Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Greatest is___________________ ?

Heidi Baker and her husband have been in ministry for many years. However, over the past decade they have become famous for the amazing miracles that God does in their meetings and presence.

There is a lot of sickness and pain in the world. As the population grows poverty grows right along with sickness, psychopathology and satanic attacks. Even though we are developing better medicines and better treatments the total number of people in pain is growing. We need a bigger growth in healing than the growth in population and sickness.

For example, the state of Ohio reported last year that 20.9% of all children in Ohio have a Medical diagnosis of some degree. Some are very extreme and some are mild, but one in five have a delay or disease of some sort. That is several hundred thousand people. In the same pew as you each Sunday will very likely be two or three families who care for a disabled child to say nothing about the growing elderly population with various disabilities. The result? WE need a lot more healing.

What is the key to healing? If I want to help do I need an advanced degree? Should I wait until I am holy? should I seek a special gift? Do I need to attend a healing conference?

All of these are good and might help, but they are not the most important part of healing. St. Paul told us in I CO 13 what is most important. These three remain, faith, hope and love and the greatest is ____________

Here is what Heidi Baker says is most important:

'My job is to love, God's job is to heal'

“God spoke to me many times that my job is to love, and His job is to heal,” says Heidi Baker, a missionary to Mozambique. When asked how she prays with people for healing, she responds: “I just go and love the people. I hug and hold them and bless them as a person. I pray for their healing. 

Over the last 3.5 years we’ve seen almost 100 percent of the deaf in Mozambique we prayed for healed. But with the blind it has probably been 70 percent. So we also build homes for the blind, places where they’re taken care of and loved. And we invite them to be part of the ministry team and pray for others to be healed.” It’s always about pouring out love and compassion. 

Sometimes we’re so interested in the end result that we forget the person along the way. And if it’s about sharing compassion and love you can’t fail, because people leave feeling loved and that’s what matters.” 

This week in Joel News International encouraging stories on healing, a church for people with learning difficulties, and Christians unite in the fight against corruption.

Can we learn to love? No but we can improve our love skills with prayer, worship and listening. 

Gary Sweeten

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How Holy Do I Have to be to be used by the Lord?


I came sneaking into the Reformed camp with heels dug in and mind closed. I was later relieved to discover that it is much harder to miss God's will than I had always thought.  I seemed to have concluded as a young man that I could thwart God's plan about anytime I wanted.  I could rebelliously choose the wrong woman to marry and produce a bunch of pagans, refuse to witness and send all kinds of people to hell, take a drink of beer and offend people so badly that they lost their salvation, and; you get the picture. As a result I became sad, depressive and tried to be SERIOUS about Christianity.


                                                              Eve messed up God's Plan

Then I started to read, really read the Bible. For example, the Christmas story in Matthew stunned me. The genealogy of Jesus was a mess. All those people who fouled up the lineage of the Messiah could have kept God from accomplishing His will.  There are four very special women in a male line up. How can that be when we know that God only chooses and uses men? I always heard it was special men, holy men, strong men, fighting men who never sinned that God uses.

And, those women were not always pure and holy. Tamar seduced her father-in-law. Yuck! That has to be worse than pornography and we all know that once you pick up a Playboy you are ruined for God's service forever.  He had hoped you would someday go to Asia to minister but now you are damaged goods and He will have to reject you forever. The kind of man God uses, er woman God uses is sexually pure.

Then there is a gal named Rahab. Wow! She was a madam and lived in the red light district of the town. What a loser. What was God doing choosing her to hide the spies and liberate the Holy Land? Then, God wrote it all down and flaunts it in the Bible. Does He not realize what kind of message He is sending to the community?

The third woman may even be worse. Bathsheba wantonly seduced David who was a real good guy until then. He was solely after God's heart. Then that devil in a blue dress got hold of him and made him fall. Then she made him murder one of his greatest friends and supporters, Uriah. She almost stopped God dead in His tracks.

