I find myself beyond appalled and deeply concerned about a trend I have seen developing in the body of Christ for several years now. I believe this trend is propelling us toward a crisis in the charismatic Christian world that may well derail and destroy revival before it can take firm root.
It seems that in the quest to become more and more supernatural many have increasingly wandered away from the plumb line of solid Christian doctrine and responsible, accurate interpretation of the Scriptures. The resultant weirdness flowing from key leaders in various places is leading many followers into what can only be called heresy.
In spite of escalating turmoil in our world, there remains one last, great outpouring of mercy during the end times (see Matt. 24:14; Acts 2:17). This supernatural season of grace has been predetermined. It is an "appointed time" of the Lord.
For those unaware, an appointed time is, in truth, an open display of the sovereignty and power of God. In it we discover with absolute certainty that nothing is impossible for God. For this is a season when God fulfills His will on earth, fulfilling in the process His promises, and the hopes and dreams of His people.
The psalmist wrote, "But You, O Lord, abide forever, and Your name to all generations. You will arise and have compassion on Zion; for it is time to be gracious to her, for the appointed time has come" (Ps. 102:12-13).
It seemed like a regular day at the beach. When the blasts of billions of tons of water wrecked the coasts of more than a dozen Asian nations on Dec. 26, 2004, most of the people on the beaches were totally unaware of the looming danger. In its wake the massive tsunami claimed more than 200,000 lives in 14 countries and left millions homeless. It was one of the largest natural disasters in history.
Life can be like that. Suddenly, without warning, you're hit with a torrent of trouble. Like the psalmist, you cry, "All Your waves and billows have gone over me" (Ps. 42:7, NKJV). Some of life's "tsunamis" literally hit home. Sudden shock waves jar us, pulling us against our will into a sea of trouble. Suddenly we feel overwhelmed with horrible circumstances. The tranquility of life is disrupted and we wonder if things will ever be the same as they were.
Being an itinerant speaker affords me the unique opportunity of assessing the state of our nation, as well as that of the church. Both church and country are in dire need of revival—one spiritual, the other economical. Though in the eyes of some the two may seem poles apart, I believe they are inseparably linked. God alone holds the key to both.
Economists tell us that America is on the verge of losing its A+ rating with the seemingly endless demise of the once great American dollar. I believe in the eyes of God, America lost its high approval status years ago, and now stands on the threshold of judgment.
There is a moral rift in the foundation of our nation. But the Bible is very clear that judgment begins with the house of God: "For the time [has arrived] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will [be] the end of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the Gospel) of God?" (1 Pet. 4:17, AMP).
God's judgments are good. Judgment is different from wrath. Wrath is God's destruction against sin. Judgment is God's righteous discipline and brings redemption and restoration. God's wrath destroys. His judgments redeem.
As we look at our nation today, we can quickly see that our moral foundations are decaying. But this is just a sign that there is a much deeper problem—there is also a crack in the moral foundation of the church.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. –Genesis 1:1-2
I love this verse! One of the words that stands out to me is "hovering." I picture the Spirit of God bursting with passion to create, almost as if He is pulsating like a heartbeat and ready. Suddenly, something new bursts forth.
This scripture grips me because I see the Spirit of God doing the same thing today. He is hovering; He is bursting with excitement to create again, to birth the "new" on the earth.
His heart is to topple the mountain of media, as we know it today. He is stirring His bride and the prayer movement in the earth in happy holiness and joyful righteousness so we will be a people wholly given to the Lord and to His purposes.
The opposite of confidence and worth is self-pity. Self-pity occurs when we feel we are warranted to receive but get passed by. This can occur in our natural or spiritual life. Self-pity helps define our moment or, may I say, cause us to miss our moment. We feel we are deserving or entitled to a blessing, and we lose faith when we see a blessing slip past our life.
One of the best examples of self-pity is the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda (see John 5). Jesus knew his full condition and then asked the man if he wanted to be healed.
