Thursday, April 3, 2008

Prophecy - Flushing the Ducky

Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. (1 Th 5:19 NIV) KJV says, "Despise not prophesyings."

Something that you need to know about me. I tend to react to things and not respond to them. I know it is a fault. I even know it hurts people around me. I try and try to keep it uppermost in my mind so that I remember to slow down and respond wisely to someone instead of reacting immediately to them, but unfortunately my system seems to be wired to react first and think later.

So when leaving our old group behind I wanted to distance myself from EVERYTHING that I had learned there. This was true especially of those things which I had struggled so hard to believe and live under.

Prophecy was one of those things. I wanted NOTHING to do with it anymore. Even the other day when I posted about how it still shakes me, I felt myself reacting to it. I want to push it away. Not deal with it. It goes beyond throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water. I also want nothing to do with the soap, the towels, the little spongy thing that the baby lays on, or the rubber ducky floating innocently on the surface of the water. I HATE THOSE DAMN DUCKS!!

See. I am crazy.

I am keeping my ear to the ground (in a Google kind of way) for those who are begining to write about spiritual abuse. The other day I read still another story of a woman who was dealing with this whole subject of prophetic utterance, the devastation it caused a beloved friend and how she is now dealing with it in her life. I can so relate to these stories.

Husband and I talked a bit about it the other day. We talked about those who had prophesied over our lives. We have some great stories. I forget so many of them.

There was the man who early in our lives here prophesied that our sons would be like trees, grounded and established in God’s love. Well unbeknownst to him, we had daughters – not sons. But unbeknownst to me, 9 years later we would have 3 more children – all sons.

Then there was the preacher who stopped in the middle of a service and came to Husband and said, I don’t know if this will make any sense to you but I see you in a sort of office….or closet….no it’s an office – but it seems to be a closet too…..oh well never mind….. on the 2nd floor of a house. God wants you to know that he is not punishing you for bringing you out of full time ministry but is instead answering the very prayer that you prayed in that closet. The preacher then went on to pray the exact prayer that my husband remembered praying one day about 3 years before. The closet was a dormer that was used first as a small study and later closed in as a walk-in-closet. The prayer was that he was willing for God to do anything that it took for him to know Father better. This very act, released my husband out of a dark, dark, depression and back into relationship with a loving Father who was not angry at him.

Then there was the quiet humble man who looked at Husband and said, “I see you on a roof – Do you do some sort of Construction?” Husband owned a chimney sweep company at the time. That prophet went on to “read our mail” and give great encouragement.

Then the last time was a big black Prophet man who came into our home. He prayed with us and then said, “You have a daughter who is causing much heartache.” We laughed/cried and asked if he wanted to meet her. We brought our daughter down to him. He gently asked her some questions, told her that he didn’t want the “spiritual” answers, told her that he was grateful that she was honest and then assured her that God always would be there for her and would always love her. After dismissing her he told us that we were going to have to let her go and find God. Another sermon from us was not going to change her heart. We could trust Father to chase after her and be there for her. From that point on we were changed. Peace flooded our home and our hearts from that day even till now.

We have seen major prophetic stuff. We are privileged and when I recount these things, blessed.

But we have seen horrendous things too. The same kind prophet that spoke over our daughter later prophesied from the front stage of our ‘church’ that the Apostle and his wife and their children were “The Royal Family”. They were Royalty and should be treated as such. We have heard the same prophecies of, “This is the year God is going to release great wealth” or “2000 whatever (Pick a year – any year – in fact each year) is the year of breakthrough” or “God is establishing his kingdom on earth in the governing body of Apostles and Prophets of this movement.”

How can fresh water and salt water flow from sometimes the same well? How do you tell the difference? How can you keep some that brought so much health and throw away the rest that brought so much death?

I don’t’ know the answers to those questions. I only know this. I can’t throw my brain and spirit away in the process. I am required to do what the verses following the ones that say we shouldn’t despise prophecy say:

(1 Th 5:21 NIV) Test everything. Hold on to the good.

For me, this is easier when I am one on one with a prophet. I think I am mostly done with “stage prophecy” – that done on a stage where often there is money involved. I realized, in those prophecies where we were truly touched – each one of them had the same similarities:

- They told us something that only we were knowledgeable of – that the prophet had no way of knowing – before going on to encourage us with what God wanted us to know. We felt the prophet must be hearing from God to be able to have this information about our lives.

- They were not directive – they were encouraging. They didn’t demand that we DO something to prove that we believed. They were strictly for our encouragement. For building up. For strengthening.

