Many of you know that I do not come from a Christian tradition that is inclined to put a lot of serious stock in prophetic words. By this I am not referring to eschatology but rather to prophetic gifting and hearing God speak to you through others, especially others who are part of a group or church that exercises "all the gifts of the Holy Spirit." I do not think of myself as a denominational charismatic but I have been open to all that God gives to his church for some years. Over the course of the last ten years I have "heard" God speak to me in some ways that I would never have understood in the past. I now am gaining discernment in how to listen and to respond. At the same time, God is sending people into my life almost every day who affirm this calling and speak words of faith and hope to me. Some of these people tell me I am to exercise a prophetic ministry. I do not know all this entails, but I believe I am already doing this so far as I can tell. This is not a reason for any pride anymore than if I said I had a gift of teaching, which I also have, and that I am using it and finding God blessing it, which he is. 

I think non-charismatics have so many wrong ideas about all of this, that they simply react to stereotypes and false ideas much more than they listen to what is real. I know nut-ball practices when I see them. But I also know that living only in the realm of the mind is fruitless in a way that brings real spiritual deadness. I want to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. By the way, I have never been deeply impressed with the arguments against hearing God speak in our time that are offered by cessationist theological argumentation.

So whatever exercising a prophetic ministry means, I am learning to embrace the prophetic words that God gives to me. I mentioned a few weeks ago that Brother Yun gave me four such words. All rang true with me and each, in different ways, helped me to pursue new depths of grace. Last evening I was invited by a fellowship in a suburban Chicago setting to a lovely meal followed by a time of praise and communion. We ate, talked, worshiped and shared in the body and blood of Christ. Then I spoke. Finally there was prayer over me. Someone came to me after the closing prayer and gave me a written sheet of paper with the three words that she heard spoken about me in the prayers of the people. (What a marvelous gift that was to me that someone wrote these three words down.)

Tonight I looked over what was said to me and read the following:

1. The word clarify stood out in the whole evening. God is going to clarify things for me in terms of my calling and ministry more than ever.

2. I have been given a shield of faith to extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one. I am to make sure that I use this in the days ahead. I am not to depend on my flesh to fight my battles.

3. Someone saw me as a plant in a pot and said God wanted me to know that it was not an accident that he had called me to spend my entire adult life in the Wheaton, Illinois, area. He has a role still for me in this unique "religious" setting.

Some of you might say, "What's the big deal? You could get all three of those messages without a prophetic word?" I say, "Yes and no." Yes, I knew all were true before last night, but the urgency of them was called to my mind and heart, and this led me to pray in a fresh and focused way all day. And I would not have realized how important these things were right now without this "ministry." I am sure, as I have learned, that events will now unfold that will prove these words to be what God wanted me to hear.

My ministry is still undergoing a unique remaking in these days. I believe I know what God has called me to do, but I am waiting to see how this will actually happen. Brother Yun was clearly a major step in this direction. Sunday night at Wheaton College, especially when we ended on our faces seeking God in earnest prayer, was another step. God is "clarifying" some ministry issues for me for sure. He is also assuring me that he is with me and that he will not abandon me in the work to which he has called me. For now I will say little more than this – my faith has been tested, but God is proving himself faithful to me and Anita like we have rarely seen before. Sometimes you have to have things taken away from you to really know how he provides. Sometimes you must trust in new ways to see new blessings. I am hungry to know him. I am desperate to see his blessings flow through my life. I believe God spoke to me three different times in the last month through prophetic ministers and ministries. If this is not the Lord then I would be most surprised.

If you are not acquainted with this kind of ministry then I urge you to seek the Lord. Ask him to not only listen to your prayer but to speak to your heart. Be open to what others might say, knowingly or unknowingly. He may even have a word to give you that you are neither eager to hear nor ready to respond to. But he never turns away those who come to him with real hunger and thirst. I know this from almost sixty years of experience.

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  1. Phil Miglioratti October 14, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    One does not need to be “denominationally charismatic” to believe in and benefit from authentic (meaning, Holy Spirit initiated) prophetic words. These “words” are not in the same league as holy scripture (God’s accurate and authoritative word for all people in all cultures in every age of history). They are gifts from the Spirit; to affirm and bless and serve as precursors for God’s future direction in your life and ministry. Sometimes they simply serve as “hang-on and hang-in” until the Lord reveals the next chapter.
    Prophetic words, from trusted and seasoned Christ followers, are to be welcomed, discerned (through prayer and scripture and counsel), enjoyed, and in his timing, gloriously expressed!

  2. Chris October 15, 2008 at 8:15 am

    I confess! I sneek peak and read your blog often. I love it. Keep posting. I think your experiences are within Vern’s P.
    Reformed understanding of gifts:
    I would be interested in you interacting with him. I think it is very balanced article allowing for your experiences on biblical grounds.
    Thanks for your posts. I am encouraged.

  3. Chris Criminger October 15, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Hi John,
    Desperation leads to revelation. I am thrilled with what God is showing you and taking you deeper in the life of the Spirit (which always involves the prophetic).
    I’m sure some who have no experience of what you are speaking about may warn you about the dangers of your experiences (which ironically is an argument from others lack of experience).
    All I can say is ‘keep in step with the Spirit’ and there is ‘more,’ a whole lot more . . .

  4. jls October 15, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Recently, I too have experienced the Spirit speaking to me through people and circumstances in ways that, if I had heard someone else describing it to me in the past, I would probably dismissed it as unbiblical fantasy. Here is a principle that has proven helpful to me in discerning if and how the Spirit is leading. If I stand at a fork in the road, and one direction looks easy but the other direction looks difficult, God probably wants me to choose the difficult path.

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