.........................."We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God." - John Stott

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Discomfort

2004 - We were invited to my cousins' for New Year's Eve. It wasn't a party with other guests. They had specifically invited us because we happened to be in town and they said that they wanted to meet my kids. I hadn't seen them for awhile, and we used to be close, so I agreed. My siblings decided to go along as well.

But it wasn't a good evening. There was lots of cigarette smoke, and they were all, (except for my cousins husband), drinking wine. Some of my sblings also made a choice to join them, although my siblings usually don't drink around us.

These cousins never used to drink when I'd spent time with them before, so it hadn't even occured to me that it would be an issue now. We had been members of Narcotics Anonymous together twenty years ago. We did everything together sober. Them knowing that, knowing my husband's past alcoholoism, and knowing I still don't drink, why would they specifically invite my family and then pull out wine?

My kids have never been in that type of situation before. The youngest two began to joke that they had wine in their apple cider. I didn't know how to handle it.

My cousins, who know all about alcoholism, invited us knowing that some of the kids that I have legal custody of have FAS and were born with crack in their blood. I appreciate that they wanted to see us, but I didn't understand their decision on how to host us.

Maybe I was too sensitive. I wasn't feeling well. Just a few days earlier I had been diagnosed with walking pneumonia and bronchitis. The cigarette smoke wasn't helping, but they didn't know I still wasn't well. It was my fault for accepting the invitation, I guess. I did miss them and had wanted to see them.

They were playing with the kids, though, not getting drunk, so I stuck it out and was polite. (with the intention of "debriefing" the kids when we were alone again in the motel room.)

Some of my kids also latched onto their piano and began singing worship songs. That was very, very nice. But I also made a decision not to do it again. I love my cousins, but it was very uncomfortable.

Lord Jesus, please help me to know how to handle situations like that better. I ask this in Your Holy Name. Amen

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Holy Spirit and the Books of John and Acts

The Holy Spirit and the Book of John

John 14:16-17, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth, The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."

John 14:26,"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."

John 15:26, "When the counselor comes, whom I will send to you form the Father, the Spirit of truth, who goes out form the Father, he will testify about me."

John 16:13-15, "But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what He hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."

John 20:21-22 "Again Jesus said, 'peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.' And with that, he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive then, they are not forgiven."

The Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts

Acts 1:5, "For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

Acts 7-8, "He said to them: "it is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Acts 2:4, "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them."

Acts 2:14-21, "Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: 'Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Acts 4:29-31; "Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness." Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous sings and wonders through the name of your holy Servant, Jesus. After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly."

Acts 5;3-4, "Then Peter said, 'Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit …you have not lied to men but to God."

Acts 5:9, "how could you agree to rest the Spirit of the Lord? Look.."

Acts 6:3-4, "Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention for prayer and ministry of the word."

Acts 6:10, "But they could not stand up against his (Steven's) wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke."

Acts 8:14-23, "When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria has accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit has not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostless hands, he offerece them money and said, "give me also this ability so that everyone whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit. Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."

Acts 8:29, "The Spirit told Phillip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."

Acts 8:39-40, When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Phillip away and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Phillip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea."

Acts 9:17-18, "Then Ananias went to the house and entered it., Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord - Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here - has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again."

Acts 10:19, "While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with then, for I have sent them."

Acts 11:12-18, "The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man's house. He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, 'Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved. As I began to speak, The Holy Spirit came on them as he has come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God? When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life."

Acts 11:27-30 "During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. …The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul."

Acts 13:2-4, "While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus."

Acts 16:6-7, "Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "come over to Macedonia and help us. After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them."

Acts 19:1-6, "While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They answered, "No, we haven not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. So Paul asked, 'Then what baptism did you receive?' 'John's baptism,' they replied. Paul said, 'John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus. On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, they Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied."

Acts 20:22-23, "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me."

Acts 20:28, "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers."

Acts 21:4, "Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem."

Acts 21:10-11, After we had been there (Caesarea/house of Phillip) a number of days, a prophet by the name of Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and fee with it and said, 'The Holy Spirit says, 'In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over the Gentiles."

More to Come...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas in a Mexican Children's Home

Celebrating as a family didn't feel right after Roland died. So we decided not to. Instead, we drive to Juarez; to a children's home on the west side, built on a old dump, barbed wire surrounding it.

Jose had lost his market place in a fire a few months ago, and their family and the children's mission were having a very tight time because of it. I gave him the Bibles, computers, and monetary donation we had brought with, and told him we'd also be buying Christmas food. But as we visited our friends, we saw their needs were greater than we had expected.

We walked into Ines' home on Dec. 23 and saw that there was absolutely nothing in her small, cinderblock home for Christmas for her five children. We also learned that another woman, Sylvia, had only had a Christmas present once before in her life. This month, her husband was laid off of his job, and she was unable to work more than two days a week as a maid. (she used to work everyday for Jose's family, until the market burned and they couldn't afford to pay her every day).

