God’s judgement On The Church
Jarrod shares a prophetic sense of the judgement of God that is impacting many churches, and what God is saying through it…
For some months I have felt God calling the Church, especially leaders, back into what I informally call the “Strategy Rooms of Heaven” – God has new methods and purposes to unveil to us, and He wants to cleanse and prepare us for those new days.
Recently, when praying about a new spirit of innovation that I feel is about to flood the Church (I’ll come back to that later, I promise!) I felt God say “Remember the greatest innovation is about WHO YOU ARE, not WHAT YOU DO! I am dealing with idolatry, drawing you to deeper intimacy, and that will lead to clear identity – from that will flow fresh innovation and purpose.”
Wow! It’s so easy in these times when we are searching for new ways, better days, and great adventures in God, that we can miss the simple reality that God wants to develop WHO we are more than WHAT we do!
I may be fifty years down the road, and I’ve spent many of those following God the best I can, but He’s still more interested in me becoming like Christ, than in me being a success. You might want to read that last phrase again, slowly.
Early in 2020 I prophetically, but quite vividly, “heard” the clanging of hammer on anvil deep within my soul, a strange occurrence I’ve never had before or since! God said “I am forming steel like strength within you – FORMATION is more important than FULFILMENT. Stop trying to RUSH to fulfilment and give yourself to FORMATION. Deep, inner, purity, intimacy, authenticity and strength.”
I believe there are several things, common to many in the Body of Christ, that God is dealing with, and these are going to mark this new era in a profound way.
God is dealing with…
- Empire Building, Branding and Competition
“God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.” James 4:6
I believe it grieves the heart of God that many of us build churches and ministries and view them as our own, and perhaps even as in competition to each other. He hates it that we fail to truly celebrate each other’s successes and secretly smile at each other’s failings. How do I know this happens? Because it happens in me!
I believe the Church of the new era is going to be one that ends its personal empire building, the obsession about how many members we have, how big our attendance is, or how many churches commit to our denomination. It’s time for our self-obsessed branding and self-promotion to end. Can we simply make something great of the Name of JESUS? A One Church, One Lord, One Body, glorious Bride is about to arise, where it won’t matter who gets the numbers, whose brand is better or who’s got the slicker website. We are one.
We will start to behave as one family and one team, across entire cities and nations. More and more churches will find humble ways to brand themselves as simply “The Body of Christ” – one part of an amazing family across a region or beyond. High church, low church and every style in between must start to truly love each other. Large churches and small fellowships will work together. Generosity will be our light, merciful love our language and family our atmosphere. We must jettison suspicion, gossip and one-upmanship. Stop trying to build monuments to our own greatness and begin to surrender to the name of Christ. It’s time!
- Envy, Jealously and Comparison
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” 1 Corinthians 15:10
To continue, the only way to become free from the self-obsessed culture outlined in point 1, which has marked church leadership for decades, is to embrace radical humility. We must become content to play our part, without denigrating one another. So much envy and judgmentalism is masked by tearing into the minor faults in others, often under the smoke screen of righteous indignation. We nastily accuse the mega-church leader of sheep stealing, thriving on entertainment and having no time for us. The larger church pastors denigrate the small church pastors as out of date, flaky and lazy, “If only they’d update, they’d have bigger numbers” we simplistically assume.
But what if we surrendered to the reality that we only need to be what God has made us to be? More than that, that God positively needs us to remain confidently unique, in order to fulfil a specific purpose, in a specific place, for a specific time.
When Moses responded to the wisdom of his father-in-law Jethro by placing the Children of Israel into tribal groups, each with their own wise leader, it says,
“He chose capable men from all over Israel and appointed them as leaders over the people. He put them in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.” Exodus 18:25
I believe this verse shows that we all have capabilities and capacities given from heaven, expressed as the capability to care for a “one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten”. Can you can hear echoes of Jesus Parable of the Talents here, where some are given five Talents (a unit of money), some two and some one Talent (Matthew 25:14+)?
The lesson in both these passages is that God designates capacity, and it would be unwise to fight any perceived unfairness in that. The truth found here is that the life of a person designed by God to care for ten, is no less valuable than the life created to lead a thousand. Until we can rest in that fact, we will ache under a burden of covetousness.
In my first flush of ministry and leadership in the early 1990’s, all my church heroes were mega-church pastors. I loved watching them preach and enjoyed drinking from their ability to communicate the Word of God, captivating congregations of thousands for an hour at a time.
This, of course, affected my development as a young man, as elusive root systems of covetousness, ego and ambition subtlety infiltrated my heart and mind over the years. Unashamedly I wanted to end up in the ranks of the “Great Preachers”. At some point I had to ask the honest question “But what if I’m not meant to be a mega-church pastor, great orator or leader of thousands? Am I going to be grumpy about that, bitter or resentful? Or am I going to rejoice at the size of my God-given capacity, no matter how small? Will I be faithful with the ‘Talent’ He has given me, or will I bury it, because of a burden of covetousness?”
Covetousness is so grave it ranks among the “top ten” in God’s commandments (Exodus 20:17). Sitting around wishing you were as famous as …. , had as many social media followers as … , had as much income as … , or led a church as big as …, is a powerful drug that will bend you towards bitterness if you’re not careful. It will highjack your soul and shipwreck your destiny.
