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A Diary of Dreams and Visions Supernatural Stuff

Growing In The Prophetic

That’s the title of a really good book by Mike Bickle, which I highly recommend. Much of what I know about prophecy I learned from he and Rick Joyner, Jack Deere and John Wimber. I am certainly in their debt to my early days of asking God to speak to me because it was many of their stories that gave me the faith to ask.

And ask I did. For six years my adolescent heart asked God to speak. For six years I asked and I don’t remember a single answer until a mission trip to Guatemala. I wrote about it here. But after God spoke the first time, He didn’t stop.

Now I don’t want to start this out to make it sound like God speaks to me (or anyone else for that matter) on a consistent basis. If I were to quickly list every time God has spoken to me here it would sound like an unbroken chain of communication with God. That’s just the nature of telling stories. When you tell them well, they always seem a little more grand than they truly are.

The truth is that in a good year I’ve heard from the Lord five or more times. Since that Guatemala trip I’ve never heard from the Lord less than twice that I can remember. Even if God speaks ten times in a year, there’s a lot of hours, days, weeks and months that God’s not directly speaking. But I’m always eternally grateful for when He does.

Ask And It Will Be Given

After I returned from Guatemala I received the shock of my life. Another human being had heard the very words I uttered only to God in prayer. God showed her in a dream the situation and the prayers I prayed. She prayed with me. And God answered both of us several times. That was a life-changing experience. After you know that God can and will speak to you, it’s like a drug you can never get enough of. I’m always hungry to hear God’s voice more than I do now. I’m always wanting to ask God to speak more and more. I’m constantly wanting to include God in every aspect of my daily life; even asking His opinion about the smallest detail.

God rarely seems to break in and speak for those small details, but the mystery of all mysteries is that sometimes He actually does! I don’t understand why or when God will speak, but I do know that in my life there is a direct correlation between how much I ask and how often God speaks.

After Guatemala I settled back into college life. I was going to classes, leading Bible studies, chasing cute girls I hoped to be the future Mrs. Hibbs and having a great time with now life-long friends. I didn’t stop asking God to speak, but I was happy that He had spoken to me once in six years. I would have been abundantly happy for once in six years and I would still be grateful for that now. But I don’t ever want to stop asking.

To my surprise, it wasn’t too long before He answered again.

Passing Tests

I was taking a particular class that next semester that I was doing particularly well in. It was the first time I can remember actually enjoying my classes and my major in college. Early one morning I awoke in a dead sweat from a dream. It was on par with one of those standing in front of thousands in your underwear dreams.

In the dream, I was in this particular class when the professor was handing back tests. When he got to my desk, he handed me mine and to my horror it had a large, red “0” at the top.

I looked up at the professor and asked, “Why did you give me a zero?”

“Because you cheated,” was his curt reply.

I became so immediately incensed in the dream that I started shouting profanities at him at the top of my lungs in front of the whole class. I’m pretty sure I used words that I didn’t even think I knew in real life. In the middle of my tirade the college dean walked in and told me he was kicking me out of school. I was immediately calm and now begging him to reconsider.

“No, you really blew it. You’re gone,” was his reply.

I stood there in the class horrified and embarrassed beyond imagination and then I woke up.

Putting It All Together

It took 30 minutes for the panic to wear off that morning, but when it finally did I went back to sleep. In college I’d had many dreams where I was being attacked by integrals or Charles Dickens and I always thought they were from stress. This dream was different. The next morning after I woke up I could still remember it as clearly as if I were still in the dream. I thought about it some more and then blew it off as stress and went about my day. By 9am I had completely forgotten about it.

I failed to put together that morning that later in the day I actually had to go to that class. I also didn’t remember that we had taken a test the week before. That afternoon when the class started I rushed in and sat down a minute late because I’d gotten chatty with a classmate outside. In my hurry to get my notes out and get ready for class I hadn’t noticed the professor was passing back our tests until he was standing over me. I had leaned down to put my backpack on the floor when I noticed him there holding a test out at me. I was speechless.

There was a big red “0” at the top with no other markings anywhere.

“Why did you give me a zero?” I asked.

“Because you cheated,” was his curt reply as he started to walk off.

Moments like these are the ones where time stops. Before he had taken one step I’m pretty sure I had a month’s worth of inner dialogue. The funny thing is that when I saw the zero I didn’t remember the dream. When he said “you cheated” I didn’t remember the dream.

I know what you’re thinking. “How could I possibly not remember the dream?” Was I stupid? Probably, but in the moment it all happened so fast and I’d already written the dream off as stress that morning that it just didn’t occur to me. That is until what happened next.

In that moment where my professor said “you cheated” and started to walk off something strange happened inside of me. There’s a lot of things that I can take, but being called a cheater or a liar is not one of them. In fact, every time I’ve ever been called a liar I get very angry. In this case I felt more anger and rage than I’d ever experienced in my entire life and it all came rushing on me in a nanosecond.

I was so enraged that this man would falsely accuse me of cheating and ruin my college career. The way the grading was structured, I couldn’t pass the class with a zero. And if he really thought I’d cheated, why did he give me a zero instead of turning me in. Cheating on a test in college is grounds for dismissal. Before I knew what was happening a rush of anger and filth came up inside of me and the vilest words I could think of were just about to roll off my tongue to give him a piece of my mind. At them moment those words were on the tip of my tongue, that’s when I remembered my dream.

I stopped me dead in my tracks. Instead of shouting the words I wanted to at him, I sank back  into my chair and quietly uttered, “Oh my God, what have you done?”

God, What Have You Done?

Does God Actually Know What He’s Doing?

