Friday, December 18, 2009

Christian Healing is More Prevalent than Most Think

I've been examining my personal recordings of how, when and where God healed in my presence. It's staggering! More importantly, I've been asking of other pastors who have an active healing ministry what they've observed. Again, it's staggering! Of us United Methodists who participate in one form of healing ministry or another, I've observed that there are a lot of UMC chaplaincies withing the Order of St. Luke the Physician. It's an international order of believers in the current, real, and true healings that take place in the name of Jesus Christ. Again, staggering.

I mention this because it is my belief that more and more healing takes place in large and small UMC congregations without being made headline news. I can tell of emphysema, heart and blood disorders, cancer, broken bones and more being positively affected by healing prayer. In some cases, merely being positively others, being totally healed. It's awesome, yet underreported.

I issue no plea for testimonials...just make the statement that healing is more prevalent...much more prevalent...than regular media would report. God is alive and at work through the power of the Holy Spirit...more than many fear to attest. Fear or's TRUE!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Letting God be God - Amazing!

Last Sunday was our Praise and Worship contemporary Sunday. It was a good service capped off by the message from Mark 10: 46 about blind Bartimaeus receiving his sight. After reading the scripture a man near the front asked that we pray over his back, saying that he just couldn't stand the pain. I told him we would pray over him after the message. When the sermon was over the closing video played..."Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone". The man came to the front pew and I called over 2 prayer warriors to pray with me. We prayed with intensity and confidence. After about 3 minutes of prayer we thanked God for his amazing grace, and finished singing along with the video. As I stepped to front-center of the congregation to give the benediction, the man who we had just prayed over stepped in front of me and exclaimed "The pain is gone...Really, the pain is gone!" We hugged right there in the front of the church with tears welling up in most the eyes I could see through my own tears. Finally the benediction was given and church was over.

Wednesday night bible study rolls around and the same man we prayed over on Sunday came in, saying "The pain is still gone - it hasn't come back" He commenced to tell how he'd been working on a backhoe all day putting in pipe. He says that his back always hurts from working on the backhoe but it didn't hurt that day at all. His testimony created a wonderful atmosphere for our study and when we closed with prayer he testified once again. It was like a child saying he got just the birthday present or Christmas present he wanted...excitement that couldn't be squelched. It is amazing how when we let God be God how he reveals his love, mercy and grace beyond measure. Amazing!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Wow...God Protects and Provides

It was last Thursday when a friend, a minister in the faith, was in a terrible car accident. I got word early in the morning and by 10 am I was there in the emergency room with another pastor from a local church to "be there". But simply "being there" wasn't on the agenda. The power of the Holy Spirit catapulted me there and when I arrived she was in the emergency room with another local pastor. She was telling of how in the accident she felt like she was in a plastic bubble wrap being sheltered from all that was happening...duh...better than air was the presence of the Holy Spirit encapsulating her from the realities of her situation. The car had rolled numerous times and she managed to climb out and be sitting on the car wondering why nobody had stopped. Unbeknown est to her there were many who had stopped. She was in shock yet upheld by God's presence. When I got to the emergency room she was recanting what had happened. I must admit that on the trip to the hospital I was overwhelmed with the Holy Spirit and could barely drive. When I got to the room all I could do was pray and place my hands upon her. After a brief embrace she said...."let's pray". The prayer was powerful and spirit filled. Another local pastor arrived and we prayed...then I begged forgiveness to leave. It was shared that the local ER had done X-Rays and they were awaiting the results. I got a call later that day that she had been ambulanced to a major city hospital some 2 hours away because they had found signs of fractures in her neck and upper back. That was that.

The next morning as we did our devotional, my wife told me to bring her the phone book so she could look up her father-in-law's number so we could call to get a report. I said..."wait a minute, honey, let me check my emails"...and there it was! An email from our friend who'd been in the accident saying that they came home the night before at 11:30pm...after the doctors said that whatever fracture she had must have been from when she was young as it is an old fracture that had healed years ago. DUH!

God is God...Great always. When He demonstrates His presence in all situations for His believers it is always Awesome. I thank God that He made His presence known in this situation and in all situations where we turn to Him first...not last...and invite Him into our world.

Shalom and Christ....

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Overwhelmed by prayer requests

Does it ever happen to you? We tell people that if they let us know there is a need we will pray for that need? Well what happens when you wake up and look in your inbox and there are 5 to 20 needs for prayer? Where does one begin?

That's my scenario, as I've signed on to be a prayer partner in many chains. It isn't in me to lift up every prayer concern and I'm finding myself somewhat in Bruce Almighty when the character who took on God's powers was overwhelmed with prayers. I shrink back from what I wanted to be to the real, human me. But I cannot withdraw from this one particular chain. I just cannot. So I start each day with a list of people to pray for who I don't know, and will never meet, but can connect through prayer with them. I succumb and I pray.

