Category Archives: Prophetic Ministry

The Bride and the Wedding to come

I have had a series of dreams over the past several weeks about the Bride of Christ and the wedding feast that is coming. This past week I had two such dreams, on separate nights, that were very similar. As I reflect on these dreams I am convinced that they contain significant messages, not just for me but for the people of God. In this blog I want to relate the core details of the two most recent dreams. 

The main character in the dreams was a young woman who was looking forward to her wedding. She was also a student who was trying to complete her studies. Her immediate challenges were filling her sights so that she couldn’t really focus on the joy of the wedding to come.  She was discontent and in distress because her circumstances were not perfect. She had goals that she was afraid she would not be able to achieve.

I knew that this young woman represented the Bride of Christ. She had a glorious future. She was destined to wear a crown of glory. But all that seemed very far off, and at the moment, her immediate problems were dominating her life. The crown she was wearing at the moment was not a crown of glory and beauty but a crown of fear and worry.

It’s as if she were saying “God, how do you expect me to get ready for our wedding when I have all these problems? Can’t you just fix the problems for me now, and make everything right? Then I can get ready for the wedding.” But what she didn’t realize was that the trials and tests and hardships were not a mistake and they were not an accident. They were planned by God as part of her maturing process. They were part of the beauty preparations that the King had provided for her. How she responded to the testing would determine the level of beauty and glory that would be formed in her.

One of our elders spoke to our church last week about the process of Christ being formed in us. Christ’s beauty is formed in us is as we respond to him in love and faith in the midst of testing and hardship.

Then the scene shifted and now it was the day of her wedding. She had come through the tests as pure gold, and she was radiant. She was dressed in white and was wearing a beautiful golden crown that was studded with gems. In the dream she was approaching a throne, in her wedding dress, and Jesus was on the throne. She laid her crown at His feet and knelt before Him. He placed it back on her head and raised her up to stand at his side. Her heart towards Him was to worship and adore Him, and His heart towards her was to raise her up to stand beside Him as his partner.

One day we will stand before Him in white and we will be wearing a crown of love and devotion and glory and honour and we will lay that crown at His feet and crown Him with it. But as we lay those crowns at His feet He will give them right back to us, and take our hand and invite us to stand beside Him.

We’ll say to Him “Jesus, you are so worthy. The glory belongs to You alone”. And we’ll bow down and lay our crowns at His feet.

And He will take our hand and raise us up again, and He will say to us, “My bride, you are so beautiful to Me. I want you to share My glory”.

That’s where we are going.


Dream for the Bride

As I lay sleeping last night, towards morning I had a dream.

I was at a social gathering in the home of a friend, and I was introduced to a beautiful young woman. She had olive skin, was dressed very simply and modestly but I remember knowing somehow that she was a princess or some other very significant person, who was destined to fulfil some great purpose. She was very self-assured, but also quiet and calm. When I spoke to her, she paid attention to what I had to say as if it were of great importance. This was more than superficial politeness. She seemed to possess genuine humility along with confidence.

Almost immediately after being introduced to this beautiful young woman, I began to speak a message from God to her. Although we were in a social gathering it was as if I was speaking to her alone and had her complete attention. No-one else could hear, but she was hearing and taking in every word. It was as if Jesus was speaking directly to her through my words.

This was the message that I spoke to the young woman in the dream.

The word that is in you is a treasure. Treasure it above all things. Store it up and pay careful attention to it, for it is your life. It is alive, it is powerful, it holds the keys to life and death. It is more precious than gold or diamonds or wealth or fame or any other fortune. Do not let other voices distract you from this word. It is more important than anything else in your life. Days are coming when everything will be shaken, everything will shift, nothing will stay the same. In these days of shifting you will live from the word I have given you. It will be your anchor in the shifting and will keep you stable and secure. It will be your life, and you will feed on it and nourish many others. It will be your food and drink, it will give you life in time of famine and danger, and in the hidden place you will shelter many and give life to many because of the word that I have given to you – a word of life, hope, warning, direction and promise. Pay attention to this treasure, learn to know it well, guard it carefully, for nothing in your life is as important as this word that is in you.

After I had finished speaking to the young woman she went off to prepare for some sort of voyage. It seemed she was being taken somewhere in a car. At the time I didn’t know where she was going, but as I began recording the dream, I thought about the woman in Revelation 12:6 who was taken into the desert for a season to be sheltered in a place prepared by God, and I realized that this message was of great importance to the young woman because she was about to enter a season of intense testing.