When I awoke from my dream that morning one of the most shocking things about the dream was how I’d lashed out at my professor. Don’t get me wrong, I have a temper. But as everyone who’s ever truly known me can attest, my temper has never been aimed at people. For some silly reason I reserve my temper for inanimate objects that don’t do as I please. Computers, cars, appliances and the like bear my wrath when they don’t work. But I’d never lashed out at a person before.

What I did in my dream was inconceivable to me. I was sure that I wasn’t capable of that. Right up until the moment it happened.

That’s the way it is with sin. All sin is bad, but the truly dangerous ones are those we think we’re not susceptible to; the ones we think we’ve conquered once and for all.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:7-8)

Sure, James makes it clear that no one has control enough over their tongue not to sin, but I thought I’d achieved some higher level of purity than he understood. God used the most bizarre exclamation point that day to make sure I understood my place.

I didn’t hear a single word my professor said that day during class. I was completely inside my own head the whole time. There was a whole swirl of thoughts and emotions. I couldn’t believe that not only was I capable of that kind of defiling speech, I would absolutely have done it had not God warned me. Then I couldn’t believe that God had warned me. He cared enough about me to reach down and steady my hand from very destructive sin. Then I was tormented because I knew I couldn’t pass the class (which I had to for graduation) with a zero. God hadn’t shown me any resolution in my dream, only what would have gone wrong. What was I supposed to do?

I was in serious trouble, but I had an amazing amount of peace. This was the second occasion God had beyond a shadow of a doubt spoken to me. I always thought dreams were supposed to be dark mysteries and riddles. I didn’t know what to do with one that actually happened in real life exactly as it was in the dream (except that I didn’t blow up). I thought about Joseph’s dream to leave Bethlehem with Jesus and Mary (Matthew 2:13-15) and I realized that our loving God will sometimes warn us before destruction (at our hands or someone else’s). God is amazingly good that way.

But I was still in trouble and I didn’t know what to do. I just knew I had to do something if I didn’t want to fail.

High Marks

After the class I went up to my professor and very respectfully asked him to reconsider. I assured him that I hadn’t cheated, and very confidently and angrily assured me that he wasn’t going to reconsider. I left the class very perplexed.

Why would God warn me only to have me fail the class? I couldn’t understand it, but I knew that the same good God who warned me could fix the situation. I had no idea how that would happen, but I was confident He could do it. I just knew that my part was to rise above the darkness that I was just now aware of hiding in my heart.

I didn’t know what to do. I had no plan. I only knew that I had to trust that God would help me. I had made up my mind, though, that even if I failed the class I was going to make sure I never resorted to my flesh that was clamoring for justice and vindication.

Still confused, I went to the next class a couple days later. My professor started out the class giving me something to worry about. He came by my desk before class started and told me he wanted to speak with me after class. I couldn’t lose the lump in my throat the whole class. I was sure he was going to tell me he was turning me into the dean and I’d be expelled. Again, I don’t remember a word my professor said that day. I had enough going on inside my head.

I fearfully went forward after everyone had left the class and said, “You wanted to see me?”

“Darren, I know you can’t pass the class with a zero. I still think you cheated, but I can’t prove it. I’ll give you a fifty on the test.”

A fifty wasn’t great, but I knew that I could pass the class with it. I’d take it! I hastily handed him my test and he marked out the big red “0” and put a big red “50” next to it.

As he handed it back to me I said, “I know I can’t prove it either, but I promise I didn’t cheat. But thank you for this. Thank you very much.”

I walked out with a little bounce in my step. God had made a way for me to pass the class! I was so excited. God really had come through for me.

The next week I happened to be walking through the professors’ office building needing to talk to a different professor about a class assignment. As I walked past my “you cheated” professor’s office door he spotted me and called my name. I didn’t even know where his office was up to that point. I quickly poked my head inside his door.

“Yes sir?”

“Darren, I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I don’t think you cheated. Do you have your test with you?”

I was at a complete loss for words. I quickly realized that just by chance the test had never left my backpack so I pulled it out and handed it to him. He took his big red pen and scratched out the “50” and put a “100” next to it. The test now had at the top a zero and a fifty marked through and a perfect grade in their place. There were no other marks on the test. I knew he’d never even bothered to grade it.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I gushed as I shook his hand and bounced out of his office.

If I’d had a bounce in my step for a fifty, you can imagine my excitement over the hundred. I was so excited that I completely forgot about the meeting with the other professor I was in the building to see. I ran back to my apartment and worshipped God for His goodness, provision and His love. I’d never felt so overwhelmed by God’s hand in my life before then.

The message was clear. “Darren, you were going to fail this test If I hadn’t warned you, but you passed the test with a 100!” I still kick myself to this day that I lost that test. I wish I had it around as a memento. But I couldn’t be happier and that was the conclusion of that matter.

Or so I thought.

God Sees The End From The Beginning

God’s really smart. I mean REALLY smart. He knows a lot more about what’s going on than we do. In fact, He knows it all. Not only is He really smart; He’s really good at orchestrating some pretty cool stuff that we couldn’t imagine in our wildest dreams.

My wife, Sarah, had a friend in high school. Her father was a professor at the university, so she had grown up in town with a lot of other professor’s kids. One of them was a young man from another country and he didn’t have a lot of friends in high school because of that. He had friends, but that feeling of loneliness that every adolescent feels at times was only heightened by the cultural differences he faced. But my wife’s beautiful heart reached out to him. She would invite him to sit with she and her friends occasionally or invite him to partake in outings  with she and her friends.

They seemed like small gestures to her, but they meant the world to him during those formidable years. During college the two didn’t stay in close contact, but they’d keep up from time to time. After he found out Sarah and I were engaged, he wanted to invite us over to his parents’ house to experience some of their ethnic cultural food. I love getting to meet and eat people of other cultures because I love the diversity that God has created. I love to experience it. We happily agreed and were off to eat with he and his parents a few days later.

