Humility?

God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). I want grace. I need grace. I must have grace so I can walk in the overcoming victory Christ won for me. That means I must first be humble. So I’ve been contemplating the concept of humility and asking God for some revelation: when does it come to me, where does it come from, and what does it look like?

I have heard humility defined as ‘strength (power) under submission’. Usually, whenever someone hears that, He nods his head in a wise and solemn gesture of agreement. Well, maybe I’m the only one, but I confess I just don’t get it. Somewhere in the phrase I intuit a profound truth. But I still don’t understand how to be, well…humble.

I realize, because I’ve heard it taught, that humility does not come out of my own effort. God says the important things are not from might or from power, but by His Spirit (Zech. 4:6). Humility is one of those elusive slippery things you can’t ever be as long as you’re thinking about it. It seems that the harder you chase it, the faster it runs.

Humility is an obstinate quality that begins to appear as we forget about it and pursue something else. So what should I pursue, if all I can think about is how to achieve humility? It’s a puzzle that has tied my mind in knots.

Obviously I must go to the source. If I am to pattern myself after Jesus, then I need to examine how He was on this Earth.

“I am meek and lowly in heart…” (Mt. 11:29). Or, in modern language, “I am gentle and humble…”. Jesus sheds some light on this quality of being when He explains that He came to do the will of the Father; that the words He spoke were not His own.

I find, after I delve past the miracles, that Jesus was a man completely sold out and given over; a man who put the things of God before Himself. He didn’t collect snow globes. He didn’t take two weeks every year to go on a cruise, or to the ski slopes, or to the deer woods. His favorite TV shows didn’t dictate His weekly schedule. (I’m not impugning those things…just illustrating a point.)

Jesus was a man of such strength and resolution and character that people were diverted from their errands and drawn to Him. He was filled with one desire: to serve humanity in the will of, and through the power of, the Father.

Jesus’ great ability was under submission because He gave up His rights, His fleshly desires and urges, His human will to do things differently…all those things were surrendered to the Father.

This subjection was a choice He made. It’s a choice I can make, moment by moment: to be so focused on the Word and Will of God that every part of me and my life and my activities reflect Him. As I make that choice, focused solely on God rather than on my ambition to be something (or, in the case of humility, to not be something), then my own desires become less fierce. The will of God can take root and grow in me.

Pretty soon, satisfying Him is more important than indulging myself. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone; I don’t need to enforce my rights to be treated a certain way.

I begin to recognize it really is all about Him. I am invaded by a great and intense yearning to know Him better, to be more like Him. At that moment, when I have completely forgotten about me, that’s when humility blossoms on that bare branch within me.

It’s my choice whether or not the blossom is like the Century Plant flower, opening for one brief moment in the entire 100 year life-span, or like that of the ever-flowering wild rose, loaded with blossoms all season long.

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More Quotes

(Quotes from Bill Johnson, “A Life of Miracles: a 365-day guide to prayer and miracles”. Destiny Image Publishers, 2008)

“Biblical passion is a mysterious mixture of humility, supernatural hunger, and faith. I pursue because I have been pursued. Lethargy must not be found in me. And if the average Christian life around me falls short of the biblical standard, I must pursue against the grain. If people are not being healed, I will not supply a rationale so that all those around me remain comfortable with the void. Instead, I will pursue the healing until it comes or the individual goes to be with the Lord. (At this point the prayer for resurrection is appropriate!) I will not lower the standard of the Bible to my level of experience.” Day 75.

“As for the ministry of power, whatever I receive from God I must give away. You only get to keep what you give away. If you want to see people healed, look for those who are sick and offer to pray for them. While I am not the healer, I do have control over my willingness to serve those in need. If I minister to the needy, I give Him an opportunity to show His extravagant love for people. The ministry of signs and wonders will go nowhere if we are afraid of failure.” Ibid.

“A primary purpose of the miracle realm is to reveal the nature of God. The lack of miracles works like a thief, stealing precious revelation that is within the grasp of every man, woman, and child. Our debt to mankind is to give them answers for the impossible, and a personal encounter with God. And that encounter must include great power…

“To represent Him without power is a major shortcoming. It is impossible to give an adequate witness for God without demonstrating His supernatural power…The miracle realm of God is always with purpose. He doesn’t come upon people with power to show off or entertain. Demonstrations of power are redemptive in nature. Even the cataclysmic activities of the Old Testament were designed to bring people to repentance.” Day 78.

