Is Your Message PROPHETIC?

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Timeliness.

In the last couple of weeks I heard three notable quotes about messages, in sermons or worship, being “prophetic.”  Two were from similar backgrounds but one came from a completely different tribe in the evangelical world.  From the more conservative side, Pastor Crawford Lorritts spoke at The Resurgence Conference and, during the Q & A section, he said this:

“Preaching is always prophetic…New Testament preaching is more prophecy to me in the sense of forth-telling…It is a declaration of truth for that moment in history, there is a timeliness about it. Wheras teaching is sort of like the unfolding. There is an urgency associated with biblical preaching and that puts it on the prophetic side.” [He went on to distinguish between this idea of prophecy and the gift of prophecy. I encourage you to see his full interview here so you can see it in full.]

The second quote comes from Beth Croft, a worship leader with Soul Survivor tweeted:

“Prophetic worship… Not necessarily a new song, or even a spontaneous song, simply the right song at the right time.”

The third was from an interview with Brian Johnson [of Bethel Worship] about “prophetic” worship:

“Well, I think anything that has the breath of the Spirit on it.  It could be a rehearsed song or an already written song in the right moment.  A lot of times I think we can get it wrong with thinking that it’s just a spontaneous song and that’s not true…It could be Here I Am To Worship in the right setting…the right timing.”

I wouldn’t try to summarize the “Prophetic” as simply being the right moment but the common factor that I am pointing out here is the timeliness of a given message either by song or by preaching.  I have a strong view of God’s sovereignty and one could argue that any message is always prophetic and I would agree in one sense but there have been moments when a message I’d heard just hit me with a certain…supernatural timeliness.

A Weird Message From God.

A few years ago my wife and I were at a christian concert in New Orleans. We didn’t realize it at the time but concert was for a Catholic youth rally and they just happen to open it up to the public for the concert. During this event an elderly lady sitting a few chairs away from us tapped my wife on the shoulder and said something along the lines of “God wants you know that you are forgiven.”  At the time she mentioned it there was no pressing need for her to hear this so we both kind of dismissed it and thought it was a nice gesture from a weird elderly lady.

Months later we encountered some trials that felt a lot like punishment.  Theologically, I knew God wasn’t punishing us but the message from the little old lady kept coming to mind and became a very real message from God in the face of this particular trial.

Application In My Ministry.

Last weekend I led worship at our worship services.  I had chosen the worship set and was singing through it and listening to God for any adjustments.  The chorus and bridge from Give Us Clean Hands kept coming to mind and I thought it might be added just in case the moment called for it. Soon after the pastor asked me if I could add in a song that he would be mentioning in the sermon.  It worked well and I figured it made more sense than my “inkling” so changed the set and added the one he mentioned.  One service went by and things seemed in line as far as song choices go but the second service there was a line in the sermon that led me back to the Give Us Clean Hands so I sang it even though I had not added the lyrics into the powerpoint.  The combination of both songs really seemed to strike a chord in that service.  I even had a woman come up to me crying and telling me specifically that BOTH of those songs were exactly what she needed in that moment.

In the third service however, I added the lyrics to the powerpoint and led the song just as I did before and, oddly, it didn’t seem to have the same effect as far as I could tell.  I am sure it was beneficial for some while others felt the set went too long in both cases. It’s possible I tried to bridge over one timely moment into an untimely one!  Thankfully there is enough grace in our congregation and leadership to allow for me to make such decision.

Put Up Your Antennae.

Even though I felt a bit of a timing roller coaster in that example, I believe there is merit to putting up your spiritual antennae and listening for a timely [maybe even prophetic] message from God and having the boldness to do what you believe you are being asked to do.

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For A Leader | Aaron Keyes

[Re-blogged from Aaron Keyes.  Check out the original here.]

For the last several months, I’ve been learning about the power of Blessing. There’s been no more helpful aid than a book by the late Irish priest, John O’Donohue. I discovered his book To Bless the Space Between Us a few years ago, and it’s been simmering in my soul ever since.

My all-time favorite Irish worship leader, Eoghan Heaslip, was teaching for our worship school a couple years ago, and he ended his lesson with the following blessing, from O’Donohue. I’ve been meditating on these words ever since. May they take root in you, as they have in me.

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For a Leader
May you have the grace and wisdom
To act kindly, learning
To distinguish between what is
Personal and what is not.

May you be hospitable to criticism.
May you never put yourself at the center of things.

May you act not from arrogance but out of service.

May you work on yourself
Building up and refining the ways of your mind.

May you learn to cultivate the art of presence
In order to engage with those who meet you.

When someone fails or disappoints you
May the graciousness with which you engage
Be their stairway to renewal and refinement.

May you treasure the gifts of the mind
Through reading and creative thinking
So that you continue to be a servant of the frontier
Where the new will draw its enrichment from the old,
And you never become a functionary.

May you know the wisdom of deep listening,
The healing of wholesome words,
The encouragement of the appreciative gaze,
The decorum of held dignity,
The springtime of the bleak question.

May you have a mind that loves frontiers
So that you can evoke the bright fields
That lie beyond the view of the regular eye.

May you have good friends
To mirror your blind spots.

May leadership be for you
A true adventure of growth.

