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Theology of Christian Education

In the spirit of transparency, let me take a moment to share some of my core principles for edification within K-12 educational contexts.

Consecration and Power

When individual’s internally decide to follow Jesus and the externally testify that he is Lord, they choose a new kind of life. Jesus sends us his Holy spirit to give us the power to abide in God’s presence as a way of life. Our new life requires complete obedience to Jesus’ invitation, “Follow Me.” Every moment and every new day, Jesus calls us to continue to follow him with our whole selves (hearts, minds, souls, and bodies).

These are some verses I’ve considered in internalizing what it means to live a consecrated life towards the Lord.

Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, believers are empowered to resist sin in ways that displace anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscenity, lies, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, and idolatry. Through this transformation process, a person’s desires are supernaturally rerouted towards God leading to integrity, physical purity, the mind of Christ, purity of heart, and various other good fruit.

Christian schools should be places where radical forgiveness is routine, where people are empowered to overcome anything that would keep them from deeper intimacy with Christ, and where miracles, signs, and wonders are common. Every day, we are invited to become more like Jesus.

Five Fold Governance

God has consecrated his people across sectors of society as his chosen vessel to change the world, and he promises to powerfully use his Church. The leadership and structure of Christian organizations (including Christian schools) should conform to the Ephesians 4:11-16 ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Five-fold governance should guide institutions that work with children, as the same God who makes crooked paths straight promises to pour out his spirit on sons and daughters who will prophesy.

Building Bridges

In order to be associated Christ in the eyes of others, organizations in the Body of Christ must genuinely love one another and non-Christian people. All individuals and organizations who ascribe to the Christian faith through the Apostles Creed should take seriously Jesus’s commission to make disciples, with genuine love and without coercion. Christian organizations should transparently acknowledge their disagreements while still honoring one another and making every effort to agree.

Justice

It is neither realistic nor helpful to fully separate religious conviction from beliefs about right use of justice and governmental authority. Governments and rulers must also do justice and attend to the needs of their citizens as they are accountable to God (I Kings 18:18II Chron. 15:1-4Matt. 5:13-14Acts 12:23I Sam. 15:14-35).

“No government is safe from challenge or subversion by the community of faith…It is neither possible nor desirable for people of faith to extricate themselves from the political conditions of the day”

Eugene Peterson, “Where your Treasure Is: Psalms that Summon You from Self to Community”

Instead of retreating into either comfort-seeking or monastic communities (as even well-intentioned saints of the past have done), Christians have the responsibility to demonstrate lively faith that has the power to bless and reform broken governmental systems. We must demonstrate a fearless pursuit of God in our midst.

Sacred Learning: God’s Sovereignty over Educational Institutions

God the Creator, Jesus who was the word that God spoke in creating all things, and the Holy Spirit that hovered over the formless waters to create life have the ultimate authority to define human beings and creation. As created beings, humans do not have the authority or intellectual capacity to negate the things God has revealed about himself, whether through nature, scripture, or the reformation work of the Holy Spirit throughout centuries.

Within current educational trends, God is working to dismantle the harsh separation of scientific and sacred learning from the Western Enlightenment Era (17th and 18th centuries). During this time, people accepted the lies that:

Even if humans intend to sever God from the educational process out of fear of bias, individuals studying a created world will always be studying that which God created. There are countless examples of the ways that Christians have shaped the field of education, from the first universities having evolved from Benedictine monasteries, Jesuit scholars revolutionizing the field of linguistics and humanizing cross-cultural relations, evolution of the modern, Western nonprofit sector in the West emerging from the biblically-based English Poor Laws, and the social work and healthcare efforts of various religious orders.

And yet, even if humans fail to praise God for all these glorious things, God’s sovereignty cannot be changed by unbelief. Even without human participation, even the rocks will cry out to praise him. And even when we seek to disinvite Jesus from our classrooms, our churches, or other kinds of institutions, Jesus as an equal member of the Trinity is both Lord and omnipresent, as he was in the beginning. We don’t have the authority to disinvite him from the study of his creation, even when we try.

The Mind of Christ

The “mind of Christ” can refer to several things aspects of education. One element of the mind of Christ is the excellent spirit that was on Daniel, Joseph, and Jesus. Another aspect of the mind of Christ is mental soundness in love, discernment, wisdom, and sober-minded judgment. God promises to be found when humans seek him with our entire substance and MINDS! When it comes to supernatural revelation, God promises to reveal himself to his friends.

Inquiry Based Learning

Individuals must develop curriculum, teaching, and schools for rigorous sacred scholarship of all subjects. God’s mighty deeds invite human beings into a state of awe and worship that all inquiry-based teaching methods should aspire to produce. While inquiry-based learning is not the only effective teaching style, it squares with children’s natural curiosity, love for nature, God’s invitation to them to taste and see his goodness, and a world that is increasingly hungry for the experiential gospel.

Social Engagement and Diversity

Christian schools should exist to prepare individuals to be healthy conversation partners with society. In order to honor Christ’s ethnically, linguistically, nationally, and culturally diverse Kingdom, Christians must make their identity in Christ more important than nationalism, individual politics, and cultural preferences. Through his finished work on the cross, Jesus became the path to ethnic, racial, gender, and cultural reconciliation; he is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. If Christians believe that Jesus has reconciled all of us to himself through his blood, we will not need to assimilate to one another. Christians must have great awe for God who is greater politics, respect for the power of Jesus’s finished work on the cross that destroyed all barriers so that we can build relationships and structures beyond political divisions. When Christians are externally identifiable as “Children of God” they engage in peacemaking in an otherwise violent and striving world. Even as Christians make meaningful contributions to society, there are many practices and patterns of sin that Christians must explicitly reject due to their incompatibility with the Kingdom of God.

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Prophetic Sensitivity: Understanding Sensory Challenges in Spiritually Gifted Children

Recently, I was in conversation with various emerging national prophets when the conversation turned to the spiritual harassment that individuals faced as children to successfully navigate their gifts. Apart from being just socially mis-categorized or rejected, many of these prophets shared stories of physical ailments, mental health struggles, or reoccurring sleep issues related to their greatest areas of gifting. While these confessions are concerning, given the current lack of resources for parents to navigate children’s spiritual harassment, their feedback isn’t surprising.

Comparing Current Social Theories

Within the last 2 decades, contemporary Psychologists like author Elaine Aron have popularized the term “highly sensitive person” or “highly sensitive child”. According to Aron, a “highly sensitive child” is someone whose “nervous system that is highly aware and quick to react to everything.” Critics have questioned the highly sensitive label for a handful of illegitimate and legitimate reasons: due Western discomfort with weakness and idolatry of strength, due to concerns that the label isn’t specific enough to entail what protections should be made available to children, due to concerns about whether the label combines multiple variables instead of measuring one variable, and due to concerns that the overuse of the label will limit children’s social skill development.

Ultimately, while Aron appears to be correction in her research related to human nervous system (ie, some people’s nervous systems are more sensitive than others), the applications of her findings can be misapplied. Furthermore, while Aron’s research includes findings from neuroscience and anatomy, it fails to address spiritual factors that can support or limit children’s thriving.

