Thursday, December 27, 2007

In the Name of Jesus

I remember when I first moved to Alabama from Michigan how strange it seemed to me that people would say "In Jesus' name...Amen" at civic meetings, school functions, and other non-religious settings. Aside from the being politically correct perspective, I saw it as belittling the Gospel. There is power in the name, and that power should be respected and revered.

In church functions (outside of Sunday worship) a blessing for food or whatever event that was about to happen would always end with "in Jesus' name...amen". I guess that there is certainly some sincerity when invoking the name of Jesus for many, yet at times it's as if these are the standard words to say when finishing a blessing or prayer. I reflect upon being raised Roman Catholic and how every prayer would begin and end with making the sign of the cross. I said "In the name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, amen" so often, and with such routine that it held very little meaning. Maybe it's just me but when it becomes ritual rather than passion-filled, it shouldn't be said at all.

I have been praying to The Father in the name of Jesus lately. I have been believing that whatever a true follower asks in the name of Jesus will be granted. The question that begs to be asked is whether I'm a true follower. I look to John 14: 8-21 for what Jesus said about asking for things in his name. To me, it's clear that Jesus tells the disciples to do as he commands, live as he lived, and ask for anything in his name and it will be done. I don't live as He lived. None of us do.

If I want a team to win, should I invoke the name of Jesus to grant our team a victory? If I'm hoping for a good parking spot at the mall should I invoke the name of Jesus because I'm too lazy to walk a few more feet? Of course not. These aren't the things that Jesus meant. Yet, people flippantly mutter the words "In Jesus' name" with little respect to what it means.

There is so much power in the name that it should be respected and revered. I'm growing to believe that I should call upon the name of Jesus only after much prayer and spiritual preparation before seeking His remedies to life's issues. Only after bowing one's head in humility can His name be proclaimed with authority.

These are the reflections of one in the healing ministry who is witness to, and awed by the power of the name of Jesus Christ. My hope is that this perspective isn't mine alone.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

In Awe of The Christ Child

December 25 is the day we celebrate the birth of Our Saviour. It is the day we recognize that the world would never be the same without Him. For me, it is as if I'm there, a shepherd, spoken to by angels, rushing to behold first hand this great moment. Jesus is born.

Two thousand years later, it is as if I'm there. The miracle of birth. The miracle of miracles, that God would become vulnerable infant. At a time when most newborns barely have a chance, this child comes to the world triumphant from the moment of The prophecies are fulfilled this night.

With His birth, comes a rebirth in me. With His birth, comes new hope, new direction, a new future...because God became man at this time. And the Gospels of Matthew and Luke give every detail.

May we all gain a new, refreshed, perspective on Christmas this year. May we be humbled by the reminder that God became flesh so that He could better appreciate our lots in life. May we be drawn closer to Him by virtue of Him trusting Himself to mere humans for nurturing and upbringing. I am renewed at this very Christmas. I am renewed in 2007. God became man for me...and for you. Let us not forget this.

May the joy of being a Christian envelope, surround, and uplift each of us in our faith, and move us to share this glorious event to those who do not know of it.

In the name of The Most Holy One I pray....on Christmas day...I pray.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Answered Prayers - Praise God!

I got a call a few moments ago from my brother. He said, "Tell all your praying friends from church, and your town, and the Internet, and everybody everywhere...thank you for your prayers. It's not cancer!"

Thank you, Father, for hearing our prayers.
Thank you, Jesus, for it's in your name we pray.
Thank you, Holy Spirit, for making our prayers complete by picking up where our mere humanity leaves off.

Thank you, so many of you, from the bottom of my heart for your prayers and encouragement through these past weeks of terror and uncertainty. Bro' is going to be fine after healing from the holes they put in his head.

To put this in perspective, his initial prognosis was "grim". The mass in his brain was growing and nearly to the point where motor function was threatened before they took a biopsy. From the time that biopsy was taken a week ago...until today....countless prayers were lifted up for the matter to be dead, non-threatening, and for Bro' to have a full recovery. God answered those prayers and in my estimation delivered nothing short of a miracle.

In the love of Christ...again...
Thank you all.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

We take a back seat to God's itenerary

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above.
With wisdom, power and love,
Our God is an awesome God.

Those were the words sung at tonight's praise and worship service. They were sang at the beginning and the end...and they are so true! Our God is an awesome God.

What can be added to that? I can add that two people were changed forevermore with their love for Christ. They came to the alter and prayed. They prayed like they never-before have prayed. I was moved to pray with them both and each said that they have lived without Christ in their lives until now. I'm so awed by how He shows Himself to each individual, one at a time. Our God, is an awesome God.
In the love of Christ..

Saturday, December 15, 2007

When it Becomes Personal

I've been in the healing ministry for 3 years now. I've seen many marvels and wonders of Our Lord's grace and mercy. I'm utterly awed by what He has done. Again, utterly awed. But now it's personal. My brother has a brain tumor. I pray, and pray, and pray. I get to the point where I don't know what to pray for, but I continue to pray. I pray that God can do anything, at any time, and His will will be done. I pray.
Please, dear readers of this blog...pray. Pray that God's will can be affected by prayer. Join me in prayer for my brother. I don't feel worthy of asking this...but it is a big world, and a big sacrifice that Jesus made for each and every one of us. Join me in prayer.
Thank you!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Are There Christians in Japan?

I write this after visiting Google Analytics and see that there are no visitors to this blog from Japan. I must ask...are there no Christians in Japan?

People from Asia, in general, visit. People from non-Chinese portions of the far east visit. I just wonder about Japan. Is there no healing from God happening in Japan? I believe that it is...just under-reported. If there is an English speaking Japanese follower of this blog...speak up!

I love Japan. I love the things that come from this great country. does every American. We buy Japanese. We don't always want to, but it is irresistible when price and value are mixed together. We buy Japanese....and Chinese, and whatever comes across the Pacific. Are there any Japanese who watch this blog? Just wondering.

Peace, a Gift From God

At our weekly praise and worship service I had occasion to talk about peace, that is, the fruit of the Holy Spirit as mentioned in Galatians:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." (Galatians 5:22)

When discussing peace I used examples of people who come to healing services. They are always distraught, tense, apprehensive, and yet, willing to come. We anoint them with oil, praise God, and pray. Fervently, we pray. And like a recipe, well worked out, peace comes. It comes with such joy and love, and other fruits of the Holy Spirit that it is something to be at wonder and awe about when given. Peace is a gift. A gift from God.

I reflect upon a man with leukemia who came for healing prayer. He came out of desperation for his condition. We praised God, and then we prayed. At a moment, the prayer stopped and his face was aglow with the peace that can only come from God. He received the gift of peace.

Another woman at another time came for prayer. She suffers from fibermyalgia and her body is in total pain all the time. She had a spirit of depression that overcame her. Yet, she came for healing prayer. God was praised, and she was prayed for. At a moment, she was released from her depression and found peace. Peace that is the gift of God.

All too often we wait until we've used up all our physical resources before we turn to God. Can we learn to turn to God first? Regardless of whether it's after much suffering or at the beginning of a period of suffering...if we can only learn to turn to God earlier than later we can receive a gift....that gift of peace.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

To Whom Do We Pray

In a discussion group the other day we were studying how and to whom we pray...or should pray. It was interesting to draw distinctions about the triune godhead, and in making that distinction, coming to some conclusion as to where our prayers should be directed. The upshot to all this is that we pray to God, the father, in the name of the son, Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the past that was a difficult notion for me having been raised Roman Catholic, where it is common practice to pray to saints, that they will appeal to Jesus, who in turn appeals to The Father on our behalf. Those RC roots instill a sense of timidity such that one may not feel worthy of appealing to God, the father, directly.

As a proud protestant, I now look to Jesus as my high priest. I no longer feel timid such that I need anyone other than Jesus to intervene on my behalf. Most of the time I hearken back to the words of Christ when he said that when I ask things of The Father, in His name, my prayers will be heard. That tells me to direct my prayers to God, the father, in the name of Jesus.

