Monthly Archives: May 2011

Get Ready! The Prophets Are Coming! (Part 5)

The next morning, Dad paced back and forth in the office parking lot, when I arrived at 8:30. His neon yellow tie hung at half mast on his white shirt, his top button remained unbuttoned. His gray suit coat draped over the blue and white sign in front of the handicap parking space. A scowl etched his lobster-colored face. He was boiling.

“Jeremiah, we need to talk. Now!” he said through clenched teeth.

Dad knows! I thought. How I wish the gift of faith was still working in me. Guess I’ll have to trust in the Lord’s grace to see me through this.

I avoided his blistering eyes and nodded.

“Okay.”

He reached over and slung the suit coat over his right shoulder.

“Follow me,” he spit out over his shoulder as he marched toward his silver Mercedes. “Jump in.”

I opened the door and sat down in the black leather passenger seat. Dad climbed in the driver’s side.

“Better buckle up,” he said without looking over.

The Mercedes’ tires squealed as we pulled out onto Pine Street in front of an oncoming city bus. Instinctively, my right hand reached for the seatbelt and pulled it tight across my dark blue slacks. I snapped it. Then, I tugged on it just to make sure it fastened properly. I straightened my red tie and ironed out the wrinkles in my light blue oxford shirt.

We headed west on the one-way street. Then, he turned a razor-sharp right into the Starbucks on the corner of Octavia Street. He read the confusion on my face.

“This is a timeout, sort of like you use to pull on me when you were young,” he said without smiling. “I was so upset that I didn’t brew any coffee this morning. Like Napoleon, I am senseless without the stuff. Would you like one?”

With our two coffees, we drove north to Lafayette Park. Dad pulled over to the curb and parked. He sipped some coffee. Then, he rotated in his seat toward me, his eyes blazing with fury.

“Now, what were you thinking about when you pulled that stupid stunt yesterday at City Hall?”

The only other time in my life Dad had been that angry with me was when I dropped out of college and broke-up with Kari. This was out of character for him. Usually, he joked around and carried on a light-hearted banter with people.

“Where did you hear about it?” I asked.

“Arlene phoned and said she saw you on Channel 26.”

“Good old Arlene and cable TV, huh?”

“And if Arlene knows, everybody knows,” he mumbled. “Right?”

I nodded.

“So, answer my question, will you?”

“The Lord told me to do it.”

“Oh, boy!” he said with a deep groan. “Does this have to do with your thinking that you’re called to be a prophet?”

“Yes.”

“Jeremiah, Jeremiah, Jeremiah. I thought we were past that by now.”

I blew out a deep breath.

“Dad, it’s my calling – I can’t just lay it down because it causes discomfort to loved ones or me.”

He rose up and pointed a finger in my face.

“Listen son,” he bellowed, “shooting off your mouth in San Francisco will cause bad things to happen to you. This is not the Bible Belt, you know. Open your eyes. This is the liberal capital ofAmerica. San Franciscans hate having their noses shoved into their crappy smelling sins by a Christian who thinks he’s a prophet. Do you hear?”

I looked out the window at two junior high kids who walked by just then. The smaller boy slapped the pudgy one on the back and took off running. The victim stood still for a moment, his mouth hanging open. Then, he ran after the other one yelling, “I’m going to kill you when I get a hold of you.”

The smaller boy stopped a half block away and put his hands to his mouth. “You ain’t never catching me, fat boy.”

Then, he turned and scooted down the street.

“Son, do you hear what I’m saying?”

I nodded but swallowed the hasty words, waiting just behind my teeth.

BUZZ! BUZZ!

Dad answered his cell phone.

“Yes.”

He listened for a long time.

“Okay, we’ll be right there. Tell everyone the sales meeting is canceled for this week,” he said as he started the car.

“It seems the switchboard is lit up with calls for the prophet. Six people want to list their homes with you. Can you believe that?” he said as he shook his head. “I would have guessed your career was buried yesterday, but what do I know, huh?”

The news about possible listings mellowed dad. He reached over and touched my arm. “Son, I’m just trying to help.”

“I know, dad.”

“Did you know Kari got married?” he said as we drove down California Street.

“No, when?”

“Last year. She married a trial lawyer. They bought a home two blocks away from her parents in Pacific Heights.”

“She deserves a good man.”

He glanced over.

“Jeremiah, that should have been you?”

I shrugged and looked out the window.

The years of training in the high desert helped me to not dwell on the what-if’s of life. Still, it required extra discipline on my part to shove this news aside.

Kari in Pacific Heights – oh Lord!

(The above is an excerpt from my soon to be published book, Jonah)  

I’ve included the excerpt to remind us:

Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” (Mark 6:4 NLT)

If you are called to be a prophet, don’t expect your relatives to be cheering you onward as you point out the sins of cities, states and nations. Jesus had a problem with his family and you can probably expect much of the same.