There were a couple of older women present – I think they were guardians or mentors of the young woman – and they asked me what I had told her. I don’t remember answering them, but their question somehow alerted me to the power and significance of the message that I had spoken to the young woman. Although I was still asleep, in some way I also began to realize that this was a dream, not an actual waking conversation, and that I needed to communicate this message to the person for whom it was intended. So I asked the Lord (still in my dream, still asleep), “Who is the young woman in the dream? Who is this message for?” At first I was thinking that it must be a message for some specific young woman, and I saw the face of my own daughter, who is twenty years old. But then, one by one, I saw the faces of many other people who belong to him. Almost all of them were young, and I began to wonder if this was a message especially for young people. Then I saw the face of my wife, and realized that it was a dream for the Bride of Christ – for everyone who belongs to Jesus – and that I needed to communicate it to as many people as possible, but that it would be especially significant for the young.

Then I woke up.



Last night I had the strangest dream

I rarely remember my dreams.  When I do, it is usually because they are significant.

This morning I awoke with what seemed like an odd dream fresh in my mind.  In the dream I had travelled on St Patrick’s Day to the border town of Prescott, ON or Ogdensburg, NY (I’m really not sure which – I had the impression that I was in both places at once.  It’s strange what happens in dreams). It seems I was there with a group of friends but I don’t recall any of them. We all went into a large building to get ready for some special activity which seemed very important at the time – I was quite caught up in the excitement and anticipation of it. I remember thinking that I had a lot of money to spend and I felt quite rich. I had several US twenty dollar bills as well as several Canadian twenties and tens in my wallet. I went to what seemed like a ticket counter in this large building and spent quite a lot of my US cash to buy tickets.  When I was about to spend my last US twenty, the ticket guy said to me “You might want to keep that in case you want to go down the street and get pizza later”. When I woke up I realized that the tickets I had bought were all for gambling. I was in a bar where there was going to be a large St Patrick’s Day party.  They were getting the green beer ready.  I had apparently been planning to go along with this group of unknown friends for an evening of drinking and gambling.

Then I woke up. I thought to myself, “Why would I be so excited about something like that?  I think gambling is stupid, it has no appeal at all for me, and while I like the occasional beer, I hate the idea of celebrating St Patricks Day – or any special day – by setting out purposely to get drunk.  Why would I dream about something like that?”

I asked the Lord for understanding because I knew the dream was probably significant. As I prayed, I sensed that if I began journalling,   the meaning would become clear. I started writing and as I wrote, the Holy Spirit began to reveal the meaning of the dream. The interpretation of the dream was fairly detailed and specific but here is the core of it.

This culture is sick and getting sicker. It has traded in almost everything of real value (the money in my dream) for trivialities that are worth nothing at all (the tickets entitling me to gamble : at this point I realized the significance of having kept one twenty for something of actual value – pizza, i.e. real food).  It has believed liars and no longer wants to listen to the truth. It celebrates the feast day of a great, noble, heroic and godly man by getting drunk and gambling away its inheritance in his name. It is no longer worthy of being preserved. It will endure for a while longer because I am giving its people time to wake up before I destroy them.

Not a very encouraging message, you say? That’s what I thought too. All around me I hear sincere, earnest friends in Christ speaking messages of relentless good cheer, and I get this bizarre dream with the sobering interpretation. A lot of my friends already think I’m a bit of a nutbar – what will they think if I proclaim a message this sombre? Yet I have been sitting on a sense of foreboding for several months now – as though things are going to happen in the next few years – big things, momentous things – that will shake our complacent, entertainment-driven, self-preoccupied culture to the core.

I knew it was not insignificant that the dream took place in a border town. I had the sense that the dream straddled both countries, and as I prayed the Spirit confirmed this perception.

I then asked if there was not some good left?

Yes, there is some good left. That is why I am allowing time for repentance. I still have a remnant in both countries of people who love me. But for the most part both these nations have forgotten what made them great, they have become accustomed to peace and plenty without recognizing the price of integrity and sacrifice that made them strong, and they think nothing can shake them from their secure position.

