When I was teaching the children about the prophetic, I asked the kids to ask Papa what He wanted to say to the front desk gal at the doctor’s office. Kids barely recalled who she was, but were confident God knew her, and we asked anyway. One got “God’s not mad at you,” another got “It’s not your fault.” The youngest one just drew a picture of a dog. And another got a picture of a present with the message, “Something good is coming your way soon.” I wasn’t sure if I should release the words since they seemed a little out there, but I felt God was telling her it was okay. When they arrived, she was away from her desk, but her computer screen had a picture of her and a dog. When she returned, they asked her if that was her dog, and she started crying. I felt led to share the prophetic cards, and then the lady shared that something awful happened to the dog, and she felt like it was her fault and shouldn’t be trusted with another dog. The cards meant a lot to her hurting heart and removed the guilt. Our flowing in the prophetic as a family has allowed us to be the light to those around us.
PRACTICING THE PROPHETIC
This question is crucial for your walk with Jesus. Now that we have established through Scripture that God DOES communicate, we have to settle this question, “Does God want to speak to ME?”
We can have all the right theology we want, but if we can’t receive it, then it becomes head knowledge and not our experience. I believe this is where many people are stuck. They believe He speaks and long to have deeper intimacy yet are frustrated by the lack of personal experience. I call this ‘Holy dissatisfaction’ when you KNOW there is more but aren’t there yet. It is a genuinely challenging season to steward as this is where many quit and conclude He isn’t real, powerful, or cares about them.
People have an easy time believing that God loves the whole wide world; the red, yellow, the black, and white as the childhood song goes, but don’t grasp the depth in which He loves THEM until they begin to hear what He has to say to them personally.
Our experiences on earth teach us that we aren’t good enough, special or worthy enough to have His attention or affection. We have experienced unloving situations with people who were supposed to love and engage with our hearts. It is easy to believe that God loves the people around you, but a harder thing to have the faith and confidence you are included in that group.
God knew when He knit our children together that they would project their early experiences onto Him. He hands His creation over to imperfect people because He trusts Himself to work out the kinks in our heart and view of Him. My dad was good at providing and was the life of the party yet liked to keep things simple. I longed to connect deeper. I transferred that belief to Father God. He was good, and provided for me, but didn’t want to embrace me, hold me or be too involved in my life. My mom was great at creating special touches around the home and celebrating others yet was irrational with her emotional responses at times. I transferred that to Holy Spirit, fearing that He would be out of control and unpredictable.
I think one of the reasons people fear the ‘charismatic’ movement isn’t because they are against the Spirit of God, but because they had moms who didn’t know how to manage their emotions and are afraid Holy Spirit will suddenly become unpredictable, too.
Stop for a moment and write out three words to describe your dad and then for your mom (warm, cold, loving, giving, removed, happy, giving, unavailable). Now ask yourself if that summarizes your experience with God, Jesus or Holy Spirit. We know it isn’t the truth about God’s heart or character but is that your belief about Him based on experience?
The goal is never to blame our parents but to make sure we aren’t operating out of unhealthy belief systems that were transferred to God, Jesus or Holy Spirit out of our experiences with them. Freedom never comes from blame; it comes from TRUTH. John 8:32 – “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Let’s face it. I mess up at times as a mother. I blow it, miss it and flub it. When I go back to the kids and confess my sin, I add, “Do you know that Holy Spirit would never overreact like that? He never gets impatient with you or fails to understand your heart. Holy Spirit is so trustworthy and kind; He sees and knows every part about you.” I do this so that my humanness doesn’t become the view that they attach to Holy Spirit.
Why is this a big deal? Because when a child goes through a hard event at the hands of their parent or family, it hurts, but what creates lasting wounds is that they believe their Creator is the same way. It is hard to have hope, feel loved and secure when you have a belief that you are unlovable and unworthy even to the One who created you.
“Jesus, what lie do I believe about Your Father’s heart toward me?”