There's a freedom that comes from this realization. And a power. If one embraces the words of Christ, He always said that nothing He did was of himself, rather, it was doing the will of The Father. And when asked, "how should we pray", the prayer we call The Lord's Prayer was His response.

This contemplation may seem juvenile but for me, of late, it's been a revelation in my empowerment in my ministry...and an enlightenment in my intellect that has been long overdue. Praise God, the father, in the name of Jesus Christ, the son, through the power of the Holy Spirit...amen.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Holy Spirit Invades

Tonight I went to a local church that was holding a prayer vigil for a boy diagnosed with terminal cancer. Tears were flowing (including mine) as people prayed for the boy. He is now at St. Jude's in Memphis and prayers were lifted up for him. But, the Holy Spirit convicted me to testify to the congregation that God listens to our prayers. I took the microphone and testified to the marvels and wonders of Our Lord as I've been witness to in the past. I spoke the words of God to this gathering. I didn't intend to, but His words invaded my personality, invaded my plans, invaded my very existence such that I couldn't contain myself. I spoke the words of the Holy Spirit. We prayed...deeply...we prayed.

I'm humbled by the presence of the Holy Spirit at times like these. May God's will be done...and be done AFTER hearing the prayers and supplications of His followers.
Afterthought: My heart is torn by the love that this boy has for Christ. May God's grace and mercy intervene in his situation. And may his victory over this malady bring new followers to Christ. I pray. Lord knows...I pray. Please join me in praying for Lucas...only 9 years old.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Moved by Praise and Worship

Tonight, I saw the faces of young and old, praising and worshiping our Risen Saviour. I was moved to see arms lifted in praise, arms lifted in worship, arms lifted in deep, personal praise. Did I say I was moved?

Our little church has opened it's doors to those who want to come together in praise and worship. I saw it again tonight. There were only 40 there, but it could have been hundreds and the feeling of praise for Jesus would have not been anyway diminished. I was awed.

I encourage all who may read this blog to open your doors to praise and worship experiences. They are wonderful and at the same time without explanation. Praising God is a wonderful thing. It is never without the expression of glory to the name....glory to the purpose...never without granting that God loves us more than we can know. Praise and worship HIM...and you will never fall short. Praise Him!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Spiritual Arrogance

In my previous post I made reference to me being humbled from a sense of spiritual arrogance. I have a reluctance to post on this, yet a compelling urge to speak to it. What is spiritual arrogance? In my view, it is having the self-view that you have insights into God's will that are more true and convicted that that of other believers who truly seek God's revelation in their lives. I'm drawn to look at the prophetic movement. I'm drawn to look at the healing ministry. I'm drawn to look to those who believe that God speaks uniquely through them, at the expense of others to whom God speaks. I call those who think that they have the unique gift of discerning God's will at this time and in whatever place they may come clean. I feel it is pandering to the crowd.

I study the word-faith movement and see patterns that are somewhat suspicious. Did you know that in every state where there is a "conference" that God reveals a distinct prophecy that that state will receive a special movement in the faith? There will be a special revival in that state that is unique to that state. It will make that state the source of world revival. C'mon.

Does the term "manipulated masses" ring true? I know that if a world famous evangelist said that where I live is where the world will look for revelation, it would be a really cool thing to behold. I might even get so caught up in the notion that I'd write a big check to help that happen. But it's snake oil sales and nothing more.

In the healing ministry, I see those who only come to offer healing services if their "honorarium" is met, and they are given no restrictions on how many love offerings are to be made. Sounds like a good business plan to me. It all comes down to spiritual arrogance, where some individual makes themselves out to be the only true discerner of the will of God. I get appalled!

Personally, I'm guilty of this same, but different, spiritual arrogance. While not financially predatory, it is an ego-driven demon that at times overwhelms me. It says...." are the reason this person is healed." I thank God that He opens my eyes to see the fallacy of this thinking. I thank God that he knocks me down and says that I'm making it about me rather than Him. I thank God that today...and every day...I'm not spiritually arrogant. I'm just a humble servant...who sometimes gets awed by God's glory, and foolishly think I have something to do with it.

I'm not arrogant. I'm not spiritually arrogant. But, I'm tempted. Temptation isn't a bad thing. Jesus was tempted...but he did not give in to it. I pray that I continue not to give into it. I entertain temptations, but always, by the grace of God, turn from them. May I, and all in the healing ministry, do the same.

When God Puts Someone On Your Heart

This past week I had occasion to have the physical needs of two people put on my heart in a special way. One is related to me...the other, a member of a local congregation. Both, have brain tumors. The prognosis for one is not yet determined, the other, dismal. Allow me to share the dismal case.

At our Wednesday night rehearsal and planning session for our praise and worship service, a local Baptist pastor came in the door and waved me over to speak with him. He said that a 9 year old who they thought had viral encephalitis was just diagnosed with a brain tumor and would be moved to another hospital in Birmingham, AL. He said that God told him to come tell me and that he felt led that I would consent to go to the hospital that's 45 minutes away and pray for him. I pray every morning that God leads me to the people for whom he wants me to pray for His mercies and healing. I couldn't resist saying yes, as that is an answered prayer. We drove to the hospital, getting there a little after 9pm, and went into the child's room. We visited shortly then the minister anointed the child with oil, read some scripture, then asked me to pray for him. I led us in prayer, laid hands upon him, and told him stories of people being healed by having faith in Jesus Christ. I told him that God gives us all that we need to deal with whatever life throws our way. I assured him that Jesus knew him personally, and hears his and his family's prayers, and takes them to the Father. Then we left.

The next day when he was transferred to a bigger and more qualified hospital the findings of the biopsy were that he should make arrangements to have the best Christmas it may be his last. This tumor is so intertwined in his brain tissue that surgery is out of the question. He is undergoing experimental chemical treatments, the side effects of which are tortuous and as of yet still unpredictable. I was devastated and broken hearted for this child.

It was then that I started to truly pray for him. When I visited him in the hospital, it was a bit awkward, and almost a bit contrived. Mind you, I prayed with all that was in me at the time, but it was the next day that I truly felt an intercession on his behalf. And it is now that I feel that same intercession for him. He occupies my consciousness always, and my spirit is intermingled with his wellbeing. I fall prostrate before Our Lord on his behalf. I know that now God is hearing God is God is showing His mercy to that boy and his family. I know it. Why? Because NOW, I'm truly praying for him.

I lift up this boy in the morning, noon and night. Tears well up as I pray for his healing. I know Our God is a merciful god. I can do nothing to wield His power, but do everything to pray for His mercy. The plight of this boy has knocked out the stilts I thought I was walking upon. It's knocked out my own feet. I fall prostrate before Our Lord in intercession on his behalf. While I cannot discern the will of God, I know that He hears my prayers better now than when I visited the boy in the hospital. He has broken me of arrogance. He has broken me of self. He has broken me for this child. May I remain broken and dependent upon the love and mercy of Our Lord.

Then there's the family member with a brain tumor. My heart is broken for him. It's broken for his wife and children. They will biopsy the tumor in a little over a week and the surgical team will know where to go from there. He and I have mature conversations about faith, the universe, and the grander scheme of things. I'm in awe as to the strength he is showing throughout all of this uncertainty. In over 50 years of being everything that brothers are...I'm in awe of the person he's become.