What was I to conclude? Maybe I was wrong and God could actually His purposes through fallen, frail, broken, fleshly men and women? All these women were not only serial sinners they were Gentiles. That is not even racially pure let alone sexually pure. How could God have allowed those good Hebrew men to get together with Gentiles and pollute the gene pool and spiritual DNA? Surely the Messiah could not arrive out of such a sinful genealogy.
Then God decided to us an old woman, Elizabeth and her doubting husband to bring John the Baptist into the world. Does God not know that old people do not make good parents? The kid might end up as ADHD or something worse. He might have a nasty personality and go around telling people to repent. And how about that old priest? He had been praying for years for a baby but it is obvious why God did not answer his prayers. He had no faith. But then God went on and told him to keep trying because he and Elizabeth would produce a kid. Zechariah still was a doubter and the Angel had to strike him dumb.
Then take a look at Mary. She was just a kid. A baby having a baby. And she was not married. That is not good for the Messiah’s reputation. To top it all off, Joseph, not Mary was the son of David. So the Messiah’s Davidic lineage came though his adoptive father not through the bloodline. Adoption was not looked upon with great favor back then. What was God thinking?

Over the years a small light began to come on in my head. I discovered that my sinful condition placed me in a tunnel not a cave. It is not a dead end. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I am not in charge of God's will and I cannot thwart it at anytime I want. I am somehow part of that humongous plan even when I do not know it or know how it works. I cam to one new conclusion:

It is not the KIND OF MAN THAT GOD CHOOSES that is so important but THE KIND OF GOD THAT MAN CHOOSES.

When I believed in a small God who will was only accomplished when I cooperated I was full of pride and self-importance but that led me to sadness, false guilt and anxiety. I might somehow unknowingly fail to follow through, teach my kids right, evangelize all the people I know, say "Yes" to God, etc.  Being the Messiah is hard work. I read books about "Finding God's Will" and anxiously tried to be "In the center of God's will" but that made me even more anxious.

Then it hit me. Missing God's will is hard very hard, it may be impossible. Recognizing that God even uses my weaknesses, folly, failures and fears brings me joy and humility, as well as occasional anger that I am so needy and weak. So, I attempt to walk in the Holy Spirit, apply God's truth and sanctify/heal/do therapy on myself so I can love God and fully enjoy Him forever. This, I think, is the basis of the Next Reformation.

I close with a memory. A southern humorist whose name I forget wrote about religion in the south. He said that he was a Presbyterian but always envied the hard-core Baptists and Pentecostals. He really wanted to join up with them but just didn't have the physical strength to do everything they required so he had to settle for being a Mainline, pew-sitting Presbyterian.

Sometimes I regress back into works righteousness and get legalistic or words righteousness and get perfectionist about how I speak and the names I give to the Trinity or get back into name it and claim it, blab it and grab it. Then I can once again feel the pride and satisfaction of thinking I am really in charge of the universe.  But, I just do not have the constitution for it. I wear out too easily. I admire my Grandmother who kept holiness alive for 90 years. Now that woman had a strong constitution. But me, I am weak and have to believe that God is in charge so I can rest in Him.


PS.  I Gary R. Sweeten, do hereby resign from being lord of the Universe and hereafter promise to allow God to rule. (At least most of the time.)


Listening is Love


Listening is Caring with Applied Grace

Some would have us believe that Christians are best sanctified through immediate confrontation of their sin.  There are even some Christian Counseling training programs that say that. Both scripture and common sense tell us that immediate confrontation of hurting people will not work.  For example, if you were to confide in a spouse or a friend that you were struggling with a problem, would you want them to simply confront you with your sin and command you to repent?  Hardly anyone wants that done to them. 

Confrontation emphasizes the justice of God toward the rebelliousness of people.  That is sometimes necessary but always after a relationship of trust has been established in depth.  After one has earned the right to be heard, the tougher skills can be used with benefit, but not before. 

At the beginning of a relationship when the Seeker’s guilt and shame are felt and expressed most intensely, only grace expressed as nonjudgmental acceptance can effectively enable a Helper to get through the fig leaves of self condemnation, denial, blaming, and anger.  Confrontation, especially when it is accurate, is far too threatening to use early in a helping relationship and that is why this skill is taught later in Apples II for Couples. 

In Galatians we are commanded to live by the fruit of the Spirit rather than the fruit of the flesh (Gal. 5:16-6:1).  The teaching on the fruit of the Spirit concludes with instructions on how sinners are to be counseled, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted (Gal. 6:1). 

Rather than confronting people all the time, the spiritually mature ones are to show the fruit of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  It is the fruit that are the foci of Apples of Gold I with a special emphasis on peaceful relationships as opposed to relationships that cause contention and division.  

