Thursday

True Confessions: It's Not What You Think

I have a confession to make. I’ve been leading you astray. I’ve deceived you.

Let me explain.

I write, from time to time, about some of the interesting interactions that I’ve had with God, and about some of the interesting things I’ve discovered as I walk with him.

And that’s where the deception comes in.

I only write about the interesting stuff. I don’t write about the days and days of nothing in particular going on, because there’d be nothing to write.

Let me explain.

I’m a married man. More specifically, I’m a happily married man. Sometimes, Milady & I will spend the whole evening together in the same room, her reading, me writing, neither of us saying a thing. We’re just happy to be in each other’s presence. Seriously, I was in tears the other day, just thinking about growing old with her. It makes me really happy.

When I’m working in my garden, I can really often feel Father’s presence like that: quietly together. He’s taught me quite a lot there: how to transplant tiny seedlings, how to get more produce from a tiny garden, how to nurture the tender plants, and how, if I get the basics done well, the weeds won’t really be an issue.

I’m also a working man. And I gotta say that it’s not real often (though it does happen) that God speaks into the technical details of a project that I’m working on. And even when he does, I don’t write about it, because most of the story is about tweaky nerdly stuff that nobody outside my field is interested in. God showing me the right path to take a big bus through a crowded parking lot, or the best way to make these particular gears fit properly in a watch: this is not the stuff of interesting articles of faith and maturity.

But it is the stuff of real relationship with God.

I’m convinced that the best part of my relationship with God is not the amazing encounters or the awesome revelations or the impressive miracles. Yeah, those are fine, and I’ll not complain about them (this is a good place to say, “More Lord!” I think).

It’s like a good marriage: I love the times we get to go out to dinner, or where we host a barbecue for some friends, times of intimacy together. But the real strength of the marriage doesn’t come from those: it comes from the quiet, daily, almost ritual times together. We don’t have to talk about who’s turn it is to empty the dishwasher or take out the garbage or cook dinner, because we’re together.

And a love relationship with the Creator of the Universe is actually pretty similar: The fancy dinners are great, but quiet times of everyday life are where the real life & health come from.

So I apologize if I’ve left you with the impression that life in God is not all cool revelations and glorious highlights. Those happen, and they’re fun and all. But the day to day time together, not even really needing to form words: those are the places where the treasure’s found.

And those don’t make good stories to write about.


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A Season of Healing

This may be more of a “prophetic observation” than a prophetic word.

I’m observing that God is putting a substantial emphasis on healing his kids right now. It’s not like he ever walks away from this topic, but it seems to be near the top of his “to do” list now.


He’s certainly healing us physically, but I believe that the emphasis is on healing the wounds in our souls and in our spirits. Everybody can see if they’re missing a leg. It’s much more difficult to see it when we’re missing the foundations in our inner life.

There have been other seasons where a priority was placed on understanding new revelation, or on learning to hear his voice, or bringing the good news to those who haven’t heard it. And he’s not forgotten those: that’s what we’re all about: knowing our Father and making him known!

If I may extend this a bit: it’s my opinion that we’re entering – rather rapidly – into a new season where it will be “All hands on deck!” as “Life as usual” and “Church as usual” completely lose the “as usual” part.

And if we’re going to be ready to partner with what he’s revving up to be doing, then we really need our souls strong and healthy. Honestly, the likely alternative is to be content to be one of the “last move of God” that persecutes “the next move of God.”

I feel a particular need to urge folks that have been putting off dealing with issues of the soul: it’s time to quit ignoring the issue and take specific steps to get healed up.

As a first step, I encourage you to get alone with God and ask two questions:

1) Father, how do YOU see me? (Hint: if the answer isn’t about love, then it isn’t God speaking!)

2) Father, what is getting in the way of my fully experiencing that? (Hint: it’s most likely about some lies you’ve believed, either about you or about God.)

It is really appropriate to get help with these. Where? Cheat: Ask God to bring you help. But don’t run when they come to you, asking pointed questions about your inner self.


It’s no longer cool to walk with a limp.


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A Model for Apostolic Ministry

It was a Wednesday night, of course, because in the ’80s, that’s when you had your home group meetings.

This group was already considered a little aberrant, because we discussed more than merely the Sunday sermon. And we had discovered prophetic gifts. In fact, we’d often put someone on a chair in the middle of the circle and ask God for how to pray for them. We were sometimes quite surprised by how much our prayers touched needs we hadn’t known about.

So it wasn’t completely unusual when the home group leader brought some guests to one of our gatherings. Without any more than just their names, he parked them in side-by-side chairs in the middle of the circle, and asked us to pray for them. We gathered around and laid hands on them.

For a while, the prayers were rather generic Christian blessings. We discerned a significant leader’s calling on the couple, but then we paused and pressed in deeper. We waited in silence for more revelation.

A quiet sob broke the stillness, and then another. These were from an intercessor we all knew and trusted, who heard God as well as any of us. We waited while she wept, and then she shifted her position, grabbed the man’s feet, and wept over them. It reminded me of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. By this time, the man and his wife were weeping as well, and several of us praying for them were near to tears, but we couldn’t have told you why.

Eventually, the intercessor was able to form words, and what she said through her tears has shaped much of my thinking on the topic. She explained she saw an apostle’s mantle on the couple, on the man in particular. That wasn’t what she was crying about: the Lord had revealed to her much of what that calling would mean in his life, the price that he’d have to pay to walk out that calling. She was weeping for the struggles and the abandonment he’d face, for the betrayals and the accusations, for the opposition he’d face, and for the burden of love he’d carry.

She saw the victories, too, and declared them, but that was the day that I knew something of what it means to “count the cost.”

That was the moment that I concluded that the big man on the big stage with his big congregation and his big budget is not the model for an apostle. An apostle is not just a really successful or really well-respected pastor or denominational leader. The image of a true apostle is not the corner office, not the fancy website, or even the anointed business cards.

