The Rector’s sermon for July16, 2017



Week 8 of 16 –Interpreting Dreams, Prophecy, Celibacy, Missionary – including slides #45—56     


Is. 55:10-13; Psalm 65:1-14; Romans 8:1-11; Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23


(SLIDE #45)   We are exactly half way through our allotted weeks for finishing this study of the Gifts of the Spirit.  You may be overwhelmed by the possibilities; you may have never thought about some of these gifts before.  So, as I begun to think about how we would end this series, I thought I’d share with you some of the outcome of doing this series eight years ago.  I asked the congregation what they discovered, what gifts that could lay claim to.  Fifty-two (52) persons gave me input as to what gifts they felt they had, and this was the result:  (SLIDE #46, 47, 48)


(SLIDE #46)                                        (SLIDE #47)                                        (SLIDE #48)

            Faith                           35                    Administration            10                    Prophecy                     6

            Encourager                 21                    Craftsman                   10                    Speaking in Public      4

            Hospitality                  15                    Intercessor                    9                    Miracles                      3

Generosity                  14                    Evangelist                     9                    Pastor                         3

Mercy                          14                    Leadership                    7                    Celibacy                      2

Service                        14                    Wisdom                         7                    Interpreting tongues   1

Worship                      13                    Deliverance                   7                    Missionary                  1

Helps                           13                    Discernment                  7                    Interpreting Dreams   1

Speaking in tongues    10                    Teaching                       6                    Poverty                       1

Healing                       10                    Knowledge                    6                              


We haven’t talked about some of these gifts yet, but I thought it would be interesting for you to see what those before you came up with.  Some comments that were made included:  “My gifts have surprised me.” … “Now I understand why I do what I do.”… “I am so grateful to be used by the Spirit.” … “I finally understand the meaning of the Spirit.” … My emptiness has been filled.”  I hope this gives you something to look forward to, especially if you’ve been a skeptic up to this point.


A preaching series such as this is a gamble, because we’re talking about things that are interesting to some, and unbelievable to many.  But coming from somewhat of a skeptic myself, this journey we’re on is coming from God, and God can take us to a place of trust which is beyond our understanding.


Today we’re going to look at gifts that truly require trust, because they are impossible to understand.  The first two gifts we’re going to look at today are Interpreting Dreams and Prophecy (SLIDE #49).


Interpreting Dreams?   Prophecy?

As unbelievable as these gifts may sound,

they are authentic and used by God TODAY.

If you believe that spiritual gifts brought souls to Christ 2,000 years ago,

what’s stopping you from believing they can do the same today?


Have you even had a dream that was absolutely ridiculous and if you remembered enough of it to tell someone, neither of you could figure it out?   Of course you have, and most likely it occurred because of something you ate!   When I was in high school I used to have this recurring dream about being in a wide-open field and I was being chase by a whale who was running after me, using his large white flipper as legs!  And in the dream, the big white flipper was significant for some reason.   I remember telling one of my sisters about this crazy dream and she said I was probably being chased by Sister Mary Mercy, whose big white bib would flap, up and down when she walked …and she was on the heavy side!   I don’t think my sister had the gift of interpreting dreams, but it worked for me!    (SLIDE #50)


Interpreting Dreams

The unique, God given ability to decode the symbolism

and explain the meaning of dreams

and/or visions that others receive from God.


Interpreting Dreams is that God-given ability to decode the symbolism of a dream or a vision, and explain it to another.  While there are many dream interpreters in Holy Scripture, the one that comes to mind is Joseph.  It was Joseph’ ability to interpret Pharaoh’s dream that won him favor in Pharaoh’s court and ended up saving the land from destruction.  If you remember the story in the Book of Genesis, Joseph’s brothers were so jealous of Joseph that they threw him into a pit.  But as the story goes, a caravan that passes by finds Joseph in the pit, takes him to Egypt, and sells him as a slave to Potiphar, the captain of the guard.  Potiphar is so impressed with Joseph’s demeanor that he gives Joseph charge over his entire household, his crops, and his livestock.  And Potiphar’s wealth increases dramatically under Joseph’s leadership.  Now, Potiphar’s wife has been eyeing Joseph lustily, Scripture says.  She tries to lure Joseph into her bed, he says no, and she has him thrown into prison.  And under God’s watchful eye, Joseph’s time in prison is the beginning of his redemption.  While he’s there he interprets the dreams of two other prisoners.  Through a series of events Pharaoh discovers that Joseph has this gift and when Pharaoh himself has a disturbing dream, he sends for Joseph to interpret it.  Seven fat cows grazing; seven more cows, scrawny and thin; seven plump and beautiful heads of grain; seven thin and shriveled up heads of grain, and the shriveled up heads of grain swallow up the healthy grain!   Joseph interprets the dream: there will be seven years of great prosperity in the land, followed by seven years of great famine.  So Pharaoh makes Joseph a ruler in Egypt.  During the seven years of prosperity, much food is stored up, and they not only survive the seven years of famine, but their preparedness provides for the surrounding countryside.  Bottom line:  if the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and US—would give such a gift to Joseph, could he not give the same gift to one of us? 