The Goal of this Resource

Parents ultimately have authority over the spiritual atmospheres of their homes, and over the spiritual health of their children. While the sins of parents will effect their children, most Parents are not directly responsible for the majority spiritual issues their children face. However, all Parents are responsible to seek the spiritual health of their children, with the support of churches and schools.

I have written this guide in order to respond to the lack of resources available to parents on spiritual harassment. It is based on the experiences of friends’, their children, former students’, and family.

The goals of this resource are to:

  • Present a framework to help discern emotional, physical, or spiritual root of challenges children face
  • Define and describe spiritual harassment
  • Discuss how spiritual harassment can also relate to children’s specific gifts
  • Provide bible verses that guide parents’ prayers and declarations
  • Help parents support and advocate for their children at home, at school, and at church

The goals of this resources are NOT:

  • To over spiritualize problems that have a physical or emotional origin
  • To limit children’s access to medical care that corresponds to the type and severity of their physical or emotional concerns
  • To dismiss scientific diagnostic criteria or devalue it’s right use
  • To reduce individual differences or assume that all children develop on a set timetable

A Note on Schools

I hope that by providing this resource to parents, families can make informed choices for treatment. While there is a risk that parent may misidentify the cause of their children’s challenges, in my experience as a former classroom teacher, I have seen multiple instances when spiritual harassment increased students’ likelihood of being misidentified for a disability. Especially within high poverty teaching settings where students were frequently misidentified as injustice, there were occasional instances where students’ physical, emotional, or academic challenges had clear spiritual roots.

For Teachers: While the primary audience for this bible verse resource is parents, teachers can check out this resource on the approach I took to navigating spiritual warfare while in the classroom.

Spiritual Harassment and Children

Spiritual harassment can be defined as intermittent or episodic sensory experiences that increase children’s distress through external spiritual stimulus, giving the sensation of being attacked. Similar to if children were being emotionally or physically attacked, when children experience ongoing spiritual harassment, they will demonstrate increased fear, fragility, and panicked-rather-than-deliberate decision-making.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:6-7

These attacks can happen through dreams during sleeping hours or through sensory input during waking hours. Universally, the effect is increased fear.

The concept of spiritual warfare is most robustly outlined within Ephesians 6:10-17, which provides specific instructions for resisting spiritual enemies.

 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:10-17

The bible also documents that just as adults, children will face spiritual warfare that can impact their health and overall wellbeing.

When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus and knelt before Him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 

Mark 17:14-15

In response to children’s vulnerability, Jesus invites children and their families to come to him for help.

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 19:14

It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

Luke 17:2

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

John 14:18

John the Apostle makes it clear in his letters that children along with people of all ages have nothing to fear from Satan. Through faith, Christ has given children and their families all the authority they need to overcome spiritual harassment.

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven through His name.

I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning.

I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.b

I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.

I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning.

I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

1 John 2:12-14

Spiritual Harassment and Prophetic Kids

Spiritually gifted children may face increased spiritual harassment related to their specific gifts. The goal of this targeted intimidation is to terrify children so that they will shut down rather than develop a godly use of their gifts. The enemy’s purpose is to manipulate the uniqueness of children’s callings to introduce fear, steal, and/or limit the expression of children’s gifts. Through preying on children’s senses, the enemy ultimately hopes to disrupt what would be a spiritually engaged, peaceful, life-giving pursuit of God.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

1 Corinthians 14:33

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Psalm 34:8

When children become afraid of their gifts, the enemy can cause others to fear, ostracize, and misidentify them. While prophets generally face rejection in some measure, it is only healthy to the extent that they are rejected for the right reasons. Furthermore, like Daniel’s group of friends who refused to worship Babylonian idols, prophets can better withstand rejection and stand on their convictions when they have company.

If the God whom we serve exists, then He is able to deliver us from the blazing fiery furnace and from your hand, O king. 18But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden statue you have set up.”

Daniel 3:18

For all of God’s people and especially prophets, Jesus prepares us for rejection.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Matthew 10:16-23

“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.”

Luke 4:24

In the face of certain rejection, Jesus instructs his followers to be fearless and blameless.

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”

Matthew 10:26

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

John 3:1-13

Unlike being rejected for being Christlike with your community’s support, rejection becomes toxic when prophets are stigmatized and isolated.

“I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of Hosts,” he replied, “but the Israelites have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I am the only one left, and they are seeking my life as well.”

1 Kings 18:22

The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

1 Kings 22:8

When the enemy has lied to and harassed children for years, he can also cause them to misidentify themselves and use their gifts in ways that are contrary to God’s purposes. One example of individuals agreeing with the enemy’s identity for them is the negative national identity that Paul identifies in residents of the island of Crete.

One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”

Titus 1:12

In order to come out of agreement with negative self-identity, the residents of Crete would need to allow God to reform their sense of value. From internal transformation of the individual, God allows behavioral change to become the steady, gradual outworking of that change.

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24

First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

Matthew 23:26

Holy Spirit Intensity: Mood Swings, Remit, and Current Events

Just like among prophetic adults, the sensitivity youth have to the Holy Spirit can cause mood swings based on what they are sensing. Children can react strongly to disturbing current events, places, or suspicious adults. When children become sporadically moody, anxious, or depressed, parents can ask the Lord to reveal the source. For example, a child with a passion for justice towards refugees could experience mood swings (anger, grief) over laws and events that mistreat refugees. Parents can teach children to identify what emotions belong to them and what emotions feel deeper than how they are personally feeling. Reading scriptures together that relate to the intensity of those feelings may create space to enquire further of the Lord.

Adults must build trust through listening. Parents can teach their kids how to describe what they are sensing, and find solidarity with God in the depth of his emotions. Parents who are tuned in to their children’s interests will be more flexible to help them process these strong feelings.

While children’s interests may change as they grow, God can form and guide them through short term and long term interests. Though these interests can be negatively influenced by their communities, peers, or families, parents can train their children to set godly boundaries so that they can remain in conversation with the world without being driven by it. Instead of being fearful of the negative influence of others, parents can model how to embody healthier values. Parents can teach their kids how to be both intentionally different while still honoring individuals with conflicting values.

Further Examples

Here is a non-exhaustive, introductory list of some ways that spiritual harassment or mis-identification can influence children’s lives. Though anonymous, these stories are all real childhood experiences of people I’ve met in across contexts. While limited, this list is ideally just long enough to start a conversation.

Physical Symptoms with a Spiritual Root

There are times when children’s issues with skin, digestion, hearing, speaking, or sight can have a spiritual cause. For example,

  • Chronic ear infections as a result of hearing and receiving family members’ violent word curses (could relate to a Nabi prophet’s specific calling)
  • Being prophetically horrified by an event or series of events that results in continuous loss of appetite (over 1 month)

Physical Symptoms as Prophetic Sign

  • Concurrent Developmental delays and Extreme emotional Maturity: Prophetic sign to the school about innocence
  • Food allergies/digestive issues: Prophetic sign of false teaching
  • Excessive minimalism in clothing: Prophetic sign against materialism
  • Protest of Abusive Gender Roles: Prophetic act misappropriated by warfare over sexual or gender identity

Spiritual Harassment at Night

  • Night terrors
  • Graphic dreams related to being molested (sexual perversion in the family line)

Misunderstanding of Gifts

  • Open visions being mislabeled as daydreaming
  • Conversations with [holy] angels being dismissed
  • Increased prophetic sensitivity to God’s emotions being mislabeled as tendency towards “emotional outbursts”
  • Increased sensitivity to graphic visual or auditory content in media, mislabeled as “squeamishness”
  • Outfits of clothing that reflects what God is doing within a specific time frame or space being dismissed as flatly “flamboyant”

Misuse of Gifts

  • Seer gift: Imaginary friends that are actually [negative] familiar spirits tied to the family bloodline
  • Sensing gift (intuitive “knowing,” inner revelation of Holy Spirit): Increased awareness used for people pleasing
  • Sensing gift (intuitive “knowing,” inner revelation of Holy Spirit): Increased warfare from Spirit of Heaviness related to mourning family members

Warring through Declarations

If you have discerned that a physical or emotional concern your child is facing could have a spiritual root, here are some bible verses that may relate. You can use these verses to empathize with your child and make declarations about the right use of children’s gifts.