I pray that I can make the expensive trip to see him and be with him before the verdict is in on his condition. I've been there for him in the past, as he has been there for me. But now, I seek God's presence, more than mine, to be there with him. And I'm sure that it is. precious. eternal. Life...I pray for life for these two. It is only in God's will how these two lives will be lived, but I know that God loves to hear us lift up others...He loves to hear the choir more than a solo...He loves to know that we love through the example of His son, Jesus Christ. May I continually grow to have that same, selfless, compassionate love that Jesus had for those he encountered. I pray, Father God, that your son, Jesus, tells you of our petitions. I pray, Holy Spirit, that you provide the words to The Father that my mere human mind cannot come up with. I pray, with all that is in me, that when Thy Will Be Done, it be a merciful will; it be a compassionate will; it be a will that leads others to know of the sacrifice of your son, Jesus. I pray.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Breakfast Tears

Yesterday morning I met with friends for the weekly Tuesday breakfast. There are 4 to 5 couples who meet each week and I just love the fellowship. The men sit together and yap about things...while the women sit together and yap about things. I typically sit with the women, as I love being around women.

Conversation drifted to God's awesome power and how He answers prayers. I saw that one woman, Judy, had a walker next to her seat. It's the first time I'd seen her with a walker rather than a wheelchair in over a year. I shared with her how our entire church erupted into applause when sharing the news that she can finally walk again and that many, many peoples prayers for her had been answered. She held my hand and wept tears of joy. She said that she felt all the prayers and is so humbled and grateful that people thought to lift her up. Me and 4 ladies raised our hands in praise right there on the spot!

Next, Val (another of the ladies) and I were sharing concern over a woman who has many, many serious physical maladies. She said that this woman's problems made her think of her daughter and the battles with illness that she fights on a daily basis. Suddenly she stopped talking. She held out her arms and invited me to hold her. As we embraced she said..."Next time she's here we're going to call you so that we can all pray together". I told her I'd be honored to pray with her and her daughter. Val said, "You're making me cry. I should have brought her to prayer a year ago...I just never thought to do it."

Val and I continued in conversation about how when we pray for other people - deeply, sincerely pray - God takes you to another place. She said that in those rare times of deep prayer God takes her out of this world and into another. When she comes back the problems that were there before are gone. And if they're not gone...they're just not problems anymore. She held my hands and said that we need to take her daughter there. She asked me if it were Christmas day when she was there would it be OK to call me then. We just looked into each other's eyes and both nodded yes. We were both crying.

Two of the 4 women had brought their husbands to healing services within the past year. Both of their husbands received God's mercy, grace, and healing. We've all shared tears before - just never at breakfast at the Bulldog Grill. I couldn't have imagined a better way to start the day.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Different Styles of Healing Prayer

I'm not a "name it and claim it" type of Christian. At times I think that it is because I lack spiritual maturity or authority. At other times I think that it's because God is using me where I am to the best of my ability in His service. But a true self-assessment reveals that I'm humble. I'm humbled that God uses me for His healing. I'm humbled that I, so undeserving, can pray for someone and He answers that prayer. I don't command healing, rather, I supplicate for it. I don't wield God's power, rather, I ask that He wields His power. I just can't come to tell someone that they are healed...because I don't have that knowledge. The one asking for healing, and God, have that knowledge.

Oh, please, don't get me wrong. There are times when I'm tempted to say, "You're healed". But I don't...if I'm not led to do so. I blogged a while back about an incident where I was totally uncomfortable for an afternoon while visiting with relatives...and one was sick. I couldn't leave without having healing prayer for her and when I prayed, God said to me...."it is done". It wasn't me wielding the power of God, rather, it was Him wielding me to be His hands and be the deliverer of His mercy. There is a difference.

I never ask for a report card for God. I never ask "do you feel better?". I know that people are very open to suggestion when confronted with devastating circumstances in their health and wellbeing. I pray when asked to, and I supplicate when asked to, and I stand back and watch as God reveals his grace and mercy in the lives of those who come to Him. When they testify, without my beckoning it, I'm as awed as they are. When they testify, without my beckoning it, they are speaking about how their situation has changed and everyone there is mutually in awe of the power of prayer; the power of faith; the power of love, as the recorded words of Jesus Christ said: "I do nothing that isn't the will of the Father".

I simply cannot say: "You are healed." I cannot. But I can say: "Praise God...He has shown His mercy on you". I'm a spectator...and an intercessor...but not a commander of God's will. I bow before His throne. And pray that He is making a worthy servant of me. All glory to Father God.

Burning Up With The Holy Spirit

In the forestry business, prescribed burns are something that happens when a landowner or forest management company determines that there is too much undesired competition in the tree plantation for the trees to mature to give the best possible yield. They set fire to the land beneath the trees and let the wind guide the controlled flames to burn out everything undesirable. The trees then have new nutrition, and less competition to their growth.

Our lives are like tree plantations...and we can get a prescribed burn. At times there are too many undesirable things happening within us to foster our growth for maximum yield. There's a flame that can come into our lives and burn out these competitors to our spiritual maturity. It's name is the Holy Spirit. When we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives it will burn away anxiety, burn away selfishness, burn away resentment, burn away temptation and burn away sin. And when we fan that fire it will fire us up for deeper love, fire us up for greater service, fire us up for better relationships and fire us up for spreading the Good News that Jesus paved the way to glory in heaven.

My prescription just ran out...time to get it renewed!

Sermon On The Fly

This morning I went to a local church where they meet one hour earlier than my home church. My mission was to invite them to our praise & worship service this evening. I'd preached at this church before. When I walked in the door I was greeted with "Good, we've got a preacher after all". I thought they were kidding me, but no. Their pastor took the week off for holiday.

I asked if they were serious about wanting a sermon and they said that they weren't going to let me leave without one. I had prepared a sermon for our Sunday night service, and why I brought a copy of it with me to visit that church is beyond me. We all agreed that it was the Holy Spirit who put that sermon in my hands as I left this morning, because He knew it would be needed before tonight!

As I was leaving I thanked them for giving me an opportunity to do a first run with tonight's sermon...and asked them to come tonight to see the more polished version. God works in mysterious ways!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Church Sign Power

A person I'd hoped would attend our praise and worship service miraculously showed up. After the service as we met to plan and work out the details for the next one, she stayed, and is now part of the team. I told her that I was happy she came, and somewhat surprised to see her. She said, "I drove past the sign every day, and each day it said, 3 days to go, then 2, then 1, I just had to come because it was like it was talking to me." Wow!

I'm the "sign guy" and I make sure there's something relevant on that sign every week. I have two books; 701 Sentence Sermons, and Another 701 Sentence Sermons by L. James Harvey that I like to refer to for inspiration. At times when there isn't a lot of church activity to advertise, I get out the books and find something that hopefully inspires Godly thoughts. Our sign only has three rows for letters so it cannot accommodate a lot of words. That rules out most of the "sign sermons" as most are rather wordy. Still, there are some gems that fit right nicely. Some of my favorites are:





And this one that won't fit on our sign:


And some that our congregation have requested:






I love this sign ministry. It's been over a year since I've asked our church for ideas for the sign. I think I'll do it again this Sunday.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wake Up Call

We had our first praise and worship service last night and I have to admit that I've never understood the dynamics of such services. They are so different from what happens in traditional "church on Sunday mornings". Probably what moved me most were the tears. Tears of joy and love and praise. And...the tears of guilt and sorrow and submission. Tears.

In the midsts of seeing others cry, to my amazement, I felt tears flowing down my own cheeks. Prior to and after giving the message, I stood in the back of the church gazing upon the backs of those attending. Their hands were lifted in praise. They looked up...looked down...but not all around. How deeply were their spirits immersed in praise and worship!

I've denied my worship experience this type of deep praise until last night. No more. I want more. More importantly, I yearn to be used more as a servant in helping to bring others to know the joy that comes from praising the name of Jesus. Sorry, Jesus, that I've not had my eyes opened to the joy that comes from praising your name in this manner until now. Thank you, Jesus, for having patience with me and trusting that you'd get through to me someday. Today's the day. I woke up today with you - and only you - on my mind. What JOY!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Never Done it Before.....

Our little, tiny congregation hosted an interdenomitational praise and worship service tonight. We had about 30 to attend. It was utterly awesome! Mind you, this is in a town of about 550 people, and to have 30 was a blessing. But I'm in utter awe as to the numbers. I' m in utter awe as to those who attended. It was awesome to see those who attended.
Fifteen people came to the alter, to regive their lives to Jesus. I was moved beyond comprehension...moved by their prayers. Moved by their lust, for Jesus to have a role in their lives. Moved beyond words.

