The Forerunner Identity: Florida’s Next Step

Note “I’m offering this insight as part of the apostolic and prophetic mix of revelation God is providing Florida for the fall of 2014. It culminates a process I discern occurring for more than a decade and I would locate us in the first year of its fulfillment. I offer it with a sense that it fits into a broader apostolic and prophetic blueprint of which I have part, not as a complete and final word on the subject. I’m offering it, however, with a sense of destiny in that I’ve been living it, along with thousands of others, for more than 15 years.”

I’ve returned early from Brasil because I feel urgency here at our home base for a finishing work. While the work being done is healthy and powerful, the finishing work always requires blueprint leadership. The finishing work is the work kingdom leaders do because they share the passion of Father for His purposes and possess a fuller set of plans for the scope of their assignments.

While in Brasil, I received specific prophetic words for Florida and her place in the release of her forerunner identity. Let me share some conclusions that come from accumulation of 15 years of working the assignment and 15 days of fresh revelation.

The Forerunner Identity

God wants everybody but He never starts with everybody. He starts with leaders. He starts with remnants. So, more specifically, He starts with Remnant leaders who function as forerunners. To identify the next season properly, we must identify the forerunner anointing because it prophesies the what-God-wants that the forerunner receives and releases. That is, God will put something in you so He can release something through you: so, God puts what He wants everybody to have into a forerunner. 

Avoid the impression that the forerunner identity should become a brand name, a trophy design, and an oil painting over the fireplace, or another chapter in “God’s Generals” someday – in the sense that forerunners have the right to make their own identities into forerunner identities. Forerunners always say, “I must decrease as He increases.” 

Watch the forerunners off track who say or act and lead in a way that says, “I must increase because I am the forerunner because that is God’s strategy to expand His purpose.” Nope. Reject immediately the perception and practice of good, wonderfully anointed leaders who assume that the strategy of the forerunner is “I must increase.” The move of God received must be released if it becomes what God has in mind for this season: revival must become Awakening and a simultaneous, starburst, similar but distinctly different, “I die to produce greater life” leadership must move the moment into a movement and feed the momentum with new leaders who can do what the forerunner does and greater. In the end the forerunner can only say, ‘You can thank me for obeying. That’s all. The rest is all God.”

Immediately the forerunner says, “This is it. This is the source and resource. This is the fountainhead. This is the identity of the move of God. This is the DNA,” the forerunner has usurped the role of “the One who comes after is mightier.”

So, the forerunner identity prepares and positions. The forerunner demands both repentance – I change to be changed – and the behavior of repentance marked by the baptism a forerunner can administer in anticipation for the fire that never goes out that will become available when Awakening arrives. 

Awakening cannot be controlled by man or any particular kingdom leader because it immediately involves a pattern of regional leadership no one group or personality can govern. The Awakening is the work of Holy Spirit upon the kingdom as it was Holy Spirit upon the King in John’s the Baptist’s day. The pattern holds true because the spirit and power of Elijah remains available in the earth, a mantle for the preparation and positioning of a people ready to respond to the Lord when the new season arrives.

The forerunner identity sets the forerunner up for the most intense, personal, sacrificial, personal betrayal, Gethsemane perspiration, and “Father, into Your hands” period of his life. In order to be successful he must be a forerunner. In order to walk in the season for which he was prepared and prepared others, he must “lose his head” and embrace the new identity that Awakening alone can bring him.

The forerunner identity often brings forerunners to demand that the move of God that is “next” be exactly like the move of God that produced the move of God. The forerunner demands people reject the very thing for which the forerunner prepares them in order to maintain the “I must increase” strategy.

The Forerunner Identity Crisis

The spirit and power of Elijah prepare the Lord a people. It never prepares the forerunner a people. The forerunner always assumes “something greater is coming because Someone greater is coming.” The spirit and power of Elijah prepare the Lord a people. It never prepares the forerunner a people. The forerunner always assumes “something greater is coming because Someone greater is coming.” The very process that prepares and positions people for the Lord’s “what’s coming next” also moves them out of the preparation and positioning of the forerunner and into the “greater.”

You say, “Wow! I surely don’t wish to be a forerunner. John lost his head.”

Of course you do! First, because anything else would grieve God. Second, because you have the passion of the Father for the revelation of His Son. Third, because you don’t have to literally lose your head when the Awakening occurs. You can walk through the identity crisis, receive the burning immersion that purifies the harvest of your season, and become part of the plowing and planting of that harvest for a season of double harvest!

In this season, the forerunner doesn’t die literally, merely wishes he or she was dead because the identity crisis is so severe they experience Gethsemane and the Cross before the Resurrection of their new identity.

If the forerunners reject personal transformation, they embrace their preparation and position as a prison and lose their heads to Jezebel they were designed and destined to destroy! The forerunner doesn’t have to die when the Awakening arrives, but the forerunner must embrace the greatest, scariest, deepest, and most personal season of transformation they have ever had. If the forerunner begins to experience a crisis of identity when the move of God matures, he or she should cheer up: it is going to get worse!

“No one born of woman had what the forerunner had, but the least in the Awakening season will be greater than the forerunner.” 

Awakening Redefines the Forerunner

To understand better how a ‘forerunner’ region responds to the preparation season, to function as a Remnant, we must fully embrace the spirit and power of Elijah and fully overcome the spirit of Jezebel. These spiritual conditions are ancient – God’s strategy and hell’s response to God’s strategy.

“The substitute for God’s prophetic anticipation is a prophetic projection of false identity and purpose that identifies God’s purpose in a way that allows a false oracle to define it.