Paul’s description of his ministry was not the exception; it was a healthy example of what many apostles will face. This is the model that the New Testament gives us for apostolic ministry:  

"Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.

Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move.

I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness." - 2 Corinthians 11:23-30

I've learned that a man, a woman, is not a an apostle that I can trust who does not know tears. 


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False Teaching, or False Signs

The New Testament speaks time and time again about false doctrine, false teaching, false shepherds. We don’t really pay a whole lot of attention (as a larger community) to these issues, which the Bible emphasizes pretty heavily.

The Book mentions “false signs and wonders” only ONCE, but that’s the thing that gets the attention. And the definition has been expanded: “If you experience _____ during your intimate times with God, that’s a false sign! It’s of the devil!”

Bah!   Er... “No, that would be in error!

The false teachers that those apostles were warning us about had one thing in common: they wanted to add some form of “works” to the message of grace. It came in various forms:

§         “Obey the Law!” (Or “Obey this part of the law.”) or
§         “Don’t eat meat!” (or some other dietary restriction) or
§         “Respect these Jewish holidays!” (or “…these new [age] holidays”) or
§         “Don’t drink alcohol!”

Fundamentally, the false things that the New Testament writers were warning us about generally were limitations to the freedoms that Jesus brings his people into! It was exactly this context into which Paul writes, “do not submit again to a yoke of slavery!” and he goes on in that context to say, “I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.” (See Galatians 5; it’s really quite graphic.)

This was the greatest danger to the new Church, and the one that so much of the New Testament epistles were specifically written to combat: that there would be people come into the congregations (called “savage wolves” in Acts 20:29) who would want to draw people away our freedom in Christ.

By contrast, we have very large numbers of congregations, where the leaders teach their favorite part of the Law (note that I did not mention tithing!), or about all restrictions about what good Christians should or shouldn’t do. Often, they preach an even more restrictive law to their leaders.

And many of them are warning their followers against what they’re calling “false signs and wonders,” but is really just brothers & sisters getting free. 

Freedom. What a wonderful thing when we experience it. It’s jumping and dancing and celebrating; it’s shaking and falling over and being rocked by love; it's worshipping with abandon; it’s healing the sick and casting out demons; it’s falling in love with the person of Jesus. 

This is what we were made for! This is exactly why God said, “Let us make man!”: we were made for relationship!
  
We're warned against these things, as if they were “false signs.” Nah. It's just freedom. And freedom is our goal.

I don’t understand why this is sticking in my spirit so strongly today. Perhaps someone needs “permission” to hunger for God (if it matters, you have permission!). Maybe you’re asking why all the “Do this, don’t do that” rules are not fitting you well. This would be why: they’re not for you!

It’s easy: It is for freedom that Christ has set you free! Do not submit again to a yoke of slavery!

And maybe let me know if I was writing for you today? 


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Some Thoughts About the Purpose of the Prophetic

How many times has it happened that a prophet gives a word to someone you know, and you think to yourself, “They missed it! That is SO not them!”
                                               
Sure, it might be a muffed prophecy; the only guy who never muffed a single prophetic word was murdered for it a couple of thousand years ago. Nowadays, we all completely miss it occasionally. It’s like the man said, “Now, we see in a glass darkly.”

But it might not be a failed prophecy. That’s actually the goal sometimes. The goal of the prophetic is NOT to declare what everybody already knows.

The prophets declare the goal, solution, the finished product, the end result of God doing something in the person’s life. And sometimes they declare it as early as when God is just beginning work on the project. They're "declaring the end from the beginning." If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, how do you aim?

So when God speaks to a destitute homeless guy, “I see you as a man of substance, a man of wealth,” he’s probably not saying “This is they way you are now, in case you didn’t know.” No, he’s more likely saying, “This is your calling, this is your destiny. If you come with me, this is where you could go. Do you want in on this?”

Or he might say to the destitute homeless guy, “I see you as a leader of men,” and that may not show up the way we expect it to. The English language – especially American English – is not God’s first language. When he speaks of a “leader of men,” he may not mean what you’d mean: a recognized position of appointed leadership or power. 

I’ve known guys that chose to be homeless so that they could reach those that nobody else would reach. Their leadership was often just conversation between bunks in the local mission. They are indeed “leaders of men,” but nobody except the homeless guys they lead recognize it.

Really often, the fulfillment of the prophetic promise doesn't line up with our expectation of what it would look like. But it does line up with the word.

Second, the prophetic declaration releases God's resources to bring about that which they declare. 

When God speaks to the destitute homeless guy about wealth, that declaration, when activated by faith, is releasing the grace of God, the power of God, to gather wealth to the guy. Power to accomplish the word is carried by the word.

That doesn’t necessarily mean people will hand him cash money, though I’ve seen that happen. It may mean that God is lining up an educational opportunity, or bringing him an advocate, or giving him an idea for an invention, or lining up other, unexpected circumstances to make it happen. 

And fairly often, it's true about prophetic words: "If you don't declare it, it won't happen." 

If we want to be in on what God's doing, we can discern what God is breathing on in the prophetic declarations (1 Corinthians 14:29), and then join in with that. We can add the prophetic word to our worldview and begin to see and relate to people according to the things that God has said to them.

Or we can bury the prophetic declaration, and the power that it carries to accomplish the thing of which it speaks, under our own unbelief and jealousy and resentment, and kill the word.

It’s our choice.




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Sarah’s Faith

Before they were “Abraham and Sarah,” they were “Abram and Sarai.” They were on the first, and in some ways, the most amazing, adventure with God of all time.

Abe was the first guy to relate to God by faith (as opposed to Adam and company, who went for walks with God, and didn’t really need faith). Abe’s made it, by now, into the history books as The Father of Our Faith.

But it’s the story of Abe’s bride, Sarah, that inspires me today, though I’ll confess it’s from an odd perspective.

