Fire on the Family Altar

The first institution God established on earth was family. It is, without question, the most important to God and the most hated by satan. For those of you who are now without a natural family due to loss, broken marriages, never marrying or other circumstances, I want to say that it is appropriate to consider your spiritual family as family. God gives us spiritual fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, and for many of you they truly are your family.

This post is about restoring the family altar of prayer. For some of you that will be praying with your spiritual family. It is no less effective than praying with your natural family. That being said, it is very important for natural families to pray together. With that as our context, our friend Cheryl Sacks says, “I will never forget the moment. I was on stage at a large church conference where we’d focused on “Revival and the Holy Spirit” all weekend. It was now the closing session and I was getting ready to lead the congregation in corporate prayer for God to send revival to America.

“In that instant, the Lord began speaking to me about family. The heavens seemed to open before me. I saw a vision of the nation covered almost entirely in darkness.

“Looking closer I saw a few homes light up, the hearth burning brightly where families were praying together. Then, suddenly homes everywhere across the nation lit up as families were worshipping and praying …. until the whole nation was ablaze with the power and presence of God.

“It took my breath away!

“Every sphere of culture is important, but I hear the Lord saying, ‘It’s FAMILY FIRST.’ Because as the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world.

“After all, FAMILY is the first institution God established. He designed families to be the bedrock of society, the basic building blocks of nations. Is it any wonder that Satan has engraved a bullseye on the family?

“The Devil’s aim is to destroy our families – and he is moving with great fury to deconstruct God’s original design for the family. Evil forces beyond anything we can even imagine are pulling families apart and distorting and redefining what family is, even denying God’s creation of male and female.

“History has taught us that the decline of any nation always begins with the decline of the family. But consider that the decline of the family begins when God is absent from the family culture and worship and prayer cease to be a priority in the home.

“We can’t disciple a nation if we fail to disciple our own families!

“Ultimately the attack on the family comes from evil spiritual powers and it is futile to fight this kind of battle with natural weapons alone. The battle for our families will be won in prayer! It is time for the ekklesia to pick up our weapons of warfare and defeat the enemy of darkness who is seeking to kill, steal and destroy our families, and thus this great nation.

“Many of us pray at our state capitols, county seats, in front of the Supreme Court, and schools and neighborhoods. And so we should and so we MUST! Yet, in this pivotal moment in our nation, there is a fresh call from the Lord to pray in our homes, for …. and with…. our natural and spiritual families.

The Family Can Save the Nation

“Our nation and nations around the world are in crisis. We are seeing massive protests, riots, and revolutions. Widespread drought, floods, and fires, hyperinflation as governments drive up their debt, violent crime is increasing in major cities across America, the rapid loss of personal freedoms and retaliation against those who would confront evil in our day.

“In the Bible, when the nation was on the brink of destruction and even annihilation, God had a simple, humble solution. In the darkest, most desperate times He used righteous families to bring deliverance and save the nation.

“Miriam, Aaron, and Moses.

“Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.

“Esther and Mordecai.

“During the darkest, most depraved time in human history, during the days of Noah, God used one family to resist the evil of their day and build the ark.

“And it is not only biological families that He uses but spiritual ones as well. In the Bible, four young men lost their relatives and any hope of a future family when they were uprooted from their homeland and cruelly turned into eunuchs, depriving them of the chance to ever marry or have children.

“They lost their natural families but found each other - and formed a covenant bond in Babylon that impacted the greatest empire of their day – through the power of prayer in agreement and bold, courageous action.

“Joined together as an ekklesia in hostile surroundings, the lives and prayers of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego changed history.

“No matter how bad things are, covenantal intercessors in the family of God can make all the difference — and turn the tide for a nation!