“If hell cannot keep us from God’s purpose, hell will work to limit the fulfillment of God’s purpose. The method of hell is to distract and substitute, to turn the move of God toward the fulfillment of the wrong purpose, to move us toward the “anything but that” sidetrack. Many moves of God sidetrack nearly as soon as they begin because the preparation and positioning has been incomplete: the leaders embrace a false oracle of the purpose of the move of God that opens the move of God to distraction and substitution. It remains a move of God but it moves toward an “anything but that” destination.

So, the forerunner and the forerunner region should experience the battle most thoroughly, personally, and completely so the forerunner’s identity crisis becomes his or hers greatest preparation and positioning for leadership when the Awakening arrives. If you are a pioneering forerunner, get ready for the greatest identity crisis of your life and ministry!

Your pride will demand that people respect and receive you on the basis of your forerunner identity. You will resist change in your own leadership and life; you will resist change in the sights and sounds of the move of God. However, it is not your role in the Awakening to repeat the process but to provide blueprint leadership to the Awakening about how to continue the preparation and positioning of Awakening leaders. You become an expert in the strategy of leadership development so you can provide leadership in the new season. Your leadership will shift dramatically. You will not recognize yourself. You will wonder if the process of identity crisis isn’t the devil instead of “the One who comes next.”

So, immediately the move of God the forerunner leads bursts into flame, pride will be invested in the leader so that pride will limit that leader’s ability to embrace his Gethsemane, Calvary, and Resurrection.

Even a casual reading of revival history will back up what I’m saying. Moves of God destined to be Awakenings became denominations, doctrinal idols, devotionalized duplicities, and personality cults. So few became Awakenings because the forerunners kept demanding the “I must increase” strategy be implemented. They wish to put the Glory on a cart so the Glory could go on tour. Any “what about me?” sentiment should be quickly identified as a Judas spirit; Judas asks, “What’s in this for me?”

So, the region that carries the forerunner assignment will experience as much of the “what not to do” as it does the “what to do.” Unless the forerunner leaders of that region obey completely – Gethsemane – submit completely – “Father into Your hands” – and transformation completely – Resurrection – they will not be available to identify the difference between “what not to do” and “what to do.” 

Listen carefully: the water baptism of John continues to prophesy the new behavior of new life, but the prophetic sense of his baptism compared with the baptism that completely cleanses the harvest should never be forgotten. The greater One will bring a deeper work that redefines the identity of the previous work.

Revival births Awakening but immediately gives way to a greater identity because Awakening redefines the revival that birthed it. When revival demands to define Awakening, the Awakening morphs into something foreign to its spiritual DNA. Awakening redefines the DNA of revival, not the other way around.

A Forerunning Region

God’s strategy is kingdom. Kingdom strategy is leaders. Leadership strategy is discipling. Discipling strategy is fathering. Awakening is a kingdom strategy led by kingdom leaders. The preparation and positioning of kingdom leaders is the measuring standard of revival growth and maturity, not anointing, manifestations, activations, visions and dreams, or demonstrations of power, miracles, signs, and wonders.

Beware the subtle sidetrack that redefines leadership as “people who can do the stuff.” A little finger can do the stuff. A whole Body of little fingers does not grow and mature. Beware the tendency to measure Awakening by miracles, signs, and wonders. Beware the immaturity of measuring maturity by the scrapbook photos of who laid hands upon you and your experience of God at that moment.

Beware the tendency to want to experience another pregnancy and birthing process because you enjoyed the attention, acceptance, and anticipation of the previous one. Now that you given birth, get on with the business of maturing the baby you have. The next babies you birth will all benefit from the maturity you learn in making a champion of your firstborn.

What I mean is this: the manifestations of a revival should produce maturity in leaders so those mature leaders can have greater influence and impact in the season of Awakening. Not so those manifestations can become a monument to a moment. God will punch a move of God in the belly when it starts becoming a destination instead of a distribution center.

So, a revival should produce apostolic and prophetic foundations, a destination for dramatic, deep, disturbing personal transformation. The leaders a revival produces are not merely prepared to “go light fires.” They are prepared to lead at the next level when revival becomes Awakening.

Beware the tendency to stop with “you will do what I do” in leadership development. This is more of the “I must increase” mentality that limits revival to revival instead of preparing and positioning revival leaders for Awakening. Be certain of this, revival will not become Awakening until forerunners prepare and position Awakening leaders no matter how strong the manifestations, activations, and demonstrations.

Recognizing the Forerunner Identity

The very word, “visitation” means “accountability.” The word translates the word from which history developed the title “bishop.” The misunderstandings invested into that word through church-anity and blending spirit of the world definitions of leadership into the church misses the point of the term, a foul ball that hits the crowd in the face.

Jesus says, “You didn’t recognize your season of accountability.” Amazingly, few translations or commentaries mention the meaning of the word or the context of Israel as a forerunner culture and region. Of course, nothing can take away from the reality that they rejected Messiah when He arrived because He didn’t fit their descriptors and presuppositions, but the context of Jesus’ words is much greater than that. Israel was the forerunner culture: God put something in them so He could release something through them. They failed to fulfill purpose even though they accumulated people and provisions.

Consider it this way, a non-exegetical application of the same principle to kingdom in our day: “Not one of the things you have accumulated – places and people – will displace your enemies because you weren’t fulfilling the purpose of your assignment when I arrived for accounting your progress.”

We have redefined “church” as “the accumulation of believers.” When the recognition of restoration arrived, we put the restoration of intercessors, prophets, and apostles into that paradigm. We began to identify and accumulate intercessors, prophets, and apostles. The accumulation of things as a measurement of church growth redefines the function of the very things we accumulate. 

