Friends, this blog is longer than others I’ve sent you. However, I think you will see its unusualness, its profundity and its huge implications for our world today.
Thirty years ago while I was praying one morning, I felt peculiarly compelled to pray something. We were pastoring a church at the time in a Los Angeles suburb and I was learning to pray through some things having to do with my own personal issues. But what I was compelled to pray that morning was completely out of the ordinary.
In fact, what I began to pray felt as though it wasn’t even coming from me. It felt like it was coming from another source—another force. I wasn’t able to discern this at the time. I just prayed as I felt urged. However, later, I realized I hadn’t prayed along those lines with my own thoughts. God was opening my mind to new thoughts—His thoughts.
Furthermore, I didn’t pray the way I did in my normal way of praying. I felt strangely energized, uncharacteristically passionate and oddly desperate to know the answer to the prayer I was praying. I prayed this way for perhaps fifteen minutes, and then, just as quickly as the compulsion came over me, it was gone. I’ll share what it was in a moment.
About three weeks later, after a Wednesday evening service, a lady in our church named Teri who cut hair was coming to our home to give me a haircut. We lived in a parsonage located on the church property that was situated about eighty yards behind the church with a field in between and a driveway to the back along one side.
After the service my wife and Teri walked back to our house while I turned off the church lights, locked up all the doors and finished saying goodbye to church members. Then I walked back to my home from the church. As I neared our house I could see there were two cars parked on the side of the driveway. I recognized one of them to be the hairdresser’s car, but I didn’t recognize the other.
The other car was parked farther away from the house and more out in the field than the hairdresser’s. I assumed whoever the car belonged to was in the house as well visiting with my wife and Teri. However, curiosity got the better of me and I meandered over to the vehicle to look in to see if I could see any clues as to the car’s owner.
When I cupped my hands around my eyes and placed them up against the glass, I was shocked to see two very naked people engaged in what naked people do in parked cars. At the same time I saw them, they saw me and in that moment they screamed and I gasped, and backed away from the car in horror.
The two never made effort to cover up. They just hurriedly scooted into their respective seats, started the car and squealed out of the driveway. But me—I stood there in shock.
Some may be tempted to think this incident funny. But that wasn’t what was going through my mind. All I could think about was how anyone could have the audacity to do something like this.
Here was my thought process. All the church lights were on. All the backlot lights near our home were on because we had illuminated them before church knowing my wife and Teri would be walking back to the house after the service in the dark. And these lights were bright, lighting up the whole area. The parking lot was filled with cars and there were dozens of church people milling around. But most audacious of all…it was “church” property.
This couple had zipped past our well-lit church with people wandering about. They had driven up within spitting distance to the pastor’s home and had shamelessly engaged in intercourse between the parsonage and the church. I was appalled.
Well, this incident certainly was the topic of conversation with friends and some church members for a few days; and yes, there were some jokes made. But the incident soon moved to the back burner in the busyness of the ministry and it was largely forgotten…at least for a few weeks.
Three weeks after this incident, I was sitting in a ministry conference service next to my wife and the speaker said something that exploded a beacon light into my soul.
I began writing feverishly the thoughts that were rushing into my mind. My wife looked at me as though I had lost all sense of respect and etiquette, because in my haste to scribble the fast coming words, I was completely oblivious as to whether or not I was disturbing the people around me. But I kept writing.
I wrote as though God was feeding a message to me rapid fire and I would be punished if I missed a single word. So I scratched onto paper the words that were flooding into my mind until they quit coming. That took forty five minutes. At the end of that time the inspiration subsided so I sat up and breathed a sigh of relief. I didn’t hear the conference sermon that night.
In a nutshell, all of my written words, if they were sifted down to three sentences would be this:
Six weeks earlier I had been compelled to pray “Lord, please…tell me what the spirit is that rules this church and rules this city.” What I saw in the church lot that night three weeks later was an illustration of that spirit. And that demon, revealed to me at the conference, was The Spirit of Mockery.
At the time I was so moved by this experience, I made up a brochure about the incident and distributed it to the people in my church on a Sunday when I told the story. I did it because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. People were only marginally moved, and it all seemed to fall on deaf ears. No one was ever as excited about this revelation as I was; nor did anyone ever feel compelled to pray against any such spirit, at least with longevity.
Interestingly, I think one of the reasons people didn’t take any of it that seriously was because they couldn’t get over the sheer mischief of the incident. Every time I told the story, before I could get to the serious part, all the seriousness leaked out because of the hilarity of what had happened. No one felt my feelings of horror.
One evening last week (early March 2018), this incident came back to my mind with a different perspective along with a new revelatory inspiration as to what it may have meant.
There have been a few times in my life when God seemed to say things to me that I discovered later were real, but they were for a different time and a different purpose than I had initially thought. It would just take time and circumstance to reveal that. It certainly happened in the Bible in many places. Dreams were dreamt and prophecies were written, but they were for different times and different places than originally thought; and most familiar with the Bible know God was no stranger to using XXX illustrations to make His prophetic points and get people’s attention. To be honest, though I tried to insert these discoveries into the ministry strategies of the church I was pastoring at the time, I was only trying to see its value for that time and that place. However, the mocking spirit in our world wasn’t nearly as prevalent then as it is now.