We were greeted by Sarah’s friend at the door and when we walked into the house and met his parents in their kitchen, time stopped again.

The faded memories of that dream and test from several years earlier came rushing back in an instant. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Sarah’s friend was the son of my professor. They weren’t believers and I instantly knew that there was a lot more going on with God’s warning than me passing his class.

They were Muslims who God greatly desired to follow Him. If I had blown it all those years earlier they may have never had an opportunity to follow Jesus. The very sight of me might have turned them away from God forever if I had failed that test. But thank God, I didn’t.

I’m being intentionally vague on some details because that family still hasn’t chosen to follow Jesus. I’m sure they will. God is patient in filling in the details. He was very quick with His resolution to me passing that class, but that wasn’t the bigger issue at work. God has been pursuing this family for years and He knows the proper timing for their hearts, and He’s invited Sarah and I into the process.

After everything had happened I thought about Joseph. He had a very clear dream that his father and brothers would bow down to him as their ruler. Amazingly, that actually happened, but it was a long, hard journey for Joseph getting there. But Joseph was patient.

We’re so often wrapped up in the temporal affairs of our lives. But when we ask God to speak, He often has plans that go far beyond the simple request we have for this week. We just have to be faithful to walk out the journey fully trusting God.

No one does it perfectly, but for everyone it starts with asking. Will you ask God to speak to you? Will you be faithful to listen? Will you be trusting of God when it takes patience to see the fulfillment?

By God’s grace, I know the answer can be “yes.”

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Articles Supernatural Stuff

Does God Speak In Dreams?

If you’ve read anything on this website before, you probably already know the answer to that question.  But it is still a valid one.  God speaking to individual people in 2011 through a dream is really a very odd proposition if you think about it for a while.

First, dreams are already a very strange environment to receive information.  Your conscience self is not currently working, only our subconscience.  Secondly we’re, well, asleep.  Third, no matter how real or clear the dream was it always seems at least a little fuzzy once we wake up.  God, why would you speak to us in a dream?  That seems like such an odd way to communicate with us!

My friend Draper once told me that God only spoke to people through dreams who weren’t listening.  I strongly disagreed.  There are just too many biblical examples of people who definitely seemed like they were listening who God spoke to profoundly in dreams.  And I’d had a bunch of dreams from the Lord, and I felt like I was really listening.  We disagreed (humorously) on that matter for at least a year or two.  Then when day he told me he had been praying one afternoon and the Lord gave him a dream about me.  I’ll spare the contents of that dream here, but my response was, “Okay, two questions Draper: first, the Lord spoke to you in a dream?  And second, you were having a prayer time and God spoke to you in a dream?”

I still laugh about that today (and I think Draper does too), and anyone who’s spent any time in prayer through their lives has to admit to falling asleep more than once.  And Draper has had more accurate words from the Lord than anyone else I personally know, dreams or not.

But still, why does God speak through dreams, and how can we grow in our ability to hear the Lord clearly when He speaks in dreams?

The God Who Arrests Attention

I believe the main reason God speaks to us in dreams has something to do with Draper’s original sentiment.  It’s not that God only speaks to us in dreams because we’re not listening during the day, but because when we’re asleep we are a captive audience to no one else.  It’s the only time our mind is a complete blank and the Lord has a canvas with which to paint a beautiful, albeit mysterious, picture.  When I’ve been sure I heard the Lord in one way or another during the day, there’s always a little hint of doubt in my mind because I know that my mind is always running and I have an imagination that my kindergarten teacher helped me put there.  There’s always a hint of “was that God, or just me?”

In a dream, there’s many times little doubt.

Take Joseph.  He was going to put Mary away for seemingly having slept with another man and getting pregnant when an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him what the real story was.  That was convincing enough that a man married a pregnant woman he believed to be a virgin!  Again, after Jesus was around two years old, the evening after the Magi had left their house Joseph had another dream where an angel visited him and told him that he had to take Jesus and Mary and flee in the middle of the night as soon as he awoke from the dream.  He did just that and Jesus’ life was spared.

There was obviously no doubt in Joseph’s mind that God spoke through dreams, and he was sure when he’d heard clearly from God in one.  I’ll say that personally I’ve had one dream in my life where an angel was involved, and there was no doubt it was God.  I’ve had many others where there weren’t angels and I was still sure it was God, even in the dream sometimes.  But the lion’s share of my dreams that have been from the Lord have been puzzling as to their meaning and source.

Pizza Dreams

I’ve heard many people refer to odd dreams that don’t seem to make any sense as “pizza dreams.”  What they mean by that is that they had too much pizza before they went to bed and their subconscience was running in overdrive because their body was working overtime processing that late night food.  I definitely believe that can happen, but I think it’s a dangerous way to interpret dreams.

My admonition is that we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss any dream, no matter how strange, as a “pizza dream.”  I’ve had so many dreams that seemed so dark and quizzical that I wanted to discount, but I pressed the Lord for some meaning and on several of them realized exactly what the Lord was speaking.  What I’m saying is I think it’s a much safer proposition to assume the Lord is speaking to us first, then after we’ve exhausted all possibilities of God having spoken to us, then we can write the dream off as indigestion.

God told Moses that to him He spoke clearly, face to face, but to every other person for the rest of humanity He would speak in “riddles and dark sayings.”  Even Samuel, David and Elijah heard from the Lord in riddles and dark sayings.  That’s exactly what dreams seem like.  Why?

When Jesus came and spoke in parables, it wasn’t so that we’d have great stories by which to better understand the truths of the kingdom of God.  No, in His own words He said He spoke in parables to fulfill a prophecy in Isaiah.