“See these buildings you’ve built,” Jesus says, “not one stone will be left sitting upon the other.” Accumulating people and provisions does not necessarily fulfill purpose, nor does it help us recognize forerunner leadership. The pathway of kingdom leadership preparation that prepares leaders to fit into the accumulation paradigm is opposite the pathway of kingdom leadership preparation needed to prepare leaders for Awakening. Perpetuating something accumulated with the mind that “it must increase” redefines the very thing accumulated and the leadership dynamics that function in it.

Forerunners blow up these perceptions. John baptizes in the muddy Jordan instead of the beautiful baths of the Temple. John preaches in the wilderness instead of celebrating accumulations at Solomon’s Porch. John calls people out so they can be prepared to go in, but he anticipates Someone greater doing something greater that will never be welcomed in the present order of accumulation.

When God’s people miss or dismiss purpose, they will produce an accumulation of people and provisions instead of fulfilling their forerunner assignment. When a forerunner prepares kingdom leaders, they will only be able to function in a new season. They will only be able to fill up new wineskins. They will only be able to reach fullness and fulfill by resetting the kingdom, establishing a new spirit of leadership, and laying a new foundation.

When we see revival as restoring the church to glory days of previous generations without the total overhaul of Awakening, we will rewrite the history of revival to only include the parts that fit our present paradigm of accumulation. Accumulation of believers isn’t Ecclesia. Accumulation of intercession isn’t an army. Accumulation of prophets doesn’t produce maturity. Accumulation of apostles doesn’t provide a broader blueprint. The function of these aspects of kingdom can only be “normalized” when the forerunner identity prepares the Lord a people who can inherit and fulfill purpose.

Revival has purpose and the purpose must define the move of God more than the accumulation of people, power, and provision that perpetuates the present. The moment must become a movement, and the momentum must be fed with those who can do “greater.”

So, when a revival becomes “come and get this fire, watch this show, feel this experience” as an end within itself, the main focus of kingdom leadership preparation isn’t even discussed except to say, “Come get this and you can do the stuff, too.” The man speaker moves around on tour developing a following of groupies that carry his identity, and the assumption that “he must increase” becomes a subtle substitute for a forerunner assignment. The idea entertained is “if we can accumulate a lot of people who act like us, get what we have, and become carriers of our DNA, we can become the source of the next Awakening.” 

Yet, a forerunner does the opposite and anticipates the greatest test of obedience, submission, and personal transformation will come only at the point of his or her decrease. Accumulation models operate opposite a forerunner strategy. Forerunners don’t accumulate anything. They prepare and position leaders.

Ephesians 4 tells us Jesus bestowed His kingdom leadership dynamics upon the Ecclesia to accomplish this very end: “To prepare and position the holy ones to do the servant’s work. In this way, the Body can experience the fullness only measured by the Christ’s mature stature. It can then, build itself up in love.”

Forerunner Ecclesia

Florida should be filled with forerunners Ecclesia’s that operate through apostolic and prophetic centers. The pattern that appears should reveal clusters of empowered gatherings in which and through which kingdom influence and impact alters regions of the state in measurable ways. Maturing intercessors and leaders who can function in the ways the fivefold leadership of Jesus reveals the dynamics of kingdom leadership, the forerunner churches prepare themselves for a baptism of fire, anticipating that they will decrease as He increases so that they will experience their greatest tests of obedience, submission, and resurrection in the Awakening.

They should reorder their entire structure, provisions and people, in ways that will prepare and position them to function when Awakening arrives. They should reset their leadership dynamics so that their present levels of hundreds or thousands can accommodate tens or even hundreds of thousands.

At least seven apostolic centers of kingdom leadership preparation and positioning should become available by the end of 2015 in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Pensacola, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and a hub for the whole state in Orlando mesh Florida’s leaders with the whole Southeast of the US.

Without doubt, Ecclesia’s must be ready for tens of thousands coming into the new season of leadership preparation and positioning. The leaders in the state must learn to function at an international level no matter the scope of their leadership or the location of their assignments. No doubt, thousands prepared and positioned in a forerunner state would be assigned by Holy Spirit to travel and function in the five aspects of Jesus’ ministry leadership to prepare and position others in other states and nations, but the role of forerunners would mark their leadership as the leaders prepared and positioned in other parts of the nation and world would be marked by the predominant DNA of their region’s assignments.

What to Do with “What Is”

I know you thinking, What do we do with all the churches and ministries? What do we do with ‘what is’ to prepare for ‘what is coming next?'” 

Great question: the answer would come from Jesus. And, a strong hint would be “not one stone will remain upon the other.” Before you get the idea that Jesus is going to destroy everything, reconsider the meaning of that natural phrase in the context of the kingdom description of “living stones.” Think: “Jesus will reset the whole of the structure.”

He can and will do that without destroying any of it. Only those who refuse His leadership will experience the destruction that comes from their enemies. Jesus builds an Ecclesia that displaces the authorities of hell, right? When the church cannot displace, the inability of the Ecclesia to do what Jesus builds her to do reveals a dysfunctional structure. So, Jesus will rebuild the Ecclesia as an extension of kingdom so that she has the authority to displace the authorities of hell.

The Acts of Holy Spirit helps us understand the process and progress of a region being touched by a forerunner and becoming a forerunner region. Ephesus became the center of Christianity for 200 years after Paul spent three years there preparing and positioning kingdom leaders. He had revival and riot. The “what is” didn’t limit his function: after resistance from the Jewish leaders, he moved to an apostolic training center and prepared and positioned leader who could influence and impact the entire region.

