During the westward march of American settlers expanding the nation toward the mountains, questing pioneers encountered the vast expanse of open plains that became America’s “bread basket.” The terrain was terrifying to many people who turned around and rushed back to the eastern cities or simply stopped east of the Mississippi River, intimidated by the “big sky.”
It was too much for them, too big of a perspective, too challenging for them to see the impossible vastness of the plains. They were accustomed to a terrain that gave them a much shorter perspective and more narrow view of “what lies ahead.”
We are entering an era of kingdom expansion and restoration that demands a “big sky pioneering” perspective. And, many people will run back to a “just get me through the next week” lifestyle when they see the vast plains before us. Many pioneers will stop right where they are overwhelmed by the enormity of the changes required to reach their destination points. Some will see this as a season of amazing opportunities, taking in tracts of land that will be measured in miles instead of acres. Others will settle down where they with enough ground for a vegetable garden – which is not evil so much as it is not pioneering.
Speaking prophetically, people who stop aren’t doing so because they lack pioneering spirit, fear hard work or danger, or missed their calling pursuing the wilderness. They will stop because they cannot function under such a “big sky.” They are unprepared to locate themselves in the spirit because they haven’t been systematically expanded to see with such a broad perspective, to handle so many variables at once, to adapt rapidly to changing terrain, and to “live off the land.” They sit down when the manna stops. They stumble over the giants and locust feeling of this level of pioneering. They wish to take much smaller steps in a season when only days of travel will get you there before winter sets in. They cannot venture too far into a place that lacks trading posts because they require the convenience of “store-bought goods.”
The plains gave you a view of distant landmarks but had valleys and wallows that could hide an army just a few yards ahead of you. You could literally stumble upon a buffalo herd hidden between rolling hills, thinking you had no hope of game when enough to feed a battalion was just over the next rise. The plains could make you think you were hours from a mountain that would require days to reach, and those days would put you in the foothills you hadn’t realized were even there! You could travel weeks to get to something you could walk across the street and encounter in the East. Even those who traveled later on trains were simply exhausted mentally by the days of “rushing headlong into the nothingness” only to awaken to yet another day of expanse. They were overwhelmed with the dread that they would never be able to get there or get back if they changed their minds.
For us in Florida, Chuck Pierce spoke of “freedom outposts” dotting the coasts and some interior locations of our state. In terms of geographical landscapes a kingdom meaning may escape us, but in terms of kingdom infrastructure and pioneering a new era, we can understand the use of the term “outpost” more clearly.
An “outpost” represented a “posting” that was “out there.” Establishing such an outpost was necessary to opening territory because it was the beginning of an infrastructure that would open the regions to people who would come and stay as well as aid those who would come through that region on their way to some distant destination.
In terms of etymology, “outpost” appears to originate in English with George Washington, in his letters, about 1757. Certainly, this would represent the thinking of a pioneering leader whose aim in terms of “outpost” was focused upon establishing sovereignty. He is thinking militarily and strategically, as well as, considering the vastness of new territory. This can be viewed in terms defensive positions that warn of invasion and intrusion.
Later literary uses of the term expand to trading posts or settlements near or in strategic positions of a frontier. The sense of the very term, “frontier,” speaks of new territory or territory new to pioneering or an established kingdom. Pioneering a frontier will always call for forward positions that support the supply lines, and prepare those venturing into new territories. It is an equipping and resource center.
Kipling used the term in the first decades of the 1900’s to speak of British “outposts” that represented the Empire in far away places, a picture useful to describe other nations’ points of forward reach and communications sustaining the authority and power of England outside the boundaries of the island nation.
So, “freedom outposts” should be understood as resource centers for equipping, communication, supply and support, forewarning positions established as infrastructure for advancing and occupying kingdom authority and power. The sense of the term, “freedom,” would be express kingdom liberty established in the place of existing authority structures that support the “in place” advancing or occupying force that creates bondage.
The term “equipping” in this context should not be confused with the “equipping” of Ephesians 4 as presently discussed. This equipping is about the equipment needed for the frontier, not the equipment needed to maintain the status quo. This equipping encompasses not only providing needed tools and weapons but the training and expertise of their use, and the further positioning of those equipped within a broad “big sky” settlement map.
