Posts Tagged ‘authors’

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.

Distortion of meaning by dictionary definitions

Monday, October 16th, 2006

The posts to the Listening 2 God Google group that accompanies this blog have led me to thinking about how the common definitions of words in dictionaries often lead to a distortion of meaning in their common use.

The dictionary is attempting to reflect the common use meaning of a word, but inevitably it helps to change how that word is used. The meaning presented will be biased by a number of factors, such as the understanding of the dictionary compiler, or its use by the sample of sources used by the compiler, which might, or might not, be representative of a large body of users of that word. Consequently, the future use of this word will be biased towards this direction, as people look up the word to find out what it means.

In this way, while the dictionary meanings attempt to follow common useage, at the same time they also establish that common useage.

For example, let’s take the word “prophecy”. Common useage, as indicated by what I read on the web and in books, and by what I hear in conversation, now emphasises predicting the future. This is understandable, given the sensational value placed on it in recent television programs.

If we look up the verb “prophesy” in the Macquarie Dictionary, we find six meanings relating to predicting the future, one for hearing God’s voice, and one for teaching or preaching (another common distortion used in evangelical circles).

But is it accurate? I believe that early Christian references to this word, and even earlier Hebrew useage was more in the line of hearing God’s voice, whether for now or the future.

Another example – “speaking in tongues”. Common useage, as given in dictionaries emphasises ecstacy, possibly because of the inaccuracy of early Pentecostal teaching, but also because of the common perception that it is something wierd. I am sure that the understanding of the early church was rather more prosaic, as is our own experience.

Then there is “demon”. Until recently it was clearly an evil spirit – an angelic being. But more commonly it has been demystified so far as to be only a synonym for human angst.

Most dictionaries will also have an entry for “demon possession”, which is not even in the Bible except as a very poor mistranslation introduced by the king James version and continued in many versions since. A better translation would be to retain the Greek word in its English form of “demonise”, which simply means something like “to have a demon”.

However, if we look up “demonise”, we find that its common useage is now to make a person, idea or institution “look like a demon” – in other words, give them the appearance of evil. Interestingly, if you are familiar with the concept of territorial spirits, you will realise that this idea is not so far off the mark, except that there are definitely evil spirits involved in the process! We see in the world news every day people “demonising” religion. What they don’t realise is that “religion” was demonised long ago. Check out Peter Wagner’s Freedom From The Religious Spirit.

One result of these changes in common useage is that over time they are read back into the original documents, and so influence future understanding and translations. It all becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

It is known that many marginal notes on ancient Bible manuscripts had this effect as they found their way into subsequent copies of the text. Well, the process hasn’t ceased!

Theology of Lying

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Then there’s the little boy in Sunday School, who, when asked what a lie was, said:

“It’s an abomination unto God, and an ever present help in time of trouble.”

(from Dutch Sheets, Intercessory Prayer: How God Can Use Your Prayers to Move Heaven and Earth. Regal Books, 1997, p115.)

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.