Category Archives: Prophetic

Leadership, caliche, gardens, hearing from God, and finding Jesus in the Old Testament

This past weekend was amazing, as the last weekend in January for the last 17 years has always been for me.

My church has a leadership retreat every January.

That sounds run-of-the-mill, but it’s not.

We attend about 48 hours of meaty, practical, inspiring teaching sessions and have powerful worship and ministry.  It’s a time when the ministers are ministered to.

Additionally, many leaders and pastors attend from around the world, each who have close ties to my church.  This year, there were folk from Northern Ireland, Zambia, Mexico, and South Korea.  Thus, we call it the Leadership Summit.

I have no words to explain how powerful and amazing and NEEDED this event is.

So, I won’t try.

But…  a couple of things I will say:

  1. I have no great love for the desert.  How I deal with this, in my heart, ebbs and flows.  Sometimes, I do better than others, adjusting to the fact that my husband is a native of Phoenix, our greatly beloved church is here, and my husband’s amazing job is here, as well.  This past year, I struggled a lot, though.  There are a variety of reasons for that, but let’s just leave it there:  I struggled.  I have been sad.  At the Summit, with tears, I realized that I needed to… adjust my heart.  This is where I am.  This is, for my husband and perhaps even for myself, the land of our anointing, in spite of the brown, the hot, the dry, the dusty, the lifeless, burnt desert.  This is where our Father God has us.  It just is.  I don’t know why He has put a yearning in my heart for green, for rain, for humus instead of caliche, while placing me in its opposite.  Yet, He has.  And, I realized that I just had to accept His sovereignty and find my sufficiency in Him.  On Thursday night, I prayed in my heart, “Father, You are my garden.  You are my brook.  You are my green, rolling hills.  You are my rain.”  That was hard, but it was good.  The next night, I was standing there, while the worship team played and sang, just soaking it in with my palms up, receiving.  A young man from Northern Ireland came over and started praying and speaking prophetically over me.  “I see you in the Father’s orchard.  There is fruit there.  A lot of low-hanging fruit.”  He proceeded to encourage me about my life being fruitful.  And then he said, “And the Father is walking with you, in the cool of the evening.”  !!!   Those words are from the description of the time in the Garden of Eden.  I laughed.  I couldn’t help it.  God is so good, and He is so faithful to make sure I REALLY GET IT when He speaks to me.  He is my garden.

    Caliche, or what passes for “soil” in the Sonoran Desert.

  2. I went to the Summit in hopes of hearing from God for… distilling… sorting out… prioritizing… refocusing.  Instead, I felt the Father call me to become “determined to know nothing… except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”  I have debated whether or not to post about this on here.  I want to know Jesus in… obscurity.  Just know Him.  Learn more about Him.  Hear His heart.  But, I thought it also might be an encouragement to some reading this:  rather than seeking what Jesus HAS FOR ME, I’m just seeking Jesus.  Everything else for which I look — direction, maturity, a “job” in the Kingdom of God, a future and a hope — is secondary, a byproduct.  So, I committing a certain amount of time, really an extravagant amount of time, daily, to reading Scripture and hearing from God.  I’ve started in Genesis, and am planning to read fairly quickly through the Bible, and be looking for Jesus among the pages.  Yes, I know He doesn’t appear until the book of Matthew.   But, really, everything in even the Old Testament points to Jesus’ appearance here on earth.  I felt God tell me that, in spite of spending time that I, frankly, don’t have, He will continue to provide time.  He’ll provide efficiency, focus, and clarity of thought as I go through my day.  Everything that needs to get done will get done, even as I attempt to delve into the Word of God for several hours daily.
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Why it was good for me to drag my tired hind-end to small group last night… What I could have missed.

Small update to yesterday’s complain-y post.

The leader of my small group chose to teach/discuss passion for Jesus, and how His love for us stirs our hearts to love Him, and what that looks like, and how we live that out…

I got to share a story from this past week, where I had and opportunity to show love to someone when I didn’t feel like it.  I know that sounds minor, sounds insignificant.  But, to me, it was extremely challenging under the circumstances yet I knew it was something God was calling me to do.  And the results, the fruit of that, have been wonderful, beyond my hopes.

Later, we worshiped — which is toward the end, and which was really wonderful.  And I was grinning during part of worship, as I sang, if nothing else because two of the four songs I chose were so very fitting.  I love it when that happens.  Occasionally, people will ask the leader and me if we planned out the teaching to match with the worship or vice versa, and we say, “No… that’s the Holy Spirit.”

So, the first song was Sing, Sing, Sing by Chris Tomlin.

What’s not to love about You
Heaven and earth adore You…
You are the love that frees us
You are the light that leads us…

But even more fitting was Consuming Fire by Tim Hughes.

Consuming fire, fan into flame
A passion for Your name
Spirit of God, fall in this place
Lord, have Your way
Lord, have Your way with us…
Stir it up in our hearts, Lord
A passion for Your name!

Maybe that doesn’t mean much to y’all…  But it was like God saying to me, “See?  It’s good of you to be here.  And, see??  You hear from me, even when you’re not particularly trying to.”

After “official” worship is over, I continued to play guitar, as I always do, in what my husband calls “covering the environment”.  There were small clusters of people, praying for each other.  Often, during that time each week, I’ll just strum a chord progression, building it up, then bringing it down…  About half of the time, I’ll sing prophetically, usually fairly quietly over the group:  Just what I feel is in God’s heart to those gathered, in first person, His voice to His beloved…  Among other things, it helps me feel connected with what is going on during ministry time.  Since I’m the worship leader, there isn’t usually opportunity for me to pray for others, and only occasionally do others pray for me during that time.  I’m totally OK with that.  But, if I’m singing over the people, I’m still connected, and that’s good.  Last night, I had a prayer rising up in my heart.  Honestly, I don’t often vocalize what I call “prayer songs” — things that are on MY heart to God’s.  But, not only was it welling up in me to sing, I sang quite loudly, which I don’t usually do.  I usually stay in the background, not wanting to make it difficult for one person to hear another’s prayer…  I would glance up every few minutes, and all those present were just soaking it in, eyes closed, hands open, receiving, listening, participating in their own hearts, voices occasionally harmonizing with what I sang.  It just seemed that what was on my heart was on everyone else’s, too.  It was really beautiful.

After the group was over, while most everyone was snacking, I got to talk with a woman…  Well, she started to come to “my” small group only a few weeks ago.  I could tell she was unsure about the whole thing…  I had remembered — from some conversation long ago — that she was from farming country in Illinois.  So, when she came to the small group for the first time, I rekindled that conversation and discovered that her son lives in the tiny town — population 1,785 — where my paternal grandmother is living (in a skilled nursing facility, about ten miles from the home of her birth).  Again, perhaps that seems inconsequential, but it was another whisper from the heart of God to me, and more importantly, to this other lady, that she is CONNECTED to the Body of Christ, to this particular body of believers…  Belonging to His family is important to God.  So, I joked with her, “I waved to your son when I went to visit my grandma.”  And we talked again about loving the land, and family farms, and being married to men who love the desert.  It was good.

