"He raised us up with Christ the exalted One, and we ascended with him into the glorious perfection and authority of the heavenly realm, for we are now co-seated as one with Christ!" (Eph. 1:6, TPT).
The apostle Paul powerfully points us to the reality of living "seated with Christ in heavenly places." While this seat in the spirit is available to all believers, I do believe that there are some rare people who intentionally step into this position in very noticeable, history-shaping ways. Pastor Don Nori Sr. was such a trailblazer, pioneer, prophet and publisher. And I believe even now, "Pastor Don," as he was affectionately called, is among those in the great cloud of witnesses cheering us on, in the earth, to see God's kingdom expand, yes, through us, but first and foremost, within us. After all, one common denominator among those who are part of the Hebrews 12:1-2 "great cloud of witnesses" are those who blazed trails through faith, as outlined in Hebrews 11.
Pastor Don, you were a prophetic trailblazer on earth, and now, you are calling us from heaven to keep seeking areas where there are no paths—and create paths. The authors you identified and books you published all carried this prophetic, pioneering anointing.
Therefore, since we are encompassed with such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:1-2, MEV).
When we consider those who are among this great cloud of witnesses, their function in heaven compels us to fix our gaze all the more intently upon Jesus, lay aside the weights that restrain us from fulfilling our kingdom assignments and run the race that is set before us, thus completing our ultimate destiny—being confirmed into the image of Jesus. This is Pastor Don's legacy, in both the life he lived and through the publishing company that continues to carry out this vision.
Don Nori lived with heavenly perspective, ever seeing what was ahead while living in the tension of the here and now. This is why the publishing house he founded in 1983, Destiny Image, stands the test of time and continues to identify authors and produce works that stay true to Don's original mandate: "publish the prophets."
On a personal note, every conversation I had with Pastor Don—even up until our most recent discussion at C.J.'s Restaurant in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, on April 11, 2018—lovingly confronted me with a servant of the Lord who could not help but see beyond where we were presently operating. One functioning in the New Testament office of a prophet ever hears the roar of the "not yet" and summons the body of Christ to cry out for, explore and ultimately, enter these new realms.
I'll say this—Don Nori was not simply interested in Christians getting to a "place" with the Lord. Granted, the places we go to are important and play valuable roles in shaping us. For Don, that was not the end goal, though. Buildings, events, conferences—all good, but not the goal. He so yearned to see sons and daughters of God become the place of habitation for the Spirit's manifest presence. Book after book, message after message, one of the resounding cries of Pastor Don's heart was for the body of Christ to "Behold who you have become—and become who you already are!" He called us to really catch a glimpse of what we had become through the redemptive work of Jesus—sons and daughters of God and heirs of an increasing, advancing kingdom. Furthermore, Pastor Don challenged us to step out and actually live like the sons and daughters God said we were.
Back to our conversation at CJ's, which would prove to be our last this side of eternity. Pastor Don was talking with me about identifying new authors, the prophetic pioneers and forerunners who are carrying a message that is, perhaps, slightly ahead of its time. As I listened intently, I realized just how grateful I was to serve as publisher for Destiny Image and do whatever I could to help steward Pastor Don's vision. I love the fact that since its inception, Destiny Image has intentionally pursued unknown authors who carried a message from heaven.
I think of the authors Destiny Image has published over the years, with each one presenting a work that was prophetic in its own right, a testimony of Pastor Don's mandate.
Woman, Thou Art Loosed by Bishop T.D. Jakes presented a vision of deliverance, freedom and empowerment for women that is absolutely timeless.
God Chasers by Tommy Tenney was a book you could not read without becoming deeply stirred to pursue the more of God, at any cost. This book gave a generational permission to pursue His presence above all else.
Don Nori published Bishop Bill Hamon's materials before there was a formally recognized stream as the "prophetic movement." Bishop Hamon's initial books on the subject matter drew controversy, yes, but even more so, they gave believers permission to prophesy, operate as prophets and later on, function as apostles.
Bill Johnson: Destiny Image published a book called When Heaven Invades Earth that dared to suggest that all believers, filled with the Holy Spirit, could operate in lifestyles of signs, wonders and miracles.
And of course, Dr. Myles Munroe, whose radical message of Rediscovering the Kingdom reshaped how a generation understood the gospel. Yes, it's a gospel of salvation, but it's also the gospel of the kingdom.
Time prevents me from naming every author who has not only impacted my life, but Christian culture as a whole.
These are only a few examples of the kinds of books Destiny Image helped produce. Perhaps all the more compelling are the countless books and authors that perhaps don't have an international stage, but their book got into the hands of a hungry heart, and that message called that reader into a new dimension in God. I hear it all the time. Ministry leaders who are out changing the world make reference to books Destiny Image published at one point—authors I was not familiar with and books I had never heard of. All of this points to the legacy of a pioneer who wasn't driven by natural success; he simply wanted to ensure the word of the Lord was clearly communicated to this generation.
Personally, I hold Don Nori Sr. and Destiny Image books lovingly responsible for filling me with divine discontentment and thus compelling me to pursue everything Jesus made available through the Spirit's power.
Don's life work and legacy will continue to inspire believers, stir hunger for God's presence, empower them to operate in the power of God, provide prophetic perspective on the movement of the Spirit and, ultimately, blaze new kingdom trails, inwardly through kingdom discipleship and outwardly through supernatural demonstration.
Larry Sparks is co-author of the book, The Fire That Never Sleeps, with Dr. Michael Brown and John Kilpatrick. Larry's mission is to help teach all believers how to experience and sustain personal revival—enjoying a deep relationship with God through encountering the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. To this end, he maintains a blog through Charisma magazine, is a published author, teaches revival seminars and is the co-founder of Renewing South Florida, an organization committed to uniting the local church for regional outpouring. Larry holds a Master of Divinity from Regent University and presently serves as vice president of publishing for Destiny Image Publishers.
Larry Sparks is co-author of the book, The Fire That Never Sleeps, with Dr. Michael Brown and John Kilpatrick. Larry's mission is to help teach all believers how to experience and sustain personal revival—enjoying a deep relationship with God through encountering the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. To this end, he maintains a blog through Charisma magazine, is a published author, teaches revival seminars, and is the co-founder of Renewing South Florida, an organization committed to uniting the local church for regional outpouring. Larry holds a Master of Divinity from Regent University and presently serves as vice president of publishing for Destiny Image Publishers.
You can receive daily empowerment for personal revival from Larry on Facebook (facebook.com/larryvsparks).
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