Paul is about to tell us what the intent is, and the purpose, for which reason, God has created all things. So how dare you just sit there, as if you’re hearing a mere sermon? How is it you’re not leaning forward in your seat, with your hand cupped at your ear, that you should not miss any syllable of this answer from the apostle who was given such grace to preach these riches?
— Art Katz, ‘Recognize the Influence’
On a Thursday night in January of 2001, an elderly Jewish man got up to speak a message out of the book of Ephesians to a small school of ministry and fellowship in Pensacola, Florida. As the night unfolded, the speaker (who some consider to be a modern-day prophet) delivered a message on the purpose for creating all things, and how that purpose (which, you’ll hear in the audio, has little to do with any direct benefit to man) affects every minute detail in our lives, not only with regard to what we do, but why we do it. The message would end up being disrupted multiple times by people that had to be escorted out of the building (one person claimed Art was ‘preaching his message’), and unfold in a manner that kept even those that had heard him speak hundreds of times before on the edge of their seat, sensing the weightiness of what was coming forth.
The message was entitled ‘Recognize the Influence’, and was brought forth by Art Katz ten years ago at FIRE School of Ministry & Fellowship. The message is below in audio form, but before you listen to it, I’d like to set the stage with the following accounts from those that were either there that night, or were impacted by it later upon hearing it.
Account from Michael L. Brown:
I recall being quite focused and almost pent-up with expectation; I remember having my eye on one guy, feeling that he might be disruptive, and sure enough, during a time of worship when I told everyone that we were going to wait before the Lord and be quiet, this guy tried to prophesy, ignoring my exhortation to be quiet twice before, the third time, I had the ushers deal with him.
Then, during Art’s message, which was one of his life messages, of profound spiritual import, yet one which he stumbled to deliver that night — another guy, whom Bob Gladstone had his eye on — just stood up while Art was preaching and asked if he could share his testimony, and I jumped off the platform and ran over to him telling him this was not the time to do so.
From Bob Gladstone:
The first guy yelled out at one point, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm!” because his buddy the second guy was told to be quiet. This of course was after the worship period during which Michael Brown’s story of the first guy occurred.
During Art’s speech, the second guy stood up and said, “You’re preaching my message!” Art did not hear him at first and stopped to try to hear what he said, trying to repeat what he said to understand him. I’m sure that’s on the audio. Other dialog occurred I don’t recall. When the ushers escorted guy #2 out, he was praying in a fervent, persecuted sort of way. Art made some comments about the powers getting stirred up (I think) which of course would be on the recording also.
Art’s message was a trademark, definitive prophetic piece from a foundational man to the church. Simultaneously constructive and devastating. A gift for us from the Lord from a key voice of his generation just 5 1/2 years before he died.
From Scott Volk:
It was at least a year after this message was preached that Mike Brown labeled it as ‘the most important message ever given at FIRE.’ I remember sitting at the edge of my seat through this entire message as I felt it penetrating me to my core. I’ve heard Art speak hundreds of messages live and this one had, by far, the most impact on me. There was enough going on in the room that evening to totally distract folks, however, the message was delivered fully and still affects me today! … I will never forget that night as long as I live!
From Mark Harrell:
Oh Lord, I remember so many feelings…
I was in a mainline denominational church as a youth pastor at the time and, before this message, had been to conferences for the kids as well as the pastors. I had been feeling chafed inwardly by these meetings and couldn’t piece together what was causing me to ache so badly. When I heard this word…BOOM, it all just exploded in me. “OH GOD, that’s what wrong with me!!” I felt as if I had been behind a curtain and suddenly saw it lift and saw the puppet masters behind the machines and dolls. I understood so much of what was operating and motivating the strivings of this organization. I saw words on my eyelids like, “status, prestige, power, honor” with the smug smiles and fake back pats that go with it.
This message ruined me. … To this day, this message remains as a stain on my mind, heart and soul. It has colored the way I view everything. I can’t look on the mere appearance of a thing anymore, I’m always painfully aware in certain places and circumstances of what lies beneath so many words and deeds and ministries. I’m always checking my own soul as a result.
From Bryan Purtle:
I can see why Satan would try so hard to derail this word.
I will say that it had a profound impact on my life, and to this day it is one of the top ten most memorable messages I’ve heard. Years ago I played the whole message for a close friend of mine, and his response was something like this:
“Before this message I felt like my faith and my view of God were a factory where all the equipment was dormant, and all the gears were rusty or out of alignment. When I heard Art’s statement about the Church’s call to demonstrate God’s wisdom to the powers of the air, the gears were forced into alignment, and the power came on. It all made sense in a new and fresh way.”