(Continued in Part 6)

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Get Ready! The Prophets Are Coming! (Part 4)

What about Harold Camping’s prophecy of the rapture taking place on May 21, 2011? When the prophecy proves to be false, will its failure muddy up the waters for the true prophets who are coming? Will the waters then be so muddied that most believers will turn deaf ears to the prophetic words coming from these heaven sent prophets?

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son … (Galatians 4:4)

The four hundred years between the writings of the prophet Malachi and the arrival of John the Baptist’s ministry in the wilderness are called the “silent years.” During this period, there were no inspired prophets who heard the voice of God and then spoke to His people. Thus, God was silent.

During the period, much changed in Judah and many Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled. Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world (331 B. C.). Antiochus Epiphanes conquered Jerusalem, defiled the temple and destroyed scrolls (170 B.C.)  The Temple was not restored for 2300 days until Judas Maccabeus cleansed it (165 B.C.). The festival of dedication (Chanukah) was instituted as a commemoration of the Temple’s cleansing. Then, in 63 B.C., Jerusalem and Palestine came under the power and authority of Rome.

And although the word of the Lord was not heard in this four hundred year period, there was no lack of false prophets. Many pretenders wore animal skins just like Elijah and proclaimed they were the fulfillment of the last two verses of the Old Testament.

Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to the fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse. (Malachi 4:5-6)

There were so many false prophets, that anyone who claimed to be a prophet instantly became a laughingstock and a joke to all the Jews.

Yet, when John the Baptist clothed himself with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt and then proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” all of Judea and Jerusalem came out to hear him and to be baptized. Religious leaders feared him and the people called him a prophet of God.

So, what elevated John the Baptist above the false prophets?

He had the anointing to set people free and open their blind eyes. Plus he walked in the season which God had designated for his ministry.

You see, God has a plan with specific seasons within it and He is not swayed by our human foibles or the tactics of Satan. He knows His true ambassadors will move His plans forward when they do it His way and in His timing.

Thus, Harold Camping’s false prophecy is not even a bump in the road for God’s plan nor will the waters remain muddy for long.

(Continued in Part 5)

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Get Ready! The Prophets Are Coming! (Part 3)

It was one of those mornings when the church service sprang to life. The worship team sang songs of celebration and their joyful attitude soon caused members to move out of the pews and into the aisles. People were dancing, clapping their hands and shouting for joy. Youngsters jumped up and down with excitement and expectation. Something good seemed to be happening in their midst.

The conservative pastor clapped his hands and tapped his foot to the music. He turned his head to scan the whole congregation. Then, he saw him, sitting in the second row by himself, near the wall. The middle-aged man was weeping and looked like he had just received news that his best friend had died.

The pastor walked over to the man. “Jeremy, what’s the problem?” asked the pastor, his eyes revealing a deep compassion.

“I just had a vision,” said the man in between sobs, “and in it, I saw our church going through horrendous times ten months from now. Many in the congregation will lose their jobs and the congregation will be reduced by half. We will be forced to cut back on all of our community programs. It will be devastating!”

“Oh my!” said the pastor, wondering if the prophet would be as accurate this time as he had been so many times in the past.

Ten months later, the church service resembled a funeral. The worship team sat in the first row, none of them felt like singing, and even if they did, there were so many empty pews, just too many empty pews.  All felt the crushing agony of the closing of the mill. People were out of work and losing their homes. Everything seemed to be changed forever for the worse.

The pastor sat lost in his thoughts, hoping to stir up a message within himself which would encourage the group. But he himself had suffered the pain of his wife leaving him and he wondered if he should resign his position and find a different career.

Then, he looked over the congregation and saw the man named Jeremy standing in the second row, near the wall.  He was jumping up and down, waving his hands and shouting for joy. It looked like Jeremy had just won the Irish Sweepstakes.

The pastor strolled over to the man. “Jeremy, why are you celebrating when the rest of us are suffering such agony?” asked the pastor.

“Pastor, I just had a vision,” said Jeremy, “and in it I saw that eight months from now our church would be bursting at the seams with new members. A foreign  company will buy the mill and enlarge it. And your wife will return to you and your marriage will be better than ever.”

The pastor shook his head. I hope he’s right, he thought. I hope the prophet is right this time.

Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)

I have declared the former things from the beginning; they went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass. (Isaiah 48:3 NKJ)

(Continued in Part 4)

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A One-Word Description of Mom: Feisty!

Mom was in a hurry to get home. Potatoes had to be peeled and the roast removed from the oven. No one in sight so she stepped on the gas as she passed through the Northern Illinois town of 1100 people.

Whrr! Whrr! A siren pierced through the stillness of the autumn evening.

Oh no! she thought. I’m in trouble. Freddy’s caught me! Now what?

She pulled the blue Pontiac over to the curb. A black police car pulled up behind her with its red light flashing. A man, resembling Broderick Crawford, stepped out of the car, adjusting his gun and holster as he walked toward her. She rolled down her window.

“So, Mrs. Nevenhoven, we meet again?” said officer Freddie Cannon. A smirk cutting across his lips.

“Yes, Freddie, we do,” replied Mom in a deadpan tone.