Later, after everyone had left, a mom who lives in the multi-generational home where our small group meets…  Well, she and her husband have been fostering a child for THREE YEARS.  Three years, since the child was only a few weeks old.  And now the birth mother’s extended family have finally “won” and this darling child will be going to live with the stranger-family (strangers, though related by blood) permanently in a couple of weeks.  HEART-WRENCHING.  The whole thing has very much shaken me.  But, I hung out with her afterward and we talked about the whole thing, which we do almost every week…  And I felt God saying to me, “See?  It’s good of you to be here.  She needs this.  You need this.”  And on top of that, she wants to give me the little one’s crib for our new baby.  A couple of months ago, a sweet friend re-gifted a different crib to me, that had been given to her, but it’s in dire need of new paint, and has been sitting in my storage room, waiting for me to get motivated.  This “new” crib is gorgeous, dark wood, and in excellent condition.  I felt both honored that she would give the crib to me… and having it will be a reminder to pray for that family.

And another woman…  the matriarch of the home, had earlier overheard the conversation I’d had about the farm and said, “Sit down here.  I want to read something to you that I read this morning” and she proceeded to read the whole of Psalm 65 in a translation I’d never heard:  The Voice.  It was achingly lovely.

You spend time on the good earth,
watering and nourishing the networks of the living.
God’s river is full of water!
By preparing the land,
You have provided us grain for nourishment.
10 You are the gentle equalizer: soaking the furrows,
smoothing soil’s ridges,
Softening sun-baked earth with generous showers,
blessing the fruit of the ground.
11 You crown the year with a fruitful harvest;
the paths are worn down by carts overflowing with unstoppable growth.
12 Barren desert pastures yield fruit;
craggy hills are now dressed for celebration.
13 Meadows are clothed with frolicking flocks of lambs;
valleys are covered with a carpet of autumn-harvest grain;
the land shouts and sings in joyous celebration.

She sent me a text this morning, early:  “Karen dear… there are songs for you to write in Ps 65 (the Voice).  I have the strongest urge to convey that to you I can’t even wait for a polite time to call you.”  That made me cry.  It was just one more whisper from God’s heart to mine.  One more sweet ribbon, tying me to His heart and to His people…  And I would have missed that, had I not gone to small group last night!!!

And then, to top the whole thing off, as I got into the car to drive the short distance home, I turned on the Diamondbacks game, and it was the bottom of the ninth, and J.J. Putz was closing it out…  We were leading.  I got home in time to see that last out being made, on TV.  🙂

And then I pulled out my book and read until I was drowsy, and then went to bed, very satisfied with the day, my heart full to overflowing, deeply content.  I felt like God had redeemed the day:  turned something that could have been an exhausting drag into something glorious.

The most significant bathroom break, ever.

“Jean Marie,” read the very short text from my husband.

I was at a red light when I read it, out doing errands with my 13 year-old son, Grant.  It was five days after my mother had passed.  Her name was Jean Elaine.

“Wha…???” was my response, aloud.

I called my husband.  “Are you saying that if we have another baby, you want to name her after my mother?  You know I hate the name Marie.”

Our youngest turned four in October.  I will turn 40 in June of next year.  I’ve wanted “just one more” for a couple of years now…  It just never felt like our family was complete.  I wanted one more shot at having a home birth.  I wanted one more baby to nurse.  I just… wanted another baby.

My husband?  Not so much.  I would bring it up about once every six months — enough to let him know it was still on my heart, but not enough so that it was nagging.  It’s not a good idea to nag one’s husband into having a baby, I figured.  We needed to be in it TOGETHER, wholeheartedly.

“It’s already too noisy in here,”  he would say.

“WHAT??” was my kind response.  “You’re vetoing the life of a child based upon the noise factor??”

“Yes,” he replied with finality.  “And I’m not ashamed to admit it.  One more baby would send me over the edge, noise-wise.”

I couldn’t help but persist, “But a baby doesn’t make much noise.  A three year-old makes a lot of noise.”

“Yes,” he agreed, “But that baby grows up to be a three year-old.”

“But by that time, Ethan [our oldest, who is 15] will likely be out of the house.”

“That doesn’t count,” he replied, “Ethan hardly makes any noise at all.”

I had to admit he was right about that.

So, when the thought would surface, as it often did, I would just submit the whole thing to God, to His plan, to His timing…  I spent much time wondering if that was just the way He made my heart:  That I would always long for another baby, and that I was to funnel that into encouraging and equipping other mothers in their efforts to birth naturally.  And, it hasn’t escaped my notice that I could be a grandmother before the decade is out.  Maybe He was preparing my heart for that.

——–

About a week prior to that text, I was at my mother’s bedside, praying.  She had been in the hospital for nearly three weeks.  She had had a series of strokes, plus the doctors had discovered a large, vegetative growth on one of the valves of her heart, which was likely sending off bits of itself around her body, resulting in the strokes, as well as threatening the viability of her heart.  She had been in poor health before those incidents:  complications from Marfan Syndrome, two extensive back surgeries, a nerve problem similar to multiple sclerosis (CIDP), a half-paralyzed diaphragm that caused one lung to continually fill with fluid… And on top of THAT, she had aspirated a bunch of fluid and now her good lung was full and not functioning well.

It was a hard time.  During the first two weeks, I was at the hospital nearly every day.  The last week, I was there almost 24/7.  She needed someone continually at her side, and as good as the care in the hospital was, they just couldn’t provide that.  My stepdad took many days off from work — he works part time as a school music teacher — and is not in great physical health himself.  My sister works a “part time” job that is just a few hours shy of full-time, plus has a two-year-old daughter.  My older brother flew in from Texas for a time, and my younger brother drove down from Portland…  But eventually, TJ had to fly back to Texas, and Brian felt like he was behind the eight-ball, knowing how to care and advocate for our mom.  Everyone pitched in as they could;  everyone spent hours with my mother;  everyone spent nights at the hospital.  We called on friends and extended family to fill in the odd hours when no immediate family could be present.  But in the last week, I was the one able to be there most often.

I was continually thankful, especially that last week, for children who are acquainted with our routine enough to manage fairly well without me.  My dear husband, too, felt very strongly that someone should be with my mother continually, and was very supportive of me being there so much.  I was also thankful that, with our move, I was less than two miles from the hospital.  And for us homeschooling, which lends a great deal of flexibility to our schedule, further enabling me to be there.

“And…” I reluctantly prayed, “I have to admit your wisdom, God, in not allowing me to have a baby, much as I have wanted one.  If I had an infant right now… or even a two-year-old, this would not be possible.  Instead, I am able to be here at my mom’s bedside when she needs me.”

I was incredibly thankful for that.

During her last weeks, my mom would drift in and out of lucidity.  She would often be asleep, and visitors and conversation continued in her room.  It was always pleasant.  One of my favorite things about that time is the peace and kindness present in the room, by the Holy Spirit and His work in my mother’s life.  I had so many great conversations with family members and with friends who had come to spend some time with my mother.

My husband and I have five children;  most of my parents’ friends know that.  And when one has “a bunch” of children, it is frequently asked of me, “Are you going to have any more?”  As a response to that question, one of the several times it was posed to me there in the hospital by a visitor, I responded by saying that only a few months ago, my mother had said to me, unprompted, “I know you and Martin aren’t likely to have any more children.  And I think that for most families, six children would be problematic.  But I want you to know that I think it would be fine if you have more children.  If any family should have more children, it should be yours.”

After I related that story, my mom, with eyes closed — I had thought she was asleep! —  piped up weakly, “It’s because you’re such a good mother.”

I cried.

……..

Back to the conversation following the text from my husband, I continued, saying, “I’m really glad you are… amenable to the idea of having more children, but I’m not pregnant.  I would know.”