We must move past “spiritual mapping” as means of understanding the existing spiritual conditions to a “spiritual map” of how to take and occupy the territory taken.
God told Joshua: “I will not give you the land all at once because you are not prepared to possess what you take and the wild animals would retake the territory.” There is a difference between purely wild territory and territory possessed through evil men empowered by evil rulers. Wild territory represents spiritual forces functioning by passing through, migratory spiritual influences and conditions that lack establishing because they lack occupying settlements. Some of our enemies are migratory in their function, marauding through regions raping and pillaging, but not the enemies that must be routed and removed to establish settlements. Walled-cities and giants govern other territories.
I’m not saying that there is not vision for this focus of “spiritual mapping.” I am saying that our spiritual maps needed mark more than names of the rulers of walled cities and giants; they need to mark these regions with new names that represent new kingdom settlements. David didn’t bring in the Glory until he had established Zion; he didn’t bring in the Glory just by routing and removing the occupying Jebusites, who were in possession of this city-state in the days of Joshua.
Kingdom infrastructure is broader than church-anity or the existing and inadequate definition of “ekklesia” dominating our understanding. Having removed kingdom from church, we lack a clear understanding of “building My Ecclesia” that hell’s authority cannot withstand. This is a spiritual displacement that builds something, and that something is an expression of kingdom, a function of kingdom, a kingdom settlement or outpost.
Warriors operate outposts even though these warriors may not always be in uniform. The occupying army may still be forted days away. Pioneers know how to fight, kill, endure, and attack. History is filled with stories of women giving birth while trying to help reload the rifles, of towns in which every man could shoot the eyes out of a sparrow at a hundred yards, and the people knew that living there meant they were willing to face down death, drought, and disease.
Sometimes the only appropriate strategy is attack. To clarify, it is never necessary for God’s people to seek out the demonic, all they need to do is fully obey His directives and they will run into opposition. However, once the enemy has engaged God’s people, once God has dropped the walls or opened the waters, attack is a valid posture and procedure.
Big sky pioneering requires warfare. The territory will not be taken without a fight. The territory will not be possessed or occupied with a continued vigilance and attack response to efforts to retake what has been gained. Warfare is simply part of the pioneering lifestyle.
During the season of taking the land under Joshua’s leadership, everyone was expected to be part of the warfare. That is, pioneering generations train every available person to fight! Even the people who decided to live outside the land promised to them by God, people who didn’t wish to purse the process of taking the land, they were required to join the warfare.
The reality is that those on the front lines are safer than those on the sidelines in a pioneering season.
Walking under a Big Sky
A big sky overwhelms people who’ve spent a lot of time in small rooms or confined places. While the prophetic nature of details represents mature revelation and insight, a big sky means revelation of vast significance that will have sweeping and distant influence and impact. Sweeping changes. Big waves will land upon distant shores of tsunami size. The whole thing boggles the mind unless it has been prepared for big things.
The big sky season will include Daniel and Ezekiel visions of panoramic expanse and historic significance. The size of the visions and insights will be big, distant mountains will be visible, objects moving will be seen miles away, and a near-overwhelming sense of what is happening will become available to God’s seeing leaders.
Daniel saw things that were international in scope and generations in time, resets of the world’s dominant political and cultural focus for generations, with the understanding that what he was seeing reset history in ways that would define its course to the very end. Daniel was seeing at a level of revelation that affected nations, as kingdom shifts were made that would alter the entire globe. Such ‘big sky’ revelations will begin in 2013, seeing how “the season of ultimates” will begin, how the final moves will reset economies.
Much of the predicting being done now asks us to remember previous economic and history events, but Daniel perceived what would happen next based upon future events that were not “history repeating itself” as much as it was preparation for future events. Daniel saw the rise and fall a four world empires that would proceed the revelation of Glory in Jesus Christ.
Ezekiel, as well, accurately anticipated a future not based upon previous events, echoes of what people did or didn’t do in the past, but expectations of what God was going to do. Although God was dealing with nations and His people by what they had done or not done, the course of history was not being set by that discipline anymore but by an approaching “fullness of time.” Ezekiel sees the function of Glory among men in four faces: the faces reveal aspects of the function of Glory, and knowledge of that Glory will cover the earth as waters cover the sea. What happens next is not about what happened before as much as it is about what happens next.
