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Friday, July 15, 2011

The Power of Prayer...healing power is for Today!

     In Church we are going through a scripture by scripture study on healing.  Not a doctrinally based, or theologically based study, but a study of scripture itself; seeing what the Bible says or does not say on the subject.  It has been encouraging, uplifting, and challenging because even today in churches we are taught more about God's limitations than His desires and capabilities in this area of life.
     What never ceases to amaze me is the after effects of such a study on the people who hear the word.  Just last evening, we had two people testify about being healed through prayer. I firmly believe that the Lord can act wherever, whenever, and however He sovereignty chooses to act.  Yet, I also know that stirring faith in His ability to act by soaking in the scriptures can have much the same effect.  After all, His word is living and true.
     One woman came forward to share how she had been healed of a large tumor several days ago.  The cyst was growing on her right hand after she had injured it a few months ago.  She had been praying that God would heal it.  Yet, during the same time it just keep on growing and was causing discomfort to spread up her arm.   It had reached the size of about 3 inches long by 1/2 in height when she and her husband decided that they should have it checked out by a doctor.  The doctor told her that the condition could be remedied by surgery on her hand.  She asked if she could have alittle time to make the decision being that he would be operating on her right hand. 
     This was all happening during the same period of time as our church study.  Now, she was always a believer in God's ability to heal, and had been healed before.  That is why she had been contesting for her healing now through prayer.  Yet, as the discomfort in her arm increased, she found that surgery might be the best bet for immediate relief.  But, her spirit was still being stirred by the Wednesday night classes.
     When she awoke on Sunday after a good nights rest, she noticed that her arm was not bothering her anymore.  She looked to her hand and noticed that the cyst was gone!  The skin that had been stretched to cover the tumor was now taut and smooth.  She was overjoyed at God's grace and healing in her life. 
     A man also testified that he had had a bothersome foot condition which was going to prevent him from having a wonderful time with his visiting relatives, during an all day outing at an Amusement park.  He found that the pain that morning was hindering him from even crossing the parking lot at the entrance to the place.  He did share that he had been wrestling with this ailment during the week prior to the visit.  But, he thought that he could work through the discomfort so as not to spoil the time of bonding with family.
     Much to his dismay the pain was winning out, so he paused in the parking lot to inform everyone of his plight, and ask for prayer.  He did not want this situation to ruin the rest of the day.  So they all gathered around and asked the Lord to heal this foot condition.
     The gentleman told everyone that he would hold back at first, and urged them  not to allow this situation to hinder their fun.  Later that day, in a moment of reflection, he noticed that all of the pain was gone.  The condition which had bothered him for many days was now healed.  He was now able to thoroughly enjoy the remainder of his time with the family.
     I  personally know of a case outside of this period of time where a young boy was healed from wearing prescription glasses.  His eyesight was getting worse, and the glasses that he was wearing were not strong enough anymore. He was scheduled to go to the optometrist to get checked for a more current prescription when God intervened.  The boy was a believer and knew that Jesus could heal him.  He attended a church meeting with a special speaker who walks in the Holy Spirit with a gift of healing.  This boy wanted his eyes healed, and not have to get new glasses.  He felt that he should ask this man for prayer regarding the matter.
     After the service, he boldly approached the young speaker, explained his physical ailment, and asked for healing prayer.  The minister complied.  They prayed, and then the speaker pulled a book off the shelf and asked the boy to read it.  The words on the page were now crystal clear, his eyes had been healed. 
     The boy was so excited at the miracle that he quickly thanked the minister, and ran out of the room to show his mother what God had done.  The minister gave a bit of a laugh, still not quite sure of the healing due to the boys speedy exit.  But, he surmised that God had done a good thing, so he put the book back on the shelf.
     Healing is for today, just as much as salvation.  You see in some of the New Testament scriptures the same original word is used interchangeably in the English.  That word in the original Greek is Sozo.  Because it is God's will for all to be saved and all to be healed, read Luke 5: 17 - 26. ( Check out: Mark 5:23,Luke 8:36, Acts 14: 9 - 12, the word is Sozo, "saved/healed")

     The one thing that I would like to add is that the glasses that appear in the picture at the top of this blog, are the very ones the little boy has no longer had to use since the day that he was healed. Praise the Lord.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The gentle hand that leads