In Genesis 18, God promises Abe & Sarah, now old enough to be grandparents or great-grandparents, that they’d have a child, a son, next year. Abraham was a hundred years old; Sarah was ninety. There aren’t a lot of ninety year old women having babies even today with all the miracles of modern medicine.

But in those days? Not only unheard of, it was legitimately unthinkable. These guys knew and understood the birds and the bees. They knew there wasn’t a chance in the world of having a baby, and they’d made peace with that fact decades ago.

No wonder Sarah laughed. (“Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” ” Genesis 18:12. Apparently, by now they weren’t even doing the “pleasurable” things you do to get kids.)

Now here’s where it gets really interesting to me: God calls out Sarah for laughing at his promise (even though she only “laughed within herself”) and reaffirms the promise. And the best part (v15): Sarah lies to God about it “I did not laugh.” God, who apparently likes truth, called her on it again.

The story moves on to other interesting things, like God submitting his plans to Abraham, but that’s the part that caught my attention: Sarah essentially calls God a liar, and then when she’s exposed, she lies to his face. “Nope. Not me!”

Now skip ahead a couple of thousand years, to Hebrews 11, the “Hall of Faith.” These are the Heroes Of Faith, the great men and women that God holds up as examples of how to believe God. And Sarah is there! But this time, the story is told from God’s point of view:

“And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” (Hebrews 11:11-12)

From Sarah’s perspective (and from Moses’ perspective, as he wrote the book), Sarah appears to have called God a liar, surely didn’t believe him, and then flat-out lied to him, to protect her reputation (or Abe’s).

And God calls that an act of faith. God sees that as “considering God faithful” and believing the promise. God apparently, from the phrase “and so” in v12, considers Sarah’s mighty faith to be the foundational reason that there was an Isaac and a Jacob and the Children of Israel.

If Sarah had been as full of unbelief as she sure looks like in Genesis 18, and as it appears she thought she was herself, then the story would stop right there. There’d never be anybody to Exodus out of Egypt, no Joshua, no David, and no Jesus.

So it occurs to me that we have kind of a messed up definition of what “faith” actually means.  Read Hebrews 11 again, and read it carefully. These are not people that we’d normally consider giants of faith, at least not until Hebrews identifies them for us.

Noah, says Hebrews, “condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.” No he didn’t! He built a thing called a”boat” in a desert to preserve his family from some strange event that the Voice called a “flood.” He did it to save his life!

Moses “refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” No he didn’t! He fled for his life, afraid the Egyptian cops would have heard about his murder when he tried to help an unfortunate slave out.

This is what sticks out to me: faith – real faith – doesn’t very often look heroic. There aren’t movie cameras rolling, and audiences watching as we Do The Mighty Deeds Of Faith.

That’s NOT at all what God refers to in his only chapter about Faith in the entire book.

Real faith seems to come with knocking knees, sweaty armpits and perhaps soiled undershorts. Real faith appears to sometimes be accompanied by laughing at God’s promises, doing stupid things for reasons you don’t understand, even screwing up in your good ideas of helping unfortunate people.

Here’s my takeaway: I’m going to try to not laugh at God so much anymore. But if I do, I’m not going to beat myself up over it. And if I feel really stupid for following a hunch, or for fowling up a good idea, I’m not going to beat myself up over those either.

And I’m going to try to not give up on God’s promises when it looks like there isn’t a chance in the world of them happening.

Just maybe, God’s writing those stories in his Book.



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Who Is Your Comforter?

I have it on good authority that someone very competent already occupies the position of “Comforter” in your life (John 14:26). Holy Spirit is a remarkably competent comforter, and he is capable of doing a magnificent job of it.

Now, if you try to bring someone else in to fill that position in your life, there’ll be trouble. You will have invoked the threat of Exodus 20:3: “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

If I go to a prophet, or to a pastor, or to a friend with the intent of getting from them what I should have received from “The Comforter,” then I’ve caused a real problem. I have endangered that prophet, that pastor, that friend. I have set them up “before God” in my life, and God himself promises that he will not permit that. 

If you look at how God handled “other gods” in scripture, you’ll see it wasn’t pretty, not ever. You might review the story of Dagon in 1 Samuel 5. Men set gods up; God knocks them down. 

I do not wish to ever be put in that place, where I am “before God” in someone’s life. Frankly, I’ve had to learn this the hard way.

If you come to me asking for comfort, I may pat your hand, and say, “There, there!” or if you ask for advice, I may offer some (typically, too much, but that’s a guy thing). I'm figuring out how to mourn with those who mourn.

But if I feel that I’m being asked to provide for you what Holy Spirit should be providing, to speak into your life instead of your listening for Holy Spirit to speak, then I will probably point you back to him.

(It’s ironic that people are so often offended at me for pointing them to God. I haven’t figured that one out.)

And if you come to me and say, “God’s not talking to me. Would you give me a word?” you may see me run screaming.

You might be thinking, “If I can’t get it from God, I’ll go somewhere that I can get the word I want.” But I hear it as, “The God I’ve had isn’t living up to my expectations; I’m going to replace him with you.”

Nuh-uh! No you’re not. I’m sorry (on multiple levels) if this offends you, but I will not take the place of God in your life. I've seen what happens to other gods in the lives of God's people. No thank you!

The job of the pastor, and the prophet (and the rest of the ascension gifts!) is to equip the saints! If you’re a saint, then pastors should be equipping you for works of ministry, teachers should be equipping you or works of ministry, prophets should be equipping you for works of ministry, etc.

If ever we ask them to do for us what God should be doing for us, we have seriously erred, and we have tempted them towards something that (in my opinion) should scare the daylights out of them.

Let’s not go there, m’kay?  



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Terms and Conditions for Trick or Treating

Have you ever seen the fine print on some of the websites out there: “Your use of this website constitutes your agreement to comply, and be bound to, the following terms and conditions…” If there’s ever a legal issue, the case will be decided by how well you and the other party comply with the terms and conditions of the website where the legal issue occurred.

