So… You Wanna Be a Prophet… (Introduction)
So… you want to be a prophet of God. Is that why you picked up this book? Do you have what it takes? How do you know? You should. (You know?) You should desire to prophesy the word of God (I Cor. 14:1) to God’s creation around you. It is an honor, a privilege, and a duty to serve God in this way, and you were made for the job.
Speaking God’s word is a tremendous and awesome thing in which to engage. Do not tread here lightly or flippantly. To stop and think about the responsibility you must take for the words coming out of your mouth will strike the fear of God in your heart! (Deut. 13:1-5, 18:20; Jer. 13:13-14). But it is thrilling too.
You might think that the vocation to prophesy is too high and lofty a calling for a person such as yourself. That is possible, but not in the way you would probably think. Go look at Numbers 22:28 and see that God once spoke through Balaam’s ass. If God can and does choose to speak through a donkey, then he can and will speak through you – if he desires it.
Therefore, you don’t even have to be a good or willing man for God to use you in his prophetic service. But that is no excuse for you to say whatever you like in the name of God. No. You want to serve God, and you must do so wisely.
Though a call to a life of prophecy is not necessary, as Balaam’s ass demonstrates, it is the norm (Isa. 6; Jer. 1:4-10; Ezek. 2-3). And you can consider this book as that call, no matter how messed up your life is. However, there are a number of guidelines we will discuss along the way which will help you to move wisely and with prayer into the calling of God.
A preliminary word on “home” is in order. Since I write specifically for the flock from a homeless church, it seems we need to draw together the call of a prophet with the condition of homelessness. But before we can dive too deeply into the discussion of homelessness, we need to sketch a brief outline of the concept of home in order to use as a sounding board for our discussion of homeless prophecy.
Home is a spiritual matter. Consider this: The home that God desires absolutely must be characterized through and through with love, trust, sacrifice, community, and peace – to say the least. In lesson #11, we will look much closer at the concept of home. For now it is enough to say, four walls and a roof may prove vital, but not sufficient to making a true home. And our culture is marked deeply by broken homes, which suggests ramifications that go far beyond marriage issues.
In lesson #6, we will look at the concept of God as Carpenter and at The House of God that he is building. This theme will be central for our study. Quite honestly, if you do not find your home in The House of God, then you are utterly homeless no matter what your living situation looks like.
One of the most important guidelines that I can state – one that needs to be as clear as possible and taken seriously here at the start is this: God’s word does not contradict God’s will or, put more simply, God’s word does not contradict itself.
This quickly implies a principle that I will honor as we move forward from here. We are not engaged in some willy-nilly, anything-goes manner of prophecy here. The word you receive from God (or think or feel that you receive from God) needs to be verified in prayerful analysis of Scripture. This goes for me, for you, and even this book you now read.
It is your God-given prerogative as his image-bearing creature to speak the word of God (in deed and word) over the world of his making. And doing so, since we are “fallen” creatures, will require that we learn it. This implies that we can and will make mistakes as we go about it.
Therefore, I suggest we engage this vocation with a sense of accountability. This, however, is nothing to fear; rather we should take comfort in it. You see… God loves you and his world (John 3:16). His message may be mysterious at first blush, but discernible all the same – and it will not contradict his love!
So, mistakes will happen, but let them not be mean, ugly, or prideful mistakes. We really can rule this kind out at the start. Let us move forward in humility and accountability, and seek verification – and – when need be, repent. God’s grace is sufficient and will ultimately guide us as he speaks through us to the world he loves and wants to call back to himself from the brink of destruction.
A Cautionary Tale
A note of caution is in order at the start of this study because I once experienced what amounts to spiritual abuse and charlatan, parlor tricks that confused and hurt some people and puffed up the so-called “prophet” to make himself look good. Let us be clear that neither God nor I am calling you into that kind of vocation. In fact, I for one will solidly rebuke you if you go there – and I will do it publically and TO YOUR FACE! And if you find that kind of spirit in me, or any other, you should rebuke it too.
Later I will have a lot more to say about prophecy, but I feel sure that this preliminary caution is in order at this point. Prophecy is not the same thing as “telling the future” and definitely not the same as promising blessings of miraculous wealth. In the case of the abusive “prophet” to whom I submitted, he seemed to think that is what his gift of prophecy was all about. He went around the room in a trance-like state, laying hands on people and speaking in his best authoritative voice about how each person could expect windfalls of financial gain and prosperous opportunities in their lives sometime in the next few months. It seemed he wanted us to think he could see into the future like a crystal ball and put us in touch with lots of money. Apparently he hoped to appear as if he was powerful and all-knowing.
However, none of his predictions came true for anyone. When he was confronted about it later, he declared that during the session, as he was under the Spirit’s influence (the trance), he spoke things he could not even remember! Accepting absolutely no accountability, he then blamed the lack of fulfillment of his prophecies on the lack of faith of those of us who submitted to him. His whole ministry was utter rubbish! And sadly this man fell into his former life-style of drug abuse and incarceration about a year later.
We need to distinguish the call of God from that garbage. This book will not lead you in that direction. I promise. And I invite you to prayerfully search the Scriptures (in community especially) to verify the things I say. When you find discrepancy, always go with Scripture instead of me, because the word of God will not contradict God’s will. I am fallible; God is not.
I have no doubt that God can still use the man who abused his gift of prophecy with me, even though he operated for his own prideful purposes, if only that man repent and wait on God.
With these things in mind, let us prayerfully submit ourselves to God and seek his prophetic call. As we do so, I want to offer some life-shaping thoughts in this little book. It is my hope that the thoughts I share here will give us a rich sense of empowerment for the task(s). I also hope to expand our imagination and put some tools in your hands. We might even say that I hope to equip the saints (Eph. 4:12).