“Father God, will You please show me a picture of how much You love me?”
Emma, my second twin, wiggled in my womb so much it could easily take the nurses 45 minutes just to get an ultrasound of her. She hasn’t stopped moving since. Not in a hyper way (she is actually very mellow), but she is always dancing. I was never allowed to be carefree as a child, and the creative arts aren’t my natural bent, so it somewhat agitated me that she couldn’t just walk through the grocery store but always had to be leaping and twirling. I used to try to teach her to control herself and walk like a lady. It caused tension between us at times. Finally, God began to show me that her dancing is a gift from Him. It is almost warfare in nature. Something shifts in the atmosphere when she dances, which is so powerful.
I sensed Holy Spirit calling me to worship Him despite the heaviness of my heart. I found myself calling my daughter from the other room, “Dance, Emma, DANCE!” Within a few moments, something broke in the atmosphere. Interestingly, I endured a lot of grief while pregnant with her, and I sincerely believe all of the ‘movement’ was her dancing in the womb. I don’t always understand what is going on, but I DO know this – children are powerful carriers of the Kingdom, and when we as parents learn to steward their gifts vs. trying to control them, WE are the ones who are blessed.
SELF-PROMOTION: Self-pro·mo·tion (noun) – the action of promoting or publicizing oneself or one’s activities, especially in a forceful way.
JESUS PROMOTION: Jesus-pro·mo·tion (noun) – the action of promoting or publicizing what Jesus has done in one’s life, especially in a bold and confident way.
You have permission to own, brag and share all that Jesus has done in your life!
Emma came bursting through my bedroom door when she was five and announced, “Mommy, I have to have Jesus in my heart right now!” She said her Sunday school told her all about Jesus, and she needed to do this. I said, “Oh, sweetie, that is the most amazing thing. How about you come to me first thing in the morning if this is something you really want to do?” I wanted to be sure this was her heart or something she felt like she was ‘supposed’ to do. She said, “Mom, NO. I can’t wait that long,” and so we prayed, accepting Jesus in her heart. I told her that Jesus tells us once we have accepted Him to go tell others and asked who she wanted to tell. She jumped off my lap in a flash, and about five minutes later, her twin sister, Lauren, came into my room, asking to accept Jesus. We celebrate their spiritual birthday each year, thanking God for adopting both of them.
I am pretty good at processing my heart. Messy emotions don’t make me uncomfortable, and I know how to press into them for growth and freedom. But divorce kicked my bum in this area. I felt stuck and unable to know how even to process my emotions, much less do something about them. I have always had older female mentors speaking into my life, and I leaned on them heavily this season, but I had this insane desire to find a non-Christian male counselor. I wanted to get feedback outside of my usual circle. I only went once because I got what I needed in my first meeting. I was lamenting about all of the issues between my ex-husband and how I just wanted to put a pretty bow on it and THEN divorce. I hated the unresolved conflict because I didn’t want to leave things so messy. He said to me, “Lisa, the meaning of divorce is unfinished business. If it were resolved, you wouldn’t be getting a divorce. You need to learn to be okay with not having it cleaned up.” Whoa… It freed me from the broom in my hand that so desperately wanted to clean up every area of the mess and make it neat again. My heart couldn’t partner with throwing the broom on the floor and walking away. Instead, I decided to give my broom to Jesus to deal with the mess as He chose best. It was one of the most challenging aspects of my divorce, yet one of the most freeing.
“Jesus, I hand You the broom to clean up my mess and to turn my mistakes, immaturity, and weakness into something beautiful. I hand over all the files and ask that You deal with them according to Your power and grace. I no longer hold myself captive to a mess that is too big for me to clean up.”
Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Perhaps you are not going through a painful divorce, but maybe you have an ending relationship, were let go from a job you loved, or are strained with your adult children. If there are issues that are undealt with, and it is causing you added pain, hear this: Your job is to LOVE Him. His job is to pick up the broom.
