My friend is a maverick in every thing he does. I’ve known him for more than 40 years and watched his lifestyle and character exemplify uniqueness. Most people don’t realize that God has given him an amazing prophetic gift. I’ve watched him give a prophetic word that was so powerful and accurate that it brought tears to my eyes.
I’ve known many prophetic people who were unquestionably gifted, but have been relegated to fringe status and not taken seriously. Their credibility is questionable because they have no supportive context. God arranged prophets to function in conjunction with His church along side the apostles. When they submit to church government, it’s like a safety net for them and for the people they minister to. Tragically many prophets have dissed the church and disqualified themselves from their full potential. The voice crying in the wilderness, the lone wolf complex, it has a certain martyr appeal. In contrast, the new covenant prophet is connected and functioning as part of the church body. Being stubbornly independent is immaturity, and a dangerous characteristic that limits their effectiveness and usefulness to the body of Christ. A connected prophet’s words are more to be trusted because they are tried and tempered. There is a confidence that their words are closer to the whole council of God rather than just one man’s opinion. It is too easy to mix God’s words with personal bias’s, agendas or pet peeves.
The old covenant prophet exemplified by John the Baptist was fiercely independent in appearance and deed. His character is now mimicked but few are willing to pay the price he payed. The rest of the NT prophets spoke to people for their upbuilding, encouragement and consolation (1 Corinthians 14:2,3). It’s too easy to beak off with opinions, then try to convince people it was God’s word. We forget that we are not God. We take our opinions far too seriously when we try to manipulate in an effort to be heard.
For many years, something that’s bothered me has been my inability to pray long fluent, professional sounding prayers like some pastors do. You’d think that after being a Christian all these years, I’d be a real pro at it. Well not so, and it’s always been a source of embarrassment, especially when I’m called on to say a prayer. I’ve envied those who could pray up a storm and make all the words flow like a script. My public prayers were short and to the point with no filler words to make the prayer sound good. Listening to my prayers, you would think that I was a complete novice, so much so that I seldom pray in public. If I try a longer more eloquent prayer, my words get all twisted up and don’t come out right.
A few things have changed my thinking on this matter.
– I heard a story about a fellow who was asked to deliver a prayer in a large public setting. He prayed what could be described as a politically incorrect prayer. Someone chided him and said “they felt the prayer was inappropriate.” He response was “I wasn’t talking to you.”
Who was I praying to anyhow? Are my prayers for the benefit of others, or is it really God I’m addressing?
– I’ve been meditating on the scriptures preceding The Lord’s Prayer. (Matt.6:5-8) I have come to a measure of peace with the way God made me.
– I asked my pastor about it, and he said “your public prayers are a reflection of your private prayers.” His council started me on a journey of privately praying a lot more than I ever had before. My public prayers haven’t changed much, but I’m ok with that.
– Every night when I awake in the wee hours, I’ve made it a habit to read the scriptures and pray rather than fret about the day. That’s when my head is clearest and everything comes into focus and makes sense to me, so it’s like giving God my very best time.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
A Christian couple befriended another couple with the hopes of evangelizing them. After a few dinner dates the couple said to the Christians “we’ve finally figured out why you guys are so nice, you’re vegetarians.” Not exactly the response they were hoping for.
I’ve known some gays who smiled a lot and were very nice, but they were far from being Christians. Many religions and practices turn out nice people. Search as you may, but you won’t find the word “nice” in the bible. Niceness was never intended as a gauge of godliness. The seriousness of our calling, and the weight of knowing what we know about where this world is headed, can tend to intensify the urgency by which we conduct our lives. When I see a pastor with a silly grin, pretending Christian life is a bucket of roses, I want to tell him to give his head shake. Jesus was never described as being nice. In fact to some He was downright insulting and obnoxious.
God provided us with an amazing device that He designed for letting people know what we’re thinking. We only need to engage the brain before opening it. A silent witness is only good for deaf people. The rest of the population uses words unless for some reason we are too shy, ashamed or embarrassed by what we have to say.
In Romans 10:10 the bible says “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
By not opening our mouth, we not only preventing ourselves from being saved, but scores of others who could have benefitted from our testimony. Are we that self conscious and concerned about our image that we would deprive them of the gospel? The concept of being a silent witness is an unbiblical copout for the fearful in heart. In the end, they will go to hell thinking we were nice people.
Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. – Mark 16:15. Imagine proclaiming the gospel to the whole creation without using words? Unless it’s not in fact the gospel, but some form of man centred religion.
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” – Mark 8:38
I met a young man who was restless, angry, and without any real peace in his heart. It showed whenever someone rubbed him the wrong way, he would become difficult and bristly like a cantankerous old man. He struggled and had issues with anyone who crossed his will. I wondered how he ever managed to keep his marriage intact. Believe it or not, he professes a faith in Jesus Christ and is an active member in a Christian church. So why does this fellow struggle so with everyone? Bob Mumford used to use the illustration of stroking a cat the wrong way. Apparently that means tail to head. He said to the cat “if you don’t like it, turn around.” We wonder why life is always so difficult. Why it feels like we are swimming upstream against the current. The answer is to turn around. The bible uses an unpopular term that nobody wants to hear these days, “Repent”
God was a way of ordering our lives which is drastically different from the way we think our lives should be lived. Trouble is He knows what He’s doing and we really don’t have a clue! We muddle our way through life and make the best of it, but a lot is left to chance.
Jesus said “come to me and I will give you rest.” This includes rest from vexation of life caused by struggling to do things your way.
Someone once said “Our need for rest serves to remind us that we are not God, and that He can run the earth quite nicely without us.”