BRAVE CHURCHES

The way some experts talk you’d think turning a church around is a long hard road. But here is a solution much faster than we realize.  First, we must fix a grave mistake. Closing the altars, ordering people to tone it down, and focusing on recovery programs brought a crowd.  However, what if that crowd leaves with no power to face our toxic culture? Let people experience the power and glory of God at the altar. Train people to wait in prayer with them. Sound simplistic?

Right now we are awash in advisory sermons. The titles are similar and predictable: “How to handle fear, uncertainty, finances, relationships, marriage, and children.”   We are drowning in whiteboards, blackboards, statistics, PowerPoint presentations, props, and illustrations.

The problem is, the anger, division, loud perversion and persecution, people face outside the church make these teachers and their instructive messages are woefully inadequate.  What happened?  The answer is…life.   Life happened and it is gripping believers in deep need for something more than words.  You would be shocked to know how many would trade all the witty messages for a pure dose of the presence, power, and glory of God.

Happy face sermons do not give power over a time like this.   What is happening now runs off the over-optimistic maps drawn in pulpits. Tragedies can uproot  these neat formulas like a palm tree in a hurricane.   Hip theories will collapse like a brick house in an earthquake.

Every honest Pastor can report causalities in their church.  Many who were once vibrant soldiers, today languish in a shadow existence.  They are out of church, disconnected from their former passion and sick in body and soul.  The ongoing political debate and demonstrations have only added to the crisis. The conflicting opinions of church leaders leave the army of God baffled and vulnerable.

Why are we surprised that modern believers suddenly need more?  The power that could answer a thousand questions and extinguish a myriad of personality ills has been ushered out of church.

Paul’s cure was simple: an undeniable encounter with the fire of God…”that your faith should not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. -1 Corinthians 2: 5.

The answer to fear today is to burn it out!  Just for shock value, I’ll use this phrase…perfect love casts out fear but so does perfect fear.  No doubt many will think it is crazy to take a wonderful verse like 1 John 4:18 “perfect love casts out fear” and mess it up.  But I am not messing it up I am fulfilling it!

PERFECT FEAR DOES CAST OUT FEAR!  We have downplayed and even banned something that Christians desperately need.

Go back with me to 758 B.C.  Isaiah the prophet enters the Temple in fear for his life.  The tide of public opinion has turned against him.  The death of his friend and protector King Uzziah has put the finishing touch on 5 years of ministry that was just treading water.  His despair is now complete. He is enters the Temple looking for comfort from God.

He kneels in prayer, resting his elbows on the altar seeking solace from the storm. Instead, the building starts quaking, knocking his elbows so that he is now punching himself in the face.

He looks up and sees Seraphim:  Angels of fire, fire that burns hotter and brighter than any sun. They tower over him from each end of the altar.

Their voices roar, vibrate, boom and dislodge the mighty beams of the Temple!  “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, IS THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY.  THE WHOLE EARTH IS FILLED WITH HIS GLORY!”  Back and forth, again and again, they blast this mighty proclamation until Isaiah could not bear the fright!

The mighty God Himself stands before Isaiah unfurling the indescribable train of His Glory!  The prophet convulses beneath weight of glory.  From his bone marrow came an all-consuming cry… “WOE IS ME!”

The startling effect of the Glory of God—a wonder working fear—overrules human fear.   No threat matters now.   This demonstration of Glory conquered his suffering.   Isn’t this exactly what Paul meant?: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” -Romans 8:18.   Of course Paul is speaking of the final GLORY…but it is a part of our birthright to have earthly collisions of glory: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.”-1 Corinthians 12: 7   An overarching, fear destroying encounter is the legacy of every child of God.  “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all

The twelve disciples were gripped by fear of the storm.  But when Jesus rebuked the storm their fear of drowning was replaced with an awestruck wonder.  They exclaimed: “what manner of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him!?”

We are told that General Patton won battles because his men were more afraid of him than the Germans.   Again, ours is not a negative fear but the  holy awe born from the manifestation of God’s glory.

This truth reinforces the fact that “Perfect love casts out Fear”  because love disciplines, love gives us what we need… and what we need today is a not subtle pat on the head.   We need a fear-killing encounter!  Solomon said in Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

Why are we blocking people from experiencing the fire of God?  Why would we keep this miracle from people?   I am talking about fire—fire that keeps them from the evil one—fire that forges a reverence, and turns them into your best soldiers.

We should have made room and time for people to be filled to prevailing levels of the Holy Spirit and fire.  If we had, we would not be nursing hordes of Christians on life support. We would have an unstoppable army!

There is still time to reverse course.  If you have never been drenched by God then obey Him and seek to be overcome by His Glory.  If you have received in the past now is the time for FRESH FIRE!

Just one believer who walks out of your church endued with power from on high will be a contagious force to grow your church in both quantity and quality.

Why is America miserable?

It’s easy to see what is making America miserable: The Left has a firm grip on a lie while the church has a loose grip on the truth.

The left told America to turn her back on God. How’s that working? Every metric of quality of life in our nation shows the same trend: acute loneliness, emptiness and despair.

Liberals told America there are many ways to truth.  But, instead of enlightenment, it brought deeper darkness, deeper questions, and a growing inability to know truth.

Few Americans can make it through a day without alcohol, a toke, a pill, powder or a needle. Our children are taking their own lives over shoes, pictures on Instagram, and bullies at school.

Is this what happens when you tell God to leave? Did God leave the Democrat party after they booed Him at their convention?