These terms and conditions are very often tricky to find. Sometimes they’re in very small print at the bottom of the page. Sometimes they’re not even on the page you see, but are hidden away on a “Terms and conditions” page that nobody ever sees. But they are binding nonetheless, on every visitor to the website.

1 Corinthians 15:46 says “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.” So let’s take this natural principle and apply it spiritually.

I expect to have a larger than average number of visitors to my home on the evening of the 31st. I expect that many of them will be wearing costumes that they think of as valiant or funny or scary. (I expect that I’ll think they’re mostly “cute.”) And some of them will be adults waiting on my sidewalk for their beloved munchkin to return with the candy my bride & I have dispensed.

But I’ve been setting up some “terms and conditions” that apply to every single person that sets foot on my porch, or my walkway, or even my lawn tomorrow night. (And I may leave them in place indefinitely.) They are not posted publicly in the natural, but because they’re clearly posted in the spiritual realm they will be binding nonetheless, on every visitor to my property (which by legal definition extends to the centerline of the street, so this includes at least half of those driving by as well).

The terms and conditions that affect them include the following:

● Every visitor to my neighborhood is welcome to bring the Holy Spirit with him or her, their own human spirit, and any angels that submit who are in service to the God of Heaven, but any other spiritual beings, any fallen angels, any demons, must be checked at the gates to my neighborhood, and are not permitted in. (This one’s old news: http://bit.ly/gatekeeping)

● Every visitor to my own property, by setting foot on my property agrees, by coming onto my property, to be targeted for the kindness of God, targeted for grace and mercy by the Kingdom of Heaven

● Every family and every household that receives candy or other nourishment from our home agrees, by receiving from us, to receive nourishment from the Spirit of God and from the Word of God, and to receive New Life from the Creator of Life. If anyone receives something from us by theft, they are still agreeing, by receiving from us, to receive the same nourishment, and the same Life.

● Every guest to our property agrees, by coming onto our property, to receive an angel or angels as their guests and guards, to lead them to the King of Kings, to teach them the ways of the Kingdom of God, and to protect them from harm. 

● Every guest on our property, by coming onto our property, receives freely and without cost or obligation, our blessing upon their lives, their future, their family, and their family’s future, blessing for peace, and not for evil, to give them a future and a hope. 

● These terms and conditions are subject to change and can be modified at any time without notice. Changes may be effective retroactively. Check with the Holy Spirit for the latest terms and conditions in effect.

So I encourage y’all to set up similar “terms and conditions” for your own property.

I’m relying on the resources of the Kingdom to carry out the terms and conditions I’ve specified. The metaphor of “terms and conditions” was something I worked out with Father in prayer, which was also where these specific terms and conditions were formed. I implemented them by walking around my property, declaring these terms and conditions, until I felt I was “done.” 

Have fun. Wreak glory upon your guests!

(Feel free to share this idea with your friends and co-conspirators if you wish.)

The Message We Preach

If the message declared to you makes you feel unworthy, alone, then whatever is being preached, whoever is preaching the message, it’s not the Good News. (This is hard for me to acknowledge, because for years, this is the only gospel I heard, the only gospel I knew to preach.)

Never once did Jesus preach, “You’re a sinner, and you’re going to hell if you don’t repent!” Never once did Paul or any other apostle use condemnation or the threat of hell to convince people of the goodness of a loving God.

If the focus is on sin, then (by definition) the focus is not on Jesus, and that’s a problem. It’s a problem, because it’s in defiance of scripture (Hebrews 12:2). It’s a problem because it makes sin the center of our conversation. It’s a problem because what we focus on becomes how we live.

But mostly it’s a problem, because it takes the attention away from the only One who really deserves the attention, the One who’s been dying (literally) to know us, who has been patiently waiting to demonstrate his love to us.

Whatever that is, it’s not the gospel that Jesus preached, that Paul preached.

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Consider this: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” ~Galatians 1:8 



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Some thoughts about Prophetic Ministry

Consider Jeremiah 1:5: “I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Now consider Ezekiel 2:3: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites.”

Jeremiah was called to the nations; Ezekiel was called to the people of God. It seems that those who are called to prophetic ministry, are called TO a people, to a community.

There are a few, but there aren’t very many Jeremiahs in our day and age, people that are called to speak for God to many nations. Frankly, I’ve run into more people who think they’re called to the nations than those who are walking out that calling. Darned few prophets start with national or international ministry; they start with neighborhoods, families, home groups.

Most prophetic folks are called to a community, a region, perhaps a congregation. My own calling (if you didn’t figure it out from the name) is to the Pacific Northwest region, and within that, to the people of God, to Christians in that region, and I can be more specific than that.

I know of a man who is a prophet to children: once they’ve hit their 14th birthday, he’s got nothing for them. I know someone who is primarily a prophet to one man, a young apostle, just getting his feet wet in apostolic ministry. I know another who prophesies over the homes in his neighborhood, in the dark while everybody’s asleep. I know an awful lot of prophetic people called to one home church, one congregation, one community of homeless people.

(This isn’t exclusive to prophets. Apostles are called TO a people as well; see Galatians 2:8.)

In my opinion, this is one of the main reasons that so many prophets are not welcome in the place they’re speaking: they’re speaking in a place that they’re not called to.

Prophetic folks can also be rejected for carrying a message different than the one for which they’re called and gifted to carry. New Testament prophets are to be primarily characterized by two verses: Ephesians 4:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:3:

·         Prophets are an equipping ministry. Note that not everyone called to prophetic ministry is called as a prophet, and therefore not called to an equipping ministry. (Hint: if your ministry is not about equipping saints, then you’re not functioning as a prophet.)

·         People who prophesy under the New Covenant are to be characterized by speaking things that strengthen folks, encourage folks, and comfort folks. There are some exceptions, but not as many as we think. (Hint: if your ministry is more about exposing sin or doctrinal fault than encouragement, then you’re ministering either out of the wrong covenant, or from the wrong spirit.)