Steps to Build a Family Altar

“Whether you live alone or in a household with children, married or single, you can light the altar of prayer and worship in your home. You can begin taking steps now to build—or rebuild—the altar of prayer. Here are some suggestions:

  • Call your family together and discuss the idea of devoting a special time each day or week to gather to meet with the Lord. [Explain that this is a time to invite His presence and power into your lives and family to thank Him for the great things happening and to ask His help in the challenges. Find a time you can all agree upon, and make sure it is set aside for this purpose.]

  • “Tailor your gathering to the ages and personality of your family. [Younger kids can’t sit still for long. You may need to pray with them when you put them to bed and have a longer time of prayer after they fall asleep. If you have teenagers, involve them in framing the time to make it interesting and exciting.]

  • “Set the tone. [Our family has found that reading Scripture or a chapter from a Christian devotional (i.e. Dutch Sheets’ GiveHim15 or The Pleasure of His Company) helps set the tone and inspires faith. At our house, we often turn on Pandora and start with our favorite worship music.]

  • “Create a journal where you can record your family’s requests and the date the prayers are answered. [We also write down the blessings God has given that week—and some we didn’t even ask for! He is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).]

  • “Remember, in addition to a special set-aside time, we can pray and worship together anytime and at any place—[on our way to work, school or a sporting event, even on vacation. You could make the next birthday or graduation a time of praying blessings – that your special family member will fulfill his or her God-given destiny.]

  • “Reach out to a prayer partner. [If your family is not ready to pray with you just yet, remember you can always reach out to a prayer partner or start a prayer group and pray for one another’s families.]

Fire on the Family Altar

“Imagine what might happen if pastors all across the nation began to call their congregations to establish prayer in homes. What if we regularly invited God’s presence into our homes and prayed not only for one another but for their schools, workplaces, and churches? What if every time we gathered to pray, we asked God to send another Great Awakening to our land? I believe we would see families restored, prodigals coming home and revival fires ablaze, with a multitude of people coming into God’s Kingdom.

“I hear the Lord’s urgent CALL, even a PROMISE, to His church today, ‘If you will build an altar, I will come…. to your family …and to this nation!’”

Pray With Me:

Dear Lord, our families and this nation need You as never before. Only You can bring the healing and reconciliation that we so desperately need. We ask You to send a sweeping nationwide revival and let it begin with me…in my home, in our homes.

Even as we saw in the early days of this nation, we pray that families would return to daily prayer, worship, Bible reading, and sharing stories of Your faithfulness. We know that as we invite Your holy presence and power into our homes that we will see salvations, healing, reconciliation, and restoration.

Ignite a fire in this nation through the praying families of America, one that spreads to every sphere of culture. And, Lord, we pray that this would not end with our generation, but that our children and our children’s children would keep the fire on the family altar burning— that the generations to come would put their trust in You and not forget Your faithfulness (Psalm 78:6-7).

Our Decree:

We decree, in Jesus’ name, that a movement of family prayer is being ignited that will set this nation ablaze with the power and presence of Almighty God!

Today’s post was contributed by Cheryl Sacks. Cheryl is author of the Prayer Saturated book series: The Prayer Saturated Church, Prayer Saturated Kids and The Prayer Saturated Family - How to Change the Atmosphere in Your Home through Prayer.

You can learn more about Cheryl and her husband Hal’s work by going to

Click on the link below to watch the full video.

Shed the Shell

On Monday we talked about allowing Holy Spirit to reignite us, preparing us for the “new” that is coming. In the New Testament, two Greek words are translated “new,” and have different meanings. Understanding the difference is important.

The word neos means numerically new, but not qualitatively different. For instance, if you buy a new car of a certain make and model, and like it so much you buy another one for your spouse, that would be neos. It’s new, but not different. I’ll give you a reference in a moment.

The other Greek word for “new” is kainos, which also means numerically new, but includes qualitatively new, as well. For example, a new car manufactured today is obviously quite different from a new Model T in its day. Today’s version would be not only numerically new, but also qualitatively new (kainos).

