A Prophetic Word to Living Faith
Sunday, November 16, 2003
Morning Meeting 2
I saw your church pictured as a body, a human body. A quite fit human body, and I saw the stretching that this body was doing. You know how athletes do stretches, and I saw your church as an athletic person, an athletic body. But there were stretchings going on. You know when you stretch, it hurts to stretch. But it's kind of like “it hurts so good”. I believe that the Lord is showing me that you are in a process of stretching right now. It's as though maybe there are some new events, some new exploits. The Bible talks about the righteous of the Lord doing exploits, those who fear the Lord do exploits, and you're already doing some of those exploits. Even the trip [to Asia for women's ministry] the sisters just came back from, that's an exploit in the Lord. And that is to the glory of God and it's also to your credit as a body of Christ, to have this opportunity, even the opportunity. Not only the opportunity, but then to go through the door and actually accomplish it. An exploit has been done. Who can tell the fruit of this kind of ministry? Because you can't calculate it on the earth, only heaven can calculate the good that's accomplished when you touch a massive movement of the Lord, a sovereign movement of the Lord, or more than one of these movements, it's just an amazing story. It's a God story that is a great God story and you're right in the middle of that by God's providence and by God's power and God's goodness and by His mercy. And it's deeply affecting me, it deeply touches me that the Lord is giving you this kind of blessing. It's a marvelous thing.
So, I believe there are exploits ahead for this very athletic body to do and you're stretching right now. God's having you stretch out, and I believe it applies in several areas. The first one I think of is the stretching it takes financially: that there's a financial requirement and a financial sacrifice that goes with going through the doors the Lord has opened to you. It hurts because it's sacrificial giving, but it hurts good because it's a wonderful investment in the purposes of God. Whatever sacrifice you make in the days ahead to go through these doors, God is going to smile on that and He's not going to let you go unpaid. He will compensate you in so many ways for whatever sacrifices you're called to make in this area.
Another area of sacrifice that's required and a stretching that's required is the stretching of giving away leadership. I believe that God has given you the honor and privilege of giving away leadership. Sometimes it's actually sending people away from your community to go and live in other places. This a part of the sacrifice and suffering because there's suffering involved in this, but it's legitimate suffering. It's suffering God will bless. You're anointed for this suffering, to give away ministry. And it hurts when we do that, it hurts when we send away our loved ones to other cultures to live long term. And also not only long term assignments, but short term goings as well. Maybe that's a lot of what it's going to be, to give leadership away short term, on these many trips being taken and so forth. You don't have the pleasure sometimes of having Malcolm here to minister to you, you've given him away for a week or two weeks at a time to other places to serve the purposes of God, to serve the body of Christ at large, to see the gospel go forth into unreached places. This is very, very noble work. This is very, very, awesome work. There is a sacrifice involved and there's a pain involved in doing it. We love our senior pastor so much that we wish he were here more to be with us, to be that stabilizing force. But God is calling you to release him in some ways that it hurts. You sacrifice and you suffer a little bit too. But in the midst of that suffering, God compensates, and it makes room for other leaders locally to grow up in their ministry. Sometimes that's part of the dynamic of Malcolm – for instance – he's a towering person in the Lord, he's a towering intellect. There's a blessing you get from sitting under his ministry. Probably there won't be too many others so towering in their abilities. But that's a good thing and him getting off the scene from time to time makes room for others to grow up in the Lord and to minister to you and you learn to receive those ministries, because they're just as valid. It's just that they have different giftings, or different aspects to the grace of God in their lives. So there's a stretching that goes on in giving away ministry to the body of Christ at large. I want to encourage you to go through those stretches. I don't know all the details of how this applies to you guys; there are probably some people here that it's really, really, hard for you to be generous with your ministries. It hurts and you feel a little possessive, but if that's true, I encourage you to seek the Lord and get the grace in your heart to not be possessive of your brothers and sisters and of your leaders, but just be generous in your heart and God will visit you and He will make it up to you in way that you can't even imagine in the days. And you will see a fountain, a fountain of life, because that's really what we need, we need the Lord's fountain in our midst. If we're obedient and faithful, then He is faithful to let that fountain spring up and do all the great things God wants to do.
