Exhaustion; that’s the best word to describe how I’ve felt for the past three weeks. And there is no natural reason for it. I’ve been sleeping plenty. Drinking lots of water. Getting plenty of exercise. (Enjoying more than my quota of Starbucks!)
Yet the morning I penned this article—despite sleeping nine hours the night before—I went back to sleep for two hours after taking my daughter to school. And when I woke up, I was still exhausted—and disgusted.
I was starting to wonder what was wrong with me. And then I got a friendly reminder revelation from the Holy Spirit: It’s witchcraft. Wicked witchcraft. How could I forget? It caught me off guard. Now I'm warning you.
This week I’m ministering at Trinity Christian Centre, one of Singapore’s largest churches. It is led today by Dominic Yeo, but for 30 years it was pastored by Naomi Dowdy, a brave American missionary who grew the church from about 250 believers in 1976 to more than 4,000 members in 2005. The Pentecostal congregation has grown even larger since then, when Dowdy set Yeo into his pastoral role so she could do more traveling ministry.
Dowdy is a friend and a spiritual mother in my life. I’ve ministered with her in Malaysia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Ukraine and other countries. I’ve gleaned from her leadership skills, benefited from her counsel and been inspired by her zeal for missions. I view her as one of the planet’s best examples of a female church leader. When I consider her amazing legacy I’m grieved that we don’t have more women like her.
The primary reason we have so few Naomi Dowdys today is that the church does not encourage trained and anointed women to step into leadership. A second reason is that many women have either disqualified themselves from taking on such roles, or they aren’t willing to face the criticism that inevitably comes when a woman defies tradition.
I agree with the makers of the 2011 film Courageous that Christian men should demonstrate integrity, sexual purity, family values and moral courage. But isn’t the same response needed from women? For every brave Abraham, David and Mordecai in the Bible there was a fearless Sarah, Abigail and Esther. God’s women don’t just sit around waiting for the guys to act when things get tough.
Throughout biblical history you will see that God used young people, even children, especially when adults became spiritually redundant and the only progress was to recreate history, or "bring back those good old days." Looking back has its rewards but unfortunately creates feelings of nostalgia and morbidity.
You have to be dissatisfied with your present conditions, surroundings and supply of joy, peace, happiness, etc. before you will really look forward. So inevitably, God will allow things to run their course and people will become dissatisfied. Suddenly what was once exciting, fresh and tantalizing is now boring and repetitious. You are dull and the self-environment is uninteresting, dim and blunt. You can either sit and complain for as long as you can, or you can change it.
Make war with repetition, be at odds with dullness, spit out lukewarmness and start a fight with blah, blah, blah. You weren't born to be satisfied with "just enough" to keep you going. Once you've tasted of the better that is to come you never want to go back. Imagine driving a car forward, while looking in the mirror, hoping that what is behind you will assist your progress.
When I was praying about the year of 2012, I kept hearing the Lord speak to me about grace. In fact, when you observe the year 2012 and actually add the numbers—two plus zero plus one plus two—it all adds up to five. Biblically, the number five is the number for grace. Therefore, when I heard the Lord begin to minister to me concerning this year and He continued to speak of grace, I really got encouraged when I added those numbers together!
Most of us are aware that grace is unmerited or undeserved favor. I believe this year we will revisit the gift of grace and gain greater understanding of God's goodness. Because God's grace is undeserved, this means that God's goodness is not expressed to each of us because we are good; it is given to us because He is good!
Sometimes it's hard to even wrap our minds around this fact. This is because most of us have, in reality, believed that grace is based upon performance and our religious works. However, receiving grace from God has absolutely nothing to do with our performance at all; it is completely based upon undeserved favor. Think about this for a minute. If God's favor were based upon our ability to do right and perform well, then we would not need His grace, would we? We would then believe that because of our own abilities we have been blessed. This is such a deceptive lie of the enemy.
I was raised in spiritual warfare. By that I mean, soon after I got saved I plugged into an apostolic church that vowed to run to the battle line to wrestle spirits of Jezebel, witchcraft, religion—and whatever else was opposing the purposes of God.
My church home was akin to a spiritual war zone. We were always on red alert through prophetic warnings, dreams and visions about the next attack. Indeed, spiritual warfare was a consistent thread in most of the praise, worship, equipping classes, Sunday morning sermons and leadership lessons.
You might call it “extreme apostolic.” We hunted down the demon(s) behind every doorknob like a child with a sweet tooth hunts for chocolate Easter eggs. Looking back, it seemed at times like a contest to determine who could present the most detailed dream or vision about the enemy’s impending plan. Once the enemy was spotted, a shouting match with the principality or power ensued that left you with a sore throat—and no respite from the warfare.
I was in a spiritual warfare ditch, where the enemy and his plans were ultimately exalted over God and His plans. Don’t get me wrong. I believe wholeheartedly in spiritual warfare. But we can get into a ditch with any principle if we take it to the extreme. So we have to ask ourselves: What causes us to take biblical principles to the extreme?
