“In Etruscan and Roman religious practice, a haruspex (plural haruspices) is a person trained to practice a form of divination called haruspicy, hepatoscopy or hepatomancy. Haruspicy is the inspection of the entrails of sacrificed animals and humans. Haruspicy is one of the three branches of the “Etruscan discipline” preserved in written texts that were known to the Romans, along with ritual practice and divination from lightning.” (I find it interesting that Lucifer was cast out of heaven like a bolt of lightning.)
I titled this article not to compare the natural manifestations or parallels of the haruspex practices to prophetic ministry today. Rather, I utilized this ancient spirit to draw attention to spiritual manifestations and parallels in which mankind as well as those within the church oftentimes seek signs, wellness and direction in life outside of God’s plan through Christ. Much of mankind’s warped searching for direction and purpose is due to the lack of prophetic ministry functioning in its ordained power and purpose.
I believe that many (including myself) are not just looking for spiritual direction in this hour and season – but a directive from the Lord in reference to our calling and commission as a prophetic generation. We can only proclaim prophetic truth with accuracy to the degree that we understand how prophecy moves within the church or societal environment that the Lord has approved. Please notice the word “approved.” Presumption is the ultimate killer of destiny and is the catalyst for spiritual disappointment. Many who know me understand my softer position on prophecy in regard to those who are just beginning and learning walk in their calling and eventual commission. There must be a understanding that we need and must gradually mature in our gifting just as a baby learns to crawl and just as a child learns to walk and as we grow older – finally learn to run. Sadly, spiritual patience has been nominal as most just learning to crawl in their prophetic gifting have been silenced into submission by immature and insecure leadership or not given the opportunity at all.
All of us who are running the race to finish strong have struggled through child-like crawling and unsteadiness in our spiritual giftings. But this is also a time when we must confront the reality and signs of the times in a spirit of love and purpose in regard to the advancement of falsehood that has and will continue to infiltrate the prophetic voice as even the elect are being deceived. Discerning truth from falsehood and even more importantly – aggressively exposing shades of gray is of the utmost importance at this time in history for angels disguised as light will deceive many as the days unfold.
I find it tremendously enjoyable to be a part of a congregation which equips the saints for ministry through encouragement and the love of God which is expressed toward me to write and prophesy via the power of the pen. Even though they may not agree with every aspect of this article, they realize that I am on a path seeking to grow. Within the environment of this freedom comes an awareness that we (the church) are in a spiritual hour of deep contemplation, repentance and transition which is the key to a genuine prophetic resuscitation. Our love for the destiny of the church (the people of God) is what makes bold, but yet loving confrontation necessary at times as we move toward the soon return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Likewise, we must realize that there are many “wrong” ways to be “right” in proclaiming truth. A grave matter at hand is that most individuals in our modern churches, businesses, societies and cultures are easily offended by truth. Simply put, we are an offended generation due to the entitlement spirit that is spreading like a cancer across the world. Some camps desire to not stir the pot and are willing to allow error to go unchecked and run rampant while other camps desire to hammer you over head with what they believe to be “truth”. The gift and spirit of wisdom has been under-developed and undesired within the church as well as humanity in general. This must change and a desperate apprehension for wisdom’s benefits must be sought after in this hour. Sacred cows and compromises are being slaughtered on the alter of divine truth.
Jesus Christ (the spirit of prophecy) as our prophetic example – humbled himself and only spoke what the Father showed or revealed to Him. I’m convinced that Jesus in the form of natural flesh and blood would have had much to say concerning the state of world affairs in his day (The heyday of pagan Rome). However, he humbled himself to only reveal the heart and purpose of the Father. The cool thing is that Christ has chosen you and me at this time in history to speak “His” direct words. With that said, I will maintain my stance and patience with the need for prophetic training and the certain mistakes that will be made as we grow in maturation. But on the other hand, we must also take prophecy very seriously and steward it well as the spirit, heart and actual words of Christ. The abuses and falsehoods must exit stage left with all the casualties that are at stake in this hour and the casualness that words seem flow off the tongue of man as “Thus says God”.