So, without words that exactly describe...I thank, JESUS, for what you have done tonight. Thank you, Jesus.

Your humble servant.....

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Conduit

My Google Alerts brought me this account of a child being healed of cerebral palsy. I read it and was awed by how people's faith can lead to healing. But then, I reflect on how Jesus said time and again, "your faith has made you whole", or "your faith has healed him".

Those in the healing ministry are not the healers, but a conduit for God's mercy and grace. A conduit must be the optimum connection between two sources. Copper is a better conduit than many other metals for electricity. A sinful, submissive believer is a better conduit for God's healing power than a sinful non-believer. If it were possible to be a sinless believer, that would be the best conduit. Jesus was just that. He was sinless and as such The Father's power worked perfectly through Him.

I pray that in my ministry I be as sinless as I can. When I succumb to sin because of my humanity, may my confessions cleanse me and transform me into an ideal conduit. May I have faith in the power of the blood of Jesus that I no longer carry the burden of sins forgiven, but look to the future with a cleansed soul, ready to take on a servant's spirit. May we all learn to accept the forgiveness of sins, and move forward in service to Our Lord.

Old Poem

Who can speak, but one who's been
A guest at times, in Satan's den.
Be it felon or liar
Having done or conspire
To go against God - against sin.

I for one have had temptations
That grew to sin through lack of patience
No time to embrace
God's sweet, gentle grace
But to go against God - against sin.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wolves Part Two

We've been friends of wolves for a number of years. There was a wolf puppy den in a neighboring county where when the wolves were of age, they would be adopted. It was a Native American thingie. But when there were wolves who weren't adopted, but they came of age and had natural instincts kicking in, they were killed. A collection of Native Americans saw this as terrible and raided this kennel in the middle of the night and brought 16 wolves to a place that was better than where they were. That's when we were first introduced to being a family for wolves. Haven't turned back since.

They are the most misunderstood, and most feared canines. If I cannot end my day with a lick from a wolf...I'm unsatisfied. Our fellow creatures are so misunderstood, and so loving, that it is a crime that they are in the situation that they are. Someday, they will be understood, and accepted. Till then...we will be a haven for such.

We're all God's creatures...humans, dogs, cats, wolves, lions, all. Can we find a way to all get along? If I don't need you to have food, let live. If you don't need me to have food...let live. If we don't need anything other than ourselves to let live...then let us let live. May we never put bounty on this wonderful creature, as there is a special spirit that comes from the life of a wolf.

Kinda makes me in awe of my native American friends who hold this creature up in such reverence.

Humans don't understand

I have wolves. Yep, they're hybrids, but wolves at their core. Humans don't understand. It's all oral. My sweet little malamute/hybrid wolf is all wolf. And she sees the world from a wolf perspective. She is totally oral. She bites my hand when I come home from work, she bites my hand whenever I'm in her presence. She bites....and I bite back!

I'm her alpha...and I'm her omega. Christ is our alpha and omega. I look to Him, and marvel at how He is the alpha and omega. Nothing happens thru Him that isn't the alpha and the omega.

I have wolves...but their character is reminiscent of the character of Christ...tuff to swallow, but wonderful to behold. We are our nature. But we must acquiesce to the Character of Christ. We must. Not always easy or natural, but we much acquiesce to the character of Christ. I think our wolves are Christian. Crazy it may be...but they love and respect us in our moments of prayer. Christian wolves...what a notion! They are silent, and benevolent when we are praying. Wow! The power of God in our, and their, presence.

Our Lord, wonderfully blesses each of His followers with awe and wonder. I'm awed and wondered by this gift of His kingdom. Wolves are cool...and of God.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sermon Sunday November 11, 2007

I've been constantly inspired by the evangelistic spirit of a certain Scottish blogger and was moved to deliver the following sermon this past Sunday. I've never posted a sermon before as they are typically cryptic and difficult to follow if only reading. While this is still somewhat cryptic, it flows better than most for reading. Thanks Mark for the inspiration.

Invite Them All

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Luke 14: 15-23

The Parable of the Great Banquet

15When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God."

16Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.'

18"But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.'

19"Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.'

20"Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.'

21"The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'

22" 'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.'

23"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.' "

This is a parable, that is, a story told about earthly things that have a higher and deeper meaning.

Scholars differ on this parable's meaning. Many say that the message is to the Jews who rejected Jesus. I certainly can't disagree with that because it was told to those in high position in the faith, the pharisees, and it addressed them rejecting Jesus. But The Word is timeless and applicable to every generation that hears it. This is less a history of a story Jesus told to the Jewish hierarchy that applied only to them at that time. Remember, a parable is a story told about earthly things that has a higher and deeper meaning.

The master in this parable is God.

The banquet is coming under the canopy of His grace and mercy, to be a part of the kingdom.

Those who had been invited are those who've said “yes” to the invitation to accept Christ as their lord and savior. Those same people said, “yes, I will come when you ask” but now that the time has come to be a part of this kingdom banquet, they're too busy being self-absorbed to stop their lives long enough to take their seat and be an honored guest. The master says, come, be in my presence and celebrate what I have for you. But no, the invited guests thanks...not now.

Let's look at the rejection to the invitation a little deeper.

*The man who bought the land just had to go see it...but it is evening when supper is held, darkness falling. This is no time to go look at land. Just an excuse to not attend.

*The man who had just bought 5 yoke of oxen. He had to go home and check them out in the fields. It's getting dark and the morning is the best time to till the fields. Just an excuse not to attend.

*The man who just got married. He seeks the flesh more than the spirit, and doesn't even send regrets...he just says no. Just an excuse not to attend.

Church isn't for me.”

I have card night at that time”.

I've got a game to help prepare for.”

My kids are coming and we can't miss them when they come.”

I'm behind at work and just can't break away.”

I've had some things to come up...maybe next time.”

I want to come but last time I came I didn't feel welcomed by those around me.”

Just excuses.

God calls us to step out of our lives, and into his kingdom. But we say no...not right now.

The master turns to his servant and says, go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' His servant does just that.

Who is the servant? The servants are those who do the will of the master. If we do the will of the master, brothers and sisters, we are the servants. We're ministers for the kingdom, preachers, teachers, laborers, nurturers, healers, lovers, discerner's. We do the will of the master. When the master says to go out and bring them in, all of them, we go out into the streets and alleys and share the news that the master has invited them to a great banquet. We persuade them to come and enjoy.

" Sir, the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.”

And at this the master says to go out further, to the highways and the byways and bring in even more, make them come, for I want my house to be full.

Compel is the word the master uses when instructing his servant to bring even more to the banquet. Make them come. Persuade them to come. Share the glory of the feast and reiterate the invitation.

The servant goes out and brings in even more to feast at this great banquet.

Luke 10:1-3
The Lord sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. [2] Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest. [3] Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.


Tony Compolo is a professor of sociology at Eastern College in St. David's Penn. He is a prolific writer and is in demand as a speaker. He tells of one trip to a conference in Hawaii. He arrived in Hawaii in the evening and with the time change from the East he had a difficult time going to sleep. He walked from his hotel to a coffee shop for coffee at 3:30 AM Hawaiian time. As he was sitting at the counter a group of street ladies ' prostitutes came in for coffee. He over heard one of the ladies say that the next day was her birthday and they she had never had a birthday party given for her.

After the ladies left Tony Compolo asked the restaurant owner who the lady was that was having a birthday. He said her name was Agnes. Tony asked if the ladies came in every night at that time. The owner said that they did. Tony said, "I would like to give her a birthday party tomorrow night." The owner said he would bake the cake. The next night Tony Compolo arrived back at the restaurant at 2:30 AM to decorate for the party. At 3:15 the ladies started coming in. Word had spread and it seemed that all the prostitutes in Honolulu heard the news and came to the party. Tony said there he was in a Coffee Shop in Honolulu surrounded by prostitutes. At 3:30 Agnes walked in and they surprised her and sang 'Happy Birthday Agnes.' Agnes was taken back and was in shock. Her knees almost buckled and she had to be helped to a chair.

