Sunday, January 14, 2018

Establishing Lasting Forgiveness

A letter  I wrote to a pastor I recently heard preach on the issue of forgiveness. I thought it might be relevant to some of us as well:

Hey Pastor, 

What a great New Years Day sermon!  

You're one of the better preachers in London. Probably in Canada but so far most preachers I have heard lately are in the London area! 

The next thing I am going to say is not in any way a correction, complaint or anything like that. It's is just what I was meditating on after the sermon. 

You talked about the way we forgive those who harm us. You gave a couple of really good examples. 

Being one who loves the practical aspects of the application of God's word I thought of ways from the Bible that Jesus has helped me to get my forgiveness nailed down. You would know what I mean.... often I forgive but I leak and so, many times I am having to go through the whole process again. 

I like your definition of faith - believing something enough to act upon it. That's exactly right. And as you have also said, nothing ever becomes real in our lives till we act on it. 

Here are some of the things the Lord has helped me to DO to rivet my forgiveness into my heart.  Here is the primary scripture I found to help me in this:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; [45] That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: 

Matthew 5:44-45 KJV

Jesus tells us to DO ---- remember that action thing you talk about? --- four things to people who harm us. I have found that as I actually do them they are the path to forgive others in a permanent and healthy way. 

In order,  Jesus says for us to 

Love them
Bless them
Do good to them
And pray for them.

As I think you know well, these are not easy things to do. 

Now some might see the commands as a sequential list. I have found for me I cannot follow them sequentially. 

In fact, the first command is for me the hardest. To love those harming me is such a far thing from my usual heart that I have never been able to start there. 

I have learned the act of praying  is where I have to start. 

Praying vengeance and curses of course should not be part of the prayer process in this but sometimes I do have a season of prayer that has those things in them.

In spite of this often being the place I begin to pray for them, praying anything for someone who has harmed me begins slowly to change my heart toward the offence and the person. 

I have learned to keep praying until my emotions have moved from myself to the other person's well being. I pray until I really care what happens to them. I find once I am in that space forgiveness becomes easier since I don't want them to suffer even though they have brought suffering into my life. 

The second act for me is blessing them. 

I am not yet ready to do good for them since my heart is not quite ready to. It is  especially not ready to love them. I have moved from wanting fire to come down from heaven and consume them though. And I am no longer feeling  so sorry for myself. So I move on to bless them. For me that means something more than blessing them in prayer. I find for me it is to bless them in actual actions towards them.

It was here that I found a secret action which unleashed the power of forgiveness,  took captive my heart and delivered it from reoccurring episodes of wrath. Here's the scripture:

A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.

Proverbs 21:14 KJV

Now the way I used to read this when I was young was that if I gave a gift to someone it would stop them being angry with me. That is true of the second part  --- a reward in the bosom strong wrath.--- several scriptures confirm this idea. And it is usually the case that if you give gifts to people their heart grows softer towards you. That's another issue. 

I was still working on being able to speak a blessing over them to myself or others. So I am not seeking to win their heart yet. I am seeking to change mine!

One day as I was reading the passage and was dealing with a deep offence someone had done to me I realized that the first part was not asking me to give a gift that the person knew about. It is a gift given in secret.... if I give a secret gift then the only ones who know about it are me and God. I asked, "So what good is thin solving my problem of them hating me?" 

Suddenly I knew exactly what Jesus was telling me. The wrath that was being pacified was not the one harming me but mine. 

I did it. 

The result was crazy and amazing!.

As I arranged to give my gift to the one who hated me and sought my harm continually I found all kinds of reasons to not do it in secret. You know, how will it change his heart if he doesn't know. What if he thinks it's from someone else and they get the credit I deserve? Could I leave a little hint that it was from me? But after I had tried everything I gave the gift completely in secret. When I do my heart was changed. The lingering anger and secret desire to see God take care of it, read send fire from heaven!, was gone. I was asking Jesus to forgive me for holding such offence in my heart against someone who he had loved so much that he had given his life for. I was ready to actually love the one that hurt me. But not the kind of love that is from the world. I was ready to Agape them. I began to love them with God's love. 

So I have come to love them like Jesus. The final step for me is to do good to them.

The way I found I could do the best good for them was to stop telling everyone else what they had done to me. You know the drill.... I forgive them but do you know what they did to me???!!' I found that in loving them I no longer want to remember their sins against them. 

Not with anyone. Not even God.

Further as I continued to pray for them I found things I could say about them that were good qualities. 

All along as I was doing these things I saw this wonderful change in my heart towards them. 

No more sting of remembrance of the offence. 

No more seeking God's vengeance against them even though I forgave them.

No more being gripped by self pity. 

No more trips around the forgiveness mountain. 

Instead a flow of life that softened and made my heart a little more like Jesus's came out from my inner most being. A river of life.  

So once again thank you for your excellent sermon which gave pause for me to remember some wonderful lessons Jesus taught me and  is still working out in my life.


Saturday, September 23, 2017


“Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.” 26 So He let him alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood”—because of the circumcision.”
Exodus 4:24-26(NASB)

This passage tells how the Lord met Moses to "kill" him. Hidden in it is a very clear principle that many forget and end up failing in their attempts to follow the Lord in ministry.

Moses had been commissioned to a work for the Lord in Egypt. He had a supernatural "word" from the Lord complete with a burning bush. We don’t hear from scripture that the Lord ever directly said one word about his boy being circumcised or his relationship to his wife. God said go to Egypt and so that's what Moses was doing! On the way the Lord literally attacks him with the intent to kill him! Has God gone nuts? Is He a little scherzo? What's the scoop?
Here is where it gets so very interesting. God doesn't seem to tell Moses why He is about to do him in. Moses doesn't say anything to Zipporah. Suddenly she decides to circumcise her kid real quick and God relents. Zipporah isn't exactly nice in her speech to Moses but she seems to have saved his life.

All of this means that everyone - God, Moses and Zipporah - knew what God was doing.

God had given Moses a spoken word - a revelation that was beyond the "Word" already given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob..... That word was a direction in his life but...... it didn't overrule the "Word" already given.

So often people really do hear from God but they think that because they have a "direct" revelation it overrides the "Word" in scripture. It does not! Moses was obeying the word he got at the bush but because he was not obeying the "Word", God could not allow him to continue moving towards Egypt.

Zipporah was the real problem as it is clear that she would not be a party to having her son circumcised. I am pretty sure that Moses had warned her about this but she was not committed to following Moses or God. Not only did she have Moses under her thumb she also wanted to protect her boy from God. She was not going to be ruled by either.

Several important principles grow out of this passage.

First, you can have a genuine call of God in your life and God himself will resist it if you are not willing to follow what He teaches in His Word.

Once a young lady I knew became very depressed because she couldn't "hear" God's voice like so many of her friends could. I went to the Lord about this problem and He very clearly spoke to me. The Bible says, until we have listened and followed what he teaches in the written Word then we cannot expect to hear from Him in other ways.

