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Monday, March 31, 2008

Charateristics of a healthy church - Part 2

Let's talk again about the characteristics of a healthy church. There are ten of them. We are on number two.

The second one is "God-exalting worship".

The healthy church comes together on a regular basis to worship God in ways that engage us on a physical, spiritual and emotional level.

As I have listened to our church family the past five months, I am thankful that worship is not a focal point of relational warfare.

Worship can be such an emotional subject, in all probability because it is so personal to us. It is the way that we connect with God in an intimate way.

I have a theory. It's just a theory. I believe that the way you worshipped God in your formative teenage and early adult years is the way you are most comfortable with connecting with God throughout your life.

For me it was in a setting where there were several acoustical guitars and some drums. For others it was in a southern gospel setting with traditional hymns. For others still, it was during the years when there were choruses about God. For others it was when choruses that were sung "to" instead of "just" "about" God began to appear.

It takes a tremendous amount of spiritual maturity to be able to flow in all kinds of different styles of worship.

Let me say at this point: The goal of worship is to point people to God.

God is to be the focus of our worship. In reality, there is no Christian "music" only Christian lyrics. We can't say one style has the corner on the Christian market, nor even that one style is more traditional than another. Speaking of tradition, how far back do we go to sing traditional songs? To the Georgian chants of the first century? What is ultimately important is not the style but "are we connecting to God?"

I digress.

To be healthy in worship, I would suggest the following:

1. We must know and practice scriptural guidelines that lead us to biblical patterns of worship.

2. We must honor the roots of the universal church and of Stone Church in particular.

3. We must constantly be aware of the many varieties of musical styles and tastes and utilize the best in contemporary music.

4. We must use diversity as a positive tool of bringing us together in worship rather than a hindrance.

5. We must nurture an atmosphere where the process of making music "to the Lord" is honoring and lifting up Christ.

6. We must realize that giving our tithes and offering is worship. The proclamation of the word of God is worship. Praying with and for one another is worship.

7. We must practice worship on a daily basis by lifting up God in our lifestyle and daily communication with Him.

Let me pray:

"Father our desire is to worship you in spirit and in truth. To exalt your name. To surrender ourselves to you as we lift up holy hands in praise to you. Amen."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Characteristics of a healthy church - part 1

I've been writing about our desire to be a healthy church. What are the characteristics of such a church body? What is our target? What are our goals? There are ten.

Today, we look at the first one. A healthy church actively seeks the Holy Spirit's direction and empowerment for its daily life and ministry.

We desire to be a church of God's presence.

As a Pentecostal church, this might sound obvious, but its something that we must continually reaffirm.

We desire that God's presence be felt so strongly that (and not to sound weird or goofy) even when people drive by the building on 127th and Ridgeland, they sense God's spirit, which is a spirit of love, mercy and forgiveness.

As an Assemblies of God church, when we think of God's presence, we think almost immediately of the spiritual gifts, or the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as miracles, healings, messages in spiritual language and interpretation. We think of spiritual manifestations that we can physically recognize. And that's part of it.

But the number one way that God's Spirit is shown is how we treat one another and how we treat the world around us.

In order to facilitate this, a spirit of independence must continually be broken. We must place our egos and pride into the loving hands of our Father.

We must nail to the cross the "Its my way or the highway" kind of thing.

Our culture just naturally fosters an independent, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps type mentality, and that is something that a true Christian mindset continually combats. A spirit of control.

Control is a deadly force in church communities. I know of one church that asked their pastor to leave because he was introducing too many changes and offending the families that had for generations controlled the direction of the ministry.

Another church split because the "power families" did not like what the elders had decided about the music ministry. Another church still, which had a long history of conflicts that resulted in several pastoral leadership changes, lacked focus in ministry and were caught in the trap of "majoring on the minor issues" type thing.

That created a decline in attendance and nuked their community witness.

