Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Prophecy - the measure of gifting

Scripture really encourages any Christian filled with the Spirit to prophesy.
‘Everyone come with a tongue, a scripture or a prophecy.’ 1 Corinthians 14:26

It is not just for the spiritual superstars. The New Testament teaches that it’s for all Christians. There are different measures of such a gift. This useful graph is drawn from Vineyard teaching.

I had the privilege of going to Mike Bickle’s church in Kansas a number of years ago and found it very helpful. They say that there are degrees, or measures, of the prophetic gift. The first ‘level’ is what Bickle called ‘simple prophecy’. It doesn’t put this particular gift over and above any other. It’s just simple prophecy.

Someone might have a prophetic gift. Someone else might have a prophetic ministry and then yet someone else, who’s more like the role described in Ephesians 4:11, has what could be called a prophetic office. This level of prophetic input is a rare thing. I have seen it. It’s where the accuracy and level of revelation is amazing. I have been in meetings where complete strangers to the speaker have been identified, asked to stand up and have been told their name. ‘This is your name and this is what you do as a job.’ That’s exciting and scary. When prophets like that come to town Christians repent before they come to the meeting! Everyone is faced with the fact that God knows that person’s name and if He knows that person’s name... He knows mine. He knows my name, He knows all about me! It brings a sense of the power and the holiness of God.

To be continued...

Friday, 24 September 2010

Responding to prophecy - now!

When we received a directional prophecy about building a 1,000 member church with King’s Church in the future - our response was in the ‘now’. It was ‘OK, let’s get on with it. Let’s put a new building up, let’s do multiple meetings’. But the important thing is not to get stuck on the future – to but invest in the present time.

Sometimes people get prophetic words over their own life (‘you’ll be this, you’ll be that’) and I’ve met people who are so taken up with the future that they are neglecting the ‘now’. Their head is full of ‘I’m going to be this, I’m going to do that’ and they need to be told to get out there and lead their small group or play their part in the youth group/worship band – or whatever. It’ll be OK.

When prophecy comes, the key thing is our response now. Sometimes the word is predictive.
During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius). The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. (Acts 11:27 - 30)

Here is a recognised prophet in the New Testament who brings a prophecy which predicts a famine that actually came to pass in the reign of Claudius - but what’s the response? They take up an offering at that time so it can be sent to the church in Jerusalem so they can be strengthened. The ‘now’ response is key.

Most of the time what you get is not directional words but what I call general prophecy, if there is such a thing. An encouragement, a comfort that highlights an attribute of God, His holiness or His Spirit. Most of the time we’re living in that realm. But occasionally words come which impact what people do with their money – like Agabus’ prophecy that redirected that church’s action.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The purpose of prophecy

John Wimber, who founded and led the Vineyard Movement until his death, said this: “Prophecy is declaring the message of God to His church for the purpose of edification”.

David Watson, who was a famous Anglican leader in the UK, defined it like this: “Whilst the written word is God’s truth for all people at all times the prophetic word is a particular word inspired by God given to a particular person or a group or persons at a particular moment for a particular purpose”.

I like that quote because it states right up front that we’re not looking to add anything to the Bible, which is God’s inspired written word. What the prophetic word does when it comes is to bring alive an aspect on which God has already spoken.

Over the years I have had moments when I have had the privilege of bringing a prophetic word over someone or I have received a prophetic word where God has spoken to me. These needed to be weighed and tested.

While we see in 1 Corinthians 14 that prophecy is for strengthening, for encouragement and for comfort, sometimes it will be directional. In Acts 16 the apostle Paul is seeking direction. He was planning to go to Ephesus and then has a vision in the night about going to Macedonia. As a result the gospel first comes to Europe because of a prophetic vision! Paul shares the vision with his team and they all agree that God is telling them to go to Macedonia… and off they go.

To be continued...

Friday, 17 September 2010

'Search in the history!'

When we searched in our archives we found that C H Spurgeon had planted our church in Catford in 1880 – with a vision for 1000 members! This discovery came through a prophetic word - and it was in response to that that we outlined our vision to believe for that 1000 member church in the early 21st century! For the last 14-15 years that’s exactly what we have been endeavouring to see fulfilled. We have been through a £2 million building project, a £600,000 extension, establishing two meetings, three meetings and now we’re looking towards a fourth at a second site – which involves a £5 million project. All because of a prophetic word!

