Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bread of Life Adventures - 10-19-15

The Lord's prayer is one of the most familiar passages in the bible to most everyone.  I have recently come to understand that when Jesus prays for His daily bread, he wasn't suddenly concerned about what He was going to eat.  He tells us his food is to do the will of His Father.  Jesus is teaching us to ask for God to give us His will for today that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven in our lives this day.

Well every day becomes a wild adventure when you walk in seeking to do God's will.  While we were praying following a great day of passing out bread and praying with the people in our community something amazing happened.  We were praying that God's church would become a beacon of light that people stumbling in darkness would be drawn to.  We prayed that the cross on the front of the church would shine brighter than ever before, that the lights would be twice as bright when people look at it.  We prayed, "Lord, draw your prodigals home."

It was only a few moments later we heard a banging on the front doors of the church.  I went to see who was causing the commotion and found a pretty rough looking couple at the door.  I let them in and they said, "We met you a few weeks ago at the gas station and you prayed for us.  We were driving down the road and saw the cross on the church and knew immediately that was the church where the people prayed for us.  I stopped in the middle of the road, put the car in reverse and backed down the street.  We need help and felt the Lord leading us to you."

The man gave his life to Christ, forgiving those who had hurt him and asking forgiveness with tears for all he had done.  We were able to give some help and they went on their way.  They were visibly changed in our presence as we prayed over them.

Wow, God is growing all our faith and we continue to ask, "Lord, teach us to pray!"

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When Faith Becomes An Enemy - Bread of Life Adventure 4-27-15

I had the privilege of praying over someone yesterday that was as discouraged as any I have encountered.  Her story is one where her health has failed her all at once and she finds herself all alone and is not even able to get out of her house anymore.  She feels trapped physically, and tapped financially.

In addition to these struggles her once strong faith had now become her enemy? She grew up in the Pentecostal church teaching that if you had enough faith you could see health and prosperity come to your life.  You could see healing and financial gains if you only believe strong enough.  This is called the word of faith movement that has swept through Pentecostal churches around the world.  It leaves in its wake the poor and the sick left in the margins to suffer alone in their affliction with this reality, "Their faith just wasn't enough.  If only they had more faith."

When your faith is the problem, where do you go to get help?  When every source of help demands more faith than you can muster, what are you left with?  Despair, guilt, and loneliness become the consolation prizes.  What are the answers from scripture?  Well I told her that Christ suffered and that most of the disciples did as well.  Were they lacking in faith?  That Christ ended up with nothing in the way of material possessions and the disciples didn't either.  But the words that ministered to her the most to break the chains of guilt and despair were these,  "Was Jesus faith lacking, when He asked His Father if there was any way for this cup to pass.  Followed by, not my will, but your will be done.  Did Jesus lack faith when He prayed since His request wasn't answered according to his will?"

She chuckled to herself and said emphatically, "No!"  A glimmer of relief from her self condemnation began to enter into her face.  The fresh thought that she could believe again that God still loved her even though she was still very sick.  The very thing that had been taken from her began to be restored, her faith.  What does faith in the midst of suffering look like became our discussion.  Well for one, she is in no pain, yet her condition should be producing much pain.  There was a thankfulness for this blessing in the midst of her suffering.  But there still needed to be a restoring of purpose.  This woman knew how to pray and even knew what people needed praying for, yet was disconnected from those prayers because her faith had been so damaged.  She still had the great purpose of having uninterrupted time for being a prayer warrior.  Doing battle in the spiritual realms.  Many of us are so distracted in our lives, she claimed no such distractions as she had nothing but time to pass in her day.  She was encouraged that God didn't have to restore her health and finances to restore purpose to her life.  There was a great smile on her face as we prayed over her to become a great prayer warrior in a community that needs much prayer.

There was one more piece that needed to be restored.  Had all my prayers been in vain, why hadn't God healed me?  The answer to this question brought much peace.  "Paul's words that to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ and that to live is Christ and to die is gain."  She worried about a day when her body had died and she just lay in the ground waiting.  She couldn't see that this life and this body is just temporary.  That one day God would make all things NEW!  That death is not something for Christians to fear, but that while we live our lives have purpose and when we die the culmination of our deliverance and salvation are made complete.  Scripture tells us that we are made into the likeness of Christ with new and glorified bodies! for a quick link to verses that discuss this more.

God doesn't have to answer our prayers in this short and temporary life to truly be good.  Sometimes he allows suffering, that it might produce a sweet bounty of joy in the midst of the suffering when we find that He is still enough.  And that there can be Joy, unexplainable Joy, even when suffering comes our way through Christ.