There is a reason that our message is called “the gospel of the Kingdom”:

1)      “Gospel” means “good news.” If our news isn’t good, then our message is not, by definition, the gospel. Don’t argue with me; talk to the dictionary and see if you can persuade it.

2)      “Of the Kingdom” of course means that our message is about the Kingdom of God. If our “good news” is about salvation, then that’s a good thing, but that’s a thing that men made up, which they call “the gospel of salvation,” a completely unscriptural term. If our good news is about membership in an organization or about a moral code, those are also good things, but they are not the gospel of the Kingdom. Jesus’ message (Matthew 4:17) was about the Kingdom (and how people need to change their thinking in order to partake). Ours probably should be, too.

If we’re called to speak for the King, then we need to speak for the king, not for someone else, and we need to speak to the one the King sends us to, not to whoever will listen.

That is, if we want to be effective, when we speak for our King.







The Ministry of Vitamin K

I was trying to understand some things – I’ll call them “some of the mysterious things” – that Father was doing and saying around me. In the midst of struggling to figure them out, I heard him whisper, “Vitamin K.”

I haven’t thought about Vitamin K for years, possibly decades.

I think he likes messing with my head. And I get that: dads – good dads – are like that: it’s more about making me think, inviting me to come close to hear more, than it’s about handing me answers.

Vitamin K, eh? Well, Wikipedia tells me that “Vitamin K is a group of structurally similar, fat-soluble vitamins that the human body needs for modification of certain proteins that are required for blood coagulation, and in bone and other tissue.”

I needed a little more revelation than that!

This is where we ended up: This is something that my body needs, actually needs fairly desperately. But my body gets all it needs without my paying attention to it, without my understanding it, without my doing anything at all with Vitamin K in mind.

Vitamin K does its job, clotting my blood when I cut myself, and doing whatever it does with my bones (“In bones, Vitamin K takes part in the post-translational modification as a cofactor in γ-carboxylation of vitamin K-dependant proteins (VKDPs).” Yeah. That.), and it doesn’t require the slightest bit of my conscious participation in the process.

I’ve never once needed to tell my body, “OK body. Today, I want you to absorb 120 micrograms (μg) of Vitamin K from the kale and broccoli and chicken breasts that I’m eating for dinner. Then I want you to use that Vitamin K to make my blood clot properly if I cut myself, but not unless I cut myself, and I want you to make my bones do whatever they do when you use Vitamin K on them! Make it so!”   

I just trust that my body will digest the food, find the Vitamin K (and all the other nutrients) and apply them as needed. I don’t need to be conscious of the process for it to work well. For me, that means I need to eat lots of good veggies, some good meat, drink plenty of liquids, but I do that anyway: these are yummy!

So my lesson was this: I don’t actually need to stop and understand every little thing that Father is doing or even every thing that he’s saying to me or around me. In practical terms, that means that I eat healthily: the Word (reading, meditating, studying), in my prayer, in my praise, in my snuggling time, and Holy Spirit will apply them as needed, but I do that anyway: this is yummy stuff!

I don’t actually need to be conscious of the everything that God is doing or saying for it to work well, for it to build me up in my most holy faith. 


The Wordless Prayer of Faith

It happened during a gathering in our home. We’d had dinner some time ago, finished the dishes together, and now we were gathered in the living room, with mugs of hot tea, and the warm glow of good friendship.

It seemed good to us and to the Holy Spirit to pray for individuals, for healing. We were all good friends, so there was much laughing and interaction while we prayed. That’s just who we were, and we didn’t feel the need to be different when we were with God.

We’d just finished praying for one person, and they got up from the “hot seat” (really a “hot hassock”: a place for them to sit in the middle of the group, so we could all see and all lay hands on if called for).

One of the women kind of hobbled to the center of the room and sat gently down on the hassock as soon as it was vacant. She announced that she’d hurt her back lifting something incorrectly, and needed it healed, please. We turned our attention to her, and asked God for his prayers for her; if Jesus only said what he heard Father saying, we figured that was a good model for us, so we waited for those prayers.

And we waited.

The silence went on for a while, and it became kind of awkward. The fact that it was silence was unusual: there wasn’t laughing or joking going on; people were listening for God’s prayers for our sister’s back.

And we waited. I asked a couple of the more prophetic people if they had anything, but they didn’t. This was unusual. So we waited.

Then, quietly, a teenager in the back of the room giggled. Yeah, I thought, this is rather odd: all these adult believers can’t even pray for one woman’s back. I can see why she’d laugh.

And her laughter continued. She tried, for a moment, to stifle it, but that never works, and it didn’t work this time. OK, so she’s laughing. What is God saying, for how to pray for this back?

But the laughing teenager was herself funny, and a couple more people glanced at her and chuckled. And they fought it, and they, too, were unsuccessful. And the laughter spread. And nobody knew why.

And soon, nobody was even trying to pray for the woman’s strained back; we were just laughing, loudly, uproariously. We didn’t know why we were laughing, but it was clearly not something we had the capacity to stop!

And after four or five minutes of unrestrained hilarity, the laughter slowly faded back out, ending as it began, with the happy teenager in the corner. Maybe five or ten minutes had passed.

And the woman who had sat down with the hurt back now stood up and stretched. “Aaaah.” she announced. “That’s much better. No more pain. Thanks guys.” And she walked, confidently, completely upright, out to the kitchen for a fresh cup of tea.

We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, chuckled again, and decided that we like hanging out with a sneaky God.



Feeding from the Old Testament

What's gotten people in trouble for so many centuries, is reading the Old Testament, without reading it through the lens of Jesus. (I speak from experience. Learn from my error, please.)

I don't recommend trying to understand God from the Old Testament any longer UNTIL individuals demonstrate they've got a handle on the first three verses of Hebrews, the letter written to the people of the Old Testament, which declares,

"In these last days [God has] spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things,... being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person..."

