THE SECRET Part IV

Blog 97 October 22, 2018 ~ MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

thank-you-Lord

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?

In 2007, I wrote Crossing the Threshold of Eternity, about near death experiences. I found a large number of persons with such experiences. Even though they were pronounced medically dead for some limited period of time, they recovered. Their stories were fascinating.

At the time, I didn’t think of these stories as divine interventions, but in retrospect I realized they certainly were. While reading The Oklahoman daily newspaper, I found the story of Don Houston’s near-death ordeal. Don told me what happened.

Members of Faith Church, an Assembly of God congregation, Don had been general manager of a house building company that manufactured modular units. Congestive heart failure ran in his family, taking his father at 58 and his brother at 56. Don is in the 2% who survive this condition.

Because bronchitis caused Don to snore, Rita often slept in another room, but on this night she didn’t. In the middle of the night, she heard a “death rattle” and panicked. When she rolled Don over, there was no movement and nothing would wake him up. His tongue began to hang out. Rita called 911 for an ambulance as well as receiving instructions on performing CPR.

The ambulance attendants stuck needles in Don’s feet and received no response. He simply laid there not breathing. By the time he got to the hospital, the only things keeping him alive were machines. The doctors gave Rita no hope that he would regain consciousness and felt he wouldn’t make it. The best she could hope for was a nursing home.

Rita went into his secluded room and prayed. With Don’s two daughters, she made a prayer circle around the bed and began to pray fervently. “Jesus help us.”

And what was happening with Don?

Don became aware and looked around. He was in a totally white room with no windows and two distinct doors. The voice of God said, “Don, you had a heart attack.” The room suddenly lit up and arch-shaped widows appeared. Don saw figures walking by. The all had the same features, and the same colored hair. Each wore a white robe and Don thought they might look like Jewish people (though he really hadn’t been around Jews). He realized they were angels. Don felt totally peaceful with no worries.

Finally, one of the angels said, “Come with me.”  The angel escorted him through what Don calls “the door of second chances.” Suddenly, he was back in his body.

His daughter had been holding his hand and felt a squeeze. The doctor thought the tug was only a reflex and took Don’s hand. Abruptly there was another squeeze. The doctor nearly fainted. He rushed out and brought in other doctors to observe Don.

Rita stared. Don’s eyes had always been a greenish brown. Now, they were the prettiest bright blue eyes, she had ever seen.

Today Don tells everyone that there is life after death. He says, “I do know for a fact. You’re not alone. You need to get God in your heart because you never know when you’re going to pass.”

Can we call the results a miracle? Even a skeptic has to throw in the towel on such a phenomenon. For all practical purposes, Don was dead and the medical profession did not expect a recovery. However we define life, Don Houston came back because he was filled with renewed life that only heaven can give.

We have just began a new website ~ THE EARLY CHURCH 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

THE SECRET Part III

Blog 96 October 15, 2018

neverleaveyou

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?

Could the power of God intervene and produce a miracle without any human factor? Of course. What the heavenly Father chooses to do rises entirely out of His grace. However, in these blogs we are exploring our part in bringing divine interventions to pass. Hopefully, we are learning how to be better connectors that convey life.

The urge to pray with people grew from these healings I have described. I became aware that when a person had experienced some form of healing they were often endowed with the ability to pray for others with the same problem. This happened when I felt moved to pray with Lenore Riddell.

Scott and Lenore Riddell lived in the top section of land above our house in Colorado. I saw the family occasionally and we were friends. During the summer I was working behind our house when an unexpected thought ran through my mind.

“Go up and ask Lenore if you can pray for her,” the message drifted into my thinking.

I kept working and thought it was only a weird random blip. The thought kept coming. With reluctance, I decided to walk up to the house and see if there was a problem.

Somewhat to my surprise, Lenore Riddell gave an enthusiastic yes. Without telling me exactly what the problem was, she asked me to come in and intercede. Eventually, she told me about painful attacks hitting her in the midsection and doubling her over in pain. For the next several months, I trekked up to their house and prayed by putting my hands on her head while I interceded. She reported warmth traveling up and down her spine. In three to five minutes, the pain was gone. Unfortunately, in a day or two the pain would return and we would start over again. Every time we prayed, the pain quickly disappeared.

I had no insight into her medical problem. I only knew when we prayed Lenore quickly had relief. Finally, she was diagnosed with an issue needing surgery. After the surgery, the pain returned. The doctors concluded she would have the problem the rest of her life.

When I continued to pray with Lenore, the pain stopped. Finally, the throbbing never returned and the medical predictions proved wrong. Lenore was healed. But something extra had been passed on in the process.

