Kingdom Leadership Dynamics, Part 2 – Leadership

To define kingdom, we must identify the king. Kingdom infers ruler. The rule of the king can be identified with his realm, but he can be king without a kingdom, rule without a realm. As Jesus indicates, the realm of His kingdom must be expanded and established, and the realm is measured by who or what submits to His rule.

Thus, submission becomes the operative word of kingdom. (We will discuss this more after the Introduction.) Jesus became a Ruler by submitting to His Father, “learning obedience by submitting to His passion.” As Savior, He can only finish what He started from His position as King.

Jesus accepted responsibility to create what Father wants. At the same time, He accepted responsibility to redeem what Father wants: “the lamb sacrificed before the foundation of the world.” He also accepted responsibility to restore what Father wants, and He restores from His position of authority at the right of Father. That is, He restores what He rules. He restores All to its initial purpose, and leadership is required to accomplish this ultimate result.

Leadership

Leadership isn’t a Bible word in the sense that you find that actual English term. It is, of course, so basic to the Bible that the Bible itself expresses that God is a Leader; He revealed His leadership to us. He revealed His strategies for leading us.

“Leadership” definitions reveal the motivational or passion structures of people who provide the definitions, and the definitions are varied, contradictory, and narrowly focused. That is, a CEO of a company that majors upon producing a sales force for their product line will define motivation in terms of human potential, or a CEO of a manufacturing firm emphasizing performance, quality, and production, leadership that produces the shared, desired outcomes. Leadership as management. Leadership as motivation. Leadership as maneuvers.

Leadership is influence. “Influence” is a leadership term. The etymology emanates worldview of leadership: the gods, the stars, the cosmos, and forces of the universe motivating or producing behavior. The Bible provides the only valid worldview by which we can properly understand influence in the ultimate and particular sense.

  1. Inspiration – all kingdom leadership is inspirational. The term “inspire” as translated in 2 Timothy 3:16, theopneustos, means “God breathed” and denotes the breath or spirit of God, Holy Spirit provides the fundamental leadership dynamics of the kingdom. The term has come to mean, “influence or animate with an idea or purpose.” For kingdom leadership, the tone of leadership and the dynamics or dumanis of leadership is spiritual, the breath of God.

Inspiration is a kingdom leadership dynamic in that relationships and functions are spiritual. The spiritual relationships have roles and responsibilities spiritually designed and defined. The kingdom leader functions in a fathering anointing, anointing being a fundamental dynamic of kingdom leadership.

“Anointing is Holy Spirit at work in natural men empowering them with spiritual capacity they do not naturally possess. The anointed leader, as God’s vessel, leads as he is led, but his leadership has spiritual capacity and dynamics only Holy Spirit can provide. (See II Corinthians 4:7). While the word, “anoint,” has the sense of something rubbed on, the sense also presumes a targeting for that which is poured on and rubbed in. We still use oils to prophecy the spiritual reality of spiritual anointing. In the Old Testament, leaders were literally and ceremonially anointed because they were spiritually anointed to represent God and do specific things for Him in kingdom culture. The oil poured upon the leader marked the moment God’s enabling power began to function and an observable inspiration marked that leader’s life and leadership.

To be anointed by God is not only to be picked, but also to be empowered by Him for the task or position to which He has called you.”

Leading by inspiration means the connection point of communication and relationship begins with spiritual assignment, alignment, and alliance. The submission of people to kingdom leadership is a surrender to kingdom assignment and the anointing and authority of the assignment creates a dynamic of spirit through which those being discipled receive from the King through the leaders He has sent. Holy Spirit in the leader and the one following inspires the relationship.

12 John 2:19-22 – “They left us, but they were never really with us. If they had been, they would have stuck it out with us, loyal to the end. In leaving, they showed their true colors, showed they never did belong. But you belong. The Holy One anointed you, and you all perceive it. I haven’t been writing about what you don’t perceive, but to confirm the truth you do perceive, and to remind you that the truth doesn’t produce lies.”

  1. Influence – all kingdom leadership can be measured by influence, by the spiritual power released in that leadership to alter the atmosphere, effect people exposed to the anointing, and to produce passion or motivation in people to embrace what God wants at some level. Inspired spiritually, influenced spiritually, people respond to the effect of kingdom leadership. This influence is spiritual and comes through the person anointed by God to represent Him. The response can be negative, of course; people are inspired in spirit in ways that reveal their heart conditions or that affect their heart conditions toward a response, good or bad.

Simple etymology of the word, “influence,” includes the sense of “streaming ethereal power from the stars acting upon character or destiny of men,” from Old French influence “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny,” also “a flow of water,” from Medieval Latin influentia “a flowing in,” from Latin influentem, present participle of influere “to flow into,” Influence as a leadership result or effect means “sway or power over human beings.” Aquinas mentions the term to describe “exertion of unseen influence by persons.”

The term initially assumed the influence of spiritual or hidden forces and powers upon men and history, swaying regions of the earth toward observable behaviors, character, or thinking. For us, kingdom leadership means spiritual and heavenly power given to leaders, released through leaders, brings the influence of heaven into the earth. Therefore, kingdom leadership strategies assume God calls and positions people to represent Him and His purposes on earth so that what He wants will affect and effect history.

We should assume the scope of leadership and influence a kingdom leadership exerts to be equal to the calling and assignment of God, the anointing and authority given would be appropriate to that calling and commissioning so that the leadership influence is equal to the kingdom assignment. We should assume that failing to exert the spiritual dynamics of inspiration would limit a kingdom leader in being and doing what he or she is assigned; and, we should assume that any kingdom leader attempting to influence beyond his or her calling and commissioning must be employ natural or occult power to gain influence.

  1. Impact – inspiration and influence assume impact, the effect of the cause of kingdom leadership. Leadership touches people, places, and purposes. The early believers were said to have “turned the world upside down.” [Acts 17:6] They influence of their message and mission was spiritually empowered, according to Paul, so that the effect would produce faith in God, not man. The impact was deep but the result came because they were kingdom leaders, representing heaven on earth.