“I don’t receive glory from men, but I know you, that you do not have God’s love in yourselves. I have come in My Father’s name, and you don’t receive Me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, who receive glory from one another, and you don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:41-44)
Jesus said, “that if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.” I certainly do not believe that the Lord was referring to this issue in a complimentary way. I do believe that this statement has no better application than the current days in which we live in. It seems that men who come in “their own names” are still attracting large crowds of men-worshipers who are ever increasingly reliant upon “them” for a word from God. It seems that many will travel half-way across the globe for a word from the man or woman of God who comes in his own name rather than from God Himself. The bride is continually running away from the alter to attend the latest conference or buy the hottest book to gain spirituality. After all, this method is so much more easier and pleasing to the flesh than genuine intimacy and prayer. It is the Lord’s desire that genuine prophecy stir, direct, and challenge people to hear his voice, his calling and his commission for themselves.
The Lord is confronting the users and abusers of his ministry gifts that have been plagiarized or stolen and promoted by the names and agendas of man. The Scriptures state that the Lord will never rescind a spiritual gift once given. However, the Lord can and will remove the opportunities to use or exercise them. The carnal man loves to see his name attached to what he perceives he has accomplished. The carnal man loves to hear his name and accomplishments roll off the tongues of others. The fleshly man by nature loves to see his name shining in lights for all to see. These men, women and ministries are naturally attracted to one another and feed off of each others compliments of how well they are doing (or, should I say: “performing”) to justify their approach to ministry. Likewise, the people who follow these ministries love to be identified with them for the purpose of recognition, association, affirmation and acceptance. We are not as individualistic as we would like to believe ourselves to be – we are groupish by nature and embrace what our families, businesses, and societal groups or sub-cultures dictate – whether it’s truth or falsehood. In other words, people don’t simply embrace abortion for no reason. Many are horrified deep down inside but support it anyways because the groups they been embraced and committed to for social identification have determined it. This includes the church and its many sub-cultures.
“Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching. For a time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4)
I am saddened when I go to websites of well-known evangelistic and prophetic ministries to read more than half of their material lifting up themselves up and their accomplishments under the guise of “testimony.” They will weave in a few scripture verses along with a little revelation to make it justifiable. Beloved, this is not the heart of Christ for anointed ministry to bring permanent change in people’s lives and what he has entrusted to us. We must be honest and come to terms with our human nature to desire recognition, affirmation and admiration. By nature, we love to be rewarded by recognition of what “I” have accomplished. The taking up of our cross daily is the crucifying of our need for fleshly recognition and praise. When we follow Jesus, only He is seen as we become a shadow in His leading. It is at this time of spiritual maturity and humility that our shadows (like Peter) will possess anointing and power. True and authentic ministry requires and demands a dying to one’s self so that Christ may be glorified in all areas of our life.
It is critical at this hour before a quickening judgment begins within the prophetic umbrella that we cease from charging silver and gold for prophetic words, articles and materials. I understand the value of supporting ministries through the offering of ministerial materials etc. However, if “prophetic” words are truly prophetic…Then they are directly the words and Spirit of Christ and are offered as a free gift of grace and have already been paid for in full. The plagiarism of Christ and the Spirit for gain will no longer be tolerated in the kingdom and will be swiftly exposed.
“For if I were still pleasing men, I wouldn’t be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
If the favor and acceptance of man is our focus, we will never truly desire to decrease that Christ would increase. Most reading this already know that not one miracle was ever attributed to John the Baptist. Yet, Jesus said that he was the greatest of all men. Why? Because as you already know – John desired to greatly decrease so that Christ would greatly increase. It seems that many equate ministerial greatness and validity with the miracles and visions they hear and read others claim under their personal ministry as well as the circle of friends they keep – rather than biblical substance and humility. The Lord gave us a blueprint in his Word for storing up eternal treasure in heaven and I believe that the formula for storing up eternal treasure is very simple: Anything that glorifies Christ on earth will be rewarded in heaven and anything that glorifies our name on earth will stay here on earth and blown away as chaff.
“For I say unto you, you have received your reward.” Jesus also said, “How can you believe, who receive glory from one another?”
