Thursday, August 30, 2012

Healing and Me

Regarding Acts 3 and 4....and me.

  One might think that seeing or receiving a healing would always be received as a happy experience; but this is apparently not always so. Acts 3 and 4 describes a God-granted, instantaneous healing that results, both in cheers and accusations.
Peter commanded a healing in the name of Jesus, extended his hand, raised a lame man to his feet. The lame man’s feet and ankles are instantly straightened. With a leap, he stood up straight, began to walk, leap, and entered the temple. In fact he makes quite a display of himself, walking and leaping and praising God. But Peter is commanded to explain himself to the Temple authorities and is arrested.
  Before this public healing, everything was orderly, routine, and heartbreaking. But God has acted through the reality of His name at Peter’s command and extended hand.  A real leaping miracle-touched man has been released from his crippled condition.
  Are we, today, comfortable with the spontaneity of Jesus’ presence in our lives? Are believers disturbed when God steps down from a symbolic cross and interacts right in the aisle of the church?

  In 1960 while I was pregnant with my third child I was diagnosed with Hepatitis. Neighbors friends and family all received gamma/globulin shots. Few would even enter our apartment.
  I spent most of my time dragging my expanding body through the routine of caring for our two little girls, aged 2 and 3. Every day seemed more difficult than the next.      The final blow was the invasion into our bathroom by a large spider (a tarantula). I killed the spider with one of Rol’s shoes, sat hugging my daughters and weeping.
  The following Sunday Rol checked the girls into the church nursery, and helped me climb the back stairs into the side of the cross-shaped church. 
  Our Pastor, Dr. James Seth Stuart, was already preaching when we finally sat down. He was speaking about the woman who crawled across the pavement to touch the Lord’s robe and how she had been healed.  
  I sat in oue pew listening and complaining to myself that, if the Lord Himself was there in the church, I would gladly crawl across the open space to touch His robe and receive healing. 
  Suddenly I heard a voice say, “Raise your hand and you will be healed.”
  I hesitated. ‘Raise my hand in the middle of a Presbyterian church?’ 
  But I did! …and healing strength flowed over and through me like a warm river.

  At the end of the service, Rol did not have to help me with the stairs. I flew down, gathered my children in my arms, and went home healed. A few months later I gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
  Over the ensuing years, a number of doctors have asked me what level Hepatitis I had experienced.
  But no one knew; and so it was presumed that it had been level A or, at worse, level B.
  It wasn’t until I was 76 years old that a doctor had my blood tested to determine the level. 
  The answer startled us all. It had been Hepatitis C, a killer disease that could have robbed me of life, and my children of their mother. In fact, I might have taken my son with me. The Lord had allowed me to draw healing from His strength…

  Is my story always well received? 
  Sometimes it is received enthusiastically. 
  Sometimes it is treated like a fairy-tale. 
  Sometimes it seems that people are caught between faith and denial. 
They all want it to be true (and it is); but sometimes it doesn’t’ fit into their church’s teaching (or their understanding of that teaching). It didn’t happen at the hand of a pastor (true). The time of miracles is past. I am an unknown (yes) person, unworthy (yes), and sometimes I suffer from other ills (yes)

  But the fact is…by the grace of God…my body was strengthened ..I walk.. I know…
 I hope you gain spiritual strength for knowing that the Lord loves even the least of us and delights in raising us up...Ask and you shall receive! 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Beggars and Blessings

     The beggar who waited on the stone piazza by the temple gate called “beautiful” could hardly be be considered “beautiful” himself. His body was twisted and weak. He had been carried there to beg alms. (Acts 4)
     He had probably seen Peter before. The fisherman visited the temple daily with his friends. They were a happy group, praising God and greeting others in the crowd.  
     The lame man put out his hand,  hoping to receive a few coins; but he was soon to receive a great deal more. 
     As he reached out for the hoped-for coins, Peter spoke.  ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, WALK”
     Suddenly the beggar’s legs strengthened. He felt the change. He didn’t’ need to struggle. He sprang to his feet. He stood. He took a step. He leaped. He shouted, “Oh, my God! Thank you, Lord”  
    The crowd stared. Some cheered.  Some whispered their hopes to others. Some turned aside unable to bear the  conflict with their unbelief. Many joined themselves to the beggar's celebration. Tears of joy flowed from the eyes of the beggars friends.