Even most of my people are asleep. They see my blessings and get drunk on them, and do not realize that it is time to repent. Like Samson with Delilah, they have thought that they could have whatever they wanted with no consequences, and they have been lulled to sleep. They talk of my glory and my Kingdom as if there were no crisis coming. Yet on those who truly fear my name, I will pour out my grace and my power. To those who truly revere my holiness, I will reveal my glory, and they will indeed have entrance into my Kingdom.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not without hope. In fact I am full of hope. I know that Jesus is Lord and that he will reign as undisputed king across the whole earth. I believe in the Kingdom of God – not just an ethereal heavenly realm, but a real kingdom on a real restored earth. I know that God has a relentless, pursuing passion for the people he has made, that he loves to save all who will humble themselves and throw themselves on his mercy. I know that he gave his Son’s life for the world and that he loves to heal broken hearts and restore shattered lives. I know that even now in many places there are outpourings of the Holy Spirit accompanied by signs and wonders and miracles of various descriptions – what the book of Hebrews calls the powers of the age to come. But I also know that our culture has lost its moorings and is rotting at its core, and that debt-fuelled living has made us economically vulnerable despite our seeming prosperity. As well, I know that there is a dark power rising in the Middle East that wants to rule the entire world and is quite seriously bent on destroying Christianity, Judaism and Western civilization. This is no exaggeration. This monster has been biding its time and gathering its strength for a long time and we have for the most part closed our eyes and ears. Soon it will not be possible to do so any longer.

I have been reluctant to speak about such things because I know that the people of God need above all to be encouraged. But what kind of encouragement is it to speak a message of peace when warnings are what is needed?

Around the world – especially in the Middle East and Northern Africa, as well as parts of Asia – Christians are being threatened, persecuted and killed in increasing numbers. In several Western European countries, synagogues are being attacked, Jews feel themselves increasingly vulnerable, and cities have no-go zones where Sharia law rules and police are afraid to go. Yet in comfortable North America we are too politically correct to talk or pray about such things. Maybe it isn’t a positive enough message. But Jesus warned us that such things would happen before he returned. The gospel would be preached to all nations, accompanied by miracles, signs and wonders; and at the same time, persecutions would increase, Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies yet again, a great enemy of God’s people would arise, there would be a final time of conflict and then the Lord would return in power and glory to establish his throne openly on the earth.

I believe in the glory of God. I know the glory of God will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. I know that there is great potential for transformation of lives and communities even now, and I am committed to seeking the welfare of my city and nation. I know the government of Jesus will increase and fill the earth. But my Bible also tells me that this cannot happen without intense testing, purging and shaking. The testing is already underway and it will increase. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

I remember hearing the story of a man who had been a Pentecostal pastor in Germany in the 1930s. Hitler had brought peace, prosperity and order to Germany. As the saying goes, “He made the trains run on time”. Surely all must be well? And if we had reason to believe that maybe everything was not quite so rosy – well, best not to say too much about it.

The church that this man served was close to the railway tracks. On Sunday evenings during their prayer meeting they could hear the trains on their way to the death camps. Although they knew where the trains were going, and also knew or at least suspected what was happening at those camps, no-one talked about it. Instead, they sang louder during their prayer meeting to cover up the noise of the death trains that would later be seen as their nation’s shame.

David Carson, president of Intercessors for Canada, wrote a searching article a few months ago in which he compared the present times to 1938 in Canada. Everything seemed to be going on as normal. Life was quite pleasant for most people. The Depression was coming to an end. Neville Chamberlain came home to Great Britain from meeting with Adolf Hitler and declared, “I believe it is peace in our time.  Go home and sleep quietly in your beds.”  A little over a year later, the world was at war (a war about which I heard many stories from my parents, who at that time were a young engaged couple living in the occupied Netherlands). Among other horrors, six million Jews were killed in the gas chambers. Almost one million Canadians fought in that war – close to ten percent of the nation’s population at that time. And it was not even the final great conflict of history – just an advance warning. You can read David’s article here.

Am I making predictions of specific events? No.  That’s not the message the Lord gave me. He simply told me it is time for the church to wake up and begin recognizing the signs of the times.

A popular message? Probably not. A hopeless message? Certainly not. A necessary message? Yes, I believe so. One of the qualities of the end-times church – the glorious Bride for whom Jesus is eager to return – is that it is a church that prays prayers of prevailing faith. It is time to pray in a way that most of us have probably not prayed before. When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? That’s a question each of us has to answer for ourselves.



Is God real?

Is God real?

I mean, is there actually a living, loving, personal and powerful God who really cares about you – a God that you can connect with, a God that makes a tangible difference in your life?  Is there a God that you can trust to direct your steps and see you through?

