INTIMACY – DON’T SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS
Increasingly over recent times a growing number of leaders have expressed their concerns over certain types of ministries and manifestations (strange fire) to me. So I thought I’d blog my thoughts.
I’m aware I may come in for some strong criticism for what I’m about to blog. However it’s something I feel strongly about. I am expressing a true concern. I’m not seeking to pull anyone down.
Over the years I have had the opportunity of being involved with what’s referred to as the prophetic and apostolic ministry, both locally and internationally. My life has been enriched from the opportunity to spend time with, and minister alongside and receive ministry from, some amazing Godly men and women. I’ve also seen the church flourish from their ministry. Yet there seems to be a rise in the current prophetic and apostolic movement that is extreme, and more extremely irrelevant to Biblical truth. I am not talking about style of ministry. I have observed some specific harmful phenomena; such as the focus on self-promotion, lack of accountability, and emphasis on manifestation, to the cost of de-emphasising Jesus, this is so dangerous and is becoming more and more evident today. I’m not saying I’m an expert on these things, but this is the insight I have.
I happily acknowledge God is doing many amazing things around the world through the power of the Holy Spirit. Speaking for myself, I love to share testimonies of God’s healing, delivering, and revealing of Himself to people, and I thoroughly enjoy the privilege of being able to be part of the process. But there is a huge difference between telling stories in such a way that glorifies the Father as opposed to glorifying me, myself, and I. This is what I want to highlight – these are the stories that deflect the glory from God onto us.
I personally hunger for all that God has for me and the Church. I don’t want to settle for anything that is fleshly or is deception. Sadly I observe in some more of a hunger to obtain power than to walk in intimacy. More of a desire to live under what they refer to as the anointing than to demonstrate Christ like character. Others have a greater appetite for public ministry yet appear to have no personal devotional life with their heavenly Father. There seems to be an obsession to chase after someone else’s prophetic mantle anointing than to giving our time to discovering our own unique gifting and calling. Others are chasing after gold dust, feathers and angels or visions and other manifestations rather than pursuing Jesus.
I am absolutely thrilled with Holy Spirit out-pouring’s or manifestations. Whether it be Holy Spirit induced laughter, weeping, shaking, or dreams and visions etc. To be honest I am more comfortable with some manifestations than others. My concern is rooted in the hunger for these things as opposed to hungering and thirsting for God and His righteousness.
Could it be some of these folks give the appearance of walking in deep relationship with Jesus, but in reality, they are men and women who carry deep wounds and hurts and insecurities which can leave them vulnerable. I would suggest one of the main reasons the prophetic and apostolic movement is in trouble is because we are continuing to honour and give individuals positions of authority that have failed to demonstrate an intimate relationship with God.
What seems to be a growing problem is the willingness of many to chase after ministries that are preoccupied with themselves.
Why is the church still pursuing supposed giants of faith who have significant character deficiencies. This speaks volumes of our lack of discernment due to a lack of genuine intimate experience with Jesus. Has there been a failure in the church to ground men and women in the word of God? At the very least let’s take hold of Paul’s wisdom regarding reputation:
“For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.” (2 Cor. 10.18)
Could it be true to say that in some parts of the church today there is a trend toward seeking ways and means to generate these experiences by our own initiative?
Another danger of seeking after spiritual phenomena is the devil loves to get God’s people caught up in the counterfeit. The counterfeit can, and will, appear as an angel of light if that’s what you’re hungering for. My fear regarding this current hunger for phenomena is summed up by Paul’s words found in 2 Cor 11.3:
“I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”
Can I briefly draw our attention to the story of Simon the sorcerer. We read about Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8:9:
“Now a man named Simon was previously in the city practicing sorcery and astonishing the nation of Samaria, saying he was someone great, to whom they all listened, from the least to the greatest, saying, ‘This man is the great power of God.’ They listened to him, because for a long time he had astonished them by his sorceries.”
As Phillip was preaching the good news in Samaria many were baptized, and Simon the Sorcerer himself believed and was baptized and immediately started following Phillip because he was amazed at the miracles taking place. When Peter and John heard that Samaria was receiving the word of God, they came down and began to pray that people might receive the Holy Spirit. Laying hands on the new believers, many of them began to be filled and touched by God.
Acts 8:18-24 “When Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me also this power, that whomever I lay hands on may receive the Holy Spirit.’ Peter said to him, ‘May your money perish with you, because you thought you could purchase the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor share in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of your wickedness, and ask God if perhaps the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.’ Then Simon answered, ‘Pray to the Lord for me that nothing you have spoken may come upon me.'”
Maybe a key to help us understand the deception Simon the Sorcerer lived under is to identify what he hungered for. He said to Peter and John, “Give this authority to me as well.” Simon’s desire for a position of influence and attention was the motive behind his request to have Peter and John lay hands on him. They were quick to see what he was hungering for.