For example, here is a story that sadly came from a Christian home. A child in the family was having continual ear infections. These ear infections were a prophetic sign of related to the constant verbal abuse in the home that needed to be exposed. In that situation, the child’s parents would probably start by repenting for their actions in verbally cursing the child and one another. Then once they have begun to demonstrate that repentance through their actions, the parents could declare something like:

“Lord, I thank you that you have given us ears to hear your voice” (Matthew 11:15). Now in the name of Jesus, I anoint ____’s ears and declare that ____ will hear your voice. Both spiritually and physically, _____’s ears will be completely healed in Jesus’ name.”

Stories like this remind us that even in externally healthy families, there may be things happening under the surface that God wants to address and heal.

Check out the table and infographic below to find more verses!

Eyes (Visuals)

VerseTextTheme
Matthew 6:22“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[a] your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!Responsibility to have pure sight for God
Psalm 101:3I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile.

I hate what faithless people do;
I will have no part in it.
Sensitivity towards unclean visuals
Proverbs 23:26My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.Invitation to observe God
2 Corinthians 4:18“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”Invitation to observe the supernatural realm
Luke‬ ‭2:30-32‬ ‭“For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”Invitation to observe Jesus

Mouth (Words)

VerseTextTheme
Psalm 34:13-14keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
Responsibility to be a pure mouthpiece for God
Ephesians 4:28-29Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen.

30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Responsibility to be a pure mouthpiece for God
Proverbs 8:13To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.Sensitivity to cursing, evil speech
Exodus 4:12“Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”Responsibility to speak according to what you have heard from God
Isaiah 51:16“I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”Word of God as inheritance
Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8,“’These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”Discerning lip service versus truth

Bowels (Food)

VerseTextTheme
Matthew 3:4John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.Food choice as a prophetic sign
Judges 13:4Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean.Individual sensitivity to ingredients
Daniel 10:3-4At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.Profound grief that leads to lost appetite
Jeremiah 4:9My bowels, my bowels! I writhe! The walls of my heart! My heart is restless within me, I cannot keep silent, for I hear [in] my inner self the sound of a horn, [the] alarm of war.Profound grief that leads to lost appetite or digestive pain

Appearance (Clothing)

VerseTextTheme
1 Samuel 16:7But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”Discerning people’s external appearance vs. spiritual reality
Matthew 3:4John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.Clothes choice as a prophetic sign
Jeremiah 13:7So I went to the Euphrates and dug it out of the hole where I had hidden it. But now it was rotting and falling apart. The loincloth was good for nothing.Clothes choice as a prophetic sign

Heart (Emotions)

VerseTextTheme
Luke 7:13Compassion When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”Intensity, sensing God’s emotions
John 2:17Zeal His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”Intensity, sensing God’s emotions
Matthew 11:25Joy At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”Intensity, sensing God’s emotions
John 15:13Love Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.Intensity, sensing God’s emotions
Matthew 21:13Holy Anger He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”Intensity, sensing God’s emotions
John 11:35Sorrow/Grief Jesus wept.Intensity, sensing God’s emotions

Skin (Touch)

VerseTextTheme
Luke 8:45“Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”Sensitivity to touch
Matthew 9:29Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.”Touch as part of healing
Mark 1:41-42Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.Touch as part of healing
Genesis 3:3But God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”Unclean touch as leading to a curse
Psalm 105:15“Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”Warning involving harmful physical touch

Ears (Sound)

VerseTextTheme
1 Samuel 1:20So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”Samuel’s Nabi calling relates to his mother’s experience, name meaning related to sound
1 Samuel 3:4Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.”Later, Samuel heard God calling to him
Revelation 4:1After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”John the Revelator also heard in the Spirit, part of Seer gifting
Matthew 11:15He who has ears to hear, let him hear.Invitation to perceive revelation by sound
Matthew 13:13This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.Parables as a means of overcoming issues with spiritual sight and sound

Prayer

Lord, please equip each of the people using this resource to war effectively for their families.

Give them discernment to understand the root cause of their child’s physical or emotional symptoms.

In the name of Jesus’, protect their children from spiritual harassment and abuse.

Help us learn more about you through the way we take care of our families.

Amen!

Coming out of Babylon: Learning from the Pre-Exilic, Exilic, and Post-Exilic Periods of Israel’s History to Partner with God in an Age of Reformation

One of the most common biblical precepts from the life of Daniel through Jesus is, “You have got to know your history to know your inheritance.”

Before the coming of Jesus, John the Baptist reminded Israel of their history as part of his ministry to “turn the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:5-6). When new generations learn the history of people of faith, they receive an inheritance which “makes straight the way for the Lord” to do even more on the Earth (Isaiah 40:3).

Transition: From Captivity into Reformation

Corporately right now, spirit-led Christians around the world are crossing over from a historical period of captivity into reformation. In order to have wisdom to navigate this radical shift in the Body of Christ, Christians must learn from the biblical history of the Babylonian exile and reconstruction of Jerusalem.

Just as the city of Jerusalem translates to “City of Peace”, God is equipping his servants today with innovative ideas to establish the righteousness and justice of Jesus’ Kingdom on Earth. This New Jerusalem isn’t related to a specific territory or ethnic group, but it relates to an invitation to all willing individuals to serve King Jesus, as led by the Spirit of God to see Jesus’ Kingdom established.

There are various lessons that Israel’s pre-exile, exile, and post-exile periods can teach contemporary Christians about how to partner with God at this time.

Neglect that Causes Exile: Learning from Hezekiah’s Failure Pre-Exile

In addition to the idolatry of Israel’s Kings (2 Kings 17), one of the greatest sins of Israel was the failure to steward the inheritance of their children. While this sin arguably started with David’s infidelity and unwillingness to set his house in order, his descendent Hezekiah suffers from the same error of judgment 12 generations later.

Like David, Hezekiah is a King who starts his reign well but finishes badly. The first King after Ahaz, Hezekiah dismantles statues and sites of idol worship. He reinstates the Levitical priesthood and religious festivals that reminded the people of their history. Because of Hezekiah’s faithfulness, God delivered Jerusalem from an attempted attack by the Assyrians, never allowing them to even enter the city.

After this period, Hezekiah falls sick, and Isaiah informs him that his illness will cause him to die. He appeals to God’s mercy, and the Lord adds 15 years to his life. In his prayer of Thanksgiving to God, he declares:

“The living, the living — they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness.”