Now you may have noticed that Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream was also a prophecy of a future event.  And that’s our second gift for today:  Prophecy (SLIDE #51)… 



That unique, God-given ability to receive an inspired message from God

and share it with others for the purposes of

encouragement, edification, or correction.


That God-given ability to receive a message from God and share it with others.   Now here’s where the skepticism comes in.  If someone walks up to you and says, “I have a message for you from God,” be honest.  What would you think?   What would you say?   I have had that happened to me with people that I know.   I have politely listened, but in my heart I have often questioned its validity.  Does that make me a bad person?  No.  Would that make YOU a bad person?   No, it just means that we are skeptical, that we have doubts about things we don’t understand.   Remember Thomas—unless I see the nail marks in His Hands, put my finger into the marks, and put my hand into His Side, I will not believe.  I guess doubting is part of being human.   


There are three types of prophecy (SLIDE #52).  Prophecies are given for correction, for encouragement, or for edification. 


Types of Prophecy






Jeremiah was a prophet of God for 40 years, but when Jeremiah spoke, nobody listened, because God’s message through Jeremiah was one of correction.  The nation was sliding quickly toward destruction.  They would eventually be conquered by Babylon, and all Jeremiah could say—from God—was this:  “Your wickedness will bring its own punishment.  Your turning from me will shame you.  You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon the Lord your God…  (2:19)     Some 50 years later Ezekiel becomes a prophet to the Jews in captivity in Babylon, and his message is this:  “I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.  Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean… I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you… (36:24-26)  A message of encouragement!   And finally, the prophet Jonah’s purpose was purely to show the extent of God’s grace, that salvation is for all people—his prophecy was for edification.  Remember the discourse between God and Jonah?  No one deserved God’s favor less then the people of Nineveh.  Jonah knew this.  But He also knew that God would forgive and bless them if they would turn from their sin and worship him.  But Jonah hated the people of Nineveh, so he ran from God.  He wasn’t going to help God save them!  And you know the rest of the story—the shipwreck, being swallowed by the whale, being taught a lesson, and finally delivering God’s message of repentance and love to the people of Nineveh


Earlier I told you that I was a skeptic when it comes to some of the gifts of the Spirit.  That’s not to say I didn’t believe, but that my trust is stronger than my belief.  Over the years there have been people who have come to me and others with prophecies for this place, that God would bless us, that we were doing God’s will, that He was pleased with us, that we had far to go.  But the one I want to share with you today came from someone most of us know:  the mural artist Keith Goodson.  He was up on hill working on the mural, he saw my car, and he came down and asked if he could see the church.  He walked in with me, looked around, took a few photos on his phone of the stained glass windows, the altar, the chapel, and we sat down in the back of the church for what became a defining moment for me. 


A Baptist by birth and non-denominational and somewhat Pentecostal by choice, Keith told me that God was going to renew His People through the Episcopal denomination right here in Lake Placid.  He said that he knew nothing about the Episcopal Church, but that he was sure about God’s message.   I asked him to write down what the Lord told him so I could in turn share it with the congregation.  He did, I shared it eight years ago, and here it is today:  (SLIDE #53).  (The entire prophecy is on the last page)


Prophetic Word for St. Francis

“There is a place that I am taking this church that has not yet been discovered. 

The place I take you to is familiar not to you

but to those that have gone before you, those that built this church

and the denomination in which it stands…”


This is a prophetic message I think of when we go through a difficult time in our little church and in the National Church as well.  We are covered by a God who loves us very, very much.


Moving on to another gift…in today’s reading from Romans Paul talks a lot about “the sinful flesh.”  He says, “For those who live according to the flesh, set their minds on the things of the flesh, …  the result is death, …the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God...  This was an opportunity to bring up the gift of Celibacy.  (SLIDE #54)



The gift of celibacy is that special ability that God gives

to certain members of the Body of Christ to remain single

and enjoy it and not suffer undue sexual temptations.


The gift of celibacy or chastity, as it is sometimes called, was a prominent gift of nuns and monks in the early church.   They took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  Part of the reason for celibacy, especially in priests, was an unhealthy understanding of physical intimate relationships; sex was considered bad and something to be avoided.  It was also believed that if a person was to dedicate his life to God, an intimate relationship with another person was wrong.  But the vow of celibacy wasn’t always the case for priests.  In fact priests in the Roman church could marry up until the eleventh century.  Many of us were taught that because Jesus wasn’t married and was celibate, priests were not allowed to marry and must therefore be celibate.  Nothing could be further from the truth.   One reason celibacy for priests in the Roman Church was enforced was because priests began to leave church property to their children in their wills.  So the church adopted the vow of celibacy, having nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus’ way of life and everything to do with a warped teaching regarding sex.