We have to see beyond the visible, we have to see into that invisible realm and get our bearings from that realm. So, there's stretching in finances, there's stretching in being generous with ministry. And I'm sure that there are some other areas where God is calling you to stretch out. I trust the Holy Spirit will give you wisdom to know what that looks like for your life, what that stretching looks like, and what it applies to and how it applies to as a group of people.
So, Lord, we pray that this word, this vision from you Lord, will stick with the soul of the church, and make its impact and give the good of it, Lord, let the good of it stick, and make sense. Lord, I pray that your Spirit would apply it into the life of this fellowship and into the lives of many individuals.
Malcolm: Let's interact over the word a little bit. If you have some questions, comments, or clarifications of any kind, or confirmations, any thing at all…
Michael: Malcolm, would you like to give your perspective?
Malcolm: I really do invite your words here on this. It is a difficult thing for us as a church, it is truly as Michael said, it is a stretching thing, it is a stretching thing for all of us. God will help us to move one step at a time and I'm not able to fill in all of the blanks on what it looks like or how it works, but I know He is with us and He is for us. And I know He has called us to this. It's not something that we try to work up in ourselves. These are not opportunities and doors that we go in and break down. In fact, we have so many open doors and we just leave them there, we just leave them and wait on God, and almost for a hand to come out of the door and pull us through before we move. In my life years ago, I was pretty aggressive, I used to be one to beat the doors down. It was like there's a door, let's go bang it, let's go hit it. But I've learned through the hard way that when you do that you end up walking through some pretty horrible doors, as well as some good ones. And so, these are extraordinary privileges God gives us as a body to walk through. There are not many women in the western world who have had the privilege that Patty and Linda just had to go into the very heart of the lives and ministries of women in some huge movements in Asia . It's a great privilege God is starting to open doors for us in the Middle East…This is where there is great revival happening amongst the Muslim people right now. The greatest revival is occurring in … and … And God is giving us connections, we're not trying to find it, it's finding us. These are extraordinary privileges. I believe God has called us as a church to be very focused in what we're doing. A part of the specific calling that He has given us is to stand with the suffering. To stand with the suffering churches. Not just any church, we're not just going anywhere, but we're very focused in this, we're going to the hard places. We going to the difficult places, we're going to the hidden church, we're going to a church that is often forgotten by those outside. He hasn't called everybody to do it, but He has called us to do it, to stand with the suffering, to stand and to strengthen them. And to give just whatever little bits and pieces He has allowed us to have that would be of benefit and blessing to them. To stand with them, and sometimes even just our presence is a great blessing. That's what Linda or Patty shared with me, just showing up was such an encouragement to these guys, saying “Hey, you're not forgotten. We know what you're going through, we care about you, we love you, we're here to stand with you, even just for a few days and to encourage you.”
But it's a difficult thing. And sometimes people worry about what is our vision for the local area. Of course, we have vision coming out of our ears for the local area. I don't know what more we could do over the years we've been in Elkhart since the end of 1996. I don't know what more kinds of ministry we could have done; we've tried everything I think, haven't we? Is there anything we haven't tried yet in this local area? Absolutely, we have a heart for Elkhart , we haven't forgotten the local area here. But this is a stretching thing, for us to see beyond our own local area and say that God has purpose for us in the nations, for the glory of His Son in the nations. It's an extraordinary privilege God has given us. It's a day of opportunity, it's a day of special harvest for us, right now that I think we need to be open to the Lord Jesus, to hear His call, to see His hand beckoning us: “Come to this, give yourselves to this.”
