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Mike Bickle
Mike Bickle 1990's

"Vintage Metro"

My Eight Years With The Kansas City Prophets" (Part Four)
© Don Clasen March 2002

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The following is a story about the phenomenon known as the Kansas City Prophets, a network of people whose name and ministries derived from the fact that most of them came to be resident in that city and working out of Kansas City Fellowship/Metro Christian Fellowship, Shiloh and IHOP. 

Era 4. The MCF Years

As the church broke away I hoped at first that this could be a God send, an answer to the prayers of myself and many others over the years, not just for more of an independent status, but for a renewal of commitment to the original cause.  I myself obviously, had definite ideas of where she ought to be headed relative to such issues.  But as I said, whenever I would subtly touch upon such things in my newsletter or in conversations, it was like talking to a brick wall.  In fact, the motif that continually kept coming to mind was that of a "Black Hole", as if all my comments were being constantly filed there. [xxi]

The church decided to rename itself once again, this time after some surveys and mulling of over of potential candidates, with Metro Christian Fellowship being eventually decided upon.  During this time the leadership seemed to invite back a lot of the Latter Rain and Restoration ministers they had broken off with under Wimber's oversight.  Yet on the whole, some improvement did take place.  There seemed to be a more determined effort to get focused with God, to get back to our roots, to be prophetic again.  But the idea that championing the Toronto Blessing was the first step back to fidelity was indicative to me of just how clueless everyone was. This is why I called these the "valiant-attempt-to-make-a-comeback-but-not-knowing-how-to-do-it" years.

One of the significant developments during this time was the arrival of Paul Cain in 1997.  As was said before, Paul had first showed himself to this "new breed" of ministers, as he put it, ten years earlier.  But now he told the church's leadership that the fear of God was upon him to actually make Kansas City his residence, to make MCF his new church home and base of operation, and to plant his long-standing dream for Shiloh Prophetic Retreat Center here.  If I'm not mistaken, the vision behind Shiloh is to allow, not just pastors and ministers to come and find a place they can rest and get some prophetic ministry, but world leaders also.  This would be a wonderful thing if they could persuade them to do so.  But the idea I get from the Bible is that in the Last Days, the kingdoms of this world will be so compromised by the Antichrist spirit and system, that if such leaders ever show up and got a real word from the Lord, it would probably be the last time they ever visit. 

Now, I don't want to limit God in something like that.  I'm sure He will have His people here and there around the world.  And there may be a real potential here for American political leaders before this is all over, (as I try to explain a bit at the end of this article).  But that is the vision Shiloh has had from its beginning.

They once had an open house at Shiloh soon after the actual property was purchased.  I went out there and got into a conversation with one of the principals involved with the new retreat center.  He had said a few things in the '97 conference that prompted me to want to ask him a question--namely, "Are you Pre-Millennial?"--but he had been too busy before.  So I did so this time, and he told me the professor who taught on eschatology in seminary was very learned in that subject and even he didn't have an opinion.  Therefore, neither did he.  He then added, "The fact of the matter is, You don't know when or how Jesus Christ is coming back and neither do I.  All I know is that He's doing a great unity work among His people right now."

So I asked him, How do you not know that such an attitude falls right into the False Church / Mystery Babylon trap?  At that he got a bit testy and shot back, "Well, that's just one opinion among many."  I thought to myself, Neat.  He considers eschatology to be a matter of different opinions.  And yet he knows that I certainly do not know the timing or manner of the Second Coming, and yet he knows that God is doing this great unity work in our day!  Not Rome.  Not Latter Rain megalomaniacs.  No, God.  Real prophetic.  Real verbal gymnastics. And real vintage Metro.

This experience sort of parallels one I had in June of 2000 at the big Catholic and Protestant Charismatics conference in St. Louis, Missouri, held every several years and hosted by the North American Renewal Service Committee, I believe.  While there I went up to one of the top Protestant leaders on the general committee.  When I asked him the same question--"How do we not know this is the fulfillment of Mystery Babylon?"--his answer was that as a Pentecostal, he believed in such, just as much as I did, but that "these Catholics are different.  They're not loyal to the Vatican."

