Tag Archives: revelation

The Day I Stopped Speaking to My Wife

by Scott

I remember the early days of our relationship. In the 9 months between meeting and marrying, my wife and I were only in the same city a mere 40 days or so. We were divided most of the time by an ocean, but thankfully had great support in both the US and UK. Therefore, in those many days apart (even when we were both in the UK), we spent much time emailing and texting by phone. I’m talking about emailing and texting a whole lot! It was all-consuming as we looked to stay in touch day after day after day.

As our relationship heightened, we began calling each other, though we also maintained the little love notes via text as well. Our mobile phones were the major place of communication. I remember one month my UK mobile phone bill was around 85 GBP, which was some 50 GBP more than the normal monthly bill. I was shocked, but it was truly worth it in my eyes.

We also moved into the realm of love-letter writing. So, yes, I am a bit of a sensitive romantic. After moving back to the US, being even further apart from my beloved, this became an integral part of staying in contact, expressing our heart’s desire for one another. And, of course, both of us saved each and every one of those emotion-stirring, affectionate letters. They were not just words. They were an expression and revealing of the love we had for one another. And being so far apart, you can imagine their role in articulating our deep affections.

It was extremely difficult following our engagement in the US. After staying for a full 7 weeks, my beloved had to return to the UK to prepare for our wedding and finalising details before moving to the US. It was a painful 9 weeks apart. But, again, I am thankful for the frequent phone calls and almost weekly letters.

But, of course, once we were married, we were able to be together forever. We were no longer divided by the space of an ocean, thousands of miles apart. We were now joined together as husband and wife.

And, for all these years, even through difficulties and struggles and misunderstandings and arguments, we remained true to one another. From multiple moves across oceans, to the bearing of our children, to learning how to lead a church forward in a completely different culture than we were used to, we stayed faithful to the love we held one for the other. Through all this time, we came to know one another’s likes and dislikes, dreams and passions, and even what we shared in common (like sushi!).

In the years of our growing relationship, we would even pull out old emails and love letters, to read over them, and be inspired by the love that began years ago. Of course, this is common to many a couples. But from your own perspective you’re not thinking about all those others. Their love compares in no way to your own. This is part of your journey of the expression of the covenant love you have for one another.

And how about the conversations, the deep exchanges over cups of coffee, over romantic dinners, over date-nights out, over holiday time away. Sharing of those desires and dreams I pointed to earlier. Even learning how to work through arguments and disagreements and deep wounds. The poured-out prayers to our Father for all sorts of things also knit our hearts together.

Yet, there was the day – the day I decided it was best that I stopped speaking to my wife.

Now wait a minute, don’t get mad at me just yet. It’s actually all ok.

You see, the day I made such a decision, I sat down with my wife and presented her with a gift. A rather amazing gift, I might add. It was a collage of all the love letters, emails and texts I had sent to her over our years of love, all bound into a beautiful anthology. I was even able to remember the details of quite a few of our conversations. And so I also included those within the volume.

As I handed her this hand-crafted book, I explained that it contained all my love in word form. Therefore, because she now had this extensive record, I no longer needed to express my love through the vehicle of words. We had reached a place where such expressions were no longer needed. And if she ever found herself questioning my love, questioning what I thought about her, well, she could head to the text. There she would find the unveiling of my true love, all in the words we had shared for years past.

Ok, I’m sure you have easily caught on that I speak in parable here.

This never happened. Well, most of it did. But not the part about deciding to no longer speak to my wife. And I would never, ever desire to do such. Such would actually become counter-productive to the covenant relationship in which we have been joined together.

Now, I could actually put together such a record of the emails, love letters and conversations we have held in years past. That would be quite a gift! It could even be revisited over and over again as an inspiring reminder of our love for one another. But it would never actually replace the reality of sharing real conversation. If I ever suggested such, well, my wife might not be too pleased. And that is quite an understatement.

Yet, I believe this can and does happen with God’s people. For many, it is somehow easy to accept that God no longer speaks because we now have the bound anthology of the canon of Scripture. Or, if He does speak, it is only within the context of the words of previous centuries.