Many of today’s ministry leaders would like us to believe that there is a “new wineskin” of revival being constructed in the body of Christ. First of all, I don’t see this in the scriptures. However, a “great falling away” is clearly stated and defined. The truth is that all of modern movements named by “man” – whatever you would prefer to call them: (“Third Day”, “Third Wave”, “Apostolic-Prophetic”, “Last Days”, “Hebraic Roots”, “Remnant”, “Five-Fold”, etc.) have the same religious hierarchical order that resembles the world system and a Greco-Roman structure of government. Thus, the lack of societal results are reflected. This is easily discerned by the casual observation of the modern leaders of these ministerial networks taking on the names and title of “apostle” and “prophet” along with “set-men”, “overseer”, and “apostolic covering.” The controlling spirit behind these newly coined movements is still the same old religious wineskin under a new guise. While the recognition of the five-fold gifts and the individuals commissioned by the Spirit to operate in them is paramount to the church’s life, power and success – it is the self-entitlement and advertisement of these “titles” that removes the anointing, power and spiritual potential within a congregation of believers.
For instance, I am quite proud of my aerospace engineering career, but I do not expect to called “Aerospace Engineer Danny” or “Doctor Danny” or “Accountant Danny” etc. The demand and accountability to “man” is in the forefront of such leadership focus for the purpose of preserving power, displaying position and a reliant following to financially support and maintain the status quot. Frankly, I am not interested in supporting or even maintaining the status quot because it simply has not worked as history has so clearly painted. With this said and on the other hand, if you cannot submit under the authority of man within the government of the church which is seen – we can expect that you will never truly submit to the authority of God which is not seen and you are deceived otherwise. My point is the absurd titling we that have bestowed upon man in their like weaknesses as any other man. We don’t need titles…What we need are results and behaviors that confirm our spiritual identity rather than promote them.
I am not stating that that the recognition of others and their spiritual position or commission within the church are not needed in the lives of God’s people. They certainly are and should be expected. We vitally need to know and understand who has spiritual authority and anointing at a particular time to meet and speak to our needs (especially when God seems to be silent or that he desires that we rely upon each other in relationship). The problem is when these recognitions become the primary focus of the local church for the garnering of affirmation and acceptance. The result that is produced is man-centered religiosity rather than Christ-centered ministry. The focus becomes the religion, dogmas and anointing of man rather than the relationship with Christ and the power of his Spirit. Ministry leadership moves into error when a man’s true spiritual value and maturity is based on attendance, tithing, and the covering of man, rather than the covering of Christ’s blood which is completely sufficient. Spiritual maturity and aptitude is not based on a set of rules. Those who mature through intimacy will naturally exhibit spiritual growth and desire to gather with the saints and submit to another in a spirit of love. It was the rule driven religious mind-set of the Pharisees that Jesus so vigorously confronted. As a matter of fact, it was the only thing I can find in scripture that He really hated besides the single person of Esau which was a symbol of worldly rather than spiritual focus or priorities. I am very fortunate to attend a church in Darien, Georgia where the leadership has earned spiritual and genuine apostolic recognition through humility, character and a daily lifestyle. I hope and pray you experience the same. If not – leave and find a place that reflects as much. I’m not kidding. Time is too short for these silly religious games and pitiful manipulations.
What is manifesting today is nothing more than new names and faces put on old systems or wineskins rather than the manifestation of kingdom government. The environment that man-centered religion produces is the manipulation (witchcraft) of false submission. Man-centered religious systems create an atmosphere for others to utilize false submission, false humility and corrupted tithing to gain a warped and counterfeit spiritual promotion rather than producing a genuine relationship and anointing from God. In other words, it no longer becomes the fruit and integrity of a man’s life, but how much a man is willing to submit and approve of a religious leader’s agenda or complete lack of agenda (a dead church). Of course, anything that is contrary to the agenda is considered “rebellion.”
The call to prophesy comfort, encouragement, and edification is for all of us who have faith to proclaim and to receive of its benefits. Thus, “we all may prophecy.” This is vital to the health and life of the church. However, the primary call of the “prophet” has always been to proclaim repentance in a spirit of concerning love when man corrupts what God has ordained. However, it seems that the church is content and comfortable with the gift of prophesy but has an aversion and resistance to the words of the prophet. Those who are naming or calling their ministries “prophetic” but refuse to confront sin and religion within the church are the creations of man, for they seek man’s approval. Prophetic ministry is one of the few things in life that we must have both ways. We must readily take the message that edifies and encourages and we must also embrace the message that confronts and calls for personal repentance.