I found that quite an amazing assumption to make.  Else, why would they remain being Catholics, since it's a denomination based on the idea that their particular priesthood alone are in the "apostolic succession" and by themselves constitute the essence of what "The Church" is?  So I decided to interview some of the Catholic leaders there too.  They told me, "Oh no, of course we're loyal to the Vatican."  In fact, on the night after the last session, a group of four Catholic young men, most from back East but one from Jamaica I believe, invited me up to their room for some refreshments and some talk.  They were quite impressive; they really knew their theology.  And they asked me point blank, Why don't you Protestants just give it up and come on home to Mother Church?

To my shame, I was feeling too ecumenical myself after a week of all those "good vibes", and after meeting some really dear Catholic people, and being treated so warmly by these guys, to really get into the question of whether "The Church" is essentially visible (the Catholic position) or invisible (the Protestant position).  Besides, they wouldn't let me get a word in edge-wise anyhow!  But when I did get the chance, I asked them, "So what will happen when all the separated brethren come home?"  They replied, "Why, John 17:21 would be fulfilled."  ("That they may be one...," that the world may believe God sent Christ). 

So I said to them, What will that do?  Their reply--"Why, that would bring peace on earth, especially in the Middle East."  The conversation moved on in its furious pace to other things.  But inside I was thinking to myself, "Yeah, just like in First Thessalonians 5:3--"For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them..."  A lot of the four-hour trip back to Kansas City the next day, I was weeping, shaking my head and telling God, "Lord, we have such a massive educational work to do!"

Trying Hard

In early 1997, one of the perceived "keys" to getting in the perfect flow of God was the Bill Bright 40-day fast fad that was sweeping the Body.  This was the, "If-only-we-could-get-2-million-people-to-fast-for-40-days, we-might-be-able-to-break-God's-arm-enough-to-get-Him-to-send-revival" idea.  I felt God remind me of Isaiah 58:2 and 3--

"Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.  Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?..."  (Isa 58:2-3 KJV). 

I kept wondering what good all their seeking did for them if it never brought them to the knowledge of the truth?  I mean, fasting was intended by God largely to be a way to draw near to Him and more accurately receive things from Him.  It was never meant to merely be a Pharisaical-type form to endlessly practice over and over again (even though it does discipline the appetite and have many health benefits).

Nevertheless, fasting, even for 40 days, is Biblical, and I do not mean to mock it, nor they who accomplish such.  Back during the 1980s, I myself was a fasting animal.  I had wanted to get to the very edge of death so I could see into the spiritual world, "get the anointing," do miracles and see angels.  (I almost got my wish!)  I became so obsessed with it that I began to question my very sanity.  During that time I once did a 40 day fast in 60 days.  (If you don't get the joke, email me.)  I got down below 120 lbs. (at six feet tall), and was quite proud of what I had done.  (These experiences may have made me overly down on the practice now.  I still fast nowadays, but rarely for more than three days at a time).

Well, Mike tried to rally the church to participate in one of Bill Bright's forty dayers early in 1997.  By the end only he seemed to finish it, but it did seem to have a rejuvenating effect on him.  He seemed to get more focused, serious and sincere.  Eventually this led him to decide pastoring had never been his strong suit and that he needed to get into full-time intercession ministry.  This along with the encouragement of Paul Cain, led Mike to persuade Noel Alexander (who had left some years ago, probably uncomfortable with the church's direction by the early 1990's) to form IHOP or the International House of Prayer with him.

The Broken Down Tabernacle

This move to IHOP I'm sure partly was due to God's charge given to Mike from the beginning, that this church was to be characterized by day and night prayer.  I think the basic idea is a good one, but in the times I've been there, it just seemed there was too much emphasis on worship and music.  Mike has even developed an extensive apologetic, based upon the model of David in the Tabernacle, about actually hiring musicians.  Myself, I don't need music to get me in the mood.  I believe if we're going to pray, then we ought to pray, although I understand that music serves as something of a cultural "glue", especially for young people.