During a regular mammogram x-ray, the nurse took a look at the results and began taking more pictures. In an unusual procedure, she took over 20 x-rays and then went for the doctor. He looked at the x-rays and concluded there was a lump that could well be cancerous. The doctor returned and told her that a biopsy was necessary. They would do one more set of x-rays and then begin. Lenore cringed. She knew such a procedure could be highly painful and wasn’t sure she could stand it. Sitting alone in the room, she began to pray earnestly. “Not my will but yours, Lord. If this is necessary, please, oh please, help me get through it.”

Lenore closed her eyes and a vision began to unfold. She was sitting by a rippling stream. Surrounded by the lush green of a beautiful meadow and towering pines, the scene conveyed tranquility. A voice drifted across the stream. “I will not leave you or forsake you.” Peace descended over her and she opened her eyes. She was ready for the procedure.

The doctor walked in. “Rather amazing,” he said. “In that second set of x-rays, the lump is completely gone. Certainly didn’t expect that result.”

“Gone?” Lenore’s voice raised a notch. The doctor smiled. “I guess you can go home. You’re okay.” She smiled. “It was the Lord’s deal.” And it was.

We have just began a new website THE EARLY CHURCH 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

THE SECRET Part II

Blog 95 October 8, 2018

HandGlobe

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?

In the last blog we explored what occurs when we pray. Following the guidelines in scripture, we found some clues in the word ζωη or life. The New Testament called Jesus the bearer of life, leaving the implication that life is imparted to our need. Let’s look further.

For the first three hundred years of the Christian era, believers struggled to completely define Jesus’ identity. Interestingly enough, this lack of precision and definition did not stop the experience of the miraculous. I believe we can gather from that period that we don’t have to be dogmatic or 100% certain about how we define our beliefs to be able to reach for the hand of God to bring divine interventions. The people I interviewed  reported in previous blogs would tell you the issue is not in theological precision, but in humbling ourselves.

The scripture suggests life begins in eternity and finally ends there. Its essence is transcendent. This life came in the historical presence of Jesus, but ζωη is in fact supra-historical. We experience life in time, but the nature of life is eternal. No test tube can measure this dimension. Unfortunately, society most often fails to grasp this fact. Like the concept of love, life comes from another dimension that is not calculable with a computer.

My experience has led me to the conclusion that when we intercede for illness and brokenness, we are literally calling for a new surge of life to enter the person. The addition of new life brings the healing. Even when the body remains the same, new vitality touches the mind, the emotions, and the soul. I began to see that this transfer of vitality occurred in many of the people I interviewed.

Another dimension for healings can be found in the Book of Genesis. The creation story makes it clear that humanity is to have dominion over the earth. We are part of a divine partnership which means we have a responsibility for what happens in this world. For example, we can pray for a nice lawn, but we don’t get Bermuda grass until we plant the seed. When we are struggling with illness and pain, it is important to make a connection with the heavenly Father for Him to release life in and through us. A process, a connection exists between human need and the life God wants to pour into us when we are praying.

The Bible calls this bridge, this point of contact, “the laying on of hands.” As we have already noted in an earlier blog, the palm of everyone’s hands naturally alludes a release of energy. You can feel this reality by bringing your palms together slowly until you sense the flow of warmth and energy. My conclusion from numerous interviews is that the hands are a natural connection place for healing to be released. When we pray, life is transmitted to and through the person in some form.

Let’s go back to an analogy I used earlier. A large power line brings electricity to a transformer that brings electricity to our houses. The hook up is small compared to the power line but without the smaller wire, no lights would turn on in my home. Why does the system of life seem to work in this manner? Because we are born with free will and our Creator waits for us to use that capacity to invite his intervention.  I conclude that intercession and the laying on of hands is part of the divine plan to establish connection for empowerment.

THE SECRET

Blog 94 October 1, 2018

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MIRACLES NEVER CEASERobert 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?

Let’s depart from miracle stories for a moment. Our question for this week concerns what is going on when miracles and divine interventions happen? How can we understand what is occurring in us when healing is prayed for and we quickly recover? What transpired within our person?

We can’t miss the fact that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”(John 14:6). He brought life to those who encountered him.

I found that The New Testament had a more expansive understanding of life than we have today. When healings and miracles occur, life is released. The Greek word ζωη (zóé) implies natural life or normal existence. (I Corinthians 15:45-48) The word implies living in health. (Mark 5:23). Consequently, life is a supreme good. (Mark 8:36-37) ) St. Paul was clear our bodily containers of ζωη comes to end when we die. However, while we are here we need experiences that build up our sense of life like a walk in the forest, a magnificent concert, or a close relationship with a friend.                                                                                                                                                                    Jesus’ miracles restored life as it was intended to be. All of this is true and possible because God is the only One who is the Creator of life. All life originates in Him. (John 5:26) Whether we recognize it or not, a healthy vibrant life remains a gift from God. The Gospels tell us Jesus bestowed this gift on people in need. We can conclude that when the sick are prayed for, this supreme form of life is to some degree imparted to them.