But I believe such betrays the very nature of our God, a nature that is relational at its core, with communication being the very essence of God’s relational nature.

Please don’t misread this statement here, but we are not ultimately people of the book. We are ultimately relational beings, sons and daughters of our Father. We are ultimately people of the Spirit, the Spirit who has been sent to continue to communicate and speak on behalf of the Father and Son.

Again, please don’t misunderstand anything here. I am not so much addressing the God-breathed and authoritative nature of Scripture. I am not here to say that there is no great investment within the communicative-speaking nature of our God as shown in the revelation of the Bible. Matter of fact, just as my wife actually does find an expression of the unveiling of my love in keeping emails, letters and conversations within a safe-keep box (and I’ve kept quite a few things from her), we find even more in God’s revelatory expression of Himself in Scripture.

But my wife would never bestow upon all of that written communication as the sole source of our relationship. It is para-revelatory, if you will. It goes hand in hand with the actual relationship we share on a daily basis. Actually, it might even become subsequent to the real love we share through being together and sharing deep, intimate conversation together.

So, you see the parable breaks down somewhat, as I am not relegating God’s revelation in Scripture as a side-project. But each parable has a major point, and that chief point I am looking to bring across is that our revelation and understanding of our Father must be seen in cultivating a real relationship together. And that real relationship consists of both actual speaking and listening one to the other.

It’s not even about investing our understanding His voice mainly in the biblical words given in the past. It is, but to solely invest such into the Bible is, again, to betray a God who has been speaking and revealing and unveiling Himself from the beginning (which includes well before our beginning). And I suppose He desires to continue such into the rest of future-eternity.

Imagine those who recording what is now in the Bible. They could not fathom a God who stopped revealing Himself. Imagine ourselves in the age to come. As we hear the voice of the Father, we would fill with confusion as to why we would thought the pause button had been hit at some point in our history.

Again, for something so core, so essential, to the nature of our God, one cannot fathom the ceasing of such.

I will never, ever stop speaking and unveiling my heart to my beloved, my wife. And I believe the same stands true for the One who has always spoke, is speaking, and will remain speaking for the age to come.

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Real Life Example of Hearing God

by Scott

I think it is continually important to give actual, real life, down to earth examples of what it is like to hear the voice of God and even to prophecy. Most people need this to help bring these things ‘out of the clouds’ and into real life on planet earth. I’ve posted a few examples in the past of such instances in my own life and in the lives of others (here, here and here). And I wanted to post another example.

This comes from Richard Foster’s book entitled Freedom of Simplicity. I have recently been posting a few quotes and short excerpts from the book, food for thought, if you will. But here is an example of Foster sharing a time when he heard the voice of Lord direct him in a particular situation.

Allow me to share with you a very small experience, but one that may help you to see what I mean. This occurred at an especially busy time in my year. I was preparing for a weekend trip that involved speaking at three different churches. The financial arrangement was for each church to take up a little offering on my behalf when I had finished speaking. As I was meditating on what God desired of me for that weekend, I had the strong impression that I was not to take any money at all from these churches. For some time I struggled over this directive, for we were counting on the money to meet several obligations. The struggle further revealed an inward greed that I thought had been exorcised long ago. Finally, I felt clear that this was what I had to do if I was to be obedient. I shared this with my wife, for I felt we had to be in unity on the matter. She released the money much more easily than I, noting that perhaps there would be some people in the meetings who needed to know that ministers of Christ were not always after their pocketbooks.

I told the pastors of the first two churches that any offering should be given to the poor or disposed of in whatever way they saw fit. Although surprised at my unorthodox request, they were congenial to the idea. But I arrived at the third church just as the service began, and so had no opportunity to explain my concern. I was relieved, however, when they did not take up an offering for me, and assumed that the matter was settled.

It was late when I finally arrived at the home where I was to stay the night. As I walked in the door my host handed me a check of an amount that was, for me, considerable. It was from the church. I protested, but they mistook my concern for modesty and insisted with such vigor that I let the matter drop.

