Thursday, July 31, 2008

Healing Revival Tonight in a Rural Alabama Methodist Church

Tonight was the culmination of a 4 night revival for the church I pastor. I've been there since late May and they've been told via my sermons and prayer meetings that I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, specifically, as it relates to the sign-gift of healing. Sunday through Tuesday was all about the power of the Holy Spirit, specifically, being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Tonight, it was the final night and the Holy Spirit was present....INDEED! Eight people (from an attendance of about 40) came for healing. More powerfully, I asked everyone to close their eyes and be in prayer for everyone there, and I asked who wanted healing prayer without having to come publicly - to receive it where they sat. Three quarters of those there raised their hands. What an awesome God we serve.

First things first...of those who came for healing we prayed for suicidal tendencies, demonic possession, as well as diabetes, arthritis, lung disorder, addiction to alcohol, cancer and other maladies. The expressions of those for whom prayer was administered moved the entire congregation. More specifically, each one prayed for felt the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit. I was so totally drained from the prayer that the prayer team sat me down in the prayer seat and prayed over me until I was able to continue the service. (I didn't realize that it was so obvious that I was drained and depleted...but their prayers worked wonderfully and I continued.) Then came the most challenging, demanding, prayerful experience I've ever had in the healing ministry.

A young husband came to the alter for prayer. He had just recently lost his mother (a week ago) and was in a terribly difficult situation with his step father about everything. He was forbidden to attend his own mother's funeral. He was distraught. When I looked him in the eyes and asked what he wanted prayer for, his eyes became bloodshot and he said...."I want to leave my wife. I want to leave my child to be. I want to leave this world. I don't want anything good." At once I realized that I was talking with a young man who was possessed. Rather than anoint him one time with the sign of the cross with oil, it was put on my heart to anoint him three times. I looked him in the eyes and asked if he wanted deliverance. He shrugged. I asked again...he shrugged. Then I called him by name twice and he said yes.

I've only once before been called upon by Our Lord to cast out demons and I was weak in faith at that time...but I couldn't resist the word of God as it pertained to this young man. I tried to sit him down but he resisted. I tried again and he resisted again. I said..."In the name of Jesus accept His love". He sat down. He looked at me with piercing, bloodshot eyes and I asked him if he was ready for healing prayer. He didn't say anything. I told him I was going to pray for him whether he wanted it or not. I complimented him on beating down the resistance to make his way to the alter. So we prayed. There were 5 prayer warriors plus me praying for him. And we prayed. Without knowing the names of the demons in him (and not wanting to know their names) I prayed over him saying that Jesus knew who was trying to control his life and in the name of Jesus they are to be bound and cast from him. I was moved to bind and cast out 3 different demons in this young man in the name of Jesus Christ.

At once, his bloodshot eyes became clear. He proclaimed Christ as the ruler of his life. His countenance became one of calm and peace. But we didn't stop there. We continued to pray over him for strength and perseverance in Christ for the moments, days and weeks ahead. Oh what a glorious time it was in the service of our risen Lord.

We closed the service by praying for those who lifted their hands earlier that didn't want to be publicly brought into the love of The Lord. My friends, it was a powerful ending to a wonderful 4 nights of revival. Indeed, revival happened in our rural church in Alabama. It happened in ME!

In Christ....

Monday, July 28, 2008

We're Leading Up To Healing Revival, Wednesday

The theme of the revival this year at our little rural church is Baptism In The Holy Spirit. I've been talking about how the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not limited to those early Apostles, rather, for all believers who succumb to and totally submit to the presence of the Holy Spirit in themselves. It is an awesome thing to let Christ live through us today. When reflecting upon John 17: 20-22, it is apparent that we are here now, to be Christ for the world.

As Christ healed...we heal. Period. I've witnessed everything from freedom from terminal cancer to beyond...and it is awesome to behold. Are we worthy? The question I would ask is are we willing? I am willing. Are YOU?

The last thing I seek is to make hippocrates of anyone in the healing ministry. Rather, may we be subject to His will? I make myself subject to His will in these regards while I'm unworthy, yet willing. In a back-handed way I ask, can we all? Let us be subject to His will and create new persons in Christ, through the mystery and majesty of His presence. I'm awed by His presence. Aren't we all? In His name I pray...Amen.

Revival Preaching Night Two

Tonight I was able to use some of the material I had worked on so hard to be a part of the sermon. I say "some" because of the 5 typewritten pages of material, I used 2 illustrations and 2 sermon passages. The rest was not what I had planned, rather, what God wanted to be said. And powerful it was! With attendance of about 40 people, a father and his very young son came to the alter. A stalwart of the church that most would perceive as being one who wouldn't do such a thing, came to the alter for prayer. A woman whom most would think had it all together, came to the alter for prayer.

When the service was over, one man who I thought slept through the service shook my hand so vigorously that I thought he was going to take it home with him. His wife fell into my arms and thanked me for letting God talk with her. WOW! I could give 20 more inspirational anecdotes but the thing that really got to me was when the church was almost empty, and we were ready to turn off the lights and head home, 3 came back into the church for prayer. A half hour later we were working on a plan to bring the spouse of one who came back to grow to yearn to have Christ in his heart. What an honor and privilege to be approached for prayer like that. I was moved in the Spirit, deeply.