Certainly, positional or titled leadership, the formal setting in place of leadership in government, family, and kingdom Ecclesia describes the roles, relationships, and responsibilities God created for leadership, but the title itself does not inspire, influence, or impact. Functioning in kingdom leadership dynamics defines and measures the kingdom impact of leadership. A father or mother has a defined role, relationship, and responsibility to children and to one another that can be negative or positive; for it to be kingdom leadership, the leadership must function from the Spirit and affect the spiritual conditions of the home and children. Governmental leaders have influence and impact, some through inspiration, but the roles, relationships, and responsibilities of government leaders differ widely in various cultures and are often designed and defined to limit the dynamics of kingdom influence and impact. A kingdom leader in governmental position may lead millions of people but have less kingdom influence or impact because their roles, relationships, and responsibilities are limited.

We are discussing the dynamics of kingdom leadership. While it always a blessing to have righteous leadership, the dynamics of kingdom leadership require a kingdom culture to be fully affective. A nation invested with God’s principles and protocols can produce much greater kingdom influence through righteous leaders than a culture with a believer in government whose culture has been drained of cultural principles that come from God. In turn, a great move of God may visit any nation with positive affect but fail to produce a transformed culture when the dynamics of kingdom leadership are not available. We seek primarily God’s kingdom and righteousness in order to represent Him on earth; the culture must be discipled as well as the individual people of the nation.

Reconsider your reading of what we call the great commission as it reads in Jesus’ words: “I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. As you continue this journey we’ve been together, wherever you go, disciple the cultures, baptizing them in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey what I’ve commanded you, and be aware that I’m with you continuously until the age comes to an end.”

  • Heavenly authority in earth
  • Journey begun continues wherever you go
  • Disciple cultures
  • Baptize them in the authority and name of God
  • Teach them to obey, carry out, and do what I’ve commanded you
  • I am involved in this process (even though I’m leaving)

Kingdom leadership dynamics are intended to bring spiritual power, authority, and leadership into history to affect every nation on earth with the leadership of heaven’s kingdom and culture.

 

The Apostolic Resource Center

For more than 15 years, we have been fully engaged in establishing apostolic resource centers in strategic locations internationally. We did not begin the present initiative as a “church.” Ecclesia should be built upon a kingdom foundation, called together into assembly to accomplish kingdom assignment. Ecclesia implements kingdom assignment.

To begin an ARC, you have to start with apostles and prophets as foundational leadership dynamics. To the extent you have both of these foundational leadership dynamics functioning, the ARC can mature, perhaps expand in numbers, but more importantly expand in influence. To some extent these foundations must be localized.

Immediately I say that someone says, “Paul didn’t remain localized.” My answer would be that Paul didn’t intend to operate ARC’s. Paul intended to prepare spiritual sons and daughters to operate them. The model of Paul would be a less than desirable model for apostolic leadership for most leaders for several reasons, and saying so does nothing to diminish his assignment or leadership as an apostle. Paul’s “foundational function” was a whole bunch different from the foundational function of the apostles and prophets he set into place. Very few modern apostles function like Paul, for very good reasons. They are apostles but their assignments aren’t like Paul’s.

We can certainly discover elements of apostolic fathering from Paul, and maybe we should move his model to the top of the list because of the bounty of information Holy Spirit chose to release through his writings, but we cannot limit our understanding of apostle and prophet to Paul or his experiences when his mission included the preparation and positioning of emerging apostles and prophets. Nor can we rightfully dismiss the aspect of Ephesians 2:20 through which we understand the foundational leadership of apostles and prophets to initialize kingdom Ecclesia: to some extent they did initialize things in unique ways, and we are not initializing things in the same sense because we are centuries down the road of history from that set of kingdom conditions.

Apostolic Resource

I am not stuck on the name. I am aware that others use it along with a list of other names that seek to identify some form of the same concept. I am hopeful that the apostolic and prophetic foundations laid will provide both blueprints of purpose, foundations that are true to the Chief Cornerstone, and resources to assist others in building upon the foundations. I am certain that Paul’s here today and gone tomorrow model of apostolic initializing isn’t the only model, the most desirable model, nor even the fundamental way Jesus designed His representatives to function.

That is, how Paul functioned doesn’t turn his experience into a principle. His principles are principles when recorded by Holy Spirit in Scripture, but his experiences aren’t principles. Paul wasn’t the last apostle. Paul wasn’t the epitome of the apostolic. Paul wasn’t the final or exclusive word on apostolic function. Many people were called apostles and called “apostles” who didn’t function like Paul, and Paul doesn’t demand that every apostle alter his assignment to model Paul’s. These assumptions have both limited apostolic maturity and misrepresented the function of “apostles.”

For the apostle and prophets located at any home base to fulfill their assignments, they need to become a kingdom resource for the entire region. The resource an apostle brings can be summarized by his or her assignment in terms of authority: apostles have the authority of their assignments; apostles represent the One who authorizes their assignment; apostles train leaders to expand and establish the assignment; and, apostles have a specific aspect within their assignments to produce the culture of the kingdom where their leadership functions.

Therefore, an ARC should measure success by the influence and impact of kingdom culture upon the prevailing culture of the region in which it is located. It should be a resource for altering the culture of that region through kingdom leaders. It should announce and enable a process that matures leaders to the level of function equal to the scope of the assignment. An apostle with a regional assignment should be able to produce leaders able to function at a regional level. An apostle with an international assignment should be able to mature leaders to function at an international level. An apostle whose scope of authority is localized should assume that alignment with apostles and prophets who function regionally and internationally provides him the best opportunity to fit his work into a broader blueprint of kingdom influence. The resources of a local ARC should interact with the resources of a regional and national ARC toward fuller interaction internationally.

Apostles and Prophets

Maturing either prophets or apostles at different rates of maturity produces some level of dysfunction. Building a foundation with an apostle or apostles without adding prophets to the foundation produces dysfunction. If Ephesians 2:20 teaches us that apostles and prophets remain foundational to the building, apostles and prophets must remain functional in the same ways they providing initial foundations.

I am involved in producing apostles and prophets should and can function at an international level since I have an international assignment. I am involved in producing apostles and prophets who can function together as foundational leaders since the foundation of the building assumes more than one apostle or prophet for the regional and national scope of building Ecclesia. I am involved in producing apostles and prophets aligned with other international leaders with broad blueprints of kingdom purpose.

