Monday, January 21, 2008

The Girl and the Others....

In the last post I spoke about the girl asking about the pendant I wear. There were others with her. Specifically, there were four others. I responded to her, but saw the amazement in the eyes of the others she was with. While speaking to her others were moved to be part of the conversation. I saw in the eyes of one, a special gift. He was looking at her, but listening to me. How strange.

I mention (and blog) about this because we don't often realize the effect we have on "others" when we share what God has in store for us. I saw a kindred spirit in those listening. I saw a fascination for what God can do in the eyes of those lurking on the sidelines. I saw more than this one person wanting to be part of God's ministry to us lost souls...I saw hope.

I share this because I want to share how sharing the message of hope offered through following Jesus Christ is bigger than we know. May we all be ministers of His love, grace, and mercy, to those who seek, as well as those who are bystanders. You never know what it will turn into.

FINALLY...a Question About the Pendant I Wear

I wear a necklace with the pendant of the Order of St. Luke the Physician to church and all religious meetings I attend. Tonight, someone finally asked me about it. It is a necklace with the logo of The Order of St. Luke, the Physician....(like seen in the left sidebar of this blog) and I was enthused to talk about it. To my amazement, this young lady (17 by my best guess) was enamored by it and inquired as to what it meant. I told her that it is a symbol of people who believe in the healing miracles of Christ...for today. I further told her that I'm an associate member of the order and that we pray, in a special way, for healing to come to those who need it. She said..."I want to be part of this". I invited her to be a prayer team member when we hold a service to pray fervently for relief of what ails the people who come. She was ecstatic. So, I'll call her daddy and ask that he give her permission to come pray with us at our next service.

I was awed by the faith of our youth. This child is wanting to participate in the revelation of God's glory, in the healing of someone. Are you as grounded by this as I am? God works wonderfully through children (and a 17 year old is a I am a child of God) and I'll invite this young person to pray for others at the earliest opportunity.

God works mysteriously through us all. May this sharing of the desire of a young person serve as testimony that God isn't through with us yet. By No Means!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Small, Rural Churches

I'm part of a small, rural church. I preach and worship at other small, rural churches. I find worship in congregations of less than 50 to be refreshingly different than when I was a member of a church with 4000 members. Not better or worse, just different.

Last Sunday we installed the officers for the next year. When every member of every committee was called to the front of the church it was interesting to see that the majority of those in attendance that morning were up front. Most of the people who come to church are responsible for some facet of the life of the church.

Worship can be interestingly more sincere when most who gather together are accountable to each other for the life of the congregation. There is more of an intimacy when everyone knows one another rather than being a "number" in larger gatherings. I can't think of a single time in the 6 years I've been in a rural church that I didn't give or get at least one hug. As best I can recall, I hugged someone twice in the 11 years I spent at the big church.

The culture at my home church isn't unique to that congregation. When delivering a message to other like sized congregations I find the community of believers to be equally warm and hospitable. Not because of anything having to do with the message, rather, something to do with the joy of gathering together in Christ's name. In that special time of worship, small numbers tend to get to deeper level of intimacy.

In the larger churches the intimacy comes in small group bible studies, discipleship courses and the like. That's wonderful. But Sunday morning is more corporate and ritual. Less personal. I find no fault with that in any way, as it is what it needs to be. But small church Sunday mornings where intimacy and communal worship are combined, is beautiful.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Praying With Authority

Do you ever pray with authority? Seriously, is there ever a time in your prayer life where you believe that God is listening, moreso than ever before? Those times come to me. Those times come with a humility that is indescribable. God's authority, for me to embrace. Awesome!

OK...this may be hard to swallow by some, but it is indescribable to me that I know God hears my prayers and will act upon them. And when I open my eyes, my ears, my heart and my soul, His glory has taken place where I prayed it would. Not every time, but often enough to know that I'm a work in progress, and with time, my faith, but a grain no larger than a mustard seed, is sufficient. Our God is an awesome God!

May I entreat anyone who reads to believe...believe with all your heart...that God listens and answers. Can I ask that of you?

In Jesus' name.....

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lent...What To Post?