Obstacles and difficulties in life can be challenging! B.C. Forbes was a Scottish financial journalist and author. He once said: "History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They finally won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats. Disappointments acted as a challenge. Don't let difficulties discourage you."
Often our obstacles can be used to activate dormant giftings within us that we have failed to realize. These difficulties can also bring new strength to our lives. Don't you love the way the very situations we hate and avoid at all costs can be used to propel us into something wonderful?
I found this word in my file recently. I received it in July 2005. It was a very strange experience at the time because it came while I was in the midst of a panel discussion dealing with leaders. I was sitting behind a table on the platform at our church during a women's conference where about 500 women were present.
Suddenly, it felt like we were having an earthquake. I could feel a distinct rumbling under my chair, as if all the earth under me were shaking. I not only felt it, I heard it. Everything was shaking—everything.
As I was re-reading this word recently, I heard the Lord say that it is for now. I did not send it out when I first received it. I held on to it.
I believe this word will help guide you, help create understanding in you about the times and seasons we are in, and give you the key to the door of deliverance.
Here is the word:
There is a rumbling in the earth. God is rumbling you out of mindsets, positions, identity, locations, relationships, bondages, fears. I was sitting here, and I could hear it. I could hear this constant ongoing and seemingly unending rumbling of rocks under us, and it was shaking everything. It was as if we were standing on rocks, round rocks, and they were all moving and rumbling. And they just kept rumbling. We could hardly maintain our footing.
It's hard to remember a time when people were more angry. A civilized person ought to be, first of all, civil. Yet today there is no discourse, no respect for another's opinion, no reasoning together for the common good. I am concerned, especially for the church.
One may argue: "Our society is decaying. We should be mad." Yes, but we can be angry yet still not sin (Eph 4:26).
Our souls should be vexed at the darkening cloud of demonic infestation in our culture. Especially when children are caused to stumble, or the weak are exploited, or because the advance of evil ultimately means more people will die without Christ.
So, if we are angry, it does not necessarily mean we have sinned. It can simply mean we care.
My concern is, however, that unless this anger regenerates into something more redemptive—more Christlike—we will not see our world renewed. Indeed, anger that does not awaken in us redemptive action ultimately degrades into bitterness and unbelief.
Hell advances into our world on many levels, but I want to discuss only two primary areas.
The first is a brazen, widespread and alarming manifestation. For example, a corrupt law is passed or gang violence breaks out or a beloved public figure is scandalized. It makes the news, and people are talking about it. The shock waves caused by this demonic intrusion smash against our hearts—we're disappointed, offended, stunned and often outraged.
While we're in this state of mind, hell launches the second area of attack. No newscast features this next stage of warfare. On this front, the devil does not come flaunting himself openly. He comes quietly. In seething whispers he stirs the pot of our discontent until it boils. Ultimately, where once the heart of the Christian was full of faith and love, now bitterness, hatred and malice churn.
So, though we must fight the culture wars of our times, we must also preserve our capacity to love if we want to actually win our war. We must remember we are not fighting "against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world" (Eph. 6:12, KJV).
Sadly, I have heard many people say recently that they've lost their vision for America. What they actually lost wasn't their vision. It was their love. For love believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things (1 Cor. 13:7).
Editor's Note: In the message that follows, Robert Ricciardelli gives a prophetic explanation for the shaking that currently is occurring worldwide and clarifies what God is doing in the church during this period of widespread uncertainty. He notes that we are in a "swift season of change" and describes what our personal response should be to this season. Robert is a prophetic minister, an entrepreneur and the founder of Converging Zone Network, a social-networking site developed to spread the kingdom of God on a global level through the exchange of products, services, training and ideas.
Can a nation be born in a day? You are that nation, you are that people, you are My people. Beyond America and nationalism, and in all nations, is a people called by My name. The shaking felt around the world is My doing.
Many of you have asked: "Lord, where are You in all this? Have we not prayed? Where are You in my challenges? Where are You in my problems?"