He responded, “I was just going to the bathroom…”

Let me interject here to say that my husband’s work-bathroom-break-prayer-times have always been inspirational to me.  How often have I, as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five, thought — or said, “I just don’t have enough time for a ‘real’ quiet time.”  However, I have long known that Martin uses those few minutes of alone-time, purposefully to check in with God.  It doesn’t take long, really, to reconnect with Him.  Martin prays about what’s on his mind.  He listens to anything the Father might say in return, all accomplished within a few minutes in the middle of his busy day.  I now do similarly.

“…and I feel like God spoke to me,” he continued.  “If you are pregnant — and I think you are — and if it is a girl — and I think it is — we’re going to name her after your mom.  I’m not tied to the middle name, but her first name will be Jean.”

I was shocked.

“But I’m not pregnant!” I repeated.

“Go get a test,” he responded.

“What if I am?” I asked, “Are you going to have a hard time with it?”

“Nope.  God spoke to me.  I already dealt with it.  It’s all good.”

I really don’t like that saying:  “It’s all good.”  But in this instance, I did.

I also have to interject a positive note for serving a God who SPEAKS, a God who speaks TODAY to the people He loves, if their ears are tuned to His voice, not only through His Word — the Bible — but directly from His Spirit into our spirit, into our thoughts, into our lives, RIGHT NOW, words of significance to where we are in our daily lives, in our minute-by-minute concerns, in our current needs.  What if we didn’t?  What if my husband didn’t?  What if I got pregnant and he was upset?  That had been my lone concern about becoming pregnant:  I’d be thrilled, my husband would be distressed and worried, and I’d have to spend nine months reassuring him that it would be OK, and knowing that we weren’t in unity…  I didn’t know if I could handle that.  But, in a few minutes, within the space of a bathroom break, God spoke to my husband and changed his mind entirely on the subject.

“Go get a test,” he repeated.

I did.

And I am.

Baby Jean will be born likely the end of June, next year, just after my 40th.

🙂

Garden! Health! Books! Road trip! Working!

I really don’t have writer’s block.  I’ve written countless posts in my head!  They’re just not happening in real life.

So…  small updates:

  • They're even prettier in real life. I have some that are downright purple on the outside, but the interior is bright orange. Lovely!

    Garden:  It’s beautiful and flourishing, and it feels fabulous to eat my own hand-raised, organic veggies.  It is truly decreasing my need to buy vegetables from the store.  It has taken a while — more than a year — to really get GOING and productive.  And, I still have lots and lots and lots to learn… it’s one of those areas of learning where you can never know ALL there is to know.  Ever.  Interestingly, though, I don’t mind that.  Normally, I get a little cowed by problems with unending possible solutions;  I like things that I can wrap my head around.  However, I find that gardening is enjoyable even when I will never know everything there is to know.  My most recent discovery:  When the planting schedule says that you shouldn’t plant your green beans until March 15, February 20-something really IS too early, and your seeds really WILL rot in the ground when planted too soon.  Bummer.  A triumph, though:  My hubby is taking my gardening seriously.  I tend to get interested in things, and hit them hard for a few weeks or a few months, spend too much money on them, then my interest and devotion fizzles, which amounts to a lot of time and money wasted.  So, he wasn’t robustly supportive of my garden plans, initially.  Now, he TOTALLY is, probably because I’ve been faithful, instead of just excited.  🙂  And he can see the benefit.  Last garden note:  You MUST grow these carrots.  I scrub them and we eat them unpeeled.  They are gorgeous and tasty.

  • Fiala’s health:  I wish I could say that she is 100% better, but I can’t.  She does continue to improve, and it is absolutely clear that her major struggle IS with a candida infection.  However, it is taking longer to clear than I had hoped.  And, she is not self-regulating.  She is happy to “steal” a banana or a jar of honey, or even pull a carrot from the garden, whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Then, the yeast in her system feeds on that sugar, and we have a setback that takes a week or two from which to recover.  So, it’s kind of like three steps forward, two-and-a-half steps back.  She still has head-to-toe “eczema” — which really isn’t eczema — and it’s worse in some places than in others.  But, she has no open, oozy wounds, and over all, her skin, disposition, and general health has improved by, oh, about 40%.  She is on oral and topical Nystatin, plus probiotics, colloidal silver, and grapefruit seed extract (in capsules).  Plus a no-sugar diet, minus the 1/3 cup or so daily of blueberries — her lone joy in food.  Actually, it’s funny, because now that we’re aware that SUGAR in food is her main problem, I’ve been letting her sample various sugar- and starch-free foods, and she just doesn’t like most of them.  So, her diet is still very, very simple, very limited.
  • My own health:  I have improved SO GREATLY on a low-carb, sugar-free diet.  Not only have I lost about 15 lbs, but instead of getting neck-to-thighs hives every single night, that lasts for HOURS and to be relieved only by a double-dose of Benedryl, I’ll get a patch here, a patch there, about twice a week, and it lasts for 20-30 minutes or so.  So, I’m not 100% healed, either, but I’m getting close.
  • Books:  I should really do a whole post on “Books I’m Trying to Read.”  I normally only read one book at a time, but I’m partway through about six books right now, none of which I want to put down, and for none of which I actually have TIME to read right now.  The only one I’ve actually finished has been The Confession by Charles Todd (see next bullet point).  And that took me nearly two weeks of whittling away…  The others have taken — are taking, actually — much longer.
  • Road trip!  Two friends and I drove to Prescott a couple of weeks ago.  It was a treasure of an afternoon — such a pleasant drive of wonderful conversation, lunch together, then a really awesome two-hour meet-the-author presentation by Charles Todd, which is actually a mother-and-son team.  They were both present, and were such engaging speakers.  It was interesting from all angles:  as a writer, as someone interested in WWI (the setting for all their books), as a semi-Anglophile, as a fan…  I’ve read all of their books, save one.  My friends and I had lunch was at The Raven Cafe.  I had researched which places had a gluten-free menu, and when we got to Prescott, my friend Kathy said, “After lunch, I hope we have time for the best cup of coffee in Prescott.  It’s at The Raven.”  The Raven was already on my short list of g.f. lunch spots!!  It has such wonderful ambiance, and it stocks GLUTEN FREE BREAD.  With my low-carbiness, I haven’t had bread in a couple of months.  But, I broke with that for an amazing turkey melt sandwich with avocado, muenster cheese, and other good things, with a side of amazing sweet potato fries with garlic aioli.  I was in heaven.  The whole afternoon, I was in heaven.  It was perfect.  Kathy kept saying, “Is this really real?  Is this really happening?  Am I really in Prescott with two of my dear friends???”  Now, I think I need to come up with more reasons to take little drives and spend a good chunk of a day with my friends.  The whole experience is still glowing in my heart, two weeks later.
  • Jobby-things:  I know a while back I said I wasn’t going to make any writing-related work, but I had already told my author-friend Marietta I’d give her most recent book my once-over.  So, I’ve been working on that.  I also co-taught a small workshop on prophetic singing, which was a complete and total joy.  I was absolutely shocked when I was handed a check for payment.  It was a little disturbing, actually.  I had to ask my pastor what he thought I should do with the money, and he said, “Keep it.  You’ve invested hours of your time and commitment learning about this, making the teaching notes, investing in the prophetic and singing.  Keep it and enjoy the fruits of your labor.”  So, I am.  Haven’t cashed it yet, though.

When prophetic words go wrong….

Earlier this month, I posted on an encounter I had with the Holy Spirit in January, which — among other things — involved prophetic words delivered to me by a number of individuals.  A few comments — and a few private notes to me on the subject — prompted me to consider writing about “Why prophetic words aren’t always fulfilled.”  As I formed the post in my mind, I thought, “I’ll have Kathy look it over before I post it.”  Then, I had a better idea.  Why not just ask Kathy to write it in the first place???

