Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Clear Voice in a Crisis

The absence of a prophetic voice in a city creates uncertainty about the cause of crises. Most of the commentary on the traumatic events comes from pastors whose focus is on providing pastoral care to people who had lost homes or family members. Their main goal is to put guilt and guidance out of scope, so they leave God’s purposes out of the situation. Unfortunately, many other Christians find this explanation inadequate and are uncertain about how they should respond to these events. They see Jesus applying spiritual significance to physical disasters (Luke 13:1-5) and want the same for their time.

Without a clear trumpet call, the people go and look for own answers. They get muddled and grab what they can. The dreams and voices that circulate from the fringes of the church where people have gone for insight, but they produced only fear and confusion.

Revelations that God has given to intercessors often circulate as prophecies about the future. This is creates confusion, because the revelations contain no guidance to Christians about how to respond. There is no call to repentance for the people of the world or condition that must be met to avert the disaster. This is not surprising, because that was not their purpose.

The intercessors should focus on doing their job by standing in prayer against the plans of the enemy that God has revealed to them. If the intercessors and are fulfilling their calling, these events will not take place. God has revealed these things to the intercessors, because he does not want them to happen.

The thirst for revelation that emerges during a crisis cannot be quenched by the revelations received by intercessors.

Where there is no revelation, the people are left naked (Prov 29:18).
Unfortunately, scraps from tables of the intercessors will not satisfy this hunger for revelation.

The problem is lack of revelation. We should be praying that God will release a clear prophetic voice that we may have better understanding of God’s purposes. If God is giving warnings about events that are going to happen, the prophets should be listening and seeking guidance about his plans for his people and asking what changes must take place to avert the disaster.

More at Prophets and Intercessors.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Prophetic Action

Sometimes God asks a prophet to take an action that will illustrate the word being brought. The prophet becomes a living parable or visual aid. For example, Ezekiel lay on his side tied up with ropes for many days as a warning of the exile to Babylon (Ezek 4). Jeremiah bought a piece of land to bring home a prophetic message (Jer 32:1-9). Isaiah walked naked in the street to demonstrate the shame of Israel (Is 20). I wonder why Isaiah 6 is more popular than Isaiah 20?

More at Delivering the Prophetic Word

Friday, January 27, 2012

Receiving a Word

When we have received a word from the Lord, the first thing we should do is ask what he wants us to do with it. We should not assume that he wants us to speak it out. He may want us to sit on it and wait and pray. We should also ask for an interpretation and guidance for how to deliver it. Many true words are spoiled, because they are incorrectly handled.

More at Receiving the Prophetic Word

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tower and Gate

Watchmen are not on the walls to boost the name of the enemy and paralyse God’s people with fear. Their purpose is to warn the people of danger, while it is still a long way off. This gives the people living outside the city time to get behind the walls where they will be safe. The watchman's warning also gives the city leaders time to prepare their defences, so they can repel the enemy when he comes.

The safety of a city depends on the watchmen being on the watchtower. It also depends on the leaders at the gate heeding their warning. If the watchmen and the leaders at the gate of the city each do their task, the enemy’s plans should be defeated and the city kept safe.

More at Watchmen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Crisis and Hope

In the troubled times that lie ahead many people will have their hope shattered. The plans and the projects to which they have given their lives will collapse. They will often feel as if God has abandoned them. The nations will need prophets who can give new vision during these times of shaking.

We must recognise the danger of despair that comes with extinguishing dreams. In the troubled times that lie ahead many will believe that their dreams have died. Theologically they will believe that God has abandoned them. If the church in our time is to avoid despair we must construct the new vision of God’s presence in the midst of our judgement (Bruce Bint).
With the shattering changes -political, economic and technological -that have been thrust upon the twentieth century world it is a small wonder that the generation facing the close of the second millennium and peering uncertainly into the uncharted waters of the twenty first century are crying out for divine guidance (Clifford Hill - Prophecy, Past and Present).
Prophets will explain how God is at work in what appears to be a disaster. Because prophets can see what lies ahead, they will be able to give direction and hope for the future.
Prophets arise in times of crisis. Their message is always relevant to the contemporary situation. The encounter with prophecy is always at the frontier of the social and religious. The factors that give rise to prophecy are always both sociological and religious. (Clifford Hill - Prophecy, Past and Present).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Prophetic Suffering

A prophet is often called to suffering. Deep dealing at the hand of God will often be needed to prepare the prophet for receiving the word of God. Sometimes he may actually have to experience beforehand, something of what his people will experience.