IHOP also reflects some of the doctrinal ideas he had developed over the years.  A ways back, I mentioned that Mike has a great teaching gift.  I did not mean to imply that that makes him a great teacher necessarily.  It's true that when he sets out to develop a teaching, his research will be exhaustive.  Yet in my opinion, he has a tendency to take a subject and drive it into the ground, become obsessed with it, and emphasize it to the exclusion of more important concepts in the Bible. 

His teachings hardly ever seemed to major on the majors of the Bible, especially the great truths of the New Testament first and foremost, but on a lot of fringe concepts that seemed to fit in quite naturally with the Latter Rain / Sonship vision.  As was said, Old Testament promises given to Israel were applied to the Church. Minor books like the Song of Solomon supposedly held the key to the Last Days Church.  Passages from Daniel, Revelation, the Olivet Discourse and the like were virtually ignored, while an emphasis on highly allegorized and spiritualized readings from less definite places in Isaiah, Song of Solomon, Malachi and the like were favored.  He also hardly ever seemed preoccupied with the great markers of the Pre-Millennial hermeneutic.  Instead, what we got was a steady diet of an ingrown and highly pretentious "romancing" of Jesus that supposedly passed for spiritual "passion".  Yet Jesus didn't say if you love Me you'll swoon.  He said, If you love Me you'll keep My commandments (Jn 14:15,21).  Love for God in the Bible is an altruistic, "doing" kind of love called agape.

We also got an interpretation of "grace" that was so broad that he claimed the five foolish virgins of Matthew 25:10-12 were not even lost.  All this fits in nicely with the broad way, ecumenical mentality that requires huge numbers of "Christians" in the last days, to pull off this great take-over of the earth, inspite of plain warnings like that of Jesus in Luke 18:8. Mike once mentioned that he "thought it reasonable" that God end up saving at least half of mankind in the end.  Yeah, it sounds reasonable to me too.  It just isn't Scriptural.  I also remember him saying, "The Book of Revelation is not about the saints getting beat up; it's about God beating up the people of the world." [xxii]   All these sentiments scream "Restorationism" and "Amillennial allegorizing".  It has little to do with Pre-Millennial thinking.

I also felt Mike had a tendency to fall for the novel.  His latest emphasis on the Tabernacle of David, a teaching that I feel is lifted way out of its context and is made to refer to a grand scheme of extemporaneous worship, is something that doesn't even have a meaning true to the context of its mention in Acts 15:16. This phrase is a simple reference from Amos 9:11, it seems to me, of God's promise to rebuild the nation of Israel through the coming of the Messiah with his Gospel, and to extend that restoration to include the Gentiles.  But to Charismatic Restorationists, it is interpreted as having reference to a worship style issue (David's as opposed to Moses') that seems incredibly irrelevant and forced to me given the context of what's going on in Acts 15.  Mike it seems, ups the ante with hyperbole so typical of him, such as that "every city of the world will have 24 hour a day" prayer and worship centers by the time Christ returns. 

That's every city, folks.  Kabul, Teheran, and Pyongyang as well as others less prominent perhaps, but no less hostile to the Gospel.  In light of what we do know about the future, including from the lips of Jesus Himself no less (Lu 18:8), it sounds to me more like Mike is promoting Restorationist "truths" than Pre-Millennial eschatology.  As I stated right in the beginning, it's an example of painting the basic scenario exactly backwards.  "Let a man so account of us," Paul wrote, "as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God" (I Cor 4:1).  That gives us every responsibility to be faithful stewards of the revelation as it's written.  It gives us no right to make up our own teachings, especially in concepts that are really a stretch.