Hidden in the folds of the scripture’s use of the word ζωη is the recognition that life implies a dependency on God. Whether understood or not, such remains true. As Jesus came preaching, both his words and his example made it clear that we should not live for ourselves but for God. (Romans 14:7-8)  The scripture indicates that a cosmic event happened when Jesus was crucified that was for the good of the human race. Rather than only another Jew dying under the heavy hand of Rome, Christians contend that this death reached beyond history and effected every generation that followed.

By giving up his life on the cross, Jesus broke the power of death and released new life that has never stopped flowing into this world. His wounds can heal our brokenness.   

Consequently, Christians believe they should live righteously for the good of the world because they have received ζωη from him. They are to live life with the awareness that everyday is an anticipation of eternal life after they die. Paul expressed this insight when he wrote that his life was not his own, but that of Christ living in him. (Galatians 2:19-20) Our present life is sustained by the certainty of that future. Ζωη offers this promise to us. When we pray for healing, we are calling for this reality of life to be increased in the person.

That’s quite a promise!

HERE’S A TRULY FASCINATING GUY! PART II

Blog 93 September 24, 2018

padre-pio-feast-day-Sept-23

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?

Born Franceso Forgione in the small town of Pietrecina, Italy on May 25, 1887, his parents were peasant farmers.  Franceso had an elder brother and three younger sisters. Grazia became a nun. At his baptism, he was given the name Francesco. By the time, he was five-years-old, he made a decision to give his entire life to God. The Forgione family reflected the deeply devout convictions of their faith. These little towns in Italy are filled with devout people whose faith goes back for centuries. Saints days were always celebrated. The family was in worship far more than once a week. His mother said that little Francesco appeared to be able to see and talk with Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and his guardian angel.  Apparently, he thought everyone could do the same.

Last week, I started telling you how I became a acquainted with this extraordinary man. This week, I’m adding a few more details that you may find important.

Francesco received the name Padre Pio after becoming a Roman Catholic priest in the Order of Friars Minor Caphuchin in San Giovanni Rotondo. His fellow friars reported that during prayers, Pio often appeared to be in a stupor as if he were completely absent from the group. At such times, they reported seeing him levitating above the ground. During his 81 years living in the twentieth century, his life was filled with divine interventions and numerous incidences of bi-location. However, all during this time, he struggled with difficult medical problems.

In September 20, 1918, while hearing a confession, the first experience of the stigmata appeared. While he preferred to suffer with the wounds alone, the word quickly spread and people came from everywhere to see him.  Word of his amazing gifts spread quickly.

Eventually some church leaders became suspicious of Pio and thought he induced the wounds for financial gain. The Vatican even issued severe restrictions on his work. Finally, this pressure diminished and the Pope himself affirmed Padre Pio and his work.

One of the remarkable stories concerns the visit of Bishop Karol Jozef  Wojtyla (who became John Paul II) with Padre Pio in 1962. Reportedly, a prophetic word was given to Wojtyla that he would occupy a high position in the church. Obviously, this came to pass beyond Wojtyla’s wildest dreams.

During the years that I traveled in Italy, I recognized the profound influence Padre Pio had on people and the country even though he virtually never left the monastery. He abruptly appeared on a battlefield and saved an Italians soldier from being blown up and then disappeared. He is credited as appearing during a World War II bombing of the area around the monastery and preventing a disaster. At one point while he was looking out the window in the monastery, he was also seen far away assisting a dying man. The stories were endless.

Early in the morning of September 23, 1968, he prepared for the end of his life. At around 2:30, he said, “I see two mothers (meaning his earthly mother and the Virgin Mary). He died in his cell in San Giovanni Rotondo with a final whisper, “Maria.” He was buried in a crypt in the Church of Our Lady with over 100,000 people attending. He was both beatified (1999) and canonized (2002) by Pope John Paul II. Regardless of the subjective elements present in his story, the record speaks for itself.

Some skeptics will see all of these stories as nonsense or at least highly questionable. I discovered the people who experienced them believed these events to the core of their being.

HERE’S A TRULY FASCINATING GUY!

Blog 92 September 17, 2018

padre-pio

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?