He still refers back to the hearing of that cassette as constituting a major turning point in his life of faith.
I still go back once every year or two and listen to the message again, and each time I feel commissioned afresh to come into the simple, ultimate, whole-hearted reality that was expressed in the early apostolic church. “To God be glory in the Church…..”
The message is below. For those that may not be familiar with Art, who died in 2007, make sure to check out www.artkatzministries.org. You can also check out this article in the Washington Times, which ended with a great line: “He made many such statements that no doubt cost him dearly. As I stood in that grassy field, I realized why some men, like the Rev. Billy Graham, are lionized by the Christian world and others, like Art Katz, have a silent grave in the middle of the north woods.”
Below is the audio of ‘Recognize the Influence.’ As you listen, remember that you’re hearing a man of significant depth deliver his life message, unpacking, quite literally, the purpose of everything that exists, and the ultimate destiny of the church.
[Link to MP3]
Marcus French is Editor of Voice of Revolution, and also helps produce the daily radio show, The Line of Fire. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted in Featured Articles, The Kingdom of God Tagged with: Apostolic Church, art katz, Bob Gladstone, Bryan Purtle, Church, destiny, Dr. Michael Brown, ephesians, FIRE Church, fire school of ministry, mark harrell, Paul, Pensacola, purpose
“…. and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…. ” -Acts 17.26-27
There are times in the life of a saint when the Lord will bring him into transition and move him from one place to another, one function to another, or one occupation to another. Often the minds of believers are occupied with searching for the next transition, hoping for another position, looking over the horizon to some idyllic destiny. We hope for a picturesque scenario, where there is no turbulence or trial, no uncertainty or mystery, and where all the pieces of the puzzle seem to fit together effortlessly and without thought.
God, in dealing with His children, will have none of this. He is bent on establishing reality, and His reality is ever and always opposed to our idealistic wish-dreams, particularly those aspirations that are not grounded in a jealousy for His glory. He has “determined” our appointed times and boundaries, which is to say, it is in His calculated purpose for us to live in the specific generation that we live in. It is in His design for us to abide within the physical boundaries wherein He has placed us. If we are willing to follow Him wheresoever He calls us, and we have yet to hear a word of some great transition, we must conclude that He has us where we are for a significant reason. And that reason is supremely this:
“…. that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him…. “
The current press and trial of life, whatever it may be, is most likely a “determined” tool meant for the refinery of the saint, and it has been initiated by the great Potter Himself. Have we been vessels of pliable clay, or are we hardening our hearts towards His dealings? We are too often looking for the greener grass on the other side, when the real purpose of being on this side is that we “would seek God,” “grope for Him and find Him,” exactly as He is.
If you are gripped with anxiety about the future, about entering ministry, or pursuing some higher position of occupation, you are missing the point of your present location and orientation. The real key for transitioning rightly is not in seeking all the options set before you in your own wisdom and rationale, but in seeking God Himself. He will permit the most exquisite and painstaking sufferings in our lives, if they are necessary to bring us to the place where we are quickened to seek and grope for Him.
We may see others advancing in areas where we feel we should be advancing, but the word of the Lord to us is the same as it was to Peter, when he coveted John’s long life in light of his own foreseen martyrdom:
“…. what is that to you? You follow Me!” (Jn. 21.22)
Often the seasons in which He seems most absent are the seasons when He is present and at His greatest work in our souls. His silence is not evidence of His standoffishness, as much as it is a Fatherly kind of waiting upon us, to see if we will respond as His sons in the test that He has permitted. When that press and turmoil is upon our hearts, do we turn inwardly, looking for an answer within our own shoddy logic? Do we look to flesh and blood, or do we “seek God”, “grope for Him and find Him?”
The promise holds true for us all, “He is not far from each one of us.”
Look not to that idyllic world of your own contrived destiny. Look not to what men say you are entitled to by virtue of any worldly accomplishment. Look not to despair or fear or bewilderment in the face of the weighty trial. Seek God. Grope for Him, right from the ground He has placed you upon in the here and now. That is the central issue. He is the central issue. Your transition, position, and destiny are totally secondary to seeking and beholding the Lord of History. And if He knows how to oversee the whole of history, He is wise enough to lead His sheep through the hills and valleys of our lives.
He is trustworthy, dear saint, and when we seek His face on “less-than-green” grounds, all things work together for our conformity to the image of His Son.
