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

MEET JOHN WIMBER Part 6

BLOG 81 April 16, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

GodSpeaking

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.

Susan Conway told us about learning to hear the Holy Spirit speak through the Bible and her thought processes. Agnes Sanford added that determining the will of the Father was essential in knowing how to pray for someone. She taught that we can hear the divine message through our thinking. John Wimber added to these insights an assurance that anyone can develop an ability to receive what the heavenly Father intends. Anyone!

But two problems exist with these insights.

First, people sometimes make up messages by talking aloud in Biblical language while free associating. You don’t have to be in a Spirit-related prayer group long to hear someone launch into a “message” that is straight from their imagination, not God. In one such meeting a lady stood up and began shouting, “Yeah saith the Lord! If you do not repent, I will write across the door of this church Michelob!” We certainly don’t want to walk down that alley.

Second, people often resist what runs through their minds as being only a run-away thought. They don’t take it seriously and miss divine leading. Only later do they realize a special insight or direction had been given them and they overlooked an important opportunity. Many times they feel “God wouldn’t speak to someone like me.” Wrong.

Both extremes are pitfalls. Avoid them. John would want you to believe that you can participate in a ministry of divine interventions as surely as anyone. Remember. You can.

What have we learned so far? We have examined the ministries of a number of people with whom I have personally journeyed. I have known them to be people of integrity and honesty. I can vouch for their veracity. What have they taught us?

Turn Hard Times Into Productive Times! God is ready to respond.

HEY! HERE’S A NEW ONE FOR YOU!

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. I think you will be interested. TUNE IN

 

 

 

MEET JOHN WIMBER Part 5

BLOG 80 April 9, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

HEALING-picture

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.

As we attempt to understand miracles, John Wimber continues to have some important insights for us to consider and follow. John believed that healing is a gift from God, an act of mercy. Our part is to listen and carry out His word. He taught his students steps for learning to pray for healing. This practice can also help us in our overall pursuit of divine interventions. Here are some examples.

We should begin by praying for the sick even if and when we don’t understand how. The divine nature is to heal. The heavenly Father heals us even when we are not aware that He is at work. Most of the time, we naturally get well without reflecting on the fact that our Creator stood behind our bed imparting wholeness. Even the Jewish people of the Exodus knew this fact. Exodus 15: 26

Just start practicing intercession!

An important component in healing prayer is the corporate community. Having the entire church or at least a small group praying with us is significant. Everyone can get in on praying for a need. The more – the merrier! Getting a group of believers in on the intercession can be important.

We say that we trust God but often that’s only a cliché. Genuine trust is demonstrated by our actions. We must act on what we believe – or what we want to believe is true. Doing “the stuff” or at least trying is what counts.

Because we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, all Christians can pray for divine interventions. There’s no special group or class of Christians that have the edge on interceding. Everyone can play in this game.

Loving relationships are key. We need to keep a clean slate with everyone in our acquaintance. The more loving we are, the better equipped we are to intercede.

As we look at specific needs, we should remember that God wants to heal the whole person, not just a specific condition. The presenting need is the starting point but we should stay aware of the entire spectrum of need. While physical pain can be all absorbing, emotional wholeness can turn out to be even more important.

John would insist that we must work in accord with the will of God. During times of ministry, we may feel the pressure of a particular need, but we shouldn’t let that cloud our pursuit of what the Lord intends.    In both public and private times of ministry, John believed it was important to wait for the Holy Spirit to clearly make his presence known in any given situation. We should wait until the Spirit falls upon us and the situation being confronted.

Don’t Stop with one session

John noticed that Jesus prayed twice for a blind man. He began noticing the value of multiple sessions in praying for someone. From this practice came an interesting analysis. In the first session about 30 percent of those being interceded for experienced some degree of healing. During the second session there was an additional 10 percent of improvement. Seventy percent of those prayed for over ten times experienced healing.

John’s experience suggests the significance of repeated intercession. The more often we pray with someone, the more improvement they can experience. John would tell us “keep after it.”

MEET JOHN WIMBER Part 4

BLOG 79 April 2, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

worship god wordie 02

     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.