As far as intercessory prayer itself is concerned, I am the first one to admit it is perhaps the most enigmatic subject in the Kingdom of God to me.  I know it "works" and that God ordains it.  But I don't fully understand the logic of "prayer chains", incessantly pestering God, persuading Him to do things because "2 million have fasted and prayed", etc.  Whatever happened to that Biblical principle, "One plus God makes a majority"?  He does as seemeth good in His own sight, and doesn't need our permission, agreement or formal invitation to do anything, much less "legal" permission as is taught in Word of Faith and Restorationist cosmologies.  In fact, He doesn't even "need" anyone to pray before He can act.  He just would like us to.

I believe this principle is evident in the very passage intercessory prayer is most built upon.  In Isaiah 59:14-18 we read,

Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.  Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.  And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor...(Isa 59:14-16). 

Despite the popular assumption that "intercessor" there means a prayer warrior, the word really refers to a political or spiritual leader who would step into the situation and fix it!  You can almost hear God pleading, "Will somebody please DO something!" (about the injustices and abysmal state of "truth decay" in that day).

Furthermore, it goes on to say that because no one would act, God himself acted.  The rest of the passage reads,

"...therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.  For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.  According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence."

I might be wrong, but the idea I get is that the biggest purpose of intercessory prayer is what it does for us, not God.  It gives us a chance to draw near and get His heart and mind.  Nevertheless, I do believe in it, I do believe it's a big mystery, and I do believe it is a big part of the Kansas City mandate.  The thing that bothers me about IHOP is that it's not just a prayer ministry.  It's something deliberately based upon Tabernacle of David ideology and again, shouts "Latter Rain / Restorationism" whether it intends to or not.

IHOP Culture

As IHOP stands today, they have taken over and are renovating a strip mall for their headquarters.  The one project they have completed is a sophisticated bookstore / Starbucks-type coffee shop where everyone hangs out for fellowship, refreshments and reading when they're not praying.  I'm sure Mike got the idea from his love for hanging out at Borders Book stores who adopted the same format.  I think it's a great idea, one that I wouldn't mind copying myself.  The one time I visited (to get a copy of The Quest For The Radical Middle) I didn't get much of a chance to peruse the titles available.  I hear Mike is promoting Catholic mystics like St. Teresa Avila and St. John of the Cross, like that.  He seems to be into the "contemplative life", minus the celibate, monastic dimension. 

The make up of the people there is mostly young people between the ages of 18 to 25.  In other words, the most impressionable and pliable of Christians.  I don't mean to imply too much there because young people have a lot of energy and zeal and dedication.  But what they don't have a lot of is experience and judgment.  One of the "vintage Metro" patterns has been that the older people usually end up leaving, while they're always replaced by fresh troops of the young and more gullible.  There have also been complaints about a tendency to laziness, to not work with one's own hands (I Thess 4:11), but to just sit around and pray all day.  Having hired people in my business here for that ministry, I have myself  found that sort of a mentality in them.  Yet they still flock here all the same, with new arrivals every day, to get in on something so spiritual and "cutting edge".

One interesting development is the building of a brand new IHOP restaurant here in Grandview in the past year or two.  IHOP stands for "International House of Pancakes", and when Paul Cain got the idea for the prayer center, he got it from noticing an IHOP sign over one of their restaurants.  He and Mike then changed the acronym to loosely refer to the original "Four Standards"--"Intercession, Holiness, Offerings (to the poor), and the Prophetic".

I don't know if many of the IHOP people hang out at or eat at this restaurant.  Probably not since they are building up that strip mall several miles away.  But recently one of my friends had a birthday and he wanted the guys to take him to this new House of Pancakes.  The prices seemed reasonable, so for a main dish I ordered a "Chicken Caesar Salad" which, I lie not, consisted of three whole ingredients--chicken, romaine lettuce and dressing!  A couple of the guys got the steak and eggs special which consisted of about that and that alone too.  (In other words, all protein and fat).  I thought to myself, is this another God sarcasm?  That the menu here is as culinarily-unimaginative and nutritionally-imbalanced as the spiritual food available at IHOP?  I just don't know for sure.