I wish I could express to you the experience I went through that night. There was the check lying on the nightstand, mine to take. I did not want to cause offense or seem ungrateful, after all, the money had been given for me. Maybe this last church should be considered an experience separate from the others. But what about the earlier directive – it had seemed quite clear. Back and forth I went. Finally, I had about decided that I really should take the money rather than cause any trouble, but I determined to review my decision once more in the morning when I was rested. I invited God to teach me while I slept if he desired.

When I opened my eyes the next morning it was unmistakably clear to me that I could not – must not – take the money. A period of meditation only intensified the conviction. With considerable trepidation I explained to my hosts as best I could why I was not able to accept the gracious gift. The moment I finished there rushed into me an unspeakable joy. Though outwardly I tried to remain calm, I was being filled with an overwhelming sense of the glory of God. Once alone in the car I shouted and sang and blessed God. I did not have to be controlled by money! I could live in obedience! It was wonderful, jubilant ecstasy, and although the profuse exuberance lasted for perhaps twenty minutes, the sense of deep warm joy flowed over me all day long. (I was pleased to learn later that the church decided to give the money for refugee work in Cambodia.)

I don’t want to give too much commentary to the story above, as I think it speaks volumes itself. But suffice it to say, I believe this is a beautiful account of hearing God and responding in obedience. And, even more, here is a great example of Foster weighing what he believed was a directive from God, and weighing it with his covenant partner, his wife. This is always a very healthy perspective as we learn to discern the voice of God. I’ve shared about this before, our spouse being one of five major gifts we have been given to help us discern the voice of the Lord.

I hope this is another example that helps make hearing God’s voice more and more real.

Series on Prophecy by Mark Roberts

by Scott

Over at the blog of Mark Roberts, he recently posted a 3-article series on prophecy in the book of 1 Corinthians. It was refreshing to see a Presbyterian pastor-theologian advocating the continuation of the gift of prophecy today. And, of course, this was interesting as I just began posting a series on prophecy as well.

You can read all three posts by clicking on these links:

  1. Prophecy in 1 Corinthians
  2. Prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14
  3. Prophecy in 1 Corinthians and in the Church Today

The Gift of Prophecy 101

by Scott

On Sunday at Cornerstone, after a few weeks of visiting speakers, I continued on from my introduction to the gifts of the Spirit. I began what will be a two-Sunday series on the gift of prophecy, maybe something like seminars entitled Prophecy 101 and Prophecy 102.

You can listen to the message by clicking on the icon below, or you can download from Cornerstone’s podcast site or iTunes.

For those interested, the major thrust of my message can be found in the article below.

There are five terms I specifically discussed:

1) Revelation

At times, in discussing this word amongst varying Christians, there are two unhelpful perspectives that I believe can arise from the term revelation. They are as follows:

a) Super-scary

This comes with regards to some ideas about the book of Revelation. The Greek word for revelation is apokalupsis, and it’s where we get our word apocalypse. And that word apocalypse brings up all sorts of unhelpful images, with a special thanks to Hollywood in recent decades.

Oddly enough, the word apokalupsis or revelation simply means an unveiling or an uncovering. As an illustration, it’s quite like being present at a theatre play and awaiting the beginning scene of the play. The curtains are drawn closed and everyone is chattering away with anticipation of the opening scene. And, at the first sound of the pit orchestra, the curtains open and the crowd sees the beautiful and intriguing set designed on stage, the cast of characters beginning with a great dance, etc. With that, we just had an unveiling, an uncovering.

The same is true of God’s revelation. When God reveals, He is pulling back the curtain, if you will, for us to see.

b) Super-spiritual

Some Christians hold that God is no longer revealing Himself (they might term it as no more ‘special’ revelation) because we now have all of God’s revelation fully and finally recorded within the canon of Scripture. The Bible is the final measuring stick for the beliefs and practises of the church and, thus, God no longer speaks and specifically reveals Himself. But I have three minor points to bring up about God revealing Himself today.

a) No new redemptive revelation.

