Someone recently asked me, “How did you become a [biblical] prophet?” I corrected her and said that I prefered to claim that I “worked in the realm of the [biblical] prophetic” rather than claiming the label ‘prophet’ as such. In this post I expand on the answer I gave and get very personal in my own recent situation where I sought counsel from a man I looked up to with a good dollop of life experience. It is a deeper look inside the life of one at the cutting edge, perhaps showing a deeper side of a ‘biblical’ blogger’s lot that is not often shared. Enjoy.
The question came from someone curious who really wanted to know. Indeed, how does a man become a prophet? It’s an interesting one isn’t it? We all know that Paul was hell-bent on blasting the young Christian movement into eternity when he got zapped with a blinding light and his life was never the same again. Is that a prerequisite for speaking as a prophet to get zapped from above – divine selection? Or is it a matter of age . . . that after so many decades of training or life experience we can claim to be whatever we fancy and claim it? Throw in the concept of training and apprenticeship, Elija-Elisha style, and you’ve got some pretty weird hoops to jump through if it all stops at that.
Then . . . how does one get to be able to tell the future, without a crystal ball at that? Are all lotto ticket winners psychics and all psychics lotto winners?
It’s all really quite interesting . . . to some anyway.
Initially a truthseeker, from the age of 5 following emotional trauma causing me to be confused as to the truth, I came to the knowledge 15 years later that the bible was not only true, but that it was alive; that more than simply containing truth, it was the Truth and that this was in the person of Christ. This knowledge then required a relationship of me and I committed myself to exploring this relationship, the first three years inside various protestant churches, then on my own in a multi-year wilderness, then in a variety of churches through adulthood, and the last decade or so outside of denominational, traditional, structured Christianity.
The recognition of a prophetic role came increasingly stronger the more that I did. As an ex-school teacher I continued teaching and mentoring in business situations. As a Christian man, father, husband I would naturally speak and teach in family and church situations. As a blogger and private investigator I undertook a role giving greater teaching and analysis of society particularly throughout my time in Samoa, and as tension between my culture, faith and presence rose in Samoa, I stepped up my working in the realm of the prophetic, speaking and working more in and for the future.
Knowing the future
One component of traditional biblical prophet is to know and speak the future – a form of biblical fortune-telling. I don’t claim that skill nor do I want it especially. Sure, there have been many things that I have come to know as a result of a “word of knowledge” over the years, but I think that most of the time the bible is quite sufficient to detail what we need day by day without knowing the future in specifics. When the Holy Spirit has our ear and our obedience, it seems to me that this is sufficient for Him to have His way. That’s good enough for me.
If asked, “Are you [or do you claim to be] a prophet? I will answer in the affirmative – the label fits but that I prefer to be seen as one “working in the realm of the prophetic”. This is more than semantics. Should someone come to me and say, “What is the future for Samoa?” I will answer, “I don’t know. Go and ask the Lord yourself! I’m not the kind of prophet that you seek.”
Yet if they ask me to describe the desire of the Lord for Samoa; or the issues that Samoans have that affect their future; or the means that they can achieve godly goals for Samoa, then I can indeed claim to have that wisdom. In that sense I claim to be prophetic, more speaking God’s word by faith into a situation knowledgeably rather than simply recounting things like I had a crystal ball and no originality, logic or interpretation of my own.
Working in the realm of the prophetic does not preclude divine knowledge – after all my initial immigration to Samoa was a sequence of events of a spectacular nature – but one does not need a continual stream of miracles in order to function in faith. We have our brains that can apply logic; the scriptures; relationships and knowledge from all walks of life, past and present, as well as a living God who through the Holy Spirit can fill in the gaps for us at any time so as to get a clear picture. We also have time, in that most matters do not require immediate decision-making. Some things DO require time to think things through.
I think to a large extent we are all prophets . . . is not a mother’s warning, “Watch out – It’s hot!. You’ll get burned if you touch that.” not a prophetic declaration? When a drunk teenager hops in a car and starts it up, can we not predict the potential for trauma and perhaps life-long adverse consequences if we do not intervene? In this sense there are many outside of the Christian faith who too can speak into (for example) Samoa’s future. You don’t need biblical knowledge or understanding to see the impact of corruption; nor to research the way that NWO plans are outworking Agenda 21 purposes through the recently introduced land laws; nor to do the simple maths that should Samoa’s foreign reserves be measured in mere months but it’s debts are measured in decades, or lifetimes that disaster is but one global hiccup away!
The Christian worldview though brings a coherence to disparate study and viewpoints. This is where the prophet can present wisdom to others. It was something that the little people of Samoa understood so easily and quickly when explained to them.
Priests, Politicians and [News]Papers = Confusion!
God, Bible & a Prophet speaking reality = Got it!
Responding to Prophets
I went to Christchurch recently seeking a friend’s input into my intentions to work with others in Samoan society in the next decade or so. This is a second engagement (a re-engagement if you will) following my expulsion at the hands of the Prime Minister Tuila’epa, a leader I’ve pinged extensively as a coward and a crook – for how and what he did to get rid of me.
I wanted to give opportunity for the Lord to speak through him (my friend in Christchurch, not the PM!) as one who had challenged me previously in the “lone-ranger” style of prophetic ministry that seemed outside of the normal pastor/prophet submission relationship that he preached for and viewed as desirable. He never actually said, “You’re a loose cannon, dangerous and should be reigned in!” but I think he might have been close to that at times over the years.