A father of some teenage children had the family rule that they could not attend PG-13 or R-rated movies. His three teens wanted to see a particular popular movie that was playing at local theaters. It was rated PG-13. The teens interviewed friends and even some members of their family’s church to find out what was offensive in the movie. The teens made a list of pros and cons about the movie to convince their dad that they should be allowed to see it. The cons were that it contained ONLY 3 swear words, the ONLY violence was a building exploding (and you see that on TV all the time, they said), and you actually did not ‘see’ the couple in the movie having sex – it was just implied sex, off camera. The pros were that it was a popular movie – a blockbuster. Everyone was seeing it. If the teens saw the movie, they would not feel left out when their friends discussed it. The movie contained a good story and plot. It had some great adventure and suspense in it. There were some fantastic special effects in this movie. The movie’s stars were some of the most talented actors in Hollywood. It probably would be nominated for several awards. Many of their Christian church members had even seen the movie and said it wasn’t ‘very bad.’ Therefore, since there were more pros than cons, the teens said they were asking their father to reconsider his position on just this ONE movie and let them have permission to go see it. The father looked at the list and thought for a few minutes. He said he could tell his children had spent some time and thought on this request. He asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision. The teens were thrilled, thinking, “Now we’ve got him! Our argument is too good! Dad can’t turn us down!” So, they happily agreed to let him have a day to think about their request. The next evening the father called in his three teenagers, who were smiling smugly, into the living room. There on the coffee table, he had a plate of brownies. The teens were puzzled. The father told his children he had thought about their request and decided that if they ate a brownie, he would let them go to the movie. But just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons. The pros were that they were made with the finest chocolate and other good ingredients. They had the added special effect of yummy walnuts in them. The brownies were moist and fresh, with wonderful chocolate frosting on top. He had made these fantastic brownies using an award-winning recipe. And best of all, the brownies had been made lovingly by the hand of their own father. The brownies only had one con. The father had included a little bit of a special ingredient. The brownies also contained just a little bit of dog poop. But he had mixed the dough well – they probably would not even be able to taste the dog poop, and he had baked it at 350 degrees, so any bacteria or germs from the dog poop had probably been destroyed. Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat the brownies, which included just a ‘little bit of crap,’ and not be affected by it. Of course, none of the teens would eat the brownies, and the smug smiles had left their faces. Only Dad was smiling smugly as they left the room. Now when his teenagers ask permission to do something he is opposed to, the father just asks, “Would you like me to whip up a batch of my special brownies?”
One of the things I love about traveling and speaking is the ministry time. One touch of God can change a life in a moment. I often spend a great deal of time with God before asking how I can partner with what He is already doing in a particular community, as I never want to come in and just do my thing. At one place over the summer, He said to do ministry time totally different than I was used to (love that!). The Presence was so sweet and tangible. As a minister, you want people to encounter and receive all they can, but there was something that wouldn’t let me move forward. I had to process what He was doing and how I could partner with it while standing on stage in silence. He said, “I don’t want to come in as Fire tonight. I want to come in as a Gentleman. There are people in the room who need to know I am safe.” People encountered a safe Father, and it was breathtaking. It was the simplest yet most profound ministry time I have ever led.
Hopefully by now you have worked through and settled the question if God wants to speak to you. Faith is an important ingredient in our relationship with our Father. In fact, Hebrews 11:6 says that it is impossible to please God without faith! Ponder for a moment what life would be like if you went mute and had to try to teach, train, and love on your children without words. Seriously, think about how many times a day you use your words to guide your children to teach and train them, encourage them, cheer them on and help them. How often do you use your words to lavish love all over them and tell them how precious and beautiful they are to you? Now, how many times a day do you let your Father speak to you? Stop for a moment and ask yourself.
