Archive for the ‘Christian Imagination’ Category

Dreaming with God – A Sanctified Imagination

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

Since we wrote our Hearing God’s Voice course a number of new books have come our way which touch on aspects of that course. One of them is Bill Johnson’s Dreaming with God.

In chapter 4, The Language of the Spirit, Johnson speaks about the role of a sanctified imagination:

A yielded imagination becomes a sanctified imagination; and it’s the sanctified imagination that is positioned for visions and dreams. there is great paranoia over the use of the imagination in the Church of the Western World. As a result; unbelievers often lead the way in creative expression – through the arts and inventions. They have no bias against imagination. The imagination is like a canvas to a painter. If it’s clean, the artist has much to work with. God would love to use our imagination to paint His impressions upon; He just looks for those who are yielded. However, those who are preoccupied with “not being worthy” are too self-centered to be trusted with much revelation. At some point it has to stop being about us long enough to utilize the benefits of being in Christ for the sake of those around us. Such a position gives us unlimited access to the mysteries of God that enable us to touch the needs of a dying world.

Johnson goes on to outline some of the reasons people do not recognise God speaking to them and some of the ways his voice may be heard.

This book resonates closely with much that we have already taught. I recommend you obtain a copy and read it.

Purifying the Prophetic – Sanctified Psychic Reading

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

I am presently reading Purifying the Prophetic: Breaking Free from the Spirit of Self-Fulfillment by Loren Sandford, son of prophetic and healing ministry pioneers John and Paula Sandford.

Loren is a pastor who has had a great deal of experience in prophetic ministry himself, and in equiping, administering and protecting others in such ministry. While affirming the value of prophetic words, and still advocating the kind of training we are engaged in to enable people to hear the voice of God, at the same time he sees certain dangers in the way people often operate in this ministry.

The first one I want to address here is what he calls “sanctified psychic reading”.
We recently had an email from someone seeking advice about whether she is a burden bearer, and how this would affect her feelings towards a man to whom she is strongly attracted. In the course of answering her questions I revisited something that Loren wrote in Purifying the Prophetic. Let me quote him from pp27-28:

“Prophetic ministry is the word from God through men to men. It is not primarily a reading by men of what is in the hearts of men. Ability to sense and even define what is in the hearts of others does not make us prophetic. It makes us human. To learn to do it better does not make us more prophetic, but rather more fully human. We are created in the image of God as spiritual beings. Every human being, therefore, possesses the capacity – tapped or untapped – to sense the feelings and inner condition of others. Because God is Spirit, we each have a personal spirit as part of bearing His image. This is our human birthright and constitutes an essential component of our ability to exercise compassion.

Com = ‘with’
Passion = ‘feeling’
Compassion means ‘to feel with’.

So ‘reading people’s mail’ (their hearts) does not make us prophetic. It just makes us more fully human.

“In less than half an hour, almost anyone can be taught to use the burden-bearing gift resident in every believer (see Galatians 6:2) to sense the heart of another person deeply enough to give a reasonably accurate description of what might be going on inside him. Streams Ministries under John Paul Jackson, a ministry I respect very much, does this effectively in their seminars. It is beneficial training, an awakening of the spirit, but it is not prophetic ministry. At worst it is that sanctified psychic reading flowing from the flesh of those who do it. At best it can serve the purpose of ministry in wonderfully revelatory ways, but it is not fully prophetic until it is coupled with other functions that truly reveal the plans and purposes of God and release the power to accomplish those plans and purposes. We see too little of that kind of release in prophetic ministry today.

“We need to move from mere sanctified psychic reading into the genuine spirit of prophecy that, according to Jeremiah 1:10, tears down and builds up, uproots and plants. It is the word of God to accomplish His purposes.”

Loren has much more to say on this, as do his parents John and Paula Sandford in their writings. But on re-reading this I was caused to reflect on what we have been teaching in our courses and seminars. We do teach about checking what we hear in this way, and that a seminar is a learning experience, and that life-changing decisions should not be made on the basis of such exercises. And we do go on to look at how to test prophecies.

During a seminar I recently attended, in one of the exercises we were arranged in two parallel lines, facing outwards. Then we were asked to first hear or see what the Lord wanted us to give to the person behind us, before turning round to give it. I clearly saw a picture of a large country house. When I turned I found myself with a peson who I knew had just had to sell their house because of debt, and is desperately seeking another place. Now, I know I wanted to hear from God, and I am used to listening to him, but as a previous (now recovering) burden bearer, I could equally well have heard what is in her heart and given it back to her as if from the Lord. Because it was an exercise and a bit of fun I probably was not as careful as usual, so I am not sure which happened without going to the Lord about it afterwards. No instruction was given about the different voices that might be heard, the assumption being that it would only be God! Do you see the danger?

I’m not saying that we should stop teaching it this way – I don’t know a better way myself to get people started. However, I wonder if a bit more explanation might be necessary? Such exercises don’t specifically teach us how to hear God. They teach us how to hear another consciousness apart from our own. This might be God, or a demon, or another human spirit. Sometimes we might even be hearing our own dissociative parts. We need then to teach how to tell which it is we are hearing – or, given the lack of time in a short seminar, at least alert the participants to the different possibilities when they leave the protected environment of the seminar and try it out on their friends.