Friday, April 27, 2007

The Power of Your Prayers

In the recent loss of my mother-in-law, many who visit here have offered their prayers for me and my wife. I must report, your prayers were answered. In spite of the loss, we are positive and encouraged. I know that this wouldn't be the case without divine intervention. And that intervention may not have happened without the intercession of so many friends. Thank you.

When I say "so many friends" it goes beyond the Internet. Our church family and those who know us outside of the church, have been in prayer for our situation. I'm so terribly humbled to acknowledge the wonderful feelings we share as a result of every one's prayers. I've never been on the receiving end...normally on the giving end. How nice it is to see it the other way around.

This blog is about the miraculous healing power of the Holy Spirit. I give testimony right now to that healing and miracle in our situation. Without prayer, it would be a desolate and draining time. With prayer (for us) it is a time of gratitude. At the risk of being terribly redundant...thank you.

Acts and Upper Rooms

Prayer is so essential to experiencing the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The account of the beginning of the church is found in first two chapters of the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit is promised in the first book where Luke tells of the last words Jesus had for the apostles prior to ascending into heaven:

1In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

In the second chapter, we find the apostles and other followers in prayer in an upper room. The promised presence of the Holy Spirit is fulfilled.

1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And so begins "the rest of the story". God's revelation to us comes in three stages, through the three persons of the Holy Trinity.

First was God, the father, working in the hearts and souls of people in a time and place that was difficult...very difficult. Most of God's commands and laws were rigid and uncompromising. It was as it needed to be for such a culture.

Second, was our savior, Jesus Christ. He fulfilled the law and brought ease to the rigidity of the Father's commands. He took all the commandments and created the one commandment that embraced all the intent of the law by saying: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus showed us how by His example.

Third, is the Holy Spirit, who Jesus promised would come to the Apostles. It is the Holy Spirit who takes the laws of The Father plus the fulfillment of the law through Jesus Christ, and becomes the very presence of God after the crucifixion and resurrection of The Son.

The Father gave us The Son, so that The Son could give us the Holy Spirit. How can we receive the Holy Spirit? Look to Jesus. Between the Gospel accounts of the miracles and healings Jesus would withdraw to quiet places to pray:

Luke: 5: 15-16
However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. 16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

For us to experience God's presence through the Holy Spirit, we must pray. More than a prayer in the morning, a prayer at noon and a prayer at night. We must pray. Pray without ceasing, sometimes more intently, but pray without ceasing. The more we seek God's presence, the more His presence is in us. The Holy Spirit came to the apostles and the other believers when they were in prayer in an upper room. And It comes to us in our prayer, in our upper rooms.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

When Was The Last Time You Opened Your Church Up To a Healing Ministry?

I ask in all earnestness. When was the last time you opened your church up to a healing ministry? For that matter, when was the last time you felt compelled to let Jesus heal in your church? If these are tough questions (and I know they are for many), then why deny or ignore them?

Jesus is here NOW, in this day and age to bring healing and comfort to those who don't otherwise have it. Do we keep Jesus to ourselves, or do we take Him to the streets? I ask because I fail, and I ask because I yearn. But what of you? Are you intimidated or uncomfortable with bringing the wondrous healing of Christ to people in your world?

I vow to bring the healing powers of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to any, and all who ask. Where do you stand? Are you timid...or bold in the Holy Spirit. I ask you!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Beneath The Surface of "Healing Ministry"

I have set my Google Alerts to tell me whenever Google comes across the term "healing ministry" as well as other key phrases. Every day my inbox is filled with accounts similar to this:

Our growing Healing Touch ministry at St. Paul's is having a tremendous impact, especially for people who live with chronic pain. In my 27 years of ministry I have seen the same kinds of healing that we read about from the ministry of Jesus.

More genuine Christian healing is taking place than anyone would imagine. Mainline churches, independent churches, and individuals without church affiliations are healing today in the name of Jesus Christ. The Order of St. Luke the Physician is just one international/interdenominational healing ministry.

If we can learn to call upon the name of Jesus Christ, with faith, this healing ministry will grow even more so than it is growing today. We, people of faith, need to practice what we preach and call upon the name of Jesus Christ with the confidence of children and command, with authority, that sickness, disease, injuries and deformities be overruled by the love of God.

If we seek to see more healing in our world, we must study the examples that the Gospels give us, pray like we've never prayed before, and make ourselves available to the Holy Spirit. In that relinquishing of self, a greater power will work in and through us, putting us in awe of the love of our Father.