Sylvia, with an 18 month old toddler, also had nothing for Christmas. And then, of course, there was Juventud, the children's home we were visiting. Many of the children teenagers did have relatives to visit for Christmas. But there were four still at the home, and they also had no gifts. Chuy's mother had died a few years ago and he had never known his father. Scott, (11 yrs old) had a father, but he was afraid to be with him because of drunkenness and beatings. He asked Jose if he could please stay at the home. (His dad did try to come and get him while we were there, and Scott was crying and begging to stay at Juventud. His dad finally left angrily.)

Jose also asked us if we would make it our mission (mine and my teenagers) during our stay to talk to Chuy, who is almost 18, and tell him the importance of living for Christ, because Chuy hadn't been walking with Jesus. He'd been somewhat disobedient lately, and Jose was worried that once Chuy turned 18, he'd leave and get into trouble. I was fine with what ever Jose asked us to do. I would serve any of his needs.

But then he asked for something unusual. He wanted our children to spend time with his own children just having fun. They asked our kids to stay up late one night just to play worship music together. I wasn't sure at first, thinking that this didn't sound like "mission work." Then I realized that it was. It was ministery to the mission director and his family. I had asked God to just show us what was needed and help us to fill the gaps. This is what Jose was saying was needed.

Anyway, our family enjoyed everything we had the opportunity to do while we were there.
Everyone came together at Jose's house for Christmas Eve. We had a wonderful time. My son did a "Little Drummer Boy" thing for them, and we sang Christmas carols, had tamales for dinner, and handed out the gifts we had brought them. Nothing huge, just small, nice things.

It was so wonderful. All my children were laughing - just enjoying watching the others open their gifts. None of them looked for anything for themselves under the tree. They understood. It was awesome to see them this way - happy with just being there to help.

Ines then invited the whole group for dinner at her house for Christmas the next day. She made a traditional soup and we bought a piñata and stuffed it with candy.

The final evening we were there, on the 26th, everyone met at Juventud con Vision for a chicken barbecue. Now Jose asked me to say something. Jose gathered everyone together before dinner and I read parts of Proverbs 4 to the youth. Then I told them Roland's story. I know it's not normal to tell someone else's story. But I wanted the children to know of God's presence on Roland's last day. I now had their full attention, and I reminded them that we are all going to die. I wanted them to know that we are all just sojourner's in this land, and the real life, the life that really matters, is with God's coming kingdom; the next life. It doesn't matter if we are rich or poor. All that matters is if we are serving Jesus. My son began crying quietly. When I was finished, you could feel God's presence. Jose then told me that he felt he should "do a calling", and he asked the youth how many wanted to recommit their lives to Christ. Hands shot up, including Chuy's.

It was a wonderful three days. Jose asked when we would be coming back, as did several others. I don't know! We do intend to go back, but I hadn't begun to think about when.

Once we were on the road home though, my daughter and I began talking. We had been surprised by the number of cars that needed relatively minor work to put them back on the road. No one in Jose's group does any kind of car mechanics. Jose didn't even know how to change the bulb in his tail light. She had gone to the store to help him buy the bulb to put in. We wished there had been more time so we could have changed a timing belt on an old van.

Next time, we'll go prepared to work on cars.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

And So It Is Christmas....

May God Bless You and Be With You Today.

Joseph and Mary lived in the village of Nazareth back in the time when Rome was an Empire ruled by Caesar Augustus and Israel was under the authority of Rome and governed by King Herod. Joseph was a carpenter. Mary was a young girl who was to become his wife. Mary told Joseph of a dream in which she was visited by an angel who told her she had been chosen to bear the Son of God and his name was to be Jesus. He didn't believe her at first, but he loved her, and when she became pregnant, despite initial doubts, he was willing to stand by her side.

One day the emperor sent notice that all persons were to return to the towns of their birth to register for the census. Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem. Mary, who was close to birth, rode on a donkey while Joseph walked beside her.

When they reached Bethlehem it was night. They looked for a place to rest but because of the census, there were no empty rooms in the inns. One inn keeper took pity on them though and told them where they could stay with the cows and sheep.

So Joseph and Mary went to the stable area. Mary gave birth to a son the next night. They found a manger in the stable and used it for the baby and named the baby Jesus, just as they had been instructed by the angel.

When the child was born a great star appeared over Bethlehem that could be seen for miles around. In the fields nearby shepherds were tending their flocks. An angel appeared to them surrounded by bright light. The shepherds were frightened and tried to run.

"Fear Not," said the angel, "For I bring you tidings of great joy. For unto you is born this day in Bethlehem - a Saviour who is Christ the Lord."

