A series about sifting…
- When Jesus Christ’s faith was sifted
- I am a son of God… a really hard sifting of my faith in Nov 2013
- Sifted – when God goes silent (and things go nutty)
- Surviving sifting and returning with a stronger faith – ready for ministry
- Sifting the wheat
Here is the post…
For a while before writing There is a wolf in amongst the sheep (Todd Bentley/Florida Outpouring) I have been wondering what exactly is happening and why is it happening? And if what is happening is not right, then there are some questions we can fairly ask ourselves…
- how do we survive the water that is now washing away people’s faith
- what is God doing?
- what should the church be doing, where should it’s focus be, what should it be pursuing?
On the way to write this I spent time with a strong Christian believer and she saw me burst into a sweat. I felt this massive heat all over my body. We laughed, we could feel the Holy Spirit in real power. After a while she compassionately began to wonder about fiddling with her aircon. I write these words knowing that teachers get judged. Lord Jesus please help me to speak correctly, please shut my mouth where needed.
1. Surviving the water, repelling the scourge
In the last post I wrote about how to survive the water that is coming and has come and will be coming based on Isaiah 28:14-22. I desribed the centrality of the cross in that 2500 year old scripture! I described how you need to stand on that Rock and fend off whatever comes against you.
A small group of people in my city are doing exactly this and we are seeing real healings and the spiritual condition of this city is changing – for the better. A friend of mine reports that the mid-week bible lesson at her local church is suddenly filling up. I totally expect churches to begin to fill up in the not-to-distant future as righteousness grows and grows and as His life spread to everyone.
Listen! The Lord of Lord, the God of the Angel Armies (Host), the King of Kings, the Lamb… they are sifting in a sieve right from wrong.
Righteousness is growing up like a plant. Righteousness is raining down from the Heavens.
Darkness is in full retreat where people have real faith in Jesus as the Christ who said these words “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world and made it safe for you!”.
What is sifting?
- Isaiah 30:28
His breath is like a rushing torrent, rising up to the neck. He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction; he places in the jaws of the peoples a bit that leads them astray.
- Amos 9:9
“For I will give the command, and I will shake the house of Israel among all the nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, and not a pebble will reach the ground.
Sifting in a sieve is where people become confused. Is it this way or that? That or this? In your head and in your faith you run around and around in a tight circle. You run from this scripture to that one and then the next and back to the first – but you never actually get the breakthrough. You hear a voice and you think it’s God, but the word doesn’t happen. Then another word from someone else. A confirmation. A contradiction.
You learn to live on endless amounts of hope. Hope keeps your faith going. You feel your breakthrough is just there, just over there. Always with the hope. As they say: always the bridesmaid but never the bride.
Eventually you learn to ignore all voices. Round and round. It’s exhausting! Is this you? Relax. There is a solution.
So… yes in our little group we are seeing tremendous things. Amazing! But. I am waiting until the testimonies are settled and until the people are emotionally ready to share their testimony, before I put them up here. What we are seeing is just amazing. I have more to share and explain, but I will wait until the testimonies are ready and you can be encouraged by them. I know people don’t listen unless they SEE signs and wonders. And I think that is fair enough, very reasonable.
Why do we have a breakthrough over sickness and over darkness? Why now? It’s simple. We are staying on the Rock. Jesus is the Christ. He has set aside sin. He has abolished sin. He has anulled death. His life has spread to everyone. These are the biblical scriptures that is our foundation for our faith. Get that sorted out and then you resist and he flees. Sickness flees. Darkness flees.
since a death has taken place which rescues and delivers and redeems them – Heb 9:15
Ok wait. Hehehe. “Flees” might not be the right word. At first he gets nervous, hoping you will give up or get distracted. But stand firm. It is done! You are an overcomer. Resist! Then he moves away a bit. Will you stop now? Or do you want him entirely out of your house, home and life? Resist! Stand! Command “get behind me!!” And he flees. It should work… and the good news is IT DOES work. And two can put 10,000 to flight!! Woohoo!
That is what stops the sifting right there – the two criteria are to know who He is and what He came to do and to accept it (see Christ, Son of God, righteous) AND to resist and stand and resist and stand.
2. What is God doing?
It’s a dangeous business to think you can say anything about what God is doing. It’s just as risky to speak out about the church – even if God is backing you wholeheartedly. Before you know it, your friends are gone and someone is preaching loudly and with passion about submission and staying planted.
But… knowing the risks, I am empowered to speak out anyway. You can listen and disagree, that’s fine. I can be wrong. I apologize to you if I am. But if I am not, if the Holy Spirit tweaks something in you… then maybe sit down and listen up.