Sex in itself is a beautiful gift; God created it!   But as with other gifts from God, it can be misused.  And choosing to accept one gift may mean giving up something else.   Accepting the gift of voluntary poverty, for example, means giving up material wealth in order to have a deeper relationship with the Lord.   Accepting the gift of martyrdom means giving up your life for the eternal life to come.  And accepting the gift of celibacy means giving up something good, something wonderful in order to focus more on an intimate relationship with the Lord.  It’s about exercising self-control.  It’s about winning over temptation.     


Our last gift for today is Missionary (SLIDE #55) 



God gives natural and supernatural gifts to certain member of the Body of Christ.

Then God asks that those gifts be used in a second culture.


In this morning’s gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the sower.  He’s talking about those who go about sowing the word of God, places where results are realized and places with no results.  That’s probably the life of a missionary.  A missionary is one who embraces all the gifts that God has given him or her and uses those gifts in a second culture.   Second culture is the key here.  You don’t wake up one morning and say, “Oh, I think I’ll become a missionary.”  It’s a two-step process, if you will.   God gives whatever gifts necessary for whatever mission, and then God gives the desire to use those gifts somewhere outside the person’s normal place of existence.  My first thought is of Fr. Stephen and his wife Mary, our missionaries in Brazil.  Long before ordination, Fr. Stephen had taken a missionary journey to Brazil.  After ordination, even though he was the rector of a church in our diocese, he felt God’s call to go back to a place where God’s help was very much needed.  To those who have the gift of mission work, will be given also those gifts needed to truly make the presence of God known and felt in a most powerful way.   


So today we’ve added four gifts to our list.  (SLIDE #56)


Interpreting Dreams?   Prophecy?

Celibacy?  Missionary?

Lord, what do you have for me?

Where can you use me?

And how can I better serve you?


May your search be fruitful.  May you see God’s hand in the molding of your life.  And may you recognize the Spirit’s gifts prepared especially for you.



+ + +

Prophetic Word

for Saint Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church


Monday morning, September 21, 2009, while in prayer I received what I believe was a prophetic word concerning the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church.  Even though some of this word may be specifically for Saint Francis it can also be for a much larger audience.


There is a place where I am taking this church that has not yet been discovered.  The place I take you to is familiar not to you, but to those that have gone before you…. those that built this church and the denomination in which it stands.


A sure foundation has been laid and because of this foundation, I will tear down to build up upon it.  For even as I called my prophet, servant Jeremiah to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant, so too I have called you too in this generation to do the same. The word of the Lord SHALL be in your mouth.  It shall be these words that I rebuild upon what I have torn down.


For in this season, saith the Lord, it shall be that all that remains is that which was sure, upon the foundation of truth and righteousness (Hebrews 12:27).  For in these things are all things judged.  I say truly this day; I am rearranging that which would seem normal to many.  For that which seems normal is abnormal to me.  It shall be that out of this arrangement you shall find the path of assurance in this troubled time. Look not at what this world would call normal or that which the world would propagate.


For as you renew your mind with the mind of Christ, it shall prove to you what is His good, acceptable, and perfect will of the Father in heaven.  For do you not know that I have even the kings and priest in the palm of my hand, and that there is nothing that they or anyone can do to destroy what I have built?  Yet man in his infinite wisdom thinks he has the ability to chart his own destiny and even the destinies of others.  Wasn’t it I who spoke the words to my prophet Samuel and brought down the house, (the temple) of Eli and cut off his whole generation because of there perverse ways?  Wasn’t it I who spoke a word and sent Nebuchadnezzar to the fields to be like a beast?  Wasn’t it I that sent an angel from Heaven to strike Herod to a violent death because of his arrogance?  It is I who has the power to put kings in and take kings out.


This is not a time to be troubled or to be in mourning.  This is the time to lift up your head and rejoice, and know that I will vindicate my people from the atrocities that they have and will suffer.  Come and separate yourselves to me and I will be the Shepherd of your field.  I will be the One that will stand and call you by name.  For did I not say that my sheep know Me by My Voice? Take comfort in that fact that I have prepared a place for you, a place of covering, and a place of shelter.


It shall be in this season of time that I will show a side of me to this denomination that shall be the pillars to that which I will build my church upon.  They will be the strength and the power to withstand anything that would cause division or turmoil. The time has come that I will send my spirit in such a way that it would be undeniable to both the believer and the unbeliever.  It will come even as those that waited on the One, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit in the day of Pentecost, clothed with power the power to resist the world and its ways, the power to build a stronger church and see that it is uncompromising and one that walks in purity.  For I am coming back for a bride, a spotless bride.

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