"And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."

Suddenly the sky was filled with angels, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men."

After the angels departed the shepherds set out for Bethlehem. When they reached the stable they went inside and found the child there, wrapped in swaddling clothes just as the angel said.

As the star shined over Bethlehem, three eastern kings, who some say were actually astronomers, saw it. They knew it was a sign and they set off to follow the star. They traveled for many days, always following the bright star.

When they finally arrived in Bethlehem, after spending a night with King Herod, they found the child in the manger. The 3 kings bowed to their knees and offered gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

And we shall call him Emmanuel - for he is God with Us - our Lord and Savior, the only begotten son of God the Father, given so that no man shall perish.

God Loved the world so much that he gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in me will not die but live forever. God didn’t send his Son to condemn the world, but to save it.

You see, men who have faith in Jesus aren't going to be judged. But those that DON'T have faith in him have already been judged - even now, because he has no faith in the name of the only Son of God.

Jesus didn’t come to earth to put everyone down or hate them for the things they’ve done wrong…he’s trying to SAVE everyone.

The rest of this story, the best part, we get to tell at Easter time...

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Christmas; be Christ-like

Your family is readying to share Christmas Eve or Christmas Day together. You'll have opportunity to be with cousins and uncles whom you rarely see. Someone in the family was diagnosed with cancer this year. Someone else is having a very tough time in this economy. Be there for them.

If you can't speak the name of Jesus Christ out loud within your extended family, don't forget to show the face of Jesus Christ in all that you think, do and say over the next few days.

Be a reflection of Jesus Christ for them. Hold your temper. Practice patience. Help with the dishes. Give that extra gift to the sibling or cousin you really can't stand. Show them love. You might be suprised by what comes back.

Don't forget to pray before all events. Make sure your on the same page with Him. If you get your heart connected with the Lord before the big dinner, it will all go that much better.

Bless you!

Friday, December 19, 2008

What Scripture says. (What is Faith? Part 7)

How does the Bible tell us to respond in Faith to difficult circumstances?

a) Prayer - “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray.” James 5:13

b) Going to elders - “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” James 5:14-15

c) Asking for help - “Confess you faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16

You might also fast, or others may choose to fast for you. In the old testament, David fasted for the son he had with Uriah in hope the Lord might have mercy and allow the baby to live. (2 Sam. 12:16.) Psalm 35:13 also mentions fasting for the afflictions of others, even your enemies.

d) Persevere until victory - “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith” 1Cor. 16:13, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; We are perplexed, but not in despair.” 2 Cor. 4,5

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Las Vegas and Benny Hinn...(Is this Faith? Part 6)

At one point, Patricia, 20-years-old, got up and made her way down the stairs, clutching her cruthes. I caught a glimpse of her as she got right up next to the stage …but this was just as Benny Hinn stopped taking people up on the stage. Oooohhh.... I was so disappointed for her.

And suspicious of Benny. He hadn't had anyone up there with an obvious defect, as Patricia had. But then he began prayer for young people, and the throng pushed in. Hinn shouted, "FIRE ON YOU!" and hundreds of kids standing closest to the stage FLEW backwards. Just picking themselves up, he did it again. The kids got up again and pressed to the stage. I was hoping Patricia was okay in the crush, but I could see her head bobbing, hands raised, right next to a gray coat and tie. Big usher. BIG. I was sure he'd keep her safe. Benny started grabbing kids and pulling them up on stage, "FIRE ON YOU!" and they flew across the stage. He began stepping over bodies and grabbing the raised hands of three or four more kids a time, pulling them up on stage. "FIRE ON YOU!" and they all fell down at the same time. The throng on the floor pressed closer, screaming to be touched. I'm sure they saw this and just wanted to feel whatever it was the kids on stage had felt. "FIRE ON YOU!" and six more went flying.

Then he began the cool off. "I'm only one man, and I can't touch everyone. But I have the anointing because I've met the anointer. And you can go home and meet the anointed and get the anointing for yourself. You need daily prayer, and read your bible, and get connected with a fellowship in your town. There are several Las Vegas Pastors up here that love you and welcome you to their churches. There are Bothers and sisters in Christ surrounding you right you right now. This is not a one-time event. This is a daily, on-going process." Then he invited a local pastor to further the invitation and close in prayer, and he left the stage.

I wasn't impressed by this guy, so I was glad to hear him give that closing message. It helped a little, I think.

As people cleared out of the auditorium, we went to the floor where Patricia was still sitting next to the stage. She said she wasn't disappointed. She said it as awesome to be in the full line of fire, there by the stage. But she had already put her brace back on - after having removed it in anticipation - and if she wasn't disappointed, I was sure disappointed for her. Yes, I know this is an ongoing process. And she also said that, yes, he did shake her hand just before he left the stage. She added that there were so many desperate people there...she couldn't expect to get his attention. If she was faking contentment, she was doing a pretty good job.

