Tag Archives: Prayer

Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice of the Church (Part 4)

Whenever God speaks he speaks truth, whether it is in Scripture or through a personal prophetic word. He cannot lie. If a revelation is from God, it is true and we can therefore put our full faith in it. God is infallible, but we are not. Therefore we must learn to test what we think we have heard.

When God speaks we can mess up what we hear if we are not careful. Every prophetic word has three parts: (1) the revelation—what is said, (2) the interpretation—what it means, and (3) the application—what we are to do about it. We can mess up revelation by not hearing correctly or adding to it. We can also mess up the interpretation by not asking God what he meant, choosing instead to go with what we know from past experience or personal knowledge. And we can mess up the interpretation by a misinterpretation of the action God expects or desires.

Let me illustrate what I mean. I love to teach. I enjoy the research and the process of putting together information to share with others through speech or in a book. Over the past few years, God has given me opportunities to teach in Romania, Germany, and Mexico. Often what I teach is new to my audience or the way in which I present it is different from what they are used to. In a sense, I am revealing something they might not have known, and in that sense, it is revelation. My purpose is for them to hear what I am teaching, understand it, and know how to apply it in their lives.

For this to happen, I have to have an interpreter to put it into the language of the people I’m speaking to. I only speak English, and I do that with a deep, slow Southern drawl. Most of my interpreters speak English as a second language. They don’t always understand the nuances, colloquialisms, and southern idioms I use. In other words, some of the things I say just does not translate well—or at all. So it is very easy to say something that is extremely vital to the message and then have it misinterpreted because my interpreter is translating word for word—not interpreting or making the proper application.

Several years ago, I was teaching a group of German students about having an intimate relationship with God. I made a statement that communicates well here in the U.S., but when they heard it, they fell apart, laughing hysterically in the aisles. It was not a humorous statement. I was confused—I didn’t know what to do. So, I look at my interpreter with that “please help me—I’m dying here” look.

The statement I had made was: “Too often we don’t share God with others, instead we keep him locked in the closet.” The pastor who was interpreting did it word for word translation, but a closet in German is not a place to hang your clothes, it is the potty—the commode—the water closet. The kids were howling—wanting to know why “my God” was in the bathroom. Needless to say, what I was attempting to communicate was missed. They missed the revelation because my interpreter did not hear what I meant, and thus the interpretation was missed and the application lost.

This happens all the time with personal prophetic words. To fully benefit we must hear the word correctly, interpret the word accurately, and apply the word appropriately. If we hit two out of three—we fail and God’s revelation is missed.

Humility and prayer are the essential tools for hearing revelation, discerning the interpretation, and implementing the application. We have to do the work. We cannot accept a word from someone without humbly asking God, “What does this mean and what am I supposed to do with it.” We must pray over the word to make sure it has been heard correctly, interpreted precisely, and the application is exact—or we miss what God is saying.

The apostle Paul, in the very first epistle he wrote, put it this way, “Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise ( don’t look down on, hold it in contempt, or see it as below your status) prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 NASB).

A Simple Request

Sunday was a great day to worship God. What a privilege it is to gather with brothers and sisters and freely worship God in spirit and truth. We should never take that freedom lightly. We must maintain vigilance and guard it with the same tenacity that those who came before us did. Many sacrificed everything, including their lives for the opportunity to worship God according to their beliefs and conscience. America was founded on this treasured belief. Puritans from England, Huguenots from France, Presbyterians from Scotland, Catholics from Ireland and Spain, and a host of religious dissenters from other countries left their families and their native lands for a chance to freely worship God on the shores of this New World, and so they came by the thousands.

Our nation was birthed on biblical foundations and founded on the belief that freedom of religion is essential in the life of a republic. This Thursday we celebrate the birthday of our nation, but our freedoms are slowly slipping away as we sit idly by thinking it will never happen. Those early settlers and freedom fighters fought the battle of freedom for future generations. They were willing to sacrifice everything so their children could live free. What about you? Many in our nation worry only about today and themselves. If freedom of religion or any of the other freedoms we enjoy as Americans are to endure, we must stop living for today and only for ourselves. We must defend and guard our freedoms so that our children, grandchildren, and those children yet to be born may experience the blessings we have experienced.