Let us not rely solely upon the stories that float about concerning someone who received a miraculous healing through the prayers of, instead let us become the very instruments of healings right where we live. Are we meek and timid in the Holy Spirit? Are we afraid that we may be unworthy of God using us? If we've already given ourselves to Christ then we should acknowledge that we are not unworthy. If we've given ourselves to Christ we must admit that He can use us any way He wants. I submit that if we ask with a childlike faith, no bigger than that of a mustard seed, but ask, nonetheless, the power and glory of God's grace will reveal itself in healings, conversions and put us in full witness of the love He has for us.

Beneath the surface of what we see and hear about healing in the name of Jesus, it is more like an iceberg, where only what's above the line is what is seen. Look beneath to see the true mass of God's love for each and every one of us.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Maw Passed This Saturday

Thank you so much for the encouraging words, the replies to the posts, and the words of comfort. My mother-in-law passed away Saturday at 10:30 pm. I have to share that we got the phone call from relatives as we were already asleep. When we got up at 11:00 pm to answer the phone, my loving wife who had suffered so terribly for the past year said "Praise God". At midnight, we opened that bottle of champagne that had been in the fridge since New Years when we fell asleep too early to open, and toasted Maw.

If you've never been there, it is hard to comprehend. But if you have, you will know the joy of knowing that a suffering loved one has moved on to be with God. Maw is now with God. And my loving wife who has carried the burden of being the main caregiver for the past year is jubilant. We said "Praise God", and thank you, then toasted the new matron of heaven.

Again, thanks for the words of support and encouragement shared on this blog. Truly, I cannot recall a happier time in my life as the time when we heard that her suffering was over, her pain had ceased, and she had moved on to the ultimate healing.

I have the honor of giving a eulogy tomorrow, and I can't share with those there anything less than the impact she has had on my faith. If you've ever known someone who inspired your faith, you will share in my joy in telling how she impacted mine. Isn't God gracious?

Thanks again......Marty.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Praying "For" Someone

My mother-in-law suffers quietly from brain atrophy that has progressed to the point where she can no longer communicate. Her condition is now such that she cannot comprehend sitting up or eating. She's been under hospice care for almost a year and is now being transferred into a nursing home. This last Saturday was the last time I was able to try to help her get up and eat. But she just couldn't manage it.

Her face was constantly going in and out of grimaces, occasionally accompanied by jerks and twitches of pain. I turned to God and asked what to do. The answer was to pray for her. So I closed my eyes held her hand, and prayer to God for mercy on her. As I was praying for her my hand that was holding hers grew tense, then my arm, then my chest. I let go and tried to start over again. God was telling me to pray for her, but I had the hardest time. I thought I was doing the right thing until all of a sudden it hit me like a brick. I was supposed to be praying FOR her, not about her...not in intercession, but in her stead!

I asked God to forgive my ignorance and prayed as if I were she. I held her hand, put my other hand on her head, and lifted up the prayers that she would pray if she still knew how. In that process God granted a little miracle. As I prayed in her stead, I grew drawn, tense, and quaking in the Holy Spirit. I prayed like this for two hours, stopping to regain my composure and wipe my sweat 3 times. Then it was time to stop.

I looked at Maw's face and it had changed from one blanketed in agony to one of radiance and joy. Her glistening eyes were like that of an infant. Her twitching had stopped. She smiled, looked right through me, then closed her eyes. I knew then that God heard her prayers. Her pain was gone and she had peace.

She'll be going home soon. Of all the wonderful things she has done for me in her life, allowing me to converse with God in her stead was one of the most humbling and meaningful things I've ever experienced. Seeing her happy when all the medicine and caring staff failed to bring her relief provided me with this testimony glorifying Our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Doubt or Belief - Doubting Thomas

The lectionary for this Sunday points to the Gospel of John and the incident where the doubting Thomas is confronted with the very real presence of Jesus Christ. Did you know that this Gospel passage, John 20: 24-27, is the first time in the Gospels that Jesus is referred to as God? Does Jesus rebuke Thomas for his assertion? No. In other words, Thomas identifies Jesus as God. The first such incident of this in the entire Bible.

We (those who read this Gospel account) refer to Thomas the twin as "doubting Thomas". But Jesus revealed his true nature at this time, through this account, as God. No, Jesus didn't rebuke him, rather, he lifted him up by virtue of his non-action (reaction).