Distinguishing the difference between these two words—neos and kainos—is very important to our proper understanding of Scripture. For example, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says we are new (kainos) creations. We’re not just duplications or replicas of the former, which would be neos. We’re new in the sense of being different—kainos - qualitatively new. When we’re born again, God transforms us, gives us a different nature, and fills us with His Spirit. We’re not just forgiven, the same sinful people with a few changes; we are kainos, completely new on the inside.

A very important passage in which these distinctions are significant is Matthew 9:17. Jesus used both Greek words in one statement when He referred to the importance of putting “new wine” into “new wineskins.” His choice of words was that new (neos - numerically new) wine had to be put into new (kainos - qualitatively new) wineskins. Wineskins, made of leather, become dry and hard between uses. Before being used again, they have to be soaked in water, then rubbed with oil to soften them. If this does not occur, the fermentation process expands the skin and it breaks. The application for us is that we must allow the water of the Word and oil of Holy Spirit to prepare us for new seasons of wine.

The neos wine Jesus spoke of is another outpouring of Holy Spirit. He, the wine, won’t change. Holy Spirit can’t change - no improvement is possible or necessary. He simply pours more of Himself into us.

However, we, the wineskin must change, progressively transformed (kainos) from glory to glory and faith to faith. In order to have another measure of Holy Spirit poured into us, we are renewed, changed, metamorphosed. If we do not allow and cooperate with this change, we won’t be able to contain the new wine He pours out in subsequent revivals. But if we do embrace the change in our lives, He can pour neos wine into our kainos wineskins.

God has done an enormous amount of work in the church the past few years, preparing us for another move of His Spirit (more wine). Some of the change we all experience is obviously character related. We are consistently being transformed into the image of Christ (2 Corinthiand 3:18). Other changes, however, are in our thinking - both theologically and practically. Many in the church have gone through theological adjustments over the past few years regarding the 5-Fold ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11, the meaning and calling of the church (ekklesia), understanding marketplace ministry (which we discussed yesterday), maturing in prayer and more.

And yet, we must be willing to change more than just our theology. Our wineskins must become flexible in a practical sense. We all become comfortable with certain ways, methods, customs, traditions, etc. This is true in every area of life, both naturally and spiritually. Cultural “norms” are present in homes, businesses, age groups, society as a whole and, yes, churches. This isn’t wrong; it is normal.

However, just as businesses must adapt to new products and tastes, innovating to succeed in a new season, we in the church must also. When Holy Spirit is poured out in a new season, He is ministering to a new generation with new tastes and styles, that experiences new and different problems, and that processes everything through a new set of paradigms. When Holy Spirit is poured out on this generation, He is wise enough to know what they need and how they need it delivered to them. The key for us is twofold: remain flexible enough to adapt our methods; and follow Holy Spirit’s guidance in doing so without compromising the message - innovate without ignoring or violating truth. Truth is sacred and unchanging; methods and preferences are not.

“From time to time, lobsters have to shed their shells in order to grow. They need the shell to protect them from being torn apart; yet when they grow, the old shell must be abandoned - it can’t grow. If they did not abandon it, the old shell would soon become their prison and, finally, their casket.

The precarious time for the lobster is the brief period between the discarding of the old shell and the forming of the new. During that terribly vulnerable period, the transition must be scary to the lobster. Ocean currents gleefully cartwheel them from coral to kelp. Hungry schools of fish are ready to make them a part of their food chain. For a while at least, that old shell must look pretty good.

We are not so different from lobsters. To change and grow, we must sometimes shed our shells—a structure, a framework—that we’ve depended on.”(1) Becoming a new wineskin means shedding the old in order to embrace the new. It’s uncomfortable, but necessary.

It’s worth pointing out that the two Greek words for “new” - neos and kainos - are also used to describe “renewal.” By adding the prefix ana to them, which is equivalent to the English prefix “re,” we have two different concepts of renewal. Ananeoo is being renewed to what we previously were or possessed; God restores to us something we once walked in. What He restores isn’t qualitatively new or different, yet there is renewal or refreshing. Perhaps He restores to us our joy, health, first love, or a state of faith we previously walked in.

