Prophecy

Maximize Your Strengths

We all have strengths. It’s more effective to make maximum use of our strengths rather than trying to turn weakness into strength.

There’s a line of thinking in the western education system that has also influenced the western church that says if we’re not good at something (say, math), then we need to develop our skills at math until it’s one of our strengths, which necessarily means we don’t work at our developing the areas that are already our strengths (say, writing), so they don’t develop so much.

We tend to think that it’s best to be a pastor or a teacher, because that’s what we see modeled. But if that isn’t you, then you have a choice: either try to fake it, or be who you really are, even if it’s something that isn’t as well recognized.

Exercise your strengths.

Consider the Seattle Seahawks. Applying that line thinking would teach us that quarterback Russell Wilson needs to learn how to block a blitz from 275 pound linebackers, that defensive corner Richard Sherman needs to learn to learn how to function as a quietly confident offensive lineman, or that “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch, the best running back in the league, needs to develop his public media and publicity skills, and stop focusing so much on running the football.

That’s pretty ridiculous, isn’t it?

What took the Seahawks to the Superbowl twice recently was each member recognizing that they have a gift that is different that others’ gifts, and each member developing their strength, and trusting others’ strengths in places where they are not strong.

You’ve seen how Marshawn treasures his offensive linemen? He buys them gifts, sometimes expensive gifts, because they do very well what he cannot, and it makes the way for him to do (very well!) what they cannot.

Yeah, that’s how it works. We don’t ignore the gifts we don’t have, but neither do we focus on them. It’s absolute foolishness to ignore the gift that God has given us in order to develop what someone thinks is a more important gift.

Don’t be a copycat.
It never works, anyway.

If the gift is from Holy Spirit, it’s as valuable as He is (that’s kind of a big deal). If the gift is from skill or practice or sheer determination, instead of from the Holy Spirit, then it qualifies as “wood, hay or stubble,” and it will make a nice bonfire in the day or reckoning.

I’ve got more important things to do than prepare for Heaven’s bonfire. So do you.

Use the gifts God has given you, even if you don’t know another soul with those gifts. Be you! God doesn’t need copycats.

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Devotionals, Letters

Maximize Your Strengths

We all have strengths. It's more effective to make maximum use of our strengths rather than trying to turn weakness into strength.

There's a line of thinking in the western education system that has also influenced the western church that says if we're not good at something (say, math), then we need to develop our skills at math until it's one of our strengths, which necessarily means we don't work at our developing the areas that are already our strengths (say, writing), so they don't develop so much.

We tend to think that it’s best to be a pastor or a teacher, because that’s what we see modeled. But if that isn’t you, then you have a choice: either try to fake it, or be who you really are, even if it’s something that isn’t as well recognized.

Exercise your strengths.
Consider the Seattle Seahawks. Applying that line thinking would teach us that quarterback Russell Wilson needs to learn how to block a blitz from 275 pound linebackers, that defensive corner Richard Sherman needs to learn to learn how to function as a quietly confident offensive lineman, or that “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch, the best running back in the league, needs to develop his public media and publicity skills, and stop focusing so much on running the football.

That’s pretty ridiculous, isn’t it?

What took the Seahawks to the Superbowl twice recently was each member recognizing that they have a gift that is different that others' gifts, and each member developing their strength, and trusting others' strengths in places where they are not strong.

You've seen how Marshawn treasures his offensive linemen? He buys them gifts, sometimes expensive gifts, because they do very well what he cannot, and it makes the way for him to do (very well!) what they cannot.

Yeah, that's how it works. We don’t ignore the gifts we don’t have, but neither do we focus on them. It’s absolute foolishness to ignore the gift that God has given us in order to develop what someone thinks is a more important gift.

Don't be a copycat.
It never works, anyway.
If the gift is from Holy Spirit, it’s as valuable as He is (that’s kind of a big deal). If the gift is from skill or practice or sheer determination, instead of from the Holy Spirit, then it qualifies as “wood, hay or stubble,” and it will make a nice bonfire in the day or reckoning.

I’ve got more important things to do than prepare for Heaven’s bonfire. So do you.

Use the gifts God has given you, even if you don’t know another soul with those gifts. Be you! God doesn’t need copycats.

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Devotionals, Letters

Maximize Your Strengths

We all have strengths. It's more effective to make maximum use of our strengths rather than trying to turn weakness into strength.

There's a line of thinking in the western education system that has also influenced the western church that says if we're not good at something (say, math), then we need to develop our skills at math until it's one of our strengths, which necessarily means we don't work at our developing the areas that are already our strengths (say, writing), so they don't develop so much.