Biblical faith is all about relationship.   It’s not an abstract, theoretical faith.  I am grateful for apologists who present a reasoned case for Christianity, but even intellectuals need more than logical arguments to sustain their faith.  God has not designed us to be able to survive on an abstract faith that is never experienced.  Our hearts are not meant to be able to operate that way.  Only a God who makes a tangible difference in our lives will hold most people’s attention for long.  The God of the Bible is a relational God – a God who speaks to people, who interacts with them.  Our hearts long for His touch.  As the Psalmist wrote, my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

I was raised in an atmosphere of skepticism about prayer, spiritual experiences and miracles.  As a young man, although intellectual wrestling was an important part of my journey from unbelief to faith, rational arguments alone weren’t enough to bring me out of the pit of turmoil to the solid ground of confident assurance.  It took a series of encounters with God’s supernatural power to get past my defences and convince me that the God of the Bible was real and alive.  Probably the most pivotal single occurrence was a dream I had twenty-seven years ago that I have never forgotten.  When I went to bed I was not yet convinced that God spoke through dreams, visions and prophecies.  When I awoke, I knew that He had gotten my attention in a simple and unforgettable way about a major life decision.  That dream changed the whole direction of my life, starting a chain of events that led to my salvation.  Since then, there have been several key turning points in my life at which God has broken into my life with a fresh word, bringing hope, encouragement and new perspective.  I am more grateful than words can say for such divine encounters.

The most recent of these encounters came during a recent two-week road trip with my bride in celebration of our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary.  I love road trips, and I had been looking forward to this one for a long time.  After visiting with Simeon, Heather and Sophie (see Life Lessons from Sophie), we went on to spend a weekend at International House of Prayer in Kansas City.  We had brought our daughter Bethany with us (she was a great travelling partner), and all three of us had the opportunity to receive personal prophetic ministry while we were there.

I know that God can speak to me without any human intermediary, and frequently does.  I read my Bible regularly, and His written word provides a solid foundation for my life, and a lens through which I evaluate the many and varied other ways in which He speaks to me.  Still, I count it a great privilege whenever praying, believing people set time aside to hear from God for my life and tell me what He has shown them.  Although I’m no stranger to personal prophetic ministry, I had been looking forward greatly to this aspect of our visit to IHOP, and I was not disappointed.  I found the prophetic ministry wonderfully refreshing, encouraging and confirming.  It was also very simple, calm, and totally free of hype.  Marion, Bethany and I sat down in three chairs, and the two women who were to minister to us sat down facing us.  They prayed briefly and then, in a quiet but confident manner, they began sharing what they sensed the Holy Spirit showing them for each of us.

I won’t give details of what was spoken over my life, because I am still processing it, but let me simply say that it got my attention.  There was nothing spectacular about it – no fireworks, no earthquakes – and yet I knew God was speaking to me powerfully through these two very gentle, unassuming servants.  Marion and Bethany likewise found that the prophetic messages they received were very pertinent to their lives.  Keep in mind that none of us had ever met these two women, and we had given them no information about ourselves, yet they accurately identified several key issues in each of our lives, and spoke truth into situations that they had no way of knowing anything about except through the Holy Spirit.  As for me, they brought Biblically-grounded insight, encouragement, confirmation and clarity to four major areas – my work, my finances, my sense of identity, my relationship with my children.  As I result, I have a fresh awareness of the goodness of God.  I felt as though He were saying to me, “I see your ways – I have my eyes on you, and I have a purpose for every area of your life”.  Of course as a believer in Jesus I already knew this was true, but I now know it in a different way – not only by conviction, but also by personal and recent experience.  God has filled my cup with encouragement and fresh faith, and I am profoundly grateful.

In his instruction to the Corinthian church about the operation of spiritual gifts during their meetings, Paul says that visitors who come into a gathering where the people of God are prophesying will find the secrets of their hearts laid bare, and they will fall down in worship, declaring “God is really among you”.   I didn’t literally fall down in worship, but I did give thanks to God for exposing areas of my heart that needed to be exposed, and speaking life-giving wisdom and truth into my life through loving, trustworthy, faithful servants.  As a result I can say with fresh confidence that God is real and alive, and both speaks and acts on behalf of those who seek Him and trust Him.  As the Psalmist wrote, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a  light to my path.  If you have been wondering whether God sees your pathway, and whether He cares enough to direct your steps, the answer is a resounding Yes.  Yes, He does.  Turn to Him and ask Him to speak to you,  and – one way or another – He will.


O Canada

God keep our land glorious and free.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Did you ever stop to think about what those words mean?  We sing these words every time we sing our national anthem, but are these words true of us?  Are we standing on guard for Canada?

There are different ways of serving your country.  Some serve in the Armed Forces, others serve as Members of Parliament, judges, police officers, and in a host of other ways.  But what about the rest of us?  Can ordinary Canadians stand on guard for our country in a meaningful way?

I believe we can.  There are at least two very simple practices which, if they were adopted by every Canadian who believes in Jesus, could have a huge impact on our nation.

First, we can pray for our government and our political leaders.   They don’t have an easy job.  Scripture specifically commands us to pray for kings and those in authority over us (1 Timothy 2:1-4).  In our modern-day context, that includes politicians.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of this.  Our elected representatives carry a huge weight of responsibility for the wellbeing of our country.  They have to make decisions for the good of the country, province or municipality which they serve.  At the same time, like it or not, they have to deal with the realities of a party system and the pressure to compromise their convictions on key issues.  There are other forms of pressure as well — pressure to become cynical and hardened, to put their own political interests above the interests of the country, to sacrifice their family for the sake of political success.

Prayer is a powerful weapon in providing perspective, strength and wisdom for our leaders.  We should not only pray for our pet projects or issues or our favourite party, but for politicians of all parties — for the salvation of those who don’t know God, for peace and protection over their family life, for wisdom in decision-making, for integrity of heart, for the fear of the Lord.  We are instructed by Jesus to pray for the coming of God’s Kingdom on earth as in heaven.  Let’s pray for government that will move Canada towards the fulfilment of our national destiny as spoken in Psalm 72:8, the prophetic Scripture that gave our nation its original name, the Dominion of Canada.

Secondly, we can stand on guard for our country by guarding our tongues.  To a great extent we’ve become a nation of cynics, critics and complainers.   Christ-followers are called to be of a different spirit, choosing to operate in faith, not cynicism, and to speak with respect about our leaders, even when we don’t agree with their choices.  The Bible warns us to use our tongues wisely, for building up rather than tearing down.  True, we live in a democracy and it is our privilege and responsibilty to speak out for what is good and against what our Scriptures tell us is evil.  Even so, when we speak out we need to learn to do so with courtesy, grace and humility.  Blessing flows when we honour our leaders.  In addition, if we desire to have a voice, we’ll be more likely to be heeded if we speak with respect.

I love my country, and I want to see it blessed.  How about you?  This Canada Day let’s recommit to standing on guard.


Intimacy with God: laying it down

Over the last few days I’ve been wrestling for clarity as to how to respond to a particular situation.  It’s a situation over which I have very little direct influence.  My only real choice is how I respond to the decisions made by someone else in a matter that is very close to my heart.  Lest anyone feel sorry for me and think that I am being unjustly treated, that is not the case.  It’s just not my call.

We all live through these types of scenarios – someone else is making choices that are legitimately theirs to make, their choices will affect us directly, and we are not likely to be consulted.   What is ours to decide is how we will respond.   And when it comes right down to it, our choices are simple.  Either we will draw near to God in faith and obedience, or rise up against Him in rebellion.   This can take many forms of course, but fundamentally these are the only two paths open to us.

Today I went for a walk at lunch hour and as I walked, I listened over and over again to Julie Meyer‘s beautiful song Alabaster Box on my Sony Walkman.  In particular, God used these words from the song to speak to my heart :

So take every song, every spoken word
All of my dance, all of my rhyme
I give it all to you
It’s my fragrant oil, it’s my costly perfume
I take my alabaster box and I break it open

As I walked and listened, I realized that while Julie’s song speaks of offering our abilities and gifts to God in an act of worship, to fully offer myself to Him I need to do the same with my hopes, dreams, and visions.  The Holy Spirit was prompting me to lay down all the specific details of my agenda in this situation, and truly surrender it to him.  He was not telling me that my desires were wrong or that my agenda was bad.  Even so, in order to pray well (which is really the only choice open to me at the moment), I need to lay down every dream and desire, and truly yield it up to Him, trusting that He has a way forward for me.   I also sensed that He was giving me a time period, by the end of which I would know the outcome.  In the meantime I need to keep worshipping Him by letting go.

This is hardly a new insight, but it is a very important one.  Christ-followers often say that we want to know God’s will in a situation, but much of the time the reality is that what we really want to know is whether He is going to do things our way.   But surrendering the situation to Him means dying to the idea that God should do things according to our preferences, and embracing the truth that He really does have a better idea (Isaiah 55:8-9)

So I am going to continue to set my will to surrender this situation to God until my pathway becomes clear.  I’m going to seek to apply the words of Paul  in Philippians 4:4-7 :

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Intimacy with God: obedience

The last few posts on this theme have focussed on why we should expect to hear from God, and some of the ways God speaks to us.   Today I want to look at a different aspect of intimacy.

One of the keys to a truly intimate relationship with God is the issue of Lordship.  We can only expect to have a truly intimate relationship with God if we are willing to do what He says.

We all want peace.   When we first surrender our lives to Jesus, we have peace with God through the benefit of His sacrifice for us.   We have a clean slate.  There is no barrier between us and God, nothing that prevents us from hearing His voice and knowing His love.

So if there is no barrier between us and God, how does it come about that God’s voice gets obscured and hard for us to hear?   How does it come about that we lose our peace and our confidence?

Some may say “Well, the Devil is attacking me”.  Yes, but what basis does he have for attacking you if you are walking in faith and obedience to God?  True, he will try to distract you with confusion, discouragement, and various other forms of temptation, but you can learn to overcome his attacks.

I’m convinced that one of the biggest reasons why we get discouraged is because we have not learned to embrace God’s will without reservation.  In the Garden of Eden, the serpent tempted Eve to doubt God’s goodness.  Ever since then, that has been our biggest downfall.  Even after we come to Christ, we often still fall into old ways of thinking.  We hear from God and set out on a course of action, full of faith.  Then when obstacles come – as Jesus told us was bound to happen – we begin to wonder if God really knows what he is doing.  This is called doublemindedness and it is one of our biggest enemies.

When we put our trust in Jesus and are born again into the Kingdom of God, our journey is only beginning.  We still need to learn to think like citizens of the Kingdom.  If we truly desire intimacy with God, one of the keys is to consciously retrain our minds to adopt the attitude of Jesus who said He could only do what He saw the Father doing (John 5:18-20).

To consistently walk in God’s blessing we have to believe that His will for us is good and we have to actively choose His will.   A lot of people have the mistaken idea that being spiritual means passively resigning ourselves to whatever comes and calling it God’s will.   In reality, the Spirit-led life involves actively discerning God’s purposes by reflection on Scripture and listening to the Holy Spirit, and then choosing to embrace that purpose with our whole heart.

We also have to recognize that there is another agenda at work in the world and that we are constantly being targetted by the Enemy to adopt his agenda.  There really is no middle ground.  The way to overcome Satan’s attacks is to be fully committed to God’s purposes.   If we stay in that place, we will still get attacked, but when the day of evil comes we will be able to stand our ground and win the victory.

Intimacy with God is a wonderful blessing.  It’s a free gift, made available through Jesus’  sacrifice on the cross – but it’s also a daily choice.   This choice will cost us our independence – but the reward is the glory of God.


David Wilkerson’s prophecy of doom

A couple of months ago, David Wilkerson, pastor of Times Square Church in New York City, prophesied that a calamity was soon to come to New York City and other major cities (read his words here).  His prophecy included some specific counsel about preparations that Christians ought to make.   At the time, Marion and I prayed about whether God was calling us to take any action in response to this prophetic word.  We concluded that there was nothing he was calling us to do in response to this particular message.   I did not sense that I was to make any comment about how others should respond, so I said nothing.

Recently our church intercessory team has been studying the topic of prophetic ministry, and during our last meeting, the topic of David Wilkerson’s prophecy came up.   I decided to see what other respected voices had to say about this prophetic message.   I was looking for voices who respect prophetic utterances but also understand the need to test them (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).   So I began with John Piper, and he did not disappoint (see his comments here).  Although he clearly has some concerns about this particular prophetic message, he just as clearly shows respect for the practice of prophecy and for David Wilkerson – all of which reflects Biblical grace and wisdom.

A search for other comments on Wilkerson’s prophecy led me to this blog.   I don’t agree with everything it, in particular the following statement :  “When someone claims they are speaking for God, they had better be not only accurate but absolutely perfect in what they say”.  I believe that under the New Covenant there is room for learning from mistakes as we prophesy.  Because the New Covenant allows all believers to prophesy, and because we all have the ability to discern and weigh prophetic words, it follows that the requirement of absolute accuracy in prediction does not apply to New Covenant prophecy.

Still, public predictive prophecy from a respected Christian leader – especially with dates attached – is a serious matter because of the potential for such words to cause disillusionment and discouragement to believers if they are not fulfilled.   I remember a time, over 15 years ago, when I unintentionally caused significant discouragement to a young Christian who looked to me for spiritual guidance.  She was discouraged in her faith because of a prophetic word that I gave her regarding her husband’s salvation.  The word was meant to be encouraging, and at first she took it as such, but when it was not fulfilled her faith suffered a severe blow.  Looking back I realize that on that occasion I prophesied out of my own desire as much as out of the leading of the Spirit, and because my words were not fulfilled, she experienced significant disillusionment.

I learned much from reflecting on this experience.  Mistakes are part of the learning process in New Covenant prophecy, but we need to be careful about predictive prophecies.  Before embarking upon the proclamation of predictive words, leaders need to learn to distinguish the thoughts and words that arise out of of their own soul from the thoughts and words that come from the Holy Spirit.  If we do not learn to do this, the sheep may end up being discouraged and confused rather than built up.

That’s why I included a link to yet another blog post on this topic.  This particular blog is interesting because it lists some of David Wilkerson’s past prophetic utterances.   Again I don’t agree with everything in this post.  In particular, this writer is not balanced in his assessment of what the New Testament says about the future state of the church, focussing only on the Scriptures that warn of apostasy, not those that speak of the glorious bride.  This causes him to dismiss too quickly David Wilkerson’s teaching on this subject.   But on the issue of David Wilkerson’s prophetic track record, this blog gives me cause for concern.  Of course we all make mistakes, and we all are in need of both grace and mercy at all times.  Still, when high-profile Christian leaders repeatedly prophesy disasters that do not occur, their credibility suffers and so does the credibility of prophetic ministry in general.

My own conclusion about David Wilkerson’s prophecy of March 2009 has not changed.  He may well be right, or at least partly right.  I do not doubt that God can use this prophetic message to cause many to examine their hearts.  At the same time I’m skeptical about the reliability of the details.  I’m not saying they’re wrong; but neither do I have an inner witness of the Holy Spirit in my spirit that this is a prophecy to which I should pay special heed.  So I’m going to put it on the shelf and wait to see what God reveals – but I’m not going to dismiss the warning of impending judgment.  Whether or not this particular word is accurate in all its details, we all need to take seriously the warnings in God’s word of increasing disturbances in the Last Days.  But we also need to remember his promises to protect his own.   We are called to walk not in a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).


Intimacy with God: some ways God speaks

So much could be said about this topic that I can only scratch the surface here.   For anyone who seriously wants to learn more about hearing the voice of God, I’d encourage you to pick up one of the following great books by Larry Kreider, who is a true spiritual father and reliable guide.   Hearing God 30 Different Ways (2005)  and Speak Lord, I’m Listening (2008) are both readable and practical resources to build your faith as you seek to hear God’s voice.

With that disclaimer, let’s jump in!

The Bible is full of examples of God speaking in extraordinary and powerful ways at special times in the history of His people.   Here are some familiar examples :

  • The Lord speaking to Moses out of a burning bush ( Exodus 3:1-6 )
  • The Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary when Jesus was conceived ( Luke 1:26-38 )
  • The voice from heaven at the time of Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:16-17)

But even though God can and does still speak in these extraordinary ways, far more commonly he speaks to us in less dramatic ways.

Here are some of the most common ways God speaks to His people today

  • Through the Bible
  • Through dreams and visions
  • Through thoughts, words or images that he places in our minds.
  • God can speak through various spiritual gifts such as words of prophecy, tongues, or interpretation.
  • God can speak through the advice of a friend or even a common everyday conversation
  • Intense emotions, especially when they aren’t related to any obvious external cause, may be a sign that God is getting our attention about something.
  • God can speak to us through His creation.
  • God may speak through a time of prayer and fasting.
  • Journalling can be a powerful tool to help us process what God is saying to us.
  • God can get our attention through “unspiritual” means such as media – billboards, radio, TV, internet, movies, books.  Obviously not everything we experience through the media is a word from God – the vast majority probably is not – yet God has the amazing ability to take a scene from a movie or a picture on a billboard and use it to communicate a powerful message to our hearts.

When God is speaking a personal word to us through any of these means, if we’re paying attention, we’ll sense an inner witness of the Holy Spirit speaking to our spirit.  This helps us recognize that God is trying to get our attention.   This is subtle and easy to miss at first, but with practice we can learn to recognize the inner voice of the Spirit of God.

Jesus says that for those who believe in Him, the Holy Spirit is like a spring of flowing water bubbling up from within us.   This is a very helpful word picture that can help us get used to listening for the voice of the Spirit.  Hearing God’s voice is very different from the process of consciously thinking about and trying to understand a problem or a concept.  The voice of the Spirit often comes as spontaneous thoughts, words or images that have a different “feel” to them than our normal thoughts.   This may happen when we are intentionally listening for God’s voice, but it can also happen when we are focussed on some routine task or activity and our minds are not busy with our own thoughts and agendas.

Many people are concerned that if they open themselves up to the possibility of God speaking to them, they may get deceived.   Yet the ability to hear the voice of the Lord speaking to us personally and intimately is part of our inheritance – it’s part of the promise of the New Covenant.  Here are some safeguards that can guard us from deception.

  • Get to know the written word – the Bible.  It is your plumbline to help distinguish truth from falsehood.
  • Humble yourself before the Lord.  Pride is a major obstacle to hearing from God.
  • Submit your will to God so that your motive is to obey Him no matter what He says.  Doublemindedness is a major cause of deception.  Jesus said that if our eye is single (single focus), our whole body will be full of light.
  • Let the peace of God guard your heart.  If you are hearing from God, there will be a peace – a “rightness” about the message.
  • Seek counsel from other believers whom you know and trust.

If you want to hear from God, the most important qualifications are faith, expectancy, humility and a yielded heart.  Be assured that God loves you and wants to speak to you.  Jesus says that it is normal for His sheep to hear and know His voice.   He says that those who have put their trust in Him are his friends.  So we can be confident that God desires to speak to us daily.   Turn to Jesus and ask Him to speak to you by His Spirit.   He won’t mind if you make a mistake – He is willing to teach you.  Ask others who are more experienced to help you interpret what you sense God saying to you.   God will be delighted that you are unwrapping His most precious gift – an intimate relationship with Him.


Intimacy with God: why it’s possible

In my last post I began looking at the theme of intimacy with God, ending with a brief look at some of the ways God speaks to us.  I’d love to spend more time exploring the awesome variety of ways in which we can hear from God, but first I want to address a very basic question.  Is it even possible for finite, imperfect, flawed human beings to have an intimate relationship with the Creator of the Universe?   Sure, Jesus had that kind of relationship with God, but wasn’t he different?  Should ordinary people like us expect to walk and talk with God on a regular basis?  Shouldn’t most of us be satisfied with a distant, nodding acquaintance with God, crossing our fingers and hoping for the best – that we’ll get His favour rather than the back of His hand?

Sadly, many who have grown up in a so-called Christian culture have never seen intimacy with God modelled, and I’m convinced this is one of the reasons why there has been such a resurgence of interest in Eastern religions and the New Age movement in the last 30-40 years – because the human heart desires an experiential relationship with God, and many will be attracted by a counterfeit especially if the availability of the real thing is not widely known.

But Biblical Christianity – as modelled by Jesus and the apostles – is all about intimacy.  In the rest of this post I want to take a few minutes to persuade you – if you needed persuading – that intimacy with God is what you and I were made for, and that it is both desireable and possible.

The Biblical assertion that humans are made in God’s image tells us that from the beginning, God designed and intended for us to have a close relationship with Himself.  In a powerful word picture found in Genesis 2:7, we are told that God breathed the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils.  Imagine drawing your first breath (as a fully-grown adult, not an infant) and in your first moment of conscious existence you discover the Creator of the Universe right in your face, gently breathing His breath into you.   That’s intimacy!

So, why do we believe intimacy is not possible?  Basically, because we live in a fallen world and our hearts have been damaged by our own sin and the sins of others against us.   We are children of a fallen Adam and Eve, who were tricked by the snake into seeking independence from God, thinking it would lead to freedom.  Instead, it led to bondage.

The amazing good news, though, is that Jesus came to earth to pay the price for sin, and by his wounds we are healed.  He came to restore us, to re-establish intimacy with God.  Yes, intimacy.  He did not come just so that we could be forgiven and go to heaven when we die – as wonderful as that is.  He came so that we could enter into eternal life – the new life of the Kingdom of God – from the moment we first put our faith in Him.

The wonderful good news is Jesus really is the way to the Father, and if we have come to Him to have our sins forgiven and our hearts restored, then there need be no barrier between us and God.   You have a Father who loves you and wants you to walk in a close relationship with Him.  He has given you a guide – the Holy Spirit – who can teach you and instruct you along the way.   In the New Jerusalem we will see God face to face.  Until then, we are on a journey – but it’s a journey that is intended to lead us closer to God, not farther from Him.

In future posts I will explore some of the things we can do to foster intimacy with God.   But the most important single factor in experiencing an intimate relationship with God is faith – the confident expectation that God loves you, has forgiven your sins, and wants you to have a close relationship with Him in which you hear His voice daily.  If that is your desire, He has made it possible.  I was once an atheist, and even after becoming a believer in Jesus, for years I was emotionally distant from God.  But God has healed and restored my heart, and taught me how to receive His love and how to love Him.  I’m still growing, but I can now say with confidence that anyone who is thirsty may drink freely of the water of life which flows from the throne of God (Revelation 22).   Come, Lord Jesus!