WHAT DO WE LEARN?

Blog 88 June 11, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

RMT holding up Host

Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

The last several blogs have related the amazing ministry of Father Rich Thomas, a Jesuit priest working in El Paso, Texas. A survey of the life of Fr. Rick Thomas reveals important clues for understanding how the miraculous occurred. Here is what he would tell us about principles that are highly important for our quest to understand divine interventions. 1

  1. Participate in the sacrament

Holy Communion is part of the service and imparts forgiveness and empowerment. Worshipers expect an important moment of renewal, but don’t often anticipate a divine intervention. Fr. Rick would suggest that we dig deeper in order to receive more.

The Rev. Margueritte Wise, a minister in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, leads her congregation every week. Her brother Bob’s totally unexpected death and passing impacted her not only personally, but in a lingering way that stretched across the months. A year later, Margueritte still wrestled with heart-wrenching sadness. The struggle hung around her neck like a weight dragging her to the ground. She had prayed, struggled, sought a release, but the lingering impact would not go away. Seeking absolution and release, she went to the Revs. Mike and Beth Owen for help.

The Owens began praying and read Isaiah 53:4 to her. The words promised, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrow; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted… upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.” As each line of the passage sunk in to her thinking and feeling, the Owens continued to pray over her. Finally, they consecrated the elements and served her Holy Communion. The sadness began to fade. Margueritte realized that not only her brother’s death, but the death of her parents and grandparents had lingered through the years. The impact of all of this grief disappeared as well. The heartache broke and has never returned. She was set free.

Fr. Thomas suggests that when seeking the miraculous, consider coming to Holy Communion on a regular basis.

  1. Believe the Bible

The emphasis is on what scripture means for this moment. Be precise. Be concrete. When the Bible says “do it,” –do it! Fr. Thomas’s ministry manifests the importance of precision. Their acceptance of and taking the Bible at face value tells us to follow exactly what it says.

With so much nonsense floating around about how passages should be interpreted, Fr. Rick instructed that it is important to make sure we are following a solid, reputable guide on the actual meaning of important verses. Such commentaries as William Barclay’s The Daily Study Bible Series on the entire New Testament available in 20 small volumes would be extremely helpful. The Westminster Press publication will keep a reader on a steady path.

  1. Be Concrete

Fr. Thomas’ ministry’s emphasis on performing specific tasks reflects the leading of the Holy Spirit. Often people rush to a chapel to pray during a crisis. Of course, this is appropriate and can be highly important. Unfortunately, once they get off their knees, their lives go back to exactly what they were before. Their hopes were abstract; their responses never specific.

Don’t pray, “Lord, I’ll do such and such if you’ll only —.” Make a life long commitment to getting your hands dirty while making the world a better place. You’re far more likely to run into the Holy Spirit when you’re doing the work you were created to do.

Asking God for direction remains essential. Jesus said, “… seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33) In the midst of a disaster or overpowering need, everyone struggles to look beyond the moment at hand. That’s normal, but remember our quest for God’s highest and best demands positioning ourselves to receive a divine intervention.

1 Many of the illustrations and insights in this blog are found in The Bible On The Border by Richard Dunstan, published by The Lord’s Ranch Press, Vado, New Mexico, 2009. This work details the work of Fr. Rick Thomas and the Our Lady’s Youth Center.

Remember we have a new website. You’ll find this helpful. EARLY FAITH FOR TODAY Surveying the first 3 centuries, we are examining the ancient Christian faith. The focus is practical, relevant, and inspirational. TUNE IN… Join us at earlyfaithfortoday.com

AND HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?

Blog 87 June 4, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

bibleontheborder

Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

In the last blog, I shared the amazing story of Father Rick Thomas feeding 500 people with food for 150. Quite a story! With a charismatic orientation, Fr. Thomas’s Youth center exists to reach need wherever it occurs. Volunteers work in the Juarez municipal jails and mental hospital. The men preach like Billy Graham with invitations to kneel and pray. Often half the prisoners do so.

The mental hospital offers its own challenge and many times the patients are resistant. Thomas’s volunteers don’t give up easily. After people are prayed for, many are released much earlier than expected. The ministry and miracles continue.

The point is simple. They all participate. Fr. Thomas’s ministry does what’s needed to help the poor and needy. He and his friends do God’s will. In the process of ministry, the heavenly Father provides what they need to do the work. Complicated? Actually, the procedure is simple. Do it and He takes care of the rest.