We will enter into an era of anticipation, and prophets and apostles must respond to the future and built upon the future instead of responding to the past and building upon the past.
Rebuilds begin with remnants. City teaming and steaming with activity are far away. Convenience is replaced with hard work; the rewards that such work provides is exponential, however, to what can be gained among the masses. While there is little frontier left in the natural, there is enormously vast tracts of frontier as yet undiscovered and possessed in the spirit! At the borders of technology lies a frontier to be taken and possessed that modern convenience ignores. The end point of modern science will be reached, a system unsustainable will begin to fail, and a new frontier of freedom will become available.
This is not futuristic sci-fi. This is spiritual reset. This isn’t the faith of our fathers as much as the faith of the future: what’s coming next more than what’s brought us to this point. Its not new but it is new to us. What’s new about it is what’s coming, or better said, Who is coming. And, we become pioneers of Who is coming.
The Head of Gold Syndrome
Daniel did what the psychics could not do for the king: he told him what he dreamed as well as what the dream meant. The dream was of an image with a golden head and body parts of decreasing value from top to bottom. Gold, silver, bronze, iron, iron and clay mixed. When Nebuchadnezzar heard this dream, he recognized that Daniel really had a “big sky” revelation anointing. The king bought into the dream, however, with a prideful heart, so he constructed an image made completely of gold for everyone to worship. The message? God might think the head of gold would give way to an inferior kingdom, but the king was determined that his kingdom would last forever! He made a whole body of gold and commanded everyone to worship his worldview! These kind of antichrist systems have been at work in the world ever since.
The head of gold syndrome attempts to establish an eternal kingdom, set up something that will continue because it started out strong. Such systems always fail because they build from the top, not the bottom. Jesus builds from the bottom up, laying foundations with apostles and prophets so the construction of the Body will be based upon an accurate anticipation of the future and blueprint for construction that demands gold, silver, and precious stones at every level. [See 1 Corinthians 3 and Ephesians 2:22 and Ephesians 4.]
In big sky country, it is not possible to build “top down,” and the materials must be dug out of hidden places where they have been preserved and reserved for such purpose. Apostles and prophets who use gold to build foundations must prepare leaders who can build with the same materials else the testing fire will destroy what has been built. “Mass production” looks different under the big sky for pioneers than it does for “gold rush” opportunists.
The ancient king wished to modify revelation by building something that would outlive the prophetic revelation. He wished to hijack God’s purpose to produce his own legacy. He failed to understand that his increase had purpose, and the favor of God was on the purpose, no him. He attempted to force God’s remnant to worship the substitute rather than fulfill the purpose. He was willing to kill the remnant that was in place because of the purpose; the wicked do not understand the purpose else they would not attempt to kill the remnant. They resist the purpose because they embrace the substitute. This is the ancient conflict of which David spoke in Psalm 2: “Why do the heathen rage and imagine a vain thing?”
The head of gold syndrome remains in full force as the methodology of darkness. Nothing new under the sun. Daniel could both see the revelation and understand the revelation, not only see but see as God sees. Big sky pioneers see what others cannot see, for sure, but they also see as God sees in the sense of purpose: they see the purpose fulfilled so they can measure the progress of fulfillment. They can answer the question: “Are we there yet?” They can look at the progress and judge whether or not it will fulfill the purpose.
Silly to assume that building a whole image of gold would somehow change the reality that the image had only a head of gold, but this is the rebellion that marked King Saul, the substitution that emptied the church of authority and power, and the spirit that continues to work in the children of disobedience. The king wasn’t made aware of the future to substitute his own purpose and legacy; Daniel was positioned to be aware of the future for a very different reason, and his awareness was recorded so we are as aware or perhaps more aware of the purpose now.
In 2013, God will be going after the head of gold syndrome! Church-anity will face this clarification of purpose because this generation is assigned to restore the definition and function of Ecclesia! The infiltration of this syndrome into the Body will face radical surgery. For the remnant, the fire will be seven times hotter than ever! [Loud cheering, please!] “In any case, we will not bow down to your substitute for God’s purpose,” we say, “No matter how loudly you play the music.”
Fear of Wide-open Spaces
Technically, agoraphobia is more about a fear of being separated from security or places you perceive provide you with security, a sense of exposure, but “fear of wide-open spaces” is a form of agoraphobia. Some people are tormented about walking across a large, empty parking lot. They feel they are venturing out away from a place of security, a sense of having no place to hide.