We want to do this as a family. This is not just my ministry, or Patty and Linda's ministry, doing stuff. This is us as a family. Everything we do is to open doors for other people. This is our attitude, this is what we practice, that we as a family move forward with all of the variety of gifts and talents and experience of ministry. Of course, the privilege we have is that when we go we may be able to bless them one unit, and they bless us one hundred… It is our blessing. And God has wonderfully cared for us over the years as we've done this. We've done some pretty “stupid” stuff in this regard. Remember when we were paying off this building, and we had about three years to pay off this building. There was no way we could come up with that kind of money necessary to pay for it. And in the second year or third year of that we went and did this big thing in southern Sudan , in a war zone. It cost us tens of thousands of dollars as a church to do the ministry there, which has since birthed into the starting of the training school there, out of which hundreds of powerful people have now been trained and gone out into frontline ministry in southern Sudan . At the time we went, we couldn't afford it, but we did it anyway. God provided for that and provided for the building. To this day I don't know how He did it. When we went in to pay, we had to have the last payment, it was like hundreds of thousands of dollars. And it was due on a certain day in September of 1999, and we didn't have the money. Their lawyer made an error and so that delayed it for another week or two, and when we went in and wrote the check on that day to pay off the building – it was a huge thing – we had less than a thousand dollars left in the bank account! God did it, it was amazing, but He did it as we were stretching out, as we were being stretched then so to say, “OK, what do you care about? Do you care about yourself more, or do you care about your friends? Your brothers and sisters who are suffering in southern Sudan ? Can you go and can you stand with them? And can you just trust me to take care of it?” And we did, and God took care of both. This sort of thing is what He's done over the years.
We've seen Him do it again and again. And God continues to take us into new levels of opportunities and new levels of various kinds of responsibility and privilege in various parts of the world. Let's not fall back out of fear, or anxiety, or out of selfishness. Let us not be found amongst people who would do that. We're in the end of the last days, this is our opportunity to pour out our lives in sacrificial abandonment for the world. I don't what the plan is, I don't know where we're going or what we're going to do, but I know God will show us step by step as we move ahead.
I really appreciate Michael's word there because it's a very true thing, isn't it? Aren't we being stretched right now in the various ways that he described? It's a genuine stretching thing and here God has allowed us to have Michael in, and this is what he shares: “This is what you're going through as a church, but, it's of God!” This is what He's sharing: “This is of God, it's OK.” This is not something of human invention, but it's a divine work, it's a divine call, it's a divine mandate He's given us, to submit to His hand, His hand of stretching and to trust Him to work it out. I don't all of the answers to the questions, but I know He does.
Michael: I'm thinking of a word in the New Testament that's the word “fervent.” And there are a couple of words that are translated fervent, but the one that you see most of the time when you see the word fervent, is a word that means “stretching”. It means to stretch out and over and cover something. Fervency is part of the meaning of this. To be a fervent body, you're a stretching body.
Believer: Stretching is typically a preparation for an event, athletic or otherwise, do you see the stretching you're talking about, as further strengthening the direction we have now, or a new direction for a new event or a new direction?
Michael: I think there are going to be some new surprising exploits that God calls you to accomplish. The general direction of what's going on in Asia , I think that's an ongoing responsibility and mandate that you have, but I think there are going to be some other exploits that God calls you to do that will surprise you. Like: “Whoa, we didn't know that was part of our mandate and we didn't know that was!” So, I think there are going to be some surprises along the way.
The other aspect of the word I forgot to mention was out of Ephesians chapter 4. A lot of times we think about the ministries of Ephesians chapter 4 equipping the saints for the work of the ministry and that's what edifies the body. It's easy to leap there and say “that's what edifies the body”. But, it's very interesting if you look carefully at the passage, it says at the end of the passage where every individual part of the body is in its proper place and doing its proper function, the body builds itself up. It's not just leaders building the church up, it's leaders equipping the body so the body builds itself up in love. And as I prayed over that as it applied to your church, I saw the top leadership of the church doing their part to train new leaders and by the way, there's a great opportunity for anyone in this house, this house of the Lord, if you want to become a leader, the Lord is giving you a promise, you can become a leader, you can go on that leadership training track and God's going to make many, many leaders. He's going to form many leaders up and out of this place. But, I saw the top leadership equipping other leaders, younger leaders were growing up and taking their place. But then it was not just a great team ministry of leaders – you have that – but it was a body ministry that was the result of it. So that the body itself, in a very organic way, every member playing its part, was being used of the Holy Spirit to bring edification to the body. I believe you guys are going to become a tremendous example to the rest of the body of Christ, to a lot of other local churches of how to conduct a team ministry at the leadership level, but then a body ministry at the grass roots level.
