Jesus told parables. So do I. These stories convey a greater meaning.

Katie Discovers how choosing forgiveness is not like choosing ice cream

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Katie walked along the wooden planks of a boardwalk across the cliffs of Cambria as sun beamed down on them and waves exploded over the rocks below. Bushes, shrubs, and playful scrub jays lay on the side opposite the cliffs. She loved her hometown: small, safe, and with a view of the rugged cliffs of California. Her friend Laura walked beside her.

“You and Matt doing good?” Laura asked.

Katie’s heart raced at the thought of him. “Better than good.”

“What about college?”

A gust of wind blew Katie’s blonde hair behind her. “Well, San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz aren’t that far. We’ll survive.”

Two forms sat on a bench further down the boardwalk. Well, a guy sat on the bench. The girl sat on top of him; they were connected at the lips.

“Ugh, a little heavy on the PDA, don’t you think?” Laura said.

Katie shrugged. “I’ve done worse.”

As they got closer, she thought it funny how the guy looked a little like Matt.

She stopped just a few footsteps from the bench.

“Matt?” she said uneasily.

The guy pulled out for air and stared back at Katie. Lipstick covered his face.

“Uh… hey, Katie,” he said.

The girl on his lap turned. It was Suzie, Suzie the freshman! They stared at each other for a moment in stunned silence.

Something inside Katie exploded like an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. She felt like her stomach was about to burst out of her skin.

“What are you doing?” Katie shouted.

“Uh, this isn’t quite, uh…” Matt stuttered.

She felt the black smoke of burning oil rolling out of her ears.

“You traitor!” she shouted.

She knocked the stunned freshman off his lap and went for after Matt’s face with her fingernails.

Matt threw up an arm to save his eyeballs. He fell backwards off the side of the bench and into the dirt.

“What happened to ‘I love you’?” Katie screeched.

Arms held her from behind, someone’s arms… Laura, it had to be Laura, keeping her from second degree murder.

Matt stood up and brushed off some of the dirt. He stared at Katie and shouted. “You’re boring, that’s what happened.”

He grabbed Suzie by the hand. “Come on, let’s find another bench,” he said. They stomped down the boardwalk.

Suzie turned back with an arrogant smile, stared at Lizze, and blew a kiss. (more…)

By |2015-02-17T17:34:07-08:00August 25th, 2014|Parables|Comments Off on Katie Discovers how choosing forgiveness is not like choosing ice cream

Prophesy, Part 3: Prophesy

By the time you read this, I will be on a plane to Thailand. I’ll be there for 2 weeks and in Japan for 2 weeks. You may notice a lack of posts in that time, but I’ll make up for it after that, for sure! 
 
Part 3: Prophesy

Tom pulled back his arm and threw hard. The little disc flew straight toward his target. But then it slowed and seemed to come to a complete standstill before veering a sharp left and off into some bushes. Tom sighed. His game was terribly off. The sport, of course, was disc golf, and old favorite of his. He’d spent his first few college years coming in last of his friends, but he made a commitment to come out at least four times a week, and his skills were improving.

Except for today. The day started when a friend from Revival Fellowship cancelled on him (not the voice of God, just school work). He was distracted through the whole game, and now he was six over par on the ninth and final hole. As he tromped towards the big, prickly bush which had eaten his disc, the same thoughts echoed in his mind. He found it funny how sometimes, when you’re alone, the same sentence or two echoes over and over again for hours. This whole game, since he had no one to talk to, two sentences kept circling in his mind, complete with the images of those who spoke them.

“When you prophesy over someone, you’re trying to answer the question, ‘God, how do you love this person, today?’ Answer that, and you’re prophesying.”

“But it bugs me to put prophesy in a box of little words, given on demand, when God’s got to be speaking bigger things to people – if He’s really speaking.”

After a few more bad throws, he finished seven over par, slipped his putter into his black, vinyl bag, threw it over his shoulder, and plopped down in a nearby bench. Only a few other players were out on the course (all doing much better than he had), and two kids played on a see-saw, trying to balance such that they were both in the air.

An older man (maybe in his sixties) sat on a bench next to Tom. He had a slightly wrikled face, but it didn’t carry as many cares as his age. He wore a striped, button-down shirt with some jeans. His hands held a little, round gray hat on top of his lap. He turned to Tom and smiled. “Beautiful day, isn’t it?”

The words snapped Tom out of his funk. “Ah yes, it is,” he said, watching a few large clouds float overhead.