Kathy Beal heads up the thriving and active prophetic ministry at our church, Vineyard Phoenix.  She also leads and teaches with the International Prophetic Community.  She has a lovely, insightful blog at Wisdom Town.  I have known Kathy for nearly 20 years, and have considered her an inspiration, a teacher, a mentor, and a precious friend.  I am confident that, no matter your interest level in the prophetic, you will find something of value in this thoughtful, wise post.

Prophetic Unfulfillment
by Kathy Beal

What a delightful opportunity to address the question of why some prophetic words go (seemingly) unfulfilled. I’ve participated in a prophetic ministry for over twenty five years, and have carried responsibility for training others in the prophetic both in my local church and in other nations. Suffice it to say, I’ve talked to a LOT of people about this question. Through all the years, in all the locations, I find the problem usually boils down to one of the following areas:

Who gave the prophetic word? Personally, I would just not open my spirit to receive a prophetic word from someone who is not planted in a local church. I want to know that any person “prophesying” to me is well known in their local church and that their ministry is under the covering of a Godly pastor. I would go so far as to ask: Who can I talk to about your ministry? Who holds you accountable for accuracy and character? If they can’t answer this, with accompanying names/church location/contact information, then I’m not integrating the prophetic word into my life. If it does contain some accuracy, I may note it. I may share it with my own pastoral covering, for their input. I may wait for confirmation from the Lord. But I won’t be holding my breath. If you receive a prophetic word from an untested, “wild card” of a person, don’t be surprised if it goes unfulfilled.

It is just the simple truth that some folks believe they have a prophetic “anointing” because they can flatter people well. They can garner a little attention, get a little following, and feed their egos through manipulating people. It is a wise thing to discern true spiritual authority, humble character and pure motive from such “players.” You will protect yourself from much harm.

Discerning the soul from the spirit: The truth is, all of us can get worked up in our emotions. I’ve talked to so many people who became ensnared by their own immature desire for something. Sometimes it is a “thing” – i.e., a person, position, provision, etc., Sometimes it is the timing of the fulfillment of that desire. When we want something really badly, we tend to exchange “wishing” for the truth. It goes something like this:

“I really wanted to get married, and that guy prophesied to me that it would happen in the next year. So when it didn’t I stopped believing that God cares about how lonely I am.”

“And why did you believe that you could trust the timing part of that prophetic word?”

“I don’t know. Didn’t the guy prophesy from God?”

“Was there any confirmation from any pastor, or any spiritually mature person who is involved in your life and caring for your spiritual health?”

“No.”

“So how do you know if that was really a word from God?”

“Well – it was what I really, really wanted.”

There is something I call “magic fairy dust” – and it is the enemy of a true prophetic word.

Prophecy is hearing the mind and heart of Jesus for a particular situation, and speaking what we hear. Prophecy is not discerning a need, and tickling a person’s ear with the promise that the need will be met in a particular way, or in a particular time. In our relationship with a Savior who fervently loves us, is ardently desirous of meeting our needs in His timing, in His resource, and in a method which includes character development and cementing our dependence on Him – there is no magic fairy dust. There is nothing we can sprinkle on each other that, when it lands on our eager hands and sparkles in the moment, transfers – poof – a trial, longing, or need into a fairy tale solution. It just doesn’t work that way.

Jesus offers us the Truth. He is the Truth. It is in HIM that we get the (sometimes painful, difficult, challenging) truth that sets us free.

We want relief. He wants maturity.

Sometimes, a prophetic word evaporates in the harsh light of day. Why? Because it was never a true prophetic word in the first place. It was something else.

How do we discern the difference? Here are a few questions to ask:

  1. Did the prophecy cause me to focus on Jesus, the word itself, or the giver?
  2. Did the prophecy pass the test of time? Did time prove its accuracy?
  3. Did the prophecy cause a desire to rise up in me for the character response required to see the thing fulfilled? Or, was it delivered as a simple “just sit back honey, and wait to see your dreams come true.”
  4. Have I been giving my due diligence to seek after God? Do I seek Him with all my heart? Do I spend regular time seeking to deeply understand His Scripture, and how I can live it out obediently?
  5. Is there ongoing sin in my life about which I’m unwilling to repent? Anything I refuse to give up? Something I know God asks me not to do in His Word – but I don’t want to think about it? Truthfully, am I opening a door to the enemy, to his deception? If so – I may very well welcome a soulish word.
  6. Did the person usurp my own, or another’s authority? Is their motive clear? Are they, and am I, willing to be accountable for how the word was given, and received? Is Godly authority involved in this process?

If we go back to our example above, it would be wise to carefully, lovingly ask the still-single person something like:

 “What have you been doing to demonstrate faithfulness to God for what He currently has on your plate? How about that anger issue your pastor has been trying to help you with? Is there progress?”

It’s very, very possible that God is holding back the marriage partner because He knows that the still-single’s anger problem would destroy the desired marriage. Honestly, the loving, truthful input of a Godly friend is more useful to God’s purposes in our example’s life than a super-“spiritual” unknown “prophet.” We can prophesy to one another, humbly, truthfully…and remove mountains.

Scripture teaches us time and again to walk after the Spirit, not the flesh. We are to stand in the counsel of God, to seek His face, to listen to His voice, to pray continually…. To skimp on these things opens the door to the flesh, and to the enemy’s influence in our ministries. Too many people have been deeply hurt by spiritual laziness that led to false prophecies.

It’s often about time. I’ve learned that God loves to use time. Time is not God’s enemy; it is His friend. With time, God can test our faith, arrange circumstances so that He ensures the most glory for Himself, grow and mature character in us, deepen our patience, fill the gap between longing and fulfillment with His own Presence, and tie up details with a bow. Sometimes, a prophetic word was indeed the heart and mind of Jesus for a particular situation, but time has not yet proven its accuracy. If you surrender the thing to God, act on the character issues required, and stand fast in prayer – time is on your side. Rest in Him while you continue to wait on Him.

Invitation and not pronouncement. Prophecies are invitations from God, and not, necessarily, pronouncements. Many times I’ve seen God call something out in a human heart that the human had never (or only lightly) considered. Those people that responded to the word with faith – the kind of faith that invested with “watering the seed” – enjoyed the fruit of that word, in time.

People that don’t respond with faith and obedience don’t reap fulfillment.

If we don’t apply ourselves with the character requirements, accountability, faith and obedience God requires…then we can say “it was not an accurate word” – but we may discover the problem was with us, not the word.

Relationship is required for trustworthy revelation. Jesus prioritized relationship with Him. See Him first, and then trust Him to release the right revelation, at the right time, through servants (or methods) He chooses. The prophetic “package” includes revelation, interpretation, and application. Revelation is what He releases (through His servants, through dreams, through that “inner knowing”, through His Word…), interpretation is how we are to understand what we hear, and application is what we do with what we hear. In our local ministry, we are very firm about keeping all revelation under authority. Why? Because you need the protective measures of loving authority, and caring community around you to properly walk out a prophetic package. You may receive revelation, but you interpret it incorrectly. And/or, you may apply it clumsily. Every single one of us is most in danger when we abandon the healthy accountability of the local church and its accompanying Godly relationships. Accurate, life building prophetic ministry requires relationship first with the Shepherd of our souls, and secondly, with those who bow the knee to Him. We need people around us who have paid the price for wisdom and counsel so they can help us interpret and apply revelation in our particular circumstances. God designed it this way. Lone wolves are unhealthy, vulnerable wolves.