There is a grass roots “Jesus movement” that God wants to rebirth here in our nation, and I believe that you're going to have your portion in that too, here in Indiana and in the region around here. But there's a grass roots “Jesus movement” that the Lord is wanting to rebirth. Remember it happened in the late 60's and early 70's and many of you were converted in those years when the Lord was doing that. He's going to do it again. And now, there are going to be spiritual dads and moms around to really help the young ones to grow in the right way. We didn't have the dads and moms. We had to raise each other. It's going to be different this time.
I had a very powerful, spiritual dream about this. It was an amazing experience. Early on a Sunday morning, I saw, it was like a camera panning across this beautiful green grass and I had an up-close look at the grass and it was manicured like you would see on a golf course or a garden of some kind. It was so beautiful, the grass was so well-manicured. And as the camera was panning across, there was suddenly an ugly weed in the middle of this beautiful grass. I was shocked, it was offensive to me. What is that weed doing in the middle of this beautiful grass? And I heard the voice of the Lord speak to me, very clearly, and He said this: "If you want to tower over others in a grass roots movement, you're probably a weed." That's what He said. He wasn't angry, He was just giving me the report. He was just saying, that's probably what it is, it's probably a weed if it's towering over others in a grass roots movement. I instantly knew that God was going to rebirth a grass roots Jesus movement in our nation, and He wanted to use our church as a catalyst. I think He wants to use your church as a catalyst for this. A grass roots Jesus movement, where the Holy Spirit is doing His thing and it's just catching one person at a time and their network being affected by it. It's not organized by human beings, it's something the Head of the church is initiating. So then this voice said, “If you tower over others in a grass roots movement, you're probably a weed.” The second time He said, “If you want to tower over others in a grass roots movement, you're probably a weed.” The third time He said it this way, “If you want others to think you tower over others in a grass roots movement, you're probably a weed.” I woke up out of this experience, it was so vivid, and I felt the presence of the Lord upon me in a very unusual way. I woke up and got ready and went to my church and prophesied that to my church that day. For three days I lived in a conscious presence of the Lord in a way I never had and this dream just stuck with me. It was so simple and so brief, but it just stayed with me. This was about 3 years ago, and in recent months it's been coming back up again and the Lord has been having me share it again and again these days.
That's just a little thing about the grass roots movement and what makes that happen is body ministry, it's when everyone goes everywhere, shining for Christ, sharing the Word of God with your neighbors and friends and co-workers and winning people's hearts to Christ.
Believer: I just wanted to say the word made sense to me, with Malcolm's ministry. I probably even had a question in my mind for awhile as to why Malcolm may be going as much as he's been going. But it makes sense to me how it gives room for others to come up and grow and become leaders. I just praise God for it. It confirms a question I had for God and it confirmed an answer for me. So praise God!
Believer: We've been a part of several different bodies that always did not reflect their name. I think it's extremely appropriate that Living Faith is exactly what Michael was talking about, that stretching is “living” and “faith” is going where you don't always have all the answers. Personally I am very excited to be a part of a body that's stretching athletically as opposed to stretching because they're getting fat.
Believer: I haven't been here very long, but I have never seen in all my days the movement and how the body of Christ, especially here, flows and functions and there are no cliques, there's no personal anything, it's all about Jesus. I have no earthly idea where I fit in, I know God brought me here for a reason, but as I learn to wait and be patient on God, what you said about waiting on God, the other meaning totally blew my doors off. I want a servant's heart to fit in where God wants me to fit in, to do what God wants me to do, and to be in the very best position to where God gets the maximum amount of glory through the surrender He puts in my heart. I was listening to some music on my way to church and it's all about Jesus, it's all about Him. It's not what I make it, it's not what anybody else makes it, but it's all about Him.
Believer: When Malcolm said we're to go to the suffering church, I just felt the love of the Lord for them so deep in my spirit, I just began to weep. When Michael said that we're going to have spiritual fathers and mothers, a lot of us got the baptism and got saved in the 60's and 70's, we didn't have that, and we wonder why we went through so much pain and heartache. This is the answer. It's for that grass roots. The Lord has prepared us to be the fathers and mothers. I thank Him for it because I've wondered why we've had to go through some of the things we've gone through. This is the answer. Praise the Lord!
Michael: I'll share something else about spiritual fathering and mothering. This is something the Lord is really dialing up right now and communicating to the body of Christ about the importance of spiritual fathers and mothers. It doesn't matter so much what your specific ministry is in terms of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, but what's really important is that no matter what role or ministry God's called you into as a leader, that you're a spiritual dad or mom. That's what God has called us to.