     Peter smiled and then grinned. He had seen this happen before.
     He remembered when Jesus had called the twelve together and instructed them to go. “ Go to the lost sheep of Israel. Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts.”  “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. (Matthew 10).   The power was not Peter’s. But it was his to deliver.     
     The same power is not mine, or yours…it is the Lord's. But it is ours to deliver.  
     Go, Fear not, Prepare not, 
     Make disciples.
Will there be conflict!  Yes!  
      But, “Whoever acknowledges Me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. ."  (Matthew 10:32)

Outside our walls  the world waits, crippled by false values, begging for pennies, unable to enter the place of worship.  
Will I remember what I have experienced?  Will I doubt Him? Will I doubt myself? or will I put out my hand and deliver what I know and what I have seen?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Acts 2: 4   “Those who had received his (Peter’s) word were baptized and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.”

What enthusiasm!
  But what is enthusiasm?  (Acts 2:43) those who experienced it were in continuous awe which was authenticated by wonders and signs. . .It changed their values. . . They sold or shared their possessions because possessions held little meaning compared to the new life they were experiencing.
  But consider today’s use of the word "Enthusiastic": 
Automobile advertisements of cars zooming along curved roads are designed to create "enthusiasm" in potential buyers. (while, in fact I hope that young drivers are not encouraged to emulate the performances of weaving in and out.)
   I’ve recently been watching the Olympics. The athletes and their fetes are truly amazing and I  enjoy watching the runners as they race along the lanes, the swimmers flashing through the water, and the gymnasts flying through the air . But, when the show is over, I go on unchanged and uninspired to do the same. I know I can not attain their strength or precision.
  On the other hand, the experience of those present on that Pentecost were life changing both for them and for those who witnessed the experience. 
  The observers immediately wanted to know how they should respond…and respond they did…about three thousand were baptized on the spot.
  And the enthusiasm continued: They listened with enthusiasm to every word the apostles said.. 
            Day by day they continued with gladness of heart, sharing their meals  and their possessions.  
          Their enthusiasm was life changing…not only for themselves but for those around them. 
 They were inspired (a word that describes being filled with the Holy Spirit). They were devoted. And "The Lord added to their number day by day those who were beings saved." I want to be part of this and by the blessing and power of the Holy Spirit I can be...and so can you!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Babel No More

Fifty (50) days from the Sabbath after Passover, is Shavuot or the Day of Pentecost. Rabbinic scholars believe that it was on this day that God visited His people after their exodus from Egypt and, through Moses, brought the Law down from Mount Sinai. This earthshaking day of visitation, trembling, and betrothal is the birthday of the nation of Israel. Moses brought down the Torah or Law for the nation. But, because of their rebellion 3,000 died under the Law that day.
Acts 2 describes a gathering of Israel for Shavuot …They have come from far and wide….from every nation under heaven. But this crowd is bewildered because each one hears their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—
This is a momentous question…
The law had sent them back to Jerusalem; but years before, because they attempted to build themselves into a nation that would reach the heavens and gain control,  (Genesis 11:3–4_)..God had confounded their speech and made it impossible to understand each other and place themselves over God
Now, suddenly they all understood Peter and each other. The barriers had disappeared. Their conversation was no longer “babbled” Their unity had been reaffirmed, their understanding made possible, and they were called to serve God.
Today many look upon the language of Pentecost as being able to speak in an unknown tongue; but on the Day of Pentecost, human understanding (or hearing) was the issue, not a prayer language.
Where then do we get the justification of praying in an unknown language?
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)
On Pentecost, tongues drew the people together. Praying in the spirit causes us to pray according to the will of God, not a creation of our minds. i.e. Speaking His will into being.)   