A true Pentecostal church is a church that is walking in the freedom of the Holy Spirit and has been broken - confessing and leaving their own agendas at the cross.

I would suggest that it is only when we approach God with an open, outstretched hand that we are ready to receive from him, the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

We are all merely, "beggars helping other beggars where to find bread."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The process of becoming a healthy church

I am going to keep saying it - the issue for our church is not church growth but church health. How can we become healthy once again?

One of the ways is this...are you ready? We must embrace, fully embrace a season of growth and change. We must honestly ask ourselves: Are we willing to grow? Are we willing to change? What is our attitude about lifelong growth?

When we lived in Battle Creek, there were several oak trees in our back yard. They are beautiful, but then there comes fall and raking the leaves....I digress.

How does an oak tree grow to full maturity? Through seasons of growth, nurture and patience.

How do we "turn around" a 100 year old church? Through seasons of growth, nurture and patience.

Don't forget this: the oak tree is one of the strongest trees God ever created. Isaiah writes (61:3), "They will be called oaks for righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."

What keeps an oak tree healthy? Deep, healthy roots.

In order to nurture deep, healthy roots in our church family (to mix metaphors), we must:

Reflect. We must take the time to hop off the treadmills of our hectic ministry lives and ask ourselves come basic questions about who we are, what we are accomplishing together, where we would like to go in the future, and how we hope to get there.

Affirm. We must acknowledge the truth about ourselves and our church and affirm the gifts that have been given to us so that we might continue to build his kingdom.

What are our greatest strengths, our most obvious needs? How can we maximize our strengths and our openness to change?

Evaluate. We must honestly evaluate everything we are doing in ministry. We must realize that BUSYNESS DOES NOT EQUAL PRODUCTIVITY. Tenure does not make a ministry effective. Cultures change.

The other day I heard a wonderful CD that Erik gave me from a speaker (I forget his name) at a conference he went to.

He said this (I paraphrase): "Basically, at every meal, you and I eat one of four things, chicken, cow, pig or fish." Every time we sit down to eat, it's one of those four things. Why don't we get bored with it? Because the presentation is different each time. Sometimes its fried chicken, sometimes it is baked, sometimes chicken in a salad or chicken curry. The presentation changes, but the basic food group stays the same."

Our message is timeless. But we must be sensitive to the presentation.

We must love each other enough to be honest with each other, give each other permission to fail and restore conflicts as they inevitably occur, and strive for true change in the hearts, minds, and wills of the people with whom we "live with" at Stone Church.


We must pray and apply God's will for our church. I do not want to pray blessing upon what we are doing as much as I want to do what god is blessing.

Just some thoughts for a Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Now is the time

I read a story this week about a guy who goes to the house where he grew up and knocks on the door. Because he hadn't been there for 20 years, he finds himself getting sentimental. He asks the owners if he can walk through the house, and they let him. While in the attic, he finds an old jacket of his.

He puts it on, reaches into the pocket, and pulls out a stub. It's a receipt from a shoe repair shop. He realizes he had taken a pair of shoes there twenty years ago, and in the midst of the move, he had never picked them up.

On a whim he decides to go to the shoe repair shop. Just to be funny, he takes the receipt out and hands it to the guy behind the desk, saying, "Are my shoes ready?" The guy goes back to the workroom for a minute, comes back to the counter, and says, "Come back a week from Thursday."

That's the mind of the procrastinator; they're always saying, "A week from Thursday."

H. Jackson Brown, author of Life's Little Instruction Book, once said, "Where there is a hill to climb, don't think that waiting will make it any smaller."

Waiting, in fact, tends to give hills the time they need to become mountains. For every challenge that becomes manageable by benefit of procrastination, 99 just get bigger.

There are items that are on everyone's to-do list this week that won't get done. Things important but not urgent. They won't get done because that dreadful, demanding, take-no-prisoners last minute hasn't confronted us yet. But you know and I know these items could have been -- and should have been -- marked off the list.