The first time I heard of Padre Pio was during a conversation with a Roman Catholic Priest  in Oklahoma City. I asked Father John W. Scheller what influenced him to become a priest. He told that during World War II, he was in the infantry that invaded Italy. Somewhere along the way, he heard about this amazing priest in San Giovanni Rotondo and found the church. That afternoon Padre Pio was officiating at the Mass. My friend had worked his way around to the side of the altar where he could observe everything that was happening. Padre Pio was wearing gloves with the fingers cut out. Because he had the stigmata (the wounds of Christ), his hands bled when exposed.

My friend watched Pio pick up the chalice and lift it up to the heavens for the concentration of the host. At that moment, Padre Pio began to rise up from the floor and hovered suspended in the air. As he put the chalice down, the priest came back down to the floor.

Father Scheller watched in total amazement.

As I listened, I found his story difficult to digest. I had to tell him that this sounded like something from science fiction. The priest smiled, but said what he saw in those moments with this Italian priest changed his life. Those few moments caused Father Scheller to spend the rest of his life as a celibate priest.

What a challenging story! The early portion of Padre Pio’s life was prior to Vatican II. Anyone from that era immediately finds the many stories of miraculous happenings easy to accept. After Vatican II in 1963, everything changed. The hallowed sense of stillness and quiet in a service gave way to shaking hands, talking, and priests telling funny stories in their homilies. Believers from this era look at the stories of divine interventions with more of an askance questioning point of view. On the other hand, Protestants have been raised with grave doubts about Roman Catholic saints and miracle stories. The tendency is to distrust the whole works. The point of view you bring to these accounts is probably more important than what you are actually reading. I know readers will be subjective in what they read.

However, I had no reason to doubt my friend. He had spent six decades as a humble man of the cloth. Consequently, I had to know more about this Padre Pio. As the years that I spent traveling in Italy went by, I heard many, many more stores about this extraordinary man’s ministry. Subjective? Yes, but when a man spends the rest of his life in a profession because of what happened in such limited contact, I had to take a long second look at what might be more objective than it was at first glance.

Let me tell you more about what I discovered about Padre Pio. Next week I will tell you more about what I learned over three decades. You’ll be fascinated!

HEY, SUMMER’S OVER!

Blog 91 September 10, 2018

colorado-fall-aspen

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?

Can you believe it? Fall is here.

I’m still out here in Colorado, but the Aspens have already begun to turn. The locals are saying we are going to have an early Fall with a cold winter. That’ll make you shiver a tad.

During the summer I’ve been turning out a couple of books and been hard at work with our new website The Early Faith for Today. You’ll find this site exploring the first three centuries and getting us in touch with the faith of the first Christians. I believe you’ll find it to be helpful and inspirational.

I discovered a number of miracle stories over the summer, but the one I’m sharing now just came in. You’d like Ryan Mackie who is one of our bishops in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches. Bishop Mackie is a scholar as well. So, you can understand why problems with his eyes would be particularly troubling. The issue was serious.

Following a retreat, Bishops Mike and Beth Owen were called on to pray for Bishop Mackie. You’ve met Mike and Beth in previous blogs. For years, the couple has had an inspired ministry in several cities. Praying for the sick has been one of their strengths.

On August 24, Mike and Beth gathered around Ryan and laid on hands just as the book of James prescribes. (James 5:13-15)  As they always do, both prayed fervently for the problem. When they finished, Ryan felt a change. He knew something was going on. During the next six days, he was sure a restoration was occurring.

The doctor had noted that Ryan lost 63% of his ability to see out of his right eye… but Ryan began to realize that he could see out of his right eye. He returned to the physician to get an evaluation. The tests surprised the doctor. Where his right eye was seeing only 37%, it was now seeing 96%. When they measured his overall seeing, Ryan had improved from 20/400 to 20/40.The last x-ray photo of his eye sight had shown a nearly entire black area inside his eye. Now, when the photo was made there was only a small black dot.

Before the Owens prayed for him, Ryan couldn’t see a student sitting in front of him in his classroom. Now, he can see the lights in the center of the test screen. While Ryan came expecting a medical treatment, any such procedure was cancelled. No treatment! No steroids. Nothing.

The hand of God had released life-altering empowerment. James was right when he wrote, “And the prayer of faith will save the sick man.” (James 5:15) What a great way to start the Fall!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

HEY! IT’S VACATION TIME

BLOG 91 July 9, 2018

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With the heat of summer comes the relief of sitting by a nice swimming pool and soaking your feet in the cool water. Maybe. Most of us are so hard at work we don’t have time.

    During the next two months I’ll be traveling, finishing up book projects, and out of sight in the mountains. Consequently, I won’t be writing blogs again until after September 1. In the mean time, the new Early Faith for Today website will continue. If you haven’t tuned us in yet, summer offers an opportunity. The Christian faith is presented as it was in the first three centuries with application for today. Check it out.

Have a wonderful summer and I’ll see you in the fall.