Isaiah 38:19

Like David’s repentance and worship of God after the stillborn death of his illegitimate son with Bathsheba, Hezekiah is grateful to have a second chance. But sadly like David, his following actions fail to prioritize the wellbeing of the same children mentioned in his praises.

Not long after social success, military victory, and personal deliverance does Hezekiah stumble. Success causes Hezekiah to fall asleep at a time when he should have been most alert. Instead of discretely hiding the strength of his Kingdom, he leads visiting Babylonian emissaries on a grand tour of his stored riches. In both pride and naïveté, he flaunts the inheritance that should have been guarded and stored up for his children.

In light of this colossal failure of judgement, Isaiah tells him that in the days of his predecessors, his indiscretion would cause disaster.

“Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord.”

Beyond just material wealth, Babylon would even steal his most important gift: his offspring.

And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

Isaiah 39:7

In moments like these, most parents would beg God for forgiveness. But in shocking disregard, Hezekiah focuses merely on himself.

 Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.”

Isaiah 39:8

As a prophet, Isaiah’s response is much more attuned to God’s emotions. In Isaiah 40-45, he prophesies comfort to children of Israel that would be taken captive.

Later on, John the Baptist would reveal the same highway of repentance that Isaiah prophesies (Isaiah 40:3, John 1:23). Ultimately, God would overcome the sins of David, Hezekiah, and all of Israel’s leaders through his own King, Jesus. Ultimately, Jesus’ faithfulness to the Church would restore and create a highway for all people to become Godly offspring.

Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.

Malachi 2:15

I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son;
    today I have become your father.
Ask me,
    and I will make the nations your inheritance,
    the ends of the earth your possession.

Psalm 2:7-8

During the Exile: Learning from Babylon’s Mis-example

By the time God brings people out of Babylon, they have learned what makes Babylon problematic.

In the composition of the books of Esther and Daniel, the biblical writers insert tongue-in-cheek mockery of Babylon’s pride and sense of permanence.

In both Daniel and Esther, the royal advisors and Kings claim that their law is perfect and “cannot be repealed” by even the king’s decrees.

“Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” 

Daniel 6:8

“Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring—for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”

Esther 8:8

God upstages the laws of Babylon through his authority to command the Lion’s mouths to remain shut (natural law), and through causing Xerxes to issue an entirely separate (contradictory) law in defense of the Jews. Ultimately, only Yahweh’s law is eternal.

From a historical perspective, the Babylonian Archaemenid Dynasty’s double mindedness, instability, and excess resulted in a constant stream of usurpers and coups. For example, Xerxes’ pride caused him to display the entire wealth of his Kingdom, treat his guests to a full 6 months of fasting before deposing Queen Vashti in a fit of anger. Through constant upheaval and violence, the Babylonians failed to value life and were marked by injustice. The story of Daniel in the lion’s den, the fiery furnace, and Haman’s pre-mediated murder of Mordecai demonstrate God’s anger at the Babylonian’s lack of justice.

Another way that the biblical writers’ mock Babylon is through the linguistic similarity of King Belshazzar’s name (“God protect the King”) and Daniel’s Babylonian name, Belteshazzar (“God protects him”). In Daniel 4-5, the writer’s refer to Daniel by his Babylonian name to inspire the question:

Who does God really protect? Is it his servants, or proud rulers?

God’s protection of his servants over the unjust rulers of the earth becomes the running theme of the book of Daniel.

One of the ways God chooses to humble Babylon is by driving King Nebuchadnezzar II insane. Similarly, when King Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar fails to learn from the sins of his father, he is assassinated.

As a symbol of all nations whose pride, materialism, and injustice would ultimately inspire God’s wrath, God ultimately defeats Babylon through Jesus’ triumph on the cross.

A second angel followed and said, “’Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,’ which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”

Revelation 14:8

God blames Babylon for the spirit of Whoredom that turns the nations hearts away from him, increases injustices like slavery, and allows human lives to be made worthless.

The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.

Revelation 18:11-13

“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
    dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet,
    and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’

Revelation 18:17

Like Daniel, God’s people are warned to not assimilate to Babylon but instead to value the humility, service, generosity, and justice of Jesus’ Kingdom.

The certain defeat of Babylon carries a strong warning for national leaders and nationalist churches today: Proclaiming your own national greatness will result in ruin.

Pride may be the rule of the earth, but Christians serve a different King and Kingdom. Judging from the life of Jesus, no one is qualified to rule within the Kingdom of God without first becoming a servant (Matthew 23:11, Isaiah 49).

Coming out of Exile: Each One has a Part to Play

About 100 years after Isaiah, as King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon approached, Jeremiah would also offer hope of restoration to Jerusalem’s offspring (Jeremiah 30:18-24). Only the poorest people would remain in the land while the descendants of Israel’s kings were taken captive. In order to come out of captivity, each of the children of Israel would need to play their part in seeing God’s promises fulfilled.

The Role of the Scribe

Stewardship

Daniel did not just understand the importance of remaining ethically distinct from the Babylonians or interpret dreams; he stewarded his history. In addition to being a Seer and Watchman prophet, Daniel was also a prophetic scribe, or someone who records and seals revelation in writing. Daniel tracked the amount of time that had passed between the Jeremiah’s 70 year prophesy (Jeremiah 25:11) and current events. He cried out to God after the appropriate amount of time had passed in intercession for the house of Israel to be re-established. (Daniel 9). As a result of his prayers, the angel Gabriel explains to him that there would be a set time for the captives to return to Jerusalem, and then for God to continue restoring his house through Jesus Christ. The remainder of the book of Daniel (Daniel 10-12) focuses on prophesies that relate to Jesus’ end times rule and triumph over evil. Daniel doesn’t full understand, but faithfully seals up the words of the prophesies for a people who would later understand them. It isn’t explicitly discussed in the book of Daniel, but he also manages to get King Cyrus to issue a decree for the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 6:3). Isaiah foretold that Cyrus would help re-establish the temple, saying:

“I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the LORD Almighty.”

Isaiah 45:13

Daniel’s stewardship of God’s word ultimately sets both the process of rebuilding the temple and rebuilding God’s house through Christ in motion.

Stewardship’s Effects on Human History

Similarly to the revelation released, sealed, and rediscovered after Daniel, God sends scribes at the beginning of all major social reformations. For that reason, the Church will and already is seeing a rise of prophetic scribes and written prophesy. These scribed words and scribes will provide a rudder for decades and centuries into the reformation process God is currently initiating.

This pattern is well-documented in biblical history. For example, in 2 Chronicles 34 under King Josiah’s reforms, priests re-discovered lost books of the law (2 Chronicles 34:14-33). In response to Josiah’s heart posture of worship, the Lord allowed these books to be found so that the people would have guidelines to eliminate the idol worship that had become common.