A Change At The Top

Era 5.  This brings us to the fifth period, from 2000 to present.  During 1999, Floyd McClung, a former top leader in Youth With A Mission began to visit the church frequently as a guest speaker.  Eventually Mike announced he was stepping down as pastor of MCF to give himself to full-time prayer and intercession, and that Floyd would be taking over as senior pastor.  On January 1, 2000 this transfer officially took place.  But during the previous year, when he would guest preach, Floyd had twice invited people to "come forward and bare their hearts" to church leadership, if they were so inclined.  When I heard such things, my thought was, "Right!  And get my head chopped off for it!"  But when he mentioned it a third time after the New Year, I thought to myself, well maybe I ought to give it a chance. 

I had also been encouraged in this by a dream a former employee of mine had related to me around this time.  This guy was no great fan of my beliefs, but he told me that he had had this dream wherein he saw Floyd and me "gutting out the inside of MCF".  "Gutting out" is a term used in the construction trades (of which I'm a part) that means to tear out the inside of a building to rebuild it, leaving pretty much only the frame.   He also said he saw a friend of his from California showing up, correcting the people a lot and me standing back there agreeing with him.

Well, based on these invitations and this guy's dream (and perhaps my own impatience) I decided to do just that--Bare My Heart.  My newsletters had been addressing issues Body-wide, but some of them touched upon some of the problems I saw right there at MCF.  But now I decided was the time to come right out and tie things together with a direct statement. 

I did not approach this project without some trepidation though.  I particularly thought that Floyd, being so new to the scene, would not fully understand the context of what I wanted to say.  In fact, my statement was directed towards the other six men on the board who had been there much longer.  I had originally told Floyd that I would run my comments through him first and he could decide if he should pass them on to the others.  But after writing the letter I decided to send seven copies to all of them directly, lest he misunderstand and not pass it on.  This reneging probably did not endear me a whole lot to Floyd, but I felt I needed to make sure I got to the others.

It took about a month to write and was about nine pages long, but by March, 2000 I sent it off.  In it I reviewed the history of the church, where it was at present, where I felt its prophetic calling was, and how it was not being fulfilled.  I expressed to Floyd and the rest my whole-hearted support for a grand missions theme, but also my reservations that it could become a wasted effort if they did not realize that the ecumenical apostasy would leave a lot of that harvest rotting in the field.  (To read the letter, click here.) 

By the end of March, I got a reply.  It was an email from Floyd.  I could not tell very clearly if the whole staff had asked him to say the things he did in it, or whether this was his own summary, or whether it was just mostly his own thoughts.  But the long and short of it all was that they "just did not bear witness".  No elaboration, no discussion, no invitation to meet, no cigar.  Just, "we don't bear witness".  It truly was vintage Metro, perhaps the purest form of it I had encountered thus far.  Worse yet, Floyd said that, since the fellowship was not going in that direction, I might want to consider another church home.

I was speechless.  A flood of emotions went over me.  I felt set up, humiliated, and manipulated, as if I had been "flushed out".  I felt like I had stuck my head out as requested, then had it handed to me on a platter. 

They were at that time going through a process of repentance and reconcilation as they called it, wherein an amazing amount of people from the church's past came across their path and gave them an earful too.  But for the most part, I felt the whole process was shallow at best, cynically manipulative at worst, because it all was couched in terms of psychology and supposed "personal conflicts and wounds" within the fellowship that needed to be healed.  I felt it was almost a whitewash to cover over what amounted to a lack of vision and agreement.  More vintage Metro.

At this point I prayed about what to do, and for six weeks I felt God suggest I not return.  I had reached a dead end.  But by the seventh week, it seemed in my prayer time He might have been leading me to try it one more time.  So I went back, May 7, 2000, on the 17th anniversary of the start of the 1983 fast (if that has any significance).  I felt strangely uncomfortable being there now, a church I had been a part of for eight years.  I knew that only about 7 people in that church understood why I had not been there the previous 6 weeks.  As for the rest, it seemed as if they had not even noticed my absence.

