Friday, December 10, 2010
(2) My neighbor had an extremely bad case of allergies (stuffy head and headache). I prayed for her, and she reported that her allergy symptoms disappeared when she went into the house (a few minutes after I prayed for her). The reduction in allergy symptoms persisted.
(3) My son hit his head on the corner of a cabinet very hard and had an inch-long dent in his forehead. The injury quickly swelled up--it looked horrible--but I rebuked it in Jesus's name. My son joined me and repeated over and over, "In Jesus' name, bruise be healed!" The pain and swelling of the bruise healed significantly within about half and hour.
Praise Jesus for His wonderful mercy and sacrifice for us all! The Lord is good and worthy to be praised. Thank you, Jesus!
Sunday, November 7, 2010
My husband and I were going to a friend's house for a party. When we stepped into the house, we saw that the lights seemed to be on, but it was very dark. In fact, it was so dark that my eyes hurt. We tried to walk around and look for things, but it was nearly impossible because of the thick blackness that surrounded us.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Many times people come through our neighborhood looking for work. They offer to mow the grass, rake the leaves, shovel the snow, or whatever else needs to be done. I think I said ok once, but most of the time, I tell them no. I've always felt uneasy about turning them away, because it is apparent that they desperately want the employment.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
(1) My husband Josh and I prayed for my particularly bad case of menstrual symptoms, and the pain left within a few minutes.Praise be to Jesus, who accomplished the victory over sin, sickness, and death on our behalf! Praise be to the Spirit, who empowers our works for God's kingdom. And praise be to the Father for His unending love, compassion, and grace! Amen!
(2) My knee started hurting badly after getting slightly out of joint. I commanded the knee to go back in place and the pain to flee, and my knee was instantly healed.
(3) My sister started having very bad menstrual pain precisely when we were about to spend our quality "sister time" together. I commanded tormenting spirits to leave, pain to flee, and body to function properly, and she was healed instantly. (In addition, all other menstrual symptoms left in their entirety that very day.)
(4) I started feeling exceptionally nauseous a couple days ago. Josh and I both prayed for the nausea to go. I later commanded my hormones to come into balance and for foreign aggravates to be destroyed. The severity of the nausea was instantly reduced after my prayer, and the nausea continued to decrease for the next couple hours. I was completely recovered within about 3 hours.
(5) I noticed that 3 sores had appeared in my mouth. I prayed against them, and one of them completely disappeared by the next day. One of the other sores is nearly healed, and the other seems to have made considerable progress
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Mountains and Valleys
Written by RACHEL M. RASMUSSEN
I stood up high upon a mountain
My gaze went out unto the sea
Before I started on this journey
I never felt so free
Then I heard the master’s voice beside me
“The view is beautiful from here
But if you wish to know these mountaintops as I do
You must follow me to higher mountains still”
Ahhh, ahhh, ahhh [Follow me to higher mountains still]
And so we left the lofty mountain
The next peak clearly in our sights
And as we made our way down into the valley
The daylight slowly slipped away to night
Twisting shadows leading nowhere
Losing sight of where to go
Wolves and coyotes howling, stalking
Where’d the master go?
Cries for help come back unanswered
Have I lost the way?
Come despair, come quick; devour me
I’ve failed anyway
But then I heard the master’s voice
Whispering in the wind
“Don’t give in to the valley’s taunts
Or nighttime’s frightening grin
You need to persevere, my child
To reach my goals for you
Don’t fear, I’m near, I’m watching you
Your time is almost here
As morning broke on the horizon
I felt my mind and strength renewed
And as I turned to look behind me
The valley was far from view
With panting breaths, I climbed onto the mountain peak
The master swiftly grabbed my hand
“Now look, my child, at all the awe around you
Look beyond the sea; there’s yet another land”
Ahhh, ahhh, ahhh [Beyond the sea, there’s yet another land]
Master, I have but one simple question
Right now I see you face to face
But all the time that I was in the valley
The wolves were near, but, Master, where were you?
“Come now, my child, and listen closely
I never parted from your side
I led you through the valley, child
So you’d grow strong inside”
Ahhh, ahhh, ahhh [So you’d grow strong inside]
Between two mountaintops
There’s always a valley
Between two mountaintops
There’s always a valley
[Look, there’s a mountain up ahead]
[Come, meet me there…]
Ahhh, ahhh, ahhh [Come and meet me there]
[Come and meet me there]
Friday, September 10, 2010
So, how can we know if a prophet is truly from God? It is fairly easy to tell, actually: if the prophet acknowledges Jesus as God's Son who came in the flesh to atone for mankind, then the prophet is from God. True prophets speak truth that comes directly from the heart of God the Father, so the message will contain the truth about who Jesus is so that the people who hear the message will acknowledge him as Lord.
There are a few simple messages that God repeatedly sends us through prophets: encouragement (revealing how He loves a person or nation uniquely), instruction (a.k.a., a call to obey His Word), and warning (= these bad things will happen unless you obey). Plus, the messages that come from a prophet of God are always accurate. If a prophet gives a prophecy that turns out to be false (or if he goes back to re-interpret its meaning after it appears to be false), then pay no attention to that person, for he is deceived.
