When a Church Is Filled with Judges, Busybodies, and Advice-Givers


A great verse for today:

“…they will learn to be lazy and will spend their time gossiping from house to house, meddling in other people’s business and talking about things they shouldn’t.”
—1 Timothy 5:13b (NLT)

If you stand up in the bathroom at church, you’ve probably been to a men’s prayer meeting. Men share prayer requests and look for other men to call down God’s help for their situation.

Well, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. In actuality, when men share prayer requests in an hour-long prayer meeting, they give each other advice for whatever the problems might be and spend a grand total of 57½ seconds praying about those requests—no matter how many requests were made in total.

The ladies, on the other hand, suffer from the same problem, except in a far worse form. Amplified YammeringMen tend to keep their mouths shut unless asked for advice. Women, though, sometimes go barging into other people’s lives with their “godly wisdom,” whether it is asked for or not. To their credit, women do a better job with prayer requests, bumping up the men’s 57½ seconds of total prayer time for requests to at least a minute and a half.  😉

Life is hard enough as it is, but to have judges, busybodies, and advice-givers deluging us with their man-made wisdom isn’t helping anyone. If anything, all it accomplishes is either to upset recipients or lead them down dead-end paths that eventually have those recipients questioning God’s direction  (when they should have been questioning the advice-giver’s qualifications to speak).

I believe God offers us the best way:

1. If we are prone to be an advice giver, whether prompted or not, we should stop. No one needs our man-made advice. Undoubtedly, wisdom that comes from the minds of humans will fail. God says it will, so that pretty much settles it. In short, we’re not as smart as we think we are.

2. Chances are, we don’t know enough of what is happening behind closed doors to say anything about another person’s situation. Only God knows what a person truly needs. Instead, just listen and withhold judgment and advice (then consider #5 below).

3. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” applies to judgments and advice. Would we want to hear what we are about to share? Probably not. Then best keep quiet, especially if our advice is unsolicited.

4. In contrast to failed human wisdom, God provides perfect solutions through the spiritual gifts of word of knowledge and word of wisdom. My experience is that they are rare, but they are the only type of “advice” that is truly godly. If we are not given such a word, then we should keep still. If we are, we should not be afraid to share it gently and with tact. And also remember: Chances are, you and I were not the ones chosen to deliver that message. If we were, then we need to be humble about it.

5. Most people don’t want our judgments and advice. What they do want is us and our time. It is one thing to tell someone they need to do such and such. It is far different to actually help them do it. (Personally, I have no respect for people who tell others what they should be doing yet will not lift a hand to help them do it.) If we are not willing to help see our advice through, then we should not be giving it. All the advice in the world is nothing when compared to being there in person for someone else. Talk is cheap; walk is priceless.

In the end, talk less, listen more, and walk beside people who need help. That is the way of the Christian.

More on Charismatic Gifts


Several people have asked questions about my post on praying in tongues from earlier this week, so I thought I’d post a few more thoughts.

My reference texts:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
—1 Corinthians 12:4-11

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
—1 Corinthians 12:28-31

In a nutshell, here’s what I believe about the charismatic gifts:

  • The gifts are still for today.
  • Some of the gifts are more rare than what we see expressed.
  • Not all people will have all gifts.
  • A person who lacks a particular gift is not a lesser Christian for that lack because he or she may possess other “compensatory” God-given talents and anointings.
  • We should always ask God for empowering through the gifts yet be satisfied should He elect not give us a particular gift on our timetable.
  • Sometimes there is a long delay between asking for and receiving a gift.
  • As the Lord sees fit, some gifts may only be given for a time or season.
  • Because the Lord gives to us according to our measure of faith, He will not give charismatic gifts to people who don’t believe that they are still in operation.
  • While a person may appear to have a gift, it may indeed be nothing more than a well-developed talent and lack the full nature of a genuine charismatic gift.
  • As with all spiritual abilities, as we grow in the Lord we better understand how to use the charismatic gifts He has given us.
  • The Lord may remove gifts from people who fail to properly use them.
  • Yes, sadly, some people fake gifts.
  • People who fake gifts should be exposed immediately and not tolerated.
  • Yes, the Enemy does mimic some gifts and empower deceived people with ungodly versions.
  • All gifts must be tested.
  • Churches that support the gifts must do a better job policing those who use them in public.
  • Church leaders are responsible for encouraging and discouraging the use of the gifts by their congregants.
  • We are a poorer Church if we fail to use the gifts.

A convenient way to break down the gifts is into three categories of three gifts each:

Gifts of Discernment:

Word of knowledge

Word of wisdom

Discerning of spirits

Gifts of Power:




Gifts of Proclamation:



Interpreting tongues

Like tongues of fire...I feel strongly that one of our greatest failings in our churches is that our spiritual leaders are not calling out the gifts in people. By that I mean that too many churches rely on people self-identifying their own spiritual gifts rather than the leadership of the church doing it. Of course, this necessitates that the leaders of a church actually KNOW their people well and spend time helping each individual cultivate the gifts (and talents) God has given them. (Kind of precludes being an anonymous face in a megachurch, doesn’t it?)