Elbert Hubbard said that postponement is the father of failure.

It's also the best friend of mediocrity. The things that we postpone most often are the things that define the line between surviving and thriving -- the things that mark the difference between eeking out an ordinary existence and experiencing the fullness of an abundant life.

This includes getting serious about a closer walk with Christ, following through on a ministry opportunity, putting a business idea into action; taking steps live a healthier lifestyle, making an effort to strengthen a struggling relationship.

The only thing that stands between you and God's blessing in any of these areas is moving ahead - now. The sooner you move, the sooner God can step in and do His thing.

Joshua once asked the people of Israel, "How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?" He then outlined a simple action plan to follow for their progress.

His idea worked.

Maybe we should follow Joshua's example. You might have 50 things nagging you right now; there's no way you can get to all of them this week, but you can knock out one or two.

Take a look at your list. Which items represent a "possession" that you are certain God wants you to take -- a victory you are certain he wants you to claim? Put it at the top of your list this week. Scratch out an action plan that moves you in this direction.

And then, take the first step.

Waiting won't make the hill any smaller, but start moving in its direction, and you'll discover the hill doesn't look nearly as big up close as it did from a distance.

Do you procrastinate? I'm more in line with the theory, "whatever thou doest, doeth now."

Timing is everything, I'll grant you that, but most of them time, that time is now.

Now is the time to minister. Now is the time to join the choir. Now is the time to teach a bible class. Now is the time to begin thinking about joining a small group this fall. Now is the time to begin reading your Bible on a daily basis. Now is the time to communicate with God every day. Now is the time to give and receive forgiveness. Now is the time to release that bitterness and anger. Now is the time to take it one “day at a time.” Now is the time!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Church shopping?

One of the phrases that is creeping into our church vocabulary is that someone is "church shopping," meaning they are "trying out" different churches to find one that they like.

What does that mean? "Church shopping?" Does someone "shop" for a church like they are shopping for groceries? Checking out the different prices and qualities and brands that are being sold? Cutting out coupons so that they get the best deals?

Arthur Boers in his book, "In The Other Side," writes, "I often visit newcomers in town and find them to be church shopping. They want to know what they can get out of church. Churches are one more consumer commodity. Worship services are not a place for us to serve God and neighbor but a place where people expect to purchase the best: inspiring worship, good music, moving sermons, quality child care. As if we buy God and not vice versa.

I agree with the idea of finding a church that you can be connected to - but on what basis and on what criteria?

What if the criteria was based - not on which church met my needs as I "shopped," but whose needs can I meet as I "serve".

It comes down the a word that Randy Frazee uses in his book, "The connecting church," - consumerism. He writes, "Consumerism is about consumption - the concentrated effort to consume things in order to meet one's real and perceived needs and wants. While in its basic form consumption is both necessary and permissible, when it is practiced in an environment where the individual is sovereign, it can easily become an imbalanced obsession that kills community. One of consumerism's driving principles is rights over responsibility. In this system, the pursuit and protection of one's rights always wins out over one's responsibility to his or her neighbor."

"I have my rights, you know," some cry out.

I've never had someone walk into my office, red-faced and upset, shouting, "I have my responsibilities, you know."

"Why aren't you letting me reach out in ministry." "I've been coming to our church for 45 years, why can't you let me minister more?" "I've been ministering in our church for 30 years, why can't I do more?" "I'm being fed too much, I need to work out by serving." "The services are too short - I want some more time to connect with God."

Well, you get the idea. My suggestion is to abandon the phrase, "church shopping," and instead say something like, "I'm looking for a community where I can connect and serve."

Just a thought.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

He is risen!

I am really looking forward to Sunday. Easter! Resurrection day! We anticipate a lot of visitors.

Are you excited about Easter? Does the fact that Jesus is risen from the dead make your heart pound and your pulse to quicken?

It does mind. He is risen. No other truth is as powerful or has as much influence and effect on the world as that event.