There is nothing more helpful than to walk through life in the company of a group of people who pursue God with all their hearts. When committed to such a group of people, we can rest assured that whatever revelation comes our way, the collective love and discernment of God’s friends will help us see truth from falsehood. We can trust that they will speak the truth we need to hear, help us with faith and obedience responses, call out growth in Christ-like character and provide the protection we need.

It is only in living our lives in humility, transparency, accountability, and submission in a healthy local church that we can accurately discern whether prophetic words given to us are truly from the heart and mind of Jesus, for us, in this particular situation.

There is no “easy” answer for testing prophetic words. It takes the whole package: God’s presence, His Word, and His church to discern the real deal from falsehood. The rewards are very much worth it. So much so, I wouldn’t choose any other way.

 

What God spoke to me.

I was recently thinking that, for all I have disclosed on this blog over the last 6+ years, so much of the most significant events in my life go unrecorded.  Some things are inappropriate to share, some defy my attempts at explanation, some I just never get around to…

I’ve been considering that anew, this last week.  I just don’t even know if I could — or perhaps even should — convey all that happened to me.  It’s hard to explain.

New Irish friend Azman & me, having a really good conversation.

The short version is that I went to a three-day International Leadership Summit — a retreat in the cool pines of Prescott, Arizona.  Back down the hill into the Valley of the Sun, the following day, is what we call International Super Sunday, with an extended church service in the morning, and a nearly five-hour event at night that features a dinner, some amazing speaking, and worship, followed up by a prophetic presbytery, where leaders with prophetic gifting (30ish or so) will give a personal prophetic word to anyone who wants one, and pretty much all the attendees want one.  🙂  Or two.  Or three.  Or as many as there is time for.

My love and me, taken by a different new Irish friend, Claire... I don't look this good in real life. 🙂 Bless God for the occasional use of makeup and supportive undergarments.

The whole Leadership Summit started about 15 years ago with just the leadership team of my own church — 20-30 good folk (and their spouses, as appropriate, most of whom are also leaders) who lead a specific area of ministry within the church.  Then, we expanded to invite a few of the pastors/leaders of various international ministries/churches with whom we minister, or over whom we have some apostolic leadership.  (See?  I bet I just lost a good 50% of you with that last sentence, and I’m just not going to explain it, either.  Unless you ask.)

Of the Summit — which is three jam-packed, meaty days of teaching, worship, and ministry, the most significant to me was Friday night.  On that night, I was praying for some friends when the Holy Spirit came powerfully upon me.  At first, I just bent over and put my hands on my thighs, kind of holding myself up.  Then, I sat.  After a while, I had to lie down.  It wasn’t that sort of dramatic thing you may have heard about (and which I repeatedly have witnessed) where the Holy Spirit performs a “smack down” and a person slumps to the floor or falls backward.  It was a little more subtle than that.  But not by much.

For… a time… at least more than an hour, but I don’t know how long, I was prayed over and ministered to, both by my dear, dear friends… co-workers in Christ… and by the Holy Spirit.  I was trembly, deep in my core and up into my shoulders and arms, as the Holy Spirit was on me.  My abs are still sore, nearly a week later, I was shaking so long.

Everyone who yields to the Holy Spirit and comes under His power finds a different experience.  Some shake violently.  Some laugh.  Some weep.  Some experience a profound calm.  Another dear friend, Paul Min, an apostolic 77-year-old powerhouse from Irvine, California (originally from South Korea), experiences his legs shaking, and he knows the power of God is residing in him.  I tend to quiver/convulse in my core.  It’s been like that for my whole life.

I know that a great many of you may think that odd and/or unbelievable, and that you’d not care for it, and you’re having second thoughts about me, right about now.  Frankly, that doesn’t matter so much.  Well, the part that doesn’t matter is what you think of me.  It does matter a great deal to me how you consider the God of all creation.  But, you can think I’m a looney, and I’m all right with that.  Even if you stop reading my blog.  😉

Anyone who has read here for any length of time is well-aware that I’m a Christian;  I don’t hide that, though not every post is about JESUS JESUS JESUS.  It’s more like, “This is my life, and Jesus is an integral part of it, of me.”  I often don’t want to post on the more God-oriented events of my life, because its so hard to communicate effectively and so easily misunderstood.  But, I felt like this last week was too significant to just pass by.

See what I mean by that first paragraph?

So.  What happened to me in that time can be broken down into

  1. What others prayed over me.
  2. What the Holy Spirit spoke directly to me.

In the past, when I “go down” under the power of the Spirit, I — to my remembrance — have never heard His specific, direct words.  Instead, what I usually experience is more like a… sense, an overwhelming sense of whatever it is I need most at the time:  His love, His power, His mercy, His forgiveness, His whatever.  This time was different in that I felt very strongly that I heard His voice.  It wasn’t loud.  More than a whisper, but not loud.  But, there were some specific things, some specific words and thoughts that I have never had, on my own, and I feel very strongly that they were beyond “impressions”;  they were the Word of God, to me, addressing some very specific needs.

Another thing that was different…  Sometimes, I have become a wee bit confused over others’ prayers over me.  Everyone, even those with maturity, doesn’t always hear from God 100% right, and the things that come out of their mouths aren’t always the pure, unadulterated Word of God.  For that reason, Scripture teaches us to “weigh carefully” what is spoken by prophecy.  In the past, I’ve had some difficulty at times, sorting out what’s what.  This time, among the 7+ people who prayed over me, and the many things that were spoken, there were two specific instances where God said, “That’s immature and inaccurate.  You can toss that.”  And silently, I returned prayer for the the person who was praying, thanking God for their willingness to minister and pray, but asking Him to increase the clarity of their spiritual ears, so that in the future, they could pray with more effectiveness.  It is my observation that in situations like that, the pray-er is often speaking out of what they know about that person, and their own personal views, rather than led by the Holy Spirit.  That doesn’t make God’s word less powerful, though those who minister prophetically should be continually seeking greater clarity, accuracy, and maturity.  I Corinthians 13:8-10 tells us “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.”

When the whole Friday night episode was over, I got up and wrote down everything I could remember.

Here are some of the things that God showed me — I’m not sharing everything.  Some of it is too personal, and some of it doesn’t quite make sense to me, and I have to hash it out, to seek God on it, still:

  • God showed me that some of the interests I have pursued — specifically writing and birthing stuff — I have done because I am afraid that I am too old to have prophetic singing/worship stuff fulfilled in me, things that have been prayed and spoken over me repeatedly — countless times — for the last 20+ years.  Writing and birthing are not bad and they may be pursued later, but for the right reasons, not out of fear or distraction.
  • I am to go to bed when my husband Martin does.  He is an early riser and I’ve always been a night owl.  In addition, I am an introvert, and I crave that time, late at night, when the house is still and no one needs me.  That is my “recharge” time.  However, it saddens my husband that I will not go to bed with him when he does, except maybe once a week.  I have thought he’s unreasonable/uncaring that he wants me do do/be something I’m not, and he thinks that I am unreasonable/uncaring because I won’t value his tender heart and the fact that he is restless until I come to bed.  I have been beyond stubborn, when what I really need to do is to obey.  I need to value him.  It is a “little” point of contention to me, but it is HUGE to my husband.  God the father affirmed to me that He will take care of things I fear I will lose in the process, and will make their replacement worthwhile.
  • I must be intentionalabout investing in both my guitar-playing and my singing.  I am a fair guitar-player and I have a great voice.  I’m not bragging;  it was a gift of God that I’ve known about since my early childhood.  However, for my whole life, I’ve just been expecting God to DO SOMETHING about my voice, with my voice.  And He has, to an extent.  I am one of the core vocalists on my precious church’s worship team.  I lead worship (playing guitar and singing) weekly in a home group.  I am one of the three worship leaders for our church’s 6-12 year-olds.  I have been maturing and growing in spontaneous prophetic singing.  Yet, I know that that is not all God has in store for me.  I know I’m not living up to my potential, to His calling in me.  However, I have just expected Him to drop some bomb, some opportunity, to hit me over the head with some profound and specific direction, and He hasn’t done that.  He said that, instead, I need to be intentional about working that gift, investing in it, prioritizing it, furthering it, developing skill…  I totally have NOT done that in the past.  I’ve just coasted on what I have.  To that end, He gave me two imperatives:
    • I am to play guitar and sing for a minimum of an hour, daily.  If I do other things — read, blog, pursue other interests, etc. — it is to be after that hour is completed.
    • I am to take a voice class.  (I’m not sure why about this one, and I have looked into it — the community college that is very close to my home, however, is an extension campus, and does not have voice.  The other location is REALLY far away, spring classes have already started, and the schedule doesn’t seem like it would work at all.  So, I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that.)
  • I felt indescribably strongly that smallish but mighty Vineyard Phoenix, my home church for 17+ years, will always be my Favorite House.  With capital letters.  My husband just got done reading a book by Tommy Tenney called God’s Favorite House.  I have not read it, though I know it is about building the local body of Christ, the local church.  I was FILLED with love and thankfulness and tenderness for the people who have poured themselves out for the Kingdom, for Jesus, and for me personally.  Even though about half (or more?) of those at the Summit were from other nations, those who prayed for me on Friday night — minus one — were all from my local church, Vineyard Phoenix.  I felt that was specific and intentional.  I have long loved the people of my church, especially those on the leadership team, with whom I have served for these many years, and whose pure, vibrant hearts for ministry and the  Gospel of Jesus I have been endless witness to.  But, especially on Friday night, I was filled with a… beyond-strong love for each.  Vicious, almost.  Abandoned, intense, jealous over, consuming, zealous love for my co-laborers in Christ.

I was going to next describe the things that were prayed over me by individuals, but I think that, instead, I will save that for next time.

Until then…  🙂  My love to all readers who have made it thus far.

Faith, redeeming my Pentecostalism, and “trusting birth”.

I am a recovering Protestant.

My pastor calls us “empowered evangelicals.”  I like that.  Yes, I’m evangelical — I want to tell others about the beauty and love of Jesus — but there’s the power of the Holy Spirit behind it.  Or, rather, the Holy Spirit is in all things I do (that’s the goal, anyway).  God is the focus, the motivation.  His love compels me.  In 20ish years of reflection, now, on my childhood church upbringing, I feel that there was too much “show”.  In other words, speaking in tongues was THE goal.  Prophecy was THE goal.  Exuberant worship was THE goal.  Faith was THE goal.  It very well could have been the immaturity of my perspective;  I was 18 when I left my childhood church, never to again return.  But, somewhere in the mix there of all the hyperactive religion, the Lord Jesus Himself was lost.  I somehow missed that the GOD OF ALL CREATION IS THE GOAL.  All that other stuff is a means to that end:  Jesus.

So, with that in mind, I have been challenged so far this year, and have felt the breath catch in my throat on more than one occasion in my small group.  As a worship leader, I’m assigned a weekly group.  I don’t necessarily get to go where my friends are, or get to choose the leader who I feel most speaks to where I’m at, and does so in a way that communicates clearly to me.  I go where I’m assigned.  So far, that’s been a really good thing.  And, only three weeks into the “season” of new small groups, it’s really too early for thorough assessment.  But, more than once, the leader has mentioned that faith is going to be a focus of his teaching.

Having grown up in said Pentecostal church, where the idea of “name it and claim it” was (for real) taught, I feel like I have had more than my fill of teaching on faith.  And any time someone says that they are going to focus on faith, little warning bells and red flags start chiming and waving in my mind.

“What are you doing, God?”  I wonder.  “Where is this going?  Is my leader really going Pentecostal on me?  Because I don’t think I could handle that for nine months.  Am I overreacting?  Am I here to balance out any ‘name it and claim it’ junk that might crop up?  Do you have me here to test me somehow?”  Round and round my thoughts have gone.  What I have come to, though, after three weeks of concern, prayer, and a wee bit of hyperventilating, is this:  God wants to redeem my concept of what faith is.  It’s time.  It’s time for me to no longer be afraid of the word “faith” and to be rid of the negative connotations it has for me.  It’s time for that history to be sifted, and for the good, solid, true, right aspects of it to remain in the sieve, and the chaff and dust to be shaken out and done away with.

Which brings me to, yet again, the idea that one of the best things about God, and one of the most uncomfortable things about Him is that He doesn’t allow me to just stay, if where I’m camped is harmful.  He doesn’t allow me to remain in patterns of sin or even thought patterns based on misunderstanding.  He, by no means, is a static God.  He’s active.  He’s methodical, but not in a plodding way;  He is purposeful.

So.  Anyway.

(The following kind of jumps around a bit;  I hope that, by the end, it’s tied together coherently.)

I’ve been reading the epistle of I John lately, and this morning thought, “You know, I’ll be happy when this book is done.  It’s so challenging and meaty, and I really just need some love and comfort, like from the Psalms or the late chapters of Isaiah.”  Hahaha!  Such maturity.  🙂  Although, the Holy Spirit spoke to me in that time, “Take note.  Your children can also only handle so much correction and instruction before they need a serious break filled with love and comfort.”  OK, God.  Point taken.

Then, I came to this:

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world;  and this is the victory that has overcome the world:  our faith.  I John 5:4

The first thought that came to me, upon reading that verse, was about the process of natural childbirth.  Among the natural childbirth community, especially for those espousing unassisted birth (that is, birth at home* with no attending physician, nurse, midwife, etc.) there’s a saying:  “Trust birth.”  When I read the verse above, I thought, “Rather, I should trust the GOD of birth.  Have faith in the God who created birth.  He has overcome all the junk in the world — sin and death and pain and crappy doctors (and nurses and even midwives and friends and family and whoever else) who are antagonistic towards the beautiful, arduous process of birth.  I must have faith that He’s a good God and that though the path is difficult, His purposes in it are right and true and good.”

I hope that makes sense.

What I’m saying — though it’s kind of tangential to the point of this post — and I realize that this may be a wee bit inflammatory, is that trusting birth is idolatrous.  It’s having faith in the creation, instead of the Creator.  My faith, and any woman who claims Jesus as Savior, needs to be in the One who originated the process, the God whose infinite mind conceived such an amazing process, and in His goodness and His right-ness in doing it in the way He did.

Those thoughts (faith, birth, Creator) led me, this morning, to progress to one of my favorite concepts EVER, found in Romans 1:20

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

In other words, as the songwriter Kevin Prosch coined it, “The natural things speak of the invisible.”  I ABSOLUTELY ADORE IT when I gain a better understanding of my God when He reveals more of His character, His heart, His nature, His abilities, His wisdom, et al, through something I can see, touch, or experience.

