MEET AGNES Part 2

BLOG 54 September 11, 2017 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.

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            We have been exploring the ministry of one of the most interesting persons that I have ever met. Agnes Sanford’s extraordinary gifts of grace and ministry blessed me personally as well as challenged my thinking about divine intervention. Having been born to a missionary family in China, Agnes grew up with a sensitivity to suffering and need.

The first time I came to Agnes’s home in Monrovia, California, Edith Drury opened the door and ushered me in. Edith believed she had been called of God to shepherd Agnes in her later years after Ted died. She could be a fierce soul to get passed if she didn’t like you. Fortunately, Edith and I got along well.

She ushered me into the living room where Agnes sat reading a book.

“Hello,” I said. “Thank you for taking time to talk with me.”

“Oh, Robert! Do come in and sit down.”

“I wanted to talk with you about your work with healing prayer. I’m concerned to know more about praying for sick people.”

“Excellent,’” Agnes repeated. “We can certainly talk about that subject.”

We conversed easily and she rambled awhile about her life. Her pastor at the local Episcopal Church was Morton Kelsey who was to become internationally known for his writing. At that moment, little did I realize that I would in time become Morton’s bishop. We were simply talking, sharing our journeys, and eating sweet rolls.

After talking for awhile, Agnes walked out on the veranda. Monrovia is set in the foothills above Los Angeles and her house was on a steep mountainside. Standing with a piece of bread in her hand, she seemed oblivious when a bird flew down and landed on her wrist. The bird pecked off a piece of bread and then flew off. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“I thought I saw a bird land on you,” I said.

“Oh yes,” she said casually. “They do that you know. I’ve never seen that bird before.”

That experience was my introduction to the unusual relationship Agnes had with nature. Dogs, birds, snakes, animals loved her and she developed an extraordinary capacity to pray for the earth and wind.

When Agnes came back inside, she sensed I had a need. I had been adopted as a child and had developed a number of problems that came from trying to fit into the world I grew up in. Agnes understood this and suggested we pray about the struggle. She told me to close my eyes and envision myself as a child at a time when I might have had difficulties.

Next week, I will tell you how she profoundly touched my life.

By the way, if you haven’t picked up a copy of my latest book, now’s the time.

The Revised and Expanded edition
WHEN THERE IS NO MIRACLE
Kregel Publications

 

MEET MIKE AND BETH Part Seven

BLOG 52 August 28, 2017 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.

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We have been exploring the multi-faceted ministry of divine interventions that occur in the work of Bishops Mike and Beth Owen. We are now in a position to draw some conclusions that might be of help.

Interestingly enough, both Leslie Draper and Michael Owen experienced the angelic dimension at young ages. In my conversations with a number of people, I have observed that often young children have spiritual experiences. Before society could impose its own value system on the young, their naïveté allowed an openness that equipped children to see with the eyes of innocents. Mike accepted Christ at the age of eight-years.

The natural tendency of many people is to write off their childhood encounter as being nothing more than a “Winnie the Pooh” adventure when it wasn’t. Digging back into the past can help some people get in touch with that divine avenue they once walked down.

As one follows the history of this couple, it is obvious that they moved through several denominations. Their experience and faith evolved. While people change situations everyday, this is generally not the case in the religious world. However, in the 34 years Michael and Beth have been in the ministry, the larger church setting also radically changed. Mainline denominations became sideline groups. Evangelicals often evolved through the Charismatic Movement and wound up in a sacramental setting. Radical changes occurred every decade.

In the Owens’ case, they attempted to stay open to the Holy Spirit as well as grow in their understanding of how the Christian faith expanded Their openness to variation and modification led them into a greater appreciation of how the Holy Spirit continues to work in people’s lives. While it would be jarring for many people to expect the Holy Spirit to take them to an entirely new realm of experience, the Owens would say that’s the best place to encounter the miraculous.

Beth’s development in the Roman Catholic Church led her into the sacramental life. Through these experiences, she naturally lived in a world of symbols. In time, Michael came to do the same.