Last year I made a vow to post daily on the miracles of Jesus. Can't (shouldn't) do this again for lent this next year, but I want to vow to make daily posts uplifting Christ. What to do this year....I don't know?!? Or should I? Last year it was about the personal healing experiences recorded in the Gospels of Jesus healing people. Maybe this year it might be about the healings in Acts or the letters of the church fathers? Again, I don't know.

Maybe it will be a sharing of what Google brings to me from the daily posts throughout the blogosphere about healing. Daily I'm uplifted by these accounts I receive through these wonderful accounts of the love, mercy, and grace of God working His miracles throughout the world. Do you get overwhelmed by them, or should I be a wellspring of hope by reporting them. I don't know. Lent is a special time for me as I hope it is for all Christians.

We'll see what is put upon my heart this year. But I will be faithful.

Total Depravity

Do you ever entertain the notion of total depravity? I mean personally...not from a pulpit or a Sunday School desk. Personally.

All too often we focus upon the death and sacrifice of Jesus, rather than the promise he made that God would send the Holy Spirit to make us even stronger followers of the light and the love of God The Father. We bury Jesus, but fail to embrace the risen Christ. He lives...He lives...Christ Jesus lives today. Forget the tomb and remember the ascension. Through that ascension the gift of the Holy Spirit is here for us TODAY...if only we succumb to it.

I often get caught up in the sacrifice of Jesus. Who wouldn't? But the true, higher calling, is to embrace the resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit. It's not an easy goal to have; being a kingdom servant...but a necessary goal for all who call themselves disciples. Accepting this notion, calls for acknowledging one's total depravity. I don't experience it as often as I should. But when I do...I witness God working miracles in these people He calls His children. And He will through you, too, if only you submit.

I hope that I'm not perceived as preaching, rather, sharing what God has put on my heart tonight. He wants our total submission...not part of us...not a budgeted amount of time...but all of us. And in that submission, confessing our total depravity, He will reveal Himself in ways we cannot imagine.

May the abundant grace and mercy of Our Lord rain down upon every follower of Jesus Christ. And may we stop burying Him and start following Him..."Repent, for the kingdom of God is near." That's what Jesus said...can we believe it? Can we accept it? Can we follow it in light of His resurrection and ascension into heaven? Or are we stuck in his burial? I follow the risen Christ and His promise for us all.

Discernment - a Key to Discipleship

Counselors and therapists make careers in discernment. What is the root cause for what ails someone. Why is this attitude or that problem really there. How do we help to make it go away? I learn so much from the committed Christian healers as it goes to the issue of healing physical problems, when I realize that the physical manifestations of pain and disease so often stem from a mental or spiritual affliction.

At one of our healing services someone came forward for healing. She had a general malaise and was in a deep depression. What could I pray for? What healing was she truly in need of. She is a friend and I knew that she was very upset about the loss of her sister who had been in Hospice for a few weeks prior to passing on. I was stuck in the moment, not certain what to pray for. I closed my eyes and prayed that God would reveal how to pray for her. Suddenly I heard myself telling her to let it go..."you're not responsible for her dying. It was God's timing and you had nothing to do with it." what my mouth said without my brain directing it! We then prayed for her to be released from guilt and when we had finished she was radiant.

In that moment I realized that God revealed what it was for which she truly needed healing. I realized that in my quest to be a better disciple God provided the discernment that I could not. Discernment is a gift that we can open ourselves to through deep prayer. And when that moment of discernment comes, one may find themselves speaking prophetically and simply following what God has revealed. I pray that the next time I'm called for healing prayer that true healing comes through God revealing the root cause so that it can be healed, rather than the symptoms.

I Finally Pastor a Church (kind of)

It's called Common Ground. Believers of all denominations are welcomed to praise and worship thru music. Housed in our Methodist church, it reaches out to Baptists, the unchurched, as well as others of different denominations. We welcome all followers of Jesus Christ.

Tonight we had a mere 30 worshipers. It will grow. The power of praise and worship through music is new to me...yet compelling to me. I serve as the preacher in this service. And when planning, I serve somewhat as a pastor. For me...unchartered territories. But it is an awesome experience. We're three months into this and it is growing...not so much in numbers, but in new faces. Two joined our church last week because of this ministry...and I expect yet another in the next week or so. More to come.