I would agree with just about every evangelical Christian that God is no longer bringing forth new redemptive revelation. To claim such is dangerous. Well, it’s heretical. We believe that Jesus Christ and his work alone is the final word on God’s redemptive plans for all peoples. To that, there is nothing to add. As Paul said, if we preach another gospel than the finished work of Christ and, well, one will be cursed (Gal 1:8-9).

b) God has always been speaking and acting outside the Bible.

As I always make sure I communicate, I recognise that the Bible stands as the measuring stick for our faith and the practice of our faith. And, within the the text, we find a very thorough account of all God has said and done from the beginning until the first century. We truly know this is God’s inspired word.

But, of course, the Scripture does not record every word and act of God, does it? A couple of small examples are found in 1 Sam 10:10-13 and 1 Tim 1:18-19. In the first, we find Saul empowered by the Spirit prophesying amongst a group of prophets. What they said was not recorded in Scripture. But there is no doubt that, as prophecy, it would have been Spirit-inspired utterance. In the second example, we read of Paul reminding Timothy of the prophetic words that were made about him and that ‘by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience’. In both situations, we would have found Spirit-inspired prophecy. But in neither case do we find those prophetic, and revelatory, words recorded in Scripture. The event is mentioned, but not the specific words. And that is quite ok. God has been doing it ever since the beginning and He will keep doing so until all things are completed in Christ.

c) God speaks and reveals today.

As all would note, nothing that God speaks and reveals today would contradict the tenor of Scripture summed up in Christ and the gospel. Such is out of bounds, for we are convinced Scripture is the word of God.

And, so, one way that God still speaks today is through Scripture. Some refer to this as illumination, which is a helpful term. But some use it over and above the term revelation, for they are convinced God no longer does it. But both terms do refer to God unveiling Himself, making Himself known to His creations. It’s just that the term illumination centres around light. And revelation also has to do with light, because revelation helps us see better. So I believe the terms are connected, kind of semantical cousins.

Now, when I say God speaks through Scripture, I do mean that He speaks from the God-breathed words that are right there in the text. But I also believe that He utilises those same words, at times, to speak things that were not intended within the text. I will give you one example from my own life. One day, as I was reading Jesus’ words in Matt 6:21 – For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – I understood that Jesus was speaking in the context of challenging people that they cannot have two masters. Such is impossible. But, as I was meditating on the passage, God said to me, ‘Scott, this is true of me as well. Where my treasure is, there my heart is also. And my people are my treasures, and, therefore, my heart is with them.’

God utilised Scripture to speak to me. It wasn’t something ‘in between the lines’. But God definitely used what was already there to reveal more of His heart to me. Now, sure, I could have also received that from reading Psalm 139 or other passages. But God took the text I was meditating on and spoke to me right then and there. Of course, many a folk claim this, with some of it being quite off-base. But there are some guidelines that can prove helpful, of which I have shared a bit here.

Still, I also believe very much that God speaks and reveals Himself ‘outside’ of what is in the Bible. Again, the Bible is the measuring stick for such revelation and that which is truly from God will not contradict that summation of Scripture in Christ. But the reality is that God is a relational and living God, and relational and living beings actually communicate. It’s part and parcel to being relational. I cannot imagine God not speaking, not revealing, not unveiling. It’s at the core of who He is. So God will and does speak, even if there is no verse and chapter number to quote.

2) New revelation

The big question I always get asked is: Is this new revelation?

I have talked about this already above, but I would say there is absolutely no new redemptive revelation. Again, Christ and his work are the final word on that. Such is a closed chapter. But, with regards to God speaking into our lives, our situations, our churches, even the nations today, I am ok to recognise it as ‘new’. Why? Because our lives, situations, churches, etc, are not detailed in Scripture. God didn’t speak about Scott Lencke in Scripture. God did not speak about Cornerstone in Scripture. God did not speak about 21st century Belgium in Scripture. Of course, that which is in Scripture speaks into all three of those. But not in a detailed sense. And I find God still regularly speaks, with detail, into those areas of real life.