Essentials of an Apostolic Resource Center

  1. An apostle or apostolic council with eldership oversight. An apostolic center requires an apostolic leadership. The sense of the term “elder” includes both expertise and experience that qualifies for oversight. Elders have the understanding of oversight because they have the blueprints of purpose: how can you oversee something without a mature understanding of its purpose? The term “elder” and “bishop” are interchangeable and signify expertise and experience, but the terms can apply at any level or scope of assignment. The bishop of cleaning the building is as valid a designation as the bishop function over a region or nation. The polity concepts of manmade institutions unnecessarily complicate the function: people of assignment must be matured so they function with expertise and experience in order to provide the necessary judgment and leadership to mature the assignment.

Apostle refers to a calling and function. Some have the call who lack function. Some claim the title who do not have the call or function. No preparation can give a person the call. Hanging around with apostles will not give you the call. Desiring the title because of erroneous perceptions that apostle is the highest of the ascension gifts or as far as you can go in promotion up the scale is grossly immature. Without an apostolic assignment, an apostolic resource center isn’t possible because the function required to operate it will be missing.

We will more deeply define “apostle” in another section, but mention here that apostle is a calling and a function. When the called are into the function, ordination recognizes the calling is functional. Some prefer the term commissioning but that seems to mark the ordained for a specific assignment. In either case, the terms are not Biblical and both terms denote recognition of calling and function.

The apostle or apostolic council needs to resident even if the assignment is international – which a regional ARC should be – and the apostles are traveling a lot. The home base of these apostles should be apparent to all.

  1. A home base from which to function. No matter the scope or sphere of assignment, the apostle needs a home base from which to function if he or she has a resource center. It is not a mobile enterprise even though it may touch the most distant places on earth. The home base further emphasizes that “church isn’t a building,” but does serve as a tool utilized for kingdom leadership development. The building is a tool, so the tool should be suited to the function, and the best tool available should be secured.

Apostles and prophets move around, especially if the scope of their assignments are national and international, but they must have a strong home base if they are to lead an ARC. They must be “leaders who make leaders.” They must produce apostles and prophets through the home base who can also do what they do, then do more.

  1. The ARC must offer several aspects of the ministry of Jesus: freedom, healing, prophetic and apostolic training, worship, discipling, fathering, formalized discipling for kingdom leaders, seminars and conferences, the Ecclesia as a kingdom assembly, evangelism, teaching, and shepherding leadership initiatives, and leadership development for every aspect of culture.

To be a resource means to offer something foundational to many people in the region or nation in ways that strengthens the entire kingdom effort in that region, to be poured out wine and broken bread to others, especially to the saints.

To be a resource center that produces mature leaders, the leaders being discipled and fathered should function in and through this center. They do not change the vision but they expand the vision. They will learn to function at an international level and make that level of spiritual power and authority available at the local, regional, and national level.

 

Kingdom Leadership Dynamics, Part 1 – Kingdom

Kingdom is God’s strategy of leadership in heaven and earth. Leadership is the kingdom strategy to influence and impact history by bringing heaven’s kingdom into the earth. Discipling is Jesus’ strategy to prepare and position leaders. Fathering is the discipling strategy that invests the heaven’s spirit of leadership into kingdom leaders. Kingdom. Leaders. Discipling. Fathering.

To understand kingdom leadership, we must first understand kingdom.

Kingdom, [Greek, basileion, Hebrew, mamlakah] An ancient word and concept, can never be properly understood separate from its spiritual and Divine aspect. The idea has always had a Divine or spiritual connotation whatever language, worldview, or culture used the word or concept; and certainly no Biblical understanding can avoid the obvious involvement of God in ruling His Creation. Both terms are ancient and borrowed from previous languages to identify some form of governmental priesthood. Kingdom has always inferred the involvement of God or gods in history.

All references to “kingdom” in the Bible infer a spiritual kingdom resident in the heavenlies in which God is King. This kingdom then gains influence and impact in history and on the earth through its application within covenant agreements between the heavenly kingdom and earthly leadership and culture. The kingdom is heavenly. The King is Yahweh. He has always been King because the kingdom has always been a heavenly reality. At the same time, anticipation of that heavenly kingdom being more fully expressed in the earth gives meaning to many statements about kingdom recorded in the Bible.

[Consider the “Royal Psalms.” Hermann Gunkel marks the royal psalms as 2, 18, 20, 21, 45, 72, 101, 110, 132, 144. While Royal Psalms may have been written for the coronation of the kings, they presuppose that God’s kingdom prepares and positions men to serve as His representatives.  Some psalms consider the function of the king representing the heavenly kingdom.

Many commentators and theologians refer to these anticipations of earthly kingdom only in an “eschatological” context. They see kingdom as the ultimate goal of God. I like to refer to the “end times” as the “ultimates.” Seeing “the end” merely as linear culmination misstates the meaning of many Biblical references to God’s strategy and involvement in human history, and misreads His intentions to accomplish His eternal purposes. The idea that God will finish what He starts may be a more accurate descriptor of “the end.” In fact, there is no “the end,” as there is no “the beginning” outside or without eternal purpose: things begin and end because they become what God intends them to be. That is, we should properly see “kingdom” as a beginning and an ending with measurable manifestations of ultimate fullness and fulfillment. Jesus can only achieve the ultimates; the fullness and fulfillment of kingdom purpose, covenant, and assignment belong to those who represent the King here and now.

Kingdom is God involving Himself as King in history, and the kingdom of heaven that Jesus establishes now represents God’s strategy to bring nations into that strategy. In David, we first see an emerging promise of how kingdom will fulfill that anticipation through Messiah. This comes from a merging of the two kingdom reference points: God is King in Heaven; God’s kingdom will influence and impact the nations of earth through Messiah. David’s kingdom becomes eternal in Messiah Jesus.

Beware the tendency to accept the “He came first as Savior. He’ll come again as King” as if that means He wasn’t King when born of the lineage of David. What Jesus accomplished in identifying with man so man could identify with Him carries much more weight than commonly assumed. He was King in the stable. He is King now. The manifestation of ultimates will finish something in terms of His kingdom’s fullness and fulfillment.