The reason for this is two-fold. First we will not really be able to hear God's voice in the now when we have not learned to recognize it in scripture. An example of this is how Abraham (in the story of the rich man and the beggar in Luke 16) said "if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." No present sign or "word" from God supersedes the Word already given. If they do not follow what He says in the scripture then they will not follow if a sign is given. They will chose to say it is something else.

Another problem with getting words from God can be their reason for wanting a "word" is self centred and not God centred. This was my friend's problem. She wanted a "word" to prove she was special. She wanted to convince herself, and others, that she was "spiritual." Being "spiritual has never been based on getting "words" from God. It is based on our obedience to the "words" we have already been given, first of all in scripture.

Moses was willing to obey the supernatural revelation given on the mountain of Sinai but not willing to obey the one which had been handed down to him through his parents from the patriarchs.

He knew that Abraham's covenant with God demanded that every male that opens the womb had to be circumcised. His wife didn't like this particular aspect of his religion and so she stood in his way of following God. Now we can't be too hard on her because you notice that God didn't hold her responsible. God was seeking to kill Moses not his wife!

Moses should have taken a firm stand even if it meant that it offended his wife. In this way we see that there is a crucifixion in the marriage covenant as well. We must die to placing our marriages before God in obedience to Him.

The second principle is we, like Moses, have to learn the price of the ministry we are given includes dying to making anyone else happy where they are not happy with what God desires, especially those we love the most. God asks perfect obedience to Him even when our spouses, loved ones or friends don't agree. He met Moses to kill him because he choose to honour his wife and her wrong desires before honouring Him. He warns us not to do the same thing.

This can be taken to be an excuse for harshness with our spouses or others. It is most certainly not. It is a warning that idolatry can even be found in the marriage vow if we honour each other above God.

I learned later from the Lord that I did not have to withhold myself in love for someone in order to love Him supremely.

After God had spoken to me the truth I have just shared I found I would often be aloof and try not to love that "special person" in my life so much. One day He said to me, "You don't love me more by loving her less, you love me more by loving me more." That set me free to realize that it wasn't Moses’ deep love for Zipporah that led him to be God's enemy but rather his lack of love for God.

It is only when our hearts have a vacuum in our love for God that the loves of this life can enter and take His place. In fact supremely loving God causes us to love all others even more. He is the source of love.

Moses did not have to grow cold, harsh and authoritarian towards Zipporah to have made sure that his son was circumcised. He simply had to be willing to release her to God and follow his first love.

This is not loving others less, it is loving God supremely. Imagine what Sarah would have said to Abraham if she'd have known the mission he was on with little Isaac when they journeyed to Mt. Moriah was to kill her son? What he was to do there was not because he did not love her or Isaac or anyone else. Had it been so it would not have been an act of love towards God but an act of hatred of the worst kind.

Like Abraham, Moses should have loved God more. If he had of then his love for Zipporah would have taken its proper place.

The summary of the lessons here in this passage then is:

1. If you have received a genuine "Word" from the Lord and it is not coming to pass, check if you have missed following His written Word while seeking to obey the supernatural "Word."

2. Love and Honour God before all others, including those you love the most. They will most likely be the ones who can draw your heart away into disobedience if you are not steadfast in your love towards God.

3. God loves us and the people we influence too much to let us move forward in Him and His service until we have dealt with the areas He has already spoken to us about. If we do not deal with them we start down a road that can leave us unusable and His enemy. Many people don't understand why they are far from Him and yet have known His presence in the past. They feel as if He is against them. It may be He is. If we have persistently not followed Him in love and obeying His commands He may meet us "to kill us." In fact it would be far better that He does so than letting us go our own stubborn way like He did with Balaam. It is as C.S. Lewis said, “a severe mercy.”

This does not mean He hates us. He does not want us to minister in His name when we have a rebellious heart. Our destruction is better than the destruction we will bring into our own and others’ lives as a result of our disobedience.

In this last point we see that it is even His love that motivates Him to chasten us - even to death. It is His love not only for us but for the lives we will affect.

“But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.”
1 Corinthians 11:28-31 (NASB)
4. Seeing that another has a greater place in our hearts is not a signal to love them less but rather that we have grown cold to the Lord.

No one can ever take my bride Carie's place in my heart as long as our love burns brightly. The only time adultery can enter into a marriage is when one spouse has lost their love for the other.

So it is with God. As long as we love Him completely no other "god" can take His place. When one has it is because He has been left in our hearts.

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
Luke 10:27 (NASB)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

I had an interesting thing happen to me today.

Yesterday I lost my wallet. I was pretty sure the very active child I am sharing my house with was the culprit. I always put it in the same place when it is not in my pocket. And she knows where that place is. She has taken lately to liking money.

What made me doubly sure was that yesterday my daughter Grace was taking her on an outing and after she buckled her in the car seat noticed that her wallet was missing. She went back into the house and searched for it everywhere. Finally twenty five minutes later in desperation she had to abandon the search. Don’t worry I was watching Ezzie in the car in our drive way as I was loading my van with some of my worldly possession to move to a storage unit and one day to my bride's new house…… and all the windows were down……. Anyway I digress to assure you that my daughter is a very responsible caregiver even when desperately trying to find her only source of money and identification……

When she got back to the car and was about to leave a sweet voice came from the back seat, “Gracie what were you doing in the house so long?” Grace replied, “Looking for my wallet.” Ezzie said, "I can help you! Is this it?” as she held up the lost wallet.

Having experienced the child for three years now I understood so well what transpired and had great empathy on my poor daughter who the little imp had stolen her wallet from…..

But of course that solidified the idea that the little wallet snatcher had taken mine when it went missing. While she is very impish, one thing Ezzie does not do is tell untruths. When I asked her if she had taken mine she said so innocently and sweetly that she hadn’t that I knew something else had happened to it. Did It fall out of my pocket as I was moving and landed on the street? When I was intensely packing did I pack it too? Did Someone steal it out of the car? The thoughts were endless but the main one was it might be gone for good. I searched the house, car and every place on the property it could have been. I even checked the road near our house. Finally, like Grace, I had to leave. I went to church walletless and penniless. Fortunately Grace had filled up the car the night before so I knew I would not end up at the roadside begging for change.

As I was driving to church I began to meditate on the contents of the wallet and sunk deeper and deeper into a pit of despairing self-pity. It had over three hundred dollars of money I had just sold several items that worth far more than that. But they had to go in the detox exercise from my tendency to hoard my bride has put me on.

It contained several gift cards I was still relishing using when she got back from Holland on her yearly three week detox exercise from children and husband and all that goes with them.

It had my credit card and debit card. My only source of money in the age of plastic. I could imagine some happy soul spending thousands of dollars of my money at Walmart so I cancelled them as fast as I could.

It had my driver’s license, health card and two library cards. Just the thought of reapplying for all of them made me plunge to new depths of despair.

Finally when I was thinking perhaps I ought to forget church and go back home a curl up in bed in a fetal position for a year or so, I had a God thought.

I thought that perhaps this could be a really good time to practice what I preach. I teach people to give thanks in whatever happens. Seemed like this fit that. So I did. Wow what a great time I had. I live a long way from church......
Then another one of those God thoughts came. Jesus had shown me years ago that when something I had was lost or stolen I could give it to Him as an offering. That gleeful person spending my money with my credit card in Walmart really had no power over me since I could give the loss to Jesus. Kind of like giving a brunt offering.

