Prophetic Focus for Fresh Balance

I grew up around the prophetic. My father was the mystical type even before he came to the Lord and received the baptism in the Spirit. After the baptism in the Spirit in 1958 when I was just seven years old, my parents became international leaders in the Charismatic Renewal. Not long after that my father became a pioneer in the prophetic movement. Much later, more than 20 years ago, he challenged me to surrender to and own the prophetic calling he saw on my own life as I would share with him things I saw coming and perceptions of people and situations. I wasn’t sure I wanted it because I was, and remain, focused on pastoring a congregation and building up the body of Christ, but I took him seriously and I ran with it because I heard the voice of God in his exhortation.

Somewhat later, as he began to anticipate the approaching end of his life and as he began to think more about the legacy he would leave behind, he asked if I would accept the burden of his prophetic mantle passed to me. Passing mantles is the subject for another Scripture study, but for now just know that to honor him I said that I could do that, but I told him that I did not regard myself as part of the prophetic movement.

Movements are like rushing streams that sweep people along with them by the force of the flow, but I’ve never been able to surrender to a stream without questioning what the flow is doing and where it’s going. Many times over the years I’ve found myself swimming against the prevailing stream. Some have blessed me for that while others have called it arrogance, but it’s just the way God made me. Because I’m more interested in honoring others in love than I am in being right or holding some exclusive truth or insight, I try hard not to stand in judgment of those who aren’t standing where I’m standing.

Now today, the prophetic movement that my father pioneered in is in disarray following the failed prophecies of the outcome of the election. As a result, I have never felt more alienated from the company of other prophetic voices than I do right now. And yes, I’m troubled by that. It seems that while some of us have pulled back in order to examine ourselves and seek a deeper place in the Lord, even reviewing and testing words we’ve received in the past to see if they were accurate and applicable to the present, others have simply driven on without a pause or a question.

It would be easier to just push on, generating prophetic words about elections, government officials and economies, for instance, or to focus on delivering personal words to individuals in conference settings. It’s a lot easier to build followings and bring in the income that way. There are bills to pay and staff members to support. It’s great to be famous and to be admired by masses of people. It feels good and many allow themselves to be seduced by the pressure and the lure of all that until it colors and shapes the way they minister and how it all gets focused.

Many years ago, the Lord told me very clearly, “Self-promotion for you is illegal.” And so I’ve tried to balance the need to get whatever word the Lord gives me out to the masses against that prohibition against self-promotion. Not easy to do!

So, in the face of the confusion and turmoil that has ensued since November 3, I want to suggest a course of action to heal the wounds we’ve suffered and that we continue to suffer. I think that we prophetic ones can and must pull back a bit from pouring out the predictions for a time in order to settle into the Lord’s peace, as opposed to churning out fresh prophecies and commentaries on political issues, economies and world leaders. We need to take time to question and consider the condition of our connection with the Lord and seek deeper intimacy without ceasing to be faithful to our calling as prophetic people. A big part of that is seeking to dwell more purely on Revelation 19:10, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” More than any other factor, the body of Christ desperately needs this for the days to come. The heart of genuine prophetic ministry rests right there.

Right now my heart beats with I Corinthians 14:3, “But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.” There’s a whole teaching session embedded in those verses and in breaking down the meaning of those three words, but what drives that verse is the Lord’s concern for strengthening the body of Christ. Out of deep intimacy with Jesus we must flow in His heart for His people. Before speaking anything, we need to ask, What benefit is this to the church? How does this strengthen God’s people in their connection with Him and in understanding His heart? How does this help us conform to the image of the Son of God as per Romans 8:29?

My heart aches that so much that comes out as prediction, even when the prediction is accurate, does little or nothing to truly connect us with Jesus and prepare us to walk in the kingdom of God, which Jesus clearly said is not a kingdom of this earth. Too often it only stirs us up in unholy ways. Jesus Himself often withdrew to the wilderness to preserve intimacy with His Father and to keep Himself balanced so that in everything He said and did, He would faithfully represent the Father’s heart.

In this message, I’ve spoken to prophetic people, but the exhortation to pull away from the turmoil, the fear, the anger, the uncertainty over where we see the world going and to seek the depths of intimacy with our Lord and Savior applies to every one of us regardless of gifting or calling. More than ever, let us as His people reflect and demonstrate His heart to this dying world. It’s time to win some souls and demonstrate to the world who our God really is.