When Jesus appears in John’s vision, He speaks to the Ecclesia’s that this move of God birthed. In each case, the message assumes that Ecclesia functions differently from the present prevailing paradigm of “the accumulation of believers.”

Spiritual Warfare is Always Positive

Spiritual warfare may be properly defined as “positively pursuing God’s purpose with His power, principles, and protocols.”That long definition can be summed up with the terms “positive” and “purpose.” The warfare arrives when the purpose of God runs into the positions of the enemy.

That is, any warfare that pursues the enemy takes on a operation foreign to kingdom principles of engagement. God doesn’t attack the enemy. The enemy attacks His purposes because His representatives are pursuing the fulfillment of His purposes.

When we positively pursue God’s purposes, we run into the enemy and displace his positions. We need never pursue the enemy in order to engage the enemy, nor are we called to do so. We move onto the land God has already promised us as a promised possession, and we engage the enemy who has made a claim on it.

Beware the warfare strategies that engage the enemy simply upon the basis, “this is the enemy.” Chasing after conspiracy theories, Illuminati and secret cults, becoming an expert in strange ideas and historic mysteries, touting expertise about the Antichrist and what the CIA says about unseen forces at work in the world…exhausting distractions that substitute for the positive pursuit of purpose. The assumption is that if the enemy is engaged by intercession or warfare on his own turf, we will have breakthrough, but the enemy doesn’t have any turf and we can function legitimately where we are assigned. Our assignment is never exclusively guerrilla warfare, sniper duty, or spiritual hit man.

The enemy has no turf to be engaged upon. He merely wishes you to believe that so he can convince you of the inevitability of evil. You will celebrate moral victories and morale victories or hollow victories that distract from the purposes of God instead of fulfilling them.

Remember the “anything but that” strategy of hell. Purpose defines kingdom and kingdom leadership. Through purpose we focus passion, set priority, understand principle, follow protocol, and interpret Providence. The enemy has long engaged in distraction and substitution as he method: distract from the purpose and offer the substitute. 

Just let me say it, “A lot of the spiritual warfare being done is actually a distraction for purpose and some of it substitutes for the purpose God has assigned leaders to fulfill.” Hundreds of thousands of dollars are being invested in distractions and substitutions, and the enemy giggles with delight. At the end, we are left to wonder, “So? We did all that and things are the same as they were before. We have no measurable sense of progress except to assume we are faithful.”

 

Overcoming the Dominant Spiritual Condition of Your Assignment

God makes kingdom leaders aware of dominant spiritual conditions in their assigned areas in ways that I call “shared spiritual experience.” In an intercessory context, you experience the spiritual condition so that you can fully recognize and understand it by personal experience. In this way, leaders can discern the difference between the influence of principalities and demonic spirits and the responses of people to those spiritual conditions: a work of darkness and a work of flesh are not the same thing.

Kingdom leaders recognize demons by the dominant traits of their characters. The “spirit of fear” identifies a demonic condition produced by the character of a demon at work; the spiritual condition the demon produces is fear. A leader experiences this because of the position of authority, the authority of assignment; he or she has to confront it.

God begins with personal victory over that spirit. Some aspect of the greater spiritual condition operates in the personal sphere of influence the kingdom has been assigned. As David overcame the roar of lion and bear, he was prepared to face the roar of Goliath; having become expert with the weapon he possessed, he was prepared to wield the sword of a giant.

The stirring a kingdom leader feels, experiencing the dominant spiritual condition at work in his sphere of influence allow him or her to discern by shared spiritual experience what that spirit is and how it works. He or she becomes more aware of its character than ever.

The overcomers that Jesus identified in the seven Ecclesias as John recorded in The Revelation represent those with kingdom assignments, leaders with authority to overcome the dominant spiritual condition of their arenas of spirit. They become the leaders who can overcome by overcoming victories in their own lives and spheres of influence. They mature their leadership by facing the lions and bears of their own valleys so they can run into the valley of giants.

The enemy will always become overconfident of his authority; the demonic both whines and boasts out of proportion to its true measurement of power. Demons are overly optimistic, and they overplay their hand in ways that expose them and their strategies to discerning leaders. What the enemy assumes is victory is really exposure.

The enemy you see is the next enemy you defeat! The enemy overplays his hand and exposes himself. The kingdom leader immediately discerns the vulnerability because of his personal experience of this type or character of demonic activity and strategy. The stone is released. The giant falls. The sword of the giant becomes the sword of the kingdom leader who holds the giant’s head in his hand. At that point, another roar is heard as the army that has been waiting for a champion rushes into the valley to press the battle to greater victory in thousands of kingdom people.

Kingdom leader, What is Your strategy to defeat this enemy? And, what is your assignment in that strategy? What is the next step toward the finished victory? What have you already learned about how this demonic strategy affects people and the dominant spiritual condition of your assigned sphere of influence?

The victory is already there in the Cross but must be applied and appropriated in you so it can be released through you. Of course, you aren’t to carry the whole load yourself, personally, but you do have a specific, vital strategic part in kingdom leadership for the victory.

How do you know you have the strategy? Holy Spirit and confirmation of spiritual leaders will convince you. So convinced that you will experience boldness to execute God’s judgment against this work of hell in your region. The Ecclesia Jesus builds displaces the authorities of hell to work: you establish kingdom and Jesus builds His Ecclesia.

This spiritual condition is ancient. The condition has an ancient source in the rulers of the whole region. So, God will give us a strategy that will “hit the forehead of the giant.”