Why not spend the next hour with your children and tell them you are all going to play a game. NO TALKING. Each person has to communicate what they want to say without using words. Too many believers have limited their relationship to God with the written Word (which is very important), but He wants us to relate to Him, hear Him, feel His love, and experience Him. I liken the difference to wives whose husbands are overseas. While they may exchange beautiful love letters, it is not the same as the wife whose husband is there every night holding her, kissing her, and protecting her. The latter is the kind of love Jesus wants to have with us. We all know no marriage would be healthy or survive without communication. That is how personal God wants our relationship with Him to be. How could anyone find that level of intimacy with someone without talking, listening, and responding to each other? I have often heard people say that they believed God loved them in the “He loves the whole wide world” sense but had never fully understood how much He loved THEM personally until they heard Him speaking to them (John 10:27; Revelations 3:20). The purpose of the cross wasn’t only for forgiveness but also to grant us a relationship with God. God paid a pretty big price to offer us a relationship with Him. Do we not really believe that He wants to communicate with us (John 14:6)? We often pray, fast, believe, declare, hope, meditate, quote Scriptures, seek medical help, strive, ask others to pray, do it on our own strength and lean on our own understanding, but have we simply just asked Him?
I recently heard that people who hear God’s voice (and seek Him) are successful people. I agree – God is all-knowing all the time, and desires to share His answers with us, but we need to ask and then be quiet for a moment and listen to His response. Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is God’s privilege to conceal things, and the king’s privilege to discover it.” The reason why the Creator of the universe would concern Himself with speaking to us is for one reason alone – He loves us (Romans 5:8)! Many of us have been bruised by life circumstances, past relationships, or parents who parented out of their own wounds which can make it hard for us to grasp the depth and width of God’s love for us (Ephesians 3:8). But that’s the whole point of the Good News – we are LOVED! Radically wanted and loved in a way no human ever has and with a depth so deep we would never be able to consume it all. A proper response to His love is hunger – hunger for MORE of Him! Some of the greatest encounters with God are when we get to a place of such holy dissatisfaction with the reality there is MORE of Him and cry out for it. While we have all of God available to us when we first believe there will always be more of Him to discover, explore, experience, and encounter – always! How hungry are you for Him? Hungry people do what it takes, go great distances and pay the cost to get food. Spiritual hunger is a good thing. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
How hungry are you?
We had to catch a morning flight out of Sacramento, and I kept changing the time I thought we should leave. Finally, half joking, I said, “Jesus, what time should I leave?” We left at that time. In the middle of nowhere, my light comes on, saying my back tire is low. We stopped, and the nice attendant turned on the air for free. I filled it up but heard God tell me to check the tire. I kept moving to rotate the tire so I could inspect it. Sure enough, there was a nail! I decided to see if it would hold, but I was losing pressure quickly within minutes. I pulled off, and a tire place was right there. But it was only 7 am, and they didn’t open till 8. If I waited till 8, I would have missed my flight. We called, and the manager answered, saying he would start his day early for me. As I pulled in, he was waiting for me. Expecting to walk out with two new, unexpected tire purchases, he said he could patch it and then had the heart to not even charge me. I tried to tip him but to no avail. From the time I pulled off till I was on the road again was *15 minutes*. Had that happened just two miles later, we would have been stranded on the side of nowhere! I swelled with His goodness and laughed when I heard Him say, “I know about nails.” He knew the nail would be in the road and had me leave earlier, stop when and where we did, and provided each step of the way. Wow!
I was able to score cheap tickets to Florida and decided I would take the kids for some R&R and splashing in the ocean before school started the following week. The following morning I woke at 3 am pondering our trip. While it ‘looked’ fun, I had no joy. I got out of bed and began to process why going to Florida was not bringing any joy whatsoever. The joy turned into NO PEACE. It wasn’t fear, but simply no peace or joy on it. The Kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy; I have used these as my pillars to lead me. I canceled the trip. And then I see this… A double hurricane isn’t my idea of joy either, God. Thanks for leading me so well.
Shhhhhhh! LISTEN! HE KNOWS HOW TO LEAD HIS SHEEP.