3) Prophet

I didn’t spend a long time on this, but I did give what I believe is a solid, working definition of a prophet: one who received and brought forth a direct, inspired, revelatory message from God.

Now, some of these prophets, especially in the Old Testament, were given the amazing, special and authoritative privilege of having their words recorded in the Scripture. And for that every Christian is thankful for their God-inspired words in the Bible. But, of course, not every prophet had their words recorded in Scripture. But, such people were still utilised in direct, inspired, revelatory messages from God, with this ministry continuing into the new covenant era (i.e. Agabus, those in Corinth, those in Antioch in Acts 13:1-3, Philip’s daughters, etc), and I am very much convinced it still continues today.

4) Prophetic community

I have shared about this a lot, but, suffice it to say, because the Spirit of prophecy was to be poured out on all God’s people as of Pentecost, we now have a prophetic community in the whole body of Christ. When Peter stood up on that great day, he quoted some words from Joel’s prophecy:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18)

The reality is that now, male and female, young and old, are part of the prophetic community of all believers. We don’t simply have the priesthood of all believers, but we now also have the prophethood of all believers. I share much more in this article.

5) Prophecy

Finally, I began to touch on the gift of prophecy. There is much more to share next Sunday (and, thus, in another post here). But here are a few things I shared thus far.

I believe there are two misunderstandings about prophecy:

a) Prophecy is mainly about prediction.

I am not a fan of the word prediction because it makes one think of fortune telling and palm reading, which is, of course, very dangerous. I would rather use the term forth telling. And, yes, God forth tells things to come. Such is right through the Bible, and I have known such today as well. But prophecy isn’t always about saying something to the effect of: In the next week, events A, B and C will take place in your life. Why? Because the goal is not prediction. The goal is summarised fairly by Paul in these words:

On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. ( 1 Cor 14:3)

Prophecy could include forth telling from God, of directives and things to await with regards to ‘the future’. But that is not the central core of prophecy. Prophecy is God unveiling His plans, His purposes, His ways, His heart for the upbuilding, encouragement and consolation of His people.

b) Prophecy is mainly about rebuke.

This is another misnomer for some. Again, a quick glance at 1 Cor 14:3 reminds us of one central goal with prophecy. It doesn’t mean that prophecy is merely a pat on the back with a, ‘You’ll be ok. Hang in there.’ At times, prophecy will involve correction and rebuke. But even in rebuke and correction, such comes forth with the ultimate goal of seeing people strengthened, edified and built up. This is in line with Paul’s earlier words about the purpose of all gifts of the Spirit:

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Cor 12:7)

Therefore, I would say a helpful and good working definition for prophecy is this: a Spirit-inspired, intelligible, verbally delivered message intended to edify, encourage and comfort other believers. I’ve seen this happen on a regular basis for the past 12 years of my life in Christ and I would never, ever be moved from seeing it as something foregone, ending a long time ago with the finished product of our canon of Scripture. And I have not only known prophecy and revelation to come forth today, but I have also known the true fruit to come from it, that of upbuilding, strengthening, encouragement, exhortation and the common good.

Training in Hearing God & Prophecy?

by Scott

Today we had a time of training in hearing God and prophecy. If I mentioned this to a few people, they might look at me kind of quizzically and ask – You had a time of training in hearing God and prophecy? Huh?

It doesn’t sound too spiritual, does it? Training in hearing God and prophecy? Don’t these things just happen by the Spirit?

Well, I would disagree that this sounds unspiritual. Hence why we held a training time for our church this morning in learning to hear God and in prophesying. While, for some, prophecy is for the super-spiritual, maybe those with their heads constantly ‘in the clouds’, most of us need these things brought down to planet earth where most of us live on a day to day basis. We need practical training and equipping. Hence, with all the recent stirrings of God’s Spirit in the midst of our people, and with little previous teaching on the topic for a transitionary church like Cornerstone, I knew it was absolutely vital to not simply ‘preach’ a few sermons on the topic, but to provide real, solid, biblical and practical training in prophecy.