Instead, too many churches have let their leadership off the hook by resorting to congregant self-identification of gifts, often through spiritual gift inventories—a recipe for disaster, if you ask me. Gift inventory checklists are responsible for myriad people being placed in the wrong positions within a church or trying to use gifts they don’t truly have, thus leading themselves and others astray. My experience has been that too many people identify wants rather than gifts through this inventory methodology. If I want to be a prophet and fancy myself one, how will I fill out my gift inventory? Sort of self-fulfilling, isn’t it? And that makes for enormous problems.

Now, what is your take on the charismata?

And Now a Word from Our Sponsor…


I read another blogger’s comment that she received some words prayed over her this last weekend. Now comes the mulling of whether or not those words constitute a clear leading of God.

I can sympathize with that conundrum. I use the word conundrum because we receive a lot of “words” in today’s Church, but all too few of them turn into anything at all, making receiving such a word a dicey proposition.

It shouldn’t be that way.

Though I count myself a charismatic and thus have been exposed to hundreds of words prayed over me in my lifetime, I can count on two hands the number that truly reflected the intervention of God. That’s a darned poor track record for “words.”

Scarier still: all the ones I can verify as legit came from the same two men, one an oldster in the Faith and the other a young man old in soul.

Two men in thirty years of my Christian life. Two.

You’ve got to wonder at the damage all those phony messages from God cause. The prophet is in!If I hear another person mention they’re going to a prophecy conference I’m going to lose it. Those folks follow these so-called prophets around like groupies and it’s sad. Considering the accuracy of today’s modern prophets, you’ve got to wonder how many of those conference attendees have had hundreds of words prayed over them, none of them amounting to more than so much air. Yet the addiction’s there, so they go, always seeking, but never finding.

Don’t get me wrong here. I believe in modern day prophecy and gifts of wisdom and knowledge. I’ve given out a few of those in my life, emphasis on few. I’m hearkening back through time and I can count perhaps three—at the most. Why so few? I don’t speak unless I’m absolutely sure of my source.

It bugs me that for all these prophetic words, almost none of them resemble Jesus’ warning to the man at the pool of Bethesda: stop what you’re doing or something bad is going to happen to you. Usually the word consists of some vague reference to how God loves the person receiving the word so much and has grandiose plans for him or her. Every once in a while, you do get someone calling out a “Jezebel spirit” just to keep from seeming too positive. (All I can say is that this Jezebel spirit’s getting a workout in some charismatic circles. Must be exhausted by now.)

It’s all too easy to make up some high-falutin’ spiritual language talking about great nations, lampstands, and watchmen. Curiously enough, none of those handful of accurate words prayed over me ever contained such language. Most were just plain talk. But at least they were right.

On the bogus side, I once received a word from someone telling me I would be a great nation. I’m not truly sure what that’s supposed to mean, although I’m convinced my wife wouldn’t go along with it. Our pastor came from a household with fourteen kids and I can tell you that the Mrs. shudders at the thought. Another time, two very earnest women insisted I’d be getting back into camping ministry “in the next few months,” but my phone’s not rung for that idled career in fifteen years. That’s a whole lot of months.

Pity the poor person who has those mistaken words turned against them, too. When some minor prophet makes a pronouncement and it doesn’t come to pass, it’s never the prophet who’s wrong. It’s the poor unfortunate who received the bad word who gets his or her mustard seed of faith questioned. I don’t know about the prophet, but when I read the Scriptures it says that God’s words don’t return void.

I wish I didn’t have to write this post. Yet with all these “words from the Lord” being bandied about, someone needs to speak up.

About ten years ago, I remember a church meeting where a man stood up and relayed a highly specific word. (Note: the details have been changed for privacy concerns.) This man had a word of knowledge about a woman whose teenage daughter Josie had run away from home, traveled south, and was now deeply immersed in the drug culture of Miami. She’d been gone for three years now, effectively missing, though the mother had heard from her once in that time. The man went on to say that the mother needed to contact her daughter at that last known phone number, even though the daughter had not been at that number for more than a year. The man then said the daughter was afraid to call her mother, but if the mother called her first, God would do a great healing in both their lives and they would be restored to each other. But the mother needed to make that call to the only phone number she had.

My wife turned to me and noted that we didn’t know anyone in the church who fit those details and she suspected the word was wrong. Our small church met in a rented facility, and what no one knew was that a woman had come in to prepare the building for another activity later that day. She was in a back room and heard that word over the building’s sound system. Amazed, she wandered up front to the man who gave the word and told how astonished she was that anyone knew her situation. She prayed with some folks, then went home and called her daughter at that phone number. And yes, everything the man said came to be.

Now THAT’S a word folks. It’s specific. It contains information that can only be spiritually discerned. It intersects with known realities. It meets a need. It makes something happen because of the faith of the hearer who trusts it. And, most of all, it comes to pass.

I guess I’m tired of the burden of proof falling on the one receiving these supposed words from God from someone else. I don’t want to seem glib, put I think “put up or shut up”—a most earthy sort of spiritual testing— applies. If all these folks delivering words have a track record that resembles a 500:1 shot bound for the glue factory, then they need to sit down and stop hurting others with their “gift.”

And yeah, I get a little steamed thinking about it. I wish more of us did.