So, do you want to be spiritually mature of  immature? Child like or childish? Listening indicates calmness, patience, kindness, faith in God and hope for change. 

You can get our book, Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty from the web. Only $10.00 so get it now.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Harvard Business says: Listen


The Discipline of Listening

As the up-and-coming vice president and CEO candidate for a Fortune 500 technology corporation sat before the CEO for his annual review, he was baffled to discover that the feedback from his peers, customers, direct reports, and particularly from board members placed unusual emphasis on one potentially devastating problem: his listening deficit. This executive was widely considered among the best and brightest in his company, but it was evident that this issue needed immediate attention if he ever hoped to advance to the top spot.
He wasn't alone in that regard. My knowledge of corporate leaders' 360-degree feedback indicates that one out of four of them has a listening deficit—the effects of which can paralyze cross-unit collaboration, sink careers, and if it's the CEO with the deficit, derail the company. But this doesn't have to be the case. Despite today's fast-paced business environment, time-starved leaders can master the art of disciplined listening. Conventional advice for better listening is to be emotionally intelligent and available. However, truly good listening requires far more than that. As you move toward truly empathetic listening, consider these tips:
Pan for the nuggets. I saw how Larry Bossidy, former CEO of Honeywell, did this. Sitting down with a business unit leader presenting him with information about a $300 million dollar technical investment opportunity, Bossidy divided a sheet of paper about three-quarters across. On the larger left side of the paper, he scribbled detailed notes; on the smaller right side, he occasionally jotted down two or three words, capturing what he perceived to be the key insights and issues being brought to his attention. It was a simple technique that disciplined him to listen intently for the important content and focus follow-up questions on points that really mattered. Whether or not this is your method, you should train yourself to sift for the nuggets in a conversation. Then let the other person know that they were understood by probing, clarifying, or further shaping those thoughts. The benefits of this go beyond ensuring that you heard it right: first, the person on the other end of the conversation will be gratified that you are truly grasping the essence of their thoughts and ideas; second, this gratification will motivate and energize them to create more thoughts and solutions. Listening opens the door to truly connecting and is the gateway to building relationships and capability.
Consider the Source. When working with peers, in and across teams, work to understand each person's frame of reference—where they are coming from. This is extremely important when disagreements arise. When you truly understand the perspective of others, you are most likely to reach productive solutions; further, all the participants will feel heard, whether their solution is adopted or not. Even better, it's likely that the solution will not turn out to be one that was brought to the table by any one party; it will be a new approach crafted in the conversational environment you created. Active listening and probing (with humility, not aggression) energizes groups, encourages them to reach consensus, and helps them arrive at new and better solutions.
Consider Ivan Seidenberg, who rose to become Chairman and CEO of Verizon. Earlier in his career, as a business unit manager, he recognized that he must cut costs. But his division's operations department was adamant it could not be done given the tremendous complexity of its processes. Seidenberg understood their frame of reference, which was that they were in favor of simplification, but couldn't achieve it without the collaboration of the product departments. Seidenberg got the two sides to collaborate and much better solutions were found. Not only were costs cut, but operations became more focused and simplified.
Prime the Pump. After GE achieved its goal of being first or second in several of its businesses with exceptional margins, then-CEO Jack Welch faced the challenge of how to spur continued growth. He actively listened to a Business Management Course team at GE's Crotonville learning center. They suggested that, if a GE business had become the biggest fish in its pond, it was thinking about the pond too narrowly. The definition of the market needed to be changed based on an expanded understanding of its customers' needs. As business unit managers prepared their next round of strategy presentations for the Chairman, Welch told them all to redefine their market in such a way that their share was less than 10 percent. This released GE managers' energy to grow their businesses with new ideas. One of those ideas was to grow the services businesses across GE. Today, GE has a $200 billion backlog in its services business.
Slow Down. There is a reason that, over the years, you have lost your ability to listen. It feels too passive, like the opposite of action. It's much faster to move to a decision based on the information you already have. But in doing so, you miss important considerations and sacrifice the opportunity to connect. Understand that as you begin to change your listening style to a more empathetic one, you may often feel inefficient. It takes time to truly hear someone and to replay the essence of their thoughts back them so that both parties are clear on what was said. The payback is dramatic, but it comes over the long run.