If deception takes root in our heart, destruction is right around the corner. Simon was not interested in intimacy with Jesus. He was only interested in the miracle-working power of Jesus. I read a quote that said ‘activity in the kingdom of God that is not born out of intimacy is unauthorized by heaven!’
Peter and John had not only walked with Jesus, but as the crowds noted in Acts 4:13 as the lame crippled beggar had been healed, “they had been with Jesus.” Peter and John had waited in the Upper Room to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, but Simon the Sorcerer was looking for a quick impartation to launch him into ministry.
Peter responds to Simon’s request and says, ” May your silver perish with you because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”
In other words, Simon wanted authority and power so badly that he was willing to use fleshly means to obtain them. Peter continues and says, “You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore, repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.”
I see some who, like Simon the Sorcerer, are hungry for the supernatural, but with the wrong motivation, and are therefore looking for an impartation, prayer or touch from a well-known leader in the body of Christ to launch them into their ministry. Rather than seeking intimacy with Jesus and walking in true legitimate kingdom authority like Peter and John, so there are those who, just like Simon, are seeking a drive-thru experience because they are hungry for authority, but aren’t willing to obtain it appropriately through intimacy.
Those of us in leadership or ministry who have placed so much emphasis on activation and impartation in our ministry schools, and so little time connecting people to the character and nature of God and to show them what Jesus is really like, could it be that we ourselves have blessed and commissioned a generation of Simon the Sorcerers who are operating in illegitimate authority in the body of Christ.
I’m just asking the question.
Because intimacy and oneness with Jesus are often no longer a focus in these movements our horrendous levels of discernment have built stages for these Simon the Sorcerers and given them platforms. We have been incredibly naive as leaders and therefore produced extremely naive people.
Peter told Simon the Sorcerer that his heart was not right before God. I wonder if Simon’s desires for power and authority and to have the apostles hands laid on him were not only unpleasing to God, but an impure motive. Was he was full of jealousy?
We are witnessing a production of mimics in the prophetic and supernatural movements. Too many prophetic people are forfeiting authenticity and originality for formulas and models, even in the supernatural. A large portion of immature and young prophetic people are worshiping well-known names in the body of Christ and are hungry for them to have hands laid on them by these individuals. Simon the Sorcerers are signing up for their conferences, their ministry schools and their meetings. Could it be the motive behind this crazy frenzy is not a love for Jesus, but a jealously of others possessing what we do not carry and a total disregard for the need for intimacy with Jesus?
I believe that the fuel behind this rapidly growing movement is the spirit of jealousy, masked in a desire for impartation and activation. Simon did not want the Holy Spirit and power from a pure heart that can only be found in those that spend time with Jesus. He was jealous of the power and authority that Peter and John walked in out of an insecure heart.
I believe there is a fresh move rising in the prophetic and apostolic in the earth that will walk in legitimate authority because of their intimacy and devotion with Jesus and their central pursuit of His character and nature. They have been trained and raised up by prophetic and apostolic fathers and mothers who saw and understood early on that God was more interested in changing them than using them. This new people is not obsessed by or enamoured by someone else’s gifting, but simply fascinated by the invitation to come sit at the feet of Jesus.
I sense there is a divine confrontation quickly approaching some with in what is called the prophetic and apostolic movement. I see a collision between a breed of Simon the Sorcerers who are going to be exposed for the illegitimate authority that they walk in and a new prophetic and apostolic movement who walk in true kingdom authority birthed out of intimacy. Beware of those like Simon the Sorcerer. They are addicted to ministry and crave the power and anointing of God from an impure heart of jealousy and a selfish desire to be known. Instead of carrying a living and active spirit of revelation, Simon the Sorcerer types have to borrow revelation because they have no devotional life. Simon told Peter and John in verse 24, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” The greatest distinction between this breed of Simon the Sorcerers and the new passionate Spirit filled Jesus followers that is rising in the earth will be deep intimacy with Jesus that can only be birthed in and through authentic devotion. Simon the Sorcerers are looking to get launched into ministry by another’s touch, but the new prophetic and apostolic movement is looking to grow in humility under heaven’s touch. This can only be accomplished through prayer, fasting and time in the secret place, where private battles are won.
For those who are seeking something radical there is absolutely nothing more radical than the love, the compassion, the power, and the majesty of God Himself. The moment we begin to emphasize His gifts, or manifestations, more than He, Himself, we are headed down the same track as those Paul spoke of in Romans. They chose to worship creation rather than to worship the Creator!
Don’t settle for anything that doesn’t flow out of intimacy with Jesus, out of that flows focus and motive.
Let the love of Jesus overflow out of us through our words and actions and may the lives of those around us be transformed by the amazing love of Jesus our saviour, healer, and deliver.