March 10, 2013 – Allen and Diane Lake
Some Bad News
I recently sat through a difficult meeting as an elected member of a local pastors’ and ministers’ leadership team. A dear brother in Christ also on the team shared what is going on in his life. His marriage is in profound distress, his family is struggling, and it is likely that he will soon step down from ministry.
Since we are good friends with this pastor, we have known of these struggles for some time. The demands and pressures of church life, particularly as his wife experienced it within traditional church structures, have proven to be too much.
Our heart is burdened in this situation. For these friends, ministry will almost surely be set-aside for a time. I have shared that I hear prophetically that they will come through this stronger than ever. The husband, at least, has received the word, and we continue to pray and declare this over them in this time.
Our friends are not alone. Lately I have come across some sobering statistics:
– 1800 pastors leave the ministry every month
– 40% of pastors will not be in ministry in ten years
– 65% of pastors would leave their position if they could find a similar paying position
– 80% believe that pastoral ministry (as they know it) has negatively affected their family. (1)
Other statistics encountered include:
– 90% of all pastors feel inadequately trained to meet the demands of the job
– Roughly 30-40% of religious leaders eventually drop out of ministry
– 80% of pastors say that they have insufficient time with their spouses
– 65% say their families struggle with the pressure to appear perfect
– 50% of all pastors feel unable to meet the demands of the job. (2)
I recently heard the Lord say, “A spirit of waywardness has entered the church. She has lost her way.” Although this word is troubling, if the Lord gives it, it becomes a strategy – particularly for prayer. Bad news can be good news, if we understand God’s heart for giving it.
A Spirit of Christ
We recently wrote an article on women in the church. I was not really prepared for what happened next, although I am one who has said that in this new era, “everything will be bigger, brighter, bolder, better, not the same level of difficulty as before.” (See A “Now” Work.)
As soon as the article was released to the editor, all hell broke loose. We’re not strangers to resistance, and we’ve stepped out in controversial areas before. Yet I can’t really remember experiencing anything like this.
Some highlights from the next week include major to minor health issues, smoke damage to our home, family issues, ministry issues, vehicle troubles and compromised credit cards. Conflicts escalated within a local network in which we have a part, and the week culminated with the most evil, vile, straight-from-the-pit-of-hell dream clearly intended as a not so subtle threat against my family. As I got up the morning after this dream, I heard the Lord say that’s where religious spirits come after you – the area of women in ministry.
My purpose in recounting this story is not to garner sympathy, although we would welcome prayers for wisdom on our behalf! Rather, I believe our experience illustrates the desperation behind the powers of darkness that seek to restrain the church. Various powers of darkness operate behind all areas of unrighteousness and injustice (Eph. 6:12), but all hell fears the triumphant church. The powers of hell understand that once the church is operating in her fullness—watch out! (Matt. 16:18)
The role of women in the church is not the only area where spirits of religion operate, but it is a deeply rooted area the Lord is highlighting right now. It’s become somewhat popular to weigh in on the condition of the church, and perhaps there can be some merit to this. It can, however, quickly become a War of the Roses (3) type thing, where we are destroying the very thing we are meant to protect.
Religious spirits are difficult to discern, particularly if operating as established doctrines of men that are all one has ever known. Rather than trying to identify them outright, there are some things to be on the lookout for. A spirit of religion will point out what you’re not doing, whereas a spirit of Christ will point out what you can do. A spirit of religion brings heaviness and burden, while a spirit of Christ brings life. (Matt. 23:4; John 10:10)
We can’t let past mistakes guide us, but instead must be looking ahead – it’s a preparedness issue. If we do not understand what God is doing in the earth at this time and are not prepared, we will not participate. (See Matt. 25:1-13.) God is moving to expose spirits of religion in order that the church can become all that He will allow. (Eph. 5:27)
Some Good News
If God sends a trauma, it is for the purpose of strengthening our character. The Lord wants His people to be people of character. (Rom 5:4) We may see some difficult things – but within this context, we will see the army of the Lord move in great power in ways yet to be seen. (Joel 2:2-11; Rom. 8:18)
The Lord has set apart a generation that greatly wants to serve the Lord. (Joel 2:2) In the midst of much that might trouble us in our nation, I hear the Lord saying that there will be so much positive – it will make America blush! The church is God’s agent for the hour; the positive things He speaks of will come by the hands of His church. (Matt. 16:18, 19; Rev. 11:15)
In this year of 2013, I am reminded that thirteen is the number of the twelve apostles plus Jesus. As the church comes into the unity brought about by His perfect governmental authority (represented by the number twelve), Jesus will join His church in the battle. His presence will mean the difference between triumph and despair. (Rev. 17:14)
Pressing into the Promises
Faith is action, waiting for those things that we can’t yet see. The Lord is releasing strategies to activate and release His present truth church. (Heb. 11; 2 Pet. 1:12)
Unity is key to this hour. This does not mean a coming together of all religions and doctrines, but a deep spiritual unity between true brothers and sisters in Christ. Our standard is Christ, without Him, we cannot function as salt and light – and what good is salt if it’s lost its savor? (Matt. 5:13, 14)
Ephesians 4:12-16 says that there is a measure of equipping and edifying necessary for the saints “till we all come to the unity of the faith… that we should no longer be children… but… may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.”
Unity is a necessity, as apart from unity, there is no law. When all the saints love first the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and mind and second, their neighbors as themselves – with the fulfillment of those two commandments (on which hang all the Law and Prophets) – unity will have been achieved. (See Matt. 22:36-40.)
Also, we must turn to the Lord and ask for His mercy. Joel 2:13, 18-19 say:
“So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Then the Lord will be zealous for His land, and pity His people. The Lord will answer and say to His people, “Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, and you will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.”
And finally, in regard to religious spirits, I have heard the Lord speak of dance—yes, dance! David did it when he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, and the Lord intends to restore the tabernacle of David. (See 2 Sam. 6:14; Acts 15:16.) Some interesting aspects about dance – David did it, we rarely do it, and religious spirits don’t like it! (2 Sam. 6:16, 20)
This may seem unconventional, but if the Lord gives the word, it becomes strategy. New moves of God require new strategy. I believe that as the saints move in obedience to this word, religious spirits will flee. As the church obediently follows what He gives in this time, she will be going from the impatient (to be released) to the extravagant – as a triumphant example of His power and love.
1. Pray that religious spirits behind doctrines of men will be exposed. (Isa. 29:13, 24)
2. Pray that the church would come into true unity. (Eph. 4:13)
3. Pray for a spirit of repentance to move through the church, that she would return to the Lord from wherever she has lost her way. (Joel 2:12-19) Action Points 1. Respond to the word in faith – and dance! 2. See if the Lord would have you encourage others to dance.
(1) www.ministryinstitute.org Trage.dy Statistics. (Compiled from Barna Research and various other research organizations in the United States.)
(3) War of the Roses. A 1989 movie about a wealthy married couple in the midst of a bitter and vicious divorce battle – a battle in which Danny DeVito (as divorce lawyer) is quoted as saying, “there is no winning, there are only degrees of losing.”