He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'” (Mark 4:11-12)

Did Jesus not want people to hear the Word of God and repent and be saved?  Of course He did!  What He did, however, was only explain the truths of the kingdom clearly to those who wanted to know bad enough to come to Him afterward and ask what on earth He meant by a parable.  In fact, we don’t understand Jesus’ parables because they so clear, but because we have the benefit of the running commentary in the scripture where He explained them.  It’s the same with dreams.

God speaks to us in riddles and dark sayings in the night when only our subconscience is running, not so that we’ll have clear understanding, but so that we’ll run to Him who gave us the dream to ask what on earth it meant.  Dreams are God’s way of engaging us more in conversation with Him.  When we have a dream from God, rarely is the meaning apparent solely from the dream.

I’ve had a few dreams which needed no interpretation because the events happened the next day exactly as they happened in the dream.  But they are rare.  Mostly, dreams take work and time spent in scripture and prayer to understand.  God doesn’t normally give us a dream as the message, but as the “teaser trailer” for the actual message.  In the same way, parables weren’t Jesus’ way of teaching, but His way of sifting out those not interested in hearing His voice.

Are we open to hear God’s voice?  Dreams are a major way in which God speaks to us.  God loves us enough to speak to us in the night with a faint whisper of what’s on His heart for us.  When we awake, our mind remembers a foggy experience, and if we’re truly hungering for God, we long to hear from Him what the meaning is.

Unfortunately, there’s been far too many times where my heart didn’t hunger for God to reveal the meaning of a dream.  I wrote it off in one way or another, and I missed an opportunity to receive revelation from God.  But I long to ever increase in my hunger and desire to hear from the Living God who knows me, sees me and loves me.

Practical Steps

One thing is for sure with dreams: they are hard to remember.  That’s why it’s really important to write them down.  I’ve encouraged people if all they can do is have a notepad and pen handy to scratch a tick mark on the paper in the middle of the night so they remember they even had a dream that night.  The best thing to do, of course, is to write down the substance of the dream as close to having it as possible.  That may mean a lot of writing at 3 in the morning, but it’s worth it if we can hear more of the Lord’s voice.

Another thing to remember is that no dream, no subjective supernatural experience, will ever go against the rule of scripture.  What I mean is that no principal laid out in scripture will ever be broken by God in a dream.  For instance, if God tells you in a dream to divorce your wife and run off with another woman, throw it away.  We can know for sure that’s not from the Lord.  Or if God has told you to start a new religion where you are the next incarnation of Jesus, toss it quickly.

Scripture is our final authority over subjective experiences like dreams.  That doesn’t mean there has to be a precedent in scripture for the details of each dream, but the content of a dream cannot go against God’s Written Word.  For instance, I had a dream recently where God told me not to cut out a plant in our little vegetable garden because it was about to produce fruit.  There’s no case in scripture where God told anyone not to cut out a plant because it was about to produce fruit.  To the contrary, most of the references to plants that don’t produce include God telling us they will be pulled up and thrown in the fire.  But I saw bees working to pollenate this unproductive plant and then it bore great fruit.  Then the Lord spoke to me in the dream not to pull it up because it would produce great fruit.  The next morning, this unproductive plant of over three months had 7-10 bees buzzing around it.  Within days the fruit began to form.

Now I know God can care about things even as small as a garden plant, but the message was not about the plant.  I won’t divulge exactly what it was about here, but my point is this: nothing in the dream went against scripture.  The dream was a message from God that scripture couldn’t have given me–a directive about something that was currently going on in my life in 2011.

There’s no passage in Mark or 1 Timothy that tells Darren Hibbs to go do something on October 7th, 2011.  But the same God who wrote that scripture can still speak to us today, and dreams are one of His chosen ways to do it.  The question is, will we be listening?

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Lessons From The Garden

It’s funny, but all my life produce came from the grocery store.  Don’t get me wrong, I learned pretty clearly in kindergarden that apples came from trees and corn came from seeds that were planted in the ground and given water, sun and love.  But when my son asked me what kind of plant goldfish (the edible kind) came from, I thought it might be good for both of us to learn how much work it takes to put food on the table.

Here’s the problem: the Hibbs don’t have a green thumb.  In fact, when we moved to College Station we bought a very lovely house with an even lovelier bit of landscaping.  The previous owners spent all their time outdoors working on their flower beds.  We appreciated the work they put in, but I knew that wasn’t for us.  I declared that the Hibbs’ policy would be that if any plant in our yard could survive by itself (and a little sprinkler watering) all year, it got to stay here.  So getting things like green beans and corn to grow in our yard was going to be a longshot.

I built some raised beds with some spare lumber and we planted away, very late mind you.  June is pretty late to plant anything in Texas, but we went for it anyway.  Most of our growing has been a futile attempt at producing leaves and not much else on our plants.  We’ve had a few eggplant and okra, which I don’t care for, and very few squash.  But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t learned a few lessons along the way.

Not being from anything near an agrarian background, my wife and I have learned a few lessons that the Bible has reserved for those who know what growing food is like.  For instance, I never really understood the concept of a plant not producing.  I figured that if you planted a bean plant in the ground it was going to produce.

I planted a little squash seed in one of our raised beds and it grew up to produce the most beautiful squash plant I could have imagined.  I was very proud of myself for actually growing something big and pretty.  In fact, the squash plant grew so big and pretty that it covered everything in the bed, including a couple of tomato plants and all my green beans.  So big were its leaves that it killed everything else in the bed.  It was beautiful and its large green leaves soaked up the sun for two months.  The problem was that the only thing it ever produced was green.  It lacked ever producing these little yellow things that we could put on our dinner plates, which was the whole point in the first place.  Then, after killing everything else in the bed, it promptly got eaten by squash bugs and died.