“Have you lived in this area long?” the man asked.

“No, just a couple years. I go to Town City University. I’m done in the spring.”

“And that frisbee golf is your hobby, then?”

Tom winced at the misnaming of his sport. “Yeah, I enjoy disc golf quite a bit. Between school and” – he walked out on a ledge a little – “church, I need something to simply relax.”

The older man caught his little nuance, like an Ixthus symbol of old, and replied, “Ah, you’re a Believer, eh? I go to Assemblies of God on Traffic Way.”

Tom hadn’t heard of it. “I’m at Revival Fellowship.”

“Oh, I’ve heard of that place. The Spirit’s really moving there. I visited once. Lots of young people. Lots of young people.”

The conversation died for a moment. Tom wasn’t sure what to say next.

“Well, I have a word for you,” the old man said. He sat up straighter and looked Tom directly in the eyes (it was a little intimidating). “This is what the Lord God says. You’re in a time of great transition. You are encountering the things of my Spirit in a new way, and the choice is before you to run from them or walk towards them. The choices you make in the next six months will impact the walk you have with me for the rest of your life. You will either walk closer to me or farther from me, but the time for decision is now. Know that I will be with you in those decisions and give you wisdom if you will only listen to my Spirit with prayer and fasting.”

There it was. He’d broken half the rules from Bill’s training and significantly weirded Tom out by speaking in the first person from God’s perspective. But Tom felt his head spin and his stomach turn over. He stared at the old man as if to say, How did you know all that? He couldn’t pick out words to tell the man and uttered a distant “Thanks.”

The old prophet put his rounded hat on his head and stood up straight, bearing great posture for his age. “I hope to see you out here again, young man. I wish I’d followed God half as closely as you when I was your age. You have a good day.”

In the end, all Tom could think was, the voice of God is a mystery to me.

By |2015-02-06T11:15:16-08:00October 9th, 2013|Parables|Comments Off on Prophesy, Part 3: Prophesy

Prophesy, Part 2: Conversation

 

Part 2: Conversation

A few days later, Tom sat in a nice little Thai food restaurant with a friend named Paul from his previous church, ReBible
Fellowship. They sat over a steaming plate of noodles and chatted about the last couple months of their lives. “So, we had this prophetic training last week.”

Paul’s face took an incredulous look. “Prophetic… training? Fascinating. And you actually went?”

“Yeah, I’d heard of prophetic trainings and always had been a bit skeptical, but I wanted to see firsthand what it was
like, rather than writing it off as heresy based on hearsay.” He chuckled at his own joke. It wasn’t the first time he’d
used it.

“Do you think it’s Biblical to do something like that?”

“Well, we try to train up evangelists, right?” And Tom summarized a good part of the teaching from the Sunday before.

Paul listened carefully as they finished their food, interjecting a few questions now and again before he voiced his opinion.  “Well, at least you’re not trying to add to the canon. But still, there’s some parts I don’t like. For example, that part at the end about ‘whatever you see is from God for that person.’ That seems like a rather naïve way to approach hearing God. Maybe the reason I have an image of pipes in my head is because I was playing Mario Brothers an hour before the meeting. That teaching just doesn’t take basic human whims into account. Sometimes, our minds just come up with things, and that’s not God speaking. I feel like with trainings like that in a church, you’d get weird people who are convinced that every whim of their mind is the word of God. If anybody clears their mind and ‘waits for a word,’ they’ll get some kind of image, Holy Spirit or not. That’s just basic human nature. I’d say that images like that are pretty meaningless when you take that into account.”

“See, I disagree with that,” Tom said. “I do believe God can speak through a mental image, but it’s just not every mental image is from God. I’ve known people who’ve been really impacted by some of those funny images.” It’s funny, because somehow, Tom was the type of man who tried to get people to play fair. Around his new, Charismatic church, he’d defend the Evangelical Free and Calvary Chapel sectors of Christiandom, where around his old friend Paul, he’d try to give a fair hearing for the prophets.

Paul continued. “Anyways, we could argue about little things like that, but let’s cut to the core, shall we? The biggest thing I’m hearing from you about the Pentecostal idea of prophesy is that definition. He said it was ‘hearing God’s heart’ or something like that, right?”

“Yeah, basically hearing from God for another person. Do you have a better definition?” Tom ignored the word “Pentecostal.” They were “Charismatic,” and he’d told that to Paul a million times, but it just didn’t seem to sink in.

