Sunday, July 29, 2007

Orthodoxy Repels Healing Services

I'm moved to comment about the consideration that Christian healing is in the outer fringes of orthodox worship. All too many pastors fear that inviting the healing mercy of Christ into a congregation's worship will make them out to be lunatics. A justifiable position.

All too many congregants view church on Sunday morning as a thing that they must do to keep up appearances. But when challenged to dig deeper and hold a healing service, they repel. They call it hocus-pocus. Sad. But there are those who welcome it but in their welcoming comes a divisiveness within the congregation. I've seen it and pray that it doesn't grow to the point of rejection of any pastor who believes in, and worships in, healing services.

On my soapbox...Christ heals! He does it when we drop all personality, when we drop all expectation, when we drop trying to manipulate outcomings...Christ heals at a very personal level. Some are willing to lay themselves open to being ministered to, while others just want enough to guarantee their salvation. They don't mix. The healing ministry is "uncomfortable" for so many because it is as if they have to say that they believe more in a mysterious influence on their lives than the tangent, visible, medical community.

If someone cannot afford the scientifically proven medical solutions to their maladies, or, if they are at the end of their ropes because nothing that science has to offer provides a cure, that's where Jesus comes into the situation and provides a solution...a cure. I've seen it too many times to deny it.

I'm particularly moved by a modern Catholic priest from the Philippines who has the gift. He prays for each and every individual who comes to him for his healing touch. He may start a service at 8pm and not finish until 4am because he has to touch and pray with each individual who comes for healing. Imagine...2000 people and you have to pray with each and every one of them for God to work in them individually. His ministry was at first not embraced by the orthodoxy of the Catholic Church, but the results of it are unmistakable, and now endorsed. What of protestants?

I believe that an embrace among mainstream orthodox protestant denominations of the healing power of Jesus Christ, and his Great Commission to His followers, will yield phenomenal results. If only we can....BELIEVE! If we can believe, Our Lord will work wonderfully in our midsts. If only we can believe. That's the hardest part...isn't it? To believe that God will work miracles in our midsts...if only we believe.

Let's get off our comfortable positions, people in leadership, and seek the love and mercy and grace of God for healing in our modern churches. Please, don't make people leave to seek what they need elsewhere, when true servants are ready, willing and able, if only they are asked.

I would encourage all pastors to administer a "spiritual gifts assessment test" in your congregation to find what strengths (or weaknesses) you have in your midsts. Everyone who participates will accept what they well as what is revealed about others. Do you have someone with the gift of healing in your congregation that you don't know about? Do you truly know to whom you are ministering to...or that there are those who can minister to you? Something to think about.

God chooses His servants and the roles they will play in his revelation. Some aren't pastors. Some are just people in the service of Christ. Embrace them if they reveal themselves to you.

In the love of Christ.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dissing the Faith Healers' Crusuades

I hope that readers will come to understand that I'm not one of those crusading faith healers. Quite the contrary. My ministry is all about the love of Christ and His healing, but not about following in the footsteps of those who make a living off of it. Nothing of the sort. I'm so offset when reading about the preying upon the innocents...the capitalizing off the upsets me deeply.

There are those who have the gift of healing. It is unmistakable. There are people that God chooses to work through, and I marvel at their annointing. I thank God that He chooses to put them in our path's. But to make a buck off of it is repugnant.

Today I read of someone caught up in such a situation. He stopped his dialysis seeking a healing from a rich, famed healing televangelist. His family put up lots of money in the hope he would be healed at a massive healing service. Apparently, his donation wasn't enough. He went back to Canada to resume dialysis.

My heart is troubled by these capitalistic faith healers. It is troubled deeply. But I can testify that when someone genuinely comes to Christ with a desire to be healed...He heals. Such is the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. No dollars and cents involved. It is the pure love that Jesus taught us and that pure love is the source for a true healing ministry. I pray that others, touched by the love of Christ, and blessed with the gift of healing, will serve in that ministry. With no "huckstering".

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

This Calling

In our daily morning devotionals my wife requests that Our Lord lead me to those who need His healing through my prayer and touch. She asks that He continues to use me to bring people to know His love. It's humbling and empowering at the same time. Humbling because I feel so unworthy of such undertakings, yet empowering because I'm reminded of the awesome work God has and will do with a mere servant. In the past month these daily reminders have yielded 3 opportunities to bring the love, mercy and grace of God to needy people.

I serve believers in numerous ways through leading worship, preaching, and other means. These opportunities to serve are rewarding and I'm comfortable undertaking them. What's challenging is the deeply personal and spiritual interactions with others through healing prayer. It is in heeding to this calling that that I struggle because it is so "personal". Let me explain.

How often do we look deeply into the eyes of someone we may never have met before, touch them, hold them, pray about their soul, their love for God, their hopes for health, and more? And through these spiritual and personal encounters, they look to you to be the lifesaver thrown out to pull them back into better health, restored relationships, forgiveness and wholeness. That is the "difficult" part of this calling. It evokes a sense of vulnerability as their burdens become yours. Their hurting becomes your hurting. Their cross becomes yours to bear. These are the things that take place when God puts someone in my path for ministering to them through this calling.

I cannot speak to how others are called into a healing ministry, or what happens in their hearts, minds, spirits and bodies while ministering...but this is how it is for me. I feel their pains and afflictions in both my spirit and my body as I pray for them. When praying with a diabetic who has aching feet, my feet ache. When praying with one who has back problems, my back hurts. Their pain is felt in my body and I believe that God does this to me so that I have a deeper compassion for the one I'm ministering to. In that very moment where their pain is manifest in my body, I know what it is that they truly want God to make right. This knowledge gives me the authority to know what we're praying for. At the moment when God acknowledges our petition, He releases the pain and replaces it with joy. Tears of joy replace the anguish of pain. Hope and optimism replace hopelessness and pessimism. At that very moment God is in our midsts, and there's no denying it!

In the few years I've been heeding this calling to the healing ministry I've grown in love and compassion as I never imagined one could grow. I see people whom I've prayed with on the streets or while shopping and we're drawn to each other for a warm embrace. That love is so wonderful and rewarding that it compels me to want more and more. So in pursuit of wanting more love in my life and in the lives of others, I heed this calling. It's all about love. Christ's love.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Healing Prayer

I'm in the process of re-reading the book "The Prayer That Heals" by Francis MacNutt, and have come across some interesting information. Specifically, do parents regularly pray with their children. It is noted that only 3% of those questioned ever remember a spontaneous prayer offered by their fathers for anything. Wow....just 3% recall their fathers praying in their own words for something/anything from God. I'm not in that slim percentile. My father prayed formal prayers. As a Roman Catholic, it was only the formal prayers that were taught. But that isn't what Jesus wants from us.

How often do we pray in our own words, one on one with Christ, and with the authority that He will hear and act upon our prayers? Really, I ask.

In the healing ministry it calls for us to speak with God personally, in our own words, for Him to make His presence known amongst us. I'm working on that in my personal prayer life....but wonder if anyone else is working on that in their prayer lives. God answers our prayers, if only we speak to Him personally....rather than "formally". Make sense?

Friday, July 06, 2007

May we have a Miracle in Wadley

A brother in Christ asked me if we could expect a miracle in our little town. I submit that, yes, God will reveal himself in our healing services. Time will tell.
In the past week we've prayed for healing from diabetes and cancer. I (we) await a report as to the wonders of God's presence in our services. We wait....and will report when the word comes.
God works through His servants....may we all be of a "servant" attitude.