Common Ground is just that...a place for believers to come together to worship Our Lord...on common ground. Forget denominations...forget preachers...rather, come together for common worship. In the process, some will identify with the host church. Two did last week...may there be more.

On Being Slain in the Spirit - aka - Resting in the Spirit

I have a friend who desires to be slain in the spirit. He somewhat envies those who experience this phenomena. I don't know how to address this desire he has. It's more than a conversion experience, rather, it's something that overwhelms one. It is the very presence of God in one's life, to such an extent that it overwhelms one, to the point where you can do nothing except God's cleansing of your spirit and soul. I speak with first-hand experience of this.

I have somewhat of a disdain for those desiring physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit, yet, I desire it at the same time. A conundrum, if you will. I believe that it is a personal experience that can only be accepted...personally. When it happened to me in 1988 I was awe-stricken. It changed my life forever. But it was God's time and at His place for me. I cannot command it nor entreat it. It is personal.

I see it, in reflection, as an event that God had planned for me. It was personal. If God so deems to reveal Himself to another the same way...I'm all for it. But if He withholds and decides not to reveal Himself to others...may His will be done. My heart hurts for my friend, as he deeply seeks a closer relationship with God. Perhaps, in time, God will wreak his heart, and overwhelm his existence, that he feels slain. In the Lord's timing...only.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Gifts Given.

I can't explain why God does what he does through me...why me...why me?
I dare not resist what he wants from me...dare me...dare me.
He puts in my path those needing His mercy.
He wells up my eyes, I bow and I curtsy,
Why does He do what he does through me...why me...why me?

Responding to Him, I reach out and touch.
Responding to Him, His agenda is much.
I become all about Him.
On purpose, not a whim,
Responding to Him, I reach out and touch.

A woman was sick, with hemorrhage and pain.
God said "Hold her...her life's not in vain".
She called me to say....
It all went away...
He does it again...and again...and again.

Last Monday at our New Year's Eve vigil, a woman in our church confided in our pastor that she was suffering from hemorrhaging and pain. She was planning on going to the doctor's office the next day. Pastor said we should hold a brief healing service for her after the service. I approached her and asked if she would be willing to stay for healing prayer. She said that she was feeling very sick and had to go home as quickly as possible. All of a sudden I was overwhelmed with the desire to pray for her and I asked her if I could pray for her right then and there. She said...."ok". I held her...prayed to God mentally, and when she wanted to break away I said..."Wait". As I held her a tear came to my eye. I was moved to kiss her cheek. I said, "It is done". That was that.

I called yesterday trying to speak to her husband about helping with moving some furniture. She said: "I'm healed...I don't need to go to the doctor. The problem went away. Thank you". WOW!!!

All glory and honor goes to God, our Father. Again, I say...why me?

If God chooses any of us to serve Him with the gifts he freely gives to us all, we should embrace those gifts, and act upon those gifts. Whether it be administration, healing, or any other gift, let us embrace those gifts and put them to work for His kingdom. I am just a humble, unworthy, servant. How do you answer God's calling for you? I, though unworthy, just show up, and leave the rest to Him.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Healed of Cancer - Praise God

Word came back to me today that God is not out of the miracle business. In the early fall we held a public healing service...that is, one that was advertised and open to all who desired to come. A woman attended with her husband and she was the last to come for healing prayer. She had been diagnosed with a massive cancerous growth. Her prospects were bleak. We prayed for her and laid hands upon her. I remember that the Holy Spirit was powerfully present at that very moment.

The couple came from about 30 miles away and I'd not seen or heard from them since. Until yesterday. The husband called a mutual friend and he called us to say that the doctors were dumbfounded. After analyzing her last MRI they said that the growth is gone! There is no sign that it was ever there and they have no way to explain it. She and her husband know what happened to it...God made it go away.

God blesses the faith of believers. God blesses us all when we turn to Him with expectancy, humility, and faith, regardless of what the world throws our way. Praise God!