Until you can recognize that Jesus is the "express image" of God, until I learn to interpret whatever I read from the Old Testament through the revelation of the Father that is Jesus, then I WILL misunderstand God's nature. You will too.

Personally, I no longer listen to Bible teachers who haven't figured this out. Whenever someone shouts, "God is like this!!!" and points to the Old Testament to declare something about Him that is not in the revelation of Jesus, then I smile and nod, and I delete them from my Facebook Feed, or put their books in the Goodwill bin.

I won't drink from that polluted well any more. There's no life in it.

The Cleaning Lady

The Cleaning Lady


I’d like to tell you the story of a friend of mine, whom I’ll call Chantelle.

Chantelle had just found a roommate and a nice apartment, and they were in the early stages of moving in, when she called me. “I’d like your help in praying over our apartment before we move in.” She and I had dealt with some things together before, and she understood that teamwork is valuable.

So we began to pray. We prayed over the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, and declared the destiny we heard Father speaking about for the rooms and their activity. During the prayer time, I slipped away, and tossed a large handful of Dove’s chocolates into her empty room, just so she’s find a nice surprise.

When we finished praying about the public rooms, we headed down the hallway, and we both felt something strange, an unhealthy, unclean presence back there, and we both felt it at the same point, right as the hallway turned the corner.

Cool! A teachable moment! So we discussed it, discussed what it felt like, and I proposed that we check the back rooms individually for more sense of it.

We checked her room first, and there was no sense of that particular darkness, but there were wrapped dark chocolates scattered on the floor. She laughed and picked up a couple of them, and we agreed that this room wasn’t the source for the sense of the unclean that we felt. She offered me a chocolate and we moved on.

We prayed over the bathroom, blessed it, and ruled it out as a source of darkness, and moved on, while she nibbled her chocolate.

The roommate’s room. As Chantelle opened her roommate’s door, we felt the unclean darkness inside. “Aha! I suspect we’ve found a clue!” The roommate wasn’t home, of course; she wasn’t a believer, and wouldn’t understand what we were doing. In fact, there was just a small stack of boxes in the middle of the room.

We discussed the situation. We both sensed that there was uncleanness on the walls, though they appeared a clean white to our eyes. Chantelle stepped into the room, spiritual senses wide open, looking to sense where the unclean stuff was coming from. The closet? Nope. The window? Nope? This place where the bed obviously went? Nope.

That left the boxes in the middle of the room. They were just moving boxes, and only two or three of them; they looked innocuous enough. She popped the last of the chocolate in her mouth and touched the top box. Bingo! This is where the darkness came from! As we talked about the source of the presence, she straightened out the foil that had wrapped her chocolate, and read the quote it contained: “You are exactly where you are supposed to be.” We laughed!

We didn’t get into the boxes; they weren’t our property, but we felt the need to address the darkness, particularly, the darkness clinging to the walls. So we prayed that it would be removed. Nothing happened. We commanded it to leave. Nothing. We prophesied blessing on the room and its future. Nada.

I had an idea. “Chantelle, why don’t you ask Father for the right weapon to remove the darkness?” She gave me a funny look, but we’d done stranger things than this together. She prayed, and I could see from the look on her face that she’d seen Him give her something.

“What is it? What did he give you?” She scowled. “A washrag.” We laughed some more.

But she began to wield the washrag that she saw in the Spirit against the darkness. In reality, she began to wash the walls with it, and it was the first time that we saw the darkness give way, though it was a fight.

After a few minutes, we recognized that this was going to take all night, and I couldn’t help her, as I was still standing in the hallway (out of respect for someone else’s room).

Another thought presented itself. “I wonder if that washrag is for you to wield, or if it’s for someone else?” We prayed. “An angel is to wield it.” “OK. Why don’t you invite that angel in?” She did, and she laughed. “What do you see?” “A cleaning lady!” We laughed some more.

So Chantelle handed the washrag to the cleaning lady angel, and invited her to wield the weapon. Immediately, she began washing the walls, and by the time Chantelle had reached the door to the room, the first wall was halfway clean; we could both feel the darkness lifting. That was better! We blessed the cleaning lady, and invited her to stay. It seemed to us that her assignment was the back of the apartment, particularly the hallway and the bedrooms.

We felt the freedom to invite a couple other angles to the house. A big armed one was stationed outside the downstairs entrance, and Chantelle assigned another, whom she named Cheese Grater Guy, to the front door, to remove any “Klingons” from guests to the home.

When we left, we looked back at the bedroom windows, and we both discerned what appeared to be a cleaning lady waving happily to us from the roommate’s window. We laughed and waved back.

The really fun part of the story came weeks later, when the roommate cautiously reported that she “could feel a presence” in the back hallway. Chantelle replied, “Yep, and she’s staying here! We’re not going to get rid of that one!”


And the cleaning lady likes cats. Both Chantelle and the roommate had pet cats, kittens, really, who loved to play with them. But from time to time, both women could see the cats in the hallway, playing with someone they couldn’t see with their natural eyes. 

Prostitution in the Church

Because of my nom de plume (“Northwest Prophetic”), people associate me with prophetic ministry. And as a result, I get a number of requests that I really don’t love.

Fairly often, someone – and it’s almost always someone I don’t know, very often someone whose Facebook friend request I’ve just accepted – will send a private message out of the blue. “I want a prophetic word. What is the word of the Lord for me?”

And it’s nearly always that abrupt. No “Hi, how are you doing?” No introduction to who they are or to their life and ministry, no respect for me as a human being, or as a child of God. Nearly always, the phrase “please” or “thank you” is not involved. Just “Gimme a word!” (and yes, sometimes it is that blunt). I’ve talked with some other prophets, and a number of them – especially those in social media – report similar experiences.

Our culture has a vocabulary for this, for when someone wants people to meet their urgent needs, but has no interest in relationship, or even common courtesy. We use words like “prostitute,” or “hireling,” or “servant” to describe the people that we disrespect, but we want them to meet our needs.