I've discovered some features that are similar in messages from false prophets. One is that the message itself is unclear ("like viewing through a fog") or can't be remembered fully. Another is that the prophet gets his visions from "spirits of light" that don't acknowledge Jesus (...if you have to ask who sent them, they're probably not from God). The most common thread, though, is that the message is either one of world harmony (usually accompanied by an encouragement to seek "the power within") or of world catastrophe (along with instructions for how to protect yourself and survive the ensuing chaos). The "world harmony" message is usually given to a person who doesn't acknowledge Jesus as Lord. On the other had, the "world catastrophe" message is panned off to people who are within Christian circles of influence. The latter case is harder to distinguish from true prophetic messages, since these people acknowledge Jesus as their Lord--but, when we test their message against God's Word, it doesn't line up.
What sorts of things should we expect a true prophet of God to say in these last days before the return of our Lord Jesus? I believe they would tell us to spread the love of Jesus to as many people as possible before it's too late. I also believe they would tell us to stop lusting after our worldly desires and start submitting ourselves to God's Will! Our primary goal is not to get rich, fat, and entertained--it's to love people the way that Jesus did while on Earth. We are to imitate Him! So, what about the coming trials and tribulations described in the book of Revelation? What will the prophets say about that? Well, the Bible says things like "whoever loves his life will lose it" and "those beheaded for the name of Jesus will reign with Him in glory." Jesus also tells us not to worry about what we will eat, drink, or wear because our Heavenly Father will provide what we need just as He does the birds of the air. In other words, prophets who tell you to stock up on food and ammunition in preparation for the battle of Armageddon are NOT from the Lord! Let's start studying the truths that God has given to us in His Word so that we will not be deceived by false prophets in the days ahead!
Monday, September 6, 2010
Some denominations assert that the correlation between tongues and receiving the Holy Spirit existed only during the early church era, when Christianity was in its infancy and was supernaturally validated by tongues when it spread to a new geographical region. Other denominations say that speaking in tongues is a sign of being accepted into the body of Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and that a person can't possibly be a true Christian without having spoken in tongues. Still other denominations say that speaking in tongues comes as a result of submitting oneself to God, being completely filled with the Holy Spirit, and experiencing the full power that God intended for His children to have on earth. So, we still have the question: what are we to think of speaking in tongues?
Well, my husband and I have become more and more curious about this, so we decided to do an experiment. We followed the instructions of a "Practical Guide to Being Filled with the Holy Spirit" (see the full article here) to see if we would start speaking in tongues spontaneously. Interestingly, Josh and I both had very clear phrases that came to our minds (in a language we didn't know... and we suspected that our minds may have just made up the words in anticipation of speaking in tongues). This happened to Josh before, actually, and at that time he looked up the phrase and found out that the words were Hebrew. So, we decided to do look up the words, and sure enough, they were Hebrew. I also had a couple more phrases come to mind later that day and the next. Here are all the phrases that came to mind after asking the Holy Spirit to fill me (I'll spell them as best I can):
Shekem malak -- Ala asa tum (or tom) -- Oto kaba
So, I don't know if this is speaking in tongues or not, but if it is, it's nothing like I expected it to be. I will keep pursuing God about this and see what happens!
Saturday, August 28, 2010
God has told us what His will is for His children. It's not a mystery. He has revealed His will to us through His written Word (and through the example of Jesus, the living Word!). The problem is, we often are ignorant of God's word and are thereby ignorant of what His will is for us. If we want God to answer our prayers, we need to bring requests to Him that conform to the desires He has for our lives.
One way to pray according to God's will is to pray God's Word back to God. Moses did this when God threatened to wipe out all of Israel because of their idolatry (see Numbers 14). Praying Scripture (in application to a particular circumstance) is an interesting concept, as it motivates us to find out what God says He'll do for us (instead of us leaning on the popular phrase, "...if it be your will"). If we lean upon what God has said He'll do, then we can have confidence that we'll get what we ask for because God is faithful to His Word!
So what is God's will for us? To preach the gospel, to trust and obey Him in word and deed, to renew our minds, to seek the gifts of the Spirit, to love people, to be prosperous, to live a long life on the earth, to have the fruit of the Spirit, to have wisdom, to be free from the chains of sin, to be imitators of Christ. The list goes on. If we would truly know what God's will is for us, maybe it would change how we pray and what we pray for. I want to understand what God's will is so that I can live the way that God intended for me--His precious child--to live. Surely our Father in heaven will bless us if we ask for the desires of our heart, but how much more does God know what is best for us! Father, may you transform my desires to be more like yours!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
God has given each of us a unique set of responsibilities for building up His kingdom. Oftentimes we get so focused on building up our monetary, material, or relational security that we forget what the end goal of all our efforts is. The goal isn't to build up for ourselves money, possessions, and good relationships--it's to use our resources to spread God's love over all the earth!