That, dear Readers, is faith. It really has nothing to do with Benny Hinn. This little girl trusts God, and whatever He has for her, it's okay.

When we left at the airport, we picked up the Las Vegas paper and read their spin on the crusade. In it, the reporter had followed a young Las Vegas family that was praying for healing. The couple, 20 years old, had been in an auto accident the last October. The husband was in a vegetative state. They have a one-year-old daughter. This woman paid an ambulance to bring her husband to the crusade. The reporter followed them through it, and in the end, they left the crusade disappointed. I'm not sorry we didn't push to be in front. As Patricia said, there were so many, many needy people there.

I am impressed by Patricia's faith. When it comes to Hinn, I remain cynical. My eyes weren't just on Hinn or the crowds during the event. I was seeing other things as well. When we filed in the first day, the line of people was directed where to sit and told to fill every seat. Unless you were saving a seat for someone, there was to be no empty seats. We were filed in evenly filling seats from the lower section, and then on to the section above it, and on to the top. After the arena had stopped filling, I noticed that black curtains were being hung in front of the empty seats at the top. This way, when the cameras panned the crowd, the arena had the appearance of being full. Benny, why the need to deceive the television viewers?

I was also thinking about how the lower seats must be populated primarily with A - type personalities. People that got there early and had the gusto to get those seats. They had cellular phones (at a time when not everyone did) and kept in touch with the people they were saving seats for. "You're just getting off work now? Okay, we have a seat for you." "You're in the parking lot? Okay, come through the main entrance and were in section 118". Gusto people, filled with energy, like Patricia. The nosebleed seats were different.

Interestingly, I almost had my coat stolen. I had gone for a pop and Roland was "dozing" like he does. A woman sat on the other side of my coat, and, Roland said (he wasn't as asleep as she thought) that she put her coat on the far side. (NOT on the seat with my coat.) But when she got up, she moved her coat over mine and wrapped my coat under hers. Roland quickly called her on it. You can't con a con man. She initially denied it, and then said, "oh, I'm sorry", handed it back and scurried away. Mind you, this is NOT a special coat. This is a rummage sale special, and there was nothing in the pockets. But she wouldn't have known that. Anyway, it gave me another person to pray for that evening. This woman must have had some real problems to be stealing my ol' coat. She was in real need of healing. I hope she got it.

Some might say that Patricia was just naive and hopeful. After all, with a birth defect such as hers, there is no other hope for healing outside of a miracle from God. Well, I imagine that she is naive and hopeful. But she's not stupid. She does also have fatih in God. And it is God who holds her faith, not in Benny Hinn, because if it were Hinn, she'd have given up in disappointment a long time ago.

More to Come...

Monday, December 15, 2008

They attacked Palin by burning her Church, but it's Only the Arsonists that are Hurting.

They can't touch her - no matter how hard they try.

Governor Sarah Palin's home church in Wasilla, Alaska suffered about 1$ million in damage from a fire about 10 pm Friday night. The fire chief has reported that the fire was "definitely suspicious." Fortunately, none of the ten people inside, including two children, were injured.

Wow. The anger directed at Sarah Palin during the campaign was totally out of control - and it seems that many still haven't gotten over it.

What's amazing was all the accusations made by those on the left about how horrid the right was going to be toward Obama. Everyone on the left warned how the right was going to hurt him. But it was Sarah that was the recipient of the greater vicious attacks - and it was due to her Christian world view. Apparently, a lot more people hate Christians than hate people of a different heritage.

But Sarah is said to have faith in "the scriptural passage that what was intended for evil will in some way be used for good."

Her Pastor, Larry Kroon, also told KTUU TV that he's "had a lot worst calls at night. When one of your parishioners dies or loses a child, it's a whole different thing than the building's on fire."

They can't touch her and they can't touch her church. The Palins and the Wasilla Bible Church are above what ever those that hate them try to do. That's because they have Jesus in their hearts. They are doing their best to walk with the Holy Spirit

Give thanks to God for everything - including hard times. Every hard time is an opportunity. Praise God for His goodness.

Please pray protection for Sarah, her family and her church. Please pray that God come against those that would try to hurt them.

But please also pray for those that set the fire. They must have a lot of anger and pain in their hearts to have done something like this. They really need Jesus Christ.

So many people in our country are lost without Jesus Christ. It's the only explanation for the amount of anger they have when confronted with the Holy Spirit indwelling in a person such as Sarah. She's someone they can't touch - at least not that they can see. She doesn't react to their barbs. So they just get angrier and angrier.