Jewish thinking assumed further meaning of kingdom from God inhabiting and present so that God is King. That assumes God’s kingdom is the expression of God’s leadership, and He is present and planning to stay awhile to carry out His kingship. When this meaning carries into the New Testament by the words of John and Jesus, and the earliest mention of kingdom as it relates to the arrival of Messiah, the meaning is totally consistent with this developed sense of “kingdom.” Therefore, kingdom leaders, like David and Melchisedec are marked by royal descriptors and assumed to represent God in unique ways. They represented Messianic fullness that Jesus revealed upon His arrival and ministry, a Messianic fullness that only the ultimates will finish.

Jesus is initially King of the Jews. The sense of this kingdom strategy remains fully functional: God wants everybody but never starts with everybody. He invests into a chosen Remnant what He wishes to manifest to everyone. He puts something in them so He can release something through them. God always has a Remnant invested with kingdom authority and power when He seeks to manifest kingdom.

Saul was Israel’s first kingly leader, but Saul answered to the people’s earthly concept of king. David incorporated all the facets of kingdom in his leadership. A spirit of leadership that properly represented God’s heart to finish, implement, execute, and carry out God’s purpose through ultimate obedience established a kingdom that Jesus arrived to make eternal. Therefore, David became a manifestation of Messianic promise awaiting the fullness Messiah alone could provide.

The parable in which Jesus describes a nobleman’s extended absence, describes Luke 19:12, 15, “labien heauto basileian” and “labonta ten basilican.”

“To receive his kingdom” and, “Having received His kingdom,” The reference directly relates to rule and realm.

The comparative phrases, “to receive authorization for his kingdom” and “having received authorization for his kingdom,” gives context for His discussion of delegated authority and kingdom leadership function. We must also distinguish between representative authority and the fully functional manifestation of the King in His realm. The kingdom perfectly manifested in heaven as the realm of the King and the kingdom increasingly manifesting its reign as influence upon history and cultures can be seen in Scripture. God as King in heaven and God’s kingdom being established on earth reveal strategic distinctions because of very real differences. God is not King on earth as He is in heaven; God has a strategy for His Kingdom to manifest in earth that is different from its perfect manifestation in the heavenlies.

The rule or the realm must both be distinguished in terms of how kingdom functions. Coming into the rule of the King begins the process of defining the realm of the king. One speaks of his authority. One speaks of his possession. His realm is being expanded when we establish His rule.

Giving Birth to Purpose, Part 1: Creation Groans

Romans 8 is a discussion about purpose. Although we pull Romans 8:28 out of this context in order to make refrigerator magnets and bumper stickers, to devotionalize Scripture that should be as practical as eggs for breakfast, the weight of Paul’s words rests upon the symphonic orchestration of All toward the fulfillment of God’s purpose, through people passionate about God and positioned, ordained, assigned, and chosen for that purpose.

The sights and sounds of birthing language fill the discussion with groaning and exertion, pressure and release, passionate pathos and eventual glory, present and future.

Paul certainly has “ultimates” in mind. Creation’s greatest birthing hasn’t occurred. Neither has ours since Paul clarifies this will provide us a glorified body that no man now possesses except Jesus. However, the discussion doesn’t isolate future events from present processes as if nothing about the present process produces purpose; quite the contrary, Paul draws upon the scope and framework of “ultimates” to describe and properly identify what is going here and now. Such prophetic parallel is common to prophetic language in every era of history.

Romans 8:17 – “We are children, therefore we are God’s heirs and equal heirs with Christ. We certainly share His sufferings in order to share His glory.”

That is both future and present because both suffering and glory are here and now while reaching and progressing toward ultimate passion and eternal glory. Comparing pathos with glory isn’t an even measurement system because you can’t measure one or the other with the same ruler or scale. The proportions of suffering and the proportions of glory belong to separate conditions, natural and spiritual.

Paul introduces this comparison as the basis for the complete discussion of purpose. The process that produces purpose also produces pain. “Sympascho” combines “acted upon” and “together with,” translated, “suffer with.” The sense of experiencing something intensely, passionately, hence, sharing this intense experience together, comes through in Paul’s meaning.

We share His experiences in order to experience His glory. “Shared spiritual experience” marks people of prophetic pregnancy partnering to produce purpose. Creation is pregnant with purpose. We are pregnant with personal purpose. We can become pregnant with God’s purposes so that we can give birth to them through shared spiritual experience. The word can describe an intense experience, in this case, the birthing process including labor pains, stretching, and releasing what we are carrying.

The additional compound, syndoxasthomen, coined here by Paul to describe the resulting spiritual condition that results from birthing or fulfilling purpose, means, “joined in being approval or receiving approval.”

Of course, the ultimate sense stands as a towering backdrop to this discussion, as Philippians 3:10, 11 says. Yet, the present experience and the future ultimate walk together because we know Him now but not as we will know Him ultimately. The present reality moves us toward the ultimate reality we cannot experience without personal, eternal completion of redemption. We don’t have the glorified body that He has: “He alone has immortality.” However, we do share spiritual experience here and now with Jesus because of the Resurrection, as well as, the shareholder of His sufferings and the conformity we share with His death. Any effort to make these phrases totally futuristic and ultimate does injustice to Paul’s revelation of spiritual reality believers experience here and now. In other words, both experiences add to one another; they do nothing to diminish one another.

Note the wording of verse 18, especially the word, mellousan, “about to happen, sure to happen, intend to,” translated “intend, propose, would certainly, delay, come about, almost.”

Paul is saying something about “now” shared spiritual passion that produces “about to happen, almost there but intended” shared spiritual approval that will be revealed. Without doubt we have the fuller context of many Scriptures to assure us this refers to ultimate and eternal experience, but we cannot separate this discussion from Paul’s here and now how things work in the spirit, clarity of which comes as he walks us through this discussion.

Creation Groans

The word, apokaradokia, “attentive or focused expectation” has within it a sense of something about to happen that grabs the attention and focus of passion: the intense present experience happens because it produces the expected “what’s coming next.” The compound word carries within it the sense of being intensely focused, absorbed, and engaged in the present process or experience at the exclusion of other considerations until what is expected occurs.