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blue Skies: Eyjafjallajokull

Blue Skies: Eyjafjallajokull: In April off 2010 a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano crisscrossed the skies of Europe, causing the grounding thous...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Fabulous Fourth

The 4th of July
On the evening of every 4th of July dozens of our friends and their friends gather on our front lawn to watch the fireworks that light the sky over the Toms River.
In preparation we mow the lawn, spray for bugs, wash the stack of plastic chairs, buy hamburgers, rolls, and (most importantly) dozens of Eskimo Pies.
The local radio station sets up down the street and music will be simulcast with the fireworks. It gets dark, the fireworks break out across the sky, and the marching music fills the lawn with inspirational sound. .And then it is over! We had a great time; but only a few mention the reason for the celebration.
Two hundred years ago, the Declaration of Independence was completed in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. The first signature was added on July 8th; the last on December 31st. With that Declaration of Independence, we declared ourselves separated from the tyrant who had controlled our lives. We declared ourselves a separate nation with new leaders and new laws.
And so it is with Pentecost, As I read the description of that day in Acts 2 of my bible, I see the dawn of a new day, of a new way of life, and the acknowledgement that the Holy Spirit will lead us. The old has passed away.
Even today we acknowledge His power in our lives and in our churches. , and pledge our sacred honor! Does fire still fall from heaven onto waiting and willing disciples? The answer is clear  Our manna is more than Eskimo Pies..It waits for us to claim it every day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Acts 2 …”When the Day of Pentecost had come” The faithful were still waiting when Acts 2 opens… . "Homebounnd" included those bound by drugs Acts 2 …”When the Day of Pentecost had come” The faithful were still waiting when Acts 2 opens…
   When Rol and I went to DC in 1967 I wasn’t waiting because I didn’t know there was anything to wait for or to hope for. But my heart yearned for a closer relationship to the Lord. He had graciously answered our prayers when Gail was dying, and mine when I needed healing.  But none of that was mentioned in the church we attended. I yearned for a closer relationship with Jesus.
  I began teaching "Homebound" children for the county of Fairfax, Virginia. That included those bound by drugs as well as seriously ill students. The former rejected both society and I went through the motions of teaching them. But it seemed like no one was listening.
   Then someone gave me the book, “They Speak with Other Tongues.” by John Sherrill. Within its pages I found references to a “second experience” with God…an infilling of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8). I asked the Lord for that infilling; and that prayer opened a door to a wonderfully intensified relationship with my students.
    Acts 2 describes that infilling. Like the Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem that day, I no longer felt separated from my students. I could grasp what they were saying, and they seemed to understand me. And like the Jews who gathered on the day of Pentacost, I was amazed.
  The barriers fell down of their own accord. I didn’t become wiser or more learned; I didn’t change methodologies; but we were communicating and still do.

  It is nearly thirty years later and the power still enables the impossible. Last night Tom and Brian asked Rol and I out for dinner. What do we have in common with these men? Only the Lord can answer that question. Twelve years ago, on impulse I hired Brian to build a fence. But the Lord had something more in mind. Suddenly Brian was not building barriers, he was tearing them down. He was no longer on the defensive. The unlikely relationship grew into a real friendship...a friendship with each other and with God.  We all learned a lot about the Lord and have been blessed.
   Now these two are leaving, taking a trip across the USA, lead by the Spirit and, like the crowd on the day of Pentecost, their calling. May those who meet them along their way also meet the Lord who leads them. .

Acts One

Journaling with Jesus, Acts 1, The Lord told the disciples to wait (vs4) and the first question out of their mouths was “when?” (vs 6). •When we went on trips with our young children we barely got to the corner before one or the other would ask “when are we going to be there?” and later down the road the second question, “Are we there yet?” •We humans don’t wait easily. The disciples didn’t and neither do we. When, Lord? The explanation, “It is not for you to know” seems more annoying than satisfying. But then comes the big, “BUT” .But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.We are forgiven for our impatience.Our motors are running but we won’t get anywhere without the fuel. . .and the Holy Spirit is the supplier. Anticipate. …”you are not at the end of it yet” What happened when the apostles didn’t wait? They appointed a replacement for Judas. At this point they would have entirely rejected Saul…who was appointed as an apostle by the Lord, Himself. They looked for excuses to make their own appointment .from Ps 69:25 and Ps 109:8 rather than waiting. I can say I prayed …but the disciples and others were “continually devoting themselves to prayers” and they erred. (The question is did they listen?) Do I take scripture out of context to prove my own purposes? Draw my theology from the obscure? . . . Follow the leader without resistance . . .Draw lots (or something like that) without including a “None of These”? It is obvious that the Lord forgave them for their folly. He just went on with his promise (the Holy Spirit) and His plan. What happens when I jump the gun (so to speak).. I run the race, and the Lord is waiting until I come to the end of my choices… Then we try again.