Posted in Featured Articles, The Kingdom of God Tagged with: calling, contentment, destiny, direction, listening to God, Peace, seeking God, trusting God
“Have you been half-asleep, and have you heard voices? I’ve heard them calling my name. I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it. There’s something that I’m supposed to be. Someday, we’ll find it…the rainbow connection: the lovers, the dreamers, and me” (The Rainbow Connection, by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher).
Most all of us have heard that song—it floated through our childhood through the voice of Kermit the Frog sitting on a log near his pond and dreaming of something more. Have you ever stopped to analyze the words? Have you ever felt something stirring inside of you—calling you to be the person you were created to be? Have you ever felt a Voice inside you telling you that you were born for a purpose, or been told something by someone that you know is what some people might call a “prophetic word”: a word that resonates inside of you and says, “God knows you and knows where you are, He created you, loves you, and is calling you forward into your destiny?”
We all have a destiny, and a loving Creator dreamt a dream of us as He formed us in our mother’s womb. Although it cannot be proven scientifically that He sang over us as we were growing and on the day of our birth, the proof is in the hunger we all feel, at times, to reach for a dream—a vision—a hunger meant to bring us straight to His arms and lead us to His heart. If we stop and listen, we can almost hear a Voice urging us to leave this job, or take that job, or stay where we are and enjoy the contentment of being right where we need to be.
Still, in the changes of stretching for “more”, or in the joy of being where we need to be, the oceans and expansive universe—the depths of the heavens—stir a knowledge in our souls that there is more even than what we are experiencing. The more is a loving God who made us, and calls us, and waits for us to come to Him—to be still enough to let Him find us. He is always waiting to encourage, correct, rejoice with us or mourn with us, and His word at times collides with our world in a voice we can hear: a word (that we define as prophecy or a word of knowledge) that gets inside of us, and changes us, and fills us with purpose and with the awesomeness of being cared for by Him, and we are never again the same.
Moses is an example of this. Picture the scene: “Moses.” The lonely sheepherder stopped and looked around. Who had called his name? “Moses.” Fire leapt to life and crackled in the bush beside him; Moses jumped back from the flames and then leaned in closer to hear. Strange as it sounds, Moses heard the Voice of God—Yahweh–the Creator: the One who had seen Moses’ failure in Egypt and his escape into the desert; the One who was calling Moses back to who he was born to be. Into that place of quiet desperation, God spoke and awakened purpose in Moses’ heart again. With one word of prophecy, God told Moses that He was sending Moses back to Egypt to set the nation of Israel free from slavery and lead them to a Promised Land. Although Moses was scared, the Voice couldn’t be anyone other than God—no one but Moses’ creator knew the pain Moses must have felt at being forced to hide in the desert after killing an Egyptian and all the questions that had raced through Moses’ mind about whether his family—the other Israelites—would ever be free. In one instant, God stepped into Moses’ world, spoke straight into Moses’ heart, and encouraged him, giving him hope for the future and strength to carry the word inside of him until he saw it come to pass.
That word was severely tested over the next days, weeks, months, and years. Still, Moses held onto that word, and the day came when he stood on a mountain and looked over into the Promised Land where the Israelites would live free. God’s Word in our hearts—prophecies we’ve received—may hide for a season and seem to go unfulfilled, but in the end, what God speaks will always come to pass. The question is: will we listen? Will we give His word room to grow inside of us? Will we love Him even more than the fulfillment of His promises; will that love help us endure and trust Him when everything around us whispers that it was all a lie? Will we line ourselves up with His word—developing His character inside of us and setting aside things that could hinder that word like a mother sets aside anything that would harm her baby’s growth?
These days, people serve so many things: money; drugs; fame; sex, etc. They decide that “anything goes;” “nothing matters;” “what works for you is okay for you,” but none of these philosophies really satisfy. Inside, there is a voice calling us—telling us that there is a Way; a Truth; a Life, and the only answer is in Jesus Christ, and in letting His words wash over us and encourage us. His Word comes to bring purpose to our hearts again. His Word tells us that He created us, He loves us, and He came to show us the way into the ultimate Promised Land—eternity with Him. He is always speaking, and it is a joy when His word collides with our world in a word that we can hold onto and cling to when hard times come. His promises—as prophetic words of a future and hope in Him—are true. So, to quote again that song: with His Word in our hearts (His promises as a connection of covenant and love leading the way), “someday, we’ll find it…the rainbow connection: the lovers, the dreamers, and me.”
Posted in Life & Family Tagged with: destiny, dream, prophecy