Within modern history, God also allows individuals to re-discovering scribed prophesy or learning to advance social reform. In 1947, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls prompted the examination of extra-biblical cultures which led to the field of modern biblical scholarship in the 20th century. In the 1200s to 1400s, Italian scholars discovered Roman and Greek artifacts and writings that prompted the Italian Renaissance. Over time, the pursuit of truth via Renaissance technology and art had ripple effects on the Protestant Reformation. Via Martin Luther, the Lord brought the effect of the Italian Renaissance ironically full circle to reform Italy’s Roman papacy. Martin Luther’s 1510 visit to Rome, Italy solidified his discontent over papal abuses. Some of Italy’s own renaissance-era mechanical technology would form the basis of the printing press used to circulate his ideas. Later on, Dietrich Bonhoeffer embodied Luther’s same German desire for purity and truth in his resistance to Nazis, however in marked opposition to Luther’s infamous anti-semitism. Through the generational faithfulness of his people, God sends reformers who build on the works of their predecessors with increasing purity.

In general, God is not mocked. He waits until appointed times to share things he has intentionally hidden, and moves through individuals to see his reformation purposes established. Can you imagine what would happen if all of us were that intentional as Daniel in our personal and public lives, to hide things entirely until their appointed times?

The Role of the Deliverer

As stated earlier, Babylon’s empire used excessive violence as a way of saving face domestically and promoting military strength abroad.

Gentleness and Humility

Esther’s role as Deliverer would have been different than Deborah’s role as Judge. While both women served as leaders for their people, Esther’s priority was to preserve the people’s lives long enough to see the day of deliverance. Therefore, Esther had to find a style of leadership for a foreign context where in spite of her title, she held no true authority. While Deborah’s purpose was to directly lead people into victory to deal with crises within Israel’s borders, Esther had to serve as a symbol of her people, modeling Christlike humility and gentleness in order to avoid becoming a target. While humility and gentleness in conduct are the responsibility of all Christians, the humility of Christians in high risk and hostile ministry contexts today saves lives.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, but the wise will appease it.

Proverbs 16:14

Discretion

Esther also models an outstanding degree of discretion. At the request of her uncle, she sees the wisdom in keeping her Jewish identity private. She obediently conceals aspects of herself so that she can reveal these traits at a time when it would serve her community. Unlike (Western) cultures that focus excessively on individuals’ rights to self-expression, there are specific situations where a high degree of discretion makes individuals and their communities safe.

Discretion will guard you,
Understanding will watch over you.

Proverbs 2:11

As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout
So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.

Proverbs 11:22

Obedience

Lastly, Esther’s obedience in the face of tangible danger preserved the lives of herself and her family.

Esther passed the test of hiddenness, but she needed to pass the test of action in order to not die.

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:13-14

Today, Christians sometimes believe that because of their privilege or position, they will be able to remain in hiding and avoid opposition. Sadly, conditional prophesy demonstrates that hiding when God has called you into action can have catastrophic consequences. In conditional prophetic words, God attaches specific conditions that his people are called to align with and action. If Esther would have stayed at a theoretical level of knowing God’s promises and remained hidden, at minimum her life, her family’s lives, and their future generations would have been eliminated.

Esther’s humility, discretion, and obedience allowed her to adopt a leadership style that would keep her and her community safe in the midst of chaos. She demonstrated that when intentionally chosen, meekness can be its own form of strength.

Role of the Shepherd

Vulnerability

Several decades after Esther marries the King, Nehemiah has a position of influence as Artaxerxes I’s cupbearer. Similar to Esther’s role in proximity to the King, Nehemiah has to choose to risk. However, unlike Esther, who has to remain calm in presenting her requests to the King, Nehemiah must own his emotions.

Like men and women today who would prefer to remain composed but may instead need to be transparent about the sin’s emotional toll on their lives, Nehemiah actually has to lead with vulnerability.

And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 2:2-4

It isn’t surprising that some of God’s early adapters are those who are most in touch with his heart to see the new thing established. Nehemiah demonstrates that without emotional engagement, the people of God are next to useless to the world.

Justice and Mercy

The King’s solidarity with Nehemiah gives Nehemiah favor to travel and lead the rebuilding effort in Jerusalem. Throughout the book of Nehemiah, for many decades, and likely the majority of his life, Nehemiah continues to enlist the people, delegate responsibility, and persevere until the temple is established.

However, in order to build a new temple, Nehemiah would have to correct the abuses of the Old temple. Specifically, God was looking for Nehemiah to address the injustices against Israel’s poorest citizens, who had long been taken advantage of by the ruling class prior to the ruler’s exile. Like all Reformations, Nehemiah knew that justice for the oppressed must be part of the rebuilding process.

In Nehemiah 4, listens to the people and discovers that some of the poor who remained in Jerusalem are have made themselves a new ruling class. These leaders have extorted the poor for money so severely that the poor have had to sell their children into slavery.

Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”

Nehemiah 4:4-5

Once again, the depravity of the house of Israel can be measured by the treatment of its’ children. In mercy, Nehemiah confronts and rebukes the leaders and gives them an opportunity to make things right. Through a prophetic act, he warns them that if they return to injustice, they and their children would be defrauded.

Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. 13 I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!”

Nehemiah 4:12-13

Since God’s warnings against extortion date back to the Exodus, Nehemiah demonstrates tremendous mercy.

Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you.

Leviticus 25:36

Woe to those who enact evil statutes
And to those who constantly record unjust decisions,
So as to deprive the needy of justice
And rob the poor of My people of their rights,
So that widows may be their spoil
And that they may plunder the orphans.

Isaiah 10;1-2

Ultimately, mercy and justice were the sacrifices that God wanted all along.

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

Hosea 6:6

Beyond just rebuking leaders, Nehemiah’s authority to establish justice comes from the mercy he demonstrated to the poor as their leader. Just as Christ gave himself away, When Nehemiah recognized the extent of the suffering of the poor, he surrenders his own rights in order for them to flourish.

 In spite of all this, I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people.

19 Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people.

Nehemiah 4:18-19

Later in the New Testament, Paul also surrenders his right to be supported by the people’s income when he sees their need.

 But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. 16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

1 Corinthians 9:15-18

Today like Nehemiah, Jesus challenges Christians to give away their rights in service of vulnerable people who could not receive good news without sacrificial giving. Through vulnerable leadership, justice, and mercy, Nehemiah demonstrates capacity as a Good Shepherd.

And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

Luke 3:11

Before the people can re-inhabit the new Jeru-shalem (“City of Peace”) true peace must come from Christlike justice.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.

Psalm 89:14

The Role of the Prophets

Strategic, Timely National Words

After Nehemiah starts rebuilding and before Ezra comes to consecrate the temple, prophets Haggai and Zechariah shared the Lord’s sense of urgency for the work to be completed. The effect of these strategic prophesies was that both the future governor of Israel (Zerubbabel) and Israel’s future High Priest (Jeshua) supported the rebuilding process.

 Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.

Ezra 5:1-2

Now, even though Haggai and Zechariah gave similar prophetic words within a year of one another, they were very different as prophets. Haggai 1:1 identifies Haggai as a nabi prophet or someone who receives mostly internal auditory revelation. Another clue that Haggai is a nabi prophet is that most of his prophesies start with the address, “This is what the Lord says“, as though he is repeating God’s articulated words secondhand (ex: Haggai 1:5). The book of Haggai is relatively short compared with the narrative style of the book of Zechariah, it almost serves as a ledger of the specific words Haggai delivers and their effects.

While Zechariah is also described in Zechariah 1:1 as a Seer prophet, the book of Zechariah contains so much visual revelation that it is likely he functioned in some ways as a Seer prophet also. While Haggai’s prophecies focus mostly on the current day issues facing leaders and the God’s promise to re-purify the people, Zechariah’s prophesies stretch from current events, Messianic hope, even until the Day of the Lord (ie, Judgement Day).