What is the opposite spirit? If fear, expect a flow of supernatural love, power, and a healthy mind. If perversion, expect a flow of covenantal loyalty. If death, expect a flow of resurrection life. If despair, expect a flow of hope. Never operate in the same spiritual condition with the idea that you will out-fear the enemy or out-despair the enemy. “Overcome evil with good.”

How Good a “Christian” is Jesus?

The term “christian” can more properly be “adherent to some form of christianism.” The term has little to do with its actual origins or meaning. Christianism refers to a religious point of view separate from and in contrast to other religious world views and philosophies. It does not refer to the personal transformational process of redemption appropriation that makes a person a new creation, regenerates his spirit, and opens the flow of grace into his life so that he can become more and more like Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of God and Savior of the world.

The word “christian” is obvious built upon the title “Christ,” a form of reference for “Messiah, the Anointed One.”It has history. When Jesus of Nazareth was born of Mary as God’s Son and Savior of the world, His destiny was to receive that anointing and be the Anointed One. Creation awaited His coming from before its beginning.

Jesus was with God and was God before He was born, and as God He filled the role of Messiah to the Jewish people and Savior to the whole world. The term means, “Anointed One,”and the concept of “christian” presumes a connection with this meaning.

The origin of the term can be traced to Antioch: “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” The original term seems to suggest the idea of “belonging to the Anointed One.” In its first context, it seems to suggest a contrast between those who belong to Caesar and those belonging to Christ. The sense of belonging to can refer to ownership and worship. Caesars were worshipped as the source and resource of the empire while believers belong to and worshipped Jesus of Nazareth, risen from among the dead.

Not Everything “Christian” is

Distinguishing a person from other religions, philosophies, and world views with the term falls far short of what it means to belong to and worship  the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, an amazing amount of the adjective carries little resemblance to Him at all especially when His actual words and actions enter into the discussion of what it means to belong to the Christ.

Perhaps we could say, without being overly dramatic or demonstrative, that Jesus wouldn’t be seen as a good “Christian” by a vast majority of people who use the label. We could ask, “How good a ‘Christian’ is Jesus?”

Just yesterday I read a comment by a person advocating the persecution of a business that chose not to participate in a wedding ceremony between two women: “Jesus would never act like this.” The comment reveals a consideration about marriage and gender identity so foreign to Creation that we are left to wonder why this person could assume that the Creator who set the order of culture would think the agenda that seeks to reset the norms of culture, contrary to His creation purposes was more “christian” than Jesus. To read His words and understand His actions, such a conclusion would mean that Jesus isn’t a good “christian” in the eyes of many people.

Watching Jesus live and lead, develop disciples, and obey His Father’s purposes, we see much less of Ghandi than many moderns wish to attribute to the Savior. Someone acting as Jesus acted, spitting and making mud, applying it to a blind man’s eyes, or using a rope to whip cheats while overturning their tables – twice, or calling hypocrites gravesides and sons of the devil, well, that wouldn’t be “christian,” now would it?

The reality is that Jesus being Jesus wouldn’t be welcomed as a member of most modern churches nor asked to speak at most christian conventions, conference, and conclaves. He would be an offense to “christianism,” insisting that God created in six days and rested the seventh, saying marriage involves male and female as it has been ‘from the beginning of Creation,’ insisting that people who wish to belong to Him carry their own cross, deny themselves, and learn to do what He does so they can do greater…

What do you think? Is Jesus a good “christian?”

Revival and Riot: A Season of Contrast

Dr Don has been prophesying a season of Awakening in America for several years that would be marked by both revival and riot. The Awakening will bring holy riot to the kingdom and chaotic riot to the streets. Both aspects of this season are manifesting.

Dr Don today: “A season of contrast has arrived. Strong contrast. Light and dark in strong contrast bring clarity of purpose and passion; we can see the heart of man with such clarity that it is easy to choose which side My people are on. In this contrast and clarity, a higher expectation of commitment arises so that the unity you have sought comes through the spirit. A unity of purpose will arrive by reason of the contrast. Not a false unity of appearance based upon shared titles or entitlements, but a unity of purpose that demands a higher commitment.

“How long will you hop from branch to branch like a bird? If Jehovah be God then worship Him. If Baal, worship him.”

In the season of contrast, you need not do anything new but become more intensely committed in doing what you’ve already been doing. You need not do anything when attacked, for as a spectator you will see the reward of the wicked.

By reason of contrast, what you have said and done will be more clearly see and understood. You need do nothing differently – keep doing what you are doing and saying what you are saying. It will become increasingly clear what side you are on by reason of contrast.

Some things will now diminish because they are a mixture instead of the pure. And, your enemies will be more clearly “enemies.” Fear not, this is necessary for people to have an easy decision, a bold response, a clear choice of direction. Contrast will bring division but division will produce unity. “Who is on the Lord’s side?”

If you are committed to purpose more than appearance, those who chose God’s side will recognize your leadership in the day of contrast.”

Revival and riot marked Acts 19 when Ephesus experienced a generation of transformation to become the center of Christianity for 200 years.

Choosing Spiritual Children

To some extent Jesus had to deal with the leaders Father gave Him. He didn’t pick the ones He wanted so much as He matured the ones He was given. Recognized the ones Father had aligned with His assignment. One of them was a devil. None of them would be a “first choice” in the minds of the religious culture in which He functioned.

Several studies, artistic and metaphoric, investigate the personality types of the Twelve to discuss who they were and why they were chosen. While they were certainly not the only disciples Jesus worked with, they were the apostolic blueprints leaders He matured to represent His assignment to the world and history. Why were these the men chosen to represent the blueprints of the kingdom?