My wife was struck with the symbolism, that until now we lacked the experiential knowledge to perceive.  Such a good-looking plant never produced any actual fruit, and in the process killed other plants that probably were going to (my green beans had pods starting to grow).  Like that squash plant, so many good Christians are able to put up a good-looking front, but they sadly never produce anything with their lives.  They go to church, say all the right things, have church buildings named after themselves when they give lots of money but never actually produce anything the Lord might consider fruit.  Jesus said that such plants would be cut out and thrown into the fire.

Beginning to realize that wasn’t just a symbolic phrase spoken by Jesus, but an actual reality when it comes to farming, I decided it was time to pull out all the tomato and tomatillo plants in my garden.  They had produced hundreds of flowers, but not one tomato or tomatillo (like a small, green tomato used in Mexican food dishes).

I decided I’d pull up the tomatillo first since the tomatoes had just started budding some new flowers, so I thought I’d give them a second chance.  But I didn’t have time to deal with the garden on the day I decided to pull up the tomatillos.  I decided to do it the following day.  That night I had a dream that there were bees buzzing around the tomatillo, pollenating all the buds and that tomatillos started growing shortly after.  In my dream I saw what seemed like hundreds of little tomatillos growing.  Then I heard the Lord tell me not to pull up the tomatillo, that it was just about to produce fruit.

I woke up from that thinking that it must have been a “pizza dream.”  Why would the Lord care about the silly tomatillos in my garden?  I didn’t give it much thought until that next morning when I went out to the garden to pull up the tomatillo there were five or six bees buzzing around it preventing me.  I’d only seen two bees in our garden in the four months it had been there, so I was shocked.  The fact that the bees were buzzing around the tomatillo like in my dream shocked me even more than their presence.  It quickly seemed less of a pizza dream.

Within a couple days it was obvious we were going to have a plentiful tomatillo harvest in the coming weeks.  But I was confused about why Jesus would care so much about us being able to make some fresh salsa verde.  Then, through the input of my wife and mother-in-law, it was clear.  We planted our garden about the time we began planting this church.  It’s been a very interesting process.  We’ve all come from traditional church situations where very little fruit develops for all the effort spent.  Over the past several months we’ve learned a little about what is worthy of our time and effort and a lot of what needs to be cut out and “thrown in the fire.”  I’m not saying most churches produce no fruit–that there’s nothing good going on anywhere; but I think it’s pretty obvious that most don’t produce much.

We’ve been praying daily for the Lord to give us the harvest for five months now.  We’ve not seen many people come to the Lord, much less stick around with us to grow into much.  We haven’t had any thoughts of quitting, but it can be discouraging to start a church and not have many (or any–at times) people come.  But the Lord loves to speak of souls coming into His kingdom in terms of harvest.  The imagery is so perfect.  As Paul said, “one plants, one waters and another reaps the harvest.”

The week before I had really been crying out earnestly to the Lord to show me if we were doing something wrong, and if so, what we needed to change.  We hadn’t seen really any fruit (the terms I often use), and it was becoming discouraging.  I had asked the Lord specifically for a dream or prophetic word from someone else to keep us on the right path.

The tomatillo dream was the Lord giving me the encouragement I had been asking for to keep going the week before.  We have as a core value holding daily prayer meetings.  I knew from the get-go there would come a day we would all grow tired of them, especially if not many other people joined us.  Prayer meetings can be hard; boring an monotonous as the weeks and months pore on.  We rarely see the fruit of our prayers immediately, but God promises if we remain faithful to prayer, He will certainly answer us; “speedily” in His time frame (Luke 18:1-8)

Just like any plant that produces fruit, we need to constantly prune it to keep it producing at its peak (something we didn’t understand until we planted this garden).  We probably will change how we do our prayer meetings and maybe at what times, but the reality of daily corporate prayer meetings won’t change for us.  They’re a necessity for the church in our day to regain what we’ve lost in our walk with the Lord.

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About 1WTC: Prophetic Insight

This may seem a little odd, and I pray I don’t regret posting this publicly, but I think I may have more regret for not posting it.  I had a dream in 2003 about 1 World Trade, the landmark building being built on the ground zero site to replace the towers.  It was formerly being called “freedom tower.”

First, let me say that it’s a dream I’ve really paid attention to these years because of the dream I had on September 9, 2001 where an angel showed me the twin towers (WTC 1 & 2) collapsing.  I’ve never been to New York before, so I don’t have first-hand knowledge of the site, but this weekend proved to be chilling to me because of what I saw on television and I feel I should share what the Lord showed me in the dream.

This is exactly what the building looked like at the beginning of my dream

The dream began with one new building being constructed on the site of the twin towers’ collapse.  That struck me because at the time (February 2003) all of the talk had been very patriotic like we should rebuild the two towers “brick-for-brick” as they were before.  So one building replacing the two didn’t make sense at the time.  But in the dream there was only one.  It was halfway done when the dream began.  I saw it from the outside and it was clad with mirrored glass with the structural steel extending up above.  I’m struck today because it looked in my dream exactly as it did yesterday on television.

The dream changed and now I was inside working on the construction with all of my Christian friends and family.  We had such a spirit of “for God and country” as we were building the tower.  We felt like we were doing the right thing rebuilding this patriotic landmark.

The dream changed again and now we were almost finished with the building.  I was on what seemed to be the top floor.  The glass cladding came up to about waist height and there was no fall protection.  I was there with several Christian family members and friends again.  We still had a patriotic spirit, but just then a faceless man walked in.  I immediately knew it was Satan.  I was so disturbed by his presence that I hunkered my butt down against the exterior wall that was waist height so that if he tried to toss me over the edge I’d see him coming to do it.  I didn’t want my back turned to him.