Knowing Your Identity as a Prophet: Comparing Haggai and Zechariah

Another reason Haggai and Zechariah’s prophesies were effective is that each owned their own specific assignment as a prophet without needing to assimilate or compete with one another. Immature prophets are not very useful to the Kingdom of God for various reasons, but with maturity and a clear sense of identity comes the capacity to collaborate as part of a prophetic team.

HaggaiZechariah
Year that prophecies are first recorded~424 BC~423 BC
Types of RevelationAuditoryVisual
Length2 chapters12 chapters
Major ThemesExposing leaders’ excuses to delay rebuilding the Temple, God’s promise to re-purify the people, God endorsing Zerubabbel to finish the work

Haggai more focused on the qualitative difference between the first and second temples/houses of Israel/covenants.
Testing and Gathering, Gathering, Purification of the Priesthood from False Prophesy, Jesus as New High Priest, Justice and Mercy, Promise to Bless Jerusalem again, Judgment on God’s enemies, Re-unification of Israel, Jesus as the Better Shepherd

More specifically, Zechariah underscores the importance of justice to define and usher in Jesus’ Kingdom (Zechariah 7), the redemption of Judah (Southern Kingdom) (Zechariah 10), the people’s repentance after murdering Christ (Zechariah 12:10-14), cleansing from false prophesy (Zechariah 13), and the Day of the Lord (Zechariah 14).
StyleLedger of verbal prophesies and their effectsNarrative
Length of Time ProphesiedCurrent eventsCurrent events – Judgment Day

Regardless of their distinctions, as National Prophets, both Haggai and Zechariah specifically name and address Israel’s leaders:

  • To Rulers: Zerubbabel, son of the Shealtiel the Governor of Judah
  • To Priests: Joshua, son of Zodak the High Priest

Furthermore, both prophets give personal prophesy as an element of their effective national prophetic words.

  • Haggai prophesies to Zerubbabel that God has chosen him as an instrument to finish the rebuilding (Haggai 2:20-23).
  • Zechariah prophesies to Jeshua about purifying his conduct (Zechariah 3:6-7) and then uses him to prefigure Jesus (3:8), since Joshua and Yeshua mean the same thing (Deliverer).

Hope

Lastly, in each personal prophesy and the arch of their national prophetic words, both Haggai and Zechariah ground their prophesies in hope.

“The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,” says the Lord Almighty. “And in this place I will grant peace.”

Haggai 2:9

Without hope, it is impossible for people to receive words effectively.

Without these strategic, well-timed national words, Israel would not have had the formal support and internal alignment they needed to overcome spiritual and physical opposition to the temple’s rebuilding.

The Role of the Teacher

Finally, Ezra is a Priestly Teacher who comes to oversee the rebuilding of the Temple in the reign of Artaxerxes. While Ezra travels to Jerusalem over 10 years in advance of Nehemiah, he ultimately oversees not just the construction but the future of the temple.

Similar to the differences between Haggai and Zechariah, Nehemiah and Ezra were wildly different builders. While the book of Nehemiah is written as a narrative, the historical sections of the book of Ezra demonstrate Ezra’s training as a priest. The first six chapters of the book focus on the history of the rebuilding effort from Cyrus (time of Daniel) to Artaxerxes (Ezra’s day).

The book of Ezra contains genealogies, details about the reconstruction of the altar, and specifically addresses the people’s failure of morality through intermarriage. Each of these details are relevant to the Priest’s responsibility to uphold God’s standards.

Ezra needed to help the people understand their community’s sacred history so that they could embody its future. During Reformation, the Priest Teacher’s primary focus is to build the new thing in a way that honors the past. Just as Jesus’s new covenant build on the foundation of the Old Covenant, so the new temple would have to mimic and expand the responsibility of the first temple. Today, believers know that the body of each believer in Christ has become a new temple of the Holy Spirit.

While Nehemiah led the people in mercy and justice, Ezra led the people in repentance.

Under Ezra, the people acknowledged the specific sins that led to the temple’s destruction (Ezra 9).

Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies.

Nehemiah 9:26

Under Ezra, they took responsibility for obeying God’s covenant (Nehemiah 10:28-39).

 We will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons. 31 And if the peoples of the land bring in goods or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on a holy day. And we will forego the crops of the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.

Nehemiah 10:30-31

Just like the New Covenant under Jesus, Ezra’s leadership demonstrates that there is no salvation and restoration without repentance.

Just as a person seeks God because they have faith that he exists (even if only at the level of a nudge)…

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

So salvation requires you to be personally aware that you need a Savior.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 3:23

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38

Reformation under Ezra caused the Israelites to not merely blame their ancestors for the sins’ of the community. They recognized that they had a responsibility before God to be part of the solution and set a new standard.

Purity and alignment with the righteousness of Christ causes qualifies Priestly Teachers to teach. When Priestly Teachers lead in Reformation, the people respond by being teachable.

Over time, a community’s teachability produces wisdom that they can pass on to the generations. In term, wisdom prevents exile by preventing the conditions for sin.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

Proverbs 4:7

Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.

Proverbs 9:10

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

James 3:13

This Era: Choose to Engage

Just like Daniel, today’s Christians have various ancestors of faith who “longed to see the day of Christ” but were unable to (Matthew 13:17, Luke 10:24).

After thousands of years of history waiting on the full revelation of Jesus, the Church is at the precipice of a new Apostolic Era of Reformation. The era of isolation and standing in judgment of secular society is over. Right now, Jesus is challenging his church to enter into the Era of Engagement to see his Kingdom be fully established on the earth.

For those who are willing to hear, the lives of the Israel’s exiles reveal key truths for how to come out of exile:

  • Daniel: Be diligent with every word of God and hold him to his promises. Intercede with leaders and seal up the revelation.
  • Esther: Lead with meekness, discretion, and obedience to preserve the people’s lives. Let the gentleness of your approach set you apart.
  • Haggai and Zechariah: Prophesy strategically and in season to enlist key leaders and organize the people.
  • Nehemiah: Lead with vulnerability and solidarity with the oppressed. Lay justice as your foundation.
  • Ezra: Respect the past as you establish the new. Lead the people in repentance so that wisdom can flourish and preserve what God has established.

Prayer

Jesus, give us the grace to perceive how you are calling us to partner with you at this time in history.

Help us to draw on the history of your faithful people as our inheritance, to enrich and establish the generations.

Deliver us from being too comfortable or too distracted political or economic crises to be any earthly good.

Help us to be doers (James 1:22) and not spectators of the world, remaining in Babylon while others are out building.

Make clear the roles that we are meant to play so that we can establish your Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Teaching the Psalms through History: God’s Faithfulness to the Generations

Each person is a living story.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:16

Through faithful obedience, God ordains and establishes our lives. We have the great pleasure of being living scrolls!

There is no greater joy than living into the fullness of the story God has written for you.

Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.

Jeremiah 15:16

Some people are called as scribes to consciously live as a living story (the reason I write monthly summaries). And yet, irrespective of calling, God calls all people to play their part in his story.

Ultimately, it isn’t about us.