The symbolic power of the sacraments is that they bring believers into the spiritual realm where contact with the divine is possible. Holy Communion, also called the is an example. While meanings vary with different denominations, Mike and Beth became part of a church that believes in the real Presence of Christ in the bread and wine. In other words, participants expect to actually experience Jesus Christ through these moments of worship.

The idea of spiritual presence suggests a supernatural order. How Christ is present is beyond human understanding and a mystery. This expression of faith takes one into the world from which miracles come. Mike and Beth believe Holy Communion helps one discover this realm.

 

MEET MIKE AND BETH Part 6

BLOG 51 August 14, 2017 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.

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            For the last five weeks, we’ve been exploring the ministry of a spiritually gifted couple. Mike and Beth Owen along with their two children, ministered first in a Baptist setting and then moved into the Vineyard Ministry when it initially began. During their work with the Vineyard, Mike and Beth received important gifts from the Holy Spirit. Prophetic insight helped to propel significant Vineyard growth in Oklahoma City. Mike also began to experience a healing ministry.

During a conference in Monterrey, Mexico, Mike was working with local citizens who were “the poorest of the poor but the richest in faith.” During an evening service with robust singing and praise, an elderly woman was led forward for prayer assisted by two young people. She was blind. A group of ministers assembled around Mike and they all began to pray, asking the Holy Spirit to restore her sight.

As he prayed, Mike felt like he was being transported from Monterrey into a page out of the New Testament. While he was internally experiencing that ancient scene, the old woman began to cry.

Ya veo!” the woman sobbed. “Ya veo!

“She sees,” the minister next to Mike whispered.

Over and over again, the woman gave thanks and praise to Jesus Christ for healing her. As the service ended, she rushed out into the streets to tell everyone that she had received this wonderful healing. Her sight was restored.

As the evening ended, the words of Jesus in Luke 4:18-19 rang in Mike’s ears. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach the gospel … the recovery of sight to the blind.” A gift of healing had become part of his ministry.

The divine interventions and miracles have not stopped.

What can we learn?

Since the Western World is living in an age that considers empirical data to be supreme, some of Mike and Beth’s accounts may sound over the top. The prevailing world view of the modern world rides on scientific data and demonstrable facts. Obviously, some of the foregoing does not fit the mold. So, what do we do?

I’d suggest we change our world view.

If we are to understand miracles and learn how to live with divine interventions, we need to make a paradigm shift. We must recognize that the transcendent dimension won’t fit in a test tube or calculate on a computer. God’s world must be encountered in God’s terms. The failure to face up to this reality will keep the door shut that must be opened in order have some insight into divine interruptions. Mike and Beth grew up with the door open. They can teach us a number of things about the doors we often keep closed.

By the way, there will be no blog next week. I’ll be in Alaska near the Arctic Circle, hiking through Denali National Park. I’ll finish the summer in one of the most beautiful and restful places in the world.  See you again on August 28!

MEET MIKE AND BETH Part Three

BLOG 48 July 24, 2017 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE!

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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.

Halloween appears to be the only time the contemporary world pauses to believe in evil and the possibility of a devil working near us. The rest of the time we write off Satan as a figment of the imagination of the ancients. Unfortunately, that mentality misses how divine interventions are important to keep us on the right track. Here’s what happened in the Owen family.

Michael and Beth understand psychological disorders and do everything possible to avoid evil. At the same time, they know that Evil can be an all-absorbing force in people’s lives. During a trip to Muskogee, Oklahoma, they encountered a demonstration of the reality in everyday life.

They had just entered a fast food restaurant and were in line to order. Beth noticed a woman who looked like a gypsy sitting several tables away. Six or seven large cups of water were on the table in front of her. The woman kept staring down at the table and appeared uncomfortable. In a whisper, Beth conveyed almost silently to Mike what she had seen.

“Take a look when you get a chance,” Beth murmured.

“I heard you!” the woman shouted. “It’s not nice to talk about people like that!”

Beth’s first thought was that there was no way the woman could have heard her. Mike turned around with a tray in hand. People in the restaurant started looking at them.

“You and your kind are an abomination and a damnation to me!” the gypsy woman shouted. “You are of the light and I am of the darkness.”