The other word, anakainoo, means that the renewal process has changed us. God has brought to us another stage of maturity; we are different. This type of renewal transforms us from glory to glory, into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). When finished, we are more mature, more knowledgable, more like Him. This is the word for renewing the mind (Romans 12:2), the way we think, enabling us to operate more in the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

God is doing new things on the earth, both in the sense of neos and kainos. He’s beginning to pour another round of wine, another rain of Holy Spirit. To prepare for this, He’s also making radical changes in the church. Ready yourself to receive these changes by being a kainos wineskin.

Shed the shell!

Pray with me:

Father, we position ourselves before You, asking for the ability to change in whatever ways necessary to receive the new wine of Holy Spirit. We want to experience the ongoing transformation into the image of Christ, from glory to glory. We are expecting new wine and we intend to be new vessels.

Show us any areas of our lives needing change or adjustment. Show us any way of thinking that would keep us from receiving the new wine. And grow us in our understanding of Your word and ways so that we can be used to reveal Christ as never before. You speak of the church coming to a place where we reveal the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). We want this!

So transform us. Transform our minds. Move us into a greater understanding of You, which will release greater authority and power. Move us into a new expression of Your gifts and will in the earth. You said we would do the same works Christ did and greater works. We release our faith for this now. In His wonderful name we ask, amen.

Our decree:

We decree that we are becoming new, in order to receive the new!

Portions of today’s post were taken from my book God’s Timing for Your Life.

Click on the link below to watch the full video.


  1. Edward K. Rowell, Fersh Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Christianity Today, 1997), p 43.

We Are All Called to the Ministry!

Words really do matter. Inadequate translations and deficient understandings of what certain New Testament words mean can be very detrimental. For example, as we have spoken of on several occasions there are different words for “time” in the New Testament. Chronos means time in general or chronological time; kairos means strategic or opportune time, sometimes an appointed time; horaios means the right time, the now time. Obviously not understanding the meaning of these different words can be harmful. Though the word “time” is sometimes used to translate all of them, this should not be.

In other contexts, the church sometimes interprets and attributes meaning to a word that should not be given it. These interpretations often become very prevalent and widely excepted. The word “church” is a good example. Though used to depict a building where we worship or a religious service, this should never have occurred. The Greek word ekklesia means a legislature. Jesus said in Matthew 16 He would build His “government” on earth.

Two other words we misuse, and my purpose for this post, are “ministry/minister” and “calling.” The word in the New Testament for minister (diakonos) simply means “a servant,” NOT a preacher or religious leader. The misuse of this word has brought great confusion. It is now believed that a religious leader is a minister, while those in the pews are servants or lay people. In God’s mind, all believers are ministers. The same word used to describe the apostles “serving” the Word was used to describe the deacons who “served” food (Acts 6:1-6).

The words “calling” or “called” (klesis) in the New Testament simply mean “vocation.” My calling is to write, travel and teach; yours may be to build homes or be a full-time mom. But in God’s mind, we are all “called” to “ministry” (2 Timothy 1:9). This levels the playing field, dignifies all callings/vocations, and brings to light the importance we all have in the Kingdom. The Ekklesia is called to minister for God, regardless of the vocation He purposes for us. The church is everywhere, not just in a building. And we are all anointed by Him to do the work of the Kingdom, everywhere.

This is the impetus of the recent movement some have termed “marketplace ministry.” It is a great phrase. An increased understanding of this will take the church to an entirely new level of effectiveness. In the book of Acts, Holy Spirit used the word “addition” (prostithemi), to describe the growth of the early church. God was “adding” to their numbers daily (Acts 2:47). The word describing their growth changed, however, in the sixth chapter, when deacons also begin to minister the word and healing, just as the apostles were. From that point on in the book of Acts the word used to describe the growth was “multiplication” (Plethueo). When did the growth transition from adding to multiplying? When the ministry was no longer being done only by the apostles. This is profoundly important.

