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.