Paul refers metaphorically to Creation carrying this intense focus as it awaits someone who can produce its inherent purpose: God’s sons, the heirs of God and equal heirs with Christ. Creation’s focus is upon the people pregnant with purpose! Paul leads us directly to this understanding in verse 28 because God is symphonically orchestrating All together to produce purpose through those with His passion.

Paul mentions the first limitation to the fulfillment of purpose: Creation’s futility, that without God’s heirs, Creation lacks purpose since God made it for His heirs. That Creation’s can never produce its own purpose. Creation has purpose, but Creation cannot produce purpose until God’s heirs groan. Ultimately, this means the Revelation of Jesus Christ can bring the fullness of Creation’s purpose, but it also means that God births purpose here and now through His heirs.

Creation’s groans together and travails together. Again, Paul coins words to express this reality. The term “groans together” speaks of deep sighs. The term, stenazo, means the blast a horse makes through its nostrils, a violent exhale. Jesus did this twice on His way to raise Lazarus from death. Creation has a violent exhale together with someone else.

Creation’s travail or childbirth labor also has the word “together” attached by means of the prefix. In “labor together with” someone else. The “someone else” seems to be “all Creation.” That is, everything God created is in a state of giving birth, travailing groans, focused upon what is poised to happen that will give birth to purpose.

The “groaning together” seems to indicate that All groans and childbirth labor reminding us that Jesus died, rose again, and ascended in authority to sit at the Father’s right hand and restore All He created. The restoration is what is being birthed, and the purpose of All is what is being restored. Creation is pregnant with unfulfilled purpose and groans with childbirth labor to produce that purpose.

Giving Birth to Purpose, Part 2: “We Groan With Childbirth Labor”

Paul says, “Even we groan, having the Spirit’s first fruits as adopted sons of God while awaiting the redemption of our bodies.” Our bodies being the natural aspect of our total being that contacts the physical world and will ultimately received fuller redemption when we receive a glorified body. [Verse 23]

We groan, as does Creation for a revelation of Glory that only the ultimates can produce, the second coming of Jesus Christ with His glorified heirs. This groaning answers to Creation’s groaning in both the present and ultimate sense of fulfilled purpose.

In verse 25, Paul asserts that while we await the ultimates, “we hope with endurance.” That is, we continue to hope and while we hope, we endure the present groaning and childbirth labor All participates in together, a process that produces God’s purposes.

This frames the revelation of how things work in the spirit concerning the process of childbirth labor that will someday produce the ultimate but continues here and now to produce the restoration of purpose through the same process of shared spiritual experience.

“Moreover also likewise” starts out verse 26. These words signal how Paul’s discussion of ultimates, comparisons of passionate endurance, and other shared spiritual experiences between Jesus and the heirs of God applies to here and now as well as future fulfillment of All.

“In the same manner, in addition to that, also the Spirit helps together.” The term, synantilambanetai, means “aggressively lay hold of together.” Holy Spirit joins in our groaning and childbirth labor. Actively involved in what we are experiencing here and now, pregnant with purpose and laboring to produce that purpose. Here and now, not only in the ultimate sense because only the second coming of Jesus can bring the ultimates. Holy Spirit is doing what we are doing, aggressively laying hold of a purpose that must be birthed and set into place so it can mature.

Early in my childhood, I stayed all night with my friend, Stan on the William’s farm. The next morning his dad and the local vet were fully engaged in helping a weary cow give birth to a calf. It was a breech birth, feet first, and the cow was fighting for her life. The vet and Stan’s dad had a chain wrapped around the calf’s hooves and were both pulling, bent backs, strained arms and legs, groaning with extreme effort to birth that calf. Since the process of labor had begun, the process of labor had to finish if they were to save the calf and his mother.

Consider how “aggressively laying hold” fits that picture.

Holy Spirit helps us do what we are supposed to be doing. Holy Spirit doesn’t give birth to purpose but aggressively lays hold with us in the process.

We cannot separate what we are doing here and now from what we are going to ultimately experience when we receive a glorified body because we are experiencing the groans and childbirth labor here and now without a glorified body. We have limitations here and now. That is Paul’s point. The discussion certainly means Jesus is coming back to finish something that only He can finish, but Paul speaks of here and now in tandem with his sense of ultimates.

He helps us with our limitations. After identifying Creation’s futility, Paul identifies our limitations. Creation cannot produce purpose because it was created for God’s heirs and has no purpose within and of itself. Creation’s purpose awaits what God’s children birth. God’s children are engaged in birthing, just as Creation, but they have limitations as well. Their limitation lies in their lack of information about what to pray, their inability to fully discern purpose so they can give birth to it.

What We Should Pray For

Paul fits the groaning childbirth labor experience into prayer. He says, Prayer is the birthing process. Our prayer is limited because we lack knowledge of what to pray.

Obviously praying anything we please doesn’t produce what has caused our groaning and childbirth labor, doesn’t release what our shared spiritual experiences should release. Praying isn’t enough! Praying purpose finishes the birthing process. The groaning and childbirth labor we experience comes from our shared spiritual experience with Jesus, as equal heirs of God with Him, to produce the same purposes He died, rose again, and ascended in authority to restore. When we share His passion, we share His glory. When we enter into this process of groaning, we are groaning for a very different reason with a different outcome from All of Creation. We can give birth to purpose! However, we have limitations.

“We do not know how to pray what is necessary.” That’s our limitation. Creation’s limitation comes from having to await the heirs of God because Creation lacks innate purpose beyond being the inheritance of Jesus. Jesus sets us into place as equal heirs so we can share His spiritual experiences of intense, focused passion. We become pregnant with purpose and enter into groaning and childbirth labor to produce that purpose.

We do not know when or how to birth because we are limited, right now we lack a glorified body to endure, to finish, and to produce.

Therefore, God helps us!

Creation groans. We groan. God groans.

We should stop here to say something about the two words, “prayer” and “intercession.” The word for prayer is “proseuxometha.” The word for intercession is “hyperentynchanei.” Very different terms. They relate and meet together in birthing through the direct involvement of Holy Spirit in the process of groaning and childbirth labor.