Harry said, 'Agnes, blow out the candles and cut the cake. The candles were blown out and then Agnes paused and said: Can I keep the cake. I only live a couple blocks from here.

Can I take it home? Tony and Harry agreed and she carefully carried out the cake to her apartment. After she walked out there was complete silence. Then Tony felt led to say, 'What do you say we pray.? He prayed for Agnes and her salvation. He prayed for God's love for her and all her friends.

After his prayer Harry leaned over the counter and said, 'Hey, you never told me you were a preacher. What kind of a church do you belong to.' Tony wasn't sure what to say, he said: 'I belong to a church that throws parties for Prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning.' Harry said: 'No you don,t - if there were a church like that I'd join it if there was.'


We must not be afraid to get out of the norm, the routine, and reach out to the lost. It can be a creative reaching out like Tony Compolo did, or a loving reaching out, or a healing reaching out, a feeding reaching out, a visiting reaching out, a comforting reaching out, a nurturing reaching out...but reach out we must, for the master said to go to the streets and alleys, then the highways and the byways, and bring them all under the canopy until it is full.

His house is still not filled. Who shall we invite, compel to come? Jesus said to bring in the blind – is that the physically blind or spiritually blind?

He said to bring the crippled – is that the physically crippled or emotionally crippled?

He said to bring the poor – is that the financially poor or the poor in hope, poor in spirit?

And he said to bring the lame – is that those who physically can't do what everyone else can do or is it the ones who are only partially capable of loving or being loved?

If we're

not the one's who reject the invitation, and we're

not the one's invited, then

we are His servants. Let us serve, and go out and bring to the banquet those He told us to bring...without judgment, but with pure obedience.

Let us pray.

Lord, thank you for your word and your love. May I grow to have a servants heart and grow in courage to hear your command to go to the alleys and the streets, then to the highways and the hedges, the byways, and seek those who need to know you. May I persuade, compel, and encourage them to come to your banquet. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Complimentary Letter

I was awed today to receive a complimentary letter from a pastor for whom I'd been a "fill in" preacher. I was awed by her words. Totally awed. I was complimented on my sermon that I gave in her stead. I usually get letters with a check attached...but this one wasn't such. And I'm glad it wasn't such a letter. She spoke to me where I am. She spoke to me where I am in my walk with Christ.

I lift up all lay speakers in our denomination, wherever they are and whatever they preach. I'm utterly awed by what we do, in this denomination. May the lay speakers be empowered by this post...and moved to do whatever it takes to bring the Word of God to His people. May we preach with authority! God's Authority!
...just another servant.

Regurgitation Preaching

I was reading a post at TN Rambler's blog about preaching a sermon without a manuscript and I was moved to reflect upon some of my sermons that weren't outlined or scripted. Don't get me wrong...on those occasions where I delivered a message without referring to notes weren't the result of not having an outline prepared...they were times when the Holy Spirit had something else in mind. I have come to refer to those occasions as "regurgitation preaching" times. One can study and compose, and study and study and study, and compose....and have all the pieces in place for a good message, until the moment is at hand to deliver it. The first words are spoken and they're not the words I intended to speak, and I close my folder and just let it is as if all that I'd taken in is coming out without my control over it. It's as if I'm a passenger on a ride that I don't know where it is going.

I've been moved by so many good sermons that weren't the sermons that the preachers had prepared...rather, they were the words that the Holy Spirit delivered instead. These preachers admit that they didn't plan it that just happened. I'm confident that these preachers experienced a "regurgitation preaching" moment, and took a back seat to let God drive the message that needed to be heard into the hearts and minds of the congregation. One such sermon I heard downplayed the role of a pastor from being a shepherd to a sheep dog. Jesus is the shepherd...a minister does the work of the sheep dog.

I pray for those times of "regurgitation preaching" to be more the norm rather than the exception. Holy Spirit does such a better job at delivering the message than I do.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bulletins and Prayer Lists

I've had occasions to be at 4 different churches in the past month within a 30 mile radius of my home church and I found a common denominator in each of these churches...a prayer list in the bulletins. To my surprise and pleasure, I found some of the same names on these prayer lists at each of the different churches. I really shouldn't be too surprised as we are in a rural area and there are a lot of ties that go beyond local communities. Still, I was awed by each church listing the names of those needing prayer in their bulletins.

I have made it a habit of asking a congregation if they pray for each individual by name every day when saying their prayers. To my astonishment, nearly half of the people I ask do, literally, pray for each individual by name every day. They keep their Sunday bulletin with their bibles and bring it out when it's time for prayer.

The joy that comes on Sunday morning when asking for praises and concerns is in the dynamics of people saying, "You can take 'such and such' off the prayer list - she's better". It isn't uncommon for our church to erupt in applause along with "Praise God" when we remove someone from the list.

I'm especially moved by a healing I've seen take place in one individual who's name is on multiple churches' prayer lists. He has been lifted up in prayer, daily, by at least 500 people that I can surmise, although it may be even more. I've witnessed his change from a feeble, cancer-stricken 80 year old shadow of a man, to a strong, healed warrior for Christ. When I saw him at a funeral yesterday, he shook my hand. It was with such power that I thought I was shaking hands with a lumberjack...and the sparkle in his eyes was like a reflection of heaven. I shared with him that I'd seen his name on numerous prayer lists in a couple of counties and he said that he felt the prayers of everyone, and that God has made him a humble, grateful person in the process. Awesome!

Something I have trouble understanding is this: The bigger the church, the smaller the prayer list. The church the next town away has about 300 members and only 10 people on their list. Our church with 35 attending members, has roughly 50 people on our list. Likewise at the other small churches I've visited recently.

It truly is an awesome experience to see and share with others the power of intercessory prayer. It's 7:21 AM and my wife has the bible, the Upper Room, and the bulletin. She just asked, "Ready for devotional?" Time to pray and lift up the names of those we know of who need all the prayer they can get. Please pray for someone today.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Torn and Torn About My Local Church

I love my local church, the one where I'm a member. Torn, because I may be leaving it soon in greater service to Our Lord. I'm a leader at this church, just cuz that's my nature. But there is a wonderful feedback that comes from members about me being a member. I like membership. I like being one of the flock. There's a comfort that comes from this. But it is all subject to change.

I was asked to pastor another church, and while my membership may remain with the church I love, I will have responsibilities that make worshiping there impossible. YIKES! See what happens when you say yes to some question that you don't want anyone to ask?

In the past month I've preached and assisted with worship at 4 different churches. The sparkle and wonder of meeting new friends in Christ is awesome. There is an immediate kindred spirit. That is wonderful in its own right. But the comfort factor of being with your "church family" is something that is beyond short-term thrills. One can be grounded by faithful, long-term, fellow disciples. Grounded in the fact that common histories are shared, reflected upon, and embraced as some type of granite statue, that cannot be changed. Such is history. But history, is just that.

I look forward to the new challenges service to Jesus will afford me. But I will lament, somewhat, the loss of fellowship with fellow congregants. But one must move on.

I confided with a member of our church that I may be leaving...and she has called me twice since then to ask whether I said yes or no to the invitation. I told her I said yes, but it is conditional. I may not be asked to serve elsewhere....or I may. Don't know and don't want to know. I want to give every bit of energy to this congregation where I serve until such time as I'm asked to bring the same fervor for Christ elsewhere. I will bring a fervor for Christ wherever I go.

My lovely wife, who never wanted to be the wife of a preacher....but then said, never be the wife of a with me all the way. I'm overwhelmed with her support. She can be who she is...with me being who I am...and all the pieces will fall in place. I pray for courage at this time in my life.