“Demonstrations of power are no guarantee that people will repent. One only needs to look at Moses to realize that sometimes the miraculous only causes our Pharaohs to become more resolved to destroy us when they see power…We  must be sober-minded about this: power often causes people to decide what they’re for or against. Power removes the middle ground.” Day 79.

 

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Flashback to the Philippines: Salvations and Spiders

(excerpted from 2013 journal)   Day 7 Big day planned. Mike has scheduled an all day event in the town of ******. He’s reserved the city gym, a large, covered, open air building with a real stage and bleachers on two sides. We set up about 250 chairs on the gym floor and added more as those filled up.

We started at 10 instead of the publicized 8 am, which I am learning meant we were right on time. During the two hour interval I prayer walked the building, aware of the almost palpable Presence of God. I began to have great expectations for the day so I texted my prayer warrior friends at home to spread the word to pray for this meeting.

The mayor showed up and welcomed us to the city and said a few political words. We had a nice conversation. He commented on how hot it was and I realized, with some amazement, that I hadn’t noticed.

Anticipation thrummed through me. I knew I had the message for the moment and I couldn’t wait to release it. With a full stage beneath my feet, and speakers bigger than life at my back, my words would be carried across the town. Time to throw away the notes and go for broke; to unleash the Holy Spirit and get out of the way.

For the morning portion I preached a simple but bold salvation message: There are two kingdoms and everyone belongs to one or the other. Believing isn’t enough, even the demons believe. So we must make Him Lord. Only one God, and only one way to Him. There are many pretenders called by all kinds of names. But only Jesus took our place in death…only Jesus shed His blood for us…only Jesus died so we could live.

At the altar call about 60% of the people came forward. Many were weeping. I know a large number of them were already born again. But I had preached a message I hoped would reach those who are lost, as well as those who are only partially committed. I challenged them to give every part of their life and heart to Him; to commit to living a life worthy of Him.

Anticipating my afternoon message, which would be on healing, I had briefly trained 6 Bible School students to be catchers. They had to run forward as we began laying hands on people to bless them after they prayed for salvation. I did what I have been taught, moving through the crowd as the Holy Spirit led. God really showed up. It was exciting to see so many touched by God.

After lunch I preached on healing. I shared scriptures and lots of stories about healings I have witnessed. The excitement built. They knew when I was finished talking we were going to pray for the sick. At 3 pm we formed two teams: Linda with me and one of the pastors to interpret for Mike. We prayed for people until after 5. I don’t have any idea how many came forward for prayer, but I do know that many of them were healed. At first, when I questioned them about what was happening in their body as a result of prayer, I couldn’t understand their response. Even Linda kept asking clarifying questions. It finally dawned on us that they were saying, over and over again, “The pain is gone. No more pain.” We thought they were being polite, but they jumped up and down on previously painful legs. They demonstrated full movement in shoulders that had been stove up, stiff, or immovable.

People who had come up limping walked away with a firm step. Headaches vanished. Back pain disappeared. Knees, hips, stomach ailments, hernias…so many of them seemed to disappear as we prayed. None of us had ever experienced such wholesale healing. One of our biggest problems was that people were going out in the Spirit before we could pray for them! Our catchers were busy keeping suddenly unconscious people from crashing onto the concrete.

After the event I waited at the gym for the church Jeepne to collect me along with all the others who lived near the compound. For two hours I sat in the gathering darkness on the gym steps swatting mosquitoes and having delightful conversations with all the teenage girls, most of whom spoke fairly decent English.

Finally home about 8 pm. Long wonderful day. Tired and hot but incredibly satisfied, I wanted a hot shower and to stand in front of the A/C while it cooled my room. I was so thankful for my western style bathroom. I shifted the towel hanging on the wall rack and a black spider the size of my hand skittered out and froze. No need to panic, I told my racing heart. I encouraged myself, saying, “You are bigger than he is. This is your room. Take no captives.”

There ensued a running battle around that tiny bathroom, me with my flimsy flip-flop and he with his extremely agile 8 legs. There was a moment when victory could have gone either way. He tried to flank me by running along the wall where the door was. But he hesitated too long and I finally got him. Sweat running in rivers off my forehead, I stepped through the door into the bedroom to gather my wits and all the lights went off. Brownout! (Although why they call it that I’ll never know, because it gets black as night.)