We tend to think that it’s best to be a pastor or a teacher, because that’s what we see modeled. But if that isn’t you, then you have a choice: either try to fake it, or be who you really are, even if it’s something that isn’t as well recognized.

Exercise your strengths.
Consider the Seattle Seahawks. Applying that line thinking would teach us that quarterback Russell Wilson needs to learn how to block a blitz from 275 pound linebackers, that defensive corner Richard Sherman needs to learn to learn how to function as a quietly confident offensive lineman, or that “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch, the best running back in the league, needs to develop his public media and publicity skills, and stop focusing so much on running the football.

That’s pretty ridiculous, isn’t it?

What took the Seahawks to the Superbowl twice recently was each member recognizing that they have a gift that is different that others' gifts, and each member developing their strength, and trusting others' strengths in places where they are not strong.

You've seen how Marshawn treasures his offensive linemen? He buys them gifts, sometimes expensive gifts, because they do very well what he cannot, and it makes the way for him to do (very well!) what they cannot.

Yeah, that's how it works. We don’t ignore the gifts we don’t have, but neither do we focus on them. It’s absolute foolishness to ignore the gift that God has given us in order to develop what someone thinks is a more important gift.

Don't be a copycat.
It never works, anyway.
If the gift is from Holy Spirit, it’s as valuable as He is (that’s kind of a big deal). If the gift is from skill or practice or sheer determination, instead of from the Holy Spirit, then it qualifies as “wood, hay or stubble,” and it will make a nice bonfire in the day or reckoning.

I’ve got more important things to do than prepare for Heaven’s bonfire. So do you.

Use the gifts God has given you, even if you don’t know another soul with those gifts. Be you! God doesn’t need copycats.

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Devotionals, Letters

Gifts from Father, Son & Holy Spirit

This is not - as will be obvious - a complete teaching; this is a subject that will swallow whole books in one gulp. This is just some raw material, looking at the subject from a viewpoint different than I've heard before.

I still can’t completely wrap my brain around the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three, and yet they’re one. Not just “One with three aspects.” Not just “Three in perfect unity.” Really three. Really one. Weird. Cool, but weird.
But as I get to know Him/Them, I find that they have three different personalities as well. And the gifts that they give are different as well.
The most common gifts that we talk about are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12, there is a list of His gifts:
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the samea]">[a] Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. .
Note that these gifts are manifestations of the Spirit. Just as the gifts that you give reflect the person you are as a giver, so these gifts reflect the person of the Holy Spirit. As manifestations, these are things that happen when the Holy Spirit manifests, or shows up, in our lives. There is no discussion of us “having” these gifts; instead, He has them, and wherever He is, they’re likely to show up. In you, for instance.
In Ephesians 4, there are gifts given by Jesus:
7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it[a] says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men."[b] 9(What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions[c]? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
The passage is talking about Christ, and then it says “It was he who gave” these gifts. These gifts are people, they’re for a purpose, and – like the manifestations of the Spirit in the passage above – are for the church. Again, these are not gifts that we might have, but gifts that we might be, and they’re very goal oriented: to prepare God’s people to reach particular goals, goals which are a whole study in themselves.
Not to be left out, in Romans 12 God Himself gives His own group of gifts.
…God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[a]faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
These gifts – sometimes called “Motivational gifts” – reflect how Father God has created us to function. These are the only gifts that we “have” and we are instructed to use them, and to use them in a particular way, implying of course, that we could use them in a different way. These gifts are resident in us, part of our makeup, built into us by the grace of God, and as a result of the measure of faith that He’s given us. As faith can grow, so can our effectiveness in these gifts.
Note that some gifts have analogs in all three lists, like prophecy, others in two lists, like teaching, and others in only one, such as giving.
While those of us who have been in the kingdom since the days of the Jesus People will find this old and redundant, there is a new generation rising into maturity in the church that mostly has not been schooled in these subjects. I'm thinking that it's time we review the subject.