If that's all we can do to be the heart, hands and feet of Jesus...then let us pray. I've limited myself to one list and I pray fervently for each name lifted up on that list. I ask if you are on such a chain that you limit your ability to pray for those on that list. It isn't easy nor is it fair, but it is reality checking in on our abililty to be about God's business for those we choose to affiliate with...sad...but imposing nonetheless. Pray fervently for those who come your way and don't be diluted by praying away the special prayers you have for those on your list's. Does this make any sense? I'm just hoping that my prayers are answered...and the chorus of prayers is pleasing in God's eye.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Joy of Being Busy Being Pastor - Long Time No Post

It was June when I last posted about healing. This post is NOT about healing but rather about the joy of being a pastor. In the year and change that I've been what's called "lay supply" meaning a lay person pastoring a church, it's been quite a ride. The people at this appointment welcomed me and I've returned that honor with a commitment to be the best I can be. Sunday worship has about doubled even with some families leaving...maybe because they don't like my ponytail....not sure. Regardless, what a joy it is to be their pastor.

The greatest joy I've had to date came today. FIVE people were baptized! I know that is not a significant number to some big church people, but with attendance from 50 to 60 per week, and having 5 baptized in one day is a mind-boggling event - at least for me! But you know what? While it was a very good affirmation of what God has me doing pales by comparison to what these 5 people felt as they said "Yes....Jesus...I die to the old world and am born to your world" Oh God....I'm so humbled to have been a part of this. Life-changing things are typically personal, private, and nothing to be shared. But no...not baptism. It was a public event for these people, in front of the congregation and family and others, saying..."I'm dead to the old me, and alive for Jesus!"

After the baptism at the local lake, I went back to the church to get my "dry clothes". I intended to very briefly go in and get my clothes and get out. But didn't work that way. The husband of one of the women baptized saw my car outside and came in to say...."My wife wanted to scream ... 'Yoo Hoo' when she came up but she didn't." I told him..."son...she DID". Yes, this new child of God did, indeed, scream "Yoo Hoo" when she came up from her baptism but didn't remember.

What a privilege, honor, and joy to be a part of this life-changing event for others. And you know what? If there's a healing aspect to this it would be: Dead to the old, Alive for the new. In Christ, Jesus, we can die and be born again. If that isn't a healing story...don't know what is. Now that beats anything!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Our Sunday Night Healing Service

There's nothing "Same old same old" about the God we serve.  Last Sunday evening we held a healing service at our church.  Strangly, the people who earlier in the month said they needed healing prayer didn't attend. There were 12 adults and 5 children in attendance.  My initial response to this small number was disappointment, but what a foolish thing that notion turned out to be.  

Throughout the Gospel we have accounts of Jesus healing just one person at a time.  In those individual healings many marvel at the greatness, mercy and grace imparted in those single acts.  What foolishness is it for one to be distraught by small numbers seeking healing when all heaven rejoices over just one person coming to Christ?  

Sunday evening was as powerful as could be imagined.  The power and presence of God was undeniable and verifiable.  Four people (including myself) sat in for others in need of prayer while the prayer team prayed fervently over them.  One came for prayer for liver problems, another for vision issues, another for headaches and stomach pains, another for chronic abdominal pain, another for saving from matters of the flesh, and yet another for stomach pains.  The prayer over each individual was so filled with love, so filled with compassion, so filled with confidence that there was a nearly electric atmosphere in the sanctuary.  Many swooned upon feeling the Holy Spirit flow through their bodies.  One was slain unconscious; another unable to get out of the chair without assistance.  None came seeking signs and wonders, but God demonstrated that He was in control and in our midst.  

I never ask for a report card as to whether anyone felt healing.  Nonetheless, the exuberant expressions on each face gave a testimony.  Within 24 hours here is what has been shared:  One person being prayed over by proxy was at the emergency room awaiting what was thought to be emergency surgery for an apparent abdominal rupture.  After being prayed for the doctors were not able to find anything needing surgery and the pain subsided.  At the end of the prayer time the patient was released from the hospital.  Another person prayed for by proxy was told last week that his pancreatic cancer could not be treated with chemotherapy.  Monday he  saw the doctor and he said that he would schedule him to begin chemo later in the week.  The person asked why he could have chemo now when just last week they said it would do no good.  The doctor said: "Last week it wouldn't have done any good, but now we can treat it."  The brother of the patient called Monday saying "Preacher, I've got a praise report".  We both praised God with our mouths and tears of joy.  

What other reports will we receive?  I don't know.  If the bear hugs and tears of joy weren't testimony enough, I'm sure there will be more to tell as time goes by.  I know this:  God doesn't fit in the box we try to put Him in and it's totally awesome when he shows us the folly of our disbelief.    

Thursday, May 14, 2009

To Skeptics and Believers Alike....God Heals

A couple with a child diagnosed with scoliosis came and expressed prayer.  I didn't know what to pray but touched his back and prayed that it is not right for someone in love with the message of Christ should suffer.  I touched his back, and prayed for his healing.  Nothing more...nothing less.