Keep Yourself Honest. No habit is broken without discipline, feedback, and practice. As well as installing a personal mirror to reflect on your own behavior, find a colleague to give you honest feedback on how well you are tuning into the thoughts and ideas of your colleagues, managers, board of directors, and others. Explicitly lay out an exercise regime by which you will practice empathetic listening every day and strengthen your skills. Make a habit of asking yourself after interactions whether you understood the essence of what was said to you, the person's point of view, their context, and their emotion. Also ask yourself whether that person knows that they were heard and understood.
For leaders, listening is a central competence for success. At its core, listening is connecting. Your ability to understand the true spirit of a message as it is intended to be communicated, and demonstrate your understanding, is paramount in forming connections and leading effectively. This is why, in 2010, General Electric—long considered the preeminent company for producing leaders—redefined what it seeks in its leaders. Now it places "listening" among the most desirable traits in potential leaders. Indeed, GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt has said that "humble listening" is among the top four characteristics in leaders.
Truly empathetic listening requires courage—the willingness to let go of the old habits and embrace new ones that may, at first, feel time-consuming and inefficient. But once acquired, these listening habits are the very skills that turn would-be leaders into true ones. 

More Spiritual Needs From Russia


Thank you for your prayers - there was a great meeting at St. Kosma and Damian Church on Sunday. 120 people from different churches came to learn more about their family history and healing generational sins and curses. So many families in Russia suffer with trauma from the Bolsheviks. 

Please continue praying for this program, there have been some spiritual attacks. 

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

The Bolsheviks were evil, but behind them are spirits so evil, destructive and malevolent that we cannot begin to imagine their hateful power. 

Only prayer will succeed in overcoming evil so please pray. 

By the way, our friends are the only Evangelical Ministry in Russia that work with all denominations, including the Orthodox Church. 

Gary Sweeten

From Russia with Love and the Gospel

We planted our first equipping center in Moscow in 1995 and for the past 17 years the team there has been bringing hundreds of people to Christ. Then the new believers are invited to enter our Inner Healing Soul Care Groups to learn how to take every un-Christian thought captive to the mind of Christ.

For many of our friends, some 50%, that means to leave drugs and alcohol and other addictions behind. For the rest it means to leave co-dependency and enabling addicts behind. Over half the adult males in the USSR are addicted and families are torn apart by the addict's lifestyle. As believers improve and grow in faith through our discipleship ministry, we focus on building happy marriages and family life. It takes a long time and a lot of energy and prayer to restore an addict to sobriety and faithful family life. 

The Russia team is equipping the sober, committed Christians how to minister to others so the cycle of healing will expand and touch many others. The ministry is currently blessing people all over the former USSR. Here is a snapshot of their work.

A. We are doing a cycle of training lectures on co-dependency for the family of addicts. The current round is finished on June 25th.  On the last night we will will feature a round table discussion with all the students and allow them to participate in Question and Answers and a deep discussion about how to grow in faith and love. Many new Christian support groups are started each year thanks to these open lectures


B. Our Basic Teleios course continues in Moscow, 7 million population, Moscow County, 7 million population and Cherepovets, 3 million population. Dozens of students who are being equipped for life and ministry. From that they will be able to take the advanced training.

C. Our School for training Helpers for Soul Care and Counseling is going very well. In this course we train Christian Leaders for advanced ministries of care, counseling, healing and 12 step hosting . We are currently on a summer vacation to come back in September for the second semester.

Can any of you think of another Pastoral Care and Counseling Ministry that is doing more with fewer resources than the team from Moscow? The challenges in Russia are certainly daunting but God has opened a door for that team, which will not be named or shown for security reasons. 

Please send a generous donation to Sweeten Life Systems, P.O. Box, 498455, Cincinnati, 45249 and mark it for the Russian Ministry. Or go to our web and send a donation. 

The top photo is one of the classes in Russia.



Stalin was responsible for millions of deaths and the destruction of thousands of churches. He hated Christians. One destructive leaders can do harm for generations. 





Thursday, June 21, 2012

International Board Meeting

We held our end of fiscal year board meeting last night at the Ellison Company headquarters in Mason,Ohio. Thanks to Mike Ellison whose generosity and support are a blessing and IT guru Steve Mays who helped us negotiate the challenges of Skype online.