The stories our lives tell have generational ripple effects. This dynamic can be seen in the way that Jesus embodied the words of his forefather, David.

“Here I am, I have come—

it is written about me in the scroll:

8I delight to do Your will, O my God;c

Your law is within my heart.”

Psalm 40:7-8

Through Jesus’ blamelessness, he was able to completely embody the most challenging life story ever written for one human being.

And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?”

Revelation 5:2

Video: Gathering the Great Cloud of Witnesses

This summer for seminary, I gathered Psalms of promises that God makes to children. For my project, I selected Christian historical figures whose lives (past and present) embodied Psalm 108, 34, 71, 103, and 128. Then, I asked friends to narrate the Psalm as each of the characters. Arranged from youngest to oldest, these 5 witnesses’ lives declare God’s faithfulness in various ways.

Check out this video to learn more about how their lives embodied the Psalms. How might God be calling you to live as an embodied story?

Introducing the Saints

These are the 5 Christian historical figures I chose.

  • Tarore of Waharoa
  • Alice Cooper
  • Mary McLeod Bethune
  • Johann Sebastian Bach
  • George Washington Carver

As you listen to the video, you will find out how each of their lives fit the Psalms.

A Bonus Detail I didn’t share in the Video

One of my favorite aspects of this project were the unexpected artistic connections that emerged. As I compared the relative ages of each of the saints and the number of verses their Psalm contained, I realized that the progression created a mountain shape. Given the connection of praise Psalms with the Psalms of Ascents (and pilgrimage worship to high, holy places), I really enjoyed this connection.

I also noticed that the Psalm I associated with children (Psalm 8) has just 9 verses while the Psalm I associated with very old age/grandparents (Psalm 103) has 6 verses. Given that 6 is a visual inversion of the number 9, and 9 is written with the bubble towards the ground, it reminded me of the concept of mortality and being brought low to the ground (Genesis 3:19). This visual shape implies that during middle age (at the peak of the mountain), individuals have their greatest amount of capacity, resources, and strength. At either end of their lives (the beginning or end of the mountain/lifespan), that strength is limited. 

Father, help us to fully embody the stories that you have written us! Help us learn from members of the Great Cloud of Witnesses you have assembled throughout history to joyfully personify your plans.

July 2022 Monthly Summary

Rapid Redirection for Family Reconciliation

This month as I finished my summer classes at seminary, God sent me one of my biggest answers to prayer yet. All at once, the Lord answered prayers I have been praying for family reconciliation for over a decade.

Believe it or not, the events that led up to this breakthrough started about a year ago. In August of last summer, I made a trip to the Pacific Northwest and Denver to spend time with family. On my trip, I made it clear that I sensed God drawing me to a season of travel that would likely take me overseas for several months. While my family didn’t pay much attention to my words then, I continued to try to get them comfortable with things like video-chatting through Whatsapp and set boundaries on how much I would initiate communication so that they would have to come up some levels. At the time, I needed to come out of over-functioning and have permission to be merely human. I also set boundaries to help them brace for the possibility that I will likely be living significant portions of my life overseas.

For up to a year before leaving the classroom, I kept getting dreams about a season of travel followed by a season of rest, and then a season of receiving inheritance in ministry. These dreams intensified in the Winter. Due to the communication issues, I seriously wondered whether details (like resting in my mother’s house) were abstract (motherhood in a metaphorical sense?) or concrete. I did not understand how it could be concrete, given the deterioration of the situation.

In the Spring, an established prophet gave me a word about family restoration. At that time, I still needed to keep boundaries, and I saw such little change that the situation that it was very personally challenging. On the flight from Singapore to Brazil, I was really crying out to God in travail, and I was grieving. Due to my calling to Latin America and the grace for family that is on Brazil, the Lord exceeded my expectations by setting me in a family homestay and healing me up *fast* from past family trauma. Then unexpectedly while I was in my last week of seminary, my mom reached out unprompted. Over the next 48 hours, the friend who I was planning to visit and I separately decided that we needed to work on family restoration instead of reconnecting in Toronto. So within just 72 hours, I was on my way to Seattle.

The following week, I checked in with friends in Brazil again. Just as I sensed, God confirmed to us both separately that the time wasn’t right for me to return. Realistically, I need to rest, and they need to focus on long term planning related to negotiating space and potentially buying a building. It was the most peaceful, “Not yet, but soon” conversation I’ve ever had, and I’m really excited to maintain in touch. My friend’s goals to see Holy Spirit move within the Educational sector are so similar, and as family, he made it very clear that the door is open in an ongoing sense for the future.

Relating to Family as a Prophet

My family is just starting to figure out how to relate to me as a prophet. Within days of me landing, there were several specific incidents that were eye-opening for them related to the outworking of my call. The most notable event was probably when my sister was choking at a restaurant and I had to do the Heimlich maneuver to save her life (she’s fine now). As a prophet called to deliverance, I wasn’t fully surprised but I definitely needed to lie down after.

It’s dark, but I got to try Lemon Lavender creme brûlée as a free dessert from the restaurant after. Haha. Hopefully another time I’ll get to order that under different circumstances…

Another pretty wild incident was when my mom was out of town over a weekend and I prevented my dog from going into a diabetic coma and dying. At 13 years old, taking care of Teddy (Teddy Bear) is like taking care of vulnerability itself. He’s blind and diabetic, but he still has the most beautiful long eyelashes and likes to be held like a baby.

I cant help but look at him and remember the days when he was little enough to wash in the kitchen sink.

While my mom was gone, I ended up having to force feed him some apple juice when he wouldn’t eat and was delirious. I was relatively familiar with diabetes as a condition because my dad was diabetic growing up. Either way, through prayer and close supervision, Teddy is just fine and sleeping next to me right now on the couch. This experience made me think of Psalm 71, and how the Lord doesn’t just care for us when we are young but well into older age (71:18).

Apparently, the favor God has put on my life is good for more than just free parking spots, free desserts, and discounts. Speaking of diabetes, I got off the phone with my dad a few days ago, and according to the doctor, he is no longer diabetic. I did not know it was possible for the pancreas to heal itself, but suddenly his A1C levels are at the level of a normal, fully healthy person. As someone who always was a little afraid of my dad dying young because of lifestyle and health issues, this news was a wonderful surprise. I didn’t know to pray for it, but God did. I’m praying that this healing would help my Dad receive God’s kindness and remove shame related to unbelief.

Things are still a work in progress, but it’s already more than I would have known how to pray for. As a kid, I often struggled with seeing or sensing things and didn’t have tools to communicate it to them. This photo was taken when my sister an I were 18 months old. For me, this photo represents some of that tension of sensing and seeing but not being able to explain. I am the one in pink, and to this day I wonder what I was sensing when the photo was taken. This month, I’ve been able to help put words to some of those experiences and how they affect my current life. This time of reconciliation is answering their prayers for a second chance and more time before I move abroad in the future. It’s also healing things in way that is necessary before I move into the next season of life and ministry.

Unconditional Love

This month, I encountered God’s love most powerfully through Emerging Prophets friends. On a training Zoom call, I was unexpected placed in a Zoom room with two friends who are full of the innocence and genuine love of Jesus. After we had finished collaborating on the assignment and without anyone’s permission, they love bombed me by praying for me and telling me that I absolutely have to come visit this fall.