Honestly, I have to tell you, I don’t love prostitution. I really don’t love being propositioned to prostitute myself and my gift.

[I need to interject: asking for help from others in the body is NOT prostitution. But demanding that others meet your need, without the barest pretense of interest of them as a person, as a brother or sister, well, that sound a lot like prostitution to me.]

I was praying about this the other day (OK, fine! I was grumbling!) and Father listened quietly before he spoke. “It’s not just you, you know,” and he brought some others before my memory.

He pointed out that yes, prophetic people are dealing with this, but because the prophetic movement is relatively new, this prostitution of prophets is also relatively new. But the church is not new to prostituting her people.

Worship leaders, for one, have been prostituted for much longer than prophetic folks have been. Whenever Christians get together, there’s this urgent need that we Must Have Worship. Larger churches hire one (or more), and expect them to always be ready! I would argue that if our interest in them is only in what they can do for us, and not in them as a person, then we’re guilty.

It’s tragically funny when smaller groups, or outside-the-building groups get together, watching as they scramble to find someone able to Lead Worship. I can’t tell you the number of worship musicians who have described one measure or another of the prostitution syndrome. Recently, I invited a worship leader to a gathering in my home. When I suggested leave his guitar at home, but bring his family instead, it sounded like he almost cried.

We could go on and make a list, and it would include children’s workers, intercessors, youth pastors, sound guys, and others: the “little people,” people who often aren’t seen or thought about until somebody has an urgent need for something.

And of course, some groups, some people, some churches are more abusive and others are far more civilized. And of course, nobody (or perhaps “nobody in their right mind”) aspires to be a prophet or sound guy or children’s pastor or an intercessor for the money or for the respect. They follow that path because they can’t NOT follow that path, lest they shrivel up and die.

But it’s remarkably rare that these servants are respected anywhere nearly as the “real” leaders of the group. And if one of these folks has other gifts, those are pretty much ignored, unless that other gift is also on this list. (I’ve heard church boards look for youth pastors with a wife who can lead worship, so they can meet two urgent needs for the price of only one! I want to … speak firmly … with them for demeaning God’s children fn favor of their own desires!)

Lest this become a full-fledged rant, I’m going to change directions here.

First, I want to express my appreciation for the good people who serve God in these roles, despite the dishonoring ways of the people among whom you serve. Thanks for honoring our Father, and where you could, honoring your brothers and sisters.

Then I want to tell you that you are, in fact, every bit as important and as valuable as the trustees or the home group leader or the senior pastor or the TV preachers or the author or guest speaker or whoever. Your value as a child of God – your value as a human being – is equal to their value.

Finally, I’d like to invite all of us to treat our brothers and sisters with honor, with respect, with value. Our Father does. They deserve no less.







Some Experiences with Judgment in the Courts of Heaven

Some years ago, Jesus took me to a new place that I hadn’t expected: it was a tall, oak, judge’s bench. He took me around the back of the bench, and up the stairs behind it. But rather than sit down himself, he sat me in the great chair behind the bench, and when I sat, I was wearing black robes and I had a wooden gavel in my right hand.

I’ve learned to trust him in that place, and so I didn’t resist him, though my sitting in that chair was more of a novelty that first time than it was about actually judging anything. Since then, I’ve begun to learn some things about judgment, how important it is, how powerful it is, and especially how very good it is.

I was charged with judging my brothers and sisters, but judging from Heaven’s perspective, from the perspective of a King who’s madly in love with them, who’s unreasonably proud of them, who’s amazed and overjoyed with their every step of faith. So the judgments that I’ve been invited to pronounce are about God’s favor on his children; I’ve been charged with finding them guilty of pleasing their Father, and sentencing them to be loved and adored for all their natural lives, and beyond! It’s better work than I first feared it would be; I’ve actually come to love that bench.

But some of the judicial work has been darker than that. Once, I was praying intensely for a dear sister against whom hell was having a measure of success. Jesus brought me around to the stairs and up to the bench. I could see more clearly from up there, and with his help, I saw the cloud of filthy spirits that were harassing my sister. “Judge them,” he said, and I understood.

I began to recognize their crimes, and as I identified them – the spirits and their crimes – I spoke its name. As I did, it was as if the gavel moved on its own, gently tapping, “Guilty!” to each charge. With each tap, a demon was bound and hauled of. Soon, I got into it, reaching into the Spirit for the discernment of each spirit and shouting its name, its crime: the gavel banged and the demon was bound. This, too, was judgment I could get excited about.

I needed to be careful, in my exuberance, to still judge accurately, according to what was true, not merely because I felt bad for my sister’s misery: this was a matter of justice, not pity, and it was a mighty justice that was handed down that day, and other days like it. I’ve developed the opinion that this judge’s bench is an excellent place for intercession.

There was one day, though, that I still shake my head about. It happened some years back, and I’m only now understanding what may have actually gone on.

God the Father somberly walked up to me, and he was looking really quite serious: he was cloaked in a rich black judge’s robe, and his eyes were as intense and alive with fire as I’ve ever seen them. With his eyes fixed on mine, he slowly opened his robe. I was surprised to see a red plaid shirt underneath, but before I had opportunity to react in surprise, he pulled a shotgun from the depths of his open robe, and handed it to me. Startled, I took it from him and glanced at it. Yep, that’s a shotgun, all right.

I looked up again, and now the robe was gone, and with it, the stern look from Father’s face. Instead, he sported a red hunter’s cap and a huge grin, and he held up a shotgun of his own. Movement caught my eye, and I saw Jesus, similarly attired with plaid shirt, red hat, grin and shotgun. Father asked, “You ready, Son?” but before I could answer, the air above our heads was suddenly filled with demons, their leathery wings flapping frantically as they zigged and zagged about the room.