Thank you, Lord, the electricity did not quit while I was in the bathroom with that spider!

No hot water. No A/C. No water pressure even for a cold wash down. But the spider is dead, and a whole lot of people got saved today. I’ll take that.

(names have been changed)

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An Answer for Jericho

JerichoWalls7Priests

Several weeks ago some young folks dropped in on a study where we discussed the capture of Jericho. God had ordained that, of every living creature in the city, only Rahab and her family would be spared. On the face of it that sounds incredibly harsh. The young folks were horrified.

It reminded me how often, studying the Bible in my early days, I stumbled upon passages which seemed perplexing and confusing. Only later, as I began to know God’s character and assimilate the entirety of the Gospel message, did I begin to recognize the beauty, love and mercy revealed even in actions that had at first glance seemed bewildering and incomprehensible.

Humans are created in the image of God. We love justice. We have compassion. His heart of mercy beats within us. We want life to be fair! Strangely enough, despite our sad propensity to seek revenge, we even want things to work out for people who have hurt us. These attributes are the reflections of God’s image, breaking through our humanity.

Unfortunately, although we are created in the image of the compassionate just Judge of the universe, we are fallen creatures. We bear reflections of His heart without His knowledge or wisdom. Our understanding is limited because, unlike Him, we cannot see the entire picture of civilization and eternity all at once: every life and how it impacts every other, all people groups and how each will influence the next, every action and its reaction from the beginning of time until the end.

But God sees such things. His ways are not our ways for these reasons and so many others that speak to our own limitations and His fathomless knowledge and immeasurable love.

Because being moved with compassion without the facts is mere emotion, vigilante justice is almost always wrong. People cannot make quality decisions by emotion alone…facts are required, and often gathering all the facts requires time. Sometimes gathering all the facts is impossible unless we are, like God, able to see generations beyond our own time.

After the facts are collected the decisions we make, especially to protect the many from the few (or the few from the many!!), may seem harsh, even cruel. As an example: when a deadly viral outbreak occurs we think nothing of containment measures that sound drastic. With complete compassion for those who suffer, we still insist on quarantine. Sometimes we are required to sacrifice the freedom and even the lives of the few to protect the many and ensure the survival of our species.

We lock up proven criminals. Often our decisions regarding the extremely dangerous are painful and controversial but they are based on the recognition and understanding that sometimes difficult measures are necessary to protect those for whom we are responsible.

How to protect the innocent, the vulnerable, the un-infected…is a subject civilizations have wrestled with for centuries. And yet, the decision of civilized nations throughout history has been that contagion must be contained, evil must be stopped.

What if a horrible infection could affect not just the body but the eternal part of man, killing the life of the spirit and affecting a person’s status for eternity? Would not dramatic action be required? God knew the people of Jericho were infected in exactly such a way. Evil had such a grip on them, was so pervasive among them, that it could not be dislodged.

God told Moses that He had delayed the invasion of the promised land while He attempted to reach the people currently living there to turn them from their disastrous ways. They had refused to heed God’s many warnings. He had done all He could do without revoking their free will. They had chosen evil instead of good. They were morally and spiritually infested and what they had was extremely contagious.

In order to protect the rest of creation a loving and just God had no choice but to isolate and then destroy in order to eradicate what would infect and threaten others. He did it at Sodom. He did it with the flood…all drastic actions that broke His heart, necessary to protect the future of His beloved creation.

Why were even the animals killed? Read about the Gerasene demoniac in Mark 5, where thousands of demons migrated from one man to a bunch of pigs. Animals can be infected, as well.

Running the universe requires something mankind does not have: perfect love, perfect justice, perfect understanding, perfect knowledge. Job thought he ought to have a shot at it. God’s answer can be found in Job 38-41. Reading those passages always fixes my perspective.

It’s healthy to question. It’s good to discuss what puzzles or concerns us. Based on history it is certainly human to question God. The only way to get complete answers is to take the time to know the real God…not the mythical god, not the Hollywood god, not the god found in pop fiction, not necessarily the god found in some churches, and certainly not the god of our own imaginations.