Birth, clearly, is an experience.  However, there are a lot of variables in the process.  There are a lot of emotions.  There are many unknowables.  With every birth, but especially with a first-time mother’s birth, it really is like diving into the unknown:  jumping off of a diving board into an empty pool with the hope that it’ll be filled by the time she hits the water.  There is a lot of FAITH that needs to be employed.

Backing up just a few verses, Romans 1:17 tells us, “…the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith…”  I pondered that for a few minutes.  I re-read it, “The right-ness of God is revealed from faith to faith.”  We as people, and especially we as Americans, don’t like that concept.  We want to try before we buy.  We want a test-drive.  We are wary of anything that can’t be sampled.  However, that’s just not the way of God.  He calls me to trust Him, to have faith in His right-ness, and as I do that — after I do that, perhaps even as a result of my faith — His ways are revealed as solid, good, true, and trustworthy.

Does that make sense?  I have to have the faith FIRST.  It’s only after I’ve gone through that exercise of applying faith, and applying faith, and applying faith, that His ways are revealed as right.

So, getting back to the natural speaking of the invisible…  As further pondered where God has me, I realized that as I study my God, and as I study the process of birth, I am ever more convinced that the process of birth is a microcosm of the nature of God.  Birth is the marriage of:

  • The concrete and the abstract.
  • Science and emotions.
  • The rational and the transrational**.
  • The absolute and faith.

After I recovered from my reverie this morning (well, I’m still not quite recovered;  I’m still in awe), I became filled with thankfulness.  My God knows that I struggle with the idea of faith.  Thankfully, I’ve been a Christian for long enough to see God move in amazing, powerful ways, and in truth, my day-to-day relationship doesn’t require much faith.  He is.  He is real to me, as real as anything I could hold in my hand and stare at.  But, He is also faithful to illustrate to me the value for something that I gaze at, with sidelong suspicion:  faith.  And He did so in a way that makes sense to me, utilizing something for which I already have value:  the process of birth.

God is so good
God is so good
You reign on high in majesty
And the widow’s heart You cause to sing
You hear the cry of the fatherless
And the depth of Your love who can comprehend

For the natural things
Speak of the invisible
Look around and see
Who could deny the wonders of His love
(From God is So Good by Kevin Prosch)

————————–

*Well, usually it’s at home.  I actually birthed my third child, Wesley, all ten pounds of him, unassisted, because the nurse didn’t believe he was coming, and wouldn’t return to the room when my friend Stephanie called her back, “I just checked her and she was at an 8.  I’ll come back in 20 minutes or so…” and when she came back, I’d already pushed Wesley into the world.  Unassisted hospital birth:  that’s gotta be rare.  😀

**My dictionary is telling me that this isn’t a word.  However, I love it as a word-concept, even if it’s not truly a word:  “Transrational” is that which is outside of my understanding.  It doesn’t mean that it’s irrational or untrue;  it’s just something that cannot be quantified by cold, hard facts.

Dead, irrelevant, demonic. NOT.

I almost talked myself out of this post.

  • “It’s too revealing.”

  • “No one is interested in that.”

  • “Even if they’re interested, it wouldn’t be useful or encouraging.”

  • “Vain conceit, Karen, vain conceit.”

  • “You’re presuming a lot to think that anyone would want to hear ‘wisdom’ from you.”

  • “How can you teach what you only barely learned?  And did you really learn it anyway?”

  • “Remember all the other blog posts where you thought you’d stumbled onto something deep and powerful, and you poured out your heart into it, and no one commented?  Yeah, this would be like that.”

  • “Do you really need to turn every bit of your life into a blog post?  You spend too much time thinking about your blog.  You should keep some stuff private.”

After church on Sunday… well, let me back up a bit.

During worship on Sunday morning, I had a little revelation from God.  I love it how the same God, the same God who has been through all the ages, can whisper a a few words in my heart, and it is new, exciting, fresh, and just what I needed.  He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever, but fresh at the same time.

The revelation — those whispers — came after I had spent a good amount of time in awe, in repentance, on my face, with snot and tears dripping onto the carpet of the church.  Funny, that:  He seems to speak most profoundly, with spectacular, divine insight, right after I’ve repented.  Hmm…

After worship, I scribbled a bit of what He’d spoken to me on a scrap paper dug from the recesses of my purse.  The thought hit me, “I bet lots of women experience that same thing.  I should write a blog post about it.”  Immediately afterward came those questioning thoughts, and I put the plans for a blog post out of my mind as, “Well, God likely gave that just to me, for me, not to share.”

I left early from the adult service to go into SuperChurch to lead the 6-12 year olds in some worship that was deep and powerful and fun and rockin’.  🙂  (Helped exceedingly by drummer extraordinaire, Bobby Flanagan.)  When I got back into the main service, it was mostly wrapped up, except for a bit of ministry, with some live worship (led by my amazing husband, my favorite worship leader ever)…  Folks were milling around a bit, some praying for others, some standing or sitting, some — like me — participating in one way or another in worship, some just chatting.  I settled into a seat on the front row and closed my eyes, hands loose on my lap.  Then I remembered I had children, opened my eyes, and looked back at the clock.  “OK.  I still have five minutes before I need to pick them up.  I’ll just soak this in for a bit.  Five minutes…”

Then, a lady came up to me.  I know her just a little;  I was in small group with her for part of last year.  However, I don’t know her well, and she doesn’t know me well.  For instance, I’m pretty certain she doesn’t know I have a blog, or that I write.  And, I’m 100% certain that she had no idea, personally, what had been rumbling through my heart and head and spirit that morning.  She placed her hand gently on my shoulder and started to speak to me.  “Karen, I really feel like God wants to tell you something important.  He says, ‘Do not doubt the words in your mind;  they are to be encouragement for others.  I call that out of you, draw those words out of you.  They are not of your own strength, but of mine.  May grace be multiplied to you so that you can do what I have called you to do.'”

Ha!

Every time I read or hear about the prophetic being dead or irrelevant or even demonic…  It’s just like water off of a duck’s back.  How could I ever believe that the prophetic — when it’s really of God, and for His purposes — is anything but jaw-droppingly amazing and wonderful and need-meeting???  When you experience something like that, the negative things others say regarding the prophetic simply don’t matter in the presence of my almighty God, knowing my “stuff”, knowing my heart, seeing my need, and meeting it with another member of the Body of Christ (which brings up a whole ‘nother topic:  the beauty and power and purpose of the local church body, and the wider Christian Church).

I looked in her eyes and said, “Thank you.  That was right on and I so needed that.”  As she walked away, I pulled the scrap of paper from my jeans pocket and wrote down everything I could remember of what she said, so it would stay fresh in my mind and not be lost in the sieve of my memory, nor plucked from my thoughts by the enemy, who would surely assault these words with the same doubt as he did the first set of words.

And now, this is a post in itself, and I’ll have to save what I confessed, and what God spoke to me in return, for another day.  Hopefully tomorrow.

Proof

I write this minutes after my sweet friend Marietta Wright exited my home.  We stood in the driveway and put one arm around each other and the other with its hand holding the proof copy of Brushed by God, her book on spontaneous prophetic art.  We prayed:  over the book, over each other, and just with thankfulness to God.

Thanks to Arnold at http://www.623creative.com for work on the cover

The book has been a long time in the making.  Well, I guess not that long, as far as books go, but it feels like forever.  She started working on it more than two years ago, after not being able to find a published book on the subject — because there isn’t one.  (Still, none exist, except hers, which is about to hit the market.)  She’s not a writer;  she was just trying to fill a need.  I chipped in, volunteering light editing work and suggestions.  I reached a place, though, in January 2010, where I realized that, in order to give the book what it needed, Marietta would have to hire me and pay me.  That way, I would be more accountable to her for my time (instead of just working on it in my nonexistent spare time).  Being hired would elevate my sense of responsibility for the book.  So, she did.  She hired me.