So, I'm going to try something new for once: I'm going to obey God by renewing my mind to have His goals. Maybe you should try it, too.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
You must understand, I am very possessive of my things--so much so that I have containers of toys, clothes, and other random items from childhood that I've never even considered getting rid of (until now, that is!). And I've never considered giving something away that I possibly could find a use for sometime in the near future. So, the idea of giving away one of my video games (that I like but hardly have the time to play) or one of my guitars (that was pulled out of a dumpster, no less) really goes against my grain. God knows how deep my attachment to my stuff goes, and I believe that He wants me to let go of some things that would reveal that my devotion to Him is more important to me than those things.
I've been pondering this for a week or two now. I feel pretty certain that God wants me to step out in faith by giving away some of my possessions--now it's just a matter of actually following through. I pray that God will strengthen me to overcome my addiction to stuff and empower me to joyfully give away some of my possessions. I desire to do this so that God will have more room in my heart to do His good work in me. I don't want to hold anything back from God's regenerative power!
May I be more like Him every day so that His glory will shine through my every word and action! Amen.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
I have prayed against the past several canker sores I've gotten, and the duration of the outbreak has been shortened by several days as a result. On the last one, I prayed that the virus causing the outbreaks would come out from hiding, be exposed to God's glory, and become deactivated in Jesus' name.
I noticed that I got a little cut on the inside of my lip about 4 days ago. Interestingly, that little cut did not turn into a canker sore, and it has in fact completely healed. I am not sure what to make of this. I cannot remember a time when I got a cut inside my mouth that did not turn into a canker sore within a few days. I want to be wary not to jump to conclusions based upon one case, just in case this happens to be a lucky coincidence. Nevertheless, I praise the Lord even for little things like prevented-canker-sores!
Friday, August 13, 2010
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
I had a moment of revelation the other day about what it means to trust God. I have usually thought of "trust" in "trusting God" as the same sort of "trust" that you have when you ask your friend to keep a secret, or when you expect your child not to lie. To "trust" means to have faith in someone's character. Since God is perfect, we should always "trust" Him, which I've always taken as a synonym for having faith in His character and in His promises.
However, I was reminded that my "trust" in someone is not solely measured by my faith in that person's character; it is also measured by the way I respond to that person.
Let me explain with a real life example. While I was a chemistry student at Notre Dame, I did experiments in the laboratory. There was a stage of time where all my experiments were going nowhere, and I was becoming disheartened. I talked with my advisor, and she gave me an outline of some precise things she wanted me to do. I didn't see the point of why she told me to do the things she did, so I responded by asking questions. My advisor interjected, "Just trust me."
You see, by questioning my advisor's instructions, I was conveying a certain amount of distrust. I recalled this experience with my advisor when reflecting on what it means to trust God, and I felt like my eyes were opened to new understanding. When the Scriptures repeatedly instruct us to "trust in the LORD," the context of our trust is not limited to having faith in God's character or to having faith that God will do what He says He will do. To fully trust the LORD, we need to do what He says. And not only should we do what He says, we should do it with joy and without hesitation. Otherwise, we display some degree of distrust.
God is the creator of the universe, and He knows how our psychologies operate. He knows what's best for us. He's also not obligated to tell us all His reasons for giving us the commands He does. By obeying God's commands, we probably avoid lots of troubles that we could never foresee or imagine. Neuroscience has discovered lots of previously unknown physical effects that our brain can impart on our bodies. Why would we wait for science to tell us that we can live longer and healthier lives if we have joyful hearts when God has been calling us to have joy all along? God desires our benefit, and He wouldn't tell us to do something that wouldn't be good for us. I think it's about time that we all started trusting God more by submitting ourselves to His Word. Maybe we'd all be a lot healthier if we would!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Well, this week I saw a similar phenomenon on my way home from rehearsal. At the corner of Eddy and Jefferson, I saw a bluish-gray mist over a nearly empty parking lot. This time, there was also another mist formation (not sure if it was part of the other one) in the middle of the road. Note that the location is no longer by the river. The mist/cloud(s?) were kitty corner from where I pulled up to the intersection to turn right. I didn't notice any disturbance in the mist as cars went through it (although that may be because I didn't observe it closely enough). Just as the week before, the shape of the mist was very localized (I'd almost say confined...) and defined. It was eerie--not like any mist or fog I've ever seen. I wished that Josh were in the car so that I could make sure he could see the mist, too. As I passed by the mist, I had the thought, "I wonder if that's a glory cloud?"
I'll keep my eyes open for similar phenomena, and next time I won't be able to resist pulling over to investigate. If God is manifesting His presence over South Bend parking lots, I want to be there! :-)
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Every instance in which I paused and prayed out loud for the pain to depart in Jesus' name, my friend reported that the pain instantly left. Unfortunately, the pain would come back (for apparently no reason) when my prayers were distracted and/or lacked force. The correlation is very evident to me, and it would be hard for me to accept at this point that the correlation is merely due to a series of coincidences. Thus, given the data, I am convinced that my prayers actually have an immediate and obvious effect on my friend's well-being.
This is both exciting and scary for me. I am excited to see the power of God at work through me. However, I now feel a new sense of responsibility that I didn't feel when I was in ignorance of the importance of my prayers.