Prayer is “to pray towards, request, wish or desire towards. The sense of the word is that we enter into an interactive or shared persuasion. We are persuaded with a sense of persuading God. The sense of being persuaded so we can enter into a persuasive interchange with God should overshadow the immature viewpoint of God being there to get us what we want.

Intercession is “come into alignment with for the benefit of.” This is the same sense of “pulling out the calf” with aggressive assistance. The intercession word used here occurs only here in all the New Testament and applies to the spiritual condition Holy Spirit creates when He helps us break through our limitations. He brings us into alignment with eternal purpose so we are releasing God’s will. The next verse has the word “intercession” in it but it is not “hyper” because birthing requires both Holy Spirit and us together groaning in childbirth labor.

He can assist us because He searches hearts, knows the mind of the spirit, and intercedes for the saints according to God.

That brings us to Romans 8:28 with a much better understanding of why and how “God symphonically orchestrates together All for good.” What is “good?” Better question is, “Who is good?”

Jesus answers, “None but God.” Jesus answers in this way, not that He isn’t God, but He understands that goodness intertwines intrinsically with the purpose of God. That is, God is good because He is the origination of all purpose, so good is measured by what is perfectly consistent with what God wants.

God symphonically orchestrates together All to produce purpose for those loving God who are, because of this passion, positioned, ordained, assigned, and called with purpose in mind.

 

 

The Forerunner Identity: Moving from Revival to Awakening Leadership

God wants everybody but He never starts with everybody. He starts with a remnant and remnant start with leaders. More specifically, He starts with Remnant leaders. Remnant leaders function as forerunners.

To identify the next season properly, we must identify the forerunner anointing preparing the Lord a people who will be ready to respond when that new season arrives. Because the remnant prophesies the “what-God-wants” of the next season that the forerunner and the remnant receives and releases. 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 who prepares the remnant. 

The Forerunner Identity

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. I mean, avoid the sense that forerunners have the right to make their forerunner identities into next season identities. The forerunner must sacrifice his or her identity to the next season in order to finish the work he or she was assigned. Forerunners cannot say, “See me? What you see tells you who I will be in the next season.” Because the forerunner and remnant prepare people for the next season, they are living the next season before it arrives; however, when the next season arrives, they must walk through the most challenging, gut-wrenching identity crisis of their lives.

Forerunners always say, “I must decrease as He increases.” 

When forerunners fail to understand their identities, they tend to speak, act, and lead in ways that say, “I must increase.” They assume, “I am a forerunner because that is God’s strategy to expand His purpose. Therefore, more of me will mean more of God’s purpose. I must increase in order to establish the next season.” 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 the move of God released if it is to become what God has in mind: for revival to become Awakening, and a simultaneous, starburst, similar-but-distinctly-different, “I die to produce life” leadership must move the moment into a movement and feed the momentum of the movement with new leaders. These new leaders can do what the forerunner does and do greater because the next season will cause the things done in the forerunner’s ministry to accomplish much more.

When the next season arrives, the things done in the forerunner’s season remain in place but will be redefined by the next season.

John baptized in water. Water baptism would continue in the next season when Messiah Jesus was announced and revealed; however, water baptism would take on an expanded purpose when the One greater arrived with His baptism of Holy Spirit fire. Repentance marked John’s message and Jesus would preach that message with greater meaning and experience because the Greater One was preaching. And, when Jesus’ disciples – some of whom were formerly John’s disciples – preached the same message in kingdom reality, repentance produced an expanded experience of kingdom in those living and repenting in the next season. These are examples of the concept that the next season defines the season that produced it, not the other way around.

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.” And, fallen prey to the limiting assumption that “I must increase” will produce the next season.

The forerunner identity prepares and positions. The forerunner demands repentance – I change to be changed – and the behavior of repentance. The forerunner marks that transformation by the baptism a forerunner can administer in anticipation of the baptism of the fire that never goes out: that baptism marks the transformation available when the next season arrives. 

The Revival that Births Awakening

Awakening cannot be controlled by man or any particular kingdom leader. It immediately requires regional leadership that no one personality can provide. Awakening is the work of Holy Spirit upon and through the kingdom that raises the awareness of God and His purpose in the general population. While God uses the forerunner and remnant leaders to prepare the Lord a people, the moment the Awakening arrives, the identity of that forerunning leadership must radically shift. They must decrease during the season of revival in order for the leadership dynamics of the new season to increase.

Whenever revival leaders demand to increase instead of decrease, they may successfully expand revival without moving the moment into a type of spiritual momentum that can sustain an Awakening.

Compare the work of Holy Spirit upon the King in John’s baptism of Jesus to the baptism of revival. Can you discern a pattern in it that parallels moving revival into Awakening? The strategy for kingdom momentum that resets of the kingdom follows this pattern, to move the kingdom into greater expressions of restoration. Like John’s ministry preparing for King and kingdom, so revival prepares the Lord a people to restore kingdom.

This was one of the principles I wished to document in the book, The Spirit and Power of Elijah. This Elijah forerunner anointing remains available in the earth, a mantle for the preparation of a people ready to respond to the Lord when a new season arrives. Once Elijah brought the people to Carmel for the showdown between Jehovah and Baal, Elijah had an identity crisis about his leadership after the general population saw God’s fire and the people of God said, “Jehovah, He is God! Jehovah, He is God!”

It took Elijah so long to get to the mountain, to bring down the fire, to heal the wounded altar of covenant worship, to cleanse the land, to kill the prophets of Baal, that Elijah had some difficulty with his leadership function. The next season for which he had prepared Israel demanded the greatest shift in his leadership, and Elijah ran from his place and position at the very time he should have embraced the new season his leadership was designed to produce.

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, like John the Baptist, he must “lose his head” and embrace the new identity that Awakening alone can bring him.

The forerunner identity demands that the move of God that is “next” be exactly like the revival that produced the Awakening. The forerunner demands people reject the very thing for which the forerunner prepares them if he or she rejects the personal identity transformation required to lead in the next season. If they maintain the “I must increase” strategy they thought would expand revival, they will be functioning in the opposite spirit a forerunner should maintain.

The Forerunner Identity Crisis

The spirit and power of Elijah prepares 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 “what’s coming next” also moves them out of the preparation and positioning of the forerunner, at some point, and into the “greater.”