     I remember a time when the Lord taught me to be led by His gentle hand beyond my preconceived notions.  It happened several years ago during a Sunday morning worship service.  Before going to church that morning, I was prompted by the Spirit with a word of knowledge that God wanted to heal a woman named Anna.  I pondered over the impression in my spirit and just figured that He wanted it to be shared sometime during the worship service.  I also knew, by natural means, that during that selfsame service a very prominent pastor and his wife would be visiting.  You guessed it, her name was Anna.
     Initially, this led to the usual mental contortions where you wrestle with the idea of whether or not this particular impression is from God.  Especially this morning, being that in the back of my mind I knew that an"Anna" was going to be there.  Yet, I felt a real sense of deep peace about the truth of the word that God wanted to heal an Anna of foot or lower leg troubles.  So I settled it in my heart to follow His leading on the when,how, and where to accomplish this mission.
     Upon arriving at the church though I was to be greeted by another layer to my assignment.  The moment that we arrived, an associate pastor came up to ask me to fill in for someone who had been assigned to serve at the coffee/greeting table.  The person had called to say that they would not be in that morning.  Obviously this presented me with an immediate dilemma.  Was I to obey and submit to this request for an obvious need for help?  Or, do I "go with God" and decline so that I could minster the word that He had given me to share during the service?  After all, you only get a few chances to minister to prominent people with what I perceived as such a powerful word of knowledge. Can you just sense the need for some character development here?
     A simple peace comforted me from within and I acquiesced to the pastor's request.  I must admit thought,that as I cheerfully handed out coffee and greeted guests; I still had prodding thoughts stirring a desire to have been in the service.   In this position of service, I would be required to stay outside the double doors that led to the sanctuary for the whole worship gathering.  So, in effect, my choice had barred me from fulfilling my preconceived notions of this days ministry in the Spirit.  I did understand that God being God could still do what He wanted to do in releasing  that healing word to Anna.  Whether it be in person or through some other form of media, I knew that if it was true He would see that the word did not return void and would be effectively delivered.
     Preconceived notions can really put a stranglehold on a living,creative and loving God's ability to use us in the most effective way.  After all, we are simply partners in the implementation of His kingdom come upon the Earth.  Though at peace, I was still at times mentally wrestling with ways of helping God get His will accomplished.
     My two lady co-workers had been regulars at the booth and were actively carrying on their usual banter.  My ear slightly perked up when I heard one tell the other that her foot was hurting her that morning.  She went on to relate how at least it was a temporary condition because in a couple of weeks she was scheduled for an operation to correct her ailment.  Now, I had gone from a bystander to an engaged listener. 
     I slowly turned to my co-workers.  It was at that moment when it dawned on me that I vaguely recalled the name of one of the ladies.  Due to the nature of my enlistment, the three of us had not engaged in the initial pleasantries of introductions.  They had greeted me, already knowing my name, and I guess they had assumed that I had ready recall of their names?
     It was in that moment that I blurted out," You are Anna!".  Taken aback at first, she quizzically replied,"Yes?"  She had no clue of all of the bells that were going off in my spirit.  " And you have a foot condition!"I uttered in an almost confused fashion.  Her interest piqued, "Yes?".  She had no way of understanding the state of mind from which these statements were coming.  But, for me it had all become so perfectly clear that God had won out.  Yet, for Anna, I was looking more and more unhinged with each sputtering comment.
     Suddenly, the moment was salvaged.  I clearly elaborated to her what was going on behind the curtain so to speak, and how God wanted Anna to be healed today!  Anna's heart was opened for Him to move with His healing touch.  We prayed in faith that God's overall will was true and that He wants everyone healed.  We also prayed in faith specifically that it was His will that Anna be healed of her painful foot and leg condition.  All three of us were overjoyed with God's love for this individual in her time of need.  Anna said that she felt some relief, and we left it fully trusting God would accomplish what He had started.
     After, we both turned to our third partner, and asked if she had needed any prayer?  She had just happened to be going back to Vietnam for a family visit in a couple of weeks.  So, we prayed for any concerns that she might have on her heart, and let the Lord speak uplifting prophetic words to encourage her on her adventure.  Needless to say, I learned that day to follow the gentle hand that leads us over the push of events, and the urgency of my flesh when responding to God's anointing. 
     It would be several months later before I was to see Anna once again.  My wife and I casually ran into her at her workplace.  I curiously asked her how her foot was doing, and about the operation.  She stated that her foot was now fine, and that she never had the operation.  The fact of the matter was she was working that day because of her healing.  If she had needed the operation, she would have still been out on medical leave.  It was then that the wonder and comforting joy of God just seemed to hold me like a warm blanket.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Are we in the last days?....are you sure of your end of times scenario?

