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In Conversation with Loren Sandford

Anyone called to prophetic ministry will of necessity spend an extended period of time in a wilderness of suffering and loneliness.

To further complicate matters, when Pentecostal/charismatic believers do read the Bible we tend to read it through the filter of a 21st century western mindset rather than seeking to understand it from the perspective of first century Jewish culture and customs. This again is a failure of responsible scholarship and the obligation of pastors and leaders to teach. This leads us to pull Bible passages out of their cultural, historical, linguistic and textual contexts to make the Scriptures say whatever we want them to say—or whatever our experience tells us they should say. Too often we buy into the attitude that scholarship, careful study, reason and experience are somehow opposed to one another. Wrong! Scholarship, study and reason keep us grounded and stable while experience keeps us alive! God didn’t call us to throw our brains on the table when we received the baptism in the Spirit!

 

Pneuma Review: What do you see as some of the shortcomings in the contemporary prophetic movement and what practical steps can be taken to address some of these?

Sandford: Too much of the charismatic world values the anointing above character, as if anointing were the stamp of God’s approval, but Matthew 7:22ff. makes it pretty clear that exercising the anointing may not even be a sign that the one doing it is saved. We therefore pay too much attention to excitement, power ministry and prophetic frenzy and too little to the character of those would be the carriers of those things. Anointing is nothing. Character is a treasure. God can anoint and speak through a donkey and he did so with Balaam’s unfortunate beast but character demonstrates the nature of our Father.

We must not interpret Scripture in the light of our experience but rather interpret our experience in the light of Scripture.

Accountability is lacking. We have been deluged with unfulfilled words in recent years. Even those that were genuine have often been spoken in anything but the Spirit of the Father. I can’t remember reading a published apology. Too many prophetic voices operate within their own organizations with no structure of accountability in relationship. I believe that that the New Testament prophet must be in, of and for the local church, accountable to the people of that church and to a pastor who speak into his or her life to bring correction and balance. Agabus and all the other prophets of the New Testament clearly stood in and with local bodies of believers.

The true prophetic word comes from the peace and rest that are in the heart of God.

We often misunderstand what is prophetic and what isn’t. We have an unbalanced emphasis on personal prophecy and especially personal prophecy delivered to individuals from a public platform. Only one verse in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 14 even hints at this and yet it has been a dominant model for many years. Overwhelmingly, spoken prophetic words in Scripture are delivered for the sake of the whole gathered church or to nations. This begs the issue of what I call “sanctified psychic reading.” Much that passes for prophetic ministry in the context of personal prophecy is no more than sensing what is in the heart of the one being prophesied to—their history, emotions, desires, ambitions—and then reflecting it back to them as a word from God. Such sensing can be a useful tool for ministry, but it’s not prophetic. The prophetic word flows not from the heart of man but from God and holds the power to release God’s purposes. We need to learn to sort out emotions and the hearts of people from the voice of the Lord.

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Category: Spirit, Summer 2011

About the Author: R. Loren Sandford is 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 has been in ministry full time since 1976 and is the founding pastor of New Song Church and Ministries in Denver, Colorado. As well as traveling internationally as a conference and seminar speaker, he is 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), and Yes, There’s More: A Return to Childlike Faith and a Deeper Experience of God (Charisma House, 2015). Married since 1972, he and Beth have two daughters and one son who have collectively given them nine grandchildren. Loren is also a member of the Osage Nation, a Native American heritage he deeply treasures. rlorensandford.com Twitter: @pastorrls

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