Now, first off, I would note that there are differing measures of prophecy. 1) The prophet (i.e. Eph 4:11-13) who has a very strong measure of the prophetic and they help equip the whole body to be prophetic, 2) One with the gift of prophecy (i.e. 1 Cor 12:10) who is used regularly in this ministry gift but might not have the specific and greater measure of a prophet, and 3) All can be utilised in prophecy since they are indwelt by the Spirit of prophecy (i.e. Acts 2:17-18; 1 Cor 14:1-5).

Because I am convinced the whole body of Christ is called to be a prophetic body (read more here), we need to ‘equip the saints’ for such a ministry, as it says in Eph 4:11-13. And so we need to prepare and equip God’s people in how to hear God and speak forth what He is saying as He directs. Of course, every time we hear God, it might not call for us to speak it forth as prophecy. I share a great example here where God spoke to me about changing the way I was praying into a situation. But we need the body of Christ to be prepared to be a prophetic people, just as we need them to be prepared to be a shepherding or evangelistic people as a whole.

Now this starts by, one, learning to hear from God. Jesus did tell us that his sheep would hear his voice (John 10:3-4). And, though, the temptation is simply to relegate this only to initial salvation, and the context of John 10 can be used to support such, I suppose sheep don’t simply hear their master’s voice once and that’s it. There is a constant and continual listening to the shepherd. Hence, I think the same is true of the sheep of the Great Shepherd. Or we could use the imagery of a child with their father. They don’t hear the father once and that’s it. There is constant communication between the two.

Still, there are plenty of questions that arise out of learning to hear God: 1) Is it truly God or just me? 2) Is this God or is this the enemy? 3) What am I to do with what I believe God is speaking to me? And so on and so forth.

I think there are quite a lot of amazing factors God has given us to help wisely discern the voice of the Lord. While I list these, I wouldn’t say they are in any particular order. Some might say, ‘Well, you have to start with the Bible, the word of God.’ While I centre all my theology in Scripture and use it to weigh what I believe God is speaking even today, sometimes it is not that simple. Hence, why I list these and do not claim a particular order, as, at times, some will be more helpful than others.

1) The Scripture. As I said, and cannot say enough, this is central to weighing correct theology-doctrine as well as what we believe God is speaking today. But the thing is that Scripture does not address every little nook and cranny of every matter of life. Of course it addresses a wide gamut of issues and there are even things we can glean from its wisdom in one area that could relate into another. But Scripture is not a car instruction manual giving us 7 steps on how to do this or that and it will all be perfectly fine. Hence, the need in our lives for these other factors below.

2) Spouse. For those married to solid followers of Christ, this is normally the best place to start in weighing what we believe God is speaking today. But, having a godly spouse is not always the case, and, thus, we have the following to help as well.

3) Leadership. This is so central and important to our lives as Christ-followers. But, unfortunately, in the west, our individualism has set this aspect aside in so many ways. But God has given us elder-shepherds in our local church to consult for wisdom in matters of life. Of course, it isn’t fool-proof, nor will they have all the answers in every situation. But this is an absolutely vital part of the life of the body. They are God-given instruments to us! Yes, there has been and probably always will be abuse. But we cannot let misuse of this in some places detour us from the design of Jesus himself. Think of Jesus’ relationship of dependence on the Father. We need to be connected to leaders in our lives.

4) Body of Christ. Not only do we have leaders in our lives, but there are other wise and mature people in the body of Christ. Please don’t head towards people that you know will always agree with you. Rather head to people that love you, have your best interests in mind, but are also willing to speak into your life even if it means not agreeing with what you sense from God. If only we would value this aspect more and more, for God has never, ever thought the idea of the ‘lone ranger’ was good. Never! Also, if someone ever prophesies to you and asks you to keep it a secret and not tell anyone, that is not of God. He is one who brings things to light instead of hiding them. Prophecy has to do with God revealing or unveiling His heart, not hiding His intentions. Thus, we are not called to hide these things, but we should be willing to weigh it with leaders and others in the body of Christ. So don’t get caught up in ‘secretive’ prophecies. It is not healthy.

