Note: I’m adding this insight to the apostolic and prophetic mix of revelation God is providing Florida. 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, not as a complete and final word on the subject.
I feel urgency for a finishing work in Florida. Much of the effort for what is next has been translated, perhaps inaccurately and improperly, into creating new initiatives instead of finishing existing ones, sacrificing what has been provided for spiritual momentum to re-identifications. I’m not talking about building upon previously laid foundations. I’m saying that the foundations are not finished.
We just go do the same things that were important to laying foundations, put a new name on them, start new ministries, and start all over again on initiatives that we failed to finish so they could provide foundations for what is to be built upon them. They still need finishing work, and until we provide that blueprinted finishing of foundations, what we are initiating now will not move us further into fulfillment of purpose.
While the work may be healthy and powerful, the finishing work requires blueprint leadership. Several necessary foundation stones remain in process because they cannot be properly fitted into place without blueprint leadership: the foundation stones may be nearly finished, but to fit them properly the finishing work fits them for a specific place in the foundation. This finishing work is the work kingdom leaders do. They share the passion of Father for His purposes and possess a fuller set of plans for the scope of their assignments.
We still lack a fundamental, blueprint council of elders with scope of leadership that can produce a statewide leadership foundation for the fullness of the forerunner assignment that rests upon our state.
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.
I am not saying that all the new initiatives lack authenticity or that all the new initiatives are rebellious. Some are. Some are nothing more than the efforts of rebels to have their own thing, but authentic assignments within the state that are maturing with valid assignments still lack what is needed to place them into the forerunner identity so that we can build upon finished foundations.
The Forerunner Identity: Remnant Leaders
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. Specifically, forerunners lead remnant people and create remnant leaders.
Forerunners do not work with everybody. They work with remnants. They work with leaders. If they worked with everybody, they would fail to provide the leadership needed to prepare the Lord a people ready to respond to Him when the next season arrives.
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 out for 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.”
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.”