Jeremiah spent many years in captivity before his people went into captivity. He was often rejected and ostracised; he was even accused of being a traitor. Ezekiel had to lie on his side for 390 days to symbolise the judgement that would come upon his nation. This suffering made the prophets extremely aware of their human frailty (Jer 20:7-10). It also equipped the prophet to give a very harsh message in a spirit of compassion.

A true message is nullified if it is spoken in the wrong spirit. Suffering softens the prophet’s spirit, so that he can give the hardest word in a spirit of love. Suffering contributed to Jeremiah’s compassion.

There is an especial message in the ministry of Jeremiah for those who are compelled to stand alone, who fall into the ground to die, who fill up what is behind of the sufferings of Christ, and through death arise to bear fruit in the great world of men, which they passionately love (F.B Meyer - Jeremiah).
A prophetic ministry involves having a foretaste of the suffering and judgement that will come as a result of the sins of the church and the whole world, since iniquity would soon be universal. In such commission one must be willing to pay the price involved in foreseeing the coming events, in suffering and experiencing them in advance. Only then can the warning be passed on. A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury and wrath of God, than his love and tenderness (A W Pink).
A messenger who has not been willing to move into close combat with reality, with the pain of the downtrodden, will not be able to bring a message of relief and healing. A painless message cannot ease the pain. A painless message cannot carry a burden. A true messenger of the Lord begins every voyage at the Cross. Each and every piece brought forth from his mouth is marked by the Cross (Lars Widerburg, Prophets Without Burden).
More at Role of a Prophet.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Prophets are Different

Prophets don’t fit in easily like other people. They often seem to be off on a tangent, worrying about something that most people don’t care about. The prophet is often out of step with the mood of the times. They often seem to be misfits.

To a person endowed with prophetic insight, everyone else appears blind; to a person whose ear perceives God’s voice, everyone else appears deaf. No one is just; no knowing is strong enough, no trust complete enough. The prophet hates the approximate, he shuns the middle of the road. Man must live on the summit to avoid the abyss. There is nothing to hold to except God. Carried away by the challenge, the demand to straighten out man’s ways, the prophet is strange, one-sided, an unbearable extremist. The prophet disdains those for who God’s presence is comfort and security; to him it is a challenge, an incessant demand. God is compassion, not compromise; justice, though not inclemency. The prophet’s predictions can always be proved wrong by a change in man’s conduct, but never the certainty that God is full of compassion. The prophet’s word is a scream in the night. While the world is at ease and asleep, the prophet feels the blast from heaven. (Abraham Heschell - The Prophets).
A prophet always stands in danger of being thought insane. He does not see what other men see. He has the strangest kind of intuitive grasp of things. It seems as if fresh from heaven he is astounded by the carnality of men. He gasps and cannot stand, wondering that no one cries out (Art Katz - The Heart of a Prophet).
Ezekiel was not what we consider a normal person, but his abnormality is a key to his greatness, as has been the case with many of histories notable personality. Ezekiel’s seems to have been a harsh ministry, but zeal to vindicate God and to preserve a remnant for mission proves him to have guided by profound insight. Among the truly great men of God stands this strange contradictory figure whose creative spirit, energised by God helped to return the mainstream of religion to its proper channel of mission. Ezekiel was a man of his times, and the time in which he lived was a time of great social, political and spiritual flux, that could have become either the basis for new creative understanding of the place of God in the life of man, or the dying of and inadequate faith. It was largely due to Ezekiel that out of the ashes of destruction came the resurrection of new faith and hope (Anonymous).
Be careful! Being different does not make you a prophet. The same symptoms are present in people who are rebellious or have a bad attitude. Many difficult and contentious Christians think they are prophetic, when they really just have sin issues that they have refused to deal with. They give the prophetic ministry a bad name.