“Well, you were doing forty-five miles per hour  in a thirty mile per hour speed zone. I’ll have to ticket you,” he said.

Mom shrugged. “Okay! But I’m not paying it.”

“What?” he said. “It’ll only be thirty dollars!”

“I don’t care,” she replied with a set jaw. “I’m not paying it.”

He laughed. “Then, it’ll be thirty days in jail. How’d you like that?”

“Well, you’d better lock me up now! Because I’m not paying the fine.”

He stared into her eyes for a moment or so. Then, he shook his head. “No way am I going to put up with you for thirty days. Go!” He spun around and went back to the police car. Mom resumed her journey home.

This is a true story.

Now, Mom would probably not choose the word feisty as a one-word description of herself. She’d rather have a more feminine adjective, but guess what?

Her husband, her two children, her five grandchildren, her many great-grandchildren and, at least, one police officer would agree with the one-word description.

Mom is feisty. Period.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You’re the best!

(Rerun from 2009)

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Get Ready! The Prophets Are Coming! (Part 2)

Mere preachers may help anybody and hurt nobody; but prophets will stir everybody and madden somebody. The preacher may go with the crowd; the prophet goes against it. A man freed, fired, and filled with God will be branded unpatriotic because he speaks against his nation’s sins; unkind because his tongue is a two-edged sword; unbalanced because the weight of preaching opinion is against him.

Sin today is both glamorized and popularized, thrown into the ear by radio, thrown into the eye by television, and splashed on popular magazine covers. Church-goers, sermon-sick and teaching-tired, leave the meeting as they entered it — visionless and passionless! Oh God, give this perishing generation ten thousand John the Baptists! (excerpts from Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill, Bethany House Publishing, 1959)

Is God still dangerous? Is He still a consuming fire who warns people not to touch the mountain while His presence rests upon it less they die? Or is He a gigantic fluff-ball filled with ushy-gushy love who has now decided to go along to get along with us humans and our evolving cultures?

In the early 1990’s, Larry Burkett told a story on his radio program, Money Matters, that still sends shivers down my spine. Burkett had attended a local church and heard a Chinese man tell his testimony.

It seems the man was a lieutenant of Mao Zedong when Mao’s communist army defeated Chiang Kai-Shek and took control of China. Mao then set out to cleanse China of all imperialist influences, especially American connections. Missionaries were sent home or killed. Chinese pastors were imprisoned or killed. Christians were killed. Political leaders, people who had visited America or attended schools there were killed.  Historians estimate 50,000,000 Chinese were executed by Mao during his various purges.

The man, who told this testimony, was chosen by Mao as one of the leaders in the rural purges. He dispatched his tasks with cruel efficiency. But some Christians focused their prayers on him and he was miraculously saved. So convinced was the man that Christ was the answer for China he decided to return to Peking (Beijing) and tell Mao the good news of Jesus.

Mao was not impressed with his lieutenant’s message and commanded him to renounce his new found faith. The man refused and said, “I cannot deny the experience I’ve had with Jesus.”

Mao brought his wife and children before the man. Soldiers stood behind his family with guns aimed at their heads. Once again, Mao asked the man to renounce his faith. The man fell to his knees and said, “Please do not kill my family, but I cannot deny Jesus.”

His family was executed before his eyes.

Next, his parents, brothers, sisters and their families were brought before the man with soldiers standing behind them with guns at their heads. Mao insisted the man renounce Jesus. The man refused. His entire family was executed before his eyes.

All of his friends and their families were placed in front of him, but still he would not renounce Christ. They were executed.

Then, Mao decided death was too good for the man. He was stripped naked and placed in a cold cell. Once a day, guards were ordered to beat him.

His imprisonment and beatings continued for fifteen years. During that time, the man led 90% of the guards to Christ and the guards even risked their own freedoms by bringing Bibles to him.

When he finally emerged from prison, he walked down a road, heading toward his hometown. As he walked, people in the fields next to the road, fell to their knees and cried out to be saved by Jesus. Yet, the man said nothing because the presence of God was so heavy upon him that he just continued to walk.

Larry Burkett said that when the Chinese man finished his testimony he was asked, “What do you think of our American churches?”

The man gazed at the audience with tears in his eyes. “You American Christians do not know the Jesus I know. How sad!” he said.

Get ready! The prophets are coming!

The prophets who are coming may not have the same experience this Chinese man had, but they will be consumed by the fire of the Lord. What Leonard Ravenhill said about Paul will also be true of these soon coming prophets:

He had no side issues, no books to sell. He had no ambitions – and so had nothing to be jealous about. He had no reputation – and so had nothing to fight about. He had no possessions – and therefore nothing to worry about. He had no “rights” – so therefore he could not suffer wrong. He was already broken – so no one could break him. He was “dead” – so none could kill him. He was less than the least – so who could humble him? He had suffered the loss of all things – so none could defraud him…Over this God-intoxicated man, hell suffered headaches. (excerpt from Why Revival Tarries)

(Continued in Part 3)

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