The Lord showed me in another dream some years ago about this spiritual fathering and mothering and that whole generation of Jesus people in the 60's and 70's who were converted at that time. As 1980 was approaching, there was an expectation that certainly the gospel would have gone around the world by then and Jesus would come back, and it didn't happen. There wasn't the release. It was out of Isaiah 49. The Lord showed this to me in a dream. It came down before me like a scroll. I saw Isaiah 49, Isaiah 26, Isaiah 28, I didn't know what scriptures they were until I woke up and had to search them out. It was basically about a sense of being impregnated with divine promise and expectation of a birth around 1980 in terms of world evangelism, and it didn't happen through that movement. So then, there was a confusion that came and a dealing of God. The Lord called it in my dream “a divine betrayal barrier”. It's not a true divine betrayal but it feels like a divine betrayal. It's one of the deep dealings of God to make people into spiritual fathers and mothers where their dreams are disillusioned through the experience. It's a deep heart-dealing of God. I saw a line in the sand and I saw all of these people on the other side of the line and the Lord was with me over on this side and He said, “I want you to take them by the hand and bring them across the betrayal barrier.” This word has been used of the Lord to help that happen, but the reason God let that generation of Jesus people go through this was that He would make them spiritual fathers and mothers for another generation who would go further than we would in terms of taking the gospel across the nations.
Then I saw how the Lord, through this deep disillusionment that they experienced, went into their hearts and branded a cross on their hearts. He said this to me: “Now they know that they know that they know, that their own zeal did not accomplish the great commission . But it is the zeal of the Lord that will accomplish the great commission.” If we had accomplished it in our generation when we were younger, then it would have gone to our heads, it wouldn't have been in the right spirit. That's one of the messages spiritual dads and moms have for the younger ones: is how to enter into the exploits of the Lord without it going to their heads. Then He said, “They're going to know that they know that they know, that it's not by might, it's not by power, but it's by my spirit, says the Lord, that the culmination of God's purposes in this earth will be accomplished.” Spiritual dads and moms, the 40 somethings, the 50 somethings that have been in the Lord for these many years now, 20, 30, 40 years, some longer, they know it's not their zeal, because their zeal failed, our zeal failed us. It always will, but the zeal of the Lord will make up the difference if we humble ourselves before God.
There is a bunch of spiritual dads and moms now, waiting in the wings, you've got a great purpose ahead and a lot of it is about giving it away to the younger generation, empowering them. They're going to go farther than we went. That's a good thing. It's a real privilege we have as the older generation.
A Prophetic Word to Living Faith
Delivered through Michael Sullivant
Friday, November 14, 2003
Waiting on God… As I just said that word, waiting on God, that phrase, waiting on God, I felt a very conscious presence of the Holy Spirit. I believe the reason I felt that, is because I think the Lord is telling me that is a part of your DNA as a church. Waiting on God is part of your spiritual DNA. It's a missing piece of DNA in a lot of churches. But it's a part of your DNA.
Waiting on God. It's like the Lord is saying to me that because you have waited on God, this is one of the keys. Keys are about authority. This is one of the aspects of divine authority that is in your house here. It has opened doors to the nations, tremendous open doors to the nations. One of those keys is waiting on God. You've been faithful in times past to wait on God and it has put a key in your hand to the nations. And now, those doors are opening to the nations, because you have waited on God.
You're going to continue to wait on God. I want to encourage you and challenge you to remain true to your DNA as a church. It's a secret weapon of this fellowship, waiting on God.
As I'm saying this waiting on God, it's a lot like right at this moment, we're waiting on God. This is not about entertainment; this is not about Christian entertainment. This church is not about Christian entertainment, like so many in our culture. It's not about professionalism; it's not about being all polished. It's not about cosmetics. It's not about trying to whip something up in the flesh.
It's about waiting on God. It says if God doesn't initiate it, then we're not going to do it.
It's about a kind of raw, gutsyness. It's about a gutsy kind of faith, that's willing to take risks. John Wimber used to say, faith is spelled r-i-s-k.
The Lord will call you back again and again to this. Wait on God, wait on God. God will only appreciate what He initiates. So wait on God.
