What Pez Dispensers & the Prophetic Have In Common

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I’ve been back in the USA for a little more than 3 years.  Much of these three years has been spent finding my footing again on many levels, fighting ongoing health battles and reevaluating what following Jesus looks like when my mission field is in the backyard of my childhood home.  I’ve also done a lot of watching and praying and sitting and observing and having tough talks with Jesus about what it really means to love and serve and be after His heart.  I follow falteringly.  I walk imperfectly.  I’m always arriving but never fully arrived.

I haven’t said much here beyond spilling my internal journey on a page from time to time.  There has been much on my heart to share but the timing has always been… not yet.  Until now.  I’ll be back in these parts sharing with you more about this messy, beautiful adventure with Jesus unpacking my own culture from a new perspective.

So let’s get this party started by talking about the nature of prophetic ministry it is often approached in the charismatic corner of Christendom.  {For my friends in other streams, this post may seem strange.  But you might find a morsel or two anyway.}

Before I go farther, allow me to say I believe wholeheartedly in prophetic gifting for today as revelatory gifting and not just declaratory gifting.  But I believe all revelation must be lined up with God’s character and His truth as revealed in Scripture.  I believe there is most definitely a place for personal prophetic ministry in the context of genuine community and relationship.  But I believe the chief purpose of the prophetic is to equip the Body to hear and see and know God for themselves.  And I believe there is a ton of bad teaching, poor doctrine and messed up methodology that passes as “prophetic” in many places and muddies the waters.

In the last decade of traveling and being around many flavors within the charismatic streams in the USA, I have regrettably witnessed a fair amount of abuse and a whole lot of manipulation surrounding the prophetic.  I am picking and choosing stories out of order and changing details so as not to reveal identities of those involved.  Because the point is the lesson being learned, not the identity of those involved in me encountering it.

I have been in many settings where a speaker with a prophetic focus to their ministry promises every person in the meeting a “personal word from the Lord” in that meeting or conference.  I am not saying that God never does this.  But every time that I can recall being in a setting where this was the overtly stated or the publicly understood purpose of the meeting, many of the “words” given were mostly mixed at best.

I do count this different from feeling led to pray for everybody in attendance.  Praying for someone does not or should not necessarily create the expectation of an on-demand personal prophecy.

There is such an emphasis of being able to perform on cue in some circles, training in the prophetic is closer to training in divination than genuinely hearing God’s voice.  I know that’s a crazy strong statement.  I am sorry, but if someone puts a business card face down in the center of the room and wants you to “discern” its information, you are being trained to tap into a soulish realm and operate in a form of divination.  You might get right information, but it will be from a wrong source.

Correct information does not mean a spiritually on-target prophetic word.  The spirit of divination can give incredibly accurate personal word.

I have often been in settings where what passes as a personal prophetic word starts out fairly vague and general, often as a little encouragement.  I can see you are so important to God. {And yes you are.  And yes He wants you to know that.  Nothing wrong with encouragement.  But where it goes from there is where things get sketchy.}

Many people who genuinely DO have a measure of prophetic gifting also have very strong intuition.  They can accurately read people and situations and subtle nonverbal cues, often without ever knowing they are doing it.  Intuition is a gift that can be incredibly powerful.  But it can also lead to confusing the issues in someone’s soul with what God is saying about them. I’ve seen far too many unwittingly prophesy out of the desires and emotions of the person being ministered to and call it a word from God.

A “prophetic” word starts off vague as those giving it watch the reactions and cues from the person being ministered to, and then the word gets a little more specific and so on and so forth.  Often without ever knowing that is what they are doing.  But some know exactly what they are doing.  Even more alarming are the places even train people to do this.  When it gets to that point, there is very little difference between a personal prophecy and a psychic reading.

I was once in a meeting where someone on the ministry team gave me a prophetic word that prophesied an event based on my greatest fears in that particular season.  The person prophesied my fear back to me as a thus saith the Lord.  If I had not stepped back, after dealing with the emotional assault that came with it and said, “Hey, God. Um, what the heck?,”  I might have accepted what was spoken instead of breaking it off and canceling any spiritual dynamics that the word(curse) set in motion.

As I’ve been praying about starting to write more from my ministry experience in the last decade, the phrase “pez dispenser prophecy” kept coming up.  I had to look up what a pez dispenser was.  For any of you whose pez knowledge is like mine, a pez dispenser is a small candy dispenser usually with a cartoon or figurehead that flips back to pop out a sugary pressed candy pellet.  It might be sweet, even informative and delivered on demand, but it is pure sugar rather than nourishing substance.  Consume it at your own risk.

I do not see in Scripture a public meeting solely given to all the participants passively receiving a personal prophecy. Sometimes prophesy flowed from worship or prayer, but never the mass dispensed version we have today in some circles that make the “prophet” or the “prophetic ministry time” the central focus.  That makes me wonder if the current model is setting us up for mixture from the start.

I have received some powerful words from others in prayer.  I mean totally pure 100% Jesus promises that are precious. But never in a setting where receiving a public personal prophecy was the meeting’s primary focus.  Ever.

I always take every word given back to Jesus and ask Holy Spirit to speak into it directly.  Show me in Scripture, line it up with His character and ways.  We simply cannot judge a prophetic word based on perceived accuracy of the information itself.  It always has to be taken back to the One Who is the Word and measured by Him and Him alone.