I have learned an important lesson so far in my experiences in prayer for this friend: prayers are close to ineffective if they are not prayed with my whole heart! Perhaps this is what Jesus means by the phrase "double-minded"--if we have too many thoughts in our head at once, how can we really put our heart into any one of those thoughts? I am now convinced that I need to be intentionally single-minded so that the Father will take my prayers seriously.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I was reminded of this principle yesterday when a friend of ours unexpectedly gifted us with some money. We did nothing to deserve the money. In other words, we freely received it. Now, I don't know about you, but my first instinct when I get a free gift is often something like, "Great! Now I can go buy/do _X_!" Unfortunately, the _X_ isn't usually very others-centered. However, yesterday my instinct was different. I immediately felt utter amazement at the generosity of God, and my whole being swelled with the desire to bless others. Perhaps now I can get those gifts for the neighbor kids I've been eyeing, for instance.
My hope is that if I mirror the heart of God by being generous with my material wealth, perhaps I will grow in my ability to be generous with the benefits of His Spirit as well. I also know that practicing generosity with what I know I have can give an opportunity for me to learn how to be even more generous. I hope that someday I will recognize the depth of generosity that the Father has bestowed on me so that I can fully display His goodness to others. God has given us so many blessings--let's freely share those blessings freely!
Monday, August 9, 2010
Perhaps God deals with His children differently than He does the world. Jesus said that [instant] healing would be a sign for the world so they would know that the LORD is God (see Mark 16). Since Christians no longer need to be convinced that the LORD is God, perhaps God's main goal isn't to instantly heal them as a sign, but instead to teach them how to be more reflective of His image by understanding His ways more deeply. Notice that James instructs sick believers (perhaps the immature in Christ who do not know the LORD's benefits) to call the elders (who are the mature in Christ) to pray in faith over them (see James 5). This would be a perfect opportunity for the elders to teach sick believers the promises of God and then to display the principles of spiritual warfare through their prayer of faith. Thus, it seems to me that God set it up so that His children would learn His ways through the process of healing.
So what could God want His children to learn through their pursuit of healing? Perhaps it is simply the fact that God is willing to heal us. Or perhaps God wants to teach us that we need to take the spiritual realm seriously, and that it can affect us physically (as well as emotionally and spiritually) for better or for worse. Perhaps God wants us to know that He has granted us access to physical healing--just as to forgiveness of sins--through the atonement, or that healing comes through proper celebration of communion. Perhaps God wants us to realize that we are supposed to be seeking Him above all else and that He will do great things for us if we love Him and obey His commands (see Psalm 91). God desires the best for His children. Certainly, knowledge of His benefits would be nothing but good for us.
My conclusion for the moment is that God may very well heal believers instantly, but if He doesn't, perhaps He is calling those particular people into a higher level of intimacy with Him that requires them to learn something new. Of course, if the person praying the prayer of faith is not acquainted with (or proficient at implementing) God's healing methods, the sick person may not recover simply because the sickness was not defeated. As for me, I am going to be particularly careful not to blame anyone's sickness on anyone but the devil and his minions, and I will continue to seek God so that I can accurately reflect Him to everyone I encounter.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Without saying anything about the conclusion of the argument, I just want to point out my thoughts about the argument itself. First of all, although it is ok to use godly humans as role models of certain virtues, I am wary of basing my theology off of any human's life (besides that of Jesus, of course). Besides God incarnate, no human is perfect. How can I assume that if person X displays godly virtue A, then person X also displays godly virtue B?
Let's take King David of Israel, for example. We know from Scripture that he is a man after God's own heart (see I Samuel 13:14). That's a good virtue for us to have, right? But does that mean we should understand that all of David's actions mirrored that virtue? Given that he had multiple wives, committed adultery (as if he didn't have enough wives already), and had the woman's husband killed, I think not. David had many very good virtues, but that does not mean that every one of David's actions (or even all of his habitual practices or lifestyle choices) should be venerated or replicated.
Thus, I want to set my expectations of how to live upon Jesus--the one and only human being that endured life on earth in perfection. It may be helpful to use godly examples from history to guide us, but I myself never want to be limited by the limitations of my human role models. So yes, perhaps Saint Bernadette displayed compassion for the sick in a godly manner, but please don't expect me to model my expectations off of her imperfections. Since I'm not God, I can't know for sure if Bernadette was sick because God wanted her that way (but I doubt that's the case) or rather if there was some unresolved issue in her life that prevented God from healing her. I don't want to blame God for His children's sicknesses when the blame should be placed on the devil and his works. I don't want to say that it's God's will for His children to be sick if there's a chance that it's our own lack of obedience that prevents our healing.
Praise the LORD, for He is good (Psalm 106:1)!
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
On the very first night of her stay, my sister confessed things from her heart that had been gnawing at her for a long time. She even expressed fear that God didn't love her anymore. I encouraged her by sharing God's Word with her and proving to her that God does love her and that she doesn't need to worry. Then I commanded evil spirits to flee by the authority of Jesus. Since that time, she has reported that her mind has been free of dark, haunting thoughts. She feels free, like a burden has been lifted from her shoulders. Praise Jesus for His victory over the evil one!
I have also been praying for my sister's physical well-being while she's been here. One remarkable difference she's noticed is that she hasn't had a stomach ache since she's been here. This is truly remarkable, as she gets stomach aches all the time. She's even been ingesting dairy, wheat, and coffee... the three major suspects thought to be causing her aches. So, that's cool.