Dear God; please continue to Bless Sarah, and give her - our Esther - as well as her husband - her protector - all the strength and wisdom necessary for the job you have set before them.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

More Las Vegas and Benny Hinn (What is Faith? Not this... Part 5)

We played hookie during Benny Hinn's morning session.

Friday Noon, we went to one of those cheap buffet lunches on the Las Vegas strip. Coming back, I admit we tarried. Roland took me on the “New York, New York” roller coaster. (Therese tells me I should have kept my eyes open.) And we pulled on some of the "free pulls". And it's hard to get out of those places. They're huge and they turn you around and you don't know where the door is. And walking past the desert vegetation, smelling the desert air, we were reminded of and missed Aunt Charlotte.

Anyway, when Roland told me it was almost 4pm, well, we had to hustle. Our motel shuttle picked up at the Tropicana every hour on the hour, and we didn't have much time. The doors at the Center were already open for the Benny Hinn crusade. So we hustled. Only stopped for a moment at another free pull. But when we arrived at the Tropicana, people standing there told us that we had missed the Howard Johnson shuttle by just a couple minutes. Ohhh. We should have been better with our time. Having tried to get a cab the day before, we knew it could take some waiting. And there would be no chance of calling the surly shuttle driver and asking if he could come back sooner than the hour. He'd made that clear when he dropped us off. And I didn't want to walk the couple miles. I was tired from all the walking we'd already done. But before Roland and I even had a chance to look at each other and admit we messed up, around the corner came the Howard Johnson shuttle. Wow! The driver got out and opened the sliding door. As we climbed into the van, I asked, "what ever possessed you to come back?" But as the words left my mouth, I had to smile. I knew what had possessed him.
One of the other riders said, "I don't know why he turned around. He just went and turned around. You mean you didn't call? I thought maybe you had called."

"No, we didn't call. We'd only been standing there a minute or so." Then, after another thought, that rider (a stranger to us) held up a Bible. "Maybe it had something to do with this then."

We laughed. We were sure it had. It was funny how many people we met there were in Las Vegas for the Crusade. It's kind of neat walking through a lobby and hearing a small huddled group discussing the book of Mark, or walk in the Deli and hear another group discussing miracle healings they'd witnessed. At the airport, there were people in wheelchair's, Bibles clutched on their laps. (Must have been a slow time for the casinos though...oh, whoops, if they were anything like us, the pull tabs were used.)

At any rate. it seems that God has consistently "been there" for us, even when we've stopped and pulled on that "free Pull."

I think of all the different things he's done, and I' feel so awe struck and humbled. And yet, I know how disappointed we get with our own children, and I know how disappointed they get with us. Sometimes I want to throw in the towel...but we keep pushing on and keep hoping they’ll learn soon. Well, I thank that the Lord, at times, is very disappointed in us also, but he keeps plugging away with us anyway; hoping we'll maybe catch on tomorrow.

That second evening at Benny Hinn, as things got going in that crowd of 20,000, I remembered how struck I was by this the night before. I know I've said some pretty negative things so far, but there seemed to be some good, too. Both evenings when he made an altar call I couldn't help but cry. It was awesome to see thousands of people swarming down to the floor with their hands raised high, (when they weren't punching each other) hungry for the Lord. It's so awesome to see all these people rush down the stairs, tears in their eyes, crying for help. I just couldn't help but cry with them, but so happy that they were going to get the help - if not from Benny Hinn, I was sure they would get it from the Lord. They were finally going to be able to rest in the arms of Jesus. This was truly the highlight of both evenings for me. We sat even higher in the nosebleed section on the second night. And it was just fine. We were much more rested when we arrived, because we came three hours later than the day before. We could still hear the message and actually, could see the people swarm to the floor much better from up there.

We had gone to check on a friend, Patricia, before we found our seats, just to tell her we were there. Patricia had a birth defect that made her unable to use her legs, and she got around on cruthces. We expected she would be in the same place and we were right. Go-getter that she is, she was in the best seats again. Not on the floor, because that was reserved for Benny's prayer support, wheelchairs, ...and probably hired actors..., but in the first row above, to the right of the stage, next to the stair well to get down on the floor next to the stage. Full good view of the speakers. So from our seat above - actually, where we could watch the stage from straight on - we could see Patricia and her friends. Patricia had been to these five times before. I asked her if she leaves the events disappointed when her legs aren't healed, and she said, "not at all." She's there for the anointing, for the pleasure of feeling the power of the event.

Having told me that... when the healing prayer began, I was surprised to see Patricia struggle to stand on her crutches and go to the stairwell to get to the floor. I tried to keep my eye on her. It was hard once she got to the floor because of the crush of people that were gathering down there as he took people up on stage one by one...