Because He is risen we have eternal life! Life forever in the presence of God.

Here's a story that I won't tell this year but maybe in an Easter teaching in the future:

Margaret Sangster Phippen wrote that in the mid 1950s her father, British minister W. E. Sangster, began to notice some uneasiness in his throat and a dragging in his leg. When he went to the doctor, he found that he had an incurable disease that caused progressive muscular atrophy. His muscles would gradually waste away, his voice would fail, his throat would soon become unable to swallow.

Sangster threw himself into his work in British home missions, figuring he could still write and he would have even more time for prayer. "Let me stay in the struggle Lord," he pleaded. "I don't mind if I can no longer be a general, but give me just a regiment to lead." He wrote articles and books, and helped organize prayer cells throughout England. "I'm only in the kindergarten of suffering," he told people who pitied him.

Gradually Sangster's legs became useless. His voice went completely. But he could still hold a pen, shakily. On Easter morning, just a few weeks before he died, he wrote a letter to his daughter. In it, he said, "It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice to shout, 'He is risen!'--but it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout."

I encourage us today to shout at some point, "He is risen", whether it be in our car on the way home or around the dinner table as we give thanks to God for what He has done for us.

He is risen!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Intentionality - I guess it's a word. In other words, we desire to be very intentional in everything we do here at Stone Church. I trust that "intentionality" might become a buzz word in our family community.

Our greatest desire is the formation of those who are in our community. To do so, we are wanting to be very "intentional" in our approach.

An example of that is that I have asked Pastor Aldin to create a "101, 201, 301, 401"
approach to our Sunday morning Bible Classes this fall (we desire to move small groups into homes).

These classes will be for:

1. New connectors to Christ
2. New people to our church family
3. Those who desire to draw closer to God in a systematic way

There will also be electives for "mature" Christians at our church.

Everything we do should be "intentional" It should be wrapped around our core values and the vision and the direction of our church. Every ministry should asked themselves, "Is what we are doing effective, productive and in sync with the direction and vision of our church?"

We desire that everyone:

Come to our Sunday morning worship service - Inspiration
Attend a small group (to begin in the fall)- Interaction
Participate in a ministry. - involvement

The purpose of the worship service is to inspire us to become fully developing followers of Christ.

The purpose of Home groups are to involve people in the deepening of relationship and spiritual growth.

The purpose of ministry is to use what we have and reach out to others.

Belonging, growing, serving.

Just some thoughts for a Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

CE Christians

What is a CE Christian? Someone who comes on Christmas and Easter.

I saw a cartoon in Leadership Journal in which a church attender is shaking hands with the pastor after Easter service, and says, "You're in a rut, Reverend. You preach on the resurrection every time I come here."

They are a CE Christian. Someone who will attend church only once this year, or maybe twice.

I read of a pastor who said one Easter Sunday, "We may as well announce the date for our Christmas program today, because that's the next time we'll see some of you." It got a laugh, but I'm pretty sure the casual attenders didn't find it endearing.

I trust that you will invite someone to come this Easter Sunday, whether they are a CE Christian or not. Easter Sunday is a wonderful time to connect family and friends who are "casual Christians" (an oxymoron) to come and receive a challenging teaching concerning the fact that because He is risen (and He is) and that you and I can manage our problems and overcome our regrets.

I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Beginning and ending with God

Henri Nouwen is one of my spiritual heroes. Here is one of his prayers from his book, "A Cry for Mercy."

"Listen, O Lord, to my prayers. Listen to my desire to be with you, to dwell in your house, and to let my whole being be filled with your presence. But none of this is possible without you. When you are not the one who fills me, I am soon filled with endless thoughts and concerns that divide me and tear me away from you.

Every day I see again that only you can teach me to pray, only you can set my heart at rest, only you can let me dwell in your presence. No book, no idea, no concept or theory will ever bring me close to you unless you yourself are the one who lets these instruments become the way to you.