So, the big question is, will I take the passion for worship that I have at my home church to one where I may be appointed. I think I will. If I don't...shame on me. I think I will.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Power of a Hug

There is a power in bodily contact that cannot be overlooked in both the healing ministry and life in general. The hug is an awesome thing. Think about it...two people embracing...not sexually but lovingly. There are numerous women and men - yes - men, who I regularly hug when we meet. Words fail to adequately describe the compulsion to hug someone.

One woman runs a diner and whenever I go in there, she stops whatever she's doing and comes for a hug. I'm empty until she hugs me...and apparently she is as well. A local man of God hugs me whenever we encounter each other in the community...nearly every time we're at the same place at the same time. A greeter at the local Walmart...same thing. And nearly every person I encounter for whom we've had a time of healing together...hugs when we meet.

I recently read of a woman in India who has a hugging ministry. She'll go to an area and people will line up for hours to be hugged by her. Many claim experiencing a healing after they have been hugged by her. She once stayed up hugging people until 7am the next morning, not stopping hugging until the last person received theirs. There's something about a hug.

I know that healing comes about when calling upon Jesus - the word alone is sufficient. But to me, there is an icing on the cake that comes from a warm embrace. I become flush with desire to express my love for certain people whenever I see them...and it typically results in a hug.

There's a funny way of describing proper hugs within a church environment: It must be side to side lasting no longer than 8 seconds. I hope the church police don't follow me around...I'll be in trouble. But all kidding aside, there is power in a sincere, loving, Christian hug. I can't imagine not being able to share the love of our Lord if there should ever be a law forbidding hugs!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Could Mainstream be the Wrong Stream?

I'm involved in a praise and worship celebration that is outside of the Methodist faith. By "outside" I mean, the local UMC church is host, but those involved are from various denominations. There are some in our church who think that the use of this facility for such things is wrong. They don't respect the moving of the pulpit in order to make the area a stage where worship will focus. Me thinks that is wrongful thinking.

I'm moved by the inspiration of those leaders who want to make this an ecumenical thing. Truly moved. I just pray that we will all move towards the position that bringing people to Christ is the prime motivator...not a secondary one. Forget denominations, I love being involved.

I will post on the forward movements of this endeavour. Simultaneously, I seek the prayers of anyone who follows this blog to do so as well. Thank you for your prayers.

The Look in Their Eyes

There's something about looking in the eyes of believers. The eyes are the windows to our souls and looking into the eyes of someone while praying for them is awesome. Most people, most of the time, close their eyes while in prayer. Last night after praying for healing for 3 women, I spoke with each one individually afterwards and the look in their eyes was overwhelming. Such peace. Such joy. Such radiance.

At times, when I'm the minister for the healing service, I look into the eyes of the person seeking healing while I pray for them. That wasn't the case last night as I was part of the prayer team, following the lead of the pastor. But on those occasions where I'm the leader, and God so directs me, I look into their eyes while praying for them. When I do this as led, I witness a metamorphosis, like watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly. It is nothing short of awesome. Awe at witnessing the presence of the Holy Spirit entering into the physical being of the one seeking healing. Awe at seeing the peace that comes only after turning over everything to The Lord. Awe at seeing a 50 year old tormented with pain transform into what looks like an 8 year old trusting in God without reservation. Awe-some.

God breaks down barriers when we pray to him earnestly. There's something truly genuine when one leads another in prayer, while looking into their eyes. It is both humbling and empowering at the same time. I pray to be led more often to witness this wonderful change in people as I'm called to look into their eyes.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Local Healing Services in the UMC

For the past few months I've been attending the healing services of two FIRST UMC churches. It is an awesome thing that God has chosen these two pastors to work through for healing. I'm utterly awed.

The notion that God still works the miracle of healing in this day and age, and it is uplifted to the community of believers at these two churches, is unprecedented at these churches. But the pastors aren't without critics. Nonetheless, I lift up them up as examples of where our congregation needs to go in order to make the presence of the Holy Spirit more present in the lives of believers/congregantes more than ever before. I salute them!

Your church should consider such a move. It is wonderfully, spiritually, and emotionally moving. Putting your congregation ahead of yourself is a good thing. Step out, and welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit and miracles will happen...if only you reach out to them in the name of Jesus. Am I off-base appealing to clergy to make this happen? I don't know. But if one invites the Holy Spirit to present itself for healing, it is awesome how often that healing comes to pass. Miracles happen...if we only invite them to come. I saw a miracle tonight. I saw a miracle last week. I see miracles happen all the time. It is said that Albert Einstein once said that if you don't believe in miracles you'll never see one, but if you do believe in miracles you'll see them everywhere.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Believer in The Phillipines

Today I came across this blog and I was moved by the testimony given there. We all too often relegate healing to some time in the past, when it is here, now, for believers. I don't mean the believing nature of those needing healing, but for the belief's of those who minister healing in the name of Jesus. There's a big difference.

Believers who have the gift are challenged by their faith to administer healing. It is the faith of the healer that comes into question. I know this, as my faith has faltered and my healing has faltered along with it. But when I'm one with God, and totally succumbing to His will, miracles happen. Dang....why can't I be at one with Him all the time?

Are there others who fail to act when called upon who subsequently fail to deliver the mercy of God by virtue of their own inadequacies? Me? Guilty many times. But I'm working on that. Really, working on that.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Living with Wolves

Eight years ago, we adopted an orphaned wolf. Since then, we've not been without a wolf or wolf-hybrid. It is an awesome thing. They are nature. The hybrids are as close to their natural heritage as their full blooded ancestors. Again, it is an awesome thing. We awake every morning to another kill at our porch door. We used to be squeamish about these things, but now, it is a natural part of our lives. We have a wolf hybrid in our family.

One can speculate about this or that regarding the survival of the fittest, but we are humbled by the fact that rodents and otherwise fallen prey are the fare of our little wolf. She is so beautiful. But at the same time, so terrible. But she is part of God's creation. We love her immensely. And she loves us. We are fortunate that we live over a mile from the next piece of civilization...and that is a far stretch for the most of the civilized world. Our neighbors don't mind our little critters ridding them of armadillo's and other troublesome creatures, but I truly dislike waking up in the morning to another carcass on the porch. It was a bit sad when a local fox and a local deer met such fates. But that is nature.

Our little wolf comes into the house, messes with the cats, but always goes out when told to. She is a blessing because she so much loves us, and shows it with tongue-bathes and yearnings to jump in our laps. She is one of a kind.

So, don't let those notions of wolves that we have all grown up with mess up your desire to be one with nature....let this testimony tell you that they can be wonderful friends. At least ours is a friend. And, more importantly, those humans who appear to be wolves, can be cajoled into trusting, and letting the love of Christ enter into their situations. Our wolves are decent spite of their nature. They love us and respect us. How about your wolves? (This post may be in outer space....but it was on my heart.)

Catholic aka Universal Spirit

I often wonder how some fail to see the the universal aspect of the catholic spirit. Catholic means, universal. All Christians are catholic in this regard. We all share a universal spirit in our relationship with Christ. It baffles me that some are hung up on this term.

Catholics...that is, Roman Catholics, say the same creed as we Protestants do. They tend to think that their saying it is special...but it isn't. We're all (all Christians) subject to the works of the early church and subjects of the love of Jesus. We all crown Jesus king of our salvation. Some just need priests to intervene. That's not the Protestant belief....but who are we to judge.

The Levite's were appointed as priests for the uninitiated...but Jesus didn't come for the initiated...only the uninitiated. He said that he wasn't here for the righteous...but the others. That's where you and I come in. He came for us. We have a direct path to Him. Tuff stuff for someone indoctrinated in RC discipline to accept, but it's true.

I'll get off my former Roman Catholic high horse for now, but I feel I must address this notion about the position of the priesthood. Jesus is MY priest. Is he yours...or do you need someone to intervene on your behalf? I protest to that notion...guess that makes me a Protestant. How about you?