More to Come...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Las Vegas and Benny Hinn (Is this Faith? Part 4)

It was February 2001. The arena staff at the Benny Hinn event had asked that people stay at the bottom of the stairs to wait and not climb up to the pavilion doors to wait, as the crowd could injure each other up there. This seemed right, because when you were at the bottom of the stairs looking up, you couldn't see who is on the pavilion. You would mount the stairs, not being able to assess the crowd, and then would have to push to find a place to stand once you got up there. Others behind you would also be pushing. The result could very well cause injury to those closest to the glass doors.

But people were defiant with the staff. Even angry. They mouthed off to the staff, refused to budge. Some said they had God on their side and therefore a right to be there.

(One man joked, “Christians are like tea bags. When the water gets hot, you can see what’s really in them.”)

Then, when the staff decided not to press the issue with the most rebellious people, these people contently sat by the doors singing praise songs. Give me a break.

And...as much as I enjoy singing, I couldn't enter in. Not with that crowd.

I had to really struggle to get rid of ill feelings and judgement. Get myself back out of that hole. I had to remember that growth is an on-going process and I need to be patient with brothers and sisters in the same way that I want people to be patient with me. The way so many have been patient with us already through the years. So many have given Roland and I Grace, put up with our bad behavior. In fact, I'd decided to try to be a submissive person only five months or so earlier, when we moved up to the Bible college. Now, I looked at these things and realized that God is not likely to Bless me if I'm acting in rebellion and disobedience. But it took awhile for me to realize that. The best I could do for these other people would be to simply pray for them. Pray God's mercy for them that wisdom will come.

And then of course came the thoughts...is it really necessary to come the earliest and then struggle with these feelings that accompany line-ups. The nose bleed section should be close enough to hear Benny in, and then I won't have to hear the stuff immediately prior, which is not only distracting but down right ugly.

So we contently sat in the nose bleed section and prayed together for Roland's healing. We were convinced healing had begun sometime in the last month anyway, and this was simply a reinforcement of work God had already begun in addition to teaching us on the how and why.

Then - when they called for people to come down to the arena floor if they felt they were healing, Roland decided to go. (Well, it was like, if we sit here...are we saying the negative?) So we started moving slowly with the crowd toward the stairs. But when we reached the steps to try to get on the floor, the shoving was so intense that Roland and I were getting separated in the crowd. He reached his hand back, grabbed mine and pulled. In doing that, I pushed past other people. Nice people. I kept looking back to see that my rudeness hadn't discouraged them, and I couldn't see them. I felt bad about that. I didn't want to do that again.

In fact, Roland didn't want to either. Seeing how difficult it would be to get much further, he turned us around and we went back to our seats.

Roland ended up being too tired to attend the next morning’s session. He remained sleeping until 10am. That was understandable, because being in line early the day before had wiped him out. He'd had little chance to rest.

More to Come....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Las Vegas and Benny Hinn (What is Faith? Part 3)

Back in the spring of 2001, kind friends gave my husband and I a gift of a trip to the Benny Hinn Crusade in Las Vegas. I didn't really want to go. As I said in a previous post, I tend to be cynical and don't trust faith healers. I believe that the Lord can and will answer our prayers just as assuredly, and maybe even more so, if we're praying by ourselves in our bedroom.

But my husband wanted to go. Well, he was the one that was ill, and if he felt that this was something he wanted to try, I wasn't going to stop him.

Christians respond to difficulties in many ways.

When we arrived at the arena where it was being held, there were thousands of people alreayd in line, waiting for the doors to open. It was humbling to see the different people there, all desperate for healing. He wasn't the only one sick. I guess it suprised me how many people with cancer and/or in wheelchairs where there. For some reason, I had it in my head that my husband would be the most sick.

People were so desperate that they pushed their way in line. Staff asked people to stay at the bottom of the stairs and not climb up to the pavilion doors because the crowd could hurt each other up there. But people mouthed off and refused to leave the pavilion doors. Some said they were there on God’s mission, and that they had a right to be wherever they wanted. One woman prayed curses against the "rules of men."

I was embarrased, to be honest.

I understand wanting to be first, but who are they putting their trust in? Benny Hinn or Jesus? Does being first in line ensure healing? Does pushing a sister or brother in the Lord out of the way ensure healing?

At the bottom of the stairs, one man joked, “Christians are like tea bags. When the water gets hot, you can see what’s in them.”

I liked him.

But in watching the desperation of so many, my husband and I also realized something we hadn't realized before. We weren't desperate. The initial diagnosis and a couple other times were rough, but we weren’t desperate. We KNEW the Lord had the situation well in hand, and we were grateful to God for that.

The next day we decided not to rush to be in line and went to lunch. Coming back, we were slow. When I saw it was almost 4 PM, we started to hurry. Our motel shuttle picked up at the Tropicana every hour on the hour. But when we arrived at the Tropicana, people told us we had missed the shuttle by just a couple minutes.

