The Past, the Present, and the Future
Several years ago I had a dream, which is rare for me. I remember it to this day. I've heard that continuing to remember a dream is a characteristic of those that are from God. I knew at the time that this one was. I saw my arm and it was slit open on the underside close to the wrist. I saw several pens and pencils inside the slit. I understood that this represented a charge to write seven or so books, divided into two groups of 3 and 4. They would be of different kinds and would be related to my End Times teachings. I also received a word from a gentleman on the prophetic prayer team at our church that confirmed I was to have the pen of a ready writer.
I was quite intimidated by this direction and delayed getting started. In 2014, after we had downsized to an apartment near my work downtown, I guess I needed a project and decided it was time to be obedient. I thought it would be simply a matter of compiling my past teachings.
I was shocked when I sought the Lord on how to do this. I was to sit in my easy chair with my laptop and listen. And then write what I was hearing. OK. So I did. The very first thing I heard was a title, "The Tower: A Parable of Relationships."
What? That didn't sound very much like End Times. I got the relationships part because of the huge impact the Restoring Relationships program my wife and I had journeyed through. I eventually made the connection between this seemingly touchy-feely inner healing teaching with End Times. Malachi 4:5-6, the last two verses before the New Testament, was the key. The spirit of Elijah was coming in End Times to turn the hearts of the Fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their Fathers.
I saw and experienced at a deep personal level how the reconciliation of the father wound and other childhood hurts can set believers free from their dysfunctional behaviors that carry into adult years. This often manifests, as it did in me, as a controlling spirit with outbursts of anger, and even bitterness. As I learned to receive God's forgiveness for these sins in my life I was able to extend love and forgiveness to others.
I became sensitive to similar behaviors and the hurtful consequences in other people, especially strong leaders in the church as well as in the business world. One such consequence, I realized, was the need to always be right and not allow much dissent.
This of course played into the "preconception leads to deception" concept I mentioned in an earlier post. I saw that the reason many theological leaders do not want to allow flexibility in prophetic scriptures is this controlling tendency. They want to be right, and they don't want to seem weak. Especially in a large church or denomination, you just can't have people going off in all directions, now can you? Surely there is one correct way to handle Bible passages, and we don't want to confuse people by seeming to be uncertain.
So in my personal experience of being somewhat freed from a controlling spirit (it's a process!) I realized that healing of relationships is a crucial part of preparing to understand what God is doing in End Times. We not only have to open our hearts to those around us, but we have to be vulnerable in saying that we don't have all the answers and we need to focus on hearing and following the Holy Spirit rather than making rigid pronouncements about how Bible prophecy is going to play out. It's not easy for strong leaders to take this stand.
So back to my easy chair and the uncomfortable task of living what I was teaching. Yes, I was really having to listen to the Holy Spirit for everything from the book title to the first few words "I am the Owner…" to every incident and plot turn. It was excruciating in some ways, but rewarding at the same time. I had no idea I was going to write a short fictional work with nameless characters that didn't even mention God or Jesus. Unbelievable.
But as I just put pen to paper (metaphorically, of course) on a nightly basis, I found that I could identify with many of the incidents and characters. I was able to pull from my own experience in the business world and in the Restoring Relationships classes I facilitated. It was an intriguing partnership with the Holy Spirit providing steady guidance at a conceptual level, but depending on my knowledge and my language at a detailed writing level.
With the next book, "The Organic Church: A Story of Revival," I had a similar partnership with the Holy Spirit, but the direction was quite different up front. I was to do research on past revivals. I was given names and descriptions of the main characters up front, as well as a general plot outline. I was to get other people to critique the draft as I was writing it and be prepared to make changes as a result.
So this was taking being vulnerable a step further. After all, I was hearing basically what to write from the Holy Spirit, wasn't I? I learned, though, that part of His plan was to share the experience with others and accept their input, however unwelcome it might be.
The main critique I received was to have more conflict in the plot and make the lead character, a pastor, more dysfunctional prior to his healing experience. I have to admit it made a much better story, even though I personally don't like conflict. But even more, it showed me that my goal in this life is not to produce a perfectly inspired results by listening and faithfully recording every word from the Holy Spirit. That is not only impossible, but it also wouldn't be much fun. The goal was much more sophisticated and redemptive than that. It made me get into the trenches with my wife and others and listen to their hearts and value their ideas. It was priceless.
So that brings me to my current project. It started in the Spring of 2017 with the charge to read quickly through the Bible, taking notes on all passages that seem to have anything to do with End Times, heaven, and the thousand year Millennium. I am about done with that part of the research, but I still have only some rough ideas of how this might play out.
I read Randy Alcorn's book on Heaven a while back and was struck with his concept of "continuity" between earth and heaven. I happened on this even earlier in teaching Restoring Relationships. I would tell classes that if all of our fears, hurts, and resulting bitterness are going to be known to everyone in heaven, why not start to deal with them now, in this life? Let's bring them into the light and allow Jesus to heal us in these areas. Then we won't have to deal with them in heaven, and instead we can look forward mainly to the rewards He has stored up for us.
So I began to see that a stronger vision of how heaven works can motivate us in practical ways to think and behave in more godly ways. Even the Lord's prayer emphasizes seeing what is being done in heaven and bringing that perspective to earth.
But I have also been struck about how little is said in scriptures about the Millennium, the literal thousand years after Christ's second coming to earth so His resurrected saints can rule and reign with Him. What does that mean, practically? What will we be doing? Is there any continuity with our relationships, abilities, gifts, experience, and spiritual maturity in our current earthly life?
We do know a little about this mysterious period. We will have a different, glorified body as Jesus did during the forty days on earth after His resurrection. We also know that Satan, and presumably his demons, will not be present until the very end of the thousand years. So that source of temptation to sin will not be present. And the earth will be physically very different, having been transformed by natural and supernatural forces that will destroy cities and lower mountains. Unbelievers who survive the great tribulation will continue to have children and life spans will be much longer. And apparently animals will no longer eat the flesh of other animals.
And over all this Christ will rule with a rod of iron, with His saints assisting him in some kind of governmental structure. But this is essentially all we know about the Millennium. I wonder, however, if there are more hidden nuggets in the Bible that can be applied to that period. Perhaps there are clues as to what our purpose and manner of living will be. And perhaps we can better prepare for those thousand years by thinking and doing things a little differently in this life.
That's one reason for the year-long Bible review I've been led to take on. I am fully expecting to see things I've never seen before.
I would really like to hear from you on this. Have you discovered any hidden nuggets? What ideas do you have about the Millennium? Have you found any books or teachings that address some of these questions about preparing for and living in the Millennium?