My sister presently has two obvious and observable physical issues that I am praying against: pain in her shins (from an accident awhile back), and an irritating bump on her wrist bone. While I was praying for her shins last night, she said that they felt numb. In the morning, they felt worse, though! I had the distinct thought while I was praying for her shins that the pain is connected to a deeply-ingrained fear... so I am going to continue battling for her shins by first praying for God's perfect love to fill her up and drive out all fear. There's been no noticeable effect on the bump on her wrist yet.
My mission this week is to reveal to my sister how much I and her Heavenly Father love her, no matter what she has done. I will also keep encouraging her to cast all of her fears unto God. When we let go of our fear, we are able to fully appreciate how much God watches out for us. How can we let go of fear? By allowing God's perfect love to touch our hearts (1 John 4:18). God is love. That's why John tells us that he who loves is born of God (1 John 4:7)! Let's all get closer to the heart of God today by loving someone in an extra special way.
Monday, August 2, 2010
I think this can also apply to our effectiveness in battling against spiritual darkness. The more connected to God we are, the more God's power shines through us. I was reminded of this when watching an interview with Hank and Brenda Kunneman. It's easy to rely too much on our own strength (or willpower, dedication, skill, etc....), even when pursuing spiritual things! It's about time for me to press into God and seek Him first and foremost.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
It seems to me that Jesus doesn't place the responsibility upon His Father to free the sick from their oppression (see Luke 4:18). Rather, Jesus set a precedent for His followers to go out and lay hands on the sick by doing so Himself (e.g. Matthew 19:15, Mark 6:5, Mark 8:22-25, Mark 10:16, Luke 4:40, Luke 13:13), by instructing His disciples to do so (cf. Matt. 10:8), and by prophesying that His followers would do so (Mark 16:18). Furthermore, we see that members of the early church laid hands on the sick (e.g. Acts 9:12, Acts 28:8), and Paul and James both instruct members of the church body to lay hands on the sick (1 Timothy 5:22, James 5:13-15), even calling it an "elementary teaching" (Hebrews 6:2).
So, whose responsibility is it to free the sick from their suffering? I'll let you decide that for yourselves.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
My back had been in a state of chronic pain. I always had knots in my back (so much so that my husband said my back felt "grainy"). Plus, one side of my back was significantly weaker than the other. In fact, the muscles were so imbalanced that on one side of my spine they were thick and strong (probably to make up for the other side), and on the other they seemed almost non-existent. There was a thumb-width's gap where a muscle should have been on one side of my spine. I had the suspicion that I had a slight case of scoliosis, since it runs in my family and a doctor pointed it out as a possibility once during a routine physical.
So, I expectantly hoped for my back to be instantaneously healed. I didn't notice anything right away, and not even by the next day. But within a week, my back was completely different than it had been for the past 3 years (probably more)! My husband noticed the difference as well, saying, "I don't know what happened, but you have a completely different back."
Praise the Lord that after so many months, my back is still in great condition as a result of this prayer. The Lord is good and faithful, and he has many benefits. It is the duty of those who know this to spread those benefits to others. Let me be faithful and obedient to the Father's will! May Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven, Father! Amen!
I came across a series of interviews with Christian pastor and writer John MacArthur where the question of "Is healing in the atonement" was brought up. MacArthur replies by saying, "That’s obviously not true because all those people who believe that die." He later admits (in one of the interviews on healing) that if faith healing weren't a sham (which he asserts that it is), he'd like to be healed! Perhaps there's still hope for you, brother. Perhaps there's still hope.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I had spent pretty much the whole day either seeking God for answers or sulking in discouragement, and in so doing I neglected to pray for my friend with a hurt back. I told him I would pray for it to be healed, and I had done so in spurts faithfully since the previous Tuesday (about a week before). Well, surprisingly, I received an IM from him today saying that his back started hurting really bad yesterday, and he didn't know why. I said that it may have been because I stopped praying for him because I was mad and discouraged and that I would pray for him right then. That was at about 4:30PM. At about 5PM, he IMed me again (after having been away from the computer) saying, "Whoa... that's nutty. My back started feeling better about a half and hour ago."
Wow. I must say that my friend's report was both encouraging and convicting at the same time. Encouraging because it let me see that my prayers actually can have a noticeable effect. Convicting because my sulking yesterday probably caused my friend to suffer needless back pain. This experience helped me to learn that I need to remain faithful in my obedience to God even when I'm struggling, for my disobedience could have unexpected ripple effects. I want to see the ripple effects of faithful obedience instead!
I, in fact, got so discouraged that I got teary-eyed as I pleaded with God for understanding as to why the woman wasn't healed before her scheduled surgery, as we had commanded. Josh and I independently felt that the LORD had given us words of knowledge that the cancer had been defeated. (Josh saw a black clump in the middle of a beam of light that disappeared, and I had the image of the walls of Jericho falling at the voices of the Israelites.) It seemed that our prayers were powerful and effective, and the woman mentioned that she felt a pressure in the cancerous area. I must admit, however, that after our prayer session, I pretty much stopped praying, except for a minute or two briefly the morning before the surgery. I haven't had any clear revelations as to why our prayers didn't "work," but I have collected some thoughts and observations that I aim to make changes upon in my future prayers.