John Wimber’s key theological ideas were an important part of what he taught about the miraculous and why his ministry was so powerful. They still give us insights into how our own faith can be developed. Wimber suggested:

  1.     Worship remains the first exercise God requires of his people to do. Praising and experiencing intimacy with the Lord is critical to our being able to work in the realm of miraculous intervention.
  2.     The key to working in the supernatural stream is to become a servant. The apostles found this role difficult so we can expect the same struggle, but we can’t bypass the role of being there for others.
  3.     Don’t try to be a success. Just be obedient.
  4.     The key to understanding what Jesus did is found in his relationship with the Father. In turn, miraculous interventions arise out of our relationship with The Holy Spirit. The work that Jesus did might be called “humble caring.”  Philippians 2:8 spells out how we are to empty ourselves and in humility count others better than ourselves. The example of Jesus humbling himself even to death on a cross is the example we must follow.
  5.      Our goal must be to love God for who He is. We begin with love for God and his commandments, but must move to loving being in love with God in a personal and intimate way.
  6.      We must learn to minister God’s way, not ours.

As students began to minister with these ideas guiding them, the recognition of important results spread far beyond Fuller Seminary campus. A new expression of faith was being born and seminary students were truly excited.

After a lifetime of ministry that touched multitudes, John’s work came to an end. John Wimber was recovering from by-pass surgery when he died from a massive hemorrhage on November 17, 1997. John was 63 years-old.

A number of books describe John’s approach to ministry, miracles, healing, signs and wonders. Perhaps, one of the most helpful is Power Healing. Everyone can be helped by not only reading but applying these teachings.

As we attempt to understand miracles, John continues to have some important insights for us to consider and follow. John believed that healing is a gift from God, an act of mercy. Our task is to listen and carry out His word.

MEET JOHN WIMBER Part 3

BLOG 78 March 26, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

40People-John-Wimber

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.

John had worked as an advisor in many churches across America and understood opposition to divine intervention that was out there in a number of groups. He also knew the influence of secularism in the theological world. In a study of a prestigious evangelical seminary, he and an associate analyzed the books used by first year seminarians. The total percent of pages devoted to healings, miracles, signs and wonders were .08 on healing, .15 on miracles, .10 on signs and wonders. Obviously secular doubt had influenced seminary studies and the students passed on their lack of insight to churches. Virtually no one had been taught about any possibilities of divine interventions. John observed the identical problem in a multitude of local congregations.

He knew Lutherans and Calvinists believed the cessation of gifts occurred at the first century with the death of the Apostles. Dispensationalists were ardent defenders of the cessation theory. John also heard Christians who opposed healing and teach that miracles had a limited usefulness. They believed divine interventions were subordinate and inferior to faith in Christ. Obviously, these groups  had developed a defense against the fact that results never happened in these churches.

In response, John started reading the Gospel of Luke. He discovered that after the third chapter, almost every third verse was about healing or some supernatural occurrence. John began to recognize that receiving and working with spiritual gifts had been the biblical norm. Consequently, he set out to discover how divine interventions occurred. Virtually nothing happened for ten weeks and then he got a phone call from a Vineyard member whose wife was running a high fever. John came over, laid on hands, prayed, and started to explain his idea of why people might not be healed. The husband wasn’t listening because his wife had abruptly gotten out of bed. She was healed! John was astonished.

A new ministry was born.

Fuller Seminary invited John to teach as an adjunct professor, but they had no idea what was coming. John not only taught a class entitled Signs and Wonders, he began performing “clinics” in the class. Clinics were demonstrations of divine interventions and healing power. The students were astonished as “signs and wonders” followed on a daily basis. A wave of excitement rocked the campus. John wasn’t talking about “it,” he was doing “it.” Some of the professors rebelled and protested but the students loved it. The  seminary Dean Robert Meyer observed that only two seminary courses ever became famous. They were Karl Barth’s Dogmatics in Basel, Switzerland, and Wimber’s Signs and Wonders at Fuller.

John Wimber’s key theological ideas were an important part of what he taught about the miraculous. They still give us insights into how our own faith can be developed.