Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Prophetic Ministry

Too often Christians misunderstand prophetic ministry. They think that prophetic ministry is spooky or scarey. Many pastors shrink from having prophetic brothers and sisters into their churches because there is a certain amount of control given up when we let anyone minister in our pulpits. This fleshly fear is the kind of insecurity that the Devil plays with in the heart of the pastor or minister. But churches need prophecy. The word of the Lord needs to be shared in the life of the church for the health of the church. Describing the church meeting the apostle Paul writes (1 Cor 14.26) "Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification." NKJV Any restriction on the giftings out of fleshly fear will stifle the church from being "edified" or built up.

Here are some healthy guidelines for prophetic minsitry in the church.

First, prophecy is public. One glance at 1 Cor 14 will clearly tell that all must be able to "say Amen!"ESV to the prophetic word. At CLC we are very leery of any word that is private. Even when Paul was told that he would be bound to prison(Acts 21.11) it was done publicly. This insures clarity and accountability.

Secondly, prophecy in the church must be judged. No word should come forth that is not stood up and examined (1 Cor 14.29). The person at the pulpit who is in charge of the meeting, should acknowledge the Spirit's moving. Too often pastors run away from "hear what the Spirit is saying". Sometimes someone will speak out of emotion, or out of their flesh and not out of the Spirit- it is important that leadership gently confront the speaker in an effort to encourage the gifts but insist upon their genuineness and integrity.

Third, prophecy should flow from a clean vessel. I disregard any prophetic word from a liar, a thief, a greedy heart, or a person in sexual sin. It may be necessary in some circumstances, to restrict prophetic words to those who are known to the leadership.

Fourth, prophecy needs to be pastored. It is too easy to remember wrongly the word spoken over your heart. Emotions run high and cloud our hearing. These days it is easy to get a recorder to get the word exactly right. We ask each person who receives a word to write it down (or better, type it out) and give it to their pastor. That pastor should go over the following things with his sheep. (1)What things were revealed that I understand ; (2) What things were revealed that I do not understand (pray for clarity); (3) what action points are there for the person to perform, (4) What things do they need to trust the Lord for. That directive of the Lord that is honored will be certain to be a blessing.

Prophetic ministry is a powerful tool used to build up the church in it's holy faith. It builds the commodity of hope in the heart of the individual. We all need hope- it is the foundation of faith. And faith is the currency of the Kingdom.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Keep on Keeping on

Certain times in our life are defined by dry heavens. There seems to be no rain, no voice from God, no answers to prayer, and no freedom. These times feel exhausting and laborious. We find ourselves weary in doing good and begin to question all that we have previously learned from our times with God.

These times are a test of our spirits strength and perseverance. They are tedious and seem to be long and drawn out. When we are going through them we have to remember that we are not out of God's line of sight.And we are certainly loved by him during this time.

Apollo 11 had an experience that reminds me of this. As they were orbiting the moon NASA lost communication with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren. the world waited in silence to see if they would emerge on the other side of the moon and reestablish communication. During that phase of the trip the Astronauts went through the dark side of the moon and lost contact with the guiding voice of Houston. The key to surviving the dark side of the moon was to keep doing what you had been trained to do and to keep on doing what you were supposed to do. Any deviation from the plan and they might end up careening through space completely off the mark.

When I am going through these testing times I don't change very much. I might intensify my prayer life but that is about it. I do everything in my power to stay on course. Of course, my emotions can get the best of me at times and I can fail or sin. This reveals weakness in me and in my character. Thankfully, God is forgiving and merciful - Always. I learn through these times what I am made of.

Eventually I know that I will pass outside of the dark side and communication will be reestablished. What a sense of relief! What a sense of victory! But until then, we keep on keeping on.