God says, “If my people, who are called by my name humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). God calls on the believers of this nation—his sons and daughters—to go after his heart in humility and repentance through prayer. God is calling us to get our lives right (to return to his biblical standard instead of society’s standard) and then intercede for this nation. If sin freely lurks in our hearts as born-again believers, it will arrogantly strut up and down the streets of our nation. The return of a nation to God is always preceded by the cleansing of Christ’s bride—his church. The time has come for God’s people to stand up by kneeling down and confessing our sins and crying out for mercy. When, not if, we do this, God has promised to hear, forgive, and heal this nation. The responsibility for the healing of America rests on our doorsteps—not on the president, the congress, the courts, or any other group clamoring for recognition and acceptance under the law. The law of man can never bring real freedom to any man or woman. True freedom rests only in a relationship with Jesus Christ where we have surrendered everything—including our fleshly desires.

So as you celebrate America’s birthday this week, please take a few minutes and spend it alone with God. Allow him to shine his light deep into your heart. Acknowledge the darkness he shows you and then do the work of confession and repentance. If you are willing to do this, God will do what he has promised. and both revival and awakening will take place in this nation.

But…if all you do is listen to the naysayers and the gloom and doom prophets declaring judgment while screaming derogatory condemnation as you eat another barbeque rib and fork filled with potato salad, it is likely our nation’s birthdays will indeed be limited and the memory of her hallowed and glorious past lost.

The Forgiveness Factor (Part 21)

The final step in total forgiveness is the hardest one. It requires a supernatural amount of God’s grace and a little time. Total forgiveness ultimately requires us to pray for the one who has offended, hurt, or wounded us. “No way!” you may be thinking, “That just too hard! I have been praying since this happened that God would get them—that he would give them what they deserve—that he would judge them for all the pain I have endured. Hey, the shepherd David prayed that way, so why can’t I?”

Jesus put it this way in Matthew 5:43-45a: “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…”


Jesus said to pray for them. No one else will know—just you and God. Try it and feel the freedom as it pours into your soul. Ask God to forgive them, bring them to repentance, and eventually to salvation. Ask God to bless them and yes—even prosper them. This will be very, very tough at first. You may have to go slow, but go no matter what.

There is a progression you can follow that might help you do this. First, pray out of duty. God says do it, so obey. Next, pray out of debt because you understand what Christ did for you. As you do these two things, you will eventually begin to pray out of desire—because you want to. As you obey, God will change your heart and give you his love for the offender. This will soon lead you to pray with delight as love and joy take control. And eventually, your prayers for that person will achieve durability—it will become second nature.

When this happens total forgiveness has occurred. The offense, the wound, or the hurt has been fully healed.

This is a process—something you must choose to do every day. Get ready, the devil will do his best to stir up those old emotions, to convince you to replay the event in your mind, to have a pity party, feel sorry for yourself, and allow the bitterness to creep back in. You must stay vigilant. Remember—forgiveness always comes with a cost. It will cost you a great deal, but the freedom it purchases is priceless!

The Musings of a Madman: The Mystery of Relationship (Part 8)

Once the preparation phase is finished we must actively step into the pursuit phase. Confession of sin has been made, a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit has been poured out in us, and worship and praise is pouring from us. Now is not the time to sit down in the porch swing and daydream about what it must be like to spend time with God. No! We are now all dressed up with somewhere to go.

Pursuit means to chase after someone in order to overtake them—to catch them. Our desire can only be satisfied if we take hold of God—if we pursue him with all our heart, stretch forth with our soul and spirit, and touch his heart in the secret place where he awaits us.

This may mean we push past where we have become comfortable in our quiet time and be willing to step into a realm we have never visited. Many of us are used to putting on a little praise music, reading our Bible, and giving God our grocery list in prayer. We rush in and then race out, without ever really touching God’s heart or having our heart touched in our haste.

Intimacy is about patience and timing. It rarely happens if one of the participants is on a strict or limited timetable. Sometimes—intimacy requires one to simply be still and wait. Most of us are impatient and the art and act of being still is next to impossible. But—it is in the waiting where our desire is truly tested. In those moments, waiting on God, we find out whether or not we are seeking God’s hand (what he can do for us) or searching for God’s heart (who he is). The question at that moment is motive again—why am I here and what do I really want?