Father laughed mightily, hoisted his shotgun and fired; a demon exploded into a black cloud. Jesus cheered and blasted another one. Soon all three of us were shouting and hollering and laughing uproariously. And blasting demons to tiny black dust. Shotgun blasts were interspersed with shouts of encouragement, great fits of laughter and the soft splatter of the demons shards. They had met their maker, and it had not gone well for them. He is a very good shot, actually.

I had enjoyed this experience so much that I hadn’t stopped to ask what it meant until recently; the answer wasn’t particularly surprising; something about “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” But the experience was, frankly, a great deal of fun. “Spiritual warfare” and “fun”: two concepts I never expected to put together.

That hunting party only happened the one time. I think it was more about teaching me a lesson than a regular part of our business in that place. He’s a good teacher, by the way: I’ve never forgotten that experience, though I’ve been slower to learn its lesson.

Why Does God Speak Cryptically

Anyone who has learned to hear Father’s voice has asked the question: Why does he sometimes speak in strange pictures and obscure messages? Why not just speak clearly?

One of the main reasons (in my observation at least) that Father speaks obscurely is because his goals are different from mine. If he spoke clearly, we’d grab that information and presumably do something with it. But neither the information nor the doing is his primary goal.

Father’s primary goal is relationship. And toward that goal, he speaks to us. Most of what he says to us is about us, or is our personal (and probably private) prayer assignment. Most of the tiny remainder of what he says to us is for our metron, our close circle of relationships: church congregation, home group, family, etc. Very little is to be shared, and so he speaks obscurely, in order that we won’t share private conversation too quickly.

And it is an error, in my opinion, to assume that God is speaking literally. He has been pretty clear about that (see 1Corinthians 13:12, Numbers 12:6-8). And so he speaks obscurely is because he’s more interested in you than he is in the information.

So I encourage you to go for walks with God: talk out loud. Tell him about your day, and how you feel about your day. Ask him about his day, and how he feels about his day, or about your day. Talk about your favorite music, your favorite flowers, and why they’re your favorites. Ask about his.

Avoid talking about prophetic stuff for a long while, either the process of prophesying, or the “prophetic words” he or others have spoken to you. This is about relationship, not the business of prophesying.

This is a favorite topic of mine: intimacy with Father on His terms. Anyway, lest I get overly long-winded, I leave you with these two thoughts. They both apply to the subject at hand, though the application is not overly obvious.  


One more detail: it’s pretty clear that the times, they are a-changing. It’s my opinion that this kind of intimacy with Father will be more important, rather than less important, as the world gets more tumultuous and our lives get busier. 

Preparing for an Uncertain Future.

I’ve been asked recently, “How should we prepare for the upcoming hard times in our nation?” The topic comes up a fair bit in one form or another.

I started to reply to the individual who asked this one, but there are several folks with questions on this topic. Here’s what I observe on the topic:

§         No single prophet will have all the insight on this (or any other) topic. Father promises to reveal his secrets to “the prophets” not “to each prophet.” I won’t have anything close to a complete picture. Having said that,

§         It’s not the prophet’s job [ever] to replace your hearing from God yourself. Take what you hear from the prophets to God to get your instructions for your own situation.
 
§         I believe that fear is the primary danger ahead of us: the enemy is making a pretty strong focus on this sin, trying to drive God’s. If believers resist that temptation, we’ll be positioned to get the rest of it right. (This means, of course, filtering what we listen to, and HOW we listen to it.)

§         It’s my opinion that the disaster prognostications flooding the media are fear-based, and are in error, if only because they’re based on fear.

§         While God is calling some of his children into the prepping community, “prepping” is not the answer. Luke 12:20-21 applies to those who, because of fear, store up all they’ll need to survive Armageddon: I don’t believe that’s actually possible; if we knew all that we needed to store up, that violates the First Commandment, and God has promised to not permit that. (Note: the “first commandment” is more of a threat than a commandment: “You will not be able to have any other gods before me: you set ‘em up & I’ll knock ‘em down!” [http://bit.ly/1nn65Rm])

§         I personally believe that the epic disasters of Matthew 24 and the Book of Revelation are clearly behind us, not in front of us (that is perhaps another conversation, and others believe differently). Nevertheless,

§         That does NOT mean I see blue skies and butterflies. Someone really smart said, “In this world, you will have tribulation.” I suspect that’s related to the fact that we are engaged in the greatest war this universe has ever known. It’s NOT “good vs evil.” It’s about the Kingdom of Heaven vs the lesser kingdoms (of which there are many: “good vs evil” is one; fear is another, and self-sufficiency is a third).

§         It is my opinion that the most critical things we can do are in John 2:5 (“Whatever He [Jesus] says to you, do it.”) and Hebrews 12:1&2 (“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”) Key: fix our eyes on Jesus. Having said that,

§         This does not mean “Don’t prepare.” It means look at what Jesus is doing and do what he says. He has had me make SOME preparations (we have gotten out of debt, and we grow some of our own food on our city lot, etc).

§         I’m reminded of stories like Matthew 17:24-27 (and we could choose many others!): It appears that Jesus is invested in provisioning us. Which leads to,

§         I believe we’re coming into a season where we rely on the supernatural for our daily lives. We need to (and are, in fact, beginning to) get used to miracles, so that we can multiply food or raise the dead comfortably and consistently.

§         Whatever troubles that come are an opportunity for the Kingdom of God, not obstacles. Even if there is real persecution against believers, upheaval of any sort open people’s hearts and minds to the King of the Kingdom. If we respond in fear we’ll miss the opportunity (see Romans 8:15).

§         Other people may be called to different responses. I am clearly called to a non-political response, but Father has specifically spoken to me about others whom He may be calling to be involved with politics, or even with forceful resistance to evil. Their calling is not my calling, but I need to not hinder them.

§         The story remains unchanging: God’s goal for us is still intimate relationship, his instruction is still to extend the kingdom, by means of the Great Commission.



So what do you hear God saying to YOU about this season ahead of us?