Elijah was a forerunner. John was a forerunner. Both faced the greatest personal crisis of identity after producing a great turning of the hearts in their respective generations. Then, Elijah ran and John was offended. Each seemed disappointed with God after the revival produced Awakening, so to speak. Elijah thought the remnant was gone and he alone remained because he was still trying to define remnant with the definitions of what brought the culture to Awakening. John was offended because He thought Jesus would produce a very different outcome in his generation; instead, he was in prison and would soon lose his head.

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

Of course, you want to be a forerunner and lose your head! First, you want to experience both because anything else would grieve God. Second, because you have the passion of the Father for the revelation of His Son. Third, because you won’t literally have to lose your head when the Awakening occurs.

You can walk through the identity crisis, receive the burning immersion that purifies the harvest of the season, and become part of the plowing and planting of that harvest for a season of double harvest! When Awakening comes, Awakening will redefine the revival that produced it and redefine the forerunners and remnant leaders who birthed it.

In the new season, the forerunner doesn’t physically die, merely wishes he or she were before he or she really does die spiritual! The identity crisis is so severe forerunners experience their own Gethsemane and Cross before an identity Resurrection resets their entire lives and ministries.

If the forerunners reject personal transformation, they move their ministry into a prison and may lose their heads to a Jezebel they were designed and destined to destroy! The forerunner doesn’t have to physically 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 at that moment! It is going to get worse!

To paraphrase Jesus in the context of our metaphor for forerunning identity: “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 how a forerunner should respond when the preparation season is ending, we must fully embrace the spirit and power of Elijah and fully overcome the spirit of Jezebel. These spiritual strategies and conditions are ancient – God’s strategy and hell’s response – but they remain the way God works and hell reacts. Forerunners may assume “the fire falling” will deal with Jezebel and may become disenchanted when she gets stronger at the very moment they expected her to fold her tents and slink away.

Jezebel manifests intimidation and manipulation. However, we do not fully overcome Jezebel by overcoming her intimidation and manipulation. We need to eliminate her! To fully function in the preparatory leadership of a forerunner, we need to kill Jezebel. Fully function in the spirit and power of Elijah and fully overcome Jezebel.

Jezebel says, “Trust me. Let me get you what you want.” Moreover, at the very moment a forerunner sees the outcome of his or her leadership reaching a point of Awakening, Jezebel will rise up with her greatest influence. She will offer the substitute. She will say, “Let me get you what you want.” But, her substitute offers the forerunner the option of increasing what the forerunner has been doing to position God’s people for Awakening when he or she should be in a position to decrease so the Awakening can define the move of God.

The substitute for a proper prophetic anticipation of a forerunner’s success is a perverted prophetic projection the forerunner’s identity.

A false oracle reidentifies God’s purpose in a way that falsely defines the revival. 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: the leaders embrace a false oracle of the purpose of the move of God that opens them to distraction and substitution. It remains a move of God, but it moves toward an “anything but that” destination. It doesn’t produce Awakening.

The forerunner experiences the battle thoroughly, personally, and completely. The forerunner’s identity crisis, when it appears they have reached their highest in leadership, becomes his or hers greatest preparation and positioning for leadership so they can continue to lead 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 upon the basis of your forerunner identity, and you may resist change in your own leadership and life. You may 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. That is why you experienced the process so thoroughly, deeply, and personally, so you could understand the process that others will experience. They may receive an outcome that took you fifteen years in just fifteen days! They will need the reidentified forerunner to be a father in that moment!

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.”

Therefore, immediately the revival the forerunner leads bursts into flame, pride will be invested in the leader so that pride can be used to limit that leader’s ability to embrace his personal Gethsemane, Calvary, and Resurrection. It will be the third temptation: “You can get what you want without the pain.” The hiss of Jezebel’s voice: “Trust me to get you what you want.”

God doesn’t want you to get what you want. God wants you to get a people ready to get God what God wants.

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 forerunners kept demanding the “I must increase” strategy be implemented. They wished to define the Awakening by the revival that produced it. They wished to put the Glory on a cart so the Glory could ‘go on tour.’

So, the leaders that carry a forerunner assignment will experience as much of the “what not to do” as the “what to do.” Unless the forerunner leaders obey completely – Gethsemane – submit completely – “Father into Your hands” – and transform completely – Resurrection – they will not be available to identify the difference between “what not to do” and “what to do.” The Awakening may degenerate into a charismatic Woodstock instead of maturing into a Reformation.

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. Water baptism received an expanded definition when functioning in the next season. The spiritual language that many adopted like a Boy Scout patch to prove they were “Pentecostal” had much more power, meaning, and purpose in the Awakening season than could be understood sidetracking that gift into an identifier within a doctrinal system. The doctrine could be legitimate, absent exaggerations, but the meaning and application would be limited in its use to define the revival instead of being defined by the Awakening.

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.

Forerunners tend to keep the baby instead of birthing the baby so they can continue to be the source of revival. Forerunners assume they will name the baby once its born but will be shocked when the baby turns around to rename them!

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, but 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 most memorable “experience of God” as if the fire falling is a finished work. Beware the tendency to want to experience another pregnancy and birthing process merely because you enjoyed the attention, acceptance, and anticipation of the previous one. After you have given birth, you have to 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. The manifestations only produce maturity when they are part of a fathering and discipling process that prepares and positions people to produce purpose.

Therefore, a revival should produce apostolic and prophetic foundations, a fathering leadership dynamics for dramatic, deep, disturbing personal transformation. The leaders a revival produces are not merely prepared so they can go light more fires as if “I must increase” is the measurement of a move of God. The leaders must be 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 remaining a revival instead of preparing and positioning revival leaders for the spiritual momentum of Awakening. Be certain of this, revival will not become Awakening until forerunners prepare and position Awakening leaders (not revival leaders) no matter how strong the manifestations, activations, and demonstrations.

Recognizing the Forerunner Identity

The very word, “visitation” means “accountability.” The word, “visitation,” translates the root from which history developed the title “bishop.” The misunderstandings invested into that word through church-anity, 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. The term means, “oversee, bring to account, inspect.”

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. 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 their immediate rejection of His Messianic claims. Israel was God’s forerunner culture: God put something in them so He could release something through them. They failed to fulfill their forerunner purpose even though they accumulated people and provisions.