In one way this help explain the intimidation of big sky pioneering. Not just the new things, the unknown, or the challenge of danger, but the sense of leaving a place of security and safety to venture into a vastness that creates a sense of being swallowed up by the enormous, becoming so insignificant, so small, so overwhelmingly tiny, that you feel you’ve lost control or the possibility of protection has been lost.
Such is the new era we are walking into. The vastness of change, the rapidity with which we will be thrust into situations that require us to deal with a spiritual “big sky,” will feel overwhelming to those secured by the familiar, safe, secure, trusting in what they have constructed to protect them, the walls they have built to hide behind, the harbor of the controllable circumstances.
Agoraphobia might be seen as the opposite of claustrophobia, the fear of being closed in without escape, the suffocating nearness of things and people, the feeling of being captured. Agoraphobia might be understood by the opposite apprehension: the absence of smells, tastes, sounds, scenes, and textures of lifestyle that comfort us with a sense of safety, real or unreal.
Apostolic and Prophetic Risk
Kingdom “risk management” focuses upon the reactions and responses of humans, not the power and promises of God. The fundamental principle of kingdom risk management is that obeying God and fulfilling assignments will lead us into direct conflict with His enemies. The most basic fundamental is a risk of physical death, but the risk includes imprisonment, riot, physical and spiritual terror and abuse, hunger, rejection, betrayal, and a few other outcomes we general work hard to avoid!
Big sky pioneering faces down several life-threatening possibilities. Hundreds of pioneers died alone, their wagons and bones discovered later when other pioneers discovered their remains bleached by the desert, stuck in a buffalo wallow, hidden at the bottom of a ravine, or left to wild animals in a cave. A broken leg could become a death sentence, or simply losing one’s horse with all your earthly supplies and possessions, carried too far away for a man on foot to recapture. Lightning, fire, sudden weather, flash floods, rock slides, a terrifyingly wild wilderness cruel in its daily enterprises could snatch life from the strongest man at any moment.
These are the spiritual realities that comfort christianism avoids at any cost! These are the “God wouldn’t ask us to do that” required for establishing and expanding kingdom. These are the “radical and barbarian” norms of big sky pioneering that separate the men from the boys. The team a big sky pioneer puts together should expect sleeping less and lightly, responding to danger and intrusion at any season of the night; they will carry a weapon to dinner, bath, and sleep. They develop spiritual senses that people who live with less risk ignore: keen smell, hearing, sight, and feeling.
The pioneering team functions much differently from those maintaining something. Their sense of unity is that everyone of them must be able to carry his own weight but also take care of business in a crisis or attack. If a person can’t stand on his own, he may be the weak link in a crisis. This is a much different dynamic than the daily life of a people in a city. Often, pioneers find someone from the city who naively heads into the wilderness a liability because the crisis of big sky pioneering may not allow the privilege of being protected by someone else in a battle; the leaders of a pioneering party certainly provide the safest route possible, but caution those who aren’t prepared to stay in “safe places” until they are ready. (This may have been the best understanding of the Paul and Barnabas disagreement over John Mark. Paul simply recognized that John Mark needed more preparation before joining a pioneering team.)
When you give people unprepared for pioneering a simple assignment, they may excel at providing you an outcome that works well for the city but will endanger everyone under the big sky. They may be totally oblivious to the distinction, offended by your response to the inadequacy of what they consider to be “good enough” or “excellent,” and they may ride off to join some other party. As a pioneering leader, you cannot take the unprepared into the wilderness, as much for their own protection, as the success of the pioneering assignment. Big sky pioneering leaders measure risk, manage risk for the party, and face down life-threatening risks with the understanding that fulfilling their assignments will bring them face-to-face with death no matter how prepared they are. In other words, failures that are not that big a deal in the city can be total disasters under the big sky.
One the shocking realities that non-pioneering leaders just don’t get: pioneers die while being fully involved in fulfilling their assignments. This aspect of apostolic and prophetic risk isn’t in the manual for city-dwelling maintenance ministry. [Please read the followup discussion on what I mean by “city-dwelling maintenance ministry to understand what I mean in spiritual and kingdom terms.] What is “safe” in the city, near hospitals, grocery stores, and police departments isn’t “safe” a hundred miles from the nearest settlement. Risk management means being equipped and carrying equipment seldom used in “developed areas.”