After I watched him for a while, the dream changed again and now the building was finished.  All my friends and I were being given a tour of the building, going one floor at a time using the stairwell to go from top to bottom.  As we got lower in the building, things started to go wrong.  It was getting darker, dingier and very nasty.  The building was leaking (from the plumbing) and there was disgusting green ooze dripping from the stairs down on to us as we descended the staircase.  It got worse the lower in the building we were.  Finally, as we neared the ground floor, it was almost impossible to dodge the nasty green water dripping down onto us.

Just then I opened the exterior door of the stairwell to the outside.  There was a large expanse with trees there and it was nighttime.  I looked back up at the building and it was very dark–it looked black now instead of the shiny reflective glass it had been during the day.  As I gazed up at the building my heart was sick.  I couldn’t believe that the building that so many believers had worked on had become something so vile.  The building just had an evil air about it as I was looking at it.

Then my attention was turned down the street.  I noticed that most of the businesses were either gay bars, strip joints or pornography stores.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!  I said out loud to myself, “it can’t be!”  I wondered how everything had gone so wrong from what had started out as such a patriotic landmark.  I was so struck by the street scene, I had to know if what I was seeing was real.  I walked into one of the gay bars just to see if it was true what I was seeing.  When I stepped inside it was the most vile thing I could have imagined.  Then I woke up.

When I woke up the Lord spoke to me, “That building will be a sign and a seal of My judgement over the United States.”  I was gripped by the seriousness of the Lord’s words.  I felt like the Lord was going to release His judgement over America when the building was finished.

Now, to be clear, let me say some things about this.  First, I don’t think that the attack on the twin towers in 2001 was at all justified, nor was it the Lord.  In my first dream about that collapse, I felt the Lord’s agony over the events.  I don’t believe the Lord did it, but I believe He allowed it because He had purpose in the outcome over these years since.

Rendering of the finished tower

Second, I don’t think rebuilding the building in itself is bad.  There’s no doubt that the buildings had to be replaced by something, if for no other reason than to simply replace the square footage of office space lost.  The Lord is not saying that rebuilding the tower was wrong.  What was wrong was that myself and all my Christian friends were so sure we were doing what was right we didn’t consult the Lord on His thoughts on the matter.  We were blinded to the terrible evil that was going on all around us because we were distracted by our patriotic endeavors.

The implication I felt I received from the Lord–the reason for judgement–was what was on the street, not necessarily the tower.  I felt like God was going to judge America for the immorality that has run rampant.  And I don’t think the Lord is going to judge us because we have gay people and strip joints.  I believe the Lord will judge us because His people, the church, has been quiet and complicit with the immorality that has taken hold of us.  I fully believe that if the church would stand up and declare righteously that we must be free from such things, the Lord would relent.  But I think it’s clear that hasn’t happened yet.  It seems that the Christian leaders who’ve preached the loudest in recent years against immorality have led the most immoral secret lives.

The church has become distracted by so many things that calling the world to repent from sin and turn to Jesus is almost not on our lips at all anymore.  And I believe my dream is being fulfilled before our eyes.

Last year I saw a clip from the Glen Beck program about the mosque that was going to be built near ground zero.  He had a self-professed Christian on the program who said he was going to open a gay bar at ground zero, right across from the mosque, just to spite those muslims.  Glen Beck thought it was a funny idea too.  That broke my heart that a professing Christian could be so blind to the real evil in our nation.  Islam is not why America will be judged, but because God’s people have turned away from the Lord.

One last thought: last month the Lord shook Washington DC with the largest earthquake ever recorded there.  There wasn’t really any damage to speak of, though.  Except for one place.  It wasn’t the White House, the Capitol or the Pentagon.  Only the Washington Monument had what appeared to be one brick that cracked near the top.  No, the one building that truly suffered was the National Cathedral; the symbol of Christianity in America.  Three of the four spires atop the main tower were broken off.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

People of God: our nation’s greatest enemy is not from without, but from within.  We may be at war with Islamic extremists, but we’ve been told not to fear the one who can destroy the body, but the one who can send us to hell (Matthew 10:28).  Our greatest enemy is our own sinfulness.  The Lord has already begun judging us for it–we are embroiled in multiple foreign wars, our economy is disintegrating and natural disasters are increasing in intensity.  And the solution is repentance.  Not from the world, but from the church.

When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14

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As a footnote, I was shocked a year or two ago when I saw this.  It is a time lapse of day turning to night at 1WTC.  It shows the mirrored glass turning dark at night, which makes sense.  Reflective glass with reflect what it’s given, so at night, if the interior lights are off, the building will look black.

Glen Beck video here.  It’s just a joke to them.  This is the distraction that the enemy is using against us to blind our eyes from our real problems.  And I apologize for the course joking nature of this video segment–I’m linking it here so you can see what I saw, not for a laugh.

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The Prophetic Ministry

Prophetic Experience

I’m pretty passionate about the prophetic ministry; seeking God for it in my life and helping others grow personally in it as well as being an instrument of change for the church to walk deeper in it.  I believe I have a pretty good reason to be.

Through the years I’ve had some great teachers on the prophetic ministry.  A few books written by Jack Deere and some sermons by Mike Bickle and Paul Cain.  They were great teachers; the problem was that the sermon CDs and Jack’s books never talked back to me when I asked a question.  Fortunately, the Holy Spirit often did.

But that never filled the hole for a real person who’d walked in the prophetic ministry to help me navigate it’s difficulties.  I longed for years to know someone who could help me grow in my understanding of the prophetic and how it could be helpful to the church, but I never found that person.

I learned on my own for the most part, but I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  And I don’t want it to be that way for others.