First, I am pretty sure that I asserted something that I shouldn't have. I said something like, "Lord, as we think about C_____ between now and Wednesday, let us say a prayer against enemy forces that wish to do her harm." By saying this, I think I unintentionally shifted the burden of healing from Jesus (who already accomplished it) to us. I essentially made a promise that all of us there would say a prayer commanding evil spirits to go in Jesus' name whenever we thought of the woman with cancer. If the enemy were in earshot, he would easily have a legal loophole to get out of obeying the commands we were giving in the prayers. If one of us didn't do what I said we would do, he wouldn't have to obey. So, I learned a lesson about spiritual warfare: don't give yourself hoops to jump through because you'll probably trip up, and if you do, the enemy will have a loophole by which to bypass the authority of Christ.
Second, I said something like, "Father, if we've done something wrong, let us know what it is so that we can fix it." This is definitely an unwise thing to say during a time of spiritual warfare. Our weapon is the Sword of Truth, so if we are obviously wavering in what we believe to be true (or in whether or not we are correctly living out the truth), then we have revealed that our Sword is weak--and all this in the presence of the enemy! I had been asking God the question above during my own time of seeking Him, which is why it came out during the time of prayer later. But that is no excuse. Another lesson I learned about spiritual warfare is this: Stand by what you've said and done during spiritual warfare, and if you are uncertain about something, don't reveal your cards--ask God about it later in private!
The last thing that I started realizing after talking with my husband is that perhaps I gave up fighting too soon. With every other case in which I've prayed for a fellow believer (or for myself), the healing has been a process. Two steps forward, one step back. Given that I stopped fighting for the woman once our prayer session was over, there was probably plenty of time for the cancer to regain strength. Given that I became disheartened once I found out the woman went into surgery, the enemy probably wiped his brow in relief because he knew I would stop fighting if I thought I had lost the battle. If I am going to fight a spiritual battle, I must realize that the fight is not over until the enemy is completely destroyed. If the tide of battle turns in our favor, that does not mean we can sit back and relax. We should fight all the harder. The last lesson I learned about spiritual warfare is that we need to fight hard until we see the results of our prayer come to pass in our presence. If the healing doesn't come within the first hour, pray for two. If it doesn't come in the first two hours, pray for six. Sometimes it isn't practical to lay hands on someone for six hours straight, but that doesn't mean that the battle has to end. The battle needs to continue until the desired outcome is achieved so that the enemy does not regain his ground. This is the most significant lesson that I have learned from this experience, and I will not make the same mistake again.
"Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so." (Hebrews 6:1-3, NIV)So according to Paul, it is a given that Christians should know (or be taught) that they are to lay hands on the sick. Wow--Is anyone else surprised? I don't think I've ever been taught to lay hands on a sick person before, except in recent months after I embarked on my pursuit of spiritual gifts and all. And yet, this is milk. This is for infants in Christ. Look at everything else Paul addresses in 1 and 2 Corinthians, and you may be surprised what else counts as milk.
So if teachings about basic theology and commands of Jesus count as milk, what counts as meat?
Jesus himself lets us know what spiritual meat is. At the time, his disciples did not understand Jesus' use of words, and they thought that he was referring to physical meat that he had eaten. Here is what Jesus said to them:
"My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." (John 4:34, KJV)Huh. I always thought that in order to mature spiritually, I needed to understand the "meat of Scripture." On the contrary, knowing what God has said in His Word is only milk. If I want to be more like Jesus--and if I want to come into spiritual maturity--I need to do the Father's work. What is the Father's work? Well, since we know Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing, we can follow His example. Jesus went about healing the sick, casting out demons, and proclaiming the kingdom of God. (Read Luke 4:16-20 if you want to see how Jesus summarized His duty on Earth.) If we want to grow up, we need to start acting like Jesus.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
While I prayed, the lady stopped me occasionally to tell me what she was experiencing. One time she told me that she had a euphoric feeling of joy and peace, and that she was literally in heaven with angels around her. Another time she said that the felt electricity flowing through her left leg, and that it was soothing, not painful. The last remark I remember her making is that she heard and felt a cracking sensation in the back of her head. She asked us (Josh had joined me at that point) if we heard it, but we hadn't. She said that the feeling was similar to feelings in her neck she would get when the chiropractor would work with her, but she had never felt it so high up in her head before. At one point, she broke out in a case of the giggles.
All this time, I hadn't been feeling anything out of the ordinary. I just continued praying as my heart led me. I didn't feel like I had received any words of knowledge or special revelation of how to pray or a prophecy that she would be healed. I just continued praying until it came to a natural end.
After the prayer, the lady thanked me for taking so much time to minister to her. She told me that she was in full time ministry as part of a team of prophets. I had never met a prophet before, so I thought that was interesting. Then she started praying for me. She started out by thanking God for me and my willingness to pray for her. After that, she started prophesying over me--and that, my friends, deserves a new paragraph.