New Praise and Worship Service

I have to share how one member of our church (one that is mostly retirees) expressed a desire to her work peers about the possibility of having a praise and worship service. With some shared desire among congregants, it looks like it may come to fruition. Admittedly, we are a small church in a small community, but we have hundreds of youth in the area who are seeking something contemporary. We're going to do it!

It is an interdenominational service, hosted by our church. There are people from different denominations in positions of leadership in this venture, but I've been asked to work with the praise band of choice, and coordinate everything with their leader. It is awesome.

There is such a heart in our community to reach out to the youth, that it is unbelievable. I pray that my messages in this service, as well as my defaulting to the leadership of the worship leader, will glean new souls for Christ. I'm kinda....on the back burner for this one. But will serve where asked. In a nutshell, I'm excited.

Please keep us in prayer as we step out, and try something different, and that it will be a success...for Christ.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Told the DS...Yes!

Don't know where, or when, but I'll be appointed as a local lay pastor at some UMC church soon. My District Superintendent asked me if I would be willing to pastor a local church, on a temporary basis. After a week of praying about it, I wrote him to say, yes, I'll pastor a local church.

This isn't something that an otherwise gainfully employed person would want. I am self-employed and don't have the liberties of driving 100 miles in the middle of the day to be with a member who is going through surgery. I struggle with the ministerial aspects of pastoring a church.

But, I'll be there, as I can, and give a glimpse of sunshine in difficult times. There is sunshine in following Jesus Christ. Blinding at times...relieving at times...there is sunshine in following Jesus Christ.

Followup to "Stinking Denominations"...Happy to be a Methodist

That's right. I'm happy to be a Methodist. I like the notion of open hearts, and open minds, and open doors. An ex-Catholic fits right nicely here. My questions about how Jesus paid the ultimate price for my sins are answered in the Methodist/Protestant doctrine. After all, we're just Catholics, twice removed, but with a Protestant slant. We have no priest, other than Jesus Christ. We have no orthodoxy other than the Word. We are His followers and are living out His instructed method of discipleship. Duh, we're Catholics...but they don't recognize it!
Anyhow, I'm happy to be a Untied Methodist. I carry the tradition of my Catholic upbringing to my faith. I don't know how many former Catholics there are in the Methodist world, but I salute you, as I know it has been difficult for you to your faith.

Stinkin Denominations

I'm a fan of Paltalk. People from all over the world come together to discuss...whatever. Can't give a link to it, but if you Google it you can find how to join the community. Anyhow, I'm a former Roman Catholic and every time I visit a Catholic room I'm beckoned to come back to the Eucharist. I'm told how every Protestant is not receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist when receiving Holy Communion. I have such a hard time with that. In our church, we have weekly communion and it is an awesome experience.

Furthermore, I have issues with every this and that from all the communities that profess that they have some special enlightened discernment of God's word. I have issues with the InJesus community, as I do with the Roman Catholic community. I have issues. But I don't have issues with how Christ works in each and every individual who approaches Him in faith. I pray that every individual who seeks the love of Our Lord finds it...and grows from it. I believe that God is bigger than denominations, and that He works in us all, individually, to bring His glory to the table. Period.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Li ve in Alabama

Some may know this, but we're in the midsts of a 100 year drought. I know of many people who have deep wells of over 100 feet who are without water, as their wells have run dry. It is murderous and drastic steps that are being sought for them to have water. Water, it is such a taken-for-granted thing that we have.

We have a deep well, and it continues to provide...but we are shaken. We pray that our well will not run dry. Please keep us in your prayers as we seek to have this gift of God to be of value in our lives.
Water, such an essential element in our lives.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I Pray for Wisdom

I was asked tonight to pastor a church. WOW, I've never been asked that before. It is a local church where I love the people there, as I've preached as a guest preacher twice before. Both times, I was well received.

In the United Methodist tradition, it is the District Superintendent who must fill pulpits. Tonight, I was asked by the DS to fill this position. Temporary, though it may be, it is a BIG STEP for me and my wife. She has never wanted to be a pastor's wife. I look to her for the answer to my prayers. Low and behold, she said, if you will pastor that church, I'll support you. Wow! I will do it.

So, with this said, Brother Marty may become Pastor Marty. It is an awesome thing I pray that God will lead me to do. My answers to the DS's request is down the road. I'll share when God speaks to me about it. I'm in prayer, and ask that if you read this, you will share in my prayer that it is God's will for me to be there, pastoring a church. I'd be what's called a local lay pastor, but I lift that position up as an honor to serve.

Dern...if you talk too much about Jesus, you become branded as a servant. I'm struggling, to live up to my calling........Marty

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Amplified Rote Prayer - it's Gooood!

Rote prayers are difficult for so many to embrace. The words are words of others, meticulously crafted to express a certain issue of worship, thanksgiving, contrition, supplication, and more. Books of worship for ministers have all the right prayers. I keep a copy of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer as it seems to have a prayer for every occasion.

But these prayers are not without meaning. Just because someone else crafted them makes them no less meaningful in a cultivated prayer life. It is the focus on the words, expressed by an individual, being led by those words that can drive one deeper into a personal, more prayerful relationship with God when our own words fail to come to the surface.

Extemporary prayers are thought by most in the Protestant tradition to be the most meaningful. But, I believe that a good, rote prayer, said with a personal flavor, is the best prayer. Here's the prayer for the international healing ministry, The Order of St. Luke the Physician:

"Almighty God, who inspired your servant Luke the physician to put forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of your son; graciously continue, in this, your church, the love, and the power to heal, to the honor and glory of your name. Amen."

Having said this prayer for years now, it has changed in how it rolls off my lips. I view it as an outline of the things to be said. But, it being first learned rote, it had to take root in my heart in order to grow and express my deepest desires. These days, my prayer for the Order of St. Luke the Physician goes something like this:

"Father God, awesome creator, you inspired your servant Luke the physician to record in the Gospels and the Acts of the apostles, the love...the deep compassionate love of your son, Jesus Christ ...and His power to heal. Father, I pray that you graciously continue in this, your church, your body of believers, the Christlike love...the compassionate love, the self-less love...and the power to heal, to the honor and glory of your name, in the name of your precious son, Jesus Christ I pray, and with the power of the Holy Spirit intervening for me where my words fall short. Amen."

A rote prayer may kick-start a prayerful experience but by embracing it and internalizing it makes all the difference. The words of a rote prayer can be a springboard for personal, extemporary prayer if given the chance.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

5 Minutes Before the Miracle

I was inspired by an article on concerning a 6 hour search for a woman's lost jewelery. Leading a persistent search through a landfill trying to find the lost jewelery, custodian Frank Darby's motto was “Don’t give up five minutes before the miracle.”. WOW! How often do we give up 5 minutes before God answers our prayers?

Time and time again I read of healing that doesn't come from the first time that prayer and laying upon of hands is offered. So often it comes after much prayer, and many healing sessions. How often do we pray for someone or something, then give up on God? How often do we feel that our prayers are fruitless? How often do we give up rather than persist in prayer?

There's a person in my life for whom I pray and get tempted to think God has not heard my prayers. This person's situation is getting worse rather than better. But I persist. I know that God hears my prayers and is responding to them. Over the course of time my prayers are being honed into more focused and insightful supplications. I seek a deeper understanding of how God's mercy and grace work in those praying and those being prayed for. And when doubt enters, I hearken back to the words of the custodian...and endeavor not to give up 5 minutes before the miracle.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Reluctant Miracle

Last week I visited my cousin who was suffering from a sinus infection that had spread into her ear and was causing both pain and vertigo. It was a difficult situation for her and she lost her balance and fell more than three times. In fact, she was released from her job as an RN until she came back to herself. My wife and I took her a walker so that she could go from here to there without the fear of falling. I came to visit, and rendered my sorrow over her condition. But I was at a distance.