One of the greatest revivals of all time began at Azusa Street in Los Angeles in 1906. The wretched former stable burned so brightly with the glory of God that for a time it was called “the second most famous address in the world.” God can do it again, and will, if we want it enough.
Every revival in history seems to be the result of a few people becoming so hungry for God that they wanted Him more than oxygen. Those who have such hunger will not be denied. It’s time to seek a revival that becomes the most famous address in the world. It’s time to seek a move of God that won’t quit moving.
I’ve seen in visions and dreams the destruction that is destined, especially on our West Coast. This has caused some to say that I have a hatred for our West Coast, which is not true, but rather the opposite. I really can’t help what I dream, and though a psycho analyst might say it is the result of deep feelings, I know these are prophetic dreams. They never leave me pleased, but rather I’m grieved enough to take all of the heat for sharing them with the hope that people will listen, repent, and they will not have to come true.
If you find yourself more drawn toward prayer than promotion, more toward humility than hype, you are being prepared by the Lord for the glory of God. What He is working in you is typical of what God is establishing in thousands of other believers.
However, before the Father ultimately reveals Christ as Lord over the earth, He will first reveal Him as Lord over the church. And while we should rejoice, we must also take heed. For until we are standing face to face in glory with Jesus Himself, we are going to be in transition. To each of us, Christ's call remains, "Come, follow Me!" (Luke 18:22). If we will walk with Him in obedience, He will take us into the fullness of His presence.
Still, transitions can be frightening. The uncertainty of those passages between spiritual plateaus can hold us hostage to yesterday's blessings. Let us recall with godly fear that the bronze serpent, which brought healing to Israel in the wilderness, by Hezekiah's day had become an idol that had to be torn down.
Our hearts must bow to God alone, for even spiritual gifts, when isolated from Christ the Giver, can become idolatrous. Therefore to successfully navigate this season of change, the Lord will require of us a fresh surrender to His Lordship. He will demand that our preconceived ideas and expectations be submitted to Him. For if we are continually telling the Holy Spirit where we expect to go, we neutralize our capacity to hear where He wants to take us.
As we move along into the new year, I wanted to share 25 key initiatives that I feel are significant for every believer. I am hopeful that these will confirm some things the Lord has already been showing you as well as encourage you to pray into these initiatives for your own lives, and for the body of Christ.
I pray that each of us would ask the Father to reveal to us our part in the body and that we would seek Him for guidance for His will to be done through us. May the Lord kingdomize your life in amazing ways in 2012 to further expand His kingdom and His glory upon the earth.
1. Give to Caesar (government) what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is His, which are our very lives. Jesus was consumed with His Father’s Kingdom being brought to the earth. We must focus on Christ and His kingdom rather than being overly concerned with political processes and government foolishness. We pray for governmental change, but we must look to God and not government to provide for us.
2. God is raising up new leaders who will stand for righteousness in the realms of government. This generation of Daniels and Josephs will continue to take their place in leading nations with Father’s influence, presence and wisdom in governmental offices.
As I have prayed about the coming year, I’ve sensed three clear directives.
Some people are terrified of 2012. They worry because the Mayans of ancient Mexico mysteriously ended their 5,126-year-old calendar on Dec. 21, 2012—as if they expected the world to end that day. This silly hypothesis became the basis for several New Age books and a goofy disaster movie, 2012, in which actor John Cusack avoids meteors and earthquakes just in time to get his family aboard the modern version of Noah’s ark (built in China!) before the rest of the world is destroyed by a tsunami.
I’m not afraid of 12/21/12 because (1) Ancient Mayans never actually said the world would end in 2012—and even if they did, they didn’t have an inside track to God; (2) Doomsday predictions have never been accurate; and (3) Jesus holds the future in his hands. As long as I’m in relationship with Him, it doesn’t matter what happens on earth. I’m secure.
Despite strange weather patterns, global terrorism and the specter of an economic crash, I’m actually optimistic about where we’re headed in 2012. And as I have prayed about the coming year, I’ve sensed these three clear directives:
While I was praying over 2012, I received impressions about many things—some warnings and some promises. But what burned most on my heart to share with the masses wasn’t a list of predictions or a prophetic directive. What burned most on my heart to share are four simple words: Revival begins with you.
We yearn to see signs, wonders and miracles manifest today as they did in the book of Acts, don’t we? But are we willing to pay the price the early church paid? Are we willing to die to self? Are we willing to relinquish control to the Holy Spirit so He can move like He wants to move? Are we willing to repent for the character flaws that hold us back? Are we willing to walk in love and unity with true believers who don’t believe exactly the same as we do? Are we willing to war against the spirit of compromise that is raging against the church in this age? Revival begins with you.