The question deserves careful and thoughtful consideration. There is no fate in faith. We believe in purpose when we believe in Providence. So, the men were not accidentally or whimsically accepted. They were not “first come, first serve.” They were not selected based upon criteria normally included in resumes for leadership.

Choosing Spiritual Children

So, we can ponder the question, “Why did I get stuck with this bunch?”

Jesus seems to say something similar as He comes down off the transfiguration mountain accompanied by Simon, John, and James. “How long must I be with you?” We could wonder if He rolled His eyes as He said this.

How can we better understand the strategy of God in choosing the leaders we will disciple into kingdom leaders?

The question usually becomes, “Do I get to choose my children?”

My answer would be, “I hope not!” Leaders who think they have that level of wisdom usually chose poorly, choose through the filtering system of their pride, and pass over the ones Father knows will become champions. They operate like Samuel standing before Jesse’s firstborn with a horn of anointing oil hanging over his head: “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” Immature prophetic function falls flat when it judges by outward appearance or ocular dynamics.

Perhaps the most telling revelation of kingdom dynamics is, God never leave the essentials to us. When we melt the dynamics down to their essentials, we find that God concerns Himself with some things we find minor while we concern ourselves with some things God consider minor.

God never leaves the design and definition of major kingdom issues to man. And, one of those major issues involves assignment.

Recognize More than Select

Personally, I think the blueprint leader recognizes those assigned to his leadership more than he choses them.

I hesitate to hammer spiritual fathering into the mold of natural fathering especially in the finer points of “how things work in the spirit.” (Natural children are not selected; we father the children God gives us.) I don’t think I can chose who I disciple as much as recognize those Father has aligned with the assignment. I can determine how much to invest in people based upon their submission and obedience, but I cannot properly recruit true children.

One of my honored spiritual leaders often says, “I choose winners.” To some extent, he is saying – and this manifests in his leadership style – “I don’t waste my time with anyone who isn’t successful. I choose the people I pour into.” I have disagreed with this because I also disagree with “the accumulation of believers” as church growth or the accumulation of intercessors as a proper strategy for prayer or the accumulation of apostles as a basis for kingdom leadership, etc.

In kingdom, leaders function by assignment. The leaders who align with them are aligning with assignment more than they are aligning with the leader. The relationship that develops from this assignment will reach the highest of fathering upon this basis.

Fathering isn’t built upon the premise of personality but purpose.

Beware the tendency to assume that spiritual DNA means similar dispositional traits! Beware the assumption that the children you father will exhibit your personality! The dispositional tendencies of the disciples didn’t attract Jesus to them as candidates to represent Him in the world and history; their created dispositions were complex and dissimilar. None of them represent the disposition of Jesus at the beginning, and the aspect of Jesus’ disposition that emerged in them as they matured did not destroy their created dispositions.

Simon Peter was still acting like Simon Peter long after he reached the highest levels of his apostolic leadership. Barnabas remained a son of consolation while traveling with Paul, who continued to manifest a unique created disposition in his apostolic fathering.

Don’t begin with yourself to understand your leadership as a father. In essence, this is the error of modern personality-centric leadership, and we have suffered with this immaturity far too long!

I have suffered with fathering leaders whose understanding of fathering meant I needed to be them, sound like them, look like them, and function like them. I needed to become someone else in order to fulfill my destiny – the opposite of redemptive, restorative discipling.

Redemption and restoration does not make me someone else. It makes me the person God created me to be in the first place! So, discipling leadership directs this destined design toward maturity, not redesign.

I thought myself a rebel or failure for not living up to the expectations of dysfunctional leaders running through hundreds of candidates in their vain effort to clone themselves in a cult and culture of perpetuating personality instead of discipling leaders.

Begin with your assignment. The broader understanding of assignment you possess, the greater clarity arises about who is aligned with that assignment and where Jesus has created and called the leaders you disciple to fit in its fulfillment.

Discipling leaders never separate people from purpose. So, recognizing your spiritual children God involves you in recognizing the spiritual revelation of individual destiny that fits into kingdom purpose.

God’s great leaders are waiting for fathers who can discern what they cannot fully discern: the blueprint of their destiny fitted into the fuller blueprint of their assignment that fits the broader blueprint of kingdom purpose.

Thousands of people are running around constructing a room for the twenty-first floor of a kingdom building. The rest of the building isn’t visible on the horizon. The structure lacks preparation and position. They have a blueprint for this room but one room for the twenty-first floor of the kingdom is an albatross until it becomes part of a skyscraper.

Choosing Children and Leadership Failure

Look at the process through its failures. Quality control will take the failure apart to discover the failure of the process. The quality is usually more about process than people.

Both natural and spiritual children run away at times.

Not everyone makes it. The possibility remains that you have many more spiritual children assigned to your fathering leadership than are willing to be fathered. Jesus had a whole nation assigned to His fathering leadership; they killed Him.

Prodigals have fathers; the problem isn’t that they are fatherless but that they are unwilling to stand the discipling that prepares and positions them to produce purpose.

On the other hand, dysfunctional fathers may reject children they do not wish to father because of pride: “I deserve better children than this. These people require too much work, and I am way too awesome to have to put up with this level of leadership capacity.” That is, their pride disproportionally proposes their understanding of their discipling assignments. If they were David, they’d never turn the people David found in the wilderness into an army of mighty men. They deserve to reap the rewards of someone else’s hard work: “I’ll get some prepared leaders from the seminary graduation classes so I don’t have to do the hard work of preparing and positioning children. I’ll buy some.”