We’re not just doing it because we think it would be nice! We were called to this task – we believe God has spoken. We’re 15 years in. I’ve worked it out, I’ve got about 15-20 years more and then I hand it over to a younger guy who will take it on further. We’re half way in and we’ve got a long way to go. I probably will look back over my time in ministry and this will be the defining prophetic word that has impacted my life.

‘Eagerly desire the prophetic’ - because then when it comes it can shape you easily. What we call King’s Church actually came together out of a prophetic word – one that was given to two churches, one called Catford Hill Baptist and one called Allerford Chapel. The word came to both churches, ‘I’m calling you to be a resource church so I want both churches to close and come together’, and that’s what happened in 1984. So the very foundation of this church is born out of a prophetic word to the point that two churches closed and died - to create something new so that a resource church would be raised up.

When prophecy comes with weight it is powerful to redirect not only an individual life but the lives of all who are connected together as His family.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Interpreting prophecy

Interpretation! After the prophetic word had been given, another member of the Vineyard team brought the following.
“... I saw a church building which I took to be yours. Water had drained from the church into the gutter along the street and was running down into the drain down into a deeper spot and then just settling there”.

When this word was brought someone had put a pick axe through a pipe at the side of the church building and water was actually running down the outside wall of the church! This really got our attention! It was that remarkable. He went on:

“I think that I sometimes see drums when the Lord is trying to speak to me about messages like the call to battle. Rhythms that keep the ranks going in battle. For your church there is a call, a vision that has been left aside a little bit. No one was playing it. The drums are what was taking the infantry forward and keeps the ranks together. There is a vision the Lord wants to rekindle and impart to you all. I think the candle speaks of the same thing. Something in the history of this church that the Lord wants to be rediscovered. In praying it through I see it as a positive thing. Search in the history”.

We took that as God’s word to us. We searched in the history of the church and discovered that it was planted as a part of the ministry of that great Victorian 'Prince of Preachers', C H Spurgeon. As a 22 year old he planted a church in Catford in 1880 with a vision for 1,000 members!

To be continued...

Friday, 10 September 2010

I want you to prophesy!

Paul’s message to the Corinthian church in 1 Cor.14:1-5 regarding prophecy is clear – prophecy brings strengthening, encouragement and comfort. As leaders we all want these things for our churches!

The major prophetic ‘words’ spoken to us at King’s Church both reinforce the importance of prophecy and give examples of prophetic words that have been instrumental in redirecting our lives and focus – individually and corporately.

The first ‘prophetic word’ to mention really shaped our vision of King’s - what we believe God has called us to do. It was brought by Steve Nicholson and his team of prophetic guys from the Vineyard Movement who visited King’s when I had been pastor for 4 weeks. We had an evening where they met with the leadership team and we received the following prophecy. It was God’s word to us as a church. It has shaped what we’ve done - an important word!

“I have a series of pictures. First a military snare drum, infantry division, early 19th century. The drum and some drum sticks. The sticks are slightly damaged. They are on a shelf in a basement next to a window. They are slightly illuminated. That picture was burned away by a flame of a candle. The candle is the second picture. It is in a darker, deeper basement. The candle is set down by a monk type figure, a monk’s cloak, a book, an old book, very ancient and dusty.”

Having already told you that this prophetic word shaped this church - it’s got the phrase ‘a monk’s cloak’ in it! Wow. At this point the ability to weigh and interpret such words become of first importance. I’m talking about revelation here.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

It's great to be back!

Highlights of my sabbatical include a fantastic family holiday in the States, a half-written book, the completion of the purchase of the Lee Green building - and 77 on the golf course! On Sundays I visited eight different churches, both here in the UK and also in the USA and saw and heard some thought-provoking things!

And I return refreshed and ready for the next phase of ministry! Raring to go! Setting the tone for the year, the next few weeks sees another first for us at King’s - the start of preaching four times on a Sunday across two sites. The first draft of the book has to be with the publisher by the end of September, then there are key planning meetings for the move to three sites with 5 or 6 Sunday meetings (this development to take place in the next 6 months), and this includes building projects on two of the three church sites. King’s Church is changing – radically!

However – there’s a key leadership lesson for me. Following another intense year in church life and a brilliant sabbatical, I must not make last year’s work pattern into a life style! Looking at the above list of things to be done, I would value those who regularly take the time to read this blog asking me from time to time, ‘How are you doing with those boundaries?’...