#Musing

Horizons – obscurity and profile

horizons-150x102Do you know how to deal with obscurity as well as profile?

Paul Cain warned a prophet once about the dangers of becoming famous. Some years ago the Lord laid it on my heart to visit him and Paul was coming with me. The man was so busy with his books, ministry and travel. When I mentioned this to Paul he remarked again at how famous the man had now become. He had not taken the advice.

One of the things I see on the horizon is that some folks will enter into a time of obscurity and others will find a new sense of profile.

There are a lot of foreign prophets coming to the West. These prophets really know God. The secrets of the Lord are with those who fear Him, and these prophets know, love, fear and cherish Him with all of their hearts. He is the magnificent obsession of their hearts, without doubt.

Obscurity is not a place of denial.
Neither does it mean your are forgotten or overlooked. It means NOTHING to your sense of self esteem, or your relationship with Christ and His wonderful Church. You are accepted in Christ for who you are and not what you do. Sometimes it may be that obscurity comes because the prophet needs to know these things as a reality for themselves.

Obscurity can also be a time of restoration and recuperation. Restoration from heart attitudes that may have subconsciously crept in along side the profile that the gift brings.

Exaggeration, pride and ministerial jealousy are often small plants that grow into jungles, and need extracting early. This applies to all of the prophetic ministries, without exception – and I am sure they would agree. We really are not 24/7 fully mature in Christ. That is why accountability to each other and to God is so valuable.

We really are not 24/7 fully mature in Christ. Things do slip in. Some prophets teach others to not take themselves seriously, but take everything they do very solemnly.

These things are not ‘trite’, God is always watching!

Obscurity can often come with a call. You can be ploughing a field, unknown and alone, when the call comes. The greatest prophet of all was in the wilderness when the word of the Lord came to him. John the Baptist then emerged from the desert and started to call Israel to repentance and to Christ.

Obscurity – away from profile and recognition gives you a chance to show the Church that you are more focused on Christ, and being with God’s chosen people, more than your ministry. It shows character.

Profile is a different creature. God gives favour and profile, you don’t have to ‘go get it’. If you do, it will be short lived.

Remember always in whatever profile you have, that everything is only ever about Christ.

It would seem that some have used their profile to get money and job security on the back of their ministry. For prophets especially, if God is calling you into some profile of ministry let Him provide your finances. Don’t sell dream interpretations or charge fees for a revelation that God may bring. The gift freely came to you-give it away freely. Don’t profit from your anointing. If God really has called, He really WILL provide.

Personally if you have paid for a ‘word from God’ from someone, I would be tempted to put it straight in the bin and not let your spirit be tainted with it! That sentence alone will cost me a few friends.

Whatever profile you get, remember the example of John. ‘He must increase – I must decrease’.

That does not always mean false humility and demeaning words or acts, what it does mean is, make much of Jesus.

Make so much of Jesus that people confidently, with faith and hope, put their full trust and confidence in Christ alone as the true, faithful and eternal hero of their lives. Lift Him high!

Profile or obscurity – our eternity is sure, safe and protected in Christ. Let’s be keen to do all that Christ is calling us to and nothing more or less.

We serve an awesome God, who sometimes says, despite our protestations, ‘have a rest’.

    Defining strangeness!

    upsidedownRichard Baxter, one of the great Puritan ministers said that, “there is no divinity in devices”, I would take that to include ’strangeness’ too!

    Prophets throughout history, even in Old Testament days, have done some strange things. The message, and at times the delivery, are to say the least, controversial.

    More often than not, it is the delivery that causes anxiety to the people who are looking on. Why do prophets have to do such strange things?

    Many people are pursuing prophetic ministry and it seems there is no lack of confusion surrounding its proper function. Whether you are called to prophetic ministry or just serving Christ with all your heart, you will be faced with many odd, even strange things that will require much spiritual discernment during your walk with God. Spiritual discernment will come from the Holy Spirit and find confirmation in many Scriptures throughout the written Word of God.

    The Agabus feature
    Agabus tied Paul’s hand’s, and then shared a message that this was how God was taking Paul into Rome.

    Why didn’t he just say it instead of showing it? Scripture is silent.

    It seems that that is how God will reveal His will at times. Sometimes the reason prophetic people do strange things is because they want to show or demonstrate visually, the things that God has brought to mind, but Prophets (must) humbly accept the truth that they see through a glass darkly, that they know only in part.

    In other words, they make mistakes. Mature prophets urge everyone to who they prophesy to judge, test and compare with scripture everything they say. They are not offended when people are careful and want scriptural support to what is being said. In fact the Bible commends this. Scripture will always bear willingly, the scrutiny of the serious heart searching for confirmation of what God is saying, or doing.