     I have always been a history buff.  Not just the kind who gets bogged down in the wonkiness of dates, times, and events alone.  But, one who also dwells on the "what ifs" of alternative endings of chance historical events.  Encounters that eventually led to major events that ultimately changed the course of nations, cultures, and the world.  The ponder ables, like What if Adolph Hitler had pursued nuclear weapons over V-rockets?  What if the Bolsheviks had been defeated by the Tsar early on?  What if Abraham Lincoln had lived?  Our world and lives would be a much different place today, if any of these events had turned in the other direction.  History wonks love this sort of game of mental gymnastics.
     I also like to project myself into the mindsets of the people who actually lived through historic times.  Today, we have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight through which we render judgement on our ancestors actions.  But, would we have had the insight to recognize for ourselves that we were entwined in monumental times had we lived through them?
     There have always been cases of individuals who seemingly were caught swimming upstream against both public opinion and apathy.  These so called voices crying in the wilderness like Winston Churchill for example are seldom heeded.  For the better part of a decade, he warned against German militarism and Adolph Hitler.  His reward was to be marginalized, electorally defeated, and denounced by the governmental opinion of his day.  Until, the public in it's darkest hour sought him out as the only voice of reason.  There were voices in 1928/29 just like 2007/08, who warned of over enthusiastic "market exhuberance" and that a possible crash was imminent.  Yet, somehow all of the "experts" were "shocked, and caught off guard" by the events that we lived through a couple of years ago.
     I guess to be a voice in the wilderness is to accept the mocking of many, until a tipping point is finally reached.  With those thoughts in mind, I cannot seem to let go of my mental gymnastics over a book written by Joel Richardson entitled " The Islamic Antichrist".  This book is interesting, challenging, and all backed by lots of research by Mr. Richardson.  I can guarantee that to the average evangelical Christian it will be a challenge to all that they have been taught about the "End of Days".  But, if we are to desire and search for truth?  we must be able to wrestle with a good challenge to our current mindsets.  Challenges are neither good nor bad. They can be used to test what we believe, and see if our worldview needs tweaking.  The Islamic Antichrist will tweak you!
     You see going back to my history wonkability, I have been intrigued by what has been called, "the Arab Spring".  My interest piqued even more when I read this recently released book.  I have not been a starry eyed optimist enough to believe that these events are all unplanned, unfunded, and unsupported by anonymous outside groups used to further their own political agendas.  If I were to think that way, it would be as naive as saying that the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of Eastern European communism just happened because freedom was in the air in the late 1980's.  I may be a bit jaded, but I don't recall it happening quite like that.
     So for me seeing the Arab Spring of 2011 unfold across my television screen as repressive Arab regimes fell to radical community organizers, I sensed a pattern beginning to emerge.  This was not just a happenstance of singular events.  But, a tidal wave of change arising in some of the most brutal of closed societies on the planet.  These kind of events do not happen without a little prodding from either spiritual or human outside sources.
   The premise of the Islamic Antichrist is simply that the much dreaded global Antichrist prophesied to arise in the end of days is not European but actually will come from the Muslim world.  This shadowy figure doesn't come from the revived European Common Market/Western Roman Empire but from a conglomerate of ancient eastern Roman Empire nations.  The book goes into extensive detail, both chapter and verse of how Islamic doctrines and beliefs eerily parallel the biblical world leaders positions and policies.
    It answered for me some nagging questions that were always left unanswered by even the best of our current crop of conservative evangelical end times eschatalogical commentators and teachers.  I have always believed that the scriptures held the truth, yet I found the explanations of those truths by theologians to be found wanting in their ability to satisfy my questions.
     Combined with this new knowledge, and the move of current events, a reawakening occurred in me of thoughts and beliefs that I have  held dormant for over 20 years.  The light bulb really went off when my eldest son, who both myself and the church have failed really failed to teach about end times events came to me with an honest observant comment.  He said, " Dad , after reading Ezekiel 38 and 39 and watching the nightly news, it really looks like the Bible being played out".  It was then that I knew a true reawakening had to be stirred up in the church that had pretty much fallen asleep for a generation in regards to her position of truth and light in the last days concerning these events.
     But, if we were looking in the wrong place for a person of note to arise from nations that he was not supposed to rule over anyway, we would be blinded to the pertinence of the events of the Arab Spring.  We would be like the Pharisees of old, that Jesus criticized when he said that they knew the scriptures, yet failed to see the actual Messiah who was standing right before their very eyes.  Has our church pride and yes even arrogance hidden truth from us, because we have not walked hand in hand with the Lord  and were open to His proddings, as opposed to trusting in our man made doctrines?  Led to the precipice of world events, blindfolded by teachings of the last generation or two, only to see it literally begin to be paraded before our eyes on a daily basis on CNN.  I realize that I am using strong language here, and I am no theologian.  Yet, I am one who searches for the truth even when it challenges my preconceived notions.
     That is why I encourage you to read Joel Richardson's book.  Most Christians do not even have a clue that the pre-tribulation rapture position is less than 200 years old in a religious faith that goes back over 2000 years.  A lot of conservative evangelical believers do not realize that large sectors of the church do not even believe in it as part of their particular doctrine of faith.  With just these glaring realities, why shouldn't we take the time to search out a contarian end times worldview that could very well be growing under our noses?  Joel Richardson maybe wrong, but we could be the ones that are playing a great cosmic shell game, where the pea is hiding under a shell other than the one we  have already picked.  Current Caliphate Article  , Global War on Christians,Gog and Magog: Islamic Views