Despite a board membership that is spread from Mason to Moscow, Knoxville to Kentucky we were able to get most of the board connected and hear their reports of tremendous growth and healing through the implementation of our Life Skills' program.  We received written and verbal reports from many locations and many types of ministries recovery for addicts, to healing of marriages to mentoring pastors to training Doctoral students to helping parents of kids with a serious disability.

The major focus on my Doctoral Dissertation was "What works in Parenting, Pastoring, Helping, Coaching, Mentoring, Counseling and Psychotherapy?" Not what you wished, hoped or prayed would work but what actually helps people get better, come to Jesus, defeat poverty, have better marriages, become better parents, build healthier families, reduce depression, and so forth.

Over the past four decades I have read research, tried different activities and got feedback on what we did. Now we know, for the most part, what works and what does not work. Thankfully, we are getting reports from our colleagues both nationally and internationally that many people are changing for the better as a result of their ministry.

For example, Russia. We started a Teleios Moscow Ministry in 1995. The entire world of the USSR was a spiritual, emotional, economic, political mess. The Socialists had killed 92,000 Priests and blown up 12,000 Orthodox church buildings. Every family I met had lost dozens of ancestors and relatives to pogroms, purges and anti Christian anti Jewish attacks. Healing was desperately needed.

Under Communism, Psychology and Psychiatry were studied but counseling that focused on helping people get healed was forbidden. Imagine that you attended graduate school to study cancer but were not allowed to actually practice surgery or medical care. that was the situation in Russia.

Christians could not practice prayer, have communion, do Sunday school teach the Bible or preach the gospel. Yet religion was supposedly freely practiced. Addictions to alcohol and drugs was rampant but people were imprisoned for being an addict even while government offices were broke and often paid their employees in vodka!

Now, we had set up dozens of Christ centered, gospel preaching, Bible teaching centers all over the former USSR.  Despite the lack of former training, or perhaps because of it, the people are hungry for God;s word, love and power. They hunger and thirst for God and we provide ways for them to access the truth.

More later on this!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hippy Clothes and Hip People

Karen and Julie in Illinois about 1975.

We married in 1961, had Julie in 1967 and Tim in 1970.


 I think this photo was taken in 1973 or 74 when we joined the staff of College Hill Presbyterian Church.  We were in Cincinnati at U.C. as an Associate Dean of Students. The clothes we wore were cool.

Simple Question-Complicated Answer

Here’s a simple arithmetic question: A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

Write a comment with your answer. 

Honoring His Father

The author of this self made Fathers' Day card is a young man I have known since he was a kid in my youth group. His parents are two of my best friends and we have traveled many ministry miles together. The author is an inner city youth worker that has given his life to serve the poor, broken and dispossessed. I think this is one of the most beautiful cards I have ever read.


Dad,

I am sick in bed today but my children honor me.
I  have a good family and good children and you taught me how to follow God and be a good Husband.

You do not keep secrets but shed the light on them so they do not console us. 
When we are wronged you return not justice but mercy. 
You kiss your wife in public, and when you argue in front of us you make up in front of us.
You choose relationship over things.

I have seen you with your bible and with God in your pajamas, and my children will say the same of me.
You trust God when it dose not make sense. You speak of unbelievable stories and people think your a fool. But Not I, I think... you will to trust God at any cost.
You incur loss so that your children have. 

You lead in the ways of God,  and I, I chose to follow. 

I have little in the ways of earthly riches to return to you on this day.  But a Godly heritage...  That I will help you pass on.  

The poor hear of your God because you and mom have poured into my life.
My children follow Jesus because of parent and grandparents who show them His love.
I am the man that I am because of what you and mom have done. 

Thanks for being a good man of God. For loving Mom, for loving us, and the people God has put in your life. 
I am honored to be know as Maurice son.

Gary  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Generational Curses

I am just now finishing up a book on Generational Blessings and Curses. It is reminding me of the times we prayed for people to be set free from past curses and sinful behavior and saw them healed. It is a terrific ministry. The book will be on our web in a few weeks along with Power Christian Thinking and Breaking Free. Go to Sweetenlife.comwww.sweetenlife.com and take a look at our book selection.


“As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit.” - Job 27:2-4

In 1824, the Prussian government decreed that a long-standing practice that Non-Christians could not attend schools was to be enforced. A Jewish attorney named Hirschel, who lived in Trier, Germany, converted to Christianity in order not to be discriminated.

Hirschel’s six-year old son Karl could not understand the situation. The boy asked his father: "Why must we surrender our Jewish faith and start to attend Lutheran services here in Germany?”