The book of Acts never fails to fascinate me. It is the Holy Ghost in action, the gifts of the Spirit made manifest, a charismatic believer’s delight. Indeed, many of us want to see the Holy Ghost move in the church—and in the world—like that again. Well, I beseech you to consider these four words: Revival begins with you.
At the threshold of this New Year, people everywhere are concerned. Escalating political, economic and social unrest have caused many, even believers, to become perplexed and fearful about the future. Jesus warned us that before His return, perilous times would come. But thank God, He has provided a way for us to not only survive but even thrive during even the most difficult of times. Allow me to illustrate.
My family and I are certified scuba divers. One of the first things I learned as a diver is that inclement weather doesn't necessarily indicate that you're going to have a bad dive. As a matter of fact, the storms can be raging on the surface, but deep below the divers are experiencing a spectacular kaleidoscope of colorful choral and tropical fish.
In relation to this upcoming year, the Lord has spoken to me of rough weather ahead. So, in anticipation, let's all recognize the stormy seas, determine to dive deep and experience the peace of God. 2012 will be a great year as we hear His voice and obey His every command.
Israel was an example of a corporate group who had to overcome several things to enter their promised land. The following spiritual assignment will allow us to move forward into the fullness of God’s plan for our lives as we look toward 2012.
Make a list of old cycles.Now is the time to break from any old cycle that has held your promise and destiny in captivity. Declare that your Passover time of deliverance is now beginning. Ask God for signs, wonders, and miracles that will intervene in old cyclical structures of your life.
God has given us the ability to reason—but too much mental reasoning blocks spiritual discernment and breeds plenty of confusion.
With that in mind, is it possible that you are reasoning yourself out of prophetic wisdom that could be blocking your spiritual growth, your blessings, and even the full manifestation of your destiny?
I’ll admit it. I am analytical. I tend to reason through every possibility before making a decision. But I also pray after my thoughtful analysis and ultimately submit my plans to the written Word and the Spirit’s leading (which always agree).
As the year 2011 comes to a close, it is hard to be unaffected by the massive earthquakes that occurred these past years. Remember, it was just 2004 when the great South Asian Tsunami roared along the Indian ocean, suddenly rising and striking the coastlines of nine nations. Over 230,000 people died, and millions more were left grieving and homeless. Scientists tell us that this great disaster not only changed the landscape of Asia, it actually caused the planet to wobble on its axis.
I've received several warnings recently concerning terrorist attacks against America, and I want to ask you to join me in praying for protection from these attacks. Within the last few months I have had several credible dreams presented to me about this, five of them within the last week.
While warnings such as these are subjective in nature, and dreams always need careful discernment and interpretation, I feel that the dramatic and sudden increase of these warnings merits this call to prayer.
There’s plenty of talk about prayer, prophetic intercession, standing in the gap, making up the hedge, prayer burdens, and, of course, spiritual warfare. But how do we discern the call to prayer? How do we recognize a proverbial prayer burden?
These questions may seem simple, but far too many saints have come to me carrying burdens they thought were their own when in reality they were feeling the weight of oppression over a person or a city. I know how they feel. It took me some years to learn to accurately divide soul and spirit.
It doesn't take a prophetic voice to point out that our nation and our world are in trouble and the trouble we're facing won't go away any time soon. The body of Christ must prepare to stand in the midst of it to exert influence for the kingdom of God—and the clock is ticking. It remains to be seen whether we have adequately prepared spiritually, in attitude or materially for what must come.
Like many other intercessors, Cindy Jacobs, co-founder of Generals International, was at TheCall Detroit last weekend. As the solemn assembly gathered, Jacobs released a prophetic word for the United States and Israel. Here is what the Holy Spirit spoke to Jacobs on 11-11-11:
For the Lord says the United States is fast approaching her "tipping point." I am ready, says God, to reach out and balance but even if tremendous prayer is poured out, it will only steady the nation for a season unless there is a heart-felt turning back to the Lord.
On 11-11-11, Veterans Day, God is summoning His prayer warriors to battle at Ford Field in Detroit to war spiritually for the next generation. The occasion: TheCall Detroit, a gathering that is not about us, not about those who will assemble there—but about a great healing God wants to do in Detroit and in America.
Detroit, in so many ways, is a microcosm of America's dilemma, and God's desire is to bring healing to Detroit and turn America around. This city, rich with the history of black and white working together in the 1860s on the last stop to freedom of the Underground Railroad, is also the same city where riots broke out over racial tensions in 1967.
One of the biggest dangers Christians face is thinking inside the proverbial religious box. When we talk about “a great move of God” or “revival” we often contextualize it inside a church building. We get visions of people coming to a facility, worshipping God, hearing a fiery evangelist and flooding the altar for prayer.
Even when we take it “to the streets” it still looks a lot like it does inside the church walls. We speak to people using the same language and pray for them just like we do in church, except that the setting has changed.