So, I spent months wondering what is happening? I first saw the vast increase in the darkness about 5 years ago. Maybe 3 years ago it suddenly increased dramatically. I was struggling with addiction and vast emotional damage back then, so I thought it was just me. Then I heard a prophecy that said that God had permitted people to become affected by the movies they choose to watch. I knew this, because I sometimes had to close my eyes and I could feel stuff pouring over the people.
We should have been publically speaking out against evil. We should be actively protecting teenagers. We should stop porn on the internet. Stop abortions. We should be raising our moral standards, not rewarding those who lower them. But we didn’t. And the church – by and large – didn’t either.
So we were given over to what competed with God for our time, our affections and our moral values. It began to deeply touch us, deeply affect us and deeply change us.
Some of you are freaked out by what I am writing. I do not mean to be offensive, but perhaps this post is not intended for you.
Some of you have been experiencing these same things and you probably feel enormously relieved to hear someone else make sense of your world. I am writing for you. If this applies to you and you have been waiting for this post, let me say it again DO NOT leave a comment on my blog or on this post.
God loves His church! It is His bride!
At that time I watched the anointing disappear from a local church and gradually disappear from a huge church in a city nearby. (There’s much more to both stories). I totally struggled to understand what I was seeing. I saw people doing bad prayers in church and none of the leadership seemed to notice.
I asked God why this was and it seems we have erred in not choosing leadership that are filled with the Holy Spirit – as Paul so clearly commanded us to do. We have put lambs in positions of leadership over other lambs. A bit of a mess. And very vulnerable to wolves. But it’s easily fixed, it just takes time and determination for you to change how you do things.
Church after church seemed to be struggling – I could see it in the spirit. But on stage the facade was maintained. It was very confusing. We simply would not admit our poverty and need. So our poverty was permitted to increase, to create desperation.
I kept saying to myself one thing over and over – this is God’s church, it’s His bride, He loves His church, He loves His bride. I stand absolutely by that. God loves His bride as I would love my own bride, with all my heart and mind and life.
During that time I noticed a dramatic change. I heard John Arnott of Toronto slander the church. I noticed this also happened through a local prophet speaking at the church I was going to. Then at the Open Heavens Conference several leaders including Todd Bentley severely slandered and mocked the church. Another two self-proclaimed Melbourne-based prophets emerged claiming they had been taken aside by God and He had revealed to them how disgusted He felt by His church. They proclaimed He was about to “lower the boom on the church”. John Arnott said the same thing. I couldn’t figure it out.
What is this? How can it be? I wondered at this growing anti-church trend a lot. These speakers were openly slandering His bride. And spiritually they didn’t look “ok” to me. God LOVES His church, why don’t these “church leaders” KNOW that? I couldn’t figure it out – what I was seeing? What is going on?
An idiscriminant outpouring?
So let’s go back to our question. 2. What is God doing? I could find two possible answers. It is possible that God is currently pouring out Rev 8:3-5 the censer/bowl filled with the prayers and with incense from God’s altar. I admit that is possible because it seems to me that in the scripture, the censer is poured out quite randomly. It’s just chucked out onto the earth. Heave! And it splashes out. (And then the bad bowls containing IMMENSE trouble begins to be poured out.)
So is Todd Bentley (TB) and the Florida Outpouring (FO) or Lakewood Revival (LR) that censer bowl? In some ways it seems similar. This TB/FO/LW “revival” is also indiscriminant – because unlike 1904, 1906 and every other revival in history – you don’t need to accept Jesus Christ paid for your sins and restored you to God, you can get it by touching a computer screen, you don’t receive a new heart and also unlike previous revivals, your life doesn’t entirely change.
Gah! It simply doesn’t fit the bill of what we call Christianity. It almost seems to be a new religion, it’s just that different in the way that Paul wrote “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection” (Phil 3:10). It’s not at all connected to the writings about righteousness being necessary to eat from the tree of life, holiness is needed to drink from the river of life, wearing clothes cleansed in His blood allowing us to come near to His glory – and these things only come by faith in His completed work on the cross.
Through His resurrection – after the cross – we can become kings or priests if we will believe (and we usually don’t, because it’s unfashionable to teach “meat”). But it’s only the meatiness that enables us to resist the immense water that threatens to wash us away from our flimsy faith.
So what’s happening?
But yet the confusing thing is that I think God IS doing this. Huh? What the?!