From 1969 to 1970, the Charismatic Movement swept through El Paso. A new emphasis on the Holy Spirit emphasized personal encounter and Thomas found a value in the scripture that he had not recognized earlier. His group began studying the scripture earnestly. From their deliberations came the principle that has guided their work ever since: Obedience. Everything from working in the city garbage dump to visiting the jails is guided by being faithful, not to any human authority, but to God alone. While many Christians recognize this principle, Fr. Thomas’s staff expect their obedience to take a specific form. Going to the jails or the city dump are examples of precise leading. When they follow these directions, the divine interventions show up.

Their response to the scripture has a specific orientation. Many fundamentalists groups take the Bible literally, but they do so with an eye to the past. They maintain certainty about what God did yesterday. Fr. Rick’s approach is to take scripture with equal seriousness but seeing it as a guide to today. The goal is to live out what is found in the Bible.

When the group studied Luke 14, they noticed that as Jesus was describing a banquet, he spoke of sharing. The word “sharing” suggested a different approach than “giving.” The scripture imparted the idea of sitting down together. Consequently, they set out not just to be the good guys but to do exactly what the passage described. Bingo! The multiplication of food followed. Fr. Thomas believed it is important to perform concrete expressions of the faith. Saying we believe in caring for the poor is fine but no one is fed. The act of actually sharing food makes the difference. The answer is in doing, not saying.

Fr. Thomas’s experience taught him the Bible is a source of God’s power. Consequently, the Bible is used to perform God’s will. Fr. Rick’s group found that the scripture can be like a chisel that keeps chipping away at a rock until a new shape emerges. Repetition of key passages seems to crack open the hardest rock.

Fr. Thomas discovered that scripture was extremely important when they dwelt with occult influence. Strange as it may sound to many middle-class Americans, when ministry reaches to the bottom of the human ladder where brokenness and poverty abound, there too the occult flourishes. Fr. Thomas found that Psalm 52 was important in these circumstances. Verses three and four say: “You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.” The entire chapter confronts the plans of evil and refutes them. Scripture can help break the hold of Evil.

Remember we have a new website! You’ll find this helpful.

EARLY FAITH FOR TODAY

Surveying the first 3 centuries, we are examining the ancient Christian faith.

The focus is practical, relevant, and inspirational. TUNE IN

Join us at earlyfaithfortoday.com

Memorial Day

Memorial-Day

Sorry, Friends. I’m out of pocket. My daughter is graduating with her doctorate degree from the University of California and I have to be there. The following week, Margueritte and I will be traveling, but I’ll be back with you on June 4.

Memorial Day weekend is a sobering time as we remember and honor those who have fallen in defending this country. In our families, we make our own private journeys to the graves of those we loved and lost. Bless you in such moments of remembrance.

MULTIPLICATION

Blog 86 May 21, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

The key to understanding the work of Fr. Rick Thomas and how his services brought healing to the poor is the Bible. He and his assistants believe the Bible’s message is for today, for now. For example, when they read that Jesus multiplied five loaves of bread and two fishes, they concluded that miracles should continue. In fact, they did.

On Christmas Day, 1972, the multiplication happened with burritos along with ham and baloney sandwiches. The occasion began as a surprise for the rag pickers who lived in cardboard shacks in the El Paso – Juarez garbage dump. While Fr. Rick had brought enough food for 150 people, 300 showed up. An even larger number drifted in. Fr. Rick apologized for what he expected to be a shortage and the food began to be distributed. Children lined up for the candy and then got back in line for more. But the supply simply didn’t run out. When it was over, enough was left to take to two orphanages on the way home.

The same experience has happened a number of times since. The response of most folks is, “You got to be kidding!” Fr. Rick’s answer would be, “No, you got to be believing.”

Regardless of doubters, Fr. Rick’s group trusts what the scripture says and continue to expect God to continue to do today what He did 2,000 years ago. As one follows the ministry of Fr. Rick, a definite perspective appears. Many people across the world attend services of Holy Communion every week and know about the Bible stories. They walk away and live the rest of their lives as if none of this really makes a big difference. Fr. Thomas and friends don’t. They take God at His word. The Bible says,

“when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.” (Luke 14:13-14)  Fr. Rick and friends believed it, lived it, and applied it.

And miracles followed.

Remember we have a new website… You’ll find this helpful.
EARLY FAITH FOR TODAY
Surveying the first 3 centuries, we are examining the ancient Christian faith.
The focus is practical, relevant, and inspirational. TUNE IN
Join us at earlyfaithfortoday.com

Miracle in a Garbage Dump

Blog 85 May 14, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

FrRickThomas

    Rick Thomas usually wore cowboy boots and a big Texan hat. Living in El Paso, Texas, just across the border from Juarez, Mexico. And always colorful, he was known as an exceptional friend to the poor. When he died, Rick Thomas was buried in a homemade plywood coffin. A thousand people pressed into the church to say goodbye to a man who had lived love and spirituality. Father Rick Thomas, S.J. had been a Jesuit in the Roman Catholic Church.