5) Peace of God. The peace of God is ultimately so very helpful in this area of our walk with God. In the end, if we think we have heard something from God or someone has spoken something as a word of prophecy to us, it needs to ultimately produce the peace of God in us. It’s not that we have to fell 100% comfortable with something. At times, God calls us to very uncomfortable things. But we can still know the peace of God in the midst of uncomfortability. But let our hearts be assured in God’s peace, which does surpass our cognitive understanding at times (Phil 4:7).

But these five things, and there are probably others, become very helpful in discerning the voice of God. And even then, it might call for steps of faith when we are still uncertain. We would love it if it were all so easy with no sense of need for wisdom, discernment, vulnerability, relying on the body, etc. But there is a process of learning here, just as with all aspects of our spiritual lives. Did we hear that? Again, while some want to super-spiritualise this whole thing and say, ‘It just happens. You just hear,’ most of us are still learning to hear from God. We are learning the Father’s voice. So let’s not be afraid if we are not always 100% certain.

As for prophecy, while the prophet or the one gifted in prophecy who has been functioning in such a ministry gift for quite some time might walk in much more confidence in the gift, those not specifically gifted in this way also need growth in this area. That is why the best place to start with prophecy is amongst the body of Christ whom we are closely connected with and joined to. Such is to be a safe place. Or, if the main gathering of the whole body is too intimidating at first, we can start in smaller groups or in one-on-one prayer time with close friends.

And when God speaks, it can be into differing areas: 1) into our own lives (which connects with some of the things discussed above about hearing God), 2) into the life of another or multiple others, 3) into the wider situations like a local church, or 4) into far-reaching situations like cities or nations, etc. Yes, I could have considered different ‘categories’. But I believe these provide a general understanding of how God can speak across varying lives and situations.

So, what we need to ask God is whether or not this revelation we have received from God is for ourselves, for others, or for a wider situation. Sometimes we immediately know. Sometimes we don’t. And sometimes the revelation comes and we are to share it immediately. But sometimes it comes and we are to hold on it; such is for a later time. How do we know if it is for now or later? Well, I can encourage us to not feel rushed. If it is the word of the Lord, He will make sure it comes forth and accomplish its purpose. I am pretty sure there were plenty of prophets of old that received something from God but await the proper time to disclose the revelation.

If we are not sure if the prophecy is for now or another time, let’s remember the importance of consulting our leaders. They can be very effective in helping us know if it is for now or not for now. And they can also be helpful in bringing guidance on whether this is for ourselves alone, other particular people, or a wider situation. Strong and healthy leadership truly protects and provides wisdom. That is why they are shepherds.

Finally, I simply note that prophecy can come in varying forms. And this is where the particular personality of a person will have an effect on the way in which the prophecy is delivered. I’m not trying to lessen the impact of prophecy, but rather trying to emphasise just how incarnational our God is in revealing Himself. Thus, what I mean is that prophecy through a physicist will come forth in a little different way than, say, a creative artist. One might receive very stirring imagery, what some might call a ‘prophetic picture’ (the creative artist) while the other might communicate the prophecy in quite minute and ordered detail (the physicist). This happens very regularly. It’s quite like a David and an Isaiah prophesying in differing ways at differing times. But both communicated the word of the Lord. Again, this happens frequently.

In the end, there are still questions. We will always carry them as finite human beings. I suppose the prophets of Scripture also had questions (sorry if this sounds denigrating, but I don’t believe it is). But they also took steps of faith as the word of the Lord burned within their heart.

So I have no problem with providing practical training and equipping for God’s people to learn to hear the voice of our Father and how to prophesy. I think such is very helpful to see the body of Christ grow in their calling as a Spirit-indwelt people to be a prophetic voice in all the world.