Now, in the normal scheme of a paid job, I didn’t do much — some weeks only 2-3 hours.  One week I think I worked 19 hours on it.  Most weeks were around 4-5 hours.  But… as a homeschooling mother of five, that was a lot of hours.  It was a big commitment.  It was so big, in fact, that some weeks, I couldn’t live up to it at all, and was unable to do any work, which severely tried Marietta’s patience.  As we spoke today, at my kitchen table, about that (one of many times we’ve discussed the topic of my unavailability), I told her my overriding sense in the whole thing is thankfulness that she did not give up on me, that she didn’t drop me, and that I was able to keep closely involved in the process until now.  She said, “God wouldn’t let me.”  I’m glad for that.  I’m glad she allowed God to expand her capacity for patience, rather than blowing up at me that I had not fulfilled my commitment to her.  Because, in the end, we both became more and did more than we could have, apart from each other.

The body of Christ is like that, truly.  Each sharpening each other, each supplying the other’s needs, each blessing each other, filling in the blanks… and, collectively, we achieve more than we ever could have on our own, both as individuals, and in the Kingdom of God — His rule and reign, both here on the earth, and in eternity.  It’s not always pleasant, being confronted about weakness, or having someone telling you that you let them down, or even just looking at them, and reading disappointment on their countenance.

HOWEVER.  Since some time in February 2010, I repeatedly begged Marietta not to give up on me, that in my heart, I so wanted to be a part of the project.

I felt strongly — and she confirmed it today — that I had the ability to not make the book “Karen’s Book” and fill it with my own language, but to take her voice, and just elevate it — bring it up.  And she said that, indeed, that’s what I did.

I also feel VERY, VERY STRONGLY in the need for the book to be out there, to be published, for people to read it.  It’s important to me that people “taste and see” that God is a speaking God, and that He can use art to bring His heart to His people.  Plus — though, admittedly, it is a small niche — there is growing interest in prophetic art and in its practice, and still there are no books on it, save Marietta’s.

The only bad news is this:  We have no publisher.  It will be self-published.  Marietta had a contract with a large, reputable publisher — our first choice, in fact!  However, after all the papers were signed, they revealed that a) the book would be published in black and white, and b) it would be in a smaller format than originally agreed-upon.  Understandably, Marietta balked at both, but especially the part about color.  How can you have a book which illustratively teaches about art, and have it be in black and white???  That just wouldn’t work.  So, after some conversation about it, the publisher released Marietta, gave her the choice to back out of the contract.  I guess that is a good thing, because they could have held her to it, and just done what they wanted, since neither point of contention was specified in the official, signed paperwork of the contract.

After that, rather than searching out another publisher, Marietta decided to look into self-publishing.  That has been a longish experience  — four or five months of hard lessons learned along a winding and complicated road.

I wasn’t thrilled about self-publishing, at first.  But, truly, there are so many outlets for a self-published book these days that it may be just fine, even though it’s a lot more work for the author (and those helping her).  And, perhaps the book will be picked up by a real publisher, sooner or later.  Sooner, one hopes.

After looking literally all around the world, Marietta found a great printer, people of their word who do good work at a good price, America’s Press.  (Not many printers fit all three of those criteria!)

This juncture where we find ourselves is both the completion of one portion of the journey, and the start of another:  getting the word out.  Even the bit that we have done so far — mostly just her blog, which I work on, as well — has resulted in invitations for Marietta to teach seminars/workshops in both the Netherlands (which will happen next month) and in New Zealand (which is under discussion).  I believe that’s just the tip of the iceberg!!

Soon, I’ll have a little button, there on the right, to purchase the book, for those who have been interested.  🙂  (Daja, you get one for free.)

Tears, prayer, power, and courage (and a foot pump, too)

I remember, not long after my first son was born, someone said to me, “Karen, you used to be so cold.  Since you’ve become a mother, you cry at everything!”  I think she meant it as a compliment, like I’d come so far in such a short time.  It stung, and obviously, 12ish years later, it has stuck with me.  But, I think perhaps it is true.  Was true.  Whatever.  I’ve never been mega-highly-emotional, at least not in the classic sense of the Emotional Woman.  But, motherhood has definitely softened me.

Maybe it’s genetic.  My sister, who gave birth to her first child on August 1, said in response to a friend, “It’s true, I was not the one we thought would be all about “blessed motherhood,” but here I am, and I am indeed very blessed. Not sure how that happened, exactly.”  That made me so happy.

Ah, I’m getting myself off-course.

What I meant to talk about was crying about something yesterday.

Being that I’m still me, who thinks about things way too much, I’ve thought about it, and have concluded that the thing I cry most over is this:  People for whom I can see freedom.  I can see courage.  I can see a life that God has planned for them.  I can see their future.  Hope for them wells up in me.  Expectation, even joy over future events, or at least potential future events.  It comes to me in a instant.  It’s a feeling, a knowing, and I sense it very strongly.  It happens to me often when I’m praying for others.  I think it might be a prophetic sense of that person’s potential, given to me by the Holy Spirit, which enables me to have immense faith as I pray for them, because I can SEE what God has in mind for His dear child.

BUT, here’s where I cry:  They’re not walking in it.  The life I see for them, they’re not living.  They are depressed.  Or angry.  Or discouraged.  Or fearful.  Or frustrated, locked up, eyes closed.  Lacking in hope.  Any or all of those.

I can cry right now, thinking about a few people.  Weep.

I get so angry — SO ANGRY — at the enemy, angry that he’s successfully sold them a bill of goods.  Angry at his deceit.  Angry at his lies.  Angry that he’s been able to squash that precious person under his thumb, and keep them disabled from being the person who God has called them to be, and living the life God has planned for them.

It makes me angry and sad, but I also feel that hope of what is possible, because all things — ALL THINGS — are truly possible with our mighty God, creator of the universe, of things both infinite and infinitesimal, and a happiness, joy wells up in me, a profound sense of the Father’s love, and I cry.

I pray, with a growl in my voice, a growl of conviction, of feeling, of intensity, for the power of God to come wipe out the enemy’s plans for that person, and for God’s plan, and His power, and His love, and His hope, and His peace to reign instead, that His plans would triumph, and that the enemy would be given a swift and hard boot.  I pray with the thought, with the picture of me, as the intercessor, plucking things from the heart of God, and depositing it into the mind and heart of the person for whom I’m praying, pulling it from God’s heart, and placing my hand on their chest, which then fills with His heart… an impartation.

I got a picture, yesterday:  It was of one of those foot air pumps, and the person for whom I was praying was like a deflated air mattress.  I just asked that I be allowed to be the person who steps on the pump, and that His breath, His life, His courage would pour into the deflated person, that their life would fill with His life, and that this would bring the person to effectiveness and fulfillment in Him.  (Not that anyone really longs to be an air mattress, but everyone DOES long to have purpose in their life, and to do whatever it is that they are called to do, and that their lives be meaningful and count for something — and a deflated air mattress is not doing what it was “created” to do.)

But, even as I prayed, I was aware that He created the pump (so to speak), and He created the mattress, and He gives the power to man the pump.  Everything is from Him, and through Him, and to Him — to God be the glory forever.

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