But Lord, let me at least remain open to your initiative; let me wait patiently and attentively for that hour when you will come and break through all the walls I have erected. Teach me, O Lord, to pray. Amen."

I would suggest that our relationship with the Lord is very cyclical. It begins with God and ends with God. God draws me to Him. (The Scriptures teach us, "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you - James 4:8) I respond. He helps me break through all of the "noise" of the day, and when I do, He communicates with me and I leave His presence knowing that he is in control.

It all begins and ends with God.

God increase our desire for you!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Love conquers all

Love conquers all. I summarized this story last Sunday morning. May we be filled with love and compassion for those who are struggling:

"Joe Bayly, a Christian author and minister, had a rebellious son named Tim. Joe tried to reach Tim with arguments and rules, but he still rebelled. Tim eventually left his home, left the faith, and lived a prodigal life in an old house in Chicago. Tim's rebellion broke Joe's heart.

Late one night, Joe got a phone call. "This is the police," the voice on the other line said. "Your son was arrested for a DUI. We have him here in the town jail." Joe got out of bed and drove a half hour to the jail where his son was being held. When he got there, they told him that his son wasn't there. Joe thought he had driven to the wrong place, so he drove to the next town, the next town after that, and the next town after that.

Finally, around 4:00 a.m., Joe decided to drive to the old house in Chicago where he knew Tim had been sleeping. The door wasn't locked, so he stepped inside and looked for his son. In the faint light of the darkened room, he saw him asleep in a sleeping bag that was strewn across an old mattress. He walked over to the mattress and stood over Tim. Then, moved with compassion, he bent down, lightly kissed Tim on the cheek, and left.

In the months that followed, Tim started visiting his parents. He returned to church and recommitted his life to Christ. He even announced he was going into the ministry. Today, Tim is a pastor in Indiana.

Years later, Joe finally asked Tim what made him want to come back home. Tim looked at his dad and said, "Don't you know? Remember that night, years ago, when you got a call that I was in jail? Dad, that was my friend. It was a prank. When you came to the house, I only pretended to be asleep. I was wide awake. I knew you'd driven all night in the cold, and I wondered what you were going to do to me. And all you did was bend down and kiss me on the cheek. Dad, the kiss brought me back."

Great stuff.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The ABC's of church "success"

What's the barometer of "success" in the church? For many, it's the ABC's. Attendance, buildings and cash.

I have sat in board meetings for years, and this is what the typical leadership of a church looks at (including our own leadership).

How many people are we assimilating into our Sunday morning services?

How can we build a bigger building?

How can we get the cash to build these buildings?

Randy Frazee writes, "...regardless of the platitudes offered up in bulletins and letterheads, our mission was to add more people to our membership who give more money so we can build bigger buildings to contain even more people, who can give more money, and so on and so on.

Most people would deny that this is true of their church, but if the ABCs are the only valid measurement points, it is really more true than we want to believe.....

One of the most prevalent mistakes I saw among those who wanted to break away from the numerical monitoring grind of head count, square footage, and cash was this: the attempt to pawn off an assimilation strategy as spiritual formation. What happens is that instead of taking attendance at the worship services only, we now take it at other church-sponsored events, such as small groups and seminars. The assumption is that if people are attending these additional events they must be growing. The most clever and orderly churches organize these events in a recommended sequence - "do this first, this second, this third, and so forth."

Let's try to grasp a new paradigm of "success". Success is defined as spiritual formation which comes not only from Sunday morning attendance but participation in a small group and giving of yourself in ministry.

That's where we would like to go and be: We encourage you to join a come on Sunday mornings, attend a small group and participate in a ministry.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What is "community?"

What does the word "community" mean to you in the context of the church? We talked quite a bit about that today in our staff meaning. We wrestled with it.

I am very interested in your thoughts.

I would suggest that part of the definition of the word community is "learning to live with one another in the body of Christ."