The only way to know the magnificent attributes of the true God is to read His word with an open heart and allow His Holy Spirit to reveal His love. When we know Him we trust Him. We recognize that He is always good, that all good things come from Him, that His glory fills the whole earth, and that there is nothing He can do that is not perfectly right, balanced, and fair.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusts in Him.” (Ps 34:8)

(photo courtesy of crystalinks.com)

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Quotes Worth Sharing

“Many in the body of Christ are in the same state Saul was in before he encountered injustice (see 1 Sam. 11:1-7). We have been anointed as kings and priests, we have been commanded to disciple nations, and we have been equipped with the wisdom, power, and authority of God Himself. Yet somehow, we find ourselves following some silly oxen around the farm, going back to our old habits and focusing on survival when we’ve been called to lead and influence people for the Kingdom.” Kris Vallotton, Supernatural ways of Royalty, (2006), p.142.

(After writing my previous post, No Man’s Land, reading this insight from Vallotton just blew me away. Think God is releasing something to His body?!)

“Jesus demonstrated what can happen when one person totally agrees with the will of the Father. His ministry didn’t cause the whole world to be evangelized or saved in His lifetime. Instead, He equipped a small group of disciples to bring justice to whatever situation in which they found themselves. Then, through His death, He made that power available to any who would believe.” Ibid. p.145.

“It’s time for the Body of Christ to rise up and receive our inheritance! We must rid ourselves of complacency and restore the ancient boundaries of holiness and demonstrations of great power. We can’t be satisfied with illustrated sermons, great music, or friendly services. We have been called to see the powers of darkness destroyed and our ruined cities restored.” Ibid, p.146.

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No Man’s Land

I’ve noticed something about myself that I believe is common to much of the church in America. It’s a state of being so subtle that, without the help of the Holy Spirit, I could never see it well enough for definition.

When asked, I confess that I’m sold out for God. And I believe myself. Would I give my life for the Gospel? Of course I would! And yet, it appears that I have been inhabiting a place that is only partially in the Kingdom. Parts of me, soulish parts, are all tangled up in things that belong to this world. Some days I wear my Christian face and other days I’m camouflaged so effectively that I can move about in plain sight without blowing my cover.

I’m like the swan raised as a duck who doesn’t know who or what she is. Oh, she has an inkling…she knows she’s a bird. She just has no idea what kind. She’s completely unaware of the grandeur inherent in her DNA.

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This sort of bi-polar existence seems normal because it’s the way almost everyone I know lives. We attend church, bible studies, conferences. We love God and love one another and, as far as we know how, we attempt to seek first the Kingdom. And yet we are still feeding our spiritual hunger with quail when the only thing that will satisfy our ravenous need is manna.

But I don’t realize I’m actually starving until I mix it up with someone fresh off the mission field, or some evangelist who can’t go out for coffee without leading someone to the Lord. Then I begin to suspect that I’m just understudy to a role that they are actually living. Their mature swan feathers glisten white in the sunlight as they coast gracefully around the pond where they have alighted for a brief moment. I study my own juvenile quills, white and yellow and gray, and yearn to be what they are with such a deep desire it actually hurts. I want what they have: the conviction, the commitment, the Presence!

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I know we don’t compare ourselves among ourselves. Certainly not everyone is called to the mission field. Well, perhaps we are all called, it’s just that the field often ends up being our own back yard.

Nevertheless, when in the company of someone truly and absolutely sold out to God, there is a niggling question way down in my soul that goes something like this: What am I really doing for the Kingdom, and why do I often feel like that woman with two faces? That bird trapped between duck and swan.

The truth is that I’m floundering in this no-man’s land between the two worlds, a foot in each. From here, anchored by old habits to a place I don’t fit anymore, I can glimpse the beauty of God’s Kingdom. Sometimes an other-worldly wind blows scents from those gardens, and songs from that cathedral, across my senses and I bask in the beauty and promise.

Beholding without partaking has created an abiding dissatisfaction that must be acknowledged and fixed. I need to sever the ropes, break the old dependencies, acknowledge that I am dead to the one and only fully alive when immersed in the other.

I’ve got a choice to make. It’s either all in, no more toehold in the old familiar places, or tangled between the two without the comforts of either. Entanglement has not and never will satisfy me. Full forward is my only choice because, looking over my shoulder, I recognize there is nothing for me in those old haunts. As my true feathers come in and I spread my wings I realize the old pond is too small for me and has been for a long time.