That Sunday, Mike happened to be preaching, Floyd was out of town.  It seemed before he started he saw me over where I was sitting and started in with something he's quite good at--making between-the-lines innuendo.  He went on about people who have such a problem with loneliness that they just can't get on with their lives, something like that.  I thought to myself, "Yeah, right!  Like I come here for the fellowship!"  As he continued on with what seemed to me like snide remarks, I felt like I was being "beaned by the pitcher"and wanted to "rush the mound". 

Yet I put my rubbed-raw emotions aside and brushed it all off.  But in his sermon he went on about his recent trip to Italy where he addressed 40,000 Catholic charismatics and gushed about being on the stage with the Pope's personal pastor, who "gave a profound address out of Isaiah" and who was "such a godly man", yada, yada, yada.  At that point, I decided I could not take this any longer.  I decided then and there I could no longer be a part of this work, that it was just too far gone, and I needed to leave today.

But before I left, I decided to say something.  I thought maybe there were people sitting there wondering if they too were losing their minds, so I decided to encourage them.  So I stood up and shouted, "Go ahead Mike, serve the Pope.  Why not serve the Antichrist too?"

This of course did not go over well.  The proverbial lead balloon again.  Two of the seven men who had received my letter escorted me out.  Once outside the door, one of them said to me, "Don, Mike only was trying to preach the Gospel to those people over in Italy."  I said to him, "You've gotta be kidding me!  You're trying to tell me that the impression he left on those 40,000 in Italy and the 1500 here today was not that he totally accepts who they are and what they're about?"  I told them I didn't want to be a part of this anymore if these are the kind of tactics they're going to stoop to.

As It Stands

"The elite media is like the Mafia. The biggest sin you can commit with the Mafia is to break the code of silence."

Former CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg made this statement on The 700 Club on December 20, 2001.  He was being interviewed about the publication of his book Bias, an expose of liberal bias in the mainstream media.  And as I find so often in so many things nowadays, I see a direct parallel between things in our culture and things in the Church.  The history of Kansas City Fellowship for example, is strewn with offences so egregious as to be scary.  But the one unpardonable sin to commit is to "break the code of silence".

What I have just outlined above for you is a story that needed to be told.  I know it will invariably be greeted by many as a treasonous act, as the one unpardonable sin that cannot be forgiven or committed without dire consequences.  But I'm asking you to grant me a little space for passion.  For the Church world of our day is a veritable side show of charlatans, heretics, hucksters, religious politicians, "celebrities," and just plain untaught leaders who have led the people of God down a primrose path of ignorance, vanity and abuse.  Like the blind leading the blind, "comparing themselves amongst themselves" (II Cor 10:12), they have gotten their cues from the most daring amongst them to commercialize the Gospel, promote trendy fads that bring the masses in, exploit the people of God, take their money, suppress their questions, teach them to submit to men rather than to the Lord Jesus, and lead them into a discernment-lacking ecumenism that leaves them in danger of falling for the "Great Apostasy" foretold for the Last Days (I Thess 5:3; II Thess 2:3, 8-11, etc.). 

Such leaders haven't exercised their prophetic responsibility to educate the people about the times we are obviously in and the array of different theories floating around out there so that the people can decide for themselves, be ready for it, and be discerning.  Instead they've, amazingly, been indifferent to it!, even hiding it under the pretense of the false "unity" ethic conceived and promoted by the Catholic Church and other Christian leaders unwittingly abetting Rome's blind self-aggrandizement.  They have not laid down a sound and sufficient foundation of doctrine in the people's lives so that they can recognize where any given voice is "coming from" (Mal 2:7; Ezra 7:10; Neh 8:8; I Cor 14:10).  And whether they do these things out of a deliberate "cunning craftiness, lying in wait to deceive" (Eph 4:14), or just because they're so downright clueless themselves, it doesn't matter.  The effect is still the same.

