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.