It's not about craving manifestations of power. There are manifestations of power and we rejoice when it happens. But there is a kind of restless craving that goes on in the body of Christ that is fleshly. That happened in the New Testament times as well. They craved for the bread to be multiplied again. Interestingly, Jesus said at one time when they were craving that bread, the only sign that will be given to this generation is the sign of Jonah. Isn't that interesting, in the midst of a miracle ministry He said, I'm not going to give you a sign except the sign of Jonah. I think the sign of Jonah was this, it was a non-event. The judgment he prophesied did not happen, it made Jonah look like a false prophet because it did not happen. That's what made Jonah mad at God, because he knew God was probably going to make him look bad.
It's a willingness to be a fool for Christ. And Jesus said, that's the sign you're going to get, I'm going to go to the cross, I'm not going to stick around and be an earthly king.
I'm praying the Holy Spirit will brood over us tonight. I feel that right now, I feel a brooding of the Holy Spirit over us. I feel a brooding over some of these young kids. I think some of them don't even realize it, the call of God on their lives, but they're in the environment and the Holy Spirit is brooding over them and He's birthing in them things they're not even aware of. God's laying hold of some hearts of young boys and girls. I think it's not even just the ones who are here, it's some who aren't even here.
There are a number of young boys and girls right now that God has a calling on their lives and they're going to be sent forth from this house. They're going to be sent out as church planters, apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors, teachers, trainers.
This is a great privilege you have as a church. This is a great honor, to have open doors to the nations is a great honor. It's an honor that not many local churches have right now in America .
A church of Philadelphia is the church where He opens a door that no man can shut. He opens the door to the nations. I believe that part of your calling – again a part of your spiritual DNA – is to really, really work at loving one another. Love one another, and part of that love for one another is releasing each other to go and do the will of God. Even if it means a sacrifice financially, or a sacrifice in terms of our proximity to each other. It means sending out some of the best and that's part of our loving one another. Sending out delegates from the church through the years to leave this nation and live long term in other nations; some go on short term and some will go long term.
This is part of the suffering we embrace in this age, until the kingdom is consummated. It's part of the suffering when we say goodbye to our children as they are sent to another nation. Or someone we dearly love is sent out and is no longer resident with us. It's part of our suffering for Christ. We suffer the inconvenience and we suffer the sacrifice and we suffer the loss of their proximity. But it's a great honor for our King. It's a great honor for our King.
The Holy Spirit is brooding over this body of people. One of the things I pray that the Lord will make very real to you is that the reward of those who go and the reward of those who stay can be the same. That those who stay and support on the home front can have the same reward of those who go to the front lines. There's a seamless connection between the home front and the front lines. The Holy Spirit doesn't know the distance, He doesn't register the distance.
I mentioned the Moravians earlier on tonight, when they prayed “Give to the Lamb Father, the reward of the suffering”. I feel there's something about that Moravian anointing that rests upon this body, again part of the DNA of this church. It's something akin to the Moravians. They were prayerful and then they made great sacrifices to take the gospel to people groups that had never heard before.
Please read other prophetic words through Michael to Living Faith:
Michael Sullivant was converted to
Christ in 1973 at the age of eighteen. He entered the ministry while a university
student in the midst of a revival on his campus. Since then, he has been involved
in church planting and church leadership.
In 1987, Michael relocated to
Kansas City, MO and now serves in multiple areas of ministry as the Senior Associate
Pastor of Metro Christian Fellowship. Michael and his wife, Terri, mentor prophetic
leaders and oversee the prophetic ministry at Metro. Michael is the Vice President
of the Grace Training Center of Kansas City and is the Director for its School
of the Spirit. He also has served for the last seven years on the leadership team
of the Midwest Ministers Fellowship-an interchurch regional ministry representing
over 100 churches and ministries that promotes relationally-based unity across
the Body of Christ. Michael frequently ministers throughout the U.S. and internationally
seeking to inspire spiritual renewal and evangelism.
Michael is the author
of several books including Prophetic Etiquette (February 2000) and Your
Kingdom Come: Living Out the Lord's Prayer (September 2000). He and Terri,
have five children and a daughter-in-law-the four oldest are actively serving