Father Thomas still has insight for us about the world of divine interventions.

MINISTERING TO THE POOR

One of his significant places of ministry was the garbage dump for El Paso- Juarez. The sheer squalor of this sprawling pit of filth remains overwhelming. Poor Mexicans struggled to survive by living in the trash pit, having children here, and scratching out an existence in the midst of the debris. An untold number of the poverty-stricken live in cardboard shacks made from boxes tossed out in the trash. Fr. Rick regularly marched into the muck to hold religious services for them.

On the occasion of a visit to the United States, Sister Briege McKenna went with Fr. Rick to the dump. Sister McKenna was born in Ireland and entered the order of the Sisters of St. Clare where she became widely known for her ability to pray for the sick. With hesitancy, she walked into the worst squalor she had ever experienced. Sister Briege couldn’t see how any dignity of worship could be manifest in such filth.

To her shock, nearly a thousand people had already gathered when they arrived. The contrast was staggering. These people literally had nothing. Setting up an old table for his altar, the priest went to work.

An old woman walked up, carrying a bundle in her arms. When she unfolded the cloth they saw a little child completely burned from head to foot. The dirty child was filthy and screaming. As she was crossing the mountains, the woman had found the child smoldering and picked him up. She handed him to Fr. Rick.

Sister Briege and Fr. Rick stared at the child that was nearly skinless. Finally, the priest suggested that they place the child under the table during the Communion Service. The service began and the congregation of the poverty stricken prayed with fervor. The Sister could feel the reality of the Holy Spirit descending across the mass of people.

Sister Briege began to weep and wondered if her faith might not be as strong as theirs.

As the Mass ended, they realized the baby had long since stopped crying. The child had crawled out from under the table. Sister Briege gasped! The little boy was happily playing in the sand – totally healed.

The Sister hurried over to the woman and ask, “What happened to him?”

The old woman looked at her with skepticism in her eyes. “What you mean what happened? Didn’t Jesus come?”

While the poor received the Mass, the child received new skin.

Remember we have a new website! You’ll find this helpful… EARLY FAITH FOR TODAY
Surveying the first 3 centuries, we are examining the ancient Christian faith. The focus is practical, relevant, and inspirational. TUNE IN ~ Join us at earlyfaithfortoday.com

WHEN FORGIVENESS COMES

Blog 84 May 7, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

Jesusabide-with-me-greg-olsen

Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

Recently an old colleague dropped in for a visit. Years ago when we worked together, I had used an Ash Wednesday service to help people resolved spiritual needs they had never fully faced. We used the first day of Lent as an opportunity to enter a season of renewal.

My friend had gone to another church position miles away, taking that same idea with him. He set up a bowl filled with flames for people to use when making a commitment. They would burn whatever they had written on a piece of paper. During the next 30 days they could know they had received a resolution of an important issue. A week later after that service, a lady in the congregation came into my friend’s office. Her eyes were filled with tears and she was holding a letter. (We will call her Mary for anonymity shake).

Mary explained she came to the service knowing there was one issue that she had never faced. Mary had been sexually and physically abused by her father. Through the years, she found it impossible to forgive him. In fact, Mary had not seen the man for over two decades. Sitting in the worship service, she knew the time had come to face her resentment and anger. But could she?

Staring at the flames curling up, Mary knew this was an important moment of decision. The pressure to forgive mounted up within her. With a trembling hand, she wrote, “I forgive.” Walking to the front, she prayed for resolution, forgiveness for her father, and dropped the paper in the fire.

A week later, the letter came.

Although he had not communicated with Mary for decades and was miles away, her father wrote that he was in the hospital dying. Many times he had sought forgiveness for what he had done to her and was profoundly sorry, but he could never feel forgiven. Knowing that he didn’t have much time left, on this Ash Wednesday night, he prayed once more for forgiveness.

From far off a small light appeared in the window. The glow kept gettinPg brighter and brighter and larger until it filled the entire window frame. The brilliant golden glow increased in size and kept coming closer and closer to the bed. Finally, he recognized a face in the midst of the splendor. As light poured across his bed, the man could barely look.

A voice spoke and a hand reached out.

“Here is your forgiveness”  He was handed a piece of burnt paper.

