WHY DID YOU PUBLISH THE 23 BOOK?
The story that frames the background of the 23 book began officially in 2001. God awoke me and asked me to do something that if I would have known at the time what it was going to cost me, I may have joined Jonah in running the opposite direction. But like God does with all of us, He spoon fed me incrementally the calling that He placed in my life at 1:23am on an early February morning in 2001.
As you read the book, the story spans from 2001 and culminates in 2006. Those five plus years almost six, I was consumed by the “Lord did you really say this to me?” syndrome. I doubted everything I could about me, God, His church, and just about everything else about my life. I felt like I was losing my mind, my faith, my courage, and even at times my will to live. Nothing seemed to make sense to me and certainly God was at the most confusing epic center of my experiences. I was angry, afraid, confused, anxious, and consumed by the question, “God, why did you pick me?” Over time that question turned into, “God did you really pick me or did I just make all this up in my head to make myself feel like I matter to you and your kingdom?”
When the truth finally came out in 2006 I was “happy” that I had heard from God but what kind of person is “happy” that another person had fallen publically as the man did in my story? What kind of demented vengeance seeking person had I become? Over the next almost decade I limped along doing what God asked me to do while in the back of mind and mostly in my heart struggling with the question, “God, what was the point?”
My new friend, the man, didn’t repent. I did everything I could to try and get him to realize that repentance was the best option and direction that he should go. But in the end, he chose to not listen, to walk away from accountability, and even come after me to ruin my reputation. For a decade I mulled over in my mind the point of the story and the point of why God called me into such a whirlwind of a story and asked me to run toward the burning building, knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to rescue him from the years of choices he had made to bring him to this point.
I fretted, I tried to make sense of it, but then I just gave up. But what I found happening in my heart is that I was slowly dying inside. My passion to do what God asked me to do waned and I felt the fire of my commitment to him dying. I guess you could say, “I kept serving God faithfully on the outside, but on the inside I was no longer sure any of this really mattered.” It is still hard for me to admit such an unfaithful attitude when the Lord Jesus had done so much for me.
Somewhere along the way I felt like if I was going to overcome the darkness that was eclipsing the light of my faith I was going to have to put in writing what I had experienced in hopes of making sense of it for myself and getting some sort of relief and direction for the future of my life in light of my past dealings with the man. If I did not take the time to put this in writing I am not sure I would continue today to use the gift of prophesy that God has entrusted to me. My calling was on the line here and I knew I needed to get free from the miserable sense that nothing I do for God really matters anyway.
So, I wrote it out. As I rekindled my memory with my journals, the emotion was so great I had to write in incremental moments similar to how God revealed his truth to me in this situation, little by little. Over time, which seemed like an eternity, I finally got it on paper. For the first time in my life it was out on paper and I didn’t have to use my memory or heart to keep up with the feelings and thoughts I felt from this experience. I could finally rest in the fact that it was on paper and I could come back to it as often as I needed to in order to try and get a sense of how to release it to God and move on.
As I wrestled through these emotions and thoughts from my past, God began to show me that His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts. He began to reveal to me that His plan was never thwarted like the story of Job. He showed me that He was in charge all along and He knew the outcome would be the outcome. Then I wondered out loud, “Lord, then why all the pain for seemingly no repentance or good purpose?”
Slowly piece by piece God began to show me that His holiness matters to Him even if it doesn’t matter to us, his leaders, or even His church for that matter. It matters to Him and like Jeremiah, He calls us to stand against the lethargy of the day and declare the truth of who He is even if everyone else shouts, “Be quiet!”
But that wasn’t all God wanted to reveal. He also began to show me that the story that “the man” and his wife shared publicly not unlike the story of Ahab and Jezebel was a fabricated lie when they stole Naboth’s vineyard and killed Naboth, then the prophet Elijah had to stand against the evil of the day so the nation of Israel realized God’s truth and holiness matter to God even if it doesn’t matter to anyone else including leadership.
God showed me that whether or not the man repented, His holiness mattered to Him and He expected it to matter to others who claimed the name of Jesus. I watched the man reject my help. I watched him choose to deny what he had once confessed as true and walk away. It turns out I wasn’t the only one tormented from 2001-2006. His lack of repentance led him to seek out other means to fulfill the sinful pleasures of his flesh and on the day of reckoning an unbelieving gay prostitute was used by God to do what he wouldn’t allow the church to do. I am reminded of this simple truth that we see over and over in Scripture. When we don’t allow the church to address the sin in our camps, God will use the world to hold the church leadership accountable. God did this often with the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. When Israel wouldn’t listen He would raise up one of the pagan nations like the Chaldeans during the time of Habbakkuk in chapter 1…
5 “Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told.
6 For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
that bitter and hasty nation,
who march through the breadth of the earth,
to seize dwellings not their own.
7 They are dreaded and fearsome;
their justice and dignity go forth from themselves.
8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
more fierce than the evening wolves;
their horsemen press proudly on.
Their horsemen come from afar;
they fly like an eagle swift to devour.
9 They all come for violence,
all their faces forward.
They gather captives like sand.
10 At kings they scoff,
and at rulers they laugh.
They laugh at every fortress,
for they pile up earth and take it.
11 Then they sweep by like the wind and go on,
guilty men, whose own might is their god!”
Habakkuk’s Second Complaint
12 Are you not from everlasting,
O Lord my God, my Holy One?
We shall not die.
O Lord, you have ordained them as a judgment,
and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof.
13 You who are of purer eyes than to see evil
and cannot look at wrong,
why do you idly look at traitors
and remain silent when the wicked swallows up
the man more righteous than he?
14 You make mankind like the fish of the sea,
like crawling things that have no ruler.