Yesterday, a week later, we visited again and God overwhelmed me with compassion for her condition. I looked to her, and asked if she was open to the healing comfort of Our Lord. She said Yes. I prayed for her. No, I prayed and held her, in a very special way, and she was healed. Yes, she was healed. She exclaimed...."the pain is gone"...I love Jesus!

I'm so neutral when Christ comes into the scene. It was Jesus who healed her. It was the very presence of Christ that made her whole. But I carry a burden.

I say, why, Jesus, didn't you enter in this situation before now. Why, Jesus, did she have to suffer for over a week with this malady? Why, Jesus, did it take this long? Why?

I walk away from this with the notion that God knows when, where, and how to provide healing. It was in His will that healing happened when and where it did.
I respectfully stand back and respect the timing of Our Lord. I respect.

Can, and will you, join me in this prayer:

Lord, give me the will, the determination, and the love to pray to you in these times of difficulties....even in the lives of those close to me. Give me strength. God, help me to respect your timing...and reconcile myself with it. In the name of Your son,
Jesus Christ, I pray....Amen.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fifth the South

As is the tradition in many small, rural towns in the South, 5th Sunday was a combined worship service where the Methodists and the Baptists each go to the others' churches for service. Don't know where the tradition began, but it is always a joy to have a full church, whether the Baptists coming to the Methodist church, or vice-a-versa. The tradition is that the visiting church provides the message/sermon. This past Sunday, the Methodists visited the Baptist church and our pastor delivered the message.

I have to say that it was powerful! While she was preaching, I was overcome by the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is a personal overcoming...but it was present. As I looked at her delivering her sermon, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in me, personally, but noticed something. There was a cloud surrounding her. Her message was potent and I was caught up in the presence stronger than usual. She seemed to be under a cloud. There was a presence that made me blink more than once, and it persisted. The presence of God was there.

She preached on 2 Timothy about how Paul had lifted up Timothy to God. She noted that Paul lifted up his life, his accomplishments for Our Lord, and focused on the word..."remember". She stated that one Greek interpretation of the word meant to make memorials, aka, monuments for the person being prayed for in the presence of God in his throne-room. That was a powerful thing to embrace. Suddenly, I found myself reflecting upon all those for whom I've prayed for for healing to have a trophy room in God's throne-room. What a wonderful thing to embrace.

I've changed my prayer life since. Now, when I pray for someone, I lift up all their Godly traits...whether it be a struggle or a praise, I lift them up. Is this strange or what? I make an exhibit for God for the person being prayed for, then tell God to look at it, and acknowledge it, then answer my prayers for that person. I pray also that I'm not off base in my prayers. But, God knows each and every one of us...and He finds pleasure in us lifting up one who needs Him. So, I lay out the trophies of each and every supplicant for God to see and recognize, prior to my intercession.

It is a joy. Truly, a joy. Through Christ, our sins are forgiven, but through supplication on the behalf of a needy follower, filling God's throne-room with the attributes of another follower, gives a special power to prayer for them.

That's what's happening to me in my personal prayer life. Am I weird or right on? Don't know...but will continue in this manner of prayer.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Someone Close to Me

Someone close to me has been diagnosed with a very bad tumor on his brain. Someone close to me has said that he is a willing soul for healing prayer. Someone close to me is closer than ever before because he wants to put the love of Christ first and foremost in his life, rather than himself.
Someone close to me wants to be close to the one I love...Jesus.

It is so sad that terrible life situations are what is necessary for a drawing close to Our Lord...yet...I'm grateful that these difficult times work wondrously in the souls of our brothers and sisters. I'm ever-so-grateful, Lord, that you are here for us.

I lift up your glory, your love, your mercy and your grace, Lord. I lift them up because we are such sinners yet you love us. I pray that your mercy and grace abound in the situation I lift up to you, and I thank you for the crumbs under the table. Let us all feast upon the crumbs.

I love you, Jesus.


Monday, September 17, 2007

When 2 or 3 or More are Gathered in His Name

I'm ever-so-humbled to have been a part of the prayer team last night at a healing service held at a local United Methodist church. The congregation is very conservative and this type of service is only the second one they've held since their new pastor's assignment began there last June. Prior to his appointment they had not ever held a healing service.

In the time prior to starting the service there were strange looks on the faces of those in the sanctuary. Some looked skeptical, others anxious. After the wonderful hymns were sung, a brief sermon delivered, then the blessing of the anointing of the oil, it was time for the healing prayer to begin. Nobody immediately came forward. After a minute or two, a man came forward for healing of his memory. We prayed for him, with our hands laid upon him, anointed him with oil, and all felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in that moment. When finished, he stood up, beaming with a radiant smile, and went back to his pew. Then another came for healing of his vision. Then another for arthritis and a yearning for a more spiritual relationship with God. Then another with a back problem. Then another, then another and yet another.

I had not looked at the others on the prayer team until we were praying for the last person. I looked and saw tears of love on the faces of everyone there. As the pastor was closing the service, he was moved to share that he felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in a powerful way. I could hardly stand. With the service closed, two more people approached the pastor for healing prayer. As I noticed the pastor praying over them I moved through the congregation to join in. It was powerful.

Each person prayed for expressed joy and an improvement in their situation. One woman sought me out for a hug. We cried together with optimism that God touched her in her situation. She said that she wanted to keep feeling the way she felt right then when she went home and from then on.

I share this in the hope that someone may come to initiate a healing service or ministry in their church...where perhaps there has been none in the past. There is an awakening of the spirit in people who attend...those who do the praying...and in the body of Christ at large. When we step out of our comfort zone and invite the presence of Our Lord, with 2 or 3 or more gathered in His name...He comes!

Friday, August 31, 2007

"Resting" in The Spirit

The term "resting in the spirit" or "slain in the spirit" has come up recently in conversation and one person in particular has expressed a desire to have this happen to him. What I'm talking about is the experience of dropping to the floor, unable to move or speak, as a result of the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. As one who ministers healing prayer I've seen people overcome by the presence of the Holy Spirit such that they trembled beyond control. They've become radiant being in the presence of the flow of God's wonderful Holy Spirit. But, they didn't seek that experience when coming for healing; it just happened.

The person who spoke to me about wanting to be overcome by the Holy Spirit is a God-serving person; an associate pastor, worker in the mission fields, and a genuinely good soul. He has seen it happen to others and is now expressing a desire to have it happen to him. His expressed desire to be overcome by the Holy Spirit is why I'm writing (thinking) about it now. If it is his desire to simply experience it for the sake of thrill seeking, I tend to shun away from wanting to help him. If, however, he seeks a deep conviction for his sins and desires to know and serve God at a deeper level, then I should be eager to pray with him for God's presence to overwhelm him. I wrestle with discernment in this situation.

I don't ascribe to the overtly charismatic worship, preaching and prayer that fosters "experiential" thrills. I'm called to pray for healing. I preach about healing our relationships with God and each other. I pray that God mercifully restores health and wellness to those who seek His comfort. I believe that if it is within the context of wanting healing that this friend seeks to experience a resting in the spirit, God will lead me to pray with him. If led, I will follow.

As a footnote, some may say that there is no biblical support for being slain in the spirit. In John 18:6 when the Roman soldiers realized that they were in the very presence of God, they fell back. Today, after Christ's resurrection, the Holy Spirit's presence has that same effect.

Monday, August 27, 2007's all about Love

In recent healing services, I've been moved to contemplate upon the courage of those who come. I've also been moved to understand that it is all about the love of those laying hands upon those who come for healing. It is, indeed, all about love.

We sometimes forget that God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that the world may be delivered from sin. It is in embracing that love, in a healing worship, that God manifests Himself. In that moment, God heals. Period.

A healing service that is based upon any particular individual's gift is erroneous. Rather, if it is based upon the love of Our Lord, through anyone there, then God's love is present and radiant. It's all about love.

Love. What a notion. Love for another, in the name of Jesus Christ, is all that one needs. Miracles happen, in the name of Jesus Christ. Period.