Wow again! I was so happy by the time I got to church that I worshipped with full abandon and loved being there.

Later in the afternoon someone was asking me about not having my wallet with me and what could have possibly happened to it that I had my third God thought. I thought I should pray if God wanted me to have it back He would show me where it was.

As soon as I prayed that I had a picture in my mind of my wallet sitting on a car part that I had moved to the storage unit last week. So off I went to the container of most of my worldly goods, far too many on which I must agree with my bride, to check out if this picture was correct.

To my utter amazement there my wallet was exactly like I saw in the picture in my mind! To say I was awestruck is a total understatement. These things have happened before so it’s not like a first experience, but every time they do I am so overtaken with the reality of God. This was no different. I mean God showed me where my wallet was. It was a miracle!

It seems that everyday life dulls my remembrance of how real He is. I wish it were not so but I think most of us find the same. But when these moments break me out of my lethargy I am so grateful.

Since I met Jesus in my seventeenth year He has shown me how much He loves us all. One of the ways He does so if by being so connected to us that even such a small little thing like losing a wallet can become a moment of intense revelation and confirmation of His reality.

Kind of like a fisherman who once caught the biggest catch of his life when Jesus told him to go fishing after he had fished all night. As a result that fisherman, Peter by name, became the first leader of what we now call the church. Jesus seems to like to show up in the everyday mundane things of life to show his reality. You can find that story and lots more like it in the Bible.

So now like that Bible says about a woman who found a precious lost coin and invited her neighbors rejoice with her, I am inviting you to rejoice with me. Not so much that I had a miraculous experience that brought my wallet back, but that the great God of Heaven who is revealed in Jesus of Nazareth cares about you as much as me and wanted me to encourage you to know He is real!

Blessings to you from a very grateful follower of Jesus!


p.s. It’s nice to have my wallet back too!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Prophecy --- a teaching I gave to the 920 Youth Group of Open Door Christian Fellowship



The first question that must be answered before we can use something properly is, "What is its purpose and place of use?"

For example, I have a hammer in my home. It is iron with a wooden handle. My youngest son, when he was little, thought he knew what this device was for. His understanding of its purpose and mine have not always agreed. He understood fairly well the basic idea of what a hammer is meant to do. He knew it was meant to hit something. Unfortunately, it is the object the instrument is meant to hit that he got wrong most of the time until he was older. His mother and I had real difficulty with his unswerving faith that hammers are to beat on household items like dishes, furniture and car windows.

We didn't let him use a real hammer very often (we were protecting the whole family in this restriction). I wanted him to use a hammer well so I let him use a little one when supervised. Because I didn't want to discourage him I patiently - and sometimes painfully when he hit my thumb - taught him the purpose and proper use of a real hammer.

Although he didn't quite get down the real purpose of hammers for a long time, he now has it. He is the builder of the family and does amazing work with hammers!


The point of my story about hammers is simple. Knowing the purpose and place of a tool's use will be the primary way you can tell whether it is being used properly or improperly. So it is with the "tool" of prophecy. Some will object to calling a gift of the Spirit a "tool" but that is exactly what it is, a tool to build up the body of Christ with for the common good.


The Bible is our teaching standard and as such it must be our guide in finding the purpose and place of prophecy. If we see this as foundational the rest will come into line. The Bible is prophecy "par excellence." Every other prophecy must be subject to it.


Peter speaks of this in II Peter 1:16-2:3 where he describes his experience of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. He points to this as an authoritative experience but then goes on to say that the "more sure word of prophesy" that we are to pay attention to supremely is the Holy Scriptures. He then points out that it was the Holy Spirit who inspired the prophets that gave us the scripture and because of this it is not of any "private interpretation."

Finally, he says that there will be false prophets in the church in same way that there were false prophets in the days of scripture. He explains some of their characteristics and gives us the warning that they will be destroyed for their wrong ways.

If Peter considered the Old Testament as having even greater authority than his eyewitness experience of the glory of God, then we would do well to follow his example in dealing with prophecy.



Prophecy has two elements which show us both purpose and place of use. It is first (and foremost) the anointed proclamation of God's truth and mighty acts past, present or future. Prophecy is a supernaturally appropriate word of God's truth that cuts to the heart of its hearers.

Peter was speaking prophetically when it says in Acts of those who heard him, "they were pierced to the heart, and said... 'Brethren, what shall we do?'" [ Acts 2:37] In this element its purpose is to evangelize or convict of sin by a "Forth-telling" of God's eternal Word. Its place of use is anywhere that the Word from God is needed in power.

Because a contemporary "forth-telling" in the gifts through word [I Corinthians 12:8-10 -- Word of Knowledge, Word of Wisdom, Prophecy, Discerning of spirits, Tongues & Interpretation of Tongues], or manifestation of power [I Corinthians 12:8-10 -- Faith, Gifts of Healing, Working of Miracles, Discerning of spirits.
], is a presentation or illumination of the truth already found in scripture it will always follow the same guidelines as the intent of scripture. Some of those guidelines are found in the book of Second Timothy.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man (i.e. either male or female) of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

II Timothy 3:16

As a "word" from God, prophecy's purpose for a believer will always be to make her or him more effective in their life of service and witness. It will do this by teaching, reproving, correcting, training in righteousness and leading them into good works. I believe this is a progression moving from the teaching through reproof, correction, training to the perfection of good works.

We must be taught about something before we feel reproved. We must feel that something is wrong (i.e. reproved) before we will correct it. Once something is corrected we must learned it as a habit to not move back to our original state (i.e. training in righteousness). Finally, when allowed to do its work, a word from God always results in good works in us. This good work in prophecy has the specific function of building up the body of Christ.


But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."

I Corinthians 12:7

But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in tongues edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church."

I Corinthians 14:3-4

The gifts of the Spirit are given for edification (building up), exhortation (encouragement and reproof), and consolation (comfort and practical help in need) of the Body of Christ.

The first question to ask when moving into the area of prophecy is, "What is the result of this gift as it is being manifested?" Now if we know that a significant part of the purpose of the gift of prophecy is to benefit the whole body we will know that someone using it in a way to profit themselves alone will not be using it properly. Its "purpose" is not private edification. It is given for the whole body's benefit. If the individual alone benefits to the exclusion of the body then it is wrong.

A major by-product of the body being edified is the work of evangelism. In this way prophecy will result in a built up individual, a built up church and a witness to the world.


The second element in prophecy is prediction of future events. This is the element most people are interested in since it speaks of the future and helps in decisions in life that involve the future. It confirms the fact that God is larger than history and is sovereign. Again, this is for edification and evangelism.

When Jesus told the church to leave Jerusalem when they saw her surrounded with armies [Luke 21:20-22] he saved almost the whole church. It "edified the body". It also showed the rest of the unbelieving world that God was in authority and knew what the future was.