15 He[a] brings all of them up with a hook;
he drags them out with his net;
he gathers them in his dragnet;
so he rejoices and is glad.
16 Therefore he sacrifices to his net
and makes offerings to his dragnet;
for by them he lives in luxury,[b]
and his food is rich.
17 Is he then to keep on emptying his net
and mercilessly killing nations forever?
Eventually God uses the world to judge the church when the church refuses to address sin in its camp. God is holy and He expects us not to be perfect but to be holy. Respecting holiness is when we believe that God demands repentance and if we do not offer repentance for our sin He brings judgement.
I wanted my new friend to repent. I wanted a happy story. I wanted to see tangible evidence that the suffering I had endured at the hands of this vision had paid off and brought about redemption but that was not to be the case. It is hard to imagine that God gets glory out of unrepentant people but the Bible teaches that God will receive glory either through the unrepentant or the repentant. We see this in Romans 9…
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[b] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
Moses was repentant. Pharaoh was not.
God shows mercy on the believing repentant and he shows wrath on the unrepentant but either way His power is made known and where God’s power is made known His glory is established.
The story of my friend shows that God was longsuffering. He wishes all to repent. This is what the Scriptures teach us. But we have a choice. We can walk away. And though my friend wants to paint a story that no one tried to help him. I am one of many I have learned over the years that went to help him. God is a longsuffering God and He has compassion over people much longer than us but eventually He brings judgment and He will use the world if the church won’t listen to do the work of Jesus. This is a hard pill to swallow but one I have now accepted.
As difficult as it has been for me to get to this place, I accept that whether my new friend repented or ever repents God’s glory is made known. If we repent, his mercy is seen and He receives the glory. If we don’t repent, his wrath is seen and He receives the glory. This is a hard pill to swallow but it is God’s way and His will.
As I began to settle this in my heart I discovered as people read this story that I wasn’t the only one who had done hard things for God and hadn’t seen the result they were looking for. My story began to give others hope and getting to hear how God eventually brought the truth to light gave others hope. Strangely enough, as my story began to restore hope in others who read it, it began to restore hope in me that it didn’t matter what the outcome was because ultimately God receives the glory either way.
I wonder how many people out there have given up on God because they stood against the sin of a powerful person who claimed the name of Jesus and they got eaten alive for it. They haven’t seen the resolve I have seen. They haven’t had the opportunity to see it play out on such a public stage. And because of this they are losing hope or have lost hope and are giving up on doing what God has asked them to do. Their faith is waning and they need to be reminded that God’s holiness matters and that eventually He will get the glory one way or the other. They need to hear, “What you did for God STILL matters. God sees you. God is with you. God is STILL FOR you.”
Because I saw how this was helping others and myself. I felt prompted to contact publishers and see if this is a story that could potentially help others whom I have never met and may never meet. What dark corners of the world are people hunkered down in wondering if the risks they have taken to expose sin and welcome people into repentance was worth it?
This book, this story, is the ring God asked me to carry and yes, like Frodo, I have said, and I am sure I will say again before it is all said and done, “I wish this ring would have never come to me.” And then I hear those wise words from Gandoff, “So do ALL who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that was given to us.”
I didn’t pick this, it picked me. But now I must see it through for the Glory of Jesus. I must carry this ring to “Mordor” so to speak. Sadly, many have tried to silence my voice in publishing this book. I don’t know another human’s motives, but I do know what God has asked me to do for the church and this is a huge part of it, I sense. So, I had to see this through. I can’t say I wanted to publish this book. I can’t say I “needed” to publish this book. What I now know is, If I was going to be obedient to God like the original 1:23am prompting, I HAD to publish this book if I was going to do what God asked me to do.
It is my hope this book can be used to encourage you to do what God has asked you to do and just maybe restore accountability to His church.
It is my prayer that the reoccurring symbol of 23 that is now a redemptive reminder will become a symbol that will launch a revival in the heart of God’s prophets. Not unlike the time when after Elijah stood against Ahab one day and then the next day He wanted to die. It is recorded in 1 Kings 19…
I Kings 19:1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” 8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
The Lord Speaks to Elijah
9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.[a]13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
It is my prayer that my story will remind the Elijahs of the world that they are NOT the only one standing for the holiness of God regardless of what it costs them but that God has (so to speak) 7000 more prophets who refuse to bow the knee and kiss the hand of Satan in hopes of experiencing the “success” of the church today especially in America. It is my prayer that this book launches a revival in the hearts of God’s prophets and that the church of God will listen to the prophets of God so that the Lord doesn’t have to raise up the pagan world to judge them, but ultimately, either way, God will receive the glory.
Use us God for your glory REGARDLESS of the outcome and may we not fear the consequences of being used by you but anticipate the crowning glory we will receive when we hear you say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
I am glad God didn’t reveal to me all that He would require of me when this journey began. However, I can say now looking back over the past 17 years, I am glad to have served my Lord in such a way. I consider all that I have lost along the way worth the glory my Savior has received through the truth of His Word being triumphant, even if it isn’t the “happy” ending I was looking for when I set out on this journey.
I am reminded of the words of the ancient prophet Samuel when Saul sacrificed “for” God but was disobedient in his actions. Saul had the spirit of religion but had lost his real relationship with God. Samuel says to him, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” What was Samuel saying to Saul? Possibly he was saying, “What I have given up for God can never excuse me from my responsibility to simply do what He has told me to do.” I pray this is the same for you as we each bear upon our bodies the marks that show our surrender to Him. May you be inspired to do whatever God tells you do and know that along the way that the outcome regardless of what it is, will bring glory to God. And in the end, God’s glory is ALL that matters.
Say with me, “Speak God and we will obey for your glory regardless of the outcome!”
If you would like to read The Mystery of 23: God Speaks book, go to amazon.com/author/pastorkelly