“Yes. Prophesy is speaking for God! There’s a weightiness to it that training didn’t capture. You just can’t go around saying you’re prophesying and making all kinds of mistakes. At the very least, it’s taking the Lord’s name in vain. At worst, it’s something of a blasphemy. If you just want to encourage someone, then don’t say ‘this is prophesy,’ because that’s saying that you’re speaking for God. And if you’re speaking for God, you better be sure of what you’re saying! And if prophesy is just vaguely hearing God’s heart for someone, then does the word still mean anything?

“I mean, God speaks in many ways: through the Bible, through wisdom, even through impressions. And if we just take God’s word through the Bible, I could say John 3:16 to you any time of any day, and bam, prophesy, because that’s always God’s will for you. Or if we take God speaking through wisdom – say that you’re doing terribly in school. And I determine that it’s because you’re watching too much TV. ‘God’s will for you is to cut down on the TV,’ I say. Prophesy!” He waved his hands in the air.

“The way your training went, it sounds like prophesy revolves around giving minor, insignificant, personal insights. If that’s prophesy, then any psychologist is a skilled prophet. Heck, if prophesy is that easy, then my last pastor, who vehemently denies the spiritual gifts, prophesies all the time in marriage counselling situations. It’s almost like the Pentecostal–”

“Charismatic,” Tom interjected.

“–World isn’t as unique as they think in possessing prophesy; they just have too wide a definition of it.”

When Paul’s mind got into debate mode, he got carried away. A waitress dropped the bill as he continued. “However, what about big prophesies? At the very least, prophesies that change the course of individual lives. But what about world events, calls to repent, etc? If someone came into your church carrying that kind of a ‘word’ but couldn’t read your palm (so to speak), would they be a prophet? Or say someone like Martin Luther came along and reformed the way we do everything. I call that prophesy in the biggest, most major sense. That kind of prophesy changed the world. But Luther didn’t look deep into your eyes, wait for a picture of a blue unicorn, and give it to you to hold like a stuffed animal. You haven’t really created a prophetic church; you’ve killed prophesy.”

“Little harsh there, don’t you think?” Tom asked.

Paul suddenly noticed that a few other customers in the restaurant were looking at him. “Sorry, maybe a little. But it bugs me to put prophesy in a box of little ‘words’–” he made quotes with his fingers “–given on demand when God’s got to be speaking bigger things to people – if He’s really speaking. I just hate to dress up a scarecrow in camel’s hair and call it a prophet. I want the real thing. Something I can’t deny!”

“I know, and I’ve been in that place,” Tom said. “The funny thing about that place is that you can always find reason to deny the obvious work of God right in front of your eyes, and I still do, sometimes. Without an open heart, you can look at a healed man and say ‘He did it on the Sabbath.’”

He pointed straight at Tom. “You calling me a Pharisee?”

They paused in silence for a moment, then the two old friends both collapsed in laughter, breaking the tension. Paul slipped his credit card onto the bill plate. “You paid last time, right? I think it’s my turn. Look. I just don’t want to cheapen God’s voice by calling every true statement in the world a prophesy.”

“Well, I think you’re missing one piece,” Tom said.

“What?”

“Prophesy has a certain ‘now’ quality to it. I’ve heard people call it the rhema word (Greek meaning the Word of God for right now) as compared to the logos word of the Bible. Quoting John 3:16 or Jeremiah 29:11 may be true, but it isn’t prophetic, because it’s not what the Spirit is saying right now to me. I’m just doing it out of my own head. Quoting a Scripture like that in bad timing can actually wound deeply. If someone is really hurting and I quote a common Bible verse to them (say, Romans 8:28), then it sounds trite, and I seem uncaring. That’s not prophetic, because though it’s God’s plan for their life, it’s not what He wants to speak through me right now.

“And take wisdom. See, I get words for people where I feel like wisdom plays a big part. A girl in my Fellowship Group last week talked about some problems with her dad, and I suddenly knew that she needed to call him and apologize for her part in the fight. I felt wisdom, but there was more: God put all the facts together (plus some extra knowledge) into a whole package of discernment. With just wisdom, I wouldn’t have been able to piece it all together with such confidence. I had this firm sense that ‘this is correct, and it’s God. By the way, didn’t you say you had class at 1:30?”

Paul looked at his watch and spoke in flawless Christianese. “Crud, shoot. I do. Gotta run. Later, Jeremiah!”

By |2015-02-06T11:15:02-08:00October 7th, 2013|Parables|Comments Off on Prophesy, Part 2: Conversation
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