We knew we should have been better with our time. The shuttle driver made it clear when he dropped us off that he would only be back once an hour. But before we had a chance to admit it was our fault for being slow, around the corner came the shuttle.

The driver got out and opened the sliding door. As we climbed in, we wondered why he had come back.

One of the other riders said, "I don't know why he turned around. He just went and turned around. You mean you didn't call? I thought maybe you’d called."

Then, after another thought, that rider (a stranger to us) held up a Bible. "Maybe it had something to do with this then." We laughed. We were sure it had.

What this incident reminded us of was that God always seems to "be there" for us. Nothing flashy. He's just always "there." Even when we aren't perfect. Apparently, he was still there for us even though we well...oh well, swe topped in that casino we had wandered through and pulled on that "free pull." And he still turned the van around for us. That's pretty amazing, considering how little we deserved it.

We think of all the times he's just been there, caring for us, and we are awe struck and humbled.

More to come....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

He was Dying... (Faith? Part 2)

He was diagnosed with incurable, terminal cancer in April of 2000. The doctor had said he had 6 months to two years to live, but more likely 6 months.

Some people tell you to start praying. but most people who go ahead and do that die anyway. Does that mean the prayer didn't work?

How much faith do we need to have answers to prayer?

Mathew 17:20 states, “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed…nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

A grain of a mustard seed - one of the smallest seeds on earth. We need only a very small amount to bring God's response because He loves us and knows that as humans, faith doesn't come to us easily. But that small amount is necessary. But that still doesn't tell me how much faith - in me - is equal or greater than (or less than) a mustard seed.

Mathew 9:28-30, says; “When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied.’
Then he touched their eyes and said, “according to your faith will it be done to you’, and their sight was restored.”

So....why doesn't that happen for everyone? Ummm...let's look at it....

#1) Faith is needed in the midst of difficult circumstances.

James 1 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

Wow - is that a good word for me today, as I try to make decisions concerning the purchase of a restaurant. I have felt so much like a wave tossed in the ocean lately. I miss greatly having my husband with me, a partner in big decisions. If we were going to make a big mistake, at least we were doing it together.

My husband was diagnosed with incurable, terminal cancer in April of 2000. The doctor had said he had 6 months to two years to live, but more likely 6 months.

When he first heard that, his heart felt like it broke into a million pieces. What to do; where to go; how to handle it…or could he handle it? First he had to tell his kids, then his relatives, then his personal friends. How do you DO that? Life Stopped.

Then he stopped. There was nothing to do other then ....put it in to the Lord’s hands. If it was God's will for him to be healed, so be it. If not...so be it.

He enrolled in a Bible college. His relatives thought that was crazy. If he only had a short time, why go to school? But he figured, if his days were to be few, this is how he wanted to spend them.

Wow, that was a huge decision we made together. But I wasn't afraid. As long as we were together in it, I wasn't afraid. My husband moved his entire family to the Bible college campus. Didn't he have at least the faith of a mustard seed?

For a time, he grew stronger in body and stronger in the Lord. He lived that year and the next and the next. We were able to do many things during that time and our kids had a chance to get older before he left. Things began to get more difficult for my husband in the fall of 2003, and he finally went to be with the Lord in June of 2004.

During his last four years, while we were associated with the Bible college, he was prayed over by many, many people. One man, lacking the usual tiny vial of oil for anointing, decided to do something he'd always wanted to do and poured a full bottle of Wesson oil over my husband's head. Whatever. Another man who had never actually met my husband personally wrote an email to say that he'd been so moved to prayer that he sat in proxy for my husband as his own elders prayed over him, and that it was tremendously heavy and anointed time.

These were strong people; pastors, preachers, evangelists. Didn't they have the faith of a mustard seed?

Not only did they all have faith, but they had enough faith and, saddened by the thought that this man might be leaving several young children behind, they used their faith in calling on the Lord in these difficult circumstances.

The prayer did work. He lived four years instead of 6 months.

But I guess the bottom line...No one lives for ever; we all have death waiting for us. Even the people Jesus healed while on earth eventually died.

As they say, there are no living apostles, right?

He lived the number of years God purposed for him. His children all had a chance to get 4 years older. I had the blessing of his companionship for a little while longer. Although being a single parent is stressful, I have complete faith that there is a purpose in all of God's timing.

And maybe part of that timing is this: One of the important things that is happening within me is that I am having to switch the dependence and security I felt in my husband over to the Lord. I have faith, but I also have to have trust that the Lord is my partner and He isn't going to let me down. Just as when I was with my husband, I am not alone in the decisions I make. This is a huge area for me to learn and grow in.

More to come....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

So-called "Healer" & the Elderly Woman ... (Part 1 Is This Faith?)