Are we doubting Thomas's? Do we cubbyhole Jesus as the son of God, or God incarnate? I like Thomas. I'm with him, sharing his doubts, and sharing his proclamation. Jesus is God! Do I doubt? I did. Do I believe? I do. Call me "Brother Thomas", and I'll be gratified.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Preaching for the Preacher

I sometimes wonder what a person chosen by The Lord to preach and teach goes through when they have to tap into someone else to preach for them on any given Sunday. I've been tapped upon to speak the word this Sunday. My heart goes out to the one who tapped upon me to deliver the message. May my words be the words of the Holy Spirit, and may they rest well upon the souls who hear the message. Humbled, I am. Hopefully, those who regularly accept this call each and every Sunday will feel the freshness, and humility, that I feel.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Catholic Priest Who Heals

I came across this account of a Roman Catholic priest who has the gift of healing recently. I share it because I'm moved by the manner in which he views the gift, as well as the manner in which the church describes the mystery surrounding it.

All glory and honor is given to God...not the person. Enough said.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter Season till Pentecost

It will be May 27th when the Easter season ends, and Pentecost is upon us. Can you imagine the lives of the apostles and other disciples during this time? They lived in doubt and promise, emptiness and anticipated fullness, they lived waiting, day by day, for the gift that Jesus promised them.

Today we live in anticipation of a renewed relationship with Christ. We live hoping, waiting, and sometimes accepting. I say "sometimes" because all too many Christians fail to see the Holy Spirit working in our world today. Many of us hold off accepting the indwelling of the Holy Spirit until some magical day in an undiscerning future. But, brothers and sisters, it is here, now...the kingdom of God.

I suggest that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were given for us all, NOT just the apostles and the 70 +/- in the upper room. Further, I suggest that God listens and acts as we faithfully request and command. so many fail to the name of Jesus, today. Rather, we humbly supplicate when we should be confidently commanding. If we have the nerve to step back and observe...we wimp out.

In the healing ministry, one has to accept that Christ is at work in this world today, through the Holy Spirit. As true descendants of those who were given the gifts by virtue of baptism and laying upon of hands, we have the right to claim that power and lineage. But we don't. We hesitate. We shudder at the very thought that we have the power and ability to call upon God to work at our behest. It takes confidence...and nerve.

I confess that all too often I fail to act in confidence. I wimp out and supplicate. Lord, help me to not supplicate, rather, to command. For it is in confidence that You are present among us through Your Holy Spirit. May I call upon You to work in situations where nothing else works, and You deliver!

The church came to life at Pentecost Sunday, and may I (we) be confident in calling upon You!

Friday, April 06, 2007

# 10 and #11 Account of Jesus Healing in Group Settings

Mark 6:56 (New International Version)

56And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.

Acts 10:36-38 (New International Version)

36You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

Reflection: God annointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. Think about this, please. God annointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power. Does this suggest that God annoints others than Jesus? Does this mean that Jesus was the one and only to share this annointing? Think about terms of how Jesus told the disciples that he would give them a gift...the gift of the Holy Spirit. Think about it. Do we, today, have a right to this gift? Are we recipients if only we ask? I say, yes. Does that make me liberal or conservative...don't know. But it does make me a spirit-driven person who says YES to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit today? I think so. Anything less would be an insult to Christ saying he would share it with his disciples. If not so, the disciples were fools at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is here, today, for us all, if only we put ourselves into a position of accepting. Do you accept God's Holy Spirit? Do you resist it? Do you deny it? Just curious, as I fully, gratefully, invite and accept it.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

# 9 Account of Jesus Healing in Group Settings - a Two-Fer!

Matthew 4:23-25 (New International Version)

Jesus Heals the Sick
23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. 25Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

Matthew 9:35-36 (New International Version)

The Workers Are Few
35Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Reflection: Jesus had compassion on so very many. We share the individual accounts of His healings from the Gospels, but the anecdotal stories of Him are even of more magnitude. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them. People flocked to Him for healing. And He healed, without exception...he healed, because of His compassion. Where's our compassion today? Can we have the compassion of Christ for everyone? Without it, we'll never see a miracle. With it, they'll be everywhere.

Monday, April 02, 2007

# 8 Account of Jesus Healing in Group Settings

Mark 6: 1-6

( Also found in
Matthew 13:53-58 )

A Prophet Without Honor
1Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

"Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! 3Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.

4Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." 5He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6And he was amazed at their lack of faith.

Reflection: This is perhaps an account of Jesus not affecting a miracle. How does one reflect upon this...the time when Jesus could not affect any miracles.? Perhaps the people there were too accustomed to Jesus the person...and not allowing themselves to see Jesus...Son of God! Miracles happen every day if we look for them...but never occur to those who don't seek them. Think about it.