More at Character of a Prophet.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Marks of a Prophet

  • Zeal for God's will.
  • Foresight into God's plan.
  • Insight into God's plan.
More at Calling of a Prophet

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Prophetic Ministry

The most urgent need of the modern church is for the restoration of the prophetic ministry. In recent years the gift of prophecy has been rediscovered, but there is still a desperate shortage of prophets. The church will not come to true maturity until God has raised up prophets among his people.

For nearly two millenniums the public prophetic voice has been silent. Now in our time it is being restored (Tom Marshall - The Coming of the Prophets).
Unfortunately, the purpose of the prophetic ministry has caused a great deal of disagreement in the church. Some writers have suggested that the role of the OT prophets ended with the cross. They suggest that the New Testament prophets are limited to encouragement and exhortation. This view turns prophets into Good News Guys.

Many church leaders fear the prophetic. They are happy for prophetic people to give personal words to people during church services, but want the leadership of the church to be immune from any prophetic challenge. This has truncated an important ministry and weakened the church. The quality of the prophets is critical for building the church on a solid foundation (Eph 2:20), so we need to understand how the ministry of Jesus changed the role of the prophets.

See Prophetic Voice for more.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Positive Laws are Dangerous

God’s law is often criticised for being negative, but God has good reason for giving his law in a negative form. Few Christians understand this, but negative laws enhance freedom. The authorities have no authority until a crime happens, if law is phrased negatively. Those who do not commit crimes are free. Consider the eight commandment.

You shall not steal.
This law has no implication for the behaviour of anyone who does not steal. The law has a penalty, but it only applies to thieves. The authorities can only apply this law to those who steal. People who do not steal are free to do what they like with their money. This gives us great freedom. Once I accept that stealing is out of bounds, I can ignore this law and get on with my life. I can do what we like, without any fear of the authorities. A negative law has no relevance for those who do not want to not break it.

A positively stated law gives the authorities much greater power and greatly reduces freedom. Consider a positively stated law.
You must give all spare money to the poor
This law would gives the authorities the right to monitor and challenge every financial transaction. They would have authority to check on every person who spends money. Freedom to do what I like with my money would be gone.

God’s law does not give the authorities responsibility for forcing people to lead virtuous lives, although some Christians would like them to do that (eg prostitution laws). The law cannot change human nature, so it cannot eliminate sin. The only solution to sin is being born again by the Holy Spirit in response to the gospel of Jesus. God does not expect his law to eliminate sin. He gave the law to provide societies with a way to restrain the very worst effects of sin, not to make people good. Negative laws are best for that purpose. In contrast, modern authorities like to control every aspect of life. This is why many man-laws are in a positive form. Most Christians prefer man-made laws, so it is not surprising that they do not understand the benefits of negative laws.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Grace v Law

I get frequent emails from Christians stating the importance of grace and pointing out the dangers of legalism. Most are good stuff, but what worries me is that some slip over into an attack on law itself. Some mildly mock God’s law, but the worst scoff at it.

I can understand why advocates of grace attack religion and legalism, but I am puzzled about why they switch to attacking God’s law. The approach contrasts with Psalm 119, which extols the virtues of God’s law. Likewise, Paul says that the law is holy, righteous and good (Rom 7:12) and spiritual (Rom 7:14).

Law is important for the functioning of society. If someone burgles their house or steals their car, most people expect the perpetrator to be brought to justice. If a baby is murdered, most people expect action to be taken.

The irony is that when it comes to the functioning of society, most Christians prefer man-made law to God’s law. I find this odd. We seem to have arrived at a situation where most Christians hate God’s law. Part of the reason is that advocates of grace tend to attack it, to make a point about legalism.