In fact I ask you what would make heaven sweeter for you, to be healed and blessed financially in this short life and the next, or for the trials and suffering in this life to be washed away for eternity when you meet Christ face to face and your salvation is made complete in Him?

Read Mark 5 and be blessed by the hope when we encounter Christ face to face, but don't make the mistake that many do from this passage that faith only believes for healing in the present and not also in the future.  We prayed for God to heal her, but also rested in not our will, but your will be done Lord on earth as it is in heaven;

5:21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live." 24 And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I will be made well." 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my garments?" 31 And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, 'Who touched me?'" 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease." 35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?" 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, "Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping." 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, "Talitha cumi," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bread of Life Adventures week of 2/9/15

We started a ministry of going out into the community around the church on Mondays to give away bread and pray for everyone God puts in our path.  We pray before we go, pray while driving, pray with people living around the church, and have a prayer meeting back at the church afterwards.  It has become one of the most exciting days of the week for me.  (And I dare you to go with us and tell me if it wasn't one of the most exciting adventures you've gone on in some time!)  Every Monday noon to about 4pm (you can go for as long as you want as we are just around the corner from the church at all times.)  Ok, enough inviting you to join....Here is the adventures from this week.

3 weeks ago we gave bread to a family and prayed for them in their driveway.  This past Sunday Amanda prayed to receive Christ during the service.  After AWANA's at church we visited with her boyfriend about Christ and were able to comfort him in a real tragedy that he had been through that stood as a barrier between him and the Lord.  God so softened his heart that he wept all the way to work on Monday and came to the men's bible study on Tuesday night.

While Laurie was praying at one house with the family the little dog was barking so much you could barely hear the prayer.  I began praying for the dog to be silenced and he went silent and didn't bark again!

We were able to pray with several people that surprised us how open they were to being prayed for.

We got to share the gospel with two young men that were working on surveying for a house being sold.  We gave the bread and Jesus as they visited with us for 20 minutes or so as we were able to really talk to them about how to build trust in their relationships and ultimately trust in Christ.

We ended back at the church in prayer, but during the prayer time I felt an urgency to leave and go home.  It was awkward to leave during praying together, so I hesitated.  I sensed again the Lord impressing on me an urgency to go home.  I left and headed towards home when a wreck occurred right in front of me on Hardin Store Rd.  I sensed the Lord wanted me to pray for the lady that rolled her truck, but was unharmed.  I told her I was a minister and felt the Lord wanted me to pray for her.  She immediately asked my name, I told her, she then asked what was the name of the church, I told her, she then almost snapped at me asking where it was located, I told her, then she grabbed my arm and fell to me saying, "I've been looking for a church home!!"  I prayed for her and she broke down in tears thanking me for praying.  Her name is Stacey Spalding (guess on spelling).  She literally rolled her truck in the ditch and easily could have been killed based on the damage to the truck, but she almost didn't have a mark on her from the wreck.  I thought later sometimes God has to turn our worlds upside down in order to get our attention.  Her's literally was turned upside down.  I think mine was too!

Weapons left unused in defeat

An old post that I never published.  enjoy

I had more people that appeared to be really far from the Lord have great conversations about taking steps to seek the Lord this week than I have ever before.  With everyone of them promising to come to church this past Sunday, only to see none of them come.  I had such a wonderful time Sunday hearing from Oddie and spending enjoyable time visiting and eating lunch with visitors and church family as we celebrated Memorial Day barbecue together.  But I couldn't help but be a little disappointed that none of the people I had invited had joined in the celebration that day.  I shared with my brother Brian and he had showed up at someones house to give them a ride to church, only to be turned down at the door.That spurred my brother and I to take another look at the situation.  We were talking with people that were squarely in the devil's grasp.
 Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
I was confronted by the reality that my burden to share the incredible riches of Christ, my longing to see people come to know Christ personally as their savior, was not equally matched with a willingness to bathe these individuals in prayer.  It revealed that I really had my confidence in the convincing words that "I" had spoken, that the persuasion that "I" had used to get them to agree to come to church.  My brother saw the same in his encounter.

I have not given up and God works things out in His own timetable, but I am gripped by the reality that I am trying to wage battle in the spiritual realm for men's souls, and I leave the greatest weapon relatively unused during the battle.  May God break me of such self reliance and self confidence and replace it with an utter dependence on Him and a God confidence that drives me to Him more and more.  That I might have the distinct joy of seeing those perishing in sin and destruction be snatched out of the flames.

This funny picture is funny, but only makes my thinking that my persuasive words were weapons of war that much more lame.  Let us learn to pray like we are doing battle on our knees.  Read this week that a lady in a muslim community that was seeing many convert to Christianity was seeking to train each new believer to be a prayer intercessor.  Let us do the same.

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