Pachomius was an Egyptian soldier won to Christ by the kindness of Christians in Thebes. After his release from the military around A.D. 315, he was baptized. Serious about his new faith and determined to grow, Pachomius became a disciple of Palamon, an ascetic who taught him the self-denial and solitary life of a religious hermit.

In early Christianity, the model of devotion was the recluse dedicated to resisting the corruption of society. These hermits wandered the desert alone—fasting, praying, and having visions. Many went to extremes: eating nothing but grass, living in trees, or refusing to wash.

Such was the popular image of holiness: solitude, silence, and severity. And such was Pachomius's early spiritual training.

But he began to question the methods and lifestyle of his mentors.

How can you learn to love if no one else is around?

How can you learn humility living alone?

How can you learn kindness or gentleness or goodness in isolation?

How can you learn patience unless someone puts yours to the test?

In short, he concluded, developing spiritual fruit requires being around people—ordinary, ornery people. "To save souls," he said, "you must bring them together."

Marshall Shelley writes, "Spiritual muscle isn't even learned among friends we have chosen. God's kind of love is best learned where we can't be selective about our associates. Perhaps this is why the two institutions established by God—the family and the church—are not joined by invitation only.

We have no choice about who our parents or brothers or sisters will be; yet we are expected to love them. Neither can we choose who will or will not be in the family of God; any who confess Jesus as Lord must be welcomed. We learn agape love most effectively in our involuntary associations, away from the temptation of choosing to love only the attractive.

So Pachomius began an ascetic koinonia, where holiness was developed not in isolation but in community. Instead of each person seeking God in his own way, with the dangers of idleness and eccentricity, Pachomius established a common life based on worship, work, and discipline.

In community with flawed, demanding, sometimes disagreeable people, followers of Pachomius learned to take hurt rather than give it. They discovered that disagreements and opposition provide the opportunity to redeem life situations and experience God's grace. Thus began genuine monastic life.

Pachomius, while largely forgotten in church history, points out to us that as attractive as solitary sanctification may seem, it is life amid people, busyness, and interruptions that develop many of the qualities God requires."

We really do need each other. Small groups are simply a channel, a funnel, a way to give everyone the opportunity to live in community.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Connecting Church

We as a church staff are reading through a book by Randy Frazee entitled, "The Connecting Church."

Each Tuesday at our weekly meeting we will be discussing the concepts from the book.

Randy Frazee writes about community. True Biblical community. He writes, "Biblical community is the life of Christ on earth today."

Do you long for community, true relationships with your brothers and sister in Christ?

I believe you do. Most of us in the Southland lead busy lives. Busy, busy, busy, with work, family and even some church activities.

Most of us find ourselves finally sitting down around 9:00 P.M., too tired to talk and too exhausted to share. What happens? The television set comes on and after staring at it for a while, we go to bed.

Then the weekend which can also be crammed with activities such as working on the lawn, running our children to their activities and church.

We anticipate moving our church to small group ministry, but here's the deal, you can't have authentic Christian community without small groups but you can have small groups without authentic Christian relationships!

We were created to belong. Not just to believe, but to belong. To grow in Christ. To serve in God's kingdom.

Belong. Grow. Serve.

Here's what I am saying - in the midst of all of the activity, you and I can feel a deep sense of loneliness. George Gallup has written that as many as one-third of Americans admit to frequent periods of loneliness, which is a key factor in the high suicide rate among the elderly."

We were created for community.

Frazee writes, "....People need to be involved in meaningful and constant community or they will continue on indefinitely in a state of intense loneliness."

Between family, work, small group, church, children' sports teams, the children's schools, extended family out of town, and neighbors, there are so many connection that none of them are deep or meaningful.

A stone church attender hears "small group" and thinks, "oh, great, one more thing to do, one more thing to attend."