- There was no money involved. No ego trips.

- They were personal

- Because it was personal and not public, we were free with each one to go – “No, that does not sit right with me.” We had the time and freedom to test each one.

- No one was going to further “their ministry” or schedule more conferences because of their insight into our lives.

I would love to know the similarities that you see to the true prophetic words that you have received over your lives. Do you have more to add to my list above? Do you have any good examples of what I call “Stage Prophecy?” Husband, am I missing some valuable “Stage Prophecy” that you can remember? I would love to hear your stories.

But as for me, and where I am now with the whole prophetic thing – trying to respond and not react …..Maybe I’ll keep the duck.


Ruth said...

Barb thankyou for giving such a true and in depth description about how prophecy can look.

I don't have experience with "stage prophecy" but I do with the personal kind that you are talking about. And yes - that is exactly how I have seen the Lord work and it is soooo awesome. I have seen it work within groups of people who are not necessarily established prophets who are just humbly seeking the Lord together.

There is an group that started from a church in Tacomma called "Jesus Ministry"

I have been to their conferences and gotten much teaching and personal freedom. It's hard to put briefly into words what they are about but the name "Jesus Ministy" is fitting. You have to check out the website to undertand more.

The prophetic and spiritual warfare part of the ministry has to do with praying with trained prayer teams to reveal strongholds and to help the person pray repentance to receive freedom and then pray blessing over the person. Everytime I have had this prayer it has been in the way that you described Barb.

I think that the Lord speaks to what is in our heart more than anything else. When you have this prayer it feels gentle and humble. You have this sense that the Lord knows you intimatley. It's a very naked feeling.(in a good way)

Maria said...

I'm with you on the personal/private vs. stage prophesy, though I haven't had a lot of experience of the latter. I have a friend who is very prophetically gifted, and she always asks permission before sharing an insight that she's receiving. I think that demonstrates the gentleness and humility that need to accompany such a powerful gift. Anything that doesn't come with that kind of attitude, I'm not too inclined to pay a lot of attention to.

Sarah said...

When I read your post, one word came to mind: mixture.

I think the hardest thing for me has been to see the anointing of the Holy Spirit truly move through someone in one moment, and in the next to see some human agenda come from the same person (even under the guise of a 'word from the Lord'.)

This is why I am such a strong advocate of discernment and testing/weighing things for ourselves as Paul exhorted us! For too long, we've neglected this responsibility, and the prophetic voices are not held accountable as a result. This really ought not be! It doesn't help us, and it doesn't help our propheticly gifted people either.

God's gifts are irrevocable. I believe it is possible to use the gift to promote oneself (or a certain ministry) into a position of status and power. This is just a sign of great immaturity (spiritual immaturity - character issues). It's part of the merchandising of the things of the Spirit. I can understand your revulsion of that and share it.

But I find it interesting that even in the first century church, there were those who used the gospel for their own gain and it didn't deter Paul. He kept on being and modelling authentic leadership (suffered greatly, fathered the church, paid his own way) in the midst of all those others who called themselves apostles for their own gain. I believe the same is true for the prophetic.

When pondering your question about the platform, I thought about a very few instances where I think it might have been good. That's when the message was prophetic in nature (not a "thus sayeth the Lord, this is a prophecy" word), but a corporate exhortation or teaching that came directly from God's heart. And it served the hearers and facilitated them to respond to the Lord.

Although I think the platform requires a level of integrity and maturity that we haven't required from our propheticly gifted people, I am not yet willing to say that because something is delivered from a platform, that fact invalidates it. Again - the heart is everything, not outward forms!

(Although I sometimes think we in North America need to burn the platform just to make a clean break from all the self-promotion and empire-building!) Because if the prophetic is not about serving and facilitating others - then it is mixture. Jesus came to serve.

Erin said...

Are you "reading my mail" again?

I can't tell you how I have struggled with this same exact thing. I have met God in this gift some times, but more times it has left me feeling dirty...manipulated and ashamed, sometimes violated. I have gone in circles trying to find the place of balance and peace, but haven't found it on this issue, yet. I'm strongly tempted to toss the duckie entirely.

I like what Sara said about needing to burn the platform...because when it IS empire building, it has got to go. A certain way to ensure that is to remove the platform.

I'm not sure personal (private) prophecy is any good, either, because I experienced such deep manipulation in that...people deliberately exposing other people's secrets and stuff, and I know it's all dependent on personal experience, but mine was rarely good.

And I hate feeling that way.

Anonymous said...