So let’s first answer one thing at a time. Could it be that God is pouring out His censer indiscriminantly? Simply hurling it out on the earth for anyone to have. No repentance. No need of the cross. Why would He work towards the marriage of humanity to Christ for 8000 years… only to undermine the whole thing near the end and waste all of that effort?
So the answer is… surely He isn’t pouring out the censer. After much soul searching I don’t believe that is happening.
We’re still asking “2. What is God doing?“. I think we can happily assume there is something else going on. It’s not the censer being poured out – that is still to come, or is coming.
So what else can we find in the bible that is consistent with our faith and makes sense of what God is doing with His church, His bride. Something that moves the bride along, even if it means a reconfiguring, a changing, a washing away of old rubbish and maybe a time of enabling the new. The new must be in line with His purposes, His mystery as revealed by and in Jesus Christ (the “mystery” passages are Eph 3:4 and 1 Cor 2:7 and Eph 6:19)
I have found one thing that matches what He has been saying to me for many years about His church. My head was so filled with submission to authority teaching that I resisted God night after night. I was taught that to disobey the church was to disobey God. Wrong! I had been taught that God only ever is sweet and nice and lovely. Apparently not! He disciplines too. He brings correction. He urges us to change and go forward. He cuts away and then builds up.
Think about the power given the Jeremiah. Jer 1:10 says He gave Jeremiah the power to build up AND tear down and destroy. My faith was taught to be terribly immature and consequently it was limited and when trouble came I was wholly unprepared. But the good news is after the bad bits are brought down, after the people and leaders wake up to their poverty and make adjustments, after that comes Jer 31:28!
And it will be that as I have watched over them to pluck up and to break down, and to overthrow, destroy, and afflict [with evil], so will I watch over them to build and to plant [with good], says the Lord. – Jer 31:28
First the sifting and tearing down, then the planting and building up. Hallelujah. How long does the sifting have to last? Well that depends… how quickly can you learn and change?
Is 28:2-13 contains the problem
So what is that one thing I kept hearing from God over the years? That one thing that God had been speaking to me about is this: as described in Isaiah (and in Jeremiah) His “prophets” have been telling the church for a long long time that everything is ok, and the church has dramatically compounded the problem by commanding the prophets to speak only good words to her. The end result is the bride is terribly mixed – A speckled bird and that is a reference to Jer 12:9. And I believe the Holy Spirit adds these words “that cannot fly“.
Leaders… do not deny you commanded your prophets to speak only good words. I have heard these words with my own ears. Many very popular books on prophecy said the same thing, that new testament prophets only build up the body. Prophets are not taught to speak the actual truth, but only to say what leaders want to hear.
It’s a sad and very vulnerable state. The church should be listening to the Holy Spirit for truth, direction and guidance. (But, the good news is that it is fixable).
I have explained how taking a stand on Jesus Christ (as revealed in Isaiah 28:14-22) is the solution. Now let me explain the problem. It is contained immediately preceding verses Isaiah 28:2-13 (and we also need to look at Isaiah 29:13-14.)
In v5 He promises that the remnant who battle at the gate will know Jesus as their strength, as a diadem (jewel) of beauty, a crown of glory…
v5-6 [But] in that [future Messianic] day the Lord of hosts shall become a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to the [converted] remnant of His people, And a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment and administers the law, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.
Think about that. The people who battle at the gate will come to know Him. The people who battle.
WOAH!!! There’s a battle? Why didn’t anyone tell me! Yes. Hmmm… come to think of it the divorce rate in the church is HIGHER than in the world. Our men are just as addicted to porn as the world. Uhhh… oh dear… yes there IS a battle – and if we stop and think for a moment, we seem to be losing. The church may have more money than ever, more people coming to Jesus to be eternally saved, but the people are losing the battle in their personal lives, they are not being saved here and now (just eternally).
I remember one day coming home from church. I had this strong travail in me. (Travail is when you feel God’s sad emotion on something.) I sat in the car park crying. I didn’t know what I was crying for. I wanted to go and do my shopping, but tears wouldn’t stop coming. I walked into Coles fighting back the tears, wondering what was happening to me. (I was younger then). I then had this clear vision of people being gathered by arms into an unloving church.
God’s emotion was sadness to the point of crying for these people coming in with the hope of being healed and loved – saved from an unloving world – and then they come into a church where they are used as a resource and their money is taken. The love of God never comes to them. They are not restored. They are not healed.
Give me some good news please!
