October 11, 2007

offering the Kingdom to anyone, anywhere, at any time

A few years ago I told the Lord that I wanted to pray for every person I saw with a physical need - crutches, limps, bandages, wheelchairs, pain on their faces - whatever. I knew we were commanded to "heal the sick" and "were given authority".

Needless to say I have not been even remotely close to keeping that commitment. I have seen and let dozens, if not hundreds, pass me by. Lots of reasons why I suppose - fear of man, rushing somewhere, looked like 'too difficult' of case, ect.

BUT at the same time, I have approached, offered to pray and prayed for dozens (if not hundreds) of people who I previously wouldn't have prayed for had I not made that commitment to the Lord.

I was convicted this week from two directions - Todd Bentley in a message about the importance of 'Remembering' (what God has done miraculously) and another by Bill Johnson about God's goodness and His will as revealed in/through the Life of Christ (to overcome the bad theology of Christians who follow Job as much as they follow Jesus).

The point is this - we can and should approach everyone we can, in every circumstance and in every place to offer them healing, deliverance, to have encounters with God and the forgiveness of sins. My initial commitment was birthed at a time in my journey when I really understood that God was truly good (or as Graham Cooke put it, "He is the kindest person I know"). His will is to eliminate evil, suffering, pain and sickness wherever it exists. Far too many Christians remain 'unsure' about what God's will is in many circumstances.

What compassionate earthly doctor would stand by a patient in excruciating pain, with a morphine injection in his hand and remain silent and do nothing to alleviate their pain? On the contrary, doctors (at least those who took the Hippocratic Oath) are sworn to do all they can, whenever they can to relieve the pain and suffering they encounter.

What earthly father would watch one of his children in pain and not do all he could to help him/her? Any doctor or father who would stand by watching and do nothing would immediately be universally condemned as cruel and immoral.

If we look again at the Life of Jesus, EVERYTHING becomes so clear – “If you've seen me, you’ve SEEN the Father”. Did Jesus pass by the cancer victim and declare "My Father's ways are not our ways" and do nothing? NEVER. Did Jesus say to the rape victim, "My Father allowed this to be done to you for a purpose"? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Did He tell the person suffering from clinical depression that, "this condition is your 'thorn in the flesh’, you’ll have to live with it? NO WAY. What was/is God the Father’s will? Everything Jesus said and did!

Was Luke confused in Acts when he wrote of Jesus, that He "went about doing GOOD and healing ALL who were oppressed by the devil"? (Acts 10:38) Ironically, I can just see some of my Augustinian/Calvinist brothers and sisters agreeing with that Scripture but then saying that Jesus didn't heal those oppressed by the Father! (It is even hard for me to write the words ‘oppressed’ and ‘Father’ in the same sentence) Others would try to say that "all" didn't REALLY mean all. If he didn't mean ‘all’, Luke would have said "some", or "most of the people" or "90% of the sick"!

How tragic that Calvin himself thought Paul was talking about God the Father when he wrote, "the God of this world has blinded the mind of unbelievers" (2 Cor 4:4). Tragic might not be a strong enough word - catastrophic seems better. To attribute to God the identity and work of Satan, comes dangerously close to committing the sin of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. What folly to think of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in this way! What error! What misrepresentation! That is how the God of Islam acts, NOT the God of Christianity!

When we see the sick, when we see the suffering - we can approach them knowing that it is God's will, it is His purpose, it is His timing (i.e. TODAY is the day of salvation), it is His heart to touch them, to heal them, to deliver them and to forgive them. Let us not be unclear on what God wants to do!

I can hear the cries of protest now – “What about this verse/passage…?”, “Have you even read the Old Testament”? “What about Paul’s ‘thorn in flesh’?” “What about Joni Eareckson Tada…”? “Don’t you believe in God’s sovereignty”? “You are out of balance”! Etc. Etc.

I guess at the end of the age, I am willing to stand before God and be rebuked for believing that He was actually better than He was – I am willing to be told that I was wrong to interpret all of Scripture through the revelatory lens of the Life of Jesus. I won’t mind being told that I was incorrect to interpret “and Jesus healed them all” as truly meaning that He healed them ALL. For believing that God is TRULY kinder than any earthly father, any earthly physician and who always longed to alleviate pain and suffering wherever He encountered it. When a person lives like this, we admire them and even call them saintly (i.e. Mother Teresa); but when a follower of Jesus dares to believe that God is actually like this, the cry of imbalance and the quotations from Job come flying.

Somehow it is hard for me to imagine the Lord saying, “You know, I wasn’t actually as good and as willing to do good as you thought I was”. And the reason I think it is so hard to imagine, is because He would never say that! Because He is actually far better, far kinder, far more loving and willing to do good than we could ever imagine.

October 08, 2007

Sudanese, Gulf Arab and Palestinian Muslim men encounter God's power

Last night we saw God move in healing and in prophecy amongst several Muslim men.

First of all, on our way to meet with a Gulf Arab man, we saw a Sudanese man walking on the road and stopped to pick him up. As we drove, the Lord gave me a word of knowledge revealing a headache - he had a bad one. Isaac of Ninevah and I stopped the car and prayed for his severe headache - it left immediately. We also prayed for a knee problem and the pain left his knee. Isaac had some prophetic words that were right on (which I am sure he'll write about. We left him at the side of the road with my business card to call us for any further questions or needs he would have. We knew it was going to be a great night!

Next we met with a Gulf Arab man who was miraculously healed in my home about 6 months earlier. His father is now facing a life threatening illness and he wants to meet with us for encouragement and counsel. We eventually got to pray for him - interestingly, in the climate of fear and anxiety he has been in over the past 2 weeks since his father's diagnosis, a measure of pain has returned to the abdominal area where he was previously healed. God came in power and completely took away all the pain again. We are interested in people getting healed and STAYING healed. Glory to God.

He also had an encounter with God's peace while we prayed - as a group of us prayed for him, the peace of God came over him.

Finally we were out in another part of town visiting another Muslim friend and while talking to him, the Lord gives me a word of knowledge for a shoulder problem. I felt it was for the group of men standing next to us and so I ask them if anyone had a problem in the shoulder. This one Palestinian Muslim had a major shoulder injury. I explained to them how I knew (with a short little lesson in Kingdom theology). He also shared that he had several other ailments that needed healing. It wasn't an appropriate place to pray for him so I gave him my card and told him to call me when he was ready to be healed.

How ironic that in these final days of Ramadan, Muslims believe there is a night when God will answer any prayer and then these men receive healing and prophetic words from Christians in Jesus' Name! Kingdom living is so fun!