At church Wedenesday night the parents of this child came foreward and acknoweledged that their son is free of this dibilitating disease.  He is free of scoliosis.  What an awesome God we serve!  All praise and honor go to the God we serve.  Praise God!


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A Season Ends...A New One Begins

It's been since last September that we held a healing service.  This past Sunday 2 members of the congregation were lifted up by others as needing prayer.  At that moment I asked if they wanted to have a healing service and there were many "Yes, yes, yes"'s shouted out.  As May is a very busy month in the life of this rural congregation *(many homecoming/memorial services to attend at other churches), we set the date for the healing service for the first Sunday in June.  Of course, those needing healing prayer before then, were welcome to seek it.  

After Sunday services concluded one of the two people in the congregation lifted up came up and asked for a prayer.  We stood there in the front of the church praying fervishly for her macular degeneration.  When we finished we both exclaimed our love for God and one-another...then walked our separate ways.  

It is so good to see a season of few healing services come to an end and usher in a new season.  Isn't it strange how sometimes our walk goes in seasons rather than being a constant?

Monday, March 02, 2009

"Oh (chuckle chuckle) So YOU Heal People? Ha!

My wife and I attended a banquet where I was to give the invocation last Thursday evening.  Whenever I'm doing anything public in service to Our Lord I wear my Order of St. Luke the Physician pendant.  Often it becomes a conversation starter.  Well, it did that night.  The banquet was held in the family life center (nice, big facility) of a large UMC congregation in the neighboring town.  The banquet was to benefit educators in the public school system and a member of that congregation's spouse is a teacher in the system.  During the social time prior to the banquet this man, we'll call him Tim, looked at the pendant and asked "is that the symbol for the Santa Fe Railroad?"  I said that it did kind of resemble it but no, it's the symbol for a religious order I'm associated with.  I explained that it was a healing order to which he replied:  

"Oh (chuckle chuckle) so YOU heal people?  Ha!"

I briefly replied saying "No, I don't heal anyone, God heals".  He immediately changed the subject and we both moved on to socializing with others.

That church holds monthly healing services the first Sunday evening.  With a congregation of over 400 maybe 20 come to the healing service.  It's essentially the same 20 who come to every Sunday night service.  It's a pity that of those who call themselves Christians so few embrace intercessory prayer for healing.  The majority don't witness the miraculous hand of God at work in these sessions so they fail to see it with their own eyes, hear the testimonies with their own ears, and feel the love within their own lives.  Perhaps it's because of the bad rap that healing gets from the charlatans on TV.  Perhaps it's because they genuinely don't believe it happens.  I don't know.  I do know that the majority is being deprived of the blessing that comes from praying for others in this way.

Frankly, I believe that most mainline Protestant pastors are reluctant to preach on the gift of healing for fear that the congregation will think that they are a whacko.  If they do hold healing services at some other time than Sunday morning, it's often promoted with the same enthusiasm as the announcement that the womens group will meet next Monday night.  We don't want to lift it up much higher than that for fear that we'll get replaced by the majority next year.   We''re afraid that most will think...
..."Oh (chuckle chuckle) so YOU heal people?  Ha!"

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Joy of Healing Prayer

Last night my Sunday night church group accepted an invitation to attend another local UMC for a healing service.  I was one of the two pastors administering healing prayer along with a prayer team of 5 others.  The expressions on the faces of those who came forward for healing changed from drawn and dread to beaming radiance in the course of praying for them.  

One woman who is facing surgery Thursday for scoliosis emerged from the prayer saying that she's ready to go home now if that's God's will - whether she's healed or not she knows that God loves her and would accept her into His glory.  It's all in His hands now.

A man with prostate cancer scheuled for surgery Tuesday rose from the prayer chair with a beaming smile, confident that with God everything will be ok.  The prayer team and the whole church shared his joy.  Likewise with the others who came for prayer.

The healing prayers were administered as follows:  The pastor for the church anointed the prayee with oil making the sign of the cross on the forehead, then on each hand, then led the prayer team in laying upon hands while he prayed for the specific condition.  This lasted 1 to 3 minutes depending upon how he was moved by the spirit to pray.  Once he was finished I closed the prayer by lifting the subject's chin and asking them to look at me while I prayed the Order of St Luke the Physician's prayer for laying upon hands, which is:  "Our Lord Jesus Christ who gave authority to his disciples to lay hands upon the afflicted that they may recover, have mercy on you; give you strength in spirit, strength in soul; strength in body, but most of all give you faith in His power to heal.  By His authority committed unto us we lay hands upon you in the name of Jesus Christ, our lord and savior."  

When the final prayer was given the tears of joy abounded.  By the end of the service the presence of the Holy Spirit was so intense that while the benediction had been given, nobody ran for the door.  All basked in the love that only comes from The Lord.  

God's will is just that.  Whatever healing he brings to those who came forward is what it is.  But in the process of praising Him and interceding with love on behalf of those needing healing, there is a joy that He reserves for special times...times like these when we're all about His business.  That is the joy of healing prayer.