I say, "I am in them, around them and have caused many of them."
We are living in a strange season! This is a season of extraordinary, spectacular, unexpected events. Even the prophetic insight offered by leaders spans a wide range of interpretations and applications. And, interestingly enough, most of the insight is accurate but very diverse. Really strange!
The Lord longs for His glory to cover the earth like the waters cover the sea (see Hab. 2:14). The sea of the Gulf of Mexico is now filled with a gunk that represents uncapped resources that are now coming onto our shores. What has opened up is a spewing power that the enemy is accelerating with pressure—a well that can't be capped by natural means. This has become a supernatural situation. Instead of [our being able to bring] forth the resources of the earth in an efficient way for the benefit of mankind, we are seeing these resources not only out of control but also unrefined and poisonous to the ecology.
Many people are asking in this season, "What is God up to?" We seem to be living in a period of great silence. Believers are searching in vain for something God is doing powerfully in the body of Christ and trying to no avail to hear marching orders from Him for the church.
Do not mistake God's silence for inactivity!
Here is the prophetic word God recently spoke to me when I asked that question:
"This is a season of net-mending in the body of Christ."
I've reflected on this statement the last few days, and I am convinced it is a word that must be shared. God is moving mightily on the earth! But at the present time, His efforts are largely focused on mending His nets.
We are those nets. We are connected to one another through strategic, covenant relationships. During the last few seasons in the body of Christ, we have been in both great battles and great revivals. The stress of these events has damaged and broken the nets in many places. When you look around at the church today, you can see evidence of the stress: broken lives, broken marriages, broken friendships, broken ministries, broken churches, broken relationships and broken people.
I believe that before the next great move of God, the Lord is going to repair those nets!
Consider how fishing nets are constructed. Each square in the net is connected above, beside and beneath. In the old days, small knots were tied at each connection point. The net was only as strong as its weakest connection. This is why we must allow God to test and strengthen key relationships in this hour.
One of the main points in the prophetic word the Lord gave my wife, Nicki, for 2009 was, "Strengthen key relationships." During the past two years, God has been strengthening key relationships in our lives so we can form a stronger net to contain the great catch of souls that is coming into the kingdom of God.
Specifically, there are five things that this prophetic word means to you and me.
1. Make sure you allow God to strengthen your family ties during this season.
God wants to strengthen marriages and the bond between parents and children. Also, make sure that you remain in good standing with extended family members as much as possible—especially those in the body of Christ. Make time for each other and deliberately plan family events at which old connections can be renewed.
2. Make sure you are aligned under proper authority.
Don't be caught without a connection to the portion of the net above you. Submit yourselves to spiritual leaders you can trust—those who will truly look out for your souls. Make sure you are in relationships with leaders who walk in humility but also have great power, vision and purpose.
3. Surround yourself with people who are covenant-keepers.
Now is the time to make sure your friends are people who can make and keep their promises. Set yourself in the midst of committed friends. You need people of great love and integrity who can walk with you so that when the trials of life come, your relationships are not ripped apart by false accusation, jealousy, competition, offense, gossip, bitterness, and so on.
4. Beware of the spirit of offense.
Satan will try to come after your "net connections." He probably already has! Don't let yourself get offended with your spiritual leaders. Don't allow small issues to fester and become infected through bitterness and unforgiveness. Beware of the enemy's devices that will bring division and offense between you and others in the church. This is all part of his ploy to further weaken the nets that God wants to strengthen.
5. Do not get bored or impatient in this season and check out of the army of God.
As God is silently mending His nets for the next great catch, you must not allow yourself to get bored and stray from your assignment. Don't let yourself wander off into something new unless God is specifically directing it. Presumptions about the will of God will get you into trouble. The enemy will try to lure you into some other activity if you let your mind get sidetracked and don't stay focused on your last marching orders.