For the record, this man noted a repeating “I’ve paid the price [therefore things will go well for me from here on in]” message that concerned him. I’ve taken that warning on board! He also interpreted a dream I had to be a severe warning against responding to hurt in an unbiblical manner (again a wise warning), but he also concurred with my take that sacrificial giving was the (or certainly a) stream in which the Lord will be working in Samoa.
I accept validity in both comments/warnings . . . the association of past personal sacrifice/costs with future blessing is not automatic. There can indeed be a natural inclination to respond to future challenges in anger/pain and thus step outside God’s ways.
Dream interpretation issues
In the discussions that we had, I shared an unusual dream I had and sought some feedback. Dreams are not necessarily from God, but He most certainly does use them to speak to us at times. The biblical norm is that at times we need outside assistance for interpretation. Sometimes things make perfect sense to us though without help.
The dream I recounted to my friend had three parts, containing in order . . . peace, injustice and violence. I gave a basic summary of my understanding. My friend knew instantly what his take was on two of the parts (one which differed from mine) and he reported his take on the third component later after reflection.
My takehomes from our discussions were:
It doesn’t matter what someone says, or thinks or teaches or preaches, or learns or experiences, we as individual human beings are fully responsible to our Maker at the completion of time. Submission to another’s view, can be idolatry and gives another power over us. We are accountable for our own Christian walk/faith and especially when working in the realm of the prophetic, which when simplified is to speak forth His will, we must have the spiritual space in which to operate. No one can humble us. We must be ready to humble ourselves FIRST. Going to Christchurch was that humbling choice I made. Listening and accepting and/or rejecting my friends advice was my responsibility. He doesn’t live my life. I do. This is the reason that the Lord called me out of the church a decade ago. He wanted me to be His, 100%, not the denomination or church that I was with from time to time.
My interpretation of the dream differed to my friend’s. He countered my interpretation which may not be a correct picture and according to his wife, he has a good track record at exercising wisdom in interpreting dreams. It could be easily possible though that both interpretations had validity, explainable by a bigger picture take on the core issue. It is not always a matter of EITHER A or B. It could be a matter of BOTH A & B. That God is love does not necessitate that God is not truth. He can be both truth and love. Likewise a dream can be interpreted as a warning AND as an endorsement. In my dream I destroyed a strongman with extreme violence. If the strongman in the dream represented evil then the desire to say “bye-bye” to it/him when all I was defending myself successfully in a fair fight and plunging my knife in for the kill was validated. Likewise if the strongman represented human life in which I destroyed something that God loved and it would have been better to have sacrificed my own life, then indeed, the dream could be a very strong warning of the future. Due to the nature of the dream, if forced to side I would lean in my interpretation over my friend’s as if given greater opportunity I would have described the dream differently and the details may have brought his thinking across to my initial interpretation. The point though is moot, for I received the personal endorsement for Samoan ministry that I sought and am very happy to have a serious caution relating to natural reactions having dealt with only part of the pain of Samoa. These sorts of things too may not be binary, (he’s right, he’s wrong) things either.
The issue of consequences, personal ones, financial, physical, personal and more was interesting in that my friend took a different tack to my natural recounting of my Samoan experiences. Not a naturally supportive man, tending towards the mechanical, intellectual, it seemed to me that the negatives outshone the positives in his take. While I see the price I paid in Samoa as a testing experience, his take leaned more on the fact that this shouldn’t have ever happened – dare I say it that I should not have gone to Samoa in the first place and even if it was a good experience for us all, life is life, it’s not the end of the world; get over it and get on with it! While my friend didn’t actually put it that way (he’s a nice guy!) the impression I got was that my friend had concerns.
This raises the issue of how does a guy who is speaking about other people and cultures (and sometimes having to deal with some pretty ugly stuff in the process) deal with his own issues and circumstances. I note that the general pattern in the Old Testament examples and New Testament teaching is that prophets tend to pour their heart out to God in private, and that we’re encouraged to suck it all up for the cause.
My approach to speak it like it is, warts and all but in as balanced a way as I can. I can present the cowardice of Tuila’epa for what it is (due to his handling of me personally) yet also recognise and state that he is indeed a very powerful man at the top of the cesspit of the Samoan political pyramid and I recommend that he should stay there, as long as he wants that power.
There can be a temptation in Christendom to look up to prophets as we do to preachers, or evangelists, priests or pastors. I think this is often well-meaning but unwise, if not even wrong. I think that respect is due when it is deserved, but this is the same sort of respect due to a drunk whom one sees sharing his blanket with a mate on the street corner when he knows he is cold too. Or the respect that we have towards a teenage girl who speaks out about an abuse situation. Or to a father who reaches out to hug his wife tightly after they have buried their stillborn child. Or to a businessman who has worked a lifetime building a successful company and brand.
I don’t see how the kind of respect due to a political leader, a rich man, a pop star or a king or queen is due a prophet.
The capacity to observe and to think; to research scripture and to share ones faith is universal. We all increase our life experience simply by living. One who works in the realm of the prophetic, at least in my book, is one who connects the dots and joins them all together. Some of us stand up to evil and plunge the knife in until the strongman wilts and is no more. Others of us find ways to avoid that fight and operate guerilla warfare. The one thing we all need to hear and obey the Master. From that relationships between mankind and between mankind and the Creator will grow and mature.
I trust that you’ve seen and enjoyed another side of “life as a prophet” here.
Thank you for swinging by.