I’ll never forget going to bed on September 8th, 2001 and having my first and only dream with an angel in it.  Not the television kind of angel, but the real kind.  He walked me around lower Manhattan and showed me the World Trade Center collapse.  As the two of us watched thousands of people rush past us in terror and fear I was dull to the emotions of what had happened.  In the dream I didn’t believe what I was seeing was real.

I woke up on Sunday, September 9th, 2001 and thought that I’d had a figurative dream about people’s “worlds collapsing”.  I told Bill Biggs, my colllege pastor at the time, that I’d like to pray for people based on that, but I never told him the dream or spoke it out loud.  I wished I had.

On the 11th, my dream was all I could see.  The swarm of emotions that came with that took months to get over (and to some extent, I still live with the emotions of it–I still tear up to this day when I think about it).  I didn’t know what to do with that.  I couldn’t understand why the Lord would show me such a dream if I wasn’t going to know to or be able to warn anyone in New York.  I’ve since come to the understanding that the Lord works like that–not everything is for us to share or warn others with.  But the months that went by that I went through confusion shaped me.

Prophetic Discipleship

I determined that I was going to do my best to teach and train others to hear from the Lord and be there for everyone I could when they had these kinds of encounters.  I’ve grown a lot in my understanding and maturity in the prophetic ministry in the last ten years, and I’m by no means the authority of the subject, but as in all discipleship we don’t have to be the authority on anything; we just need to know the authority.  There’s plenty of things that I have no experience in so I wouldn’t dare disciple someone in when it comes to the prophetic ministry.  I could point them to scripture or tell them to seek the Holy Spirit more.  But there are a lot of things the Lord has given me experience and understanding in to disciple people in to help them grow.

That’s why I’m passionate about the prophetic ministry.  Paul tells us that there’s no gift so helpful to the church as prophecy (1 Corinthians 14).  So that means that discipleship is a necessity for a prophetic people.  We must stress that every believer can prophesy and walk them deeper into as best we can.  If prophecy is the greatest gift to be desired by Christians, we must expend serious energy to grow it in our local congregations.

I’m by no means a prophet.  Nor do you need to be to prophesy.  And such experiences like the one I had on September 9th, 2001 do not make me a prophet.  I’m what I call a “normal Christian”, walking just a little bit into the gifting the Lord has offered us all.  There are prophets out there, but I’ll save a discussion on that distinction for another time.  And really it’s much better for everyone, including those who are called as prophets, to think of themselves as “normal Christians” anyway.  It’s much easier to stay away from temptation that way.  (Romans 12:3)

I know of a few churches that have endeavored to disciple prophetic people as part of their normal activities.  Wellspring Church, outside Fort Worth, Texas (website), strives to do this in normal and healthy ways.  My friend Michael Rowntree, a pastor there, has much good to say about that.

When I think of prophetic discipleship, I’m not thinking of an Elisha following an Elijah.  It’s not that formal to me.  I think of taking opportunities with believers we’re already in discipling relationships with and being intentional with them about teaching those people to seek and grow in the prophetic ministry.  We tell our stories, what we’ve learned from them and encourage them to seek God for their own stories that go beyond ours.  And the most important thing is not that we grow our number of stories for stories’ sake, but for the sake of growing in obedience in our response to those prophetic encounters.

Prophetic Obedience

My September 11th, 2001 dream is not something I tell to brag on how good I am at hearing God.  It’s actually a low point in my prophetic history as far as obedience goes.  I had no clue what to do with a dream like that.  It’s a story I like to tell about how God enjoys speaking to us–telling us what’s on His mind.  Since then, though, I feel like I’ve grown a little bit in my ability to correctly understand what the Lord is saying and obey accordingly in response to that.  And if “obedience” sounds a little odious and “legalistic” to you, take time to re-read Jesus’ Great Commission.  He told us to make disciples all around the world, “teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.”  Obedience is important.  It’s actually our key to growing in the prophetic ministry.

Why would God grant someone more authority and experience when they have done little or nothing with what He’s already given them?  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes He does, but that’s the exception not the rule.  If we want to grow in the prophetic ministry, biblical precepts tell us our way forward is first to ask for them, then to obey the words of the Lord that He does give us.

I mention this because I believe this is primarily the place where the prophetic ministry falls short in its understanding and application in the church, at least in the West.  I encounter so many people who receive words from the Lord and then enter into “wait and see” mode.  Prophetic leading almost always requires a response from us; either in action or a heart-level shift.  To wait and see is like having a fireman come to your house to alert you to the fact that the back half of your house is on fire and then telling him you’ll sit around and wait to see if it actually spreads to the part of your house you’re in.  A word from the Almighty God requires us to respond.

Let me give you and example from my life.  I was selling a house and having a really hard time doing it.  The house was in the hardest-hit zip code for foreclosures in Texas in 2008 and 2009.  We’d had 4 contracts already fall apart.  But I felt like the Lord gave me a number that we’d sell the house for.  I even got a call from another man who told me that the Lord showed him He had put a number in my heart that He’d let us sell the house for.  Then we got offer #5.  It was a higher offer than one of the contracts we’d accepted that had fallen through, but I countered with my number.  My realtor and practically everyone involved thought I was crazy and heavily lobbied me to just take the offer as-is, but I held firm to respond in obedience to what I felt was a clear word from the Lord.  The buyer accepted my counter and we sold the house for exactly what the Lord told me we would.

Now, lest you think I’m advocating some perverted form of a health-and-wealth gospel, just know that we lost over 10% in the sale–but we were able to sell it.  We have a neighbor there whose house is still on the market today–for almost 4 years now.