City-dwelling Maintenance Ministry
In this scenario, city-dwelling appears to be the end game: once the land is settled, the city is the utopian goal. Pioneers are no longer needed. The gear needed for living changes. The supply lines are set, and the maintenance of existing conditions becomes the priority.
In the natural, this appears to be a good point; however, it fails to include the reality that any enterprise governed by “maintaining status quo” has already begun to deteriorate and is well on its way to becoming a new kind of wilderness. The city becomes a concrete jungle. The social structure moves toward the same kinds of life-threatening hazards pioneers face in the wilderness, ravines, flash floods, terrorizing animals that prey upon citizens, uncharted territories only an expert can guide you through. Unfortunately, once the city-dwelling rejects the “coarse and crude” procedures and protocols of pioneering leaders for leaders who promise to maintain the status quo of comfort and security, they empty the settlement of the very people who are essential, foundational architects of the very thing the city-dwellers say they want. We never grow or mature out of the need for pioneering leadership; the more we grow and mature, the more we require these big sky pioneers! The moment we accept the domination of maintenance ministry, we begin the slide into another kind of “wild-erness.” Maintenance ministry is as much a part of pioneering as the apostles and prophets who lead us into the uncharted territory! They are absolutely necessary from the outset, part of the team every step of the way; but the moment they become the foundation, the entire enterprise begins to revert back to something other than “possessing the land.”
Without big sky pioneers, the settlements begin to long for appeasement with the enemies they should have defeated. After taking the land, pioneering leaders will continue to lead until we possess the land, and the same conquering principles and protocols remain at the foundation.
In Joshua’s day, a failure to establish a pioneering foundation for Israel perpetuated the problems God wanted solved by the pioneering strategy: maintaining became an issue of accommodating the very things God wanted destroyed. Joshua’s generation failed to maintain their pioneering foundation even in the land they conquered, therefore the conquest of other lands became a moot point. God’s people were soon – very soon – functioning in a way the Bible calls “every man did what was right in his own eyes.” Basically, the book of Judges and the subsequent kingdom culture reveal a pattern of God sending His people pioneering leaders to deliver them from maintenance leadership and the people soon – very soon – rejecting that pioneering leadership once they felt safe and comfortable again for maintenance leadership that would simply maintain what the pioneering leaders had restored. The best days of the nation were seasons in which they were led by pioneering leadership under the big sky of kingdom establishing and expansion. The days of maintenance always ended in idolatrous betrayal of their covenant assignment.
So, what I mean by “city-dwelling maintenance ministry?” Simply put, the substitution of our assignment to establish and expand kingdom with a incompatible definition of “church” that marks success by “the accumulation of believers.” Even when this definition produces “church growth,” it fails miserably to influence and impact culture. Even when this definition produces mega-institutions, it fails to establish and expand kingdom beyond the incomplete definition of “the accumulation of believers.”
When Joshua’s generation lost the pioneering architecture, God left the “wild-erness” among them so that each generation was required to learn war all over again. At first glance that seems to say, “Well, good! They needed some enemies.” The reality is that God had designed a kingdom country for them from which they could establish and expand kingdom to every nation on earth. Instead, vain attempts to live by maintenance ministry leadership left them vulnerable at the foundations.
Without pioneering foundations, we will produce generations of people who cry out for leaders to give them safety and supply as a norm, a definition, and we will define “church” by pastoral-centric ministry. We will produce immature, self-centered, narcissistic dependents demanding a spiritual cultural that gives them what they consider to be their “entitlements.” We will produce a generation who says, “We have finally matured to the place where we don’t need to war or fuss with enemies. We are strong in our city-dwelling fortress, our sub-culture, accommodating our enemies, living in peace, enjoying the supply lines. We don’t need to learn to war, hunt, sleep under an open sky, remain alert through the night, use our senses for any other than entertainment. We have left behind our barbarian ways.”
I have had people look me in the face and say, “You want people to learn war. You should be training people to get along and be buddies, share a meal once a week, and work out some accommodations with their out of control behaviors and lifestyles.” This kind of thinking is at the core of why the American church has lost the last four generations.