This second element of foretelling the future is always conditioned on the first. It will bring the Word of God into the now. It is not a hocus-pocus thing that mystifies people with the prophet's power. The focus of scripture will be the focus of prophecy. God is always the one who gets the glory in scripture. Anyone who exploits a real or supposed knowledge of the future for themselves is not acting in God's Spirit. This is a subtle deception but terribly dangerous. When we take glory for the work God is doing through us we open a wide door for Satan to walk through.


If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, "Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them," you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So shall you purge the evil from among you.

Deuteronomy 13:1-5

We must always remember that Satan has a limited knowledge of the future and complete knowledge of the past. Some might say of a prophecy, "It came true so it must be from God!", even though the fruit of the prophecy was directly against the Spirit of God as revealed in scripture. Satan can and does counterfeit this aspect of prophecy.

Many people are duped into believing that just because something is supernatural it is of God.

For example, there was a woman who became famous because she predicted the death of a president who was assassinated. She claimed that God told her this news. The only problem is that this woman uses crystal balls, horoscopes, enchantments and sorcery, all of which is forbidden by scripture, to get her information.

How did she know that the president was going to be killed? This is very easy to understand when we know there is a whole realm of life that is unseen by human eyes and unheard by human ears. This realm lies under the influence of beings, both good and evil, that perceive every action and hear every plan made by human beings.

Of late the truth of this lady's source of wisdom has been made more apparent. In one of her latest books she tells of a vision she had of the coming of the anti-christ. It was a "serpent with deep wisdom in his eyes" that spoke to her. The same demonic force that told her of the anti-christ intended, and did kill the president through a man or men he had control of. It is the snake, not God, that really told her of his plans. She had a supernatural communication of a satanic plan, but not from God. The president's true murderer, the devil, spoke to her and will speak his plans to any who will listen and follow him. He uses easily recognized ways of doing it.


There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire (human sacrifice, infanticide ...), one who uses divination (i.e. using material objects to find things out - divining rod for water, tarot cards, tea leaves, crystal balls, ouija boards, ...), witchcraft (worship of the devil), or one who interprets omens (astrologers, horoscopes), or a sorcerer (the Greek word Pharmakeia from which we get our word pharmacy -- using of drugs to induce a trance, or altered states of consciousness), or one who casts a spell (voodoo, hypnosis...) or a medium (one who lets spirits speak through him), or a spiritist (one who gains information or power to perform supernatural acts from spirits other than God), or one who calls up the dead (séances). For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord. ... those nations which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so. The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me (i.e. Moses) from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him."

Deuteronomy 18:10-15

Anyone who uses the techniques described here is not following or prophesying from God. They have been deceived by what Moses calls a spirit of seduction. Their messages are to be rejected as false. Any communication that comes through them is not from human thought or from God. They are following and speaking from the devil.

On the other hand God will speak through prophecy. He uses a very specific way to communicate as well.


Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

I Kings 19:11-12

How did all of the Lord's prophets in scripture find God's Word in prophecy? They found it through the simple act of listening in prayer. In the quietness of prayer a listening heart can hear God.


We now have two major principles with which we can begin to understand the purpose of prophecy: 1. It is to build the body of Christ through edification or evangelism. 2. It is to proclaim the works of God in forth-telling or foretelling. As a contemporary expression of the eternal Word of God it will always be in line with the Scripture.

As a test of the "fruit" of prophecy we can see if it is "doing" what God intends it to "do" from our scripture in Timothy - teaching truth, reproving, showing how to correct a problem, showing how to build a habit of righteousness and leading us into good works which glorify God.

Finally, we have seen the reception of prophecy is in prayer. Satan counterfeits the working of the Spirit through the forms of witchcraft, God speaks in prayer.


Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy, and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

James 3:13-18

The wisdom from above, which every God breathed prophetic word will bear, has God's character as its foundation. A word reflects the one who speaks it. When prophecy is from God it always shows his character.


The word pure means no contamination with other substances. Without a context it is neither a positive nor a negative word. Evil and good things can both be "pure". You can do an act of "pure" hatred or an act of "pure" love.

James tells us that in God's wisdom there is no double motive. In the earlier part of his book he points out that praying in faith is to ask without wavering. He describes unbelief as doublemindedness. He says a doubleminded man is unstable in all his ways [James 1:6-8]. This means  she or he is acting out of more than one motive. Any wisdom in this person cannot be fully from God because God's wisdom demands purity (singleness) of motive.

As we have said earlier the motive of a true prophet must be to bring God glory, to build up the body of Christ and to bring others to Jesus. Any other motive pollutes the well and opens us to wisdom that is "earthly, natural, demonic."


Peaceable means seeking peace. Seeking peace means seeking the welfare of others. The Hebrew word for peace - Shalom - expresses more than an absence of hostility It speaks of a wholeness of life. It is not just when we are trying to stop a war. Being peaceable goes much further than this. It is seeking the highest good for others even at our own expense.

We can usually tell when a person is not seeking our welfare. We usually understand when a person is seeking to use us for their own ends. When they do they are the opposite of the peacemaker. God's wisdom may bring division when those listening have no heart for truth but it will never turn the prophet into a warring, self-seeking person.

When someone uses prophecy to manipulate others for their own selfish ends they are not seeking peace. Their wisdom is not from above. The mark of a true prophet is the desire to bless others even when it costs them dearly. This is the peaceable wisdom.


It begins to be clear that what I have said earlier about the character of a prophet is true. Far from being a caustic, abrasive person they are to be gentle. Gentleness is the mark of humility.

A pushy man or woman is needing to prove themselves as being superior (jealousy or selfish ambition). They have unmet desires for power and thus they force their prophetic word on others with threats and demands "in the name of the Lord." They are eager to call down fire from heaven [Luke 9:54]. Jesus however reminds them that "they know not what spirit they are of." [Luke 9:55]. His gentleness is the heart of prophecy. He can wait. His gentle way is the winning way. He wants people to listen to His word because it is right. He wants people to follow His word because they love Him.


Many have trouble with this aspect of God's wisdom. They think reasonable means an ability to be bargained with. When we say to someone "be reasonable", we most often mean, "let me have my own way." We cannot bargain with God. In that sense He is totally unreasonable.

Reasonable here means something that is not "far out" or against God ordained principles and limitations. It also means that its requests are not beyond circumstantial possibilities.

For example, God does not ask us to draw money out or write checks on an account from a bank that closed for good last month. He does not ask us to fly to the moon in a hot air balloon. He may ask things that are difficult or even impossible without His help, but not impossible due to a lack of existence of a particular thing or circumstance.

One summer evening a "prophetic" friend of mine got a "word from the Lord" that we were to have Kentucky Fried Chicken from the store just up the road. When we arrived there the store was closed for remodeling. To my friend's embarrassment we realized that what he really received was a "word from his flesh", that happened to like Kentucky Fried Chicken. Though it was hard to admit, he had to say that he did not hear from the Lord. He was rational enough to know that God would not ask Him to eat at a store that was closed.