Ok, ok. Not all churches are losing. Not all people are losing in their personal lives. In my observation the churches who
- who focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ,
- who sing songs about His cleansing blood and His new life,
- who teach the meat (the new covenant), and
- who have an abundance of pastors to love and manifestly care for the flock
- who encourage actual manifest acts of love, fellowship and one anothering
it is at those churches where the people are gradually cleaning up. It can be easily seen in their faces. Cleaner and cleaner. These churches are on the Rock. They are shepherding their sheep well. Living waters are flowing to their attendees. Congrats.
But to the rest… you are NOT on the Rock of the gospel… hurry up and get onto the Rock!
I encourage you to read v7-13. I won’t repeat it here. You have taught using rules and rules and rules [merely monotonous repeatings of]. You have not taught love and longsuffering and patience to your lambs. You have taught your prophets to speak only sweet words into your ears. You ARE going to “go and fall backward, and be broken and snared and taken”…
v13 Therefore the word of the Lord will be to them [merely monotonous repeatings of]: precept upon precept, precept upon precept, rule upon rule, rule upon rule; here a little, there a little–that they may go and fall backward, and be broken and snared and taken.
God is doing Isaiah 29:13-14
Read these words and be astonished at what God is saying. He WILL do amazing things BECAUSE/forasmuch why?
And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips but remove their hearts and minds far from Me, and
their fear and reverence for Me are a commandment of men that is learned by repetition [without any thought as to the meaning],
therefore, behold! I will again do marvelous things with this people, marvelous and astonishing things; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the understanding of their discerning men will vanish or be hidden. – Isaiah 29:13-14
He is doing marvellous things BECAUSE… because He is sifting us with a sieve. Yes these things are from Him, but they are not what we think they are.
How dare you Mark?
Do I have God’s permission to speak to you like this? To possibly enrage you in this way? Yes. I have His permission. On Dec 3, 2007 God asked me personally to feed His lambs. Two weeks ago He gave me something in my hand. He then changed my life in a second experience that same night. Last week He opened my mouth. This week He did the same.
3. What should the church be doing?
I have kept quiet and watched the church stumble for years. From their body language I assumed they knew what was happening. Surely they knew about the demonic walking down the aisles or standing next to some people in the pews? I submissively kept quiet as I watched the anointing – it looks like a bubble overhead – fall away. Obediently I watched as wonderful Christians and their marriages begin to struggle terribly.
Hey! Confession time. I have also stumbled terribly in my life. I have known pain. I understand addiction. I came under terrible oppression. I experienced the sifting. Me = you. You = me.
BUT. We don’t need to be like this!! My confession that Jesus is the Christ stopped the sifting. I got my faith onto the Rock and now I can stand in the face of the water and hail. You can too. You need to. Your church needs you to. Your city needs you to.
And when you have learned to overcome through Christ Jesus, through His righteousness, through His life which He has given to you – that is when you will be an overcomer. You will be a restorer of the cities.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of [buildings that have laid waste for] many generations; and you shall be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. – Is 58:12
Bad people will flee your city – after a fight. Evil will be turned away. High walls will be established. Righteousness will grow up like a plant and righteousness will rain down from the sky.
Always remember, it was the people who rebuilt the walls. The church is His people. His people are the church. Jesus died for people, not for buildings. The buiildings are needed to help His people gather. The people build the “house” only so that the house can feed, love and help His people.
How does the house and His leaders help His people? By teaching them who He is, who they (His people) are, what He did for them, what He wants them to become and especially that they are to love one another.
Stand up and fight for what you believe
So in summary… God SENT the Assyrian and God SENT the water to cause a remnant to stand up and fight at the gates. God chose to do amazing and remarkable things to CAUSE the people to completely go astray. Sometimes things have to get a lot worse before we can see the problem and correct it.
That remnant which fights at the gates will come to know Jesus Christ as their strength. They will know Him as their diadem (jewel) and and as their crown of glory.
- Whether you are a part of that remnant depends on whether you learn how to fight and then go fight!
- Whether or not you are a pastor does NOT depend on if you run a church, it doesn’t depend on your age – it depends on your willingness to teach people to love each other.
- Whether or not you are a shepherd depends on if you can find shelter in Jesus Christ. If you know how to do that – really, actually, in a manifest way – then you are a shepherd… so go shepherd! If you do not know how to do that, then spend time with someone who does. If you can’t find anyone, then pray and ask the Holy Spirit to really change your heart, to really open the eyes of your heart, to really lead you – and get seriously busy with your bible.
I recommend you set your face like steel (be strong and very courageous – Joshua 1:6, 7, 9, 18) and learn what Jesus did for you, stand on it to free yourself AND overcome the enemy AND THEN turn and set others free IN JESUS NAME.