-John O’Donohue
(To Bless the Space Between Us)

Strangely Reacquainted

Since my recent move from New Orleans back to Phoenix, I have a sense that I have been strangely reacquainted with the desert.  The familiarity of the things I forgot like the smell of the air before it rains, the faded mountains in the distance, and the warped colors of the sky when the sun sets are hitting me in a fresh new sense.  Beauty that I would have misplaced has been reintroduced to me and it’s as if I have been given new lenses to view it all.

My initial decision to leave NOLA was incredibly difficult and I didn’t arrive at the decision easily.  In fact, I believe God was opening my eyes to the realization that New Orleans had become an idol to me that I didn’t want to hand over to him.  Friendships and ministry were rooted deeply and, since we arrived in 2006, we have seen lots of Kingdom fruit growing in the lives of those in our community.  It’s a city of people I love in a culture I love and it has changed me more than I have ever impacted it.  However, in many ways that I can’t seem to specify, I felt the weight of New Orleans was bearing down on us; squeezing us.  Remaining in New Orleans was a battle that I fought for much of the time I was there and I believe this fight was good.  It wasn’t until the last year that I believe the “squeezing” was God’s hand and He was revealing to me that it was time to let go.

Our re-entry into Phoenix has surrounded us with many great things: old and new friends, a new church community to serve, and the ability to see our families more often.  The rhythms of life are healthier since Emily and I have been able to stand in the family roles that we feel are powerful and appropriate.  These are all factors contributing to the reasons that I feel confirmed in our decision to move but there is something else too.

Again, for reasons I can’t fully specify, I have a sense that I am placed exactly where God would like.   I feel like a pawn on a chess board who has realized, and revels in the fact that, he was strategically positioned by the player early in the game to take part in the steps that would eventually lead the King to move in for the final move.  I don’t know the final move [and I don’t intend to know it] but I do know the Kingdom is moving by the hand of the King and we just need to trust that He is in control and He is good.

Seven Sign Of John | CMA Resources

This article seemed relevant to our current study of John in the College and Careers group from Faith Bible Church so I though I would repost.  It is taken from CMA Resources [Original here].

Seven Signs in John: A Simple Process for Evangelism and Starting Churches

[Originally] Posted on April 24th, 2010

The Gospel of Jesus is the flame that burns at the grassroots of the apostolic movement. Having a means of igniting that flame in such a way that those who catch it can spread it on the same day is an extremely valuable catalyst. We felt we needed a means of unveiling the true Christ to a person open to it that was simple enough that everyone could do it in any culture, language or generation. That is a tall order to fill. We found our answer in the Bible, specifically the Gospel of John.
Apparently, while John was with Jesus from the start and saw all the miracles performed, he selected these particular miracles and included them in this specific orderThe Seven Signs of John is based on the words that the apostle John writes near the end of his gospel. He said, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31)

[i] for a purpose-to open the eyes of the unbeliever to have faith in the real Christ and gain eternal life. This is not my opinion; this is what the Scriptures themselves say. Consider it this way: the Holy Spirit is telling you that the miracle stories in the gospel of John are the stories that are best to present the true Christ to an unbelieving heart. It is quite common for American Christian leaders to exaggerate the effectiveness of a method, but in this case it is the Holy Spirit making the claim, not me.

The Seven Signs are as follows:

  1. The turning of water into wine (John 2:1-12)
  2. The healing of the royal official’s son (John 4:46-54)
  3. The healing of the paralytic at the Bethesda pool (John 5:1-17)
  4. The feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1-14)
  5. The walking on water (John 6:15-25)
  6. The healing of the man born blind (John 9:1-41)
  7. The raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-46)

The way it works is that each week the person or persons you are sharing with is encouraged to read one of the stories once every day. So in the first week, they read the story of Jesus turning water into wine every day. At the end of the week when you get together and read the passage again together, you ask four simple questions and have a discussion about the passage. The questions are:

1. What does this story say to you about people?

2. What does this story say to you about Jesus?

3. What does this story have to say about you?

4. Who needs to hear this story?

(Download/Print One Page Worksheet)

This can easily be done meeting once a week over a cup of coffee with anyone who is a spiritual seeker. Every organic church I have ever started began going weekly through these stories and simply asking the questions. I have yet to do so and not have someone commit to follow Christ. I am not guaranteeing you the same results, but we can take the Holy Spirit’s word for it that these stories will help people believe in Jesus.

This simple and profound ministry tool crosses all cultural barriers because it is simply the Bible speaking for itself (a significant principle!). It reproduces because anyone can ask a few easily remembered questions. This is not a model of church or a human curriculum. It is simply unleashing the power of God’s word to do what it does in a life. The only way you could say that this doesn’t work cross-culturally is to say that the Bible doesn’t work cross-culturally. Even in an oral culture that is not literate this tool will still work because it is basic story telling.

[i] It is clear that while The Gospel of John follows Jesus’ life it is not ordered in a strict chronological order. It is put together more topically than the synoptic gospels. The miracles that John writes about are placed in an intentional order. Therefore, following the order as John intended, while not absolutely necessary, has advantages.

Listen to an Audio of Neil Cole sharing about this Tool

Download/Print Entire Article

Download/Pring One Page Worksheet

Are Churches Leaderless? | Mike Breen

I just read this challenging post by Mike Breen of 3DM called Why the Leadership Movement is Leaving Your Church Leaderless.  I thought it was worth sharing and, apparently, it was so popular it crashed their servers when he posted it yesterday]. Click and see if it was worth the hype!