The philosophical question "Can God make a rock so heavy that he cannot lift it?" is another illustration of unreasonable wisdom. They say that if nothing is impossible for Him then He must be able to create such a rock. If, however, He creates a rock He cannot lift then He would become less that all-powerful. Such thoughts are nonsense and have no value yet, at times, people express similar things in prophecy.

God acts in accord with His word. He cannot act otherwise for His word reflects His character. It is not in His character to create rocks He cannot lift therefore the question becomes irrelevant. You may ask, "what has this to do with prophecy being reasonable?" We need only look at the second temptation of Jesus to understand it. The Devil used scripture (i.e. a prophecy of scripture) to try and entice Jesus to cast himself down from the pinnacle of the temple:

Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, "If you are the Son of God throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will give His angels charge concerning you'; and ' On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

Matthew 4:5-7

To use prophecy to legitimize irresponsible actions is courting disaster. God does not ask you to do irresponsible or foolish things to do His will. This is like the example of the rock in that it puts God to the test. It is unreasonable because it sets God against Himself. If we get a "word" to jump out of a plane without a parachute to prove our spirituality we best have our funeral arrangements already made. That kind of "word" is not from God. The one who gave it to us (the devil) has no desire to save us from God's law of gravity.


But a certain Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him, and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

Luke 10:33-34

In the last few years there has been a movement against medicine and doctors which has brought much confusion. As I have prayed over this to try and discern the root problem of this movement, I have come to the conclusion it is the lack of mercy.

One night a young woman lay on the kitchen table in her home. She was about to deliver her third child. The previous two had been born through caesarean section and the doctors had warned her that this one would be the same. She and her husband had become convinced that the Lord was speaking to them that they were to not follow the doctor's advice. They felt the word of God was to have the child naturally at home. They had asked a young woman who was a nurse to come and pray with them through the delivery but not to use her medical skill. They also asked several other members of the church who had confirmed this "word" they thought was from God to stand with them in "faith."

As the woman moved into transition she began to haemorrhage. The nurse told them that they would have to call an ambulance and rush her to the hospital to save her and the baby's lives. She was rebuked for her unbelief and forced out of the house. Because of her own fear of being against a "word from the Lord" she did not call the police. The baby was born and lived but after his birth the woman grew worse. Her husband and friends listened to her moaning in pain for several hours. Finally she lost strength, lost consciousness and then died. When the nurse contacted the husband later that evening he said that both his wife and the baby were "doing fine."

They left her dead body on the table for three days believing that God would fulfil His word to them and raise her from the dead. Finally as she began to decompose one of the members called the police. To this day they blame the wife for not having enough "faith" to see the miracle happen. This is the very high cost of false teaching and false prophecies.

What was missing here? Some would say faith.... I believe it was mercy. How could someone watch his own wife or friend die without showing mercy by giving her all the help available to save her? Even if the debate about "faith" ends in God saying "yes it is true that if you have enough faith you will always be well", even if the woman did not have enough "faith", I do not believe for one moment that Jesus would have let this young woman die from lack of medical attention. He would have shown mercy as he did when Peter began to sink in the waters of Galilee [Matthew 14:29-32].

Mercy demands that we do all in our power to help a helpless person. Many who have gone to the extreme in the faith movement in rejecting doctors need to read about the Good Samaritan. He didn't just pray the "prayer of faith" and then leave the man to "faith it out." He didn't rebuke him for not believing in God's promises. He had mercy on him and administered the best medical aid known at that time. Oil in the wounds cleansed and softened them. Wine, containing alcohol, served as an antiseptic. The bandages covered the wounds to combat infection. The rest in the inn provided a "hospital" room for recovery. Prophecy that turns the hearts of people from mercy never comes from God.


Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves, You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles are they? Even so every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, not can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Matthew 7:15-20

Here we see the most important principle in the Bible to discern the spirit of a prophet and his or her words. The fruit of any prophecy from God is the fruit of the Spirit. The good prophecy brings forth this good fruit as naturally as a good pear tree brings forth good pears. A scriptural test of this is the list of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

I have heard people describe the character of a "prophet" as "standing alone", "tactless", "sharp" and "independent." The office of the prophet has been seen by many as a sanctified office to let anger out without censure. Of all the offices of the Spirit, the prophet is the one who must have the least of these qualities. He or she must be continually making sure that their words come from God and never from their own heart's emotions. His or her life should be continually reflecting the fruit of the Spirit. This is especially true in the area of submission. A person exercising the gift of prophecy should be totally subject to his or her authority. Most people get into trouble in prophecy because they are independent.

Once I was in a young fellowship that began to emphasize prophecy and allow it in each service. After this was allowed we found that most of those who gave prophetic words were using them to express their complaints against the elders and the people.

We began to see a common trait in most of these messages - anger. This anger began to tear away at the body. Soon, in addition to the public proclamations, there were an abundance of personal prophecies. These, in the minds of so many of the new Christians, carried almost equal authority as the Bible. This caused great fear if someone did not want to obey them. Our prophets, with a few notable exceptions, began to give people all kinds of strange "thus saith the Lord" words. When they failed to follow their prophecies the prophets would pronounce impending doom.

We began to see that these prophecies did not bear the fruit of edification. They brought confusion, depression and false guilt. We wanted to hear from God but there was a concern that we were unspiritual to question the words of a prophet. Until we became firm that the character of a real prophet and the fruit of his or her prophetic messages must reflect the fruit of the Spirit we were unable to discern between that which was of God and that which was not. We saw that the single bad fruit behind most false prophecies was independence of spirit manifested in unrighteous anger. That independence was manifested greatly through their unwillingness to have their prophecies tested.

...let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgement

I Corinthians 14:29

One day a woman stood up in the meeting and began to denounce the pastor, elders and most of the people. Her rage was very apparent as she spoke "in the name of the Lord." Almost all of her accusations were false. At last the assistant pastor stood and asked her to sit down. She then railed on him for attempting to stop the Lord's message. He reminded her that God had given him authority in that service and that she was to cease her disruption. She screamed out that God would curse the fellowship for not hearing "the Word of the Lord." She and about ten others left the building in protest. She and those who followed her eventually failed in their walk with the Lord. I am convinced they did so because of their pride manifested in unsubmissive behavior.

We finally saw that the real test of our "prophets" was their response to authority. Those who wanted to edify the body displayed the fruit of the Spirit in their submission to the pastor and elders. Those who were using their prophecies to glorify themselves were independent.

When we began to require submission from our prophets we "solved" our prophecy problem. We asked them to come forward and speak to the pastor (or elder leading the meeting) the essence of their message and then, if permitted, to speak it to the whole body. We required all personal prophecies to be submitted to the judgement of the elders. None of the "independent" prophets would accept this and so left the fellowship. The ones who stayed began to experience real power in their prophetic ministry.

The Lord moved very deeply through messages which indeed could have only come from a supernatural fountain. How did we know the fountain was the Lord's? We knew it because they were walking in submission to the God ordained authority of the church and because of the fruit of the Spirit manifested in their effect.