I've never been one to do the revival thing. I always thought it was hokey, if you know what I mean. But being charged with bringing revival to our small church I've grown immensely under the umbrella of the challenge. I'm being revived in the process. I share with the attendees that when I point a finger to them saying they're too much consumed with feeding the flesh...3 fingers are pointing back at me. I'm as much challenged and changed by revival as those to whom I'm preaching. What an unexpected thing.

I don't know if any of the Methodist preachers/pastors who may stumble across this blog are equally impacted. I would hope so. God isn't through with any of us. As the bumper sticker says....."Sorry, God isn't thru with me yet". Whatever our position may be, may we all be stricken by the notion that we are a work in progress, and that God isn't through with us yet. At least, I've come to understand, He's not through with me.

The power of the Holy Spirit was evident tonight. Arms were raised in praise, tears were shed in joy, and lives were changed. At least a few, in a rural area. But it's one person at a time through which the kingdom is brought down for us all to revel in. I thank God for the few who made a BIG impact in my ministry. May I be more greatly used for His purposes. I hope that this sharing empowers someone else to be equally challenged and utilized by God, the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen, amen, and Amen!

Revival Preaching

Prior to last night I'd never preached at a revival service. I had prepared and studied my sermon for days. I prayed and prayed that God would speak through me what he wanted those in attendance (as well as myself) to hear. Of the six pages of prepared text, all that I used was the scripture. After reading Acts 2, nothing else I'd prepared came out of my mouth! God revealed what he wanted us all to know: When we say that we're not worthy of the gifts of the Holy Spirit...we are living a lie! We say we're not worthy when we're actually saying "I'm not willing".

This revelation cracked open the hard shell that our souls keep tightly bound around the indwelling Holy Spirit. Realizing this, we open our minds to the realization that God is never finished with us. He wants us to open our hearts, minds and souls to the abundance that comes from loving Him with all that is in us. The more we open up to Him, the more His Holy Spirit works through us.

I've been so blind for so long, I pray that now I can stop living the lie of unworthiness, and start living a life of willingness. In Jesus' name I pray.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

God Heals....Some of Us Let Him Use Us

I've been slow to post as I'm otherwise engaged with my time and attention. But tonight I want to share. At our church's youth gathering tonight we had a 19 year old give a sermon and testimony. I was moved by it. When she was finished, one of the 9 kids came to the alter to give her life to Christ. I was specially moved by her preaching as she told of the various miraculous healings she has witnessed since being baptized in the Holy Spirit.

When she finished her sermon, and after prayer, I took the pulpit and endorsed her words about how the Holy Spirit will fill you and change you. Before she spoke I pulled her aside, at the urging of the Holy Spirit, and said to her, "Let the Holy Spirit speak...and you just be the mouthpiece"...or words to that effect. At least 3 times during her sermon, she looked at me and said..."I didn't plan this but I've gotta share it". It was awesome.

As with all young people, there were scoffers and disbelievers of what she had shared. I took the lead and (as an older geezer) endorsed what she had said about God working miraculously in the lives of true believers. The kids took the message seriously. She now feels empowered to share with a broader audience. She asked me if she could deliver the sermon this Sunday...and I told her she could. It is the culmination of a weekend youth retreat, so it is appropriate that church on Sunday be reflective of that. What joy in that person. What radiance in her. What a move of the Holy Spirit I witnessed as she left grateful for the opportunity to share what God has put on her heart with the church.

How many of us hold on to our territory so hard that we cannot let someone come in and interrupt it with a testimony and word from God that is placed on their hearts? I will gleefully step aside this Sunday for this young lady's testimony and message. (Although I did tell her to pray for discernment, as this will be a mixed/blended crowd of new and mature Christians). I don't know what she will preach, but I will support it as I know it is Christ working through her.

I titled this post about healing. This young girl prayed for and witnessed the healing of a deaf child at Children's Hospital in Birmingham, AL. She let's God use her. Can we all learn to let God use us? His providence is more than we can imagine.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A year later...the river is still wonderful

It's been about a year since I posted about swimming in the river. But, darn's worth posting about again. Today I walked to the river. Our river is one of the cleanest in the entire USA. There were no canoes, kayaks or otherwise travelers on the river. I walked down (about 100 yards from the house) and looked upstream and downstream...and saw nobody. I took off my clothes and jumped in. Normally I'd wear shoes or something to protect my feet, but today I didn't. From the top of my head to the heels of my feet it was wonderful!

There is a mystic comfort that comes from being totally washed by nature...AKA...God's revelation to us all. Today, I was washed. My swimming was like a baptism. Does that make any sense? I was one with the creator...and one with one of the elements of this earth...water. I only wish that others could feel this wonderful presence of God's love for this part of His creation. I felt at one with it...I felt at one with Him.

The lack of gravity...the lack of burdens...the lack of anything worldly is what God has for us who dwell deeply in His nature. Be it a walk in the woods...or a dive into the lakes, oceans, or it and embrace it. There's no telling what will be revealed! God is love...and nature is love made manifest.