It was the summer of 1999 when our family attended a mountain Bible camp just west of Glacier Park, Montana. An evangelical "faith healer," wild and full of himself, made an altar call. I went up. I am usually cynical. But I had a pinched nerve and no medical insurance, so decided I'd give it a try. I told myself that it wasn't 'him' I was trying though. I determined to open my mind to the Lord and give HIM a chance.

An elderly woman stood in front of me in the line, someone I had known for years as a kind, prayerful woman. The woman had trouble with her hips and needed a walker. When it was her turn to be prayed for, I was close enough to watch and hear everything that was said.

After the healer prayed for the woman, he had two men take hold of her arms and attempt to run her back and forth in front of the stage. They ran her in the direction away from us and appeared to have much of her weight in their arms. She wasn't able to support herself well at all. On their return, the pain in her face was obvious and her need for their support appeared even more so. After a few minutes of this torture, the men brought her back to the healer and she grasped for her walker. The healer then told her, “something inside you is blocking it. You just didn’t have enough faith.”

She was devastated and left the building in tears.

I was shocked. Wouldn’t the fact that this elderly woman went up to the altar for prayer been an indication she had the faith of at least a mustard seed?

Later, I found her and sat down to talk to her. I tried to encourage her, but she was still crying and said, "No, he was right. It was my fault." I felt terrible for her.

Was the healer right? Was the Lord unwilling or unable to heal her because she didn’t have enough faith? I don't believe it. I think he was just a jerk who wants people to believe in and praise him. If he was really about the Lord's business, that woman wouldn't have been crying by herself in the back of the church.

Some of these so called preachers make believe that it's always God's will to heal when they, the preacher, demand it. People that have obvious physical issues and don't get healed are just an embarrassment to them.

What is faith in the real God?

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

How do we get faith?

Galatians 5:22 tells us Faith is a fruit of the spirit. According to Hebrews 12:2, Jesus is the author and finisher of our Faith and Romans 10 states, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

Faith begins with a decision to believe the Word, and to begin a walk of obedience. Once making the decision, the Holy Spirit is able to work in our hearts, and make faith grow. We can't "make" ourselves have faith. It's a gift, born and nurtured through the Lord. And boy, that woman sure did have it. Can you imagine making the decision to go up to the altar and allow them to take away your walker? She only did that because she had faith and hope in the Lord. Her only error was in allowing that jerk to place his hands on her and later, when his commands to the Lord for his - not the Lord's - glory weren't met, he abused her by putting doubt in her mind about her own faith.

Is Faith necessary?

Romans 4 says that believing God brings us righteousness and believing on God brings us justification. Galatians 16 also states that by believing in Christ, we are justified by His faith. Belief is necessary for justification.

Mark 16:16 says “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Faith is necessary for salvation

Eph. 6, The Shield of Faith is part of the armor of God. Faith is necessary for our battle with the enemy.

I never returned to that Bible camp because I honestly don't believe our time together in fellowship, prayer and worship is supposed to end with a preacher shaming members of the congregation and causing them to doubt their faith. (That wasn't the only disconcerting event I witnessed at that camp.) But I have attended other, more mature camps in the last ten years and have been very blessed by the ministries.

Oh, by the way, that nerve in my leg is still pinched to this day. However, it doesn't matter. The number and depth of things the Lord has done for and with me and my family over these last years has been unbelievable. My leg is of little importance compared to the amazing things the Lord has done. I do have complete faith in Him to know us, the purposes He has for us, and the best way to accomplish those purposes. I have no faith in faith healers.

More to come...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Six Self-Destructive Tendencies:

The following destructive tendencies alienate us from people, prevent spiritual growth, and make us miserable:

· Treating people as objects to be manipulated.
· Resenting and dwelling on circumstances that are painful, unpleasant, or humiliating.
· Becoming angry and resentful when you lose control of a situation.
· Giving up or reacting with anger when shown to be wrong.
· Becoming paralyzed - unwilling to move forward when afraid
· Dreading problems instead of accepting them as challenges.


· Avoid dwelling on the negative - that is, thinking critical thoughts or making negative, argumentative comments. These alienate others, arouse hostility in you, and undermine your own self-esteem.

· Give frequent encouragement to every person in the house. Compliment and respect others. Respecting people whom God has created helps us to respect ourselves.

· Meditate regularly on God's Word. He loves us and communicates with us through the Bible. This book can help individuals keep a realistic perspective when there is a tendency instead to slip into thoughts of one's own inferiorities and incompetence.

These are all points that I pray the Lord helps me to remember and practice every day of my life, but especially this time of year - when I want so badly to be a blessing to my family, rather than a pain in the rear. Lord Jesus, please help me to be courageous over my fears and positive with my family. Help me to remember to read your Word daily and take time to be alone with you. I ask this in your Holy Name, Amen,