The Left doesn’t want to own up to the misery of the inner cities they have controlled for 50 years. The left chants, “keep taking government money it will give you a future. Keep believing you are a victim, and you’ll stop being a victim.”

The left must keep a tight grip on a the lie of calling America racist.  Even if Obama’s election proved it is a lie.

The Left says they must silence opposing views. Weaponize heckling. Make it a veto on free speech. They’ve created young minds full of self-pity and fear.

The left says America is evil for not opening their borders. Wait what?! America is the most welcoming nation on earth. The overwhelming majority of the people on earth believe in strong borders. Most nations have much stricter border policies. But the lie must live on because democrats need new voters.

We are a nation at each other’s throats.  The left loves it that way.  Mobs not jobs is a totally justified accusation against the left.

They have a firm grip on a lie, but the church has a loose grip on the truth.

Did God also leave those entertainment worship centers that filtered out the Holy Spirit in favor of marketing?  The Left has no answer but shouts as if they did. The church has the answer and is silent as if they didn’t.  Leftist’s go on talk shows and spout madness with conviction. Christian celebrities go on the same show and can’t (or won’t) define sin.

Superstar Christian speakers said there are many ways to win a generation to God. We no longer need repentance, Bible preaching, or reliance on the Holy Spirit.  No matter what they boast the fact remains, they didn’t win lost souls so much as they moved gullible Christians away from Godly pastors into the shallows. Instead of making disciples they provide quarter for those who want a faith without works.

The Holy Spirit is not welcome in this place. They fear holiness the way snowflakes fear Ben Shapiro. They dread the power gifts of the Holy Spirit. They omit the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The nation pays the price for their lukewarm faith.

America became miserable in part because some preachers told us not to judge. We ended up not being able to discern! Millions of so-called Christians vote for abortion and same sex marriage. We were powerless in America’s hour of need—too disoriented and morally ambivalent to push back on immoral laws. The Great Commission was plowed under the priority of church growth.

Both the left and lukewarm have this in common: they gave America false promises.

Stuck in the middle between the radical left and the lukewarm church are tens of millions of Americans who just want truth. They are paying taxes, raising kids, obeying laws, and they still love America. They are vulnerable to the raw power of the Gospel.

Also stuck between the radical left and the lukewarm church is the remnant of God. These are pastors, and regular Christians who are praying to go deeper. They are busy saying to each other, “the sideshow is not God, there’s more! No way can Satan win if we take our stand on the authority of the Cross!”  They are ready to deliver that raw power of the Gospel.

Woe onto you God haters and lukewarmers. Two radically wonderful groups are about to meet each other in the midst of this misery. God will see to it that the Americans who want deliverance and a life worth living will collide with the holy core of God who only want to obey the Holy Spirit.

A company of God’s people with a firm grip on the truth will loose many from the power of Satan.

Daniel 11:32  “Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”

 

Whatever happened?

Whatever happened to the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?  You don’t hear about it anymore.  Churches don’t pray with people to receive it anymore.  There’s a big reason why.
Preacher, if you stopped presenting the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to your people—Satan made you do it.  If there is no room in your service for people to receive this urgent gift—the enemy seized control of your agenda.  If your people don’t even know what it is—you will answer to God.
No matter how noble, persuasive, or convincing the argument, the decision to exclude the Baptism of the Holy Spirit from the life of the church, is a decision conceived in hell.

Omitting this Baptism was a masterstroke of Lucifer.

He knew this was the most destructive deception possible.  It created lukewarm Christians.  It single handedly wiped out a huge amount of our soul winning.  And, it opened the door to untold heresy.

Today we are swimming in more false teaching, false prophecy and false Christianity than ever before.  All across the internet ministries dabble in new age hybrids of Christian faith, exotic extremes, drunkenness and even perversion.   Turns out, the church is the other swamp that needs draining.

Noted Christian Apologist Ravi Zacharias said, “I had dinner with the most popular preacher on television.  He told me that he did not see much difference between Islam and Christianity.”

How can we hang the blame for such foolishness on neglecting the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?   Let’s examine the evidence.
Jesus said, “John 16:13  “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”
Jesus calls Him the Spirit of truth.  He imparts hunger for truth.  It is futile to layer truth on the unwilling soul.  False teaching abounds from the lack of hunger the Holy Spirit awakens.  Let’s go back to the root:

Don’t make a move without it!

Acts 1: 4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
The church has no witness without it.  Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The Apostles considered it an extreme urgency for all who believed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

Acts 8: 14 “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.”
-Acts 19: 1 “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”  4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”

We have two extremes in the church:  Those who believe in nothing and those who believe in everything.

  Or to put it another way: We have those know nothing of what the Bible says and those who believe anything, anyone says about the Bible. Both are products of a lack of discernment and power.  It is only after you experience the real presence and power of God that you know what is fake.

Look at the discipleship result of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost:

Acts 2: 41 “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.”

One big reason that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not preached today is because it is the natural enemy of church marketing.

When God falls, church culture instantly changes.  Human promotion becomes obsolete.   An audience morphs into an army.  An insatiable hunger for the Word of God replaces sales pitches.
The preacher who withholds the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is guilty of treason—of withholding a priceless gift bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus—of holding back an edge of power that would keep the believer strong, alert, and able to win others.  It endows them with a prayer language that pierces all adversity.  How dare we hold this back!
The Pentecostal revival is the greatest Christian revival in history.  Beginning in the humble Azusa Street Mission, it has blazed for on for over 100 years, with over 650 million converts.  Only one thing explains it:  The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.