I will try to remember all the things the lady said throughout the prayer and summarize them here. I'll do my best to quote what she said, but it won't be exact. I'll try not to read into what she said more content than was offered. I will also give my comments and evaluations along the way. Here's the list:
- "God says you're just like the Energizer Bunny. You have lots of energy and have a youthful spirit. You're the type of person that, when you're 50, people will think you're 35." -- Anyone who knows me knows that this is true.
- "God sees your generosity. I see an image of a plane ticket--that you paid for someone's ticket... and that you're the type of person who would without hesitation say, 'Let me pay for that.' He also says that you're a very compassionate person." -- These things are all true, and in fact, I did buy someone a plane ticket.
- "God wants you to know and experience His generosity. You are a generous person, but God wants to be even more generous to you. If you let go... if you give up something in your pursuit for Him, then you give Him the opportunity to give it back to you even better than before." -- Interestingly, this has been my theme for this year. I'm trying to break my bondage to material possessions (mainly, clothes) by intending to part with some of them.
- "God has heard your prayers in pursuit of Him. Keep praying. I see this picture of a hot air balloon... God says that if you will keep pursuing Him, He will take you to new heights." -- I hope that this is true, and I believe that I have tasted the start of my new journey. This was very encouraging to me.
- "Her bags are packed, Lord. Her bags are packed. I see this image of you with 4 kids. I don't know if this is literal or metaphorical--but I see you in Guatemala or South Africa playing duck-duck-goose with children, and as you touch their heads, the Spirit of God flows from your hands and the children are healed and set free. ... Her spirit is willing, Lord. Finances will not be an issue, in Jesus' name. God is going to bless you beyond what you expect and finances will not be an issue." -- Several interesting points: (i) My bags were literally packed when she prayed this prayer. Josh and I had been traveling for an extended time (living out of our suitcases for about 2 months), and the bags were still (and are still) sitting in our bedroom packed. (ii) Josh and I had it in our minds to have 4 kids... (iii) At points in the past, I have fantasized about going to a different country to minister to the people there somehow, either on short-term missions or otherwise, although I hadn't thought about this in awhile. Since we went to Europe in May 2008, Josh and I both decided that the next time we went overseas we would only go in order to minister to people there. Josh still gets mailings from missions programs informing us of upcoming missions trips, although we haven't seriously considered going while our son is so young. (iv) We hadn't had any income for the past 2 months! Interestingly, though, Josh's new job position (with a higher pay rate) started the Thursday before, and we also received a large check from the workshop Josh attended in June. Could this be the beginning of a financial turn-around? :-) -- Anyway, it will be interesting to see if I end up in Guatemala or South Africa someday.
- "God made you beautiful on the outside and on the inside in order to draw people to Himself through you. You have a pure heart." -- I have erred in the past by beating myself up over mistakes I've made in my obedience to God and/or in my relationships with people. It is true that I care very deeply about purity, and not only purity in the body, but purity in my focus, attitudes, intentions, and worship. It almost brought me to tears hearing her speak these words. I cannot be reminded enough that God sees me through the righteousness of Christ and that my sins are completely washed away.
As we started praying, we gave praise and thanks to God the Father and to Jesus for their love, power, and compassion for us. Then we cast away enemy spirits that were trying to undermine our efforts. Finally, we commanded the cancer to shrivel up and go away by the authority of Jesus. My arms were hot, which is a phenomenon reported by many "faith healers." My husband was the first one that appeared to have a word of knowledge, as he described a mental image he saw of light beginning to beam through the darkness. At first, I was a little bit confused as to why he had gotten such a revelation and I hadn't, given my prayers earlier in the day. But soon afterward, I had the thought that we should pray against the cancer like the Israelites marched around Jericho, and that if we would command the cancer to go in Jesus's name 7 times, it would be defeated. So, we did that, commanding ever more loudly upon each repetition. I then had the thought that I should concentrate on squeezing the abnormal growth with my mind and spirit, so I encouraged everyone there to do the same. After that, I thought that I should ask the woman to put her hand on the place where the lump was on her neck and press on it. During this process, she reported that she had difficulty feeling where the lump was. My husband asked the woman, after all the prayers had been spoken, if she felt any sort of physical manifestation of healing. She reported feeling a pressure in the affected area of her throat near and around the area where I had been placing my fingers while we prayed. All of this to say, I would be surprised if she were not completely cancer-free by tomorrow's scheduled surgery.
After everyone dispersed their own way, I couldn't help but ponder the nature of the prayer session. I was waiting for a sign from God--a word of knowledge--concerning how to defeat the cancer we were battling against. Instead, I just had spontaneous thoughts. Not bright, flashing neon signs with clear instructions... just thoughts that could have been completely my own. So, did God give me words of knowledge to help me facilitate healing? I guess I will find out whether the instructions were God-given based upon the report I hear from the woman tomorrow when she sees the doctors before her surgery. If the experience I had in praying for the woman today was really from God, then I need to develop spiritual discernment so that I can clearly distinguish God's words from my own thoughts!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Thursday evening after the healing seminar, my eyes started itching like crazy. I had developed some allergy-like symptoms a few days before (itchy eyes, stuffy nose, headache), but this was by far the worst it had been. I had to rub my eyes non-stop to get relief, and even then they still itched! It was the perfect opportunity to test out our newly learned techniques. So, I forcefully and boldly commanded the allergies to go in Jesus' name. I commanded the itchiness in my eyes to go away right now in Jesus' name. Amazingly, right as I said those words, I found instant relief! The itchiness in my eyes had diminished to about 5% of what it had been. I prayed against it a few more times, and soon I forgot all about the allergies because the symptoms were completely gone!
