Posts

Showing posts with the label #Prophecy

“…But what if that message is from the devil?”

Image
On psyching ourselves out of sharing. In my early days of learning what God’s voice sounds like, from time to time an idea’d pop into my head, and I’d wonder—as one should—whether the idea was mine, God’s… or Satan’s. I kinda blame my Fundamentalist upbringing. Y’see, there were a number of people in that church who insisted God doesn’t talk to people anymore, and anybody who claimed to hear from God was really hearing Satan. The effect is it makes a lot of Christians really wary of prophets. And, because the Holy Spirit actually does speak, really wary of listening to God for themselves. So I’d be at a bus stop, and the idea’d pop into my head, “Go tell that person ‘God bless you.’ ” And my knee-jerk reaction would be, “Is that God’s voice, mine, or Satan’s? After all, what if that person’s really anti-God right now, and my ‘God bless you’ prompts some sort of angry tirade? What if that person’s a cult member who sees this as an opportunity to try to convert me? What if…

“Prophecy scholars”: Neither prophets nor scholars.

Image
I’m Pentecostal. So whenever I see an notice or ad for an upcoming “prophecy conference,” they tend to refer to prophets. Actual prophets. Meaning people who’ve learned to listen to the Holy Spirit—and thereafter share with others what he’s told them. True, some of ’em practice some really iffy methods of identifying his voice. But when Penecostals, charismatics, and most continuationists refer to prophecy, we literally mean the same thing we see done in the bible by Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Simon Peter, and Paul of Tarsus. They heard God; they shared what they figured he told ’em; that’s prophecy. Outside Pentecostal circles—though not far outside Pentecostal circles, ’cause from time to time it gets in here—is a whole other type of “prophecy conference.” There, they aren’t at all talking about hearing God. They mean predictions about the End Times. They’re throwing a conference ’cause they wanna tell you what they think the apocalypses mean. Um… didn’t God delib

Prophesying your own issues.

Image
Funny how a lot of prophecies particularly apply to the person sharing it. From time to time—in bible studies, church, conferences, prayer groups, what have you—prophets get up and say a little something which “God laid on their heart,” which is Christianese for “God told ’em.” Or at least they think God told ’em. They were listening to their consciences, which is probably the easiest way to hear God. When we become Christian, the Holy Spirit gets to work on our consciences, growing good fruit in them, fixing our attitudes, poking us there whenever we misbehave. For some of us, it’s our most regular form of communication with him; we’re used to it. Many prophets have learned to listen to our consciences, in case any tugs we might feel are messages from God. So let’s say a prophet detects this idea in there: “Someone’s not so sure she believes in God. She has doubts.” Sounded to them like something the Holy Spirit would say. So they take it and run with it. “I feel in my sp

Tongues. And how they develop prophecy.

Image
It’s definitely not one or the other. 1 Corinthians 14.1-5 Tongues are a controversial practice. Not just because far too many Christians believe God turned off the miracles and therefore has nothing to do with tongues, bible to the contrary. To be honest and blunt, tongues are easy to fake, and easy to abuse. Christians who pray in tongues have a bad habit, and therefore a reputation, of being undisciplined about it. Which was entirely the point of Paul and Sosthenes writing 1 Corinthians 14: They didn’t wanna forbid nor ban tongues, like certain overzealous Christians do, and in so doing squelch everything the Holy Spirit wants to achieve through ’em. They simply wanted the Christians of Corinth to police themselves. Stop letting your tongues-speakers run amok. Stop prioritizing tongues above unity, harmony, and especially prophecy. Best I stop summarizing and get to that chapter. 1 Corinthians 14.1-5 KWL 1 Pursue love. Be zealous for the supernatural. Most of al

Sometimes prophecy encourages. Sometimes not.

Image
Too often, wannabe prophets insist prophecy and encouragement are one and the same. They’re not. When Christians teach about prophecy, one of the more popular verses we throw around is this one: 1 Corinthians 14.3 NIV But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. ’Cause if prophets are looking for a mission statement, Paul and Sosthenes provided us a convenient one-line description. Prophecy is for the purpose of strengthening, encouraging, and comfort. Sometimes they tighten it up just a little bit: Which of those three words can encapsulate the other two? So these prophets will see it as their particular mission to strengthen … and less so to encourage or comfort. Others, to comfort … and not so much strengthen and encourage. What I encounter most often are the prophets who wanna encourage . Wanna get Christians all confident and excited about our role in God’s kingdom, and wanna give us nothing but encouraging messages whic

Intercession: Praying for others… and answering for God.

Image
It’s not just a prayer ministry. It’s prophetic too. INTERCESSION /ɪn.(t)ər'sɛs.ʃən/ n. The act of coming between one person and another, on the behalf of one (or both) of the parties. 2. The act of praying on behalf of another. [Intercessor /'ɪn.(t)ər.sɛs.sər/ n. , intercessory /ɪn.(t)ər'sɛs.(sə.)ri/ adj. ] Praying for rulers is one of the many forms of intercession , or the more redundant “intercessory prayer.” It’s when we try to help somebody out, by praying for or with ’em. Sometimes because they asked us to pray for them, but of course they don’t have to: We’re talking with God, they’re on our mind, we bring ’em up. There are a number of Christians who’ve made intercession their particular ministry. They don’t go out and physically or financially help the needy: They pray for them. Sometimes for legitimate reasons: They can’t physically help, or haven’t the authority, or haven’t the finances. So prayer’s all they can do. True in a whole lot of cases. Th

Prophetic interpretation: “God told me it means this!”