Into this treacherous minefield was born some twenty years ago this little fellowship that became in time the home of the Kansas City Prophets. This, I believe, was this church's mandate and unique privilege, to essentially speak out against this circus (not just commit a sin of omission by trying to "set a better example"), and to teach the people sound doctrine, especially as regards the mystery of the "Last Days".  This was their prophetic mandate, but they trivialized it by limiting it to personal prophetic words, promoting Manifested Sons and Latter Rain distortions, allowing themselves to be blown off course by people with impressive gifts, and by letting themselves become overawed by the prominence of "successful" leaders in the Body of Christ. 

In fact, I would get the impression at times that God was showing the Kansas City people the answers, but it seems they just could not receive them because of this last factor.  I think part of it was that they may have thought, "If these are the true answers, why are they so obscure?  Why aren't more 'prominent people' in the Body of Christ proclaiming them too?  Why are only relative "nobodies" like Clasen and Moore coming up with these things?" 

If these men are just naive themselves, I can in some ways sympathize.  Doctrinal and theological problems can be complex, subtle and frustrating at times.  But it's hard for me to believe that naivete is the Kansas City Prophets' problem.  Any Christian ought to know that our doctrines are derived from the Bible, not from personal "revelations".  If they had shown a greater respect for the Word of God, sound exegesis and sound hermeneutics, they would have seen that an overall reading simply does not support the kind of vain, exaggerated claims and rosey scenarios they routinely suspend before the eyes of the people of God.  And the fact that some of them like Paul Cain and Bob Jones are not particularly gifted to be teachers in the first place isn't really an excuse either, since others like Mike Bickle, Jack Deere and the like do have strong teaching abilities.  At the least, they are all aware of their connection with the "hard-core" Restoration circles of England and elsewhere.  At the worst, they know exactly what they are doing and are carrying out a plan to introduce these ideas to the Body of Christ piecemeal, bypassing any real detection, examination or debate.

I believe one of the promises God supposedly made to Mike was that He would surround him with "marvelous comrades".  I wish I could say I had found any comrades amongst the leadership of Metro Christian Fellowship, marvelous or otherwise.  The indifference my contributions were greeted with so grieved and confounded me that I often ended up spending hours sobbing in frustration and confusion, pouring out my heart towards God, especially towards the end of the 1990s.  I think the effect of this (along with a two-week period of working in 100 degree weather) was to actually so damage my heart muscle that in 1999 I had a heart attack.  It landed me in the hospital for five days, and during that time I did not have even one person from the church stop by to see me, except close personal friends.  It made me wonder if people took what happened to be the judgment of God.

I would not want you to think I am wanting for good, close friends from MCF though, for I am not.  To this day I have a lot of wonderful friendships in this city, most originating from this church.  It's just that none of them come from those who are considered the most spiritual elements of Metro.  My friends are great down-to-earth people, certainly Christians, and some very spiritually-minded.  But I never did connect spiritually and deeply with the real pillars of the church. 

I believe God has shown me why I received this treatment.  From the staff's point of view, they knew how unhappy I was with how things were, and they were afraid that if they gave me any responsibility, any voice, any acknowledgement, that it could produce a haughty, out of control leader that could reproduce the problems like they had back in the 1980s.  For all I know, they may be right.  But I gave what I had.  To what degree my insights were indicative of spiritual attainment on my part, God alone knows.  But such was my experience of their rejection.

To be fair with Mike especially, friends have told me that he has modified a lot of his thinking about the future in the time since I've left.  That may well be.  I cannot see how 9-11 wouldn't change anyone's thinking.  It certainly shook my own complacency up.  But all I know is that what I've reported above is what I personally experienced first hand during my eight years there.  I regret having to say all these "negative" things, but they need to be dealt with.  I also trust you will recognize that I tried to be fair, even complimentary to the personalities involved, even as I've been rough with their ideas and behavior at times.