The father replied, "Son, we must abandon our faith so that people will accept us and support our business adventures!" The young lad never got over his disappointment and bitterness. His faith in his father and in his religion were crushed.

After Karl graduated from the Berlin University, he went to England to study at the British Museum where he formed his philosophies for life. From those intensive investigations he wrote a book that changed the world called, The Communist Manifesto. From that book one-third of the world fell under the spell of godless Marxist ideology. 

The name of that little boy was Karl Marx. He influenced billions of lives for more than 100 years and brought to them ruin, imprisonment and death.

Whatever bitterness you have tasted, do not let it wickedness or deceit consume you. Today in prayer, thank the Lord that in Christ, you are a victor over all sin and death and pray that bitterness does not take a hold of you.

“Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Ron McManus,

God’s Word: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” - Ephesians 4:31

 Chuck Clark

Help Us Win $1000 Dollars for Charity

The contest is on again. For the past two years we have come in second and third but we are falling behind this year and need a big push to get us over the line. This $1,000.00 prize would mean a lot to our ministry because we do a lot with very little. 


Right now we are impacting a lot of people by equipping parents and volunteers to reach out and minister to families with a disabled child. It will cost us several thousand dollars to get the materials printed and distributed to families. 


My friend and partner Jim Donovan is using his 33 years as a product development researcher to design a way for parents and care givers to pinpoint the places where help and assistance are most needed to support their child. The $1,000.00 from Cincinnati Innovates Contest will really help. 


if you do not have time to vote, send us a $1,000.00 instead.


Gary Sweeten


PS This is subliminal advertising
Sweeten Life VIP Family Care

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Have you ever seen God Heal a Person?

The Bible is a book of testimonies. It is a book of stories and  miraculous interventions by God even when the people seemed to want God to stay away from them.

One of the first times I saw God touch a person who was very sick and seemingly on his death bed it was a complete shock and very unexpected.  My dad was involved in a terrible car crash in 1968. He hit the steering wheel of the Mustang he was driving and scar tissue from an old surgery shot through his intestines like buckshot.

At first it did not seem as though his injuries were life threatening because they were invisible. But the contents of his intestines flowed out into his blood stream causing a massive infection. Mom called me in Cincinnati from Illinois and I called brother Maury in Maryland to get home asap. We drove all night and got home just as dad was being wheeled into the OR by a very serious Doctor. When I asked about dad's prognosis, Dr. Alexander said, "Get your brother Tom back from Korea immediately". That was Doctor talk for, "It is hopeless".

We called Tom and he started his long trip back from Asia. Dad was restless with a high fever and in pain from the raging infection and post operative trauma. They asked Maury and me to sit by his bed and hold his arms so he was unable to pull out the tubes from his nose, so we sat there for some time. It was a horrible experience with dad groaning and trying to get the tubes out with us holding him down by force.

My ADHD finally got the better of me and I started to pray for Dad and I mumbled out a few halting intercessions without much faith or hope but lots of desperation. After some time, I do not know how much, there was a sense of the Lord's presence in the room, he got quiet, and relaxed from trying to fight us from holding him down. We turned him loose and I knew in my heart that he was healed.

He was.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Have Miracles Ceased?

Have miracles ceassed to happen in Christianity?

Has the Holy Spirit left the churches of Jesus Christ?

Is prayer not longer important or even necessary for Christians?

Is the Bible all we need for change, growth, healing, evangelism, church growth?

I would say YES to all of these because in most of the seminaries and churches I see none of these things are practiced, preached or sought. Thus, since few Professors and Preachers promote prayer, healing, spiritual warfare and gifts of the Spirit they must not be needed today. In fact, that is what several people told me after I had a dramatic experience with God and started reading what the Bible had to say about prayer and healing.

"Today," Gary, we have education and good schools so the devil has been banished to poor nations. We have doctors and hospitals so healing is  no longer needed. We have an educated clergy and people who can read the Bible and understand the Ten Commandments so we do not need to pray for God's anointing and the Holy Spirit to fall anymore. We have homiletic teachers and speech teachers so we don't need the conviction of the Spirit because we can do it with good stories and emotional language."

If this were true I suppose when we look at the world we would see a triumphant church filled with righteous Christians who are free of sin and living victorious lives. Maybe I need new glasses.