Reflections from a United Methodist certified lay speaker and associate member of The Order of St. Luke The Physician (an interdenominational healing order). It needs to be shouted from the highest peaks that God is not out of the miracle business.
Instead of Bible Studies on various books of the Bible, I've decided to take my church down the road of the Healing Stories of Christ. I've posted all of them here on this blog and will refer to these posts for our Bible Studies. My question is this: Have you...that is...YOU...benefited from these accounts of Christ's healings? I know that I have.
We are in the midsts of Revival. We have a guest evangelist, a friend from within the faith, who kick's butt when talking about being a disciple of Christ. No punches pulled. His messages have been faithfully embraced.
I ask. I wonder. Can we become First Century Evangelists? Can we? Don't think so until there is a change in the hearts of those coming and sharing. But if the evangelist does his job, we will all be better for it.
Is there revival happening in your church? Just want to know. Share.
I've been dubbed as the pastor who delivers the closing prayer at our community's National Day of Prayer event sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce. I have vacillated between being ecumenical and leaving Jesus out of the prayer and inclusive, to Christians, in keeping Jesus the central part of the prayer. Tough. Really...tough. You see, it is a day where people of all faiths can come together and supplicate to the God of all religions. Yet, in the Bible Belt, it is practically a given that all who attend will be followers of Jesus Christ. Still, I ponder.
If there are only a few who believe in the God of all creation who attend, will I diss them with a prayer that is Jesus-oriented. What of Jews? What of Muslims? We all believe in the God of the Old Testament. But not all agree with Jesus and the New Testament. I ponder. I worry.
But I have resolved that it is the life that comes from the Holy Spirit, that Jesus promised, in which we live today. Those who don't know this wonderful blessing are on the outs. They need to hear the message. So, tomorrow, I will speak of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit that may be foreign to non-Christians. I will not waver. I will not fade. I will not fail to bring the promise of hope and redemption that comes from the Holy Spirit, that ONLY Jesus promised.
Debate is settled. Jesus is the Hope, the Life, and the Resurrection for believers. Not tainted nor diminished. That will be my prayer. Pray for ME!
I will end the prayer with the Lord's Prayer. I pray for unison in it's saying. In that, there will be a confirmation that God is in power and God is in charge...at least, in the lives of believers. And believers will pray this prayer with me. All Power and Glory to God Almighty!
When I post it is traditionally about healing. Like, the healing ministry or a healing service, or a specific situation where I felt God's calling to be used by Him for His glory bringing about a healing. But today is different. Yet, not. Today at my church we had a service where we reaffirmed our baptismal covenant. Brothers and sisters in Christ...it was AWESOME!
For my fellow UMC readers, it's on page 50 of the UMC Hymnal. For those not of this particular persuasion, it is a liturgy about remembering and revisiting our baptism. You see, many were Christened as infants and do not recall their baptism. Others, as adults, do recall their baptism. But taking the time to reflect and recall those things pertinent to being baptized as a follower of Jesus Christ is oh, so, important.
Today's scripture reading was from Acts 9 where Luke tells of Saul's conversion after seeing a bright light and hearing and speaking to Jesus. But if we catapult to Acts 22: 14-16 we see Paul's personal reflection upon that day when he was baptized. Here is what Paul had to say about that:
14"Then he said: 'The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'
Therein lies the message for all of us: "...what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name." You see, Paul was still Saul until he was baptized. He was a guy who had this wildly awesome experience, but had not yet committed himself to serving that lord he encountered. It was at baptism that Saul became Paul. When he turned his life over to the risen savior and made his life available for His service. Saul became Paul at baptism...NOT at the Damascus road event that led him to this point. This is important.
Many of us receive a revelation that Christ is, indeed, God. Many of us are overwhelmed by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. But...Big BUT...we're nothing in the kingdom until we "get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name." That is what I'm talking about...getting up and going about God's business.
This service of reaffirmation of our baptismal covenant was so potent...so moving...that it could not happen without someone reporting on it. I am that reporter! Today over half the church came to the alter, refreshed themselves with the baptismal water by dipping their hands in it and letting it evaporate...then going to the alter on bended knees and reaffirming their relationship with God the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This preacher was humbled, awed, and overwhelmed with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. God touches people when they come with a contrite heart to His throne. That...I repeat...THAT...happened today at our worship service. Over half of our congregation was on bended knee at the alter.
I heard exclamations of "I love you" and "God loves you" and "Jesus loves you" and "Save me Lord from myself". I could not prevent tears from falling from my eyes. It was that moving. The love and passion that comes from following Jesus can rise up in otherwise quiet followers to the point where it must express itself. Today, in my small church, it expressed itself!
To all Christians who have been baptized into the faith I say: Revisit that event; relive that event; reclaim that victory over self and "get up and go" with the assurance that sins are washed away. Proclaim Christ as the redeemer of all the world.
Again, I say that Paul was Saul who had this wild experience. It wasn't until Ananias told him to get up and get baptized then go tell the world that Saul became Paul. What's your name? Is it due for a change?
Challenging thoughts run through my head in my service to Our Lord. Challenging. I have a dear member of our church who is in her final days, as prescribed by her doctor, under hospice care. What do I, a minister of healing do? What do I pray for? She has had a 3 year extension of her life through healing prayer. But now, with a failing heart...what do I do? Do I pray for a miracle or pray for acceptance? What a dilemma! I'm torn between praying for healing versus praying for reconciliation. She knows where she's going at the right time, but do I pray to extend that time? Anybody ever been caught in this situation? I would appreciate your thoughts.