In the last two or three decades Holy Spirit has been correcting our theology, emphasizing the truth that we are all His ministers, called to do His works. Because of this, the coming revival will see exponential fruit and growth. There will be more miracles outside the four walls where we gather than inside. More people will be led to Christ outside those walls than inside. Holy Spirit’s anointing is not limited to buildings on a Sunday morning.

I mentioned a week ago that Ceci and I were going to the Opry in Nashville to celebrate the induction of The Isaacs as members (an esteemed and prestigious honor within the Country and Bluegrass Music world). Though they are primarily a gospel music group, they have become widely respected and honored in the Country and Bluegrass music world. Their gifts and talents rival any person or group in the secular music industry. Their incredible harmony is unrivaled. They understand that, whether they are in a worship service or at the Opry, they represent the Lord and are called by Him to release His love and light.

And the fact that The Isaacs are so well received in the Country and Bluegrass world is a testament to the fact that people are hungry for what they carry. The songs they sang at the induction, all about the Lord, were not only received, they were LOVED. As the words to It Is Well With My Soul echoed through the building, people responded with a standing ovation and roaring applause. The Isaacs reached people that night, both in the crowd and watching at home, I will never have the opportunity to reach. That is marketplace ministry.

Ricky Skaggs, a winner of many awards, including inductions into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, also performed. Ricky presided in the presentation of The Isaacs’ induction. Being a strong believer, he, too, was very anointed and carried the presence of the Lord into the gathering. It was clear when he sang and presented this award, that an anointed spiritual father was in the house. The pleasure of the Lord was present. Though no altar call was given, thousands of people were touched by the presence of Holy Spirit.

This is what I am referring to by being “called” to “minister,” regardless of the gift or vocation God has destined us with. You may not have a microphone, you may not have a stage, but you have a voice. Over lunch with a coworker, at a backyard barbecue, or during a visit with a hurting friend, you are called to represent Jesus. He is waiting to release His love, power, and anointing through you. Be sensitive to people’s hearts and yes, always be sensitive to your employer and what is acceptable to them, but God will give you opportunities to share Jesus. You are called and you are a minister.

Abraham was a rancher. Noah was a boat builder. Lydia was a merchant. Paul, during segments of his ministry, was a tentmaker. Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the king. Daniel was a governmental advisor. David was a shepherd, then king. Cornelius, used to birth a completely new era of the gospel - the beginning of the Gentile church - was a centurion. Some of those God used most significantly in scripture were in marketplace ministry.

William Wilberforce, who was used to end slavery in the British Empire, was in government. Mother Teresa ran an orphanage. John and Charles Wesley were given to us by a mom of 19 children. Break out of the layman box and move boldly into full-time ministry!

Pray with me:

Father, You have called each of us with a holy calling (2 Timothy 1:9). You said we are able ministers of the new covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6). Increase this revelation in the church. Open the eyes of our understanding to the great anointing we all carry. Show every believer they can do exploits in Your name.

Break wrong paradigms off of us. Do away with our wrong thinking regarding platform ministers versus marketplace ministers. Remove the deception that believes some are called, but others are simply to serve those few. Bring renewed revelation of Mark 16, that all believers are to lay hands on the sick and see them recover, cast out demons, and partner with You in the preaching of the gospel.

We pray for those who make it to the top of the “mountain” You have placed them in. We do not see them as elites, above other believers, but as the point of a spear. They face great resistance and warfare. They experience many temptations to compromise. Keep them pure. You have given them great influence. Make them strong in the Spirit and in the Word. Use them mightily! We fully expect this next wave of revival to go deeper than any other, to be broader than any other, and to bring a billion or more souls into the Kingdom as the church walks fully in her calling. We thank You for Your heart to do this. We love You. Amen.

Our decree:

As the Ekklesia of the Lord Jesus Christ, we declare that His Holy Spirit in us has made us able, competent ministers of His new covenant in the earth (2 Corinthians 3:6).

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