Yet inspite of all this, I still hold out hope that this ministry will yet come around!  You may think me crazy for thinking that, but I have hope God will do something to bring us all together one day in greater agreement.  In fact, lately in prayer, I've been getting the impression that we are not as far apart on things now as we once were.  I am hopeful too for greater respect for one another, even as I do respect these people inspite of all I've said.  They certainly have a zeal for God, and the history of this disfunctional family has had its bright spots too.  There once was a prophecy that after all the mistakes were said and done, God would still save the day with a "home run of grace".

There is another reason I have hope for this ministry, and this may be explained by my view of the unique situation the United States is in.  Amongst the developed nations (in other words, those that can sustain a "Mark of the Beast" technology), the U.S. alone may end up in a condition that becomes so primitive that it may not be implementable here. I see a future for America that involves internal subversion by foreign terrorist agents and domestic leftist forces (campus and inner city), leading to coordinated terrorist attacks, followed by invasion by certain Communist nations, such as China, Russia, Cuba, and the like. This will happen simultaneously with the Ezekiel 38-39 attempt by the Arab nations to destroy Israel, tripwiring the Revelation 6 scenario of the Four Horsemen and the beginning of the Great Tribulation. 

This expectation is in accord with the visions experienced by Romanian pastor Dimitru Duduman, evangelist Henry Gruver, and many others, including even George Washington back in Valley Forge.  While this is a horrible situation to contemplate, its one saving grace is that the U.S. will be in such a chaotic state as to not be able to function within the Antichrist network.

The situation in Europe will be far more difficult though, with much more pressure on the Church there.  Europe is at the heart of the emerging Beast system.  It's no surprise then that the Restorationist movement is most "hardcore" in England, because it puts forth an eschatology of such an earthly hope.  The problem is that it tempts the Church to fall for the ecumenical siren song of the Vatican to disregard Pre-Millennial interpretations of the book of Revelation and take the mark.  Therefore, the battle for eschatology will be most "torqued up" in Europe, because the price to pay to stay faithful and not take the mark will be martyrdom.  In America, survival will be a big factor, but the pressure to accept a pipe dream eschatology will become a moot issue, especially as the ashes of it all lay about in such complete disarray.

I can see Kansas City having a strategic geographical and prophetic role to play in this future drama.  Kansas City is called in its city charter, "The Prophetic City", for what reason I do not know.  But what I do know is that it is smack dab in the middle of the United States, and may end up being at the heart of resistance to those invading armies.

Therefore, in a very strange way, I have an optimism about the spiritual future of America that perhaps my strident tone in this article obscures.  I do expect a great purging of the wicked to come about here.  But at the same time I see a revival of our national heritage emerging, and a warming up to the Gospel by many who wouldn't currently darken a church door if their lives depended on it.  And considering the sorts of antics I've touched upon here in the Charismatic world especially, who can blame them?  I think this work of the Spirit can be especially effective if the Church can successfully relate the principles of the faith to everyday life for ordinary people.  In fact, I see this kind of a bridge building to be my own personal ministry emerging in the days ahead. 

Whether God's hope for this church ever come to pass I don't know.  I'm assuming that, even when God infallibly promises a certain outcome, we cannot always assume we know how He is going to get us there.  People sometimes forget that the path may be blocked by the kinds of debate and strife such as I've raised here.  But I cannot see any other way to get there.  Sometimes the only way out is through.



[xxi] On the other hand, entitling one of my 1998 impeachment-era articles, "Living In Disneyland" probably didn't help, since the headquarters for the Vineyard was Anaheim, California, the home of Disneyland.  But I tell you the truth, I had no such connection or sarcasm in mind at the time.  For all I know, the title could have been inspired by God.  It certainly seemed to keep popping up in my mind over and over again.

[xxii] Sermon, Feb. 13, 1994.

The Kingdom Gospel Messenger

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