Image
Sometimes the Spirit explains his scriptures. Other times prophets just don’t wanna do their homework. I’m writing this article under the Prophecy category, but I should warn you: It’s not just prophets, wannabe prophets, and fake prophets who try to pull this stunt. Y’know where I first encountered it? Among cessationists, of all people. Yep. All of ’em figure they have the very same Holy Spirit as the authors of scripture. Which they should, if they’re Christians. Since the Spirit inspired the scriptures, the Spirit should also be able to clue us in on what the scriptures mean. Cessationists claim God doesn’t prophetically talk to people anymore. So what’s the point of ’em having the Holy Spirit? Well, they think he’s here for only two reasons: Confirm we’re going to heaven. Ep 1.13-14 Illuminate the scriptures. Illuminate means “light up,” and depending on how much the cessationist will permit the Holy Spirit to do, they figure either he lights them up so they can

Jesus, our Immanuel.

Image
Why “fulfillment” isn’t about when predictions come true. Isaiah 7.14 Matthew 1.22-23 KWL 22 All this happened so the Lord’s word through the prophet could be fulfilled, saying, 23 “Look, the maiden will have a child in the womb, and they will declare his name Immanúël , which is translated ‘God with us.’” Is 7.14 This one’s probably the most famous “Messianic prophecy”… which, it turns out, isn’t. Seriously, isn’t . Back in 735 BC , King Radyán of Damascus, Aram ( KJV “Rezin the king of Syria”) joined forces with King Peqákh ben Remalyáhu of Samaria, Ephraim ( KJV “Pekah the son of Remaliah”) to attack Jerusalem. 2Ki 16.5 Laid siege to it. Didn’t look good. The prophets Isaiah ben Amóch and his son Sheüryahsúv had come to King Akház ben Yotám ( KJV “Ahaz son of Jotham”) with good news from the L ORD : Aram and Ephraim’s plans would come to nothing. Isaiah 7.10-17 KWL 10 The L ORD ’s word to Akház, saying, 11 “Request a sign from your L ORD God, made deep

The mentalist… disguised as a prophet.

Image
When “prophets” depend a great deal on their own intuition, it’s not really the Holy Spirit. MENTALIST /'mɛn.(t)əl.əst/ adj. One who performs highly intuitive, mnemonic, telepathic, or hypnotic abilities. (Usually as a stage performance.) [Mentalism /'mɛn.(t)əl.ɪz.əm/ n. ] “Is there anyone in this room who was born on April 6th?” It’s the sort of question you oughta hear when a psychic or magician is standing in front of an audience. Thing is, Christians who are into supernatural gifts tend to avoid psychics like the plague. (We have been taught to stay away from them, y’know. God forbade ’em to the Hebrews, Dt 18.8-14 and we figure that applies to us too.) Likewise we’re not as familiar with magicians who claim to be mind-readers. Or mentalists , as they’re properly called. (Maybe you remember the TV show where one of ’em solved crimes.) Requests for anyone who was born on a certain birthdate, or anyone who has a certain letter in their name, or anyone who recog

Elisha’s double portion.

Image
No, it’s not about getting twice as much as your predecessor. Just your fellow heirs. 2 Kings 2.9-10 The first time I heard of the idea of “the double portion,” it was in Sunday school, in a lesson our overeager youth pastor taught us about the eighth-century BC prophet Elijah of Tishbe, and his apprentice Elisha. On the day Elijah got raptured, he and Elisha had this conversation: 2 Kings 2.9-10 KWL 9 This happened when they crossed the river : Elijah told Elisha, “Ask me to do for you, before I’m taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please assign the double portion of your spirit to me.” 10 Elijah said, “You ask for a serious burden. If you see me get taken from you, it’s yours. If not, it’s not.” Elisha, our youth pastor explained, requested twice the spirit of Elijah. Double the anointing. Double the power. And after he watched Elisha ascend to heaven, he got it—as proven by the fact Elijah performed seven miracles in the bible, but Elijah performed twice that numb

The prophet Jesus of Nazareth.

Image
Part of following Jesus is using him as our example of how to prophesy. Jesus of Nazareth is a lot of things. Christ/Messiah/King of Israel, and King of Kings; rabbi/teacher and wise man; savior and healer; God incarnate, and second person of the trinity; and rumor has it he’s particularly good at woodcarving. But listed among these job titles and abilities is prophet . He shares what God told him. Arguably, he never taught anything else. Jn 12.49 That makes him a prophet. Problem is, every single time I teach Jesus is a prophet—but I fail to refer to him by the usual job titles, “prophet, priest, and king,”—I get blowback. Lots of Christians feel the need to point out he’s not just a prophet. Well duh. He’s all those things I mentioned in the first paragraph. And he’s a prophet. And the funny thing is, I don’t get this reaction when I teach Jesus is our head priest. Or Jesus is our king. Or Jesus is our teacher. It’s only when I state Jesus is a prophet. What’s up with that

Wanna become a prophet?

Image
Like prayer, prophecy isn’t complicated. It’s just our doubts—and our own voices—get in the way. There are two misconceptions about the word “prophet.” One’s a minor problem; the other’s huge. Small problem first: What a prophet actually is . Loads of people assume prophets are the same thing as prognosticators: People who know the future, or who can predict it really well. Pagans think this, which is why they treat prophecy like psychic phenomena. And cessationists think this: “Prophecy,” to them, is all about being able to interpret the End Times. It’s why all their “prophecy conferences” consist of End Times goofiness instead of actual prophets talking shop. True, God talks about the future quite a lot. Be fair; so do we all. “That’s on my schedule for tomorrow,” or “I’ll do that in the morning,” or “Can’t wait till Saturday.” Like us, God either talks about what he’s gonna do in the near future, or the soon-coming consequences of poor choices: “Stop doing that; you’ll go