One leader told me to my face: “When I need a leader in this ministry, I will hire a professional.” Hard to imagine a more obvious failure in fathering than that if that is your fathering leadership model! Certainly, positioning people prepared to produce who you didn’t personally may be valid, but assuming that you can pay someone else to do what you should be doing yourself is dysfunctional.

Dysfunctional fathers often desire the process to be easier than it is. They complain. They lack patience. They demand instant maturity when the very reason for fathering leadership is to produce maturity. They wish to acquire children already mature so they look like great fathers.

God will not give you resumes to read when He assigns your children. He will give you blueprints from which to build destinies.

Defining Success and Failure

For more than a decade I’ve asking the question: “By what process do we develop apostles and prophets?” To which I receive the answer, by the way we function, that we do not prepare and position foundational leaders; we accumulate them.

Perhaps we carry the definition of “church” as “the accumulation of believers” into the dynamics of kingdom. Since the restoration of intercessors, prophets, apostles, and kingdom dynamics is here, perhaps we attempt to fit that restoration into a poor working definition of ekklesia, one that ignores kingdom principles and protocols even when it tacks the title on the front of the name. [That’s sounds more harsh than I mean it.]

Dysfunctional fathers may treat children like cattle to be branded. They may seek out good leaders like a rancher buys a prime bull to sire champions for his herds. They may brand their cattle and pasture them into fatness for show. They may measure success by the accumulation of herds and show champions, not the maturing of children.

In the natural, immature and selfish parents wish to choose the gender of their children. They have no control over what God gives them. In the spiritual we can see some of the same but the process of birthing is more about recognizing the leaders in which we should invest leadership than choosing the children we wish to father.

Beware the tendency to seek out children you consider easiest to mature or who will become trophies of your leadership capabilities instead of recognizing children Jesus has aligned with your assignment. As well, resist the tendency to assume anyone who shows up is a true son or daughter. Even if they are, beware the tendency to measure your success as a father by their ability of people to be teachable and transformable.

If experiencing rejection of your leadership is a sign of leadership failure, Jesus failed in a big way. If discovering the people Father has assigned to your leadership don’t wish to be fathered is leadership failure, Jesus failed in a big way. If fathering a foundational disciple who turns out to be a devil is leadership failure, Jesus took home a trophy for leadership failure in His leadership of Judas.

In other words, measuring leadership through the perfect prism of Scripture, both prophetic eyes of the Old Covenant and prophetic vision of the New Testament, Jesus’ fathering leadership reveals principles and protocols for kingdom leadership development that challenge the dynamics often utilized by modern church. His protocols and principles run on a parallel track from those necessary to the accumulation of believers.

The end result may be “success” in the definition of church as the accumulation of believers but “failure” in the definition of ekklesia that displaces the positioned authorities of hell in order to establish the culture of the kingdom. Kingdom leadership success looks different from church growth success because discipling isn’t about accumulating followers but maturing the people assigned into kingdom leaders.

Apostolic Blueprints and Prophetic Perspectives

Recognizing spiritual children requires apostolic and prophetic function. Leaders who are not apostles or prophets must have a context in which apostolic and prophetic function becomes available in their leadership. All leaders must lead prophetically: accurately anticipate what is coming next and prepare the Lord a people ready to respond when the new season arrives.

Fathering requires revelation. “Train up a child in his way he should go,” says that the child’s destiny must be the basis of his development. [See Proverbs The children are wet cement idea is foreign to discipling when the concept assumes we can make a child into anything we wish. Fathers need a revelation of the child’s purpose in order to properly prepare the child to fulfill that purpose.

Not only does apostolic and prophetic immaturity fail to properly identify spiritual children and disciple them to mature function as kingdom leaders, the lack of fathering function improperly measures the progress of personal maturity so that the process of discipling packages a product for distribution that ignores its original design.

It sells. But it doesn’t sell kingdom. It sells. But it doesn’t represent the Creator.

Perhaps the Author of “Kingdom Leadership” has trouble recognizing the final edit of His book after preparation for publication by marketing experts with little understanding of kingdom protocols and principles. Perhaps “what sells” isn’t the first thought of the King. It certainly wasn’t when He was here on earth.

Jacob’s Identity Crisis at Jabbok

Jacob arrives at Jabbok to face the source of his fear and guilt. Jacob has a prophetic promise to be the inheritor of Abraham’s covenant with God. He has the right to the covenant with God, but he will be prepared as an inheritor at Jabbok.

Jabbok means “emptying out.” It is a brook that divides Gilead into two parts. Gilead means “testimony or witness between.” Jabbok is the dividing point between the witness God’s spirit and your own testimony of who you are.

God’s Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are His children, and if children, then heirs. We are equal heirs with Christ. Identity moves us from being heirs to being inheritors. Not all heirs inherit because they rebel like Esau. Inheritors must be prepared to inherit because the inheritance has a covenant purpose.

Step 1 – Jacob meets God’s Army of Angels and knows he is in a strategic place. Angels are sent to those about to inherit salvation according to Hebrews 1:14. Angels stand ready to assist the inheritors because the inheritors receive the purpose of God. Jacob is familiar with angels because he saw them at Bethel on the staircase of heaven. Jacob is having revelatory experiences because God is making him aware that his earthly life has spiritual and eternal meaning.

Do you know the spiritual and eternal meaning of your life? This is the first step in identity crisis, a revelation of what God wants you to be. You can get it badly wrong as Saul of Tarsus did, thinking he was doing God a favor killing and persecuting believers. You can spend years of your life going awry and still come back to the fullness of your destiny!