If you are willing to pursue God and then wait until you experience his presence, you won’t be worried about the time or if what you are doing is safe. If being safe is your main concern you have not yet become desperate. Desperation drives you out of your safe places and into conditions where you may be vulnerable, unsure, or uncomfortable. God is good, but he is not always safe. There are moments when based on your reasoning and your experience, the next step is not safe. Why?—because you have never been here—at this place—before. True pursuit is filled with risks and genuine relationship with God—authentic intimacy—comes with a cost.

Are you willing to rest quietly—to be still and know that God is God? Pursuit is not always about running after the desire of your heart. Sometimes it is patiently waiting for the moment when everything is right and God is ready to reveal himself. The waiting is never about God’s arrival. No, the waiting is about your arrival—God’s already there.

How Long?

How much longer will we, as the body of Christ, hide like ostriches with our heads buried in the sands ignoring the systematic destruction of our nation? How many more catastrophes like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre will we allow to happen on our watch and do nothing? How much longer will we shed a tear, feel sorry for those involved, duck our heads, and then forget and go on with life, thankful it did not happen where we live or affect our family? How much longer will we do nothing? How long indeed!


How long will be refuse to pray—to cry out for the heart and the soul of this nation? Oh, we can debate how the world did not want God in the schools, but the world did not shut the door. The body of Christ turned the knob and slammed it in retreat, unwilling to stand up and contend for what is right. We abandoned the schools, the government, entertainment, music, and everything else now swirling around the bowl and headed for disaster with our feelings hurt because they did not want us. We—the body of Jesus Christ—have abandoned the walls of that fair city on a hill (a Puritan description of America), and allowed pure evil to scale her walls and stalk her streets. We are the watchmen, the last line of defense for the helpless, the hopeless, and those who have no chance apart from a relationship with Christ. We are the thin line of defense (not the police, the military, or the government) that stands between this nation and the anarchy of her utter destruction. We have not been put here based on whether or not others want us or our God. We have been put here to protect them, to love them, and to show them Christ. We have been put here to stand firm! We have been put here to pray—to cry out for mercy for those who don’t even know they need it. Our responsibility has been given to us by Almighty God. And…we have abandoned our post!


How long will we run and hide? How long will we pack into our cloistered little communities as hell engulfs the world around us and act as though nothing is happening? During the height of the atrocities of the holocaust in Germany, the Christians whose churches were located along the railways sang louder in their  worship to drown out the cries of the Jews, the Poles, the Czechs, and the Gypsies as the trains carried them to the gas chambers of the concentration camps. How long will we ignore the calamity and think it will not swallow us up as well? How long will we avoid our responsibility? Perhaps—until that same evil comes for us?


How long will we not pray? Not cry out in desperation and fasting for God to move? How long will we withhold what is within our power, privilege, and responsibility to do? Or do we really believe the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14? How long will we, those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and forgiven of our sins—who are called by God’s name—not humble themselves, instead of arrogantly acting like the world around us is getting exactly what they deserve? How long will we refuse to pray for those who choose not to think like us? How long will we sit back on our hypocritical hunches thinking those around us are surely getting what they deserve and not seek on their behalf, the face of a merciful and grace-filled God we claim to love and serve? How long will we refuse to repent for the wickedness of refusing to love as Christ loved, to turn the other cheek as Jesus did on the way to the cross, or to die to self, and if necessary in our physical bodies—to spare others who have as yet not come to know Christ? We talk a lot about hell, but we really don’t believe in its horrors or our attitudes and actions would be far different. How long will we sit idly by and not pray? For as sure as God sits on his throne in heaven and his word is true—until the church moves and obeys the commands of her head—God will not hear, the effects of rampant sin will run wild, and our land will die, unhealed. How long will we do nothing and expect anything to change?


How long do we think we can continue to act like this and call ourselves the church? How long indeed?

Keepers of the Flame

A flame of fire is filled with tremendous power. That power cannot be extinguish as long as the fuel lasts, the flame is protected, and oxygen is plentiful. There are few things in existence that can stand against a flame that has all three. But, take away the fuel and the fire dies on its own. Take away the flame’s protection and it can be blown out by a puff of wind. Take away the oxygen and the flame is extinguished by suffocation. To be so powerful, that fiery flame is also extremely sensitive.

So too, is the disciple of Christ. That individual is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. But like fire, that follower must tend the flame of passion burning within or the power will wane and the passion grow cold.