Prophetic Diligence

Unfortunately for the state of the church today, there is almost a total converse to the “wait and see” crowd out there.  I’ll call them the “turn the brain off” crowd.  They’re the ones who take anything that anyone who claims to be even slightly prophetic and run with it full-bore no matter what.  They have a good concept of prophetic obedience, but nothing of prophetic diligence.  If someone regarded as a prophet tells them something, it must be from God.  It would be sinful not to act on it.

This is a catastrophic way to live.  And sadly, even when time and again those prophetic words turn out to be wrong, many of this crowd continue on this path of destruction.  Paul tells us clearly that when a prophecy is given, we must discern it. (1 Corinthians 14)  But common sense should tell us this too, shouldn’t it?  When we enter into the world of the subjective word of the Lord, we must be very careful.  We must judge it against the written Word of God, our highest and most unmovable judge.  Then, it must make sense to us on some level.

Let me give you an example of what I mean.  A prophetic friend of mine, Draper Smith, called me one day at work and told me he had a dream about me.  He, Jesus and I were sitting at a little league baseball game eating hot dogs.  Jesus told him I was “hiring” people at work and I wasn’t taking it seriously.  I told Draper that was sort of true–I was interviewing lots of people at that time, but it had never been only my decision to hire them.  But I wasn’t taking it seriously.  I was blowing off my responsibilities there.  I took the correction from Jesus seriously and decided to change my attitude, but our hiring blitz had already ended.  We didn’t have anyone else coming in anytime soon, so I didn’t know what I could do now.

Draper went further, though.  He said the Lord told him I would have an opportunity to hire someone that day, at 5:47pm specifically.  I told him that was impossible because I was taking off early that day at 4pm, so I wouldn’t be around.  I thanked him and told him he must have misunderstood and that maybe it will happen the next day or week.  But Draper was insistent that the Lord has specifically said “today.”

I didn’t change my plans based on Draper’s words.  I already planned to take off early, and I wasn’t going to change that because of something even a distinguished prophetic person told me.  What would be the point of that?  It was an unconfirmed and untested word of the Lord, so I wasn’t going to change my life to self-fulfill the prophecy somehow.  I took off at 4 that day like I planned and as I was pulling into my subdivision I got a call from our secretary.  She told me we had an interview scheduled that my boss forgot about.  He was in a meeting with the CEO he couldn’t get out of and wanted me to come in and do the interview.  It was already 4:30pm, but I knew this wasn’t coincidence.  Of course I went back and did the interview.  My boss came it toward the end, asked a couple questions of his own and then walked the gentlemen out to his car since the building was locked now.  He came back in and asked me what I thought about the guy.  I looked at my watch and it was 5:47pm.

My point is that just because I consider Draper the most clearly prophetic voice I know, I wasn’t going to be intimidated by his stature so that I changed my life to fit his word for me.  That’s wrong, and fatalistic, actually.  We have to live our own lives, not waiting for God to direct our every single step.  Over time He can direct more and more, but God didn’t design us to shuck our responsibility to make our own decisions.  We don’t over time somehow meld our minds with God’s and become Him.  That’s Easter Mysticism, and I’ve seen plenty of it work its way into the church.  We have our own mind that we work to fill with the thoughts of God, not become God’s mind.

Now, when it was painfully obvious that Draper’s word was correct, did I say it was too inconvenient for me to miss some R&R away from work to go back?  Certainly not!  I obeyed.  Obedience was required.  What I’m saying is that God doesn’t make obedience difficult like we have to be afraid of prophetic words that we’ll get them wrong and God will be mad at us.  He’s for us, and obedience is easy.

Don’t act on prophetic words unless there’s some confirmation from the Holy Spirit that it’s from God.  That’s what makes it so easy for us–we have the Holy Spirit.  We’re not stuck on this path without a guide; we have the best guide the world’s ever known.  Jesus said the Holy Spirit is an even better guide than He was in the flesh and that it was better for Him to go to heaven so the Holy Spirit could be given.

Wrapping Up

Every September 11th I think back on one of the most significant prophetic experiences I ever had.  It makes me think about how the Lord has called us to be a prophetic people and how slowly the church has walked down that path in the last few decades.  We must be intentional about encouraging people to hear the Lord for themselves and actively disciple them to grow in that.  Every September I recommit to my efforts to teach and train others to grow in the gift that Paul said was preeminent among those the Lord has given.

To conclude, I’ll share one final testimony.  I was recently involved in a church that sought the prophetic ministry very earnestly, but was completely out of control in their application of it.  Probably something like why Paul wrote to the Corinthians to correct their abuses of the gifts.  It really was out of control.  It was so bad that I was approached by multiple people who told me they were ready to believe that prophecy wasn’t for today anymore because of how awful it was at the church.  Manipulative, hurtful and mostly wrong.  There was no discernment, especially from leadership–only full acceptance of everything that was spoken under the premise of prophecy.

I’m happy to report that the new pastor there has, to my understanding, taken a very healthy approach and fixed many of the reckless abuses.  But before he came I had to reassure several people not to give up on God.  I told them that even when there are wild abuses, manipulations and hurtful things done under the guise of prophecy, we can’t assign those problems to God, but to our own fallen human nature.

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox to bring in a harvest” Proverbs 14:4 NLT.

If we’re going to grow in the prophetic ministry, we must be willing accept a lot of mess (ox-crap, as Solomon cheekily puts it).  It doesn’t mean we don’t clean up the mess as leaders, but we must be willing to have the mess to bring in the harvest.  And that’s what Paul says is the real power behind the prophetic ministry–when it goes beyond the church and “thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” 1 Corinthians 15:25 NKJ

So, let’s accept the messes, move past them and intentionally and actively teach, train and disciple those around us to grow in the prophetic ministry for the grace and betterment of the church.  Even better, let’s grow the prophetic ministry in the church for the sake of the harvest!  Lord, give us the lost!