Please check out our new website…

EARLY FAITH FOR TODAY
Surveying the first 3 centuries, we are examining the ancient Christian faith.
The focus is practical, relevant, and inspirational. TUNE IN
Join us at earlyfaithfortoday.com

 

SOMETHING NEW TO CONSIDER!

Blog 83 April 30 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

ACTS-2-12-21.png

Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world?

Read and you’ll find new insights.

I know your interest is in miracles but —

I have a new website I want to tell you about. Father Michael O’Donnell, the Episcopal St. John’s Church, Ogdensburg, New York, and I are developing a weekly website called     EARLY FAITH FOR TODAY.

Do you want to know what the first Christians thought about miracles and how they experienced with divine interventions? Those issues and many others are explored as we take you back to the first five centuries. In particular, we examine how the first three centuries expressed the Christian faith.

Believing that the Apostles and the Church Fathers are our best guides for how the Christian faith is to be expressed and lived today, we investigate their teachings and preaching. I believe you’ll be significantly encouraged by what you discover the ancients are saying for this hour.

Our purpose and mission in this new website is to restore the simplicity, mystery, and awe of the ancient faith. Contemporary viewers will find encouragement and clarity for their daily journeys. The objectives of this website are practical, relevant, and offer theologically sound inspiration for walking on the path coming to us from the beginning. Our goal is to help the church recover its original dynamic and direction.

Strangely enough, the 21st century is surprisingly like the first century. Both were secular oriented political systems run by people seeking power. Citizens were often confused and struggled to live with limited financial means. Religious plurality existed everywhere. Roman had statues to gods on every corner of the city. While affirming only one God, we worship money, status, power, and influence. Just gods of  different shape! The general public experienced wide-spread confusion about what to believe. Today, we have 40,000 expressions of the Christian faith.

Against this backdrop, the goal of EARLY FAITH FOR TODAY is to bring clarification, insight, and inspiration.  Along the way, you’ll pick up insight into divine interventions.

Join us at earlyfaithfortoday.com

MEET JOHN WIMBER Part 7

Blog 82 April 23 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

holy-spirit-dwell-in-me

Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

Last week we learned: Turn Hard Times Into Productive Times!

That’s almost John Wimber’s story. A survey of ministries with divine interventions is fascinating but we can’t escape difficult circumstances. We’ve noted traumatic experiences have played a role in the development of the ministries of these persons. Susan Conway shared her discoveries of hearing the Holy Spirit through reading the scripture, but her spiritual breakthroughs came during trying times. Her encounter with the Virgin Mary after the birth of her child was totally unexpected but played a part during difficult years later. During her emotionally childhood struggles, Leslie Draper discovered angelic assurances.

Soul-wrenching times and emotionally painful upheavals opened these persons to a new level of spiritual insight. The times of desperation when the world seems to be collapsing are always filled with more opportunity that we thought. Here’s another clue.

Exhausting our Sense of Inordinate Worth

Remember that times of collapse are the moments when our self-sufficiency is most severely challenged and that’s worthwhile. John Wimber’s account of desperation was the key to unlocking a ministry of divine interventions and the discovery of how the Lord’s work was so vastly beyond his own. Becoming open probably means setting aside our sense of self-importance.

Gifted people?

Are these ongoing ministries the work of exceptionally gifted people? Certainly each person had important capacities and John Wimber was a talented musician. Some were certainly exceptionally bright. Mike and Beth Owen are highly intelligent and competent people. However, I found that each of these persons did not consider their native-born abilities had much to do with their spiritual gifting. I.Q. was not a factor. In fact, the gifts of the Holy Spirit often seemed to come in the areas that were contrary to their talents. Mike Owen was an outstanding athlete and his children had the same abilities, but his spiritual gifts didn’t reflect this heritage. Susan Conway is highly logical and not emotional and yet her experiences moved her deeply. Leslie Draper’s ability to convey angelic message is generally without any personal insight into what the messages mean. The point is that the initiative in divine interventions begins and ends with the Holy Spirit. The important starting point is to seek whatever God wants to give.

While much of the foregoing involves healing ministry, healing is only one demonstration of empowerment in the work of all of these people. An abrupt reversal of a deteriorating physical condition is certainly miraculous, but the dynamic is the same whether it is hearing the voice of God, seeing a vision, or reordering old memories. Miraculous and divine interventions come in all shapes and sizes. Pay Attention!

We have just began a new website ~ EARLY FAITH FOR TODAY ~

Surveying the first 3 centuries, we are examining the simplicity,  mystery and awe of the

ancient Christian faith. The focus is practical, relevant, and inspirational. TUNE IN