Every believer must learn to feed themselves with God’s Word. The Scripture is like high octane gasoline. Read it, feed on it, memorize it, meditate on it, and apply it, and that fiery passion for Christ will explode. But—a sermon on Sunday or a Bible study every once in a while is not nearly enough. Though important, they will not sustain the flame, and quickly there will be only a few scant embers glowing. There is no shortage of fuel for the fire only a shortage of one’s desire to feed the flame. Fire without fuel dies, and likewise, passion without relationship burns out.

Like the flame, a passion for Christ must be protected. If you persist in this pursuit you will be called a fanatic. Many in the church will try to pour water on your flame to quench the heat you are producing or smother it with a blanket of innuendos or accusations. Protect that passion for Christ, for he is the one who has lit the wick that burns so hot within you. Protect it from the legions that are shamed by its exposing light and must flee from its purifying heat. Protect the flame and tend it carefully—don’t throw this precious pearl to the swine, for they will trample it in the mud. Tend this flame and it will burn hotter and grower higher. Ignore its care and it will be extinguished and emptiness will fill your soul.

As oxygen makes a fire burn hotter, so too the Holy Spirit will take the passion of your hungry heart’s flame from blue to white hot. Surrender to his leadership and he will guide you into places you never thought accessible, into glory unimaginable, and into a relationship with Jesus that is inconceivable, yet all very biblical. It is the Holy Spirit who knows the mind of God, and in our pursuit of God, he alone will reveal the secrets of relationship with God. Give the fire oxygen and it will consume everything in its path. Live life surrendered to the Holy Spirit and he will carry you into places of intimate relationship with God that are indescribable.

The flame was lit by God when you met Christ, but its care rests with you. Feed it, protect it, and give it the holy oxygen it needs and you will find the heart of God. Ignore it, leave its care to someone else, or starve it from the air it hungers for and all you will have is an empty, religious looking heap of ashes.

Time for Some R&R

From time to time we all need a little R&R (rest and relaxation). All work and no play makes Jack/Jill (or Bill, or Sue, or you) a dull boy/girl, or so the saying goes. That saying is very, very true. Weariness and fatigue, whether its physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual, diminishes our strength and deafens our ability to hear God speak. If we can’t hear God clearly or don’t have enough strength to obey him when he speaks, we are in trouble.

God created rest and he even accessed it after Creation. He worked, according to Scripture, six days and rested on the seventh. In fact, He is still at rest and invites each of us to enter that rest with him. His pattern is to be our pattern. That’s why he created a sabbath rest. Many argue that this must be the seventh day (Saturday or Sunday depending on your particular religious label), but that is an argument from the letter or the Law, not an argument for the principle of the Law. Jesus confronted the religious nit-pickers of his day and in very plain words declared that we were not created for the sabbath, but rather the sabbath was created for us. He was huge on the principles, but not the specific letters this or that group preferred.

We all need some time to re-connect with God each week. We were never meant to work 24-7-365 days a year. And from time to time, we need a few sabbaths bound together in what we commonly call a vacation. We all need to find that place where “nobody knows our name and no one knows we came.” We need a little time to unplug from the computer, the cell phone, and all the important people who clamor for our attention, so that we can rest our body, soul, and spirit. Vacations are good and necessary things. A vacation is nothing more than a little time away from the things that suck the life out of us. That might be a few hours in the back yard with a glass of ice tea and magazine. It might be a day on the lake with the family. It might be a thirty minute walk around the neighborhood. It might even be a week or two at a national park or resort.

From time to time, Jesus pulled away from the pressure of ministry and the demands of the people around him. He would often slip into the wilderness or up a mountain to talk all alone with his heavenly Father. As you read the New Testament, it is amazing how a little R&R empowered our Lord. If he needed it, we can be certain that we do even more so.

Today might be a good time to assess the fuel in your tank. Are you running on fumes or coasting because the tank is dry? If so, take some time for yourself and rest. I know all the excuses, but none of them will matter if you’re dead.  Weariness and stress are major contributors to sickness and disease. And…as you well know–sickness and disease are the number one killers of human beings. In fact, just think about this for a moment, most of those things you think no one can do but you will be done by someone else fifteen minutes after you stop breathing. So–take a chill pill and relax a  little. You and I are not as important as we think.