It is biblical, and right that we submit our prophecies to our authorities. If there is an unwillingness in us or a contentious spirit we can be sure our "word" is going to be out of order and will produce bad fruit. When we submit our gift to the body then God can discipline us and protect us from failure. When we do not we are easily blinded by our own wrong spirit. The Lord is very clear in spelling out the root causes of our failure. James tells us that jealousy and selfish ambition are the core of the wisdom from below. These are the "hooks" that lie at the foundation of false prophecy.


This quality could be best described as "consistent." How many times have I heard people tell me that God changed His mind. The funniest story about being consistent in accepting guidance I have ever heard about this quality was from a man that I was helping many years ago.

One day he told me he had received a "word" while was reading the passage in John about the Spirit being like the wind [John 3:7]. He thought that the Lord would thereafter use the wind to guide him in his witnessing. He would take his arms and hold them out like a sail. Then he would pray that the Lord would guide his footsteps by the direction the wind would push him (I think he must have been a real sight to those who watched this procedure!). He would then walk in the direction the wind was pushing him until he came upon someone that he could tell about Jesus. One day he came to me with a very puzzled and forlorn look. I asked him, "what's wrong?" and he replied, "the Lord just led me straight into the side of a building!"

He may have been misdirected in his particular form of guidance but at least he was consistent.

God does not lead us in two directions at the same time. He will not lead me to Africa and Canada in the same moment. He also does not tell me He will do one thing for me today and capriciously change his mind the next (unless I, like the children of Israel in the wilderness, have disobeyed in some measure and disqualify myself from receiving the promise).

God is consistent and His ways are consistent. He never tests us concerning faith by asking whether we will still trust Him if He doesn't keep His promises. He always does what He says He will do.

... it is impossible for God to lie

Hebrews 6:18


I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name I Myself will require it of him. But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. And you may say in your heart, "How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?" When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

Deuteronomy 18:18-22

A lady we knew many years ago longed for a child. She had prayed often and at times was encouraged that the Lord might someday allow her to bear children. As the years went by she, like Hannah in the Bible, began to cry out to God for a child. One day as she was praying in a group a lady came up, laid hands on her, told her that she had a "word from the Lord" that she was pregnant and that she would have a baby before the year was over.

This lady was ecstatic. She began preparing a nursery, purchasing maternity clothes and in general preparing herself for a new little one to be born. About three weeks went by and it came time of the month for her period. She began to bleed. Thinking that this was a possible miscarriage she "stood in faith" against the "symptoms" and rebuked the devil. She confined herself to the bedroom and "prayed through" until the bleeding stopped - about seven days later. She went to the doctor who found no evidence of her being pregnant. Thinking it could be too early to tell he did not force the issue.

Now that she was afraid of losing the baby through miscarriage she continued to confine herself to bed and began to gain weight. This weight gain made her sure that the baby was growing inside of her. Indeed, she did look pregnant.

After six months she asked to be given an ultra-sound to check on the baby. The doctor again found nothing but she was convinced that he was wrong. She thought she saw a clear outline of the baby on the ultra-sound picture. All during this time she continued to have "spotting" every month.

The due date for the baby came and went and still she believed the prophecy she had been given. At last the end of the year came. This broke the spell of a false prophet over her. A woman she knew pointed out that the prophecy had said she would have a baby before the end of the year. Now the year was ended. She pointed out that God would not lie. A prophecy that is from the Lord is always 100% accurate. Because the "word" had not come true it was either from the emotions of the woman who gave it or from the devil speaking through her. She convinced her that this woman was not a true prophet from God.

This lady then saw the error in this prophecy and asked for forgiveness from the Lord for not accepting the clear evidences of her circumstances (bleeding at the time she should have had her period, negative results in a pregnancy test, a negative ultra-sound and no birth on the supposed due date) as proof that she was not pregnant. She had misrepresented the Lord to many people, some of whom were unbelievers. If God had really spoken this word to her it would have been a 100% accurate word - one which would have been substantiated by circumstances in the real world.

This story has a happy ending for two years later she did have a child. God's heart was toward her to have a child but it had to come in His time.


Many will say to Me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles?" And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.

Matthew 7:22-23

Hypocrisy is the scourge of the church. It is a subtle cancer which eats her life away. Simply stated it means "to wear a mask." It is the using of that which outwardly looks right, good and proper for deceitful purposes. It is the hiding of true motives behind a show of appearances. Of all the groups Jesus spoke to and with the Pharisees were the most severely chastened by him. This is because of their hypocrisy. They outwardly appeared righteous and holy but inwardly the were like "ravenous wolves." [Matthew 7:15]

A new man joined our fellowship one day. He identified himself as a "prophet" who had left his native England because the Lord had directed him to come to America. When he would pray for people he had a marvelous ability to pray exactly what their problem was even though he did not know them. We all marveled at this gift and for several years he was a great inspiration in our group.

One day I began to see that something was not quite right. He was striving to get words from the Lord as he ministered. His ministry soon had no manifested power. This was followed by revelations that his marriage was in trouble. The elders met with him and asked what was happening in his life. He denied that he had any problems. He said his marital problems were all his wife's fault and that he was right with the Lord.

For months this went on with him going through the motions but no real work from the Lord being done through him.

Finally a woman came forward who had been involved with him in immoral acts. When the elders confronted him with this he denied any wrong doing. With the woman's revelation many other women confessed that he had done things with and to them which were immoral. As each new accusation was brought he became more assertive in saying that he had done nothing wrong and that he was right with the Lord. A picture of hypocrisy began to emerge.

In the end the truth came out. This prophet had used the supernatural ability he had to win people's confidence. At first he had not been unfaithful to the Lord in his ministry. It seems that he had a genuine gift which he was using to honour the Lord. At some point though, he allowed his flesh to enter in. Instead of repenting, he said he received "a word" that he was to "help" a woman with her sexual problems. He was to be intimate with her to help her release her "sexuality." His justification was the "word of the Lord." In the end he became a hypocrite, unable to admit his sin.

This man never heard from the Lord at all in these latter words. He was not finding sexual fulfilment in his marriage and so found it with other women. His hypocrisy was that instead of honestly saying he was in sin he used his "gift" to entice women into his lustful trap. When confronted with the truth he sought to hide it. Though he later repented and admitted his error the Lord never again used him in prophecy.

The prophet of the Lord will not have shadows of hidden sin in his or her life. They know that truth is what protects them. They will never put on a mask of righteousness when their hearts are perverse. They will be living open lives before all.


Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances, but examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good abstain from every appearance of evil.

I Thessalonians 5:19-21

If we take to heart the qualities of heavenly wisdom James gives us we will find a sure guide to what is really from the Lord in prophecy. His test can be applied to every thought, motive and action of human hearts - our own as well as others. If we blindly accept prophecy without following the command to "examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good", we will be like a captain of a ship who lets his vessel loose to the sea by letting go of the rudder. In the end we will be shipwrecked.



Some people never learn to drive a car because of the awesome responsibility it demands. They fear its potential for destruction of human life. They choose to walk or have others drive them. Unless there are medical reasons for not driving I do not believe this is an appropriate response to the recognition of the potential danger or personal responsibility involved in driving a car. In knowing the danger and the responsibility we must learn to drive as well as possible so that every time we get behind the wheel we can seriously fulfil our responsibility. Accidents may still happen but not because we have been negligent in our training or our commitment to safe driving.