    There are some that have made outrageous claims. Their strangeness in what they do is not so much pointing men to the Living Christ, but towards supporting their ministry;

    “In my generation, Jezebel and Baalim prophets are the prevailing enemies of true prophetic ministry. In the last 20 years these spirits have grown sophisticated. They’ve built their own network of churches, followers and training schools. They’ve written books and produced many training videos. These spirits intend to hijack the prophetic ministry and hold themselves out to be the “experts” in the field. They condemn criticism as irrelevant, unloving, ignorant and judgmental. More than likely things will grow worse. If so, you will find them as your strongest opponents.” ~ Jonas Clark

    Don’t be quick to dismiss anything though – there are some things that authentic prophets did, that raised eyebrows!

    Prophets did strange things in the Bible from laying on their side for extended periods of time, to cooking with dung to throwing sticks in the water to retrieve axe heads. Oddness is a way of life for some – but what is significant is that when this occurs, everyone is aware that God really has spoken, and it is usually – almost exclusively, a call to repentance and fresh dedication to Christ alone.

    I have purposely not ventured into discussing the strange behaviour of some in detail. It would indict too many folks and that is not the intention here. We are called to weigh carefully the prophetic ministry that comes before us. Weigh it so that we are not deceived or lead astray, weigh it so that we can see when God has been speaking to us and thus whole heartedly embrace what He is lovingly sharing, affirming, encouraging or leading us into.

    Prophecy is a valuable gift – please don’t be put off by the way that the messenger brings the message. Test the fruit – not the methodology. But if the methodology is ‘wrong’ then correct them…

    Moving forward . . .

    • Prophetic people; ask those who you are accountable to if the delivery of the message you bring is stopping people from hearing the message. You are not infallible. People want to hear – humble yourself and take advice!
    • And my plea to those who look on; please speak carefully to the one who you feel is communicating ‘good things in a bad way’, and express to them your desire to hear the valuable things they are looking to contribute. Offer to help them work on their delivery in such a way that folks can receive gladly the encouragement that they bring.

    Fences
    We don’t want to be folks coming with a gift for the next door neighbour and just throwing it over the fence, or cramming it under the fence, and then wondering why it has not been received with gladness! Learn to find the gate, open it and offer what you have!

    I’m not perfect – sometimes I use a catapult to get stuff over the fence. It goes so high and so far that I wonder if the recipient ever received the message that I sent. Join with me in the learning curve!

    I’ve missed lots of issues here and I will address them further in the days to come.

      Prophets – you belong in Church

      peng[1]Prophets – you belong in Church! AWOL Prophets are not a good thing!

      I frequently get emails from people who claim to have prophetic gift or ministry but don’t belong to any Church. Many of these are angry at the way churches have treat them, but miss a major and significant fact; nothing they do exists outside of the Church.

      Home is where the heart is.  Such a tired cliché but so true. There’s nothing as nice as returning from a trip to the security of home, familiar settings, sounds, smells and personal comforts.

      The same can be said for Church, but for many prophetic people having a ‘home to go to’ is not an aspiration or a value. God loved the Church and gave Himself for her. Many of the prophets are not prepared to make that commitment.

      When the question is raised, “Which Church do you belong to?” the answer can be a telling one. To be told that someone goes to this or that church is not the same as belonging.

      · Belonging implies relationship.
      Belonging suggests that there are others who are involved in pastoral care and oversight, that you are not alone. It means protection, discipline, support and hugs where needed.

      · Not isolation.
      Remember the profound question that God asked Elijah when he was on the run from Jezebel and hid alone in the cave, “What are you doing here Elijah?” The problem with isolation is that the enemy takes advantage when we are alone by choice.

      When Israel was being taunted by Goliath his call was for them to give him a man to fight. Isolated, alone and vulnerable. In contrast to this is the New Testament picture of the prophetic functioning as part of the local church, ‘there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers…’ (Acts 13).

      The insinuation is that they were an integrated part of the fellowship at Antioch. It was the time when Apostolic ministry was making massive headway’s across the middle east and into Africa and progressing towards Europe but the prophets in Antioch had a home.

      Prophetic folks often feel lonely and misunderstood but that was not the testimony recorded by Agabus or other prophetic ministries in the early church. There is some serious ground to be retaken here.

      One of the benefits of not belonging to a church and professing that you are a prophet is that you always get your own way!

      I am being harsh here, but the day of sulky prophets is over. For the sake of the gospel, work on your relationships with the God-appointed leadership of your church, serve and be an integral part of the church.