The interesting thing, though, is that within a few minutes or hours after the allergies were defeated by prayer, they would gradually start coming back. It reminds me of how your headache will sneak back after the Tylenol you took 4 hours ago wears off. Anyway, every time I felt the allergies returning, I took another dose of spiritual medicine by praying against it. This happened the next couple days, but it seemed as though the allergy attacks started tapering off in frequency and intensity. Each time, they were defeated (either fully or partially) by a single command to go in Jesus' name. I am happy to report that I am symptom-free today. I will continue to battle against any other allergy-like symptoms that pop up in the future so that maybe someday I can say that I have completely defeated allergies in my body through the power and authority of Jesus.
Monday, June 28, 2010
On the first Sunday, I was struck by the heart-felt worship emanating from the congregation. The style was free and spontaneous (which they managed to do using sound tracks, amazingly!), and the people freely raised their hands in praise to the LORD God. I was already in a somewhat emotional state before we came, but this pushed me over the edge. I was truly worshiping God with all my heart, and tears came down my face as we sang songs of praise. It was the first time in a long time that I felt truly compelled to lift my hands in worship to the Almighty.
After the singing, a missionary to India came to the stage to share about his ministry and the work that God was doing in India. He gave stories of miraculous healings, of witches being released from the grip of Satan, and of the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the new believers there. He recounted one story of a man who spoke two Hebrew words over and over as he came out of the water after being baptized into Christ, and the man didn't know Hebrew! The stories the missionary told seemed so natural, and yet they seemed so different than what I had been experiencing most days of my life. My husband and I had already been conditioning ourselves toward this new paradigm of expecting to see God's power demonstrated on the earth, so this was one more testimony that chipped away from our skepticism.
Josh and I noticed, ironically, that there were several people with injuries or in wheel chairs at the church. Josh prayed for a few of them, including a lady with a sprained wrist. We didn't see any immediate, miraculous healings, but we thought that this would be the perfect environment to try the idea out.
The next Sunday, we attended the same church again. This Sunday, after the time of singing, there was a time for the congregation to share praise reports and prayer requests. I presented the request for healing and wisdom with respect to Josh's dad. Soon after that, a lady stood up to share a praise that a young couple attended the church last week (and that they were here again today), and that the young man prayed for her wrist. I thought she was going to say something spectacular, like that it was completely healed by the time she got home, but that was the extent of the request. I thought that was interesting.
During the pastor's sermon, he mentioned a friend (sister-in-law?) of his that got a terminal disease after she gave her life to Christ. The disease hardens the skin and connective tissue throughout the body, from the outside in, so that whatever area of the body is affected becomes as hard and functionless as stone. I kept it in my heart that I would pray for that lady after the church service was over.
There was an alter call at the end of the service, and about half or better of the congregation made their way to the front. Josh and I didn't go at first, but we went up after the pastor instructed everyone to find someone nearby and pray with them. We made our way to the lady, but she was blocked in by bodies until after the service ended. I caught her attention and asked if I could pray for her. She said yes, and the lady standing by her asked if she could join in. We all laid our hands and started praying for the diseased woman. At first I was thrown off because I forgot that the Pentecostals usually pray all at once, and the lady next to me started praying at the same time that I started praying. Once I got past my distraction, though, I thought that we had a very powerful prayer session. At once point, the lady by me started praying in tongues. I had never heard someone speak in tongues in person before, and I thought it was pretty cool. Nevertheless, after all our powerful prayers, we saw no immediate results. This was only within the first handful of healing prayers that I had prayed in this manner, but I still hoped for the best. As Pastor Curry would say, though, you may need to pray for 20 people or so before you start seeing significant results. Anyway, I'm still expecting to see healing in this woman, whether it be instantaneous or not.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Upon hearing testimonies of individuals claiming to have had some sort of contact with aliens, I can't help but notice the similarities between "alien" encounters and demonic encounters. The aliens are reported to appear peaceful, with the ability to communicate telepathically. However, abductees testify that the aliens often force them to do things or go places against their will. For example, many abductees report experiencing paralysis before an abduction, and many report pleading with the aliens to no avail to stop operating/experimenting on them because of the excruciating pain. Also, once an individual reports having alien contact, they often report many alien contacts throughout their lives. Abductees also testify of experiencing intense fear that the aliens will come back to harm them. All of these experiences of abductees mirror closely the attributes of demonic possession and manipulation.
The last observation that I will note here is about the origins of Islam. I read that Mohammad, while in the cave, encountered what appeared to be an angel of light with words from God. However, the "angel" resorted to practically strangling Mohammad when he resisted reciting the "words of God." No wonder Mohammad at first thought he was visited by an evil spirit! Anyway, I just thought I'd throw that out there.