This experience was probably the most tangible experience of unconditional love I’ve experienced since I was 11 (and that experience changed my life completely).

Through these friends, I realized at a really deep level that if I utterly failed at everything, they would still choose me. It made me aware of a deeper level of security I didn’t realize was already available, and began the sudden death of my perfectionism.

Multi-Month Process of Burning

So in this time of internal reformation, what apart from perfectionism needs to die?

False responsibility.

Idealization / wrong expectations too.

So…maybe a lot?

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.

Malachi 3:3

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.

Proverbs 17:3

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

1 Peter 5:10

God’s refining fire prepares us for new life and is full of necessary discomfort. In the Flint Hills of Kansas where I’m from, there is a practice of controlled burning the prairie in order to restore the ground for the new season. Since my name meaning roughly translates to “pasture land” or “fruitful field”, this imagery for transformation has always stuck with me.

During a recent Zoom call with friends, I not only felt but saw part of this burning process as the light made it seem like my hair was on fire. I love God’s sense of humor.

Finding my Lower Limit: Rest

Once in my last year of high school, I found an unorthodox way to measure my capacity. I intentionally took advanced calculus and chemistry courses so that I would know whether to write off STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers when I started university. Ultimately, STEM wasn’t my jam. While it didn’t help my grade point average, knowing my limits was gift in the long term because it helped me know what to pursue instead.

God poured out such grace during my time of traveling. I was able to move really fluently at relatively intense pace, and learn to hear his voice on a dime. So much of the sensitivity that I have today was formed through this February-June period. At the same time, sensitivity training woke me up to how much I love connecting with different kinds of people. At a deeper level, I saw that I was organically made to build networks and highways between people groups.

However, towards the end of seminary, I began to feel the grace for traveling lifting.

Clarity started to come as a desire to be still and rest. As I listened, I became more aware that the growth now looks like going deeper with the Lord versus expansion. During traveling, I found my upper limit for activity. During rest, I hope to find my lower limit for stillness.

From that place of stillness, the Lord will sort things out. Even in the rest, there is such an acceleration that it shocks me sometimes, with resolution coming to situations within a day. As I’ve been resting and letting God do the internal work, I have been shocked by how my capacity related to words of knowledge, revelation related to youth ministry, and watchman prophesy growing fluently. God is sitting on me like a mother chicken over her eggs; I can let go and trust that things are going to be fine. In the meantime, I’m learning how to receive. If I don’t learn how to receive, I’m going to struggle with blessings God wants to send in my future.

Watchman: Sensitivity, Walls, and Protecting my Eyes

Beyond just protecting my family, there were some situations this month that really left me in shock about the existence of evil in the world.

In these moments, I find solidarity in God’s horror at the brokenness of the world. It also made me more aware of the horror of the cross, and God’s potential need to look away.

Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;

    you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.

Habbakuk 1:13

I don’t normally cry excessively, but I spent a significant portion of this month undone in intercession through tears. It didn’t feel like heaviness, but a deeper sensitivity to the experiences of vulnerable people in general.

In becoming more sensitive to injustice, I have needed to make peace with areas of sensitivity in myself that I may not have openly owned before. In order to navigate this increasing sensitivity, I have set up a few extra healthy boundaries (Song of Songs 8:9) to protect myself. Right now, that relates mostly to my use of social media.

Part of this is a result of being careful to not take on responsibility that isn’t mine. Related to Watchman prophesy, watchman are primarily required to stand watch from a healthy distance (on walls) and share information.

Meanwhile, the Lord said to me, “Put a watchman on the city wall. Let him shout out what he sees.

Isaiah 21:6

I’m trusting God to show me what he wants me to see in the Spirit or in the natural, and hide the rest. Ultimately, God has to be the one to watch over me as I remain watching.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,

    the guards stand watch in vain.

In vain you rise early

    and stay up late,

toiling for food to eat—

    for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves.

Psalm 127:1-2

I know at some point, I’ll have more beautiful things to look at and celebrate.

 The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;

    together they sing for joy;

  for eye to eye they see

    the return of the LORD to Zion.

Isaiah 52:8

But in the meantime, I have to:

  1. Preserve my Integrity

I will set no worthless or wicked thing before my eyes. I hate the practice of those who fall away [from the right path]; It will not grasp hold of me.

Psalm 101:3

2. Preserve my Innocence

For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.

Romans 16:19

3. Preserve my Eyes

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”

Matthew 6:22

Learning about the Apostolic in the Pacific Northwest

As it happens, my friend Helen lives within commuting distance from my mom’s place in Washington. I have really enjoyed spending several weekends with her at events and starting. tosupport the work God is doing in her as an Emerging Apostle in this region.

It’s a real gift to come along someone with more experience, and an even greater gift. to have things to contribute. The Lord has been sending me strategy for her through dreams, introductions, and similar interests.

Drawn to Reflect on Time

As I’ve begun to slow down, the Lord has been speaking to me again through media about time.

Most Impactful Book

Becoming Friends of Time: Disability, Timefullness, and Gentle Discipleship, by John Swinton

Based on Swinton’s book, I created this concept map with classmates on the timelessness and timefullness of God this month. I especially liked Swinton’s description of how Jesus redeems time through us.

Play

As I played with Helen’s children this month, I realized that children’s difficulty with time and timings has to do with their hunger for open space. This hunger to explore without limitations reminds me of Isaiah 49:20

Yet as you listen, the children that you have been deprived of will say, ‘This place is too small for me; make room for me so that I may settle.’

Isaiah 49:20

As we played, I said to them and myself:

  • How can you make the fast time slow down?
    • How can you turn the slow time into permission to rest?
    • How can you turn the fast time into freedom to accelerate?
Did you catch how I turned this visual into a mountain? Perfect to blend into the Pacific Northwest.

As God’s children, how can we find freedom in the measure of room we have while STILL waiting on the more beautiful territory?

Most Impactful Movie

I love well done sci-fi, always have. Like everything on this list, I found the movie Arrival accidentally this month, and it was such a gift. The story is framed exclusively through the first person experience of the main character, a linguist turned scientist. It relates to timelessness, memory, a mother’s concern for her child, and making peace with the risks involved with loving others deeply. Unlike some sci-fi, it’s more about human experience than the intensity of special effects or the shock value of violent aliens. I felt really understood watching this movie, because my memory is organized by people and theme (stories), not in chronological order. The movie essential concludes with the idea that love is worth the risk.

After all, where there is no mess, there is no unconditional love.

Most Impactful Poem

At seminary this month, my classmate shared this poem by Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time. This poem manages to talk both about the risk Jesus took to enter into the mess of human life, but also the risk of falling in love. Lord, teach us how to make peace with risk. Lord, when you are in a situation, you make the mess safe.

“Risk of Birth” by Madeleine L’Engle, who wrote A Wrinkle in Time

Most Impactful Songs

Compassion
Jesus alone
Mercy

Please Pray For:

  • For me to find my lower limit of rest, coming to absolute stillness before things speed up again
  • Fluent, God-facilitated opportunities for provision
  • Strategy, revelation, and joy in supporting my friend in her call as an Apostle
  • The right partnerships to fall into place regarding part time work or next steps at the right timing
  • Continued grace over family restoration

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