We should have exactly the same attitude about prophesy. It is a very dangerous gift and can potentially destroy others if used manipulatively, ignorantly or flippantly. On the other hand it is a powerful tool to glorify God, build up the body of Christ and give witness to a lost world of God's reality. You are called to use it if given it, but not without deep concern that you are using it as God intends. To not use it out of fear leaves the Lord limited to use you as He desires. [II Timothy 1:7] As a result others will not receive all they might from Him.

But if any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously, and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

James 1:5

We can trust and expect that God will give us the wisdom we need to learn how to use the gift of prophesy well. He has promised to do so not only for this gift but all others as well. He wants to speak to us, His body and His world. We need only to continue to look into His Word to find the principles which if followed will guarantee that we will be a blessing and deliver His true message He has for this present moment.


For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed,

Romans 15:18 (NASB)

Paul said he would not speak of things that had happened except they were in his own life. I think this principle of personal experience is central to giving witness. I can talk about what I have heard from other’s experience and it can be a real blessing but to tell what God has done for me personally adds a weight of authority. I am not telling of something that happened to a person who knew someone else that it happened to. I am giving witness to what I know to be absolutely true because it happened to me. We should each seek to receive everything that God has for us so that we can give witness in this way. The word of our testimony is vital to our proclaiming and reproducing the life of God in others.

As I have been praying over the teaching I am to give today I have thought it best to give an example of a way God has spoken to me, see how he did it in the Bible and then have you practice it together.


Some of the most important ways that God OFTEN speaks to us is by impressions. These are simply thoughts or emotions that prompt us to act.


The word of the Lord came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.” 12 Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.”
13 The word of the Lord came to me a second time saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.”
Jeremiah 1:11 - 13 (NASB)

God gave Jeremiah two pictures and used them to speak something to him. One was forthtelling about God’s character. The other was fortelling a furture event.

I find that God often speaks to me through pictures. They range from a mental picture to a full colour detailed photograph image.

When I was first dating my bride, Carie, she parked the bike her grandmother had given her on her sister’s porch overnight. In the morning she was devastated to find it had been stolen. When I came to see her that morning she told me how the bike had such great sentimental value and how sad she was to lose it. I said we should pray about it and we did. As we prayed I had a colour picture of the bike under a bush in a park not far away. I told her I knew exactly where her bike was. She was a bit doubtful but agreed to walk with me to where I said it was. When we got to the park there was the bike under the bush exactly as I had seen it. God was very kind to me to be able to find my sweetheart’s bike in a way that only He could have. He got the glory but I got the girl!



6 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”   Isaiah 6:1-3 (NASB)

Visions are different than pictures because they are live videos. In some cases they can be so real that it is as if you are actually in the vision yourself and not just looking at it like a movie you are viewing.

This was the quality of Isaiah’s vision. It was as if he was physically present in the vision he had. And who is to say that he was not. But still it was not a natural experience. It was supernatural.

For me, most of my visions have been instructional. They have answered questions or given me direction. Over a span of several years I had a series of visions which were connected to each other which formed a foundation of teaching I desperately needed to escape some of the traps that I could have fallen into as I was being trained in theology.

You can read these visions and what grew out of them by Googling Leonard Terry Four Visions. The blog entry will direct you to the text for each vision.

For now let me relate the third one I had.

While I was attending Princeton Theological Seminary, I was studying under and with some of the greatest religious intellectuals in the world. In the context of a strongly neo-orthodox resistance to the gospel I often asked the Lord how I could effectively witness to my teachers and classmates? I had tried to speak on an intellectual level. It seemed absolutely fruitless. In this setting I began to understand that most of my life I had approached evangelism as a kind of informing others of the option and presenting a rational argument or even an emotional argument for acceptance of Jesus as Savior and Lord.    

I came to a point of desperate desire to touch this very closed community but faced my inability to do so with some major examination of my evangelistic biases.

I was sitting in my Calvin class...... truly boring but not because of the subject!..... and I had a vision that forever changed my thinking on the root of evangelism. It was the kind of vision where you feel you are actually in the vision. I didn't fall on the floor but I did lose consciousness of the physical room I was in. This does not mean I thought that I physically experienced the vision. Anyone looking at me would have seen me with my eyes open sitting in class....... I only say this to help people understand that visions are not as strange as we sometimes make them.

I was sitting in a group of people, about thirty in number. We were sitting in a circle around a small fire. As I looked around I saw that we were in a large cave. It was a lot like Mermac Caverns where the ceiling was very high and the whole cave was quite large. The only light was the flicker from our fire. It cast shadows all around the cave.

As I sat there I felt such a desire to get out of the cave but realized I really didn't know how. Anyone from the South knows about caves. We were always told as children to stay out them because some of the caves we had near our house were long enough and had enough tunnels to get lost in forever. Samuel Clemens immortalized this in his story of Tom Sawyer. Tom and Becky ventured into a cave and met a murderer that Tom had testified against. His murderer eventually died in the cave by getting lost. Tom and Becky almost got lost themselves. With this in mind I looked around the room to see if there was a way out.

In fact there were about twelve black holes at the edge of the room. I knew from experience that these black holes were tunnels leading away from the main room. One of them surely led to the outside but which one........ How could I know? If a person went down the wrong one they could get disoriented and end up lost forever. The limited companionship in the main room was better than being lost.

As I looked at the possible exits each one had a person right outside of it. As I looked carefully at the first one this person was jumping up and down saying, "this is the way out." As I moved on to the next the person was shouting at the top of his voice and waving his arms to get attention, "this is the way out...... this is the way out." While the style of the message was slightly different it was basically the same. The people were doing their best to convince us that they knew the way out. Yet I was not convinced. In spite of their strong expressions I could still be lost forever in the labyrinth of our cave if I followed their direction and they were wrong.

At the next to the last "exit" I felt a great despair. I bowed my head and earnestly prayed that God would help me to get out of this terrible place safely........ but how could I know? As I lifted my eyes again I looked at the last person. He was dressed neatly and in every way just a normal guy. He was standing there saying quietly, "This is the way out." He did not jump up and down or do any of the things the others did to try and convince me that he knew the way out. At this I felt my heart was going to burst. At least all of the others did a good job at trying to convince me. This one wasn't even doing that! He would not be a good candidate.

I bowed my head again and begged the Lord, "Please show me how to know the way out." As I lifted my head the final time I felt again drawn to the man that didn't try to convince me except to simply say he knew the way out. I looked first at his face but then my eyes lowered to see that he had something in his hand. There in his right hand was a branch of a tree with living leaves and a big ripe pear still attached to the branch. Suddenly I knew that he knew the way out.

You see pear trees don't grow in caves.

I understood from this vision that the passion of our evangelistic program..... the convincing arguments...... the motivation of our intended converts to find a way out of the darkness of this world...... all are meaningless unless we have the proof.

