Join the Army of the Last Days
A couple of years ago I started having a series of dreams in which, through different circumstances, I was being drafted for an NBA team. Before you dismiss my dreams as an expression of a deep heart's desire, you must know I'm not a basketball fan, nor do I play basketball regularly.
One day I told a friend about my dreams and he said, "Why don't you ask the Lord what the NBA in your dreams stands for?" That I did, and the Lord's answer surprised me: New Beginning's Army." What army is that? I'd never heard of it.
After some time of searching the Scriptures in prayer, I discovered that this is an army of prayer warriors God is raising up in the last generation before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It's called New Beginning Army because it prepares the way for the new heaven and new earth that the Lord Jesus Christ will establish for the coming of the Father (Revelation 1:4-5).
In this article I will describe the mission of this army and the four-part calling over those enlisted: a call to worship, a call to holiness, a call to radical obedience, and a call to boldness.
A CALL TO WORSHIP
As a first-time church planter, I had many well intentioned people tell me what I should do to reach the community and grow the church, especially during the first few months. But every time I brought those ideas to the Lord in prayer, he told me my only task at that moment was to worship. “When you sow into the heavens, you will reap in the earth."
Determined to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit, we focused on worship and prayer for the first seven months in lieu of evangelism, networking or sheep transfers (from other churches). I was tempted to implement the thousand ideas that came to mind, but the Lord kept reminding me that the battle is His, not mine. So we prayed and we worshiped and then we prayed and worshiped some more.
Since the days of old, worship has been a battle strategy for the people of God, as we read in the Old Testament about king Jehoshaphat.
And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.
So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:
“Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.”
Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.
2 Chronicles 20:18-22
The people sang praises to the Lord and the Lord destroyed their enemies.
I believe the Lord is calling his Army to worship in total abandonment, to worship in spirit and in truth to bring victory over darkness and revival to the nations.
The time for man-made programs and clever church growth strategies relevant to the culture has passed. It’s time to heed the call to worship in whatever ways we can do it—from muttering praises as we walk down the street to 24/7 houses of prayer.
The fruits of our months of intimate worship began to show in our church plant, but more important than that, was the fruit it produced in our inner man. Worship keeps me focused on God and his plans and I know I am expanding His kingdom instead of building my empire. I’ve come to realize that the call to worship is as much spiritual warfare as it is a catalyst for the sanctification and strengthening of my soul. Call it a spiritual bootcamp if you like. In worship we behold the glory of God and are thus transformed to his likeness.
A CALL TO HOLINESS
Beholding the holiness of God in worship will create in our hearts a longing to be holy like him. It is in fact a commandment: Be holy because I am holy (Leviticus 20:26; 1 Peter 1:16)
Our focus on worship and prayer attracted people to our church plant who enjoyed our hour plus of singing and got excited about daily prayer meetings. As I pastored them, I discovered that these passionate worshipers had something in common: they were so focused on the superior pleasures of the presence of God that they had no time or desire for the inferior pleasures of sin.
We see this pattern of worship and holiness in the apostle John's prophecy about the end time church.
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, [worship] for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. [holiness]
The bride (the church) makes herself ready with her acts of righteousness, with her lifestyle of holiness. And this is a bride with army boots, following the Bridegroom into battle, focused on him only.
Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.
2 Timothy 2:4
There may be many reasons why someone would choose a life of holiness, apart from sin and evil desires. In this season, however, the Holy Spirit is emphasizing the identity of the church as the bride of Christ to show that the foundation of holiness is love. We live a holy life because we want to please the lover of our souls.
And a focus on pleasing the Lord and living for him will inevitably inspire and empower us to make a decision to radical obedience.
A CALL TO RADICAL OBEDIENCE
Fifteen years ago I received a prophetic word that my life would be, in many ways, like Abraham's. And it certainly has, especially for our nomad lifestyle. We've lived in three countries and more than ten cities in a little more than a decade, following the lead of the Lord.
We were living in Toronto when the Lord spoke to my wife and I to move back to my hometown in Colombia and plant a church. It sounded exciting for me, but as I thought about my youngest son who had been born and raised in North America, I knew there would be some challenges. God speaks through many ways and in that season He used the song Whatever by Steven Curtis Chapman to speak to our lives. Whatever you say I will obey.
Gideon is a great example of radical obedience. Even though he had low self-esteem and tested the Lord several times, once he knew God had called him to liberate his nation, he was radically obedient. He believed God that with only 300 men he could defeat the vast armies of Midian. And so he sent away 31,700 soldiers and then fought with only trumpets and torches (See Judges 6 and 7).
In the same way, I believe the Holy Spirit is raising small Gideon battalions around the world to take over their towns and cities, not by conventional methods, but through prayer and power evangelism, through media and innovative strategies. These soldiers must be able to hear the voice of the Lord and be willing to do whatever He says, no matter how crazy the instructions may sound.
Radical obedience is only possible when we are passionately in love with Jesus. Let's cultivate a life of intimacy with God (in prayer and meditating on the Word), so we can receive a revelation of the majesty of Christ (Revelation 1). Then it will be impossible not to fall in love with Christ and trust his leadership with boldness.
A CALL TO BOLDNESS
What made king David's mighty men (1 Chronicles 12) so special? We don't have many details about them in the Scriptures, but we know one thing: they were willing to die for their king and commander. They were fearless and bold, entering the enemy's camp for a cup of water or defending a field of lentils with bravery, to the point of accomplishing the impossible.
David's mighty men did not start this way. They were part of the distressed and in-debt people who gathered around David when being persecuted by Saul. The journey from the cave to the palace was plagued with hardships, many battles and dangers, as well as many victories and spoils of wars.
Just like Gideon's small army or Abraham's valiant 300 who defeated the five armies in Genesis 14, the mighty men picture what God is doing in these times--using the few that are willing to lay down their lives for the King and the Kingdom. He doesn't need masses. In fact, he needs no one. But he is glorified using small groups of passionate worshipers to change the world.
Our small congregation is such a band of abandoned worshipers. We recently rented a conference room at a hotel in the city and promoted a series of supernatural meetings, promising miracles and healings for those who came. We'd never held such meetings on our own before (only as part of a ministry team of ministries with large track records). It was a bold move, so I did what any other pastor would do: fast and cry out to the Lord for ten days.
We had amazing miracles on our first night and the Holy Spirit came down with power. Unfortunately, we were a bit noisy and the hotel management decided to move us to a different room for the next meeting. The new room wasn't as big or fancy as the first one and had in fact one uncomfortable detail: it had glass walls facing the lobby of the hotel. That meant zero privacy and even more boldness. We worshiped and ministered all the same and the presence of God was stronger than the first night. We even had a passerby come into the meeting after he saw us worshiping.
Now we are going a step further and plan to do public worship and healing services out in the parks of the city. Our prayer is that of the apostles in Acts 4:29-31:
"And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness."
You too are called to be a part of the NBA. Are you ready to join the Lord's army? Then pray this with me:
"Lord Jesus, I want to accomplish the task you have destined for me in this generation. I commit my life--my time, energy, money--entirely to you. I worship you with all my heart. Help me become a worshiper in spirit and truth, a holy and obedient soldier in your army and give me the boldness to preach the kingdom in the power of the Holy Spirit. I heed your call to your army. Here I am Lord, use me. In the name of Jesus. Amen!"