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Wading has ignited a powerful yearning to be in over my head. I don’t want to paddle with the ducks any more…(to completely mix as well as butcher my metaphor)…I want to swim with the whales. Deep is calling to deep and I can’t resist the urge to answer.

How do I shove off, weigh anchor, learn to fly, dive into those waters way over my head? I haven’t the faintest idea. That’s the adventure. Thank God it’s not a solo endeavor.

So I’m burning the bridges and donning the wetsuit. I’m cliff diving and I’m not coming back. Got to have more of God. At any price, I must have more.

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(ugly duckling from ffffound.com)

(large swan from beautifulisms.com)

(flying swan from featurepics.com)

(whale from wordlesstech.com)

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Random Quotes that Move Me

Setting up this site, with no previous experience or understanding, I made a “page” for quotes intending to add to it regularly. Then I realized adding to an established page does not alert my readers that something new is available. So I’m making this topic a “category”, which I can expand at whimsy.

When you live alone there’s no one to turn to and say, “Hey, listen to this!” I expect this new category to satisfy that urge, which I get a lot.

“Do not measure what you should do by the gift; measure the gift by what you should do.” Reinhard Bonnke, Taking Action, p.5

“The present world, with its limited scientific laws, is not big enough for a converted Christian, anymore than a cage is for an eagle.” Bonnke, ibid.

“If we preach the power of the Spirit without the Cross, it is a short circuit, which brings a loss of the very power we preach. The Spirit’s primary interest is in the Cross. We do not preach power but the gospel, which is the power of God by the Spirit.” Bonnke, ibid.

“If you do find yourself loving the brethren,  you can be sure that you are a child of God. You know that. You will know that nothing else would make you love such people and enjoy their company but this fact that it has happened to them and to you, and you are aware of this thing that you are sharing together — common participation in the life of God.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Joy Unspeakable, p. 92.

“It was not by accident that the law preceded grace.” Charles Finney, Power from on High, p. 70.

“If one avoids looking at the law, he avoids being instructed in his soul and wants to receive the gospel of grace directly. Without repentance, however, a person creates a false hope, a false standard of the Christian experience.” Sergio Scataglini, The Fire of His Holiness, p. 91.

“Temptations on this side of heaven cannot be avoided, but a passion for God can be so strong that it eclipses the blinding lights of temptation.” Scataglini, p. 116.

“Righteousness means the ability to stand in the Father’s presence without a sense of guilt, inferiority, or sin, just as free in the Father’s presence as was Jesus…It is ours  now, in this present, evil world.” E.W. Kenyon, In His Presence, p.83.

“I believe any supernatural experience is to convey the love of God to humanity, and because God loves us so much, we ought not to make excuses for the operation — or lack thereof —  of God in ministry. For this reason I highly esteem daily prayer, speaking in tongues, and the tangible, physical presence of the Lord, the prophetic move of God among His people, the deliverance ministry of Jesus in today’s world, the healing of the sick, and the teaching of the infallibility of the Word of God in a concise realistic, fashion.” James Maloney, The Dancing  Hand of God, p. 21.

“Miraculous interventions are to testify of the dominion of King Jesus over this natural world, not just simply to feel ‘warm and gooey’ in your body. His divine nature being revealed is the sole purpose for any sign and wonder. Any miracle, visitation or prophetic word is to create a permanent link between the Kingdom of Heaven and the kingdom of earth, for it is indeed an adulterous generation that seeks after a sign just to be impressed by the sign itself.” Maloney, p.22.

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Flashbacks from the Philippines: Charlie

(excerpt from 2013 journal) This afternoon we visited a “village” consisting of 8-10 homes – very poor, very little land, no electricity – as primitive as it gets in a world even remotely touched by the west. Under a frayed tarp stretched between trees, Mike preached salvation. He underscored the difference between being sprinkled at birth and accepting Jesus as the way, truth and life, emphasizing the fact that no one comes to the Father except through Him.  He talked about accountability and choice. Everyone attending, and a few more who had sat it out on the sidelines, raised their hands for salvation and at least several of them really meant it.

