few actually even know or believe that Hell is their future. They presume all is well. My God! So few are letting them know that they are but a breath away from horror!

Matthew 13:24-30 (ESV) 24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

It’s time for us to preach truth and to see the planet shaken by the fire power of God’s Word again.

It’s true love that will give people an opportunity to decide where they will spend their eternity.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 (ESV) 7 …the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might…

Isaiah clearly revealed truth and people had a choice. They scoffed at the idea that they would go to Hell, but at least blood would not be found on Isaiah’s hands.

Isaiah 28:14-15 (ESV) 14 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem! 15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;

PEOPLE MUST HEAR THE TRUTH ABOUT HELL TODAY.

Matthew 13:47-50 (ESV) 47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

2 Peter 2:4-14 (ESV) 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!

Contrary to popular belief, a revelation of Hell absolutely does result in people running into the arms of a loving God.

When did today’s popular teachers presume it was appropriate to deemphasize clear, pure truth in favor of what is more pleasing? It’s truly an abomination!

Revelation 20:15 (ESV) 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Human wisdom would say we should focus on the benefits. Listen, we aren’t selling a time share. We aren’t trying to convince someone on the fence of buying a new car of how much their life will be better by driving it.

The truth is that outside of Christ we are evil people who should burn forever in Hell—and who will without an admission of our deviance and rebellion. Our decision shouldn’t be based on benefit. How selfish that is! It should be based on the reality of the punishment that is awaiting us and the revelation of God’s intense rescue mission to save us from torment.

God’s love is made more evident when contrasted with the truth of Hell.

The bottom line is simple: We cannot erase the Word of God. It must be preached in fullness. The result will be many current homosexuals, liars, adulterers, murderers and others falling desperately in love with Jesus.

Revelation 22:18-19 (ESV) 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Revelation 21:5-8 (ESV) 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

That’s the contrast we must have in today’s preaching. Reveal the spring of the water of life and the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. It’s how Jesus preached after all.