We have redefined “church” as “the accumulation of believers.” Because of this faulty definition, we also put intercessors, prophets, and apostles into that paradigm. We accumulate intercessors, prophets, and apostles. The accumulation of things as a measurement of church growth redefines the function of the very things we accumulate. Accumulation doesn’t define success. Function that fulfills purpose does.

Jesus might say: “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 of producing purpose.” (See Luke 19:44 where Jesus says, “Your enemies will crush you and your children; they will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize the time of your accountability.”)

“See these buildings you’ve built,” Jesus says, “not one stone will be left sitting upon the other.” Accumulating people and provisions does not fulfill purpose, nor does it help us recognize success in our forerunner leadership. The pathway of kingdom leadership preparation that prepares leaders to fit into the accumulation paradigm works against and scatters the pathway of kingdom leadership preparation needed to prepare leaders for Awakening. Perpetuating something accumulated, with a mind that “it must increase,” redefines the very thing accumulated and the leadership dynamics that function to produce it. It can never produce the purpose for which it is accumulated.

Forerunners should blow up these perceptions. John baptized in the muddy Jordan instead of the beautiful baths of the Temple. John preached in the wilderness instead of celebrating the accumulations of Herod’s Temple. John calls people out so they can be prepared to go in. John anticipates Someone greater doing something.

John anticipates a different preparation because the present order cannot fulfill its assigned purpose. John breaks the mold of “what is” so that a new leadership dynamic can influence and impact the culture for “what is coming next.”

When God’s people miss or dismiss purpose, they will accumulate people and provisions instead of fulfilling purpose. Consider the words of Jesus in this context: “Many shall say in that day of accountability, Lord, Lord, didn’t we do a bunch of stuff in Your Name, and I will say, ‘Who are you and how did you get in here?’ I ignore that stuff and give attention to those who do what My Father wants done.”

When a forerunner properly prepares kingdom leaders, they will only be able to function properly in a new season. They will be out of place in the present season. They will only be able to fill up new wineskins. They will only be able to reach fullness and fulfillment 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 Awakening brings, 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. Then, the forerunner identity must give way to new norm set by Awakening.

Revival has purpose but the purpose, not the revival, must define the move of God! More than the accumulation of people, power, and provision that perpetuates the present conditions, the moment must become a movement, and the momentum must be fed with those who can do “greater,” who can lead in the next season of Awakening.

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 main speaker or team of leaders moves around on tour developing a following of groupies that carry that identity with the assumption that “I must increase.” This is 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.”

You cannot become a source because a forerunner does the very opposite, then must anticipate 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 to function in another season, not the season they are operating in during preparation.

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.”

In the transition between revival and Awakening, purpose must be reestablished as the definition of success. Forerunners must mature and finish one season’s assignment in order to lead in the next season. To birth, forerunners must be willing to release the baby, to allow the baby to turn around and rename them.

The Forerunner Ecclesia

Forerunners Ecclesia’s operate as apostolic and prophetic centers. The pattern looks like clusters of empowered gatherings in which and through which kingdom influence and impact alters the spiritual atmospheres of definable regions in measurable ways.

They should reorder their structures, provisions, and people in ways that 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. They must be prepared to influence and impact regionally.

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 region will 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. The role of forerunner leaders moves into fathering because the purpose of their forerunning expands so that other regions can experience preparation and positioning that moves revival into Awakening.

Immediately someone says, “Well, it would seem to me that the big churches already know how to best provide leadership for an Awakening.” Yet, that seldom mirrors reality or the testimony of history. Not because they are evil, more because they are structured to produce the accumulation of believers instead of maturing kingdom leaders who can influence and impact a region.

Churches that accumulate believers cannot prepare and position as forerunner Ecclesia’s as long as the dynamics of leadership by which they function are founded upon evangels and shepherds, not apostles and prophets. They may accumulate but they cannot prepare and position a forerunner Ecclesia. Every function of the Ecclesia that provides a forerunner dynamic must begin with apostolic and prophetic blueprints for a much broader purpose from that the localized vision. The forerunner leadership must prepare the Lord a people who can fulfill a purpose, and that purpose is much different from the purpose of normal churches.

God has a Remnant in waiting, prepared and positioned for release.

Elijah failed to recognize this Remnant because he was resisting his transition as a forerunner. He continued to function in what got him to Carmel when he needed to finish the forerunning assignment that would position the Remnant God had waiting. Elijah thought, “I’m the only one left. If I don’t increase, it is over!”

Yet, God needed Elijah to decrease so the next season could be realized and Elijah could be transformed into a functional kingdom leader. God had a lot more in mind than merely destroying Jezebel! God wanted to reestablish His kingdom on earth. Elijah was caught up in his forerunner identity to the point that he couldn’t see past it.

What to Do with “What Is”

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

Great question: the answer would come from Jesus in His consideration of bringing what is His to a season of accounting, an oversight visitation. And, a strong hint would be “not one stone will remain upon the other” if you do not respond to the season of accounting.

Wait! 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.” One stone won’t be left upon another because every living stone must be reset through preparation and positioning to produce the building His kingdom blueprint has designed.

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; none will experience destruction from Jesus.

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. Therefore, Jesus rebuilds the Ecclesia to function as an extension of kingdom so that she has the authority to displace the authorities of hell. When churches do not respond to this reset, the enemies they cannot displace set up gates around them.

Acts 19 helps us understand the process and progress of a region being touched by a forerunner, becoming a forerunner region, and then becoming an apostolic and prophetic epicenter with international level leadership function. Then, we see how these forerunners became fathering leaders through which Ephesus became the center of Christianity for 200 years. Paul spent three years there preparing and positioning kingdom leaders. He had revival and riot. The “what is” didn’t limit his function in producing the “what is coming next.”

“Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. However, some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. Therefore, Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.”

After resistance from “what is,” Paul moved to an apostolic training center, prepared, and positioned leaders who could influence and impact the entire region. “The word of the Lord” means “the purpose of God for the region.” In a very short time, through an Awakening, the kingdom Ecclesia in the region exploded, influenced, and impacted the culture of Asia Minor.

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.”

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.”