Then we offered to pray for anyone who needed healing. It seemed as if everybody we prayed for announced the pain went away. Prayer was so easy…they would probably never go to a doctor so Jesus is their only hope. He did not disappoint them.

As night closed in and we prepared to depart we were asked to pray for a young man who had a hurt leg. They led us to the most distant hut and we scrambled up the 2×8 plank into the front room. The man, unable to walk, scuttled out of the back room like a crab. The minute I saw him I knew he had some kind of occult issue because of a darkness that seemed to envelope him. He was downcast and silent and looked quite miserable.

His leg almost made me gasp. He had some horrific metal apparatus that attached to the shin bone just above the ankle and again just below the knee. It stood 5” above the leg and was 8-10” long. I could not imagine how his bone supported the weight. The motorcycle accident happened a year ago and he had never gone back to have the metal removed.

Infection pulsed red and swollen from the knee to the toes. He could not touch the leg or move the foot without agony.

I asked him what he wanted us to pray about (having learned never to assume, and also believing that asking is part of the cure). His answer surprised me. He described tormenting nightmares involving mutilated corpses and said he wanted to be free from them. I asked if he had ever participated in occult practices. He said yes, blood sacrifice and idol worship…the very dark side of the local voodoo cult.

He testified to being born again and the pastor who had organized the Bible study confirmed. I led him in confession, repentance, renouncing of all those activities. He did not hesitate. As I broke the rights and commanded the tormenting spirits to leave he winced. I asked if he had a headache, and he did. I usually take that as evidence of witchcraft presence. We commanded that to go, and it did. He felt immediate and immense relief and the darkness around him vanished. I instructed him what to do if the nightmares attempted to return.

Then we prayed for the leg. He could not touch it or move the foot. I asked God for a miracle because that’s what immediately came to mind and, truthfully, I could not imagine anything less would do the job. After we prayed he announced the pain was completely gone and he began wriggling his toes and moving the foot with obvious surprise and delight.

God, You are sooo good!

His name is Charlie. I promised to continue praying for him. Of all the people I have met so far, he is the one I can’t forget.

After that prayer experience all my exhaustion evaporated. There are so many desperate people with desperate needs but God is an answer where no other exists. He is up to the challenge. We have good news the world must hear. What a privilege to be used by God to bring such relief and hope.

(excerpt from my journal 10 days later…)

Afterward, since we were on that side of the island, we headed up the mountain to re-visit Charlie, the guy with all the metal in his leg. He had requested more prayer. I was very excited to see him again as I had thought about him daily since we prayed for him.

We scampered up the long plank incline to his house in the pouring rain. Charlie, his mother, and two young children awaited us in the front room. Charlie’s leg was scabbed over and looking wonderfully healed and strong. He moved it without regard to any pain, and looked fit and relaxed. I asked about the nightmares and he said he hasn’t had one since we prayed! Hallelujah!

Charlie wanted prayer because his father practices voodoo and was trying to drag him back into the family religion. He wanted to know how to refuse and how to stay separated from those spirits because he was aware of them coming into the house during the night and trying to get a hold of his life again. He is very spiritually sensitive.

We did some instructing and some praying, some binding and some loosing. He said he would never return to those things even though his father wanted him to do so. He emphatically stressed no more witch doctor, no more voodoo. He stated that he intends to live for Jesus, and Him alone.

I told him how proud I was of him to make such a courageous choice. He then looked me full in the face for the first time and smiled a beautiful smile. His face was lit from within and I saw in him what he could become if he sticks to his decision. I saw in him the heart of a leader, and I told him so. He reminded me of Gideon. He asked again for a Bible because he wants to read the word of the true God. The pastor said they would give him one of theirs and Mike will replace it when he gets back to the city.

(Note: We have made arrangements for Charlie to receive the operation to remove the metal and fix his leg so he can walk and work again. Generous laid-down-lovers of God have contributed the provision I’ll be taking with me on this trip. I’ll keep you posted!)

(Names have been changed.)

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Song of the Redeemed

Our great Savior has been talking to us about worship. He is teaching us the basic truths regarding our walk with Him: what gives us peace, joy, and strength. These are His attributes in us that enable us to rise above the daily difficulties we encounter.