Frazee writes, "The solution does not lie simply in recommending a more meaningful activity while trying to preserve all the other world snow in motion. If a true and workable solution is to emerge, it must involve a radical restructuring of our lifestyle. At the core of this restructuring is a new operating principle of order to extract a deeper sense of belonging, we must consolidate our worlds into one.....the mission it to simplify our lifestyles in such a way that we concentrate more energy into a circle of relationships that produces a sense of genuine belonging."

What's a key? To simplify. Come to Sunday morning worship. Attend a small group. Participate in a ministry.

More to come....

Thursday, March 06, 2008

What are we "out for"?

Michael Yaconelli writes, "Let's--all of us--decide to stop trying to convince the world that Christianity is true because Jesus makes us prettier, happier, thinner, wealthier, bigger, more successful, more popular, healthier, stronger, and more influential than everyone else. Do we actually believe that the world is impressed with our fancy new churches, 12,000 in Sunday School, five services each morning, the "millions" who are watching on television, converted beauty queens and professional athletes, our book sales, or our crusades? The world is laughing at us--mocking us and the Jesus we supposedly are serving."

Strong, strong words.

What are we "out for" as followers of Christ at our church?

To be the "best known" church in the city? To have "big numbers"? "To build bigger buildings."

That all may come, but I would suggest that the thing we are "out for" as Christians is simply to live the Christian faith on a daily basis.

To be Christ. To act like Christ. To communicate with Christ. To love Christ. To become so like Christ that the world will stop laughing and start opening up their hearts and minds to what we have - Christ.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Questions on healing

Healing is such an interesting (and confusing) topic. There's so much we can't explain. Many times my answer to the question "why" is, "I simply don't know."

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to why and how God heals. God's methods cry out to us, "don't put me in a box!"

I see Jesus healing in the Gospel all the time. Yet, there's one thing I am beginning to notice. Jesus never really made it a big deal. He never held a "healing crusade," he never asked his guys to put together a mass meeting under the lights and cameras with the sole intent seeing miracles take place.

Or did he?

Here's a great question: If Jesus were on this planet in the 21st century in human form, would He hold mass meetings and healing crusades?

Now onto another thought. We are finishing up on the topic of the book of James this evening. James ends his thoughts with a section on healing and prayer.

I am still recovering from the flu (though not contagious at this point).

What if after the teaching this evening, someone came up to me and asked me to pray for them to be "healed."

Is it right for a "sick person" to pray a healing prayer for another "sick person?"

Or perhaps a better questions is this: Would a "sick person," go to another "sick person" to receive prayer for healing?

Just some thoughts...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Sick and tired of being sick and tired

Many thanks to everyone who has been praying for me the past few days. I have been about as sick as I have ever been since my bout with Valley Fever in 1989. Some kind of flu stuff...nasty, nasty junk.

I missed church Sunday. The only time I can remember missing because of illness (in the last 18 years) was a few years ago Debbie and I got food poisoning at an Italian restaurant after eating portebello mushrooms. It was a Saturday night. I missed the next day, but what made it interesting was that the Sunday I missed was Super Bowl Sunday. Don't you think I received ribbing about that!

This time it was the flu. High Fever, headaches, Thursday night was the worst.

On Sunday morning, Debbie was on her way to church and prayed for me. There seemed to be a "tipping point" at that moment. I immediately had a turn around.

I've always gone by the theory that you never know what you have until it is taken away. That is especially true with our health.

Health is something that none of us should take for granted and every so often, I am reminded of that.

I mean, I was only down for 5 days ending yesterday, but at the end of yesterday, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I can only imagine how those who deal with long term illnesses feel. And what about those with terminal illnesses?

To deal with that takes courage. Courage that I can only pray I would have if ever in that situation. Once again, my respect level for those dealing with debilitating illnesses rises and rises again.

I salute you for your fortitude, your faithfulness and your bravery in the face of the illness that you are walking through....and pray that God would reach out his hand and touch you - with healing.

With much love, George