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Devotionals, Letters

Prophets, Angels and the Son of God

The author of the Book of Hebrews starts his book out with a bang:
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.” – Hebrews 1:1-4
I was listening to Hebrews again today, and I was really struck by this passage. The whole first part of the book is all about how Jesus is so much superior.
In these few sentences, he hits a single topic from a couple of directions that are worth paying attention to, particularly for people like you and me.
First, he declares that the revelation of God in the person of his Son is superior to the revelation of God through the prophets. Since we’re pretty excited about prophets and prophecy, we probably need to notice this.
He’s not saying that God speaking through prophets is bad, only that God speaking through Jesus is the ridiculously superior revelation.
This has application two ways:
First, it’s clear that he was referencing the Old Testament prophets. The revelation of God is vastly superior to the revelation of the Old Testament prophets.
There are a lot of believers whose opinions about who God is and what God wants are influenced pretty heavily by Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the rest of the Old Testament. That is a legitimate representation of God, but it is an inferior representation or revelation of him. The Bible says so (right here, in this passage)!
But second, I believe the principle applies to modern day prophets as well (and you know I love the prophetic movement!): the revelation of God and of his heart from today’s prophets is substantially more complete than ’Miah and ’Zeke, but it’s still vastly inferior to the revelation that is in Jesus.
This is one of the (several) reasons that I try to discourage people from asking every prophetic person they know for a prophetic word: prophecy is good (1Corinthians says it’s the most profitable of the revelatory gifts), but it’s still an inferior revelation to that which you can get just by visiting with the Son of God who lives in you!
The second part of this passage carries that a step further: Jesus is also hugely superior to the angels.
This is a day when God really is unfolding revelation about angels and inviting us to partner with them. But the Word reminds us (right here) that the work of the angels, while still valuable, is an inferior work to the work of the Son of God.
If you continue on in Hebrews, the author will point out that just as the artist is superior to the work of art, just as the heir of the estate is of higher stature than the stable boys of the estate (my paraphrase), so the Son of God also a better revelation of God’s nature than his servants, either prophet or angel.
(It doesn’t hurt that this Son also happens to be the creator of the universe and the “exact representation” of God. I think that makes his job easier.)
I’m left chewing on this: pay attention to the words of the prophets, but pay more attention to the words that Jesus speaks to you. And trust the ministry of the angels, but trust the work of Jesus even more.
Yes, it really does all boil down to Jesus, doesn’t it? It really is all about Him!

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Devotionals, Letters

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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Devotionals, Letters

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.

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Devotionals, Letters

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.

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Devotionals, Letters

The chariots and Horsemen of Israel!

My attention today was drawn to the fact that a whole lot of Kingdom-minded believers are being pummeled by many challenges and problems.
A lot of us are facing formidable challenges. Many of us are facing a conspiracy of thousands of little issues that, taken together, threaten to be overwhelming. Some among us are facing victory that is so different than we expected, that is more complicated than we were expecting that it works as a weapon against our peace, breaking our focus. Some of us are feeling overwhelmed, but when we’re asked, we have a hard time identifying what is overwhelming us.
And as I saw that, I realized that it was on purpose: this is for a purpose. This is strategic. There is purpose for this. It’s not Father’s purpose, but the conspiracy of distractions is the enemy working overtime to distract us.
Father brought my attention to Second Kings:
2 Kings chapter 2:
“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.  Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.
Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.  He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.”
  
As I saw this, I heard Father say, “I’m watching to see if you can be distracted, or if you’ll keep your eyes on the prize in the midst of all of the distractions.” We can’t be overcomers without overcoming, and Father really wants us to learn to overcome.

If we can be distracted, even by amazing things like “a chariot of fire and horses of fire,” then we aren’t ready for the double portion anointing. We will still have the testimony of having seen, possibly even ridden in a chariot of fire, and that’s not nothing! But we’ll miss the bigger prize that comes from keeping our focus where it ought to be.
Some of us have not even recognized, not remembered our heart crying out, “Let me inherit a double portion!” and some of us may never have gotten to the point of using words. But that cry really is in your heart.
May I say this to you: Father heard that cry, and it made his heart skip a beat to hear it! This is HIS heart’s desire, children that want more of him, more of his anointing, more of his ways! So it is with giddy joy that He is permitting the distractions: we really have asked a difficult thing, a thing that is only given to overcomers, and so he is giving us opportunity to overcome.
All that is hard to see, but the other part is more hidden. Father stands back and watches, biting his lip, to see if we’ll maintain our focus, to see if we’ll look past the distractions and the discouragements and see the thing he’s doing. But all the while, his other hand is reaching around behind us, touching us, pointing, drawing our attention, even occasionally grabbing our head and pointing it where we need to be looking. He’s doing everything in his formidable power to keep our attention where it needs to be in order that he can have the joy of giving us the double, the triple portion, beyond everything that our heroes and forerunners have had.

He really wants to have a bride that is not completely distracted by the trials, by the conspiracy of distractions, by the complications and nattering voices. He will have a bride that will overcome, and he wants you.

He’s conspiring, conspiring in favor of the cry of your heart.

