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An Approaching Crisis: A Call for Charismatic Reform

A year and a half ago my friend Fred Wright (founding coordinator of Partners in Harvest) and I were discussing the state of the prophetic movement and the plethora of bad prophecy being spoken by leading prophetic voices. He said, “If something isn’t done soon, the prophetic movement is over in five years.” He’s right. We’ve been focused on being supernatural and getting the next “word” at the expense of intimacy with the One for whom we would speak.

Too often, we’ve failed to sift our own emotions from the true prophetic word flowing from the heart of God. As a result we end up prophesying words from our own imaginations and desires. Many have been doing what Jeremiah cried out against in 23:30, “Therefore behold, I am against the prophets…who steal My words from each other.” Here’s how it works: We hear prophecies from one another that excite our emotions in both positive and negative ways. Then in our flesh we build on what has excited us, failing to differentiate between personal feelings and the voice of God, until the words we speak go well beyond the truth of God’s heart. Skewed and extreme statements result that either raise false expectations of great things or feed excessive fear and dread. Not the truth!

Please know that I am a dyed-in-the-wool “River” person. I cherish the move of the Spirit. I love it when God makes a sovereign “mess” of a meeting and people fall, laugh, cry and shake. I love good prophetic ministry. People receive miraculous healing in my church on a regular basis. We’ve heard audible angel song in some of our meetings. I am by no means a revival critic, but I have been given a prophetic voice and I must use it to sound the alarm when God calls me to do so.

These things I call attention to are just a representative sampling of the utter nonsense growing in renewal circles these days and being passed off as revelation by a number of key leaders. Those who have attempted to stand against this pollution of the stream have sometimes been vilified and accused of creating division or squelching the Spirit. They would be in good company where creating division is concerned. Jeremiah! Micaiah! Paul! Jesus Himself! For my part, I believe (prophetically) that the Great Apostasy prophesied in Scripture has begun, but that it has taken root in unexpected places where personal revelation is presented as fact and where leaders twist Scripture to make it appear to support propositions based on grains of truth driven to extremes that render them false. Heresies and spiritual silliness result.

A saying the Lord has given me of late is, If you focus on being supernatural you’ll end up in shipwreck, but if you focus on being intimate with the Father you’ll end up being supernatural. Doesn’t that sound like Jesus? “In too many places the hunger has shifted from longing to be one with Jesus – and with our Father through Him – to a focus on seeking supernatural experiences. This is a form of idolatry, a longing for the effect rather than real relationship with the Cause. Or we long for the next great spiritual revelation and forget that the most foundational revelation of all is the Father’s heart of love and the invitation given us to grow up to be like Him in every aspect of our character.

This calls for a renewed emphasis on the cross where we die with Christ, the blood that cleanses us from sin and the resurrection that gives us new life. Paul said — and with good reason — “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). And did we forget that the word “canon” with reference to the Scriptures means the “fence” beyond which we cannot go, that we can neither add to nor detract from it? In too many places the focus has shifted and we’re about to find ourselves impaled on hidden reefs of destruction.

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Category: Spirit

About the Author: R. Loren Sandford died on September 17, 2021. He was the eldest son of John and Paula Sandford, widely recognized as pioneers in the charismatic renewal, prophetic ministry and inner healing. A graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, Loren entered full time ministry in 1976 and was the founding pastor of New Song Church and Ministries in Denver, Colorado. As well as traveling internationally as a conference and seminar speaker, he was the author of numerous books, including: Burnout: Renewal in the Wilderness (1998), Purifying the Prophetic: Breaking Free from the Spirit of Self-fulfillment (Chosen, 2005), Understanding Prophetic People: Blessings and Problems with the Prophetic Gift (Chosen, 2007), The Prophetic Church: Wielding the Power to Change the World (Chosen, 2009), Renewal for the Wounded Warrior: A Burnout Survival Guide for Believers (Chosen, 2010), Visions of the Coming Days: What to Look for and How to Prepare (Chosen, 2012), Yes, There’s More: A Return to Childlike Faith and a Deeper Experience of God (Charisma House, 2015), A Vision of Hope for the End Times: Why I Want to Be Left Behind (2018), and The Last Great Outpouring: Preparing for an Unprecedented Move of God (2020). Married since 1972, he and Beth have two daughters and one son who have collectively given them nine grandchildren. Loren was also a member of the Osage Nation, a Native American heritage he deeply treasured. Twitter: @pastorrls

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