So these are my new thoughts on the bizarre series of events that I encountered during that six-week period thirty years ago.
Maybe the incidents weren’t intended for the church and city where I was pastoring in 1988. Oh, perhaps they related some to what was going on in that church and city. But maybe they were really for another time and place. Maybe they were intended to shed light on a larger problem for a different time and a different culture. Maybe it was a message for NOW…and for the church everywhere, certainly in America.
There are no doubt today churches in general, Christianity as a whole, the clergy and Christians across the board who are mocked as a regular practice. News networks scorn Christians and what they believe unashamedly. Sitcoms and dramas freely make a mockery of Christian beliefs and practices in their story lines. Shows ridicule ministers and priests with themes that showcase sexual failures and weaknesses. One out of every three movies has at least one scene that makes fun of some Christian or Christian way of thinking. Isolated extreme religious legalism is made to look laughable and what all Christians do all the time. Late-night talk-shows and hosts love to scorn the faith and failures of even the most sincere clergy and Christians. As a general rule Hollywood sneers at Christianity. Christians in our world today are the preferred segment of society to jeer and scoff at.
Furthermore, Satan has found ways to manipulate people to respect cults that have obvious and numerous questionable beliefs while they laugh hilariously at Christianity. He has even gotten the world thinking that the nonnegotiable Christian doctrine “There is no other name under heaven (other than Jesus) by which we can be saved” (Acts 4:12), and Jesus words “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6) is a belief of the emotionally unstable and unreasonable; and that normal well-balanced people accept all faiths and believe there are many ways to God.
And frankly, what I have described here is only the tip of the iceberg in our world where mockery of Christians, Christian ministers and Christianity as a whole is concerned.
I do indeed believe there is a “mighty spirit of mockery” that has been unleashed in our world. I see it everywhere I go. It is so obvious it can’t be denied even by many people outside the faith. However, thank God, “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).
I have never claimed to be a prophet. Nor do I consider myself to be one now. That night in 1988 I was just trying to be an obedient pastor to what seemed to be something the Lord was trying to tell me. And now, I am trying to do the same.
Ok…so if all this is true, if we are being warned from God about a “spirit of mockery” in our world, what does it mean for us? What can we do about it? I am not as sure about how to attack the issue as I am about what the issue is. However, there are some things that come to my mind.
First, awareness. We need to be aware that we aren’t dealing with flesh and blood here. It isn’t people we are battling, though many Christians tend to aim all of their retaliations at the humans that voice their ridicule. We are dealing with spiritual forces in high places. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (II Corinthians 10:4). There is a demon screaming his mockeries at the kingdom of God, its members and its Lord. Knowing what we are dealing with is half the battle because it ensures we aren’t directing our firepower at the wrong target. When we do, the target we hit (probably people) gets angrier and more resolved to mock, and the real enemy goes untouched.
Second, love. So many Christians, instead of loving those who mock them, hate these people. I am not especially fond of talk show hosts or news anchors that mock my Lord and my faith. But they are pawns of the “spirit of mockery” and manipulated by the god of our age (II Corinthians 4:4). They need love not hate. I think that our hatred of these people will also contribute to a perpetuation of the spirit rather than a defeat. By loving and praying for those who mock us we keep ourselves in a posture where our prayers will be more apt to be effective. And by this, we also love those in the world who are lost and may be influenced to question Christianity as a result of the ridicule they hear. Satan doesn’t only want to mock Christians. He wants to make Christianity look foolish to as many as possible so he can diminish the power of the Gospel to save them.
Third, restraint. Don’t engage in foolish arguments with people about matters that polarize factions into separate corners and communicate angst rather than prayerful concern. Most of the issues we take on, whether they are related to politics or other subjects have nothing to do with Christianity. But Christians are thought foolish and unreasonable because they get lured into these polarizing conversations…and it usually happens on social media. People aren’t able to easily separate the foolish opinions of someone who isn’t a Christian, from a Christian who happens to have the same opinion about something. They think Christians must be foolish too. God’s Word advises, “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law for they are unprofitable and worthless” (Titus 3:9).
Fourth, pray. Right after Ephesians 6:12, Paul warns us to put on our spiritual armor, which in itself is a kind of prayer procedure. And in verse 18 he further warns “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” I think we as a Christian movement need to attack the enemy with concerted and fervent prayer, such as I was compelled to do to identify the spirit. Every time a segment comes on a talk-show, a news broadcast, a sitcom, or a movie that mocks Christians or Christianity in some way, don’t get mad. Get on your knees and come against the spirit in prayer. Honestly, if Christians will rally to this cause, it will be only a matter of time before we break this spirit.
I welcome your thoughts…and other ideas about solutions.
I would also ask…how many would be willing take a posture of awareness, love, restraint, but most importantly, prayer in an effort to attack the spirit of mockery in our age? How many would be willing to fall to the floor on their knees in prayer every time Our Savior, His Kingdom and His Children are mocked on television, to come against spiritual wickedness in high places…or even just breathe a word in opposition to this spirit? Something like…“In the name of Jesus I come against the spirit of mockery.”
Why am I writing and sending this to you? Well, first because I am trying to be obedient to what I feel God has said and is saying to me. And second because…I believe it could have huge implications concerning the effectiveness of the Gospel message in our world today—for I am broken over the lost condition and future destination of people who don’t know Christ.