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Devotionals, Letters

Dead Raising of Another Sort

One of the quietest places for a prayer walk is, at least in my town, the local cemetery. The neighbors don’t seem to be annoyed by my talking out loud in their yard.
I’d been walking in cemeteries all that spring and summer, just wandering around their back sections, talking with my Father. I usually chose the sections where all the gravestones are flat with the grass, simply because I didn’t need to go around them, so I was walking over peoples’ names. Occasionally one would catch my attention and I’d look closer.
Finally, the obvious occurred to me: ask God why this is catching your attention! Oh! There’s a radical thought. So I asked. “Father, why is Jacob Thompson’s grave marker catching my attention so much? What’s up with Jacob?”
In reply, I felt Father’s grief; Father was broken-hearted about this man, who had lain buried here for forty years, and he was sharing his broken heart with me. I felt honored, but I had to admit that I was also confused.
My first thought was that the man died in his sins, and was headed to hell, but it was not that. Father told me some things about his life: he was a Christian, and he loved God. In fact he was a prophet. But the church that he was connected with neither respected nor received prophetic gifts, and so his gift was never used, never really even activated.
Jacob Thompson had carried his gift to his grave, still wrapped, still unopened. This grieved Father.
I have to admit, I felt a little relief. If he was in hell, I knew that was really bad, and I didn’t have a clue how to deal with that. This didn’t feel quite as bad as that.
But I knew enough to realize that if Father were telling me about it, then there was something he thought I could do about it. So I asked. And he gave me a Bible lesson that was unlike any Bible lesson I ever heard in church.
I’ve taught often enough about Spiritual Gifts, and he reminded me of one of the things I teach in those lessons: spiritual gifts are exercised through an individual, but they aren’t for the good of the individual. They’re for the church.
In 1 Corinthians 12:7, Paul teaches us that “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” Peter supports the idea in 1 Peter 4:10: “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” The gifts God has given us are only for us to steward, and the goal is the profit of the whole community.
Principle #1: The gifts belong the community, though they’re exercised often enough by individuals.
Principle #2: gift has a metron, a “sphere of influence.” This is part of my teaching on gifts. Some are local, some are regional, a few are national, and a very few are global. Reinhard Bonnke’s ministry is global. Mine is not. As I reflected on Jacob’s gift, it seemed that his prophetic gift was given to the church in his city.
So Jacob Thompson had taken a gift belonging to the church of his city to the grave. That felt something like stealing: taking somebody else’s gift, and essentially throwing it away unused. That’s not good.
Next, standing in front of Mr Thompson’s name in cast bronze, Father took me to Romans 11:29: In my NKJV it says, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (The KJV uses that curious term, “without repentance!”)
I stood there, thinking about what “irrevocable” meant. If nothing else, it means that once the gift has been given, it stays given. That means once a gift has been given to the church of a city, that gift stays given. Jacob’s prophetic gift was not his possession, when he took it to the grave, it belonged to the church in his city.
Principle #3: Once given, a gift is never taken away.
Jacob was dead. He couldn’t use a prophetic gift any more. But the church in that city was notdead, and they most certainly coulduse a prophetic gift.
This kind of stuff scares me a little. I could tell we were heading outside of the box, and it’s so far outside of the box of “normal Christianity” as I’d always experienced it, that it felt strange, wrong, cult-like. But it had three things going for it: God was speaking it, the Word supported it, and it was relatively solid logically, given the things the Word had to say about it.
I stood there and discussed it with Father some more, letting him walk me through this radical conversation a second time, and a third. I may be delusional, but at least it was consistent.
So what can I do about that? I was aware that Job 22:28 said, “You will also declare a thing, And it will be established for you,” but I also knew that this was the teaching of Eliphaz the Temanite, who had already demonstrated he had a lousy understanding of God. Fortunately, this time, he’s backed up by Jesus himself: “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” [Matthew 21:22].
Conclusion: That which has been taken away can be returned.
So I prayed, and declared a thing: that Jacob’s gift would be returned to the church in his city, and that they’d use the gift, and find profit in it. That was all.
I had a vague sense of something flashing out of the ground, and flying off to somewhere else. More significantly, I felt like I was done with Jacob Thompson. Whatever was holding me there about him wasn’t holding me any more.
I spent a good bit of time debriefing about this interesting incident with Father, and later, with some apostles and prophets I respect. And they didn’t freak out. They reminded me that JohnG Lake’s grave site in Spokanehas been a popular tourist destination, and a lot of people have lain on it, asking for the gift that he carried be imparted to themselves. And a lot of times, it seems that it has happened.
Since then, I’ve had a number of other walks in cemeteries, but they’re more distracting now. One time, I prayed to restore a whole flock of gifts to the Chinese church in the region. Another time, gifts were restored to the local longshoremen. 

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