It is time, as the people of God, that we cultivate contentment in our callings, while remaining ambitious for the Kingdom of God. We must love the body of Christ across the world, in all its hues, from the mega-church to the small prophetic house. We must see that some are made to be large “regiments” in God’s army, while others are smaller “Special Forces” teams. Each are unique and so valuable, as each reaches a certain people group, and each create distinctive discipleship opportunities for the participants.
Let’s repent of covetousness and start enjoying the gloriously exclusive journey God has placed each of us on. Let’s end the copy and pasting of methods and brands, and fully enter the landscape of promise God has distinctly placed before each of us. Great, unique, joy-filled adventures await us there.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19
Into the heart of weary or disappointed souls often comes compromise. Secret sins, fallen thought-lives, habits that attempt to mask the monotony of ministry – these eat at the very roots of our energy, and in this Great Pause God is speaking words of challenge, love, forgiveness and comfort into every dark corner of our beings. It is time to reassess, to be honest with God, to repent to a friend, to draw grace down into our souls more deeply once again.
“Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21
“Embarrass sin before it embarrasses you” I quoted in my book “Stronger”, a helpful line from Jesse Duplantis. The consequence of sin sometimes has a delayed reaction to it, and so we can think we are getting away with things we know we simply should not do. While in public we appear to be godly and on fire, our private lives can be dark, mirky under-worlds of secret failure or addictive, unhealthy coping mechanisms. But eventually, when sin is “fully grown” (James 1:15), we always finally reap from what we’ve sown (Galatians 6:7) and our failures are unveiled. Far better to repent early, cry out for grace, get some help if needed, and deal with our inconsistencies as openly and aggressively as possible, that we would be set apart for God’s most noble work.
- Weariness of Soul
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely be and lightly.” Matthew 11:28030 (The Message)
Many in leadership, and many in the ranks of every Church, are deeply weary at a soul level. Some lives are so filled with busyness and burden that we have lost connection with the sounds of our own souls, and it is this that has led to private compromise. But I believe a deep healing of soul is being released from heaven. Burdens that have trapped leaders in certain unhealthy “soothing” behaviours, are being lifted away, like Saul’s armour was lifted off David (1 Samuel 17:39).
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
Sometimes the long period of waiting for fulfilment wearies our souls, and makes us heart-sick. But I believe disappointment is about to be replaced by fulfilment, even though in many cases I believe we are going to be surprised at the unusual ways God fulfils the desires of our hearts in this new era!
May long term illness crumble under the weight of God’s healing power, may depression lift, sick souls be washed in wonder once again and may God reward many of you who have endured the onslaught of the enemy for several years. God is about to give you recompense, restitution, restoration and redemption. He will “restore the years the locust has eaten!” (Joel 2:25).
Leader, God wants your soul healthy, breathing deeply of the fresh air of heaven, not succumbing to the claustrophobic demands of disappointment or historic tradition. A rested soul is a soul that can joy at other’s success, truly grieve at others losses, and strike out into new territory, free from cynicism and avoidance. So seek Him in prayer, in worship, in the Word and in joyful intimacy, for there is a refreshing over-haul of your soul about to take place!
- The Worship of Method above Intimacy
“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” Mark 7:5-8
It is possible for us to talk about Jesus but have a heart that is far from God. We so easily set up camp in old methods, favourite styles and enjoyable expressions of our faith, but that doesn’t mean God is actually in them anymore. Corrie Ten Boom once said “It hurts when God has to PRY things out of our hands” and I feel that is exactly what God has been doing in this extraordinary pivoting pit-stop time.
At Easter in 2020 I felt led to read through all the resurrection stories in all four Gospels once again. I was deeply impacted by the obvious, yet powerful fact that they looked for Jesus where they last put him, but He was not there anymore!
“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Luke 24:1-5
In this time of Divine Reset, God is smashing through our religious spirits, attitudes and man-made formations, revealing the bankruptcy of the faith of many. We worship historic moments and methods, but we need to learn that GOD MOVES ON. He will not stay where you last found Him, or where He met you last year, or last century, or even last week! – HE MOVES ON! And we must move on with Him – THE CHURCH MAY NEVER LOOK THE SAME AGAIN! “Why do you look for the living among the dead” said the angels “HE IS NOT HERE!” (Luke 24:6). Just because God is the same yesterday, today and forever, doesn’t mean He does the same things, and uses the same methods yesterday, today and forever. HE MOVES ON!
Be prepared to be driven by God to a new place of ministry, method and intimate encounter as you enter this new era. The old patterns of our history are not entwined enough with God’s contemporary purposes to bring about the revival He desires. We must stop seeking ministry and start seeking Him. Stop hungering for a reiteration of the past, and deeply desire to go from glory to glory. Let’s end the impotent repetition of religious tradition and find the imminent voice of God found in His powerful presence. If we stop worshipping method, and instead live from intimacy, fresh streams of salvation will flow on barren heights – and these heights will become the land of the new era in which we will glory.
Whether it is justice in the world for the oppressed and the forgotten, or a time of judgement and preparation for the Church, we must give ourselves in this time to the formations, the challenges, to the probing convictions of heaven. Out of it will come rivers of grace, on the banks of which will form trees of fruitfulness, a blessing to the nations around us!
Give yourself to personal repentance and holiness. Then give yourself to the call of taking the Gospel to the poor, the downtrodden and those with no voices. If we do such a thing, we may just find ourselves emerging as the image of Jesus in the world, that His glory may fill the earth for all to see.
AN EXTRACT FROM THE DIVINE RESET available in paperback or Kindle format: