Tag Archives: prophecy

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.


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).