My response is this. Go for it against legalism and religion, but be careful about attacking God’s law to defend God's grace.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wife of a Prophet

When updating my teaching on the Prophetic Ministry, I realised that something important was missing. There is nothing about the role of the wife of the prophets. This topic is not covered by in the books. Here are my thoughts. What could be added?

Wife of a Prophet
Some prophets will be single, but many will be married. The wife of a prophet often carries a heavy burden.

  1. Men called to the prophetic ministry are usually very thick skinned. They need to be to fulfil their calling.

    I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint (Ez 2:8,9).
    Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land-the kings of Judah, its officials its priests and the people of the land (Jer 1:18)
    The wife of the prophet is not a fortified city. She is a precious vessel (1 Peter 3:7), who is vulnerable to attack. Because opposites attract, she is quite often a very sensitive person.

    As the prophet moves into his calling, he must put protection in place for his wife. She needs to be surrounded by loyal and sympathetic friends, who understand her struggle and can provide encouragement and support. His calling to be a prophet must not be put ahead of his responsibility as a husband. His wife must not be sacrificed on the altar of the prophetic ministry.

  2. When he receives a hard word, the prophet should have wrestled with God and gone through a process to be sure that the word is correct. His wife will not have gone through that process, so she will not be so sure that the word is right. She will remember the times that her husband has been wrong, whereas he will have pushed these down into a memory hole, so he can get on with his ministry. She will remember the harm done, and be concerned that he could be wrong again, so it will be difficult for her to share the same confidence in his words. He will need to understand this fear and help her to understand why he believes the world is right. She will need to trust him, for better or for worse.

  3. People are often intimidated by a prophet. If they disagree with what he has spoken, they will often be scared to challenge him. Many will take the easy way out, and share their concerns with his wife, hoping that she will pass them on to her husband. This is a bad practice. The wife should point out that her husband is teachable and encourage the people to take their concerns to him directly. The elders should advice the people in the church not to mess with his wife, if they have an issue with the prophet.

  4. Prophets tend to be very black and white, so they can easily hurt people. When a young prophet is starting out, he will not even be aware that he is doing this. Some will not worry about people being hurt, even if it is the fault. The prophet’s wife will be much more sensitive to what is happening. She will pick up on all the unnecessary hurt and pain that he has caused. The prophet needs to learn from his wife. He should ask her about how people are responding to the way he speaks. He should use her advice to learn how to speak the truth in love.

  5. Being a prophet is a tough calling. The wife of a prophet knows his integrity and the cost of his ministry, so she can be his main source of encouragement. Hopefully, she can build a home that is a place of refuge during times of stress.

The experience will be different for husbands of prophetesses. Their main challenge will be to ensure that their wives are not overworked by the church. The will need to check that Christians are not taking advantage of their wives good nature, when they should be seeking God for themselves. When a prophetess is attacked, her husband should stand beside her to protect from abuse.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

Times and Seasons

The proof copy of my latest book arrived this morning. Very exciting to see it taking shape.

The rest of the week involve serious checking. I hate checking, but it is a task that has to be done.

The finished book should be available on Amazon by the end of the month. A Kindle version will be available at the same time.

Lake Tekapo

January is summer in New Zealand. I have just had a weeks break at Lake Tekapo in the MacKenzie Country. It was a very restful and refreshing.

This photo was taken from the balcony in the house where we were staying. A Christian friend lent it to us. Very generous. May the Lord bless him.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Gods OT Strategy (31) - Conclusion

Most Christians assume that God is all-powerful and can do whatever he chooses. In one sense, this is true. He created all things, so he is sovereign over all his creation.

However, another important fact must be taken into account. God freely gave dominion over the earth to humans.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Gen 1:27-28).
That gift was unconditional. God is faithful and true, so he does not go back on his word. When humans sinned, he did not take back the dominion that he had given.

God’s glory was not reduced by handing over this authority. His wisdom and power is so great, he knew he could eventually achieve his purposes on earth, even if humans misused their authority and invited evil into the world. God had a plan to his authority on earth, by allowing his son to die, and then sending his Spirit to build his Kingdom. Giving dominion over the earth to humans would not prevent him from fulfilling his plans, even if they turned against him.

