Wednesday, November 28, 2007
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
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.
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!
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
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:
IN THE DARK?
FOLLOW THE SON
STOP BY MY HOUSE
BEFORE THE GAME
FIGHT TRUTH DECAY
STUDY THE BIBLE
And this one that won't fit on our sign:
NOT A MUSEUM
And some that our congregation have requested:
JOIN THE CROWD
SUNDAY 11 AM
HAVE YOU TOLD
SOMEONE THAT YOU
LOVE THEM TODAY?
KNEEL THEM DOWN
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
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
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
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.
A guest at times, in Satan's den.
Be it felon or liar
Having done or conspire
To go against God - against Him...to 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 Him...to sin.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
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.
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
Invite Them All
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Luke 14: 15-23
The Parable of the Great Banquet
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.'
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.'
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 say...no 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.”
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.
The Lord sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.  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.  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?
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
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.
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 way...it 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
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
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 pastor....is 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
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!