About the author: Mark Pfeifer is the founder and senior pastor of Open Door Christian Fellowship in Chillicothe, Ohio, a church he planted in 1991. He is also the lead apostle of the Soma Family of Ministries, a position he has held since 2003. He has founded and oversees several schools that are now a part of the Wagner Leadership Institute, for which he is a regional chancellor. Mark has authored several books, including his most recent, Change Agents. To order a copy of this book, click here. For more information about his ministry, go to markandnicki.com.
Ringing in my ears are the words of multiple prophets who are saying, "Get ready, the world is going to change fast, and so is the church." Some share the message from a more positive standpoint, others from a less positive one. The first kind causes me to anticipate what is coming; the second makes me nervous.
I don't always like to think about what the future holds from a natural standpoint, particularly when it's not pleasant and I can't change it. But I know one thing: Whatever happens, God's purpose for His people is the same—to reflect His glory. As we do, Habakkuk's prophecy will be fulfilled and "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14, NKJV).
Recently I had a prophetic experience that clearly portrayed the condition of the church in America. My husband and I take evening walks that sometimes bring us through affluent neighborhoods. We enjoy viewing luxury homes with their beautiful waterfalls and fountains. Sometimes I venture to curiously peer into the backyards of these homes, finding exquisite pools, sports courts, fireplaces, and landscaping that reminds me of a Thomas Kincaid painting.
As we were enjoying our walk one evening, my husband suddenly blurted out, "Snake!" After jumping in the opposite direction, I saw a three-foot-long rattlesnake about a foot away from where we had been walking.
Having been raised on a farm in Georgia, I am familiar with the behavior of snakes, especially poisonous vipers. Snakes react to ground vibration, so I was mystified about why the snake was not hissing or coiling to strike us. To our surprise, the snake ignored us and slowly slithered in the opposite direction. He seemed to be right "at home" in the landscape of the neighborhood.
We live in a time of shaking all over the world in both the natural and the spiritual realms. But we, as people of God, do not need to fear. In the midst of the shakings, God wants His people to have perspective, peace and purpose. The first of these—perspective, or vision—is a message God has continued to put on my heart. God made it real to me through a dream.
In the dream, I was a child in the middle of a large crowd. Noise and confusion were all around me, and because I was so small, I could not see what was happening. But then the Father lifted me up on His shoulders. He lifted me to a higher vantage point, from which I could see what was occurring all around me. I could see from my Father's perspective.
This is the perspective God wants us to have. He wants to transform us into a people with vision—a people with prophetic insight for the days we live in, prophetic understanding of what He is doing around us and prophetic wisdom to know how to lead others to the unshakable foundation of Christ.
If you have been listening to the news or viewing it online over the last few years, or even the last few days, you might think you were watching scenes from a riveting movie about the end times.
We have witnessed unprecedented flooding, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, including the erupting of a volcano that shut down most of Europe's air travel. We have seen a historic oil spill threatening our coastlines and economic systems; massive earthquakes; tsunamis; wars; severe rioting; political unrest; economic turmoil and terrorists bent on killing masses.
Do you know why there are many believers today who don't cast their cares upon the Lord? It is because they don't have a revelation that He cares for them. Look at what His Word says: "[Cast] all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:7, NKJV). Unless you have absolute confidence that Jesus cares for you, you will not cast your cares upon Him.
Just think: Would you call upon the help of a relative or friend in your time of need if you were not confident that the person would respond to your call? Jesus cares for you! When you call upon Him, you can know that you have His fullest attention with all of heaven's resources backing you up.
About a year ago I wrote on the subject of biblical hope. Since then, like many believers, my wife, Naomi, and I have been pelted with heartbreaking news. Unexpected deaths of friends and ministry associates. Cancer among our dearest friends. Defections from the ministry. Moral failures. Bankruptcies. Church splits. Widespread disillusionment—even among veteran believers. Over all of this there seems to be a virtual canopy of "dis-ease." Just as Jesus predicted, "People [are] fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world" (Luke 21:26, ESV).