My experience with prophecy is a mixed bag....stage and personal, good and bad.
Having been mentored by a friend in the prophetic, who was so focused on encouraging me to hear Him, to build my own relationship with Him. I saw many gross deeds done via prophecy, that I totally know where you are coming from.
Yet, without the encouragement that I had through prophecy, would I be here now? Probably not.
I love the prophetic, but in it's true encourage and build up. Anything else is not worth listening to....imo.
I think that the 'power of the platform' has destroyed many good people...
The stuff you wrote about in your last post, prophecy and spiritual mapping...I have been involved in it too. I have come to many of the same conclusions you have...that's it's more about focusing on evil than on Jesus.
Yet, there are truths in those teachings as well. But maybe it's been used all wrong? Not sure..but unwilling to throw it out hook,line and sinker.
Round about way of saying...I'm still mulling it over? :)

Sarah said...

I like what Che said. In its pure form, every function (from Eph 4) is a function that is other-focused and servant-focused. If it's not about facilitated and encouraging others, its worthless.

Jeannette Altes said...

I think, as a general rule, the 'one on one' versus 'stage' prophecies is spot on. I am glad you quoted the passage that says, "test everything, hold on to the good."

The church I came out of 'lived' on prophecies. One of my assignments, as a leader, was to take the recordings of each service and transcribe the prophecies and keep them in a book for the pastor, his wife, etc. I made a copy for myself and still had it when I left.

After I left, I was not too interested in prophecies for a while. After several months, however, God brought them to my mind and had me read a specific one. I almost freaked out, still being afraid to challenge the 'prophecies' for fear of fighting against God. He spoke to me and told me, flat out, that not all those 'prophecies' were from Him.

One of the things I noticed was that the ones that I believe were from Him were the ones that encouraged and lifted. The ones I think were not were the ones that challenged you to 'come up higher' implying you were never quite doing enough.

I also realized that this ministry has had a lot of 'prophecies' spoken over it and the pastor and his wife have, if effect, begun to worship the prophecies more than God, trying to make the prophecies come true and forgetting the most important thing about pastoring a church - the people.

Someone told me, once, concerning prophecy, that the best rule of thumb to use when judging them is: if they confirm something you already had in your heart, becoming a second witness (in the mouths out 2 or 3) then take it and receive it. If it tells you something that never crossed your mind before, be suspicious.

It is sad that the gifts of God are used to manipulate and abuse His children.

Anonymous said...

I think you nailed it in your "bullet points" about what genuine prophecy looks like.

I, too, like other commenters, have experienced the good and the bad in prophecy. I have experienced the temptation to make up a word of "prophecy" to speak it to others. I have experienced prophecies in which I experienced that "inner burning" that confirmed it as God. I have experienced prophecies that I knew so strongly (and instantly) that it wasn't of God that I wanted to puke.

Mostly, I do think that "stage prophecy" is suspect. And certainly if it is in any way tied to furthering one's financial situation (that of the prophet, I mean), it is out of line. Freely we receive, freely we give, I remember Someone once saying...

(Incidentally, that's why I don't charge for my public music ministry, nor do I ever mention my CDs from the stage, nor do I withhold CDs from someone who doesn't have the money to pay for them. It keeps me from tying my ministry to finances in my own spirit.)

Thanks for sharing so boldly on this touchy issue. For those of us who have experienced church life where prophecy is "worshiped", we can certainly relate to even the fear of questioning the practice itself.

One of my most memorable personal experiences was when I went to the front of a church for prayer. Having had several "experiences" at the front, I desperately did NOT want another "experience". I wanted personal relationship with God.

And when the man praying came to me, he leaned close and whispered, "God doesn't want to give you another experience. He wants to give you relationship."

I fell to my knees weeping and praising the Father I knew could hear me and who loved me beyond measure.

As to the fact that one (like that particular man) can speak from God in one instance and so obviously speak from his own motives in another does not negate the gift. In my opinion, it simply demonstrates very clearly that it is the Spirit of Christ who gifts for the necessary moment, and not a particular human who is "gifted" in every situation.

Tyler Dawn said...

Hi Barb, just coming back from my blogging vacation and it was good to read this because I struggle too.

I have not "read anyone's mail" in years and to be honest I am scared to now. I wonder how many people I have screwed up over the years by adding myself into the equation.

It is hard to find the truth when it is just sitting there wrapped up and mixed up with all of the lies. I guess we all need a season of purging so that we can finally come into more of the truth and less of the lies. I wish I could get into that place. I am still often very frightened.