Many Christians assume that God can intervene on earth whenever he chooses. If that were true, God could have gone to work and put things right as soon as sin came into the world. Things were not as simple as that. Even though humans had sinned, God still recognised them as the legitimate authority on earth. Therefore, he could not intervene whenever he chose. He had to wait until he was invited by a person with authority on earth. This is why prayer is so important. It gives God the authority that he needs to accomplish his purposes on earth.

God was not slow to send Jesus. He sent him as soon as he was able. During the thousand years that had gone by since humans sinned, he was not just sitting around twiddling his thumbs. He was waiting for people with authority on earth to give him permission to act. Because most humans had given their authority over the devil, this permission was quite difficult to get. When God did get permission to act, it was usually limited in scope and time, and was often taken back soon after it was given.

When everything was in place, God sent Jesus to defeat evil and free humans from sin. That was an amazing victory, but the change on the ground was much slower coming. Humans still have domino on the earth. That means that the Holy Spirit can only act to build the Kingdom when humans give him permission. Unfortunately, most humans are still handing their authority over to the forces of evil, even though they could be free. Worse still, many of those who have been set free by believing in Jesus continue to believe the lie that the world belongs to the devil, so instead of releasing the Holy Spirit, they continue to rejoice in the works of the devil, because they believe that it brings Jesus return closer.

The Kingdom of God will come, when Christians understand the significance of what God did when he gave dominion over the earth to humans and release the Holy Spirit to do his work on earth.

This full series can be found at God OT Strategy.

Friday, January 13, 2012


The half of the Rena from which the ship is governed has slipped into the sea.

The other half is still sitting up on the reef.

Monday, January 09, 2012

New Zealand Political System

The container ship Rena, which has been stuck on the reef for the last two months broke apart at the weekend.

Will the New Zealand political system go the same way.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Gods OT Strategy (30) - Jesus

God sent Jesus to earth when everything on earth was ready.

  • People like Anna and Simeon were praying for the Messiah. This gave God authority to send his son.

  • Mary and Joseph were ready to be his parents.

  • The Roman Empire was ruling most of the earth. The ultimate empire was in place ready to be destroyed by the advance of the Kingdom of God.

  • Roman law had produced a relative peace in Israel. This allowed Jesus to move around freely.

  • Israel was divided into three provinces with the Romans ruling Judea directly through a procurator. The sons of Herod ruled the other two provinces. This allowed Jesus to operate below the Roman radar, by undertaking most of his ministry in the region of Galilee. He could move across the Jordan, whenever he needs a place of safety.

  • Messianic expectation was at a high level. People were longing for the peace and justice of God.

  • The Jewish establishment controlled the temple in Jerusalem. They were ready for confrontation with Jesus.

  • John the Baptist was getting ready to announce the Messiah.

  • Peter was being toughened up, ready for when he would get the church going in Jerusalem.

  • Paul was being trained up ready for when he would take the gospel to the gentiles and write his letters.

  • John was ready to begin a journey that would end with him writing the book of Revelation when he had completed his ministry. This prophetic work would give God authority to act long into the future.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Gods OT Strategy (29) - Prophets

While the kings and priests of Israel were failing, the prophets were getting on with God’s work. They were laying out all that God would do through Jesus and in the seasons after. Isaiah prophesied the suffering servant in exact detail. Jeremiah promises the coming of the Kingdom of God. Ezekiel prophesied the times when Israel would come to faith in Jesus. Daniel described the emergence of the Beast and the collapse of the kingdom of man. This prophetic ministry reached a climax with John the Baptist.

Getting the prophets to understand all this stuff in detail and put it down in writing was a huge task for the Holy Spirit. He had to use many prophets over hundreds of years to complete the task. A prophet like Isaiah does not emerge very often. Once all the prophetic work was in place, God just needed to raise up intercessors to pray it into being, so God could got to work and execute his plans.