Jacob has already experienced prophetic promise and the struggle of destiny that occurred in his mother’s womb. Meeting angels empties Jacob of the claim that who his is physically defines him. It forces him to come to grips with the spiritual aspects of history and destiny, to see himself as God sees him, and to see the battle as a spiritual battle. He sees the angels as an army and names the place “two armies.” The two camps could refer to angels going one and angels coming down. Either way, Jacob knows that the spiritual aspects of his destiny provide superior dynamics than the natural conditions he faces with Esau and Laban.

Step 2 – Jacob sends all his earthly possessions over Jabbok and is left alone. I must tell you that your spiritual identity crisis is something you must face alone, empty of the things you would show God as proof that you know who are.

The initial steps of identity require a sacrifice of the body. You can see the parallels with Romans 12: 1-2 and the process of identity crisis. “By God’s mercies present your body as a holy, acceptable offering, a sacrificial life.”

The separation of physical things is necessary because we often use them to define ourselves. We include our possessions and relationships in our definition of who we are. This is not a separation from evil things but a process of redefining relationships and possessions, aligning them to the revelation of who we are in the eyes of God. After the death of evil things comes the death of good things.

Cheer up! God is trying to kill you! This is the cross you carry. It is not suffering, sickness, your mother-in-law, or your circumstances. The cross is the place of death for self-image so God can resurrect the person He created you to be, and introduce you to yourself. As long as you maintain control of self and image, you are living with a limited understanding of your destiny.

Step 3 – Jacob wrestles with God. God shows up in the darkness when Jacob is alone, vulnerable to his deepest fears. His fear surfaces with someone grabbing hold of him, but God goes deeper than the manifestation, to the root issue. This wrestling comes out of fear of loss, a fear of being empty, a fear of losing himself and not knowing who he really is anymore.

God could overwhelm Jacob at any moment. The wrestling continues because God is holding Jacob in this traumatic crisis of identity. This is the sense of “by the mercies of God” in Roman 12:1. We need God’s mercy with us during this time of transformation. God holds us close to His merciful heart. He is with us to secure us in this frightening death-to-self time.

God wasn’t wrestling Jacob. He was holding him.

Step 4 – Jacob prevails with God. What does this mean? Simple. God lost the wrestling match on purpose, and then showed Jacob that He could have won any time He wanted.

How would like to wrestle with someone for hours, seeming to win, and suddenly the person touches your thigh with his finger and puts it out of joint? You would realize that your opponent could have won at any moment. God is wrestling with Jacob because He knows Jacob is really wrestling with himself.

By His mercies, God is there to hold Jacob in the most difficult crisis of life – the crisis of identity. God holds him while Jacob empties himself of his struggles. The last level of personal strength goes out of Jacob, and he sags in the grip of God. God won’t let him go until everything that stands between Jacob and true destiny is separated out and destroyed.

This is also the sense of John’s prophecy of Jesus: “He will baptize you with Holy Spirit and fire. He will completely clean the chaff from the grain and blow it into His fire. The fire that consume this chaff never stops burning.”

Step 5 – God reveals who Jacob isn’t. “What is your name?” God shows Jacob that he really doesn’t know who he is. God says, “Your name will no longer be Jacob.” Since no one knows who Jacob really is but God, God is the One who tells him his new name.

Wow! That’s really scary! “If I am not Jacob, then who am I?” That is the scariest moment you face with God. The level of trust you must have with God to exhaust your struggles and surrender all. This is the level of trust required to be the person God knows you are. Without this level, you cannot see or receive the revelation of your highest destiny. God will show you who are and convince you that you can be that person! Don’t miss the process of convincing or you will lack the strength to finish the assignment!

God alone can take you to this place, but God will not leave you alone when you go there. He will stay with you through the entire process.

I have seen so many people run away when faced with this moment. Spiritual children often refuse to face this moment and call God and their leaders unfair and controlling when it comes. They refuse to be conquered by anyone, submit to anyone, because their definition of God and leadership looks far too more like the world’s. They have developed an entitlement mentality. They wrestle for what they want, not what God wants and walk away with the same old name. They are after their potential instead of their purpose.

To get to the “instead you shall be called” part of the process, you must surrender all, and then you must surrender your struggles. Abraham got to this place after trying to help God out for decades. When Abraham had no other options, God renamed him and gave him the promise. With Paul, Jesus says, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads of the Spirit.” It seems Paul was reaching the end of himself.

Finding out who you are not can be a difficult experience, but it will open your life up to your greatest days and dreams.

Step 6 – God reveals who Jacob is. “Your name is God-wrestler.” God is thrilled with Jacob’s wrestling. Jacob wrestled in the womb, wrestled with intrigue to steal his brother’s firstborn inheritance, and struggled with his father-in-law and his sons. Jacob is a professional wrestler, and now he has wrestled with God and won! His new name will never be lost. “You are Israel. God’s wrestling partner.” When you and God wrestle together as partners, no one will be able to beat you! Are you convinced, Jacob?

God holds Jacob until he faces his deep deception, the basis of his greatest fear. Jacob knows he got the blessing in the wrong way and fears he will lose it. Even after experiencing favor for many years and becoming rich, Jacob fears losing it all because his success is based upon the wrong assumptions and actions.

Step 7 – Jacob inherits what is coming to him. But now he is ready to inherit it. As a wise Father, God will not give you more of your inheritance than you are prepared to invest. Much of our inheritance is in limbo, hidden from human eyes. God preserves and reserves inheritance for a faithful generation.