The man who knew the way out had already gone out and brought back proof of his knowledge. Anyone who really cared to know could have uncontroversial evidence that his way was the way. He held the proof in his hand. He went out of the dark world of the cave and came back with life and fruit from another world. A world of sunlight, rain and fruit bearing plants.

Above all Jesus was that man. He came from another world and brought with him fruit that does not exist in this world. Imagine a man dying with blessing on his lips for those who were killing him. The apostles continued that fruit bringing as they all gave their lives for Jesus and for others. We are called as well to go out to that wonderful world of fruit and bring back into the darkness of this present world the fruit of the Spirit of God within us.

I knew that God was saying to me that as I let His love, joy. peace, longsuffering goodness, faith, meekness and temperance flow through my life, it would do the work of convincing those who wanted to find the way out of this present darkness. Nothing else will substitute. Nor is anything else essential.

Galatians 5:22 (KJS) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 (KJS) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Ephesians 5:8 (KJS) For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

Matthew 7:16 (KJS) Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

John 13:35 (KJS) By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.  


I have had times where God has spoken through words that came into my mind or in one case audibly.

And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
I Kings 19:11-12

This is where people can often make a critical mistake. They can either think that their thoughts are God’s or that God’s thoughts are theirs. I troubled over this for several years asking often how I could understand the difference.

I can’t say that I always can tell the difference even today but I have gotten a lot better. Everything that I said before in the previous section has helped me. But even when we know the thought bears the characteristics of a word from God how do we know if it really is? I have found the test of three witnesses have given me the greatest indicator.

I was driving one day and saw a woman struggling to get her tire changed. I stopped to help her. As I was putting the tire on I kept hearing the word Episcopalian repeating over and over in my mind. I pondered what it meant and I felt that perhaps the woman was Episcopalian. I wondered how I could use it to witness to her. If I got it wrong I would have blown the reputation of God. So I knew I was not going to say that God told me she was Episcopalian. But if I said nothing I would have possibly missed a great opportunity for God to touch someone’s life. So I thought I would tell her exactly what was happening, no implications of my greatness as a prophet, no thundering pronouncement of the Word of the Lord, just what was actually happening. So I said, “Are you Episcopalian?” She looked like I had slapped her. She said, “Yes I am but how did you know that?” I said I had the word Episcopalian kept going over and over in my mind and thought perhaps Jesus was telling me that for you to know he cares about you. It was him who moved me to stop and help you and he wants you to know for sure that he is real and loves you. Tears came in her eyes. I asked her if I could pray with her. I prayed and then she prayed thanking God for his showing his reality to her.

Another time I had a word given to me that was without doubt supernatural due to the strange way it came. From almost the day I was saved I started in ministry. I co-led two houses where we fed and gave shelter to homeless people. It was a very bizarre kind of work since we did not run it like a conventional mission. We opened up our house and let people come and sleep. It was open 24 hours a day and we fed people three times a day. We had no funding but trusted only on what people gave to us for food and everything else. We had people who ended up living with us to share the work with us. One day one of those workers disappeared without telling us where he was going. To say that everyone we worked with was safe would be an immense exaggeration. Some of the people we helped were mentally ill and often violently delusional. Other were hardened criminals. So when any of our workers were not accounted for at the end of the day we were deeply concerned.

We tried to find him everywhere without success. After he was gone for about a week a friend and I were praying. As I was praying the words Tia Casa kept coming to my mind so I began to pray them. My friend spoke Spanish – I did not. She looked at me with great surprise and said, “You are saying aunt and house in Spanish.” I thought that was very strange. We continued to pray for him. A few days later when he arrived back to the ministry house I asked him where he had been for so long. He said he had gone to his Aunt’s house.

The most important word God has ever spoken to me prophetically happened when I was pastoring a rural charge near Wallaceburg.

I will let my bride tell you the story:

Always the last to be ready for church, I dashed into the bathroom, thinking through what still needed to be done before we all left. Suddenly I felt a sharp, stabbing pain. I bent over gasping with both arms clutching my abdomen and panic overtaking me. Moving instinctively, I stumbled out of the bathroom and fell on my bed, crying and calling for my husband. “I can’t go with you. Something terrible is happening to me!” I gasped.

Coming to the bedside, he knelt down and began to pray aloud, calling out to God for help. Then he was quiet, as he held me in his arms. “I just heard two words when I was praying” he said. “They were ‘tubal pregnancy’. I think we should go to the doctor.” I said, “No. It is probably just a stomach ache. Besides I don’t even know if I am pregnant.”

Several hours later, the stabbing pains had subsided somewhat and though I had an uneasy sense of not feeling well, I was able to dress myself and go through the motions of the day.

The next several days were much the same. I did notice my abdomen becoming more and more bloated and I lacked energy and appetite. I thought, I’ll be fine, a little Alka-Seltzer should help a lot.

The following day dawned with the realization that the Alka-Seltzer had not been the remedy I’d hoped for. I began to experience bouts of light-headedness and now I was truly becoming anxious. “I’d better call your dad” I told the children. I climbed the stairs using my hands and feet for fear of fainting and falling, trying to fight off panic and a looming loss of control. Thankfully my husband was there now to guide me to the bed, while praying aloud for me. This time he said, “I heard the words ‘tubal pregnancy’ again and felt God say to call an ambulance.”

I tried to get up from the bed but fainted. I vaguely remembered the arrival of the ambulance attendants and hearing the words from one of them, “I can’t find any blood pressure or a pulse.” In a moment of comic relief, I whispered, “I’m not dead yet.”

I faded in and out of consciousness as I was being lifted onto the stretcher and put into the ambulance. It seemed only moments had passed but now we were at the hospital. Machines attached to my body and voices all around me were intermittently dim, then loud and sharp as I faded in and out of my new reality. All strength was gone and I felt strangely at peace.

As soon as we got to the hospital my husband explained to our family doctor, who was a Christian himself, that he had heard the words, “tubal pregnancy” twice as he prayed for me. The doctor said he would check if that might be the cause.

Later, in a moment of clarity I overheard the doctor speaking to my husband, “The ultrasound showed she is pregnant but the baby is in the right place.  We don’t know what is wrong but it is extremely severe. You need to pray because if we don’t find out what’s wrong it will be very bad.”

The small chapel in the hospital became the place of prayer as my husband continued to pray for my life. Once again, as he was desperately pleading with God to save me, he heard the words “tubal pregnancy.”

He returned to the emergency room and said to the doctor, “You might think I am crazy but I heard the words ‘tubal pregnancy’ again as I was just praying.”

The doctor told him there was a better imaging device on the second floor and he would take me there to make sure.

That image revealed a tubal pregnancy. I was rushed into the operating room.

Four hours later, I awoke from surgery to hear the surgeon tell my husband “She lost half the blood of her body due to hemorrhaging for five days after her tube burst. She is very strong. One more hour, though and she’d have died.”
(Leonard) The two words that I heard saved my bride’s life. They also showed me a precious kindness. I had begged God as I had been told by the paramedics that she had no pulse and no blood pressure, to please spare her life. I said I knew she would be in a wonderful place if she went to heaven but I would be so lost without her. She was my best friend and I could not imagine life without her.