The fruit of authentic prophetic ministry is that it speaks to the issues of one’s soul and life both individually and corporately. It penetrates past the walls of rejection, rebellion and denial. It comes from the heart of God to reveal genuine truth to one’s life for the purpose of conforming that person to the image and mind of Christ. It is only this avenue that leads to the abundant life. Many are saying that the church has lost its relevance to a lost and dying world. Sadly, I must agree with this statement. We have created institutions that tickle the ears with comfortable words, rather than equipping and challenging people to fulfill their destiny as kingdom participants and disciple-makers in their particular gifting. Or, we tilt so flaky in “weird prophetic goulash” that the church has little to no relevance in our societies. The lost simply cannot relate to prophetic expressions of “warfare”, “swords”, “armor”. Imagine if a “Islamic prophetic revival” started and they began expressing these catch-phrases in their proclamations and writings? The Christian prophetic camp would be the first to protest in awe…Yet we express the same words so flippantly in our self-righteousness.
“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen…” (1Corinthians 1:16-2
Some might think that if Christ had desired his message to have impact – that he could have easily promoted his popularity more effectively. Modern thinking would suggest that Jesus should have done everything possible to promote his fame and tone down the controversies that arose out of his teachings. I suppose that many today would have counseled Jesus to employ strategies to maximize the crowds around him to validate his ministry. However, Jesus did just the opposite. Instead of taking the popular route to enhance his acceptance, Jesus began to stress even more the very things that made his messages controversial and personal.
Jesus went on to preach a message so confronting and offensive that the multitudes left, leaving only a handful of devoted men and women. Among those who stayed were the twelve disciples whom Jesus had personally chosen and appointed to represent and continue his ministry. They were ordinary men and Jesus’ strategy for advancing his kingdom and church hinged upon these twelve ordinary men. Many, in Jesus’ day and much like today, came for the purpose of what they could get out of Jesus’ ministry rather than what they were willing to give back to it. The church is comprised of “living” stones and not the dead stones of debt-laden buildings and parsonages. It seems many are more concerned of investing in a building or ministry rather than the kingdom – which are the people just like you and I. The Son of God came and dwelt among men and it seems that most of mankind just wanted what they could get out of Him. Has it really changed?
Jesus chose to build His church and ministry through a few un-exceptional, ordinary and fallible men. Jesus sought this over military might, personal popularity, education, and a good comfortable sales pitch to win a following. The future of the church would literally hinge upon the faithfulness and humility of a handful of repentant men who loved and embraced the truth of Jesus’ ministry. The choosing of these twelve (handful) was a judgment against the institution of religion that man had created and erected. Jesus didn’t choose a single Scribe, Pharisee, or Sadducee. He didn’t choose a single man to lead his church who was theologically trained. He didn’t choose a man with an impressive spiritual or natural title. He chose fisherman and even a repentant tax collector who counted themselves as no reputation for the glory of Jesus Christ.
You are not reading this by accident. Christ has chosen you to continue building His church through your faithfulness and love for the truth…Just as a handful of men were chosen many years ago. I am convinced that the Lord is calling us back to the model of love and ministry that he gave us through the scriptures and is speaking through his Spirit to the churches today. Yes, the Lord is inspecting the condition of our lampstands. The Lord is calling us back to a prophetic ministry that meets and heals people in a real and genuine way. The last days are unfolding and will hinge upon our coming back to our roots and sharing the heart of Christ with others in a real and personal way – our lifestyle. This will come quickly when the name and works of Jesus become the focus rather than ours.
The purpose of this message is not to criticize any particular individual, denomination, or ministry in any way. All of us, including the unbeliever, are deeply loved by our Father and saved by grace lest we boast. Because He does love us, He has given us the gift of prophecy and prophetic ministry to touch people’s lives in a very special and relational way. And what is so special about prophetic ministry is that it builds deep and meaningful relationships in our care for one another. It shows those who are searching for life’s answers that there is a God and He loves them very much. So much so that he sacrificed all that he had for them. What about us?