We already know that our Creator God individually and uniquely gifts each of us. We are most satisfied when we are walking in that gifting. He made some to be painters, some teachers, some athletes, some builders, some workers of stone, architects, inventors. Each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made and, deep within us, there is fulfillment and satisfaction in doing what we are created to do.

But different as we are, every one of us has one thing in common: we are created to worship God. It is part of the call on our lives. Doing what we are called to do completes us in a deep and lasting way.

We are learning that we are a people of worship for many reasons, but all those reasons fall into two categories: what worship comes out of, and what comes out of worship.

Worship comes out of a pure and grateful heart. It is the response that rises up within us as we begin to realize the incredible length and breadth and depth of what Jesus did because of His love for us.

The ability, the desire, to abandon ourselves in adoration of the One who created and sustains us – the One who shields us beneath His wings; who gives His angels charge over us; who will never leave or forsake us – this willingness to praise God is a gauge of our intimacy with Him. When we know Him we adore Him. Adoration transforms itself into worship. We begin to experience all the privileges and equipping available to us in our redemption…and praise is the song of the redeemed!

What worship comes out of, the recognition and knowledge of God and His attributes, is our gift to God. What comes out of worship is His gift to us. We know that He inhabits the praises of His people. As we draw near to God through praise and worship, reminding ourselves of all He is and all He has done, He draws near to us. We find ourselves in the very presence of the Almighty. The experience of being so close to Him builds courage and confidence within us. Our faith increases. And, as our faith increases, God responds to the needs in our lives and ministers to us in a fresh and powerful way.

As we abandon ourselves in worship God’s presence touches us more deeply for healing, breaking strongholds, defeating the works of the enemy; teaching us to be the overcomers we were always meant to be.

Victory is the gift God births out of our obedience to worship Him in spirit and truth.

Jesus said that if His disciples should fail to praise Him the very rocks would cry out. So let us sing and make music. Let us dance with joy. Let us purpose in our heart that, when the Lord hears praise pouring forth, it will be from our own mouth and not a stone speaking in our place.

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Beverly’s Story

peaceful

Beverly came to our fellowship from another state. She had attended church most of her life but it was only after she joined us that she began to understand that the love of God, not the anger or judgment of God, is the dominating factor in a Christian’s life. As she learned to live in the current victory of Christ, rather than on memories of a past already separated from her as far as the east is from the west, we watched her blossom like a springtime flower.

Having survived breast cancer, and other serious health issues, she knew how to fight. Even after a painful marital separation and the acquisition of a house full of grandchildren she had not expected to raise, she approached life with joyful anticipation. She practiced faith in a way I have seldom witnessed.

One day, having worked herself sick during flu season taking care of everyone except herself, a friend hauled her to the clinic for medical attention. The x-rays revealed pneumonia, which was expected, and an orange-sized tumor in her lung, which was not expected. The local family practitioner made immediate arrangements with a specialist in the nearby city.

Beverly had sick children so she delayed her appointment for three weeks. Meantime, we continued praying for her and she proclaimed her “already” victory over cancer at every opportunity. She understood she could acknowledge the x-ray as a natural reality, but also proclaim the greater supernatural Heavenly reality that her healing had already been accomplished. Her faith never wavered.

After all the children were finally well Beverly visited the specialist. A friend went with her because she wanted to witness the moment when Beverly was proclaimed cancer-free.

The specialist at the cancer center took one look at the x-rays and shook his head. Drawing air between his teeth, he leveled with the two women. “I’ll wait for the MRI results,” he said. “But, having seen many of these sorts of tumors, I can almost assure you that this one is malignant.” The two women smiled at him.

He asked if they understood the severity of the situation. They nodded. And, having already expressed to him their confidence in a supernatural reality, they smiled some more.

Beverly later admitted that he spoke to her as if she might be a bit simple.

That afternoon they watched the doctor review the test results on his computer screen. His expression severe, he excused himself and left the room. He returned with the clinic director and showed her the screen. She examined the x-rays, still illuminated on the wall, and went back to the computer screen.

Beverly and the friend admitted that was the only moment their faith faltered.

Finally the clinic director addressed them. She admitted that, although a very large tumor had clearly existed in the lung three weeks earlier, that day’s MRI revealed a completely clear organ. She pronounced Beverly cancer free, saying, “This is truly the miracle you said you expected. Only God could have done this.”

(photo by mdjunction.com)

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