As she continued to yell, the Owens backed away, unsure of what the woman might do next. Violence could follow. The restaurant crowd was starting to freak out. Mike and Beth had the distinct feeling the voice was somehow coming from beyond the woman. Once outside the restaurant, they determined she was not following them. The encounter with the woman became a turning point in their understanding of spiritual warfare.

Following this encounter, they began receiving telephone calls from people both inside and outside of their church seeking help in their struggle with evil. Calls have continued to this day and have opened the door for helping frightened people recover their direction and purpose in life. The encounter with the woman opened a new way for ministry that followed with divine interventions.

Most of my previous blogs have covered renewals of various varieties while Mike and Beth’s experience dealt with the negative dimension. Is the dark side real? Absolutely. However, you too can depend on divine interventions for your own success in overcoming evil.

 

 

MEET MIKE AND BETH Part Two

Blog 47 July 17, 2017 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE!

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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.

We are currently exploring the experience of persons with consistent divine intervention in their lives and ministries. The Reverends Mike and Beth Owen are one of those couples who daily touch many lives.

Beth’s first angelic encounter came when she was fifteen-years-old and her aunt Barbara was dying. The family had already felt the impact of the death of her mother’s brother as well as two sisters and now another sister stood at death’s door. After an urgent phone call, Beth and her mother rushed to the hospital. As they stepped out of the elevator door, the announcement of a “Code Red” rang down the hall. Attendants rushed passed them but they were too late.

As they were leaving the hospital, Beth and her mother were standing at the street corner when Beth looked up. To her astonishment, she saw two massive white angels hovering above them. The angels stood on each side of Barbara.

Beth exclaimed, “Look, Mom! They’ve come to take Barbara home!”

Taller than the city street light, Beth could see the massive size of their waist, legs, and feet as they ascended vertically upward. As they disappeared out of sight, Beth knew her understanding of God’s loving care was forever changed. The comfort of an all comprehensive peace settled over them.

These early experiences caused Michael and Beth to anticipate divine interventions in their ministries. They were conditioned to expect far more than simply sharing theological answers and teaching children about the faith. Their ministries have encompassed a number of miraculous events.

While Mike and Beth were pastoring a church, much of Beth’s time was given to pastoral care. A young woman came for counseling because she and her husband had not been able to conceive a child. She was coming to the end of her rope and beginning to believe it would never happen. Despair had settled in.

After anointing her with consecrated oil, Beth laid her hands on the woman’s head and prayed. Much like the story from I Samuel when Hannah came to Shiloh to pray for a child, the young woman earnestly pleaded for God to work. Beth had an unusual feeling that as she interceded, she sensed the woman would conceive.

Nine months later, a beautiful baby was born. During the next few years, the couple had more children. The family was convinced that the turning point came during those earlier moments of prayer. Always hesitant to share this story because of how it might be received by other parents seeking a child, Beth believes the anointing, laying on of hands, and prayer provided a special encounter with grace as the Lord of life brought forth new life. After the child was born, Beth celebrated the baptism of this child.

The gift of life had been given and consecrated.

 

 

MEET MIKE AND BETH Part One

Blog 46 July 10, 2017 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.

I have known Mike and Beth Owen for over 25 years. We have worked together, socialized, debated ideas, and watched their children grow up. When we are both in town, Mike and I have lunch together every Tuesday. They remain our best of friends. Much of what I report comes from moments of personal observation. The Owens can share important insights with us. We’ll learn some new aspect of miraculous ministry.

Michael and Beth Owen are both ordained Christian Ministers and have been in full-time ministry for 34 years. Their two children Roman and Hannah are both successful athletes, coaches, and Roman is first assistant basketball coach at Yale University. Merging their highly divergent backgrounds led them through ministry in the Baptist Church, planting a Vineyard Fellowship, and finally becoming clergy in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches. Along the way they discovered a ministry with divine interventions and miraculous encounters. How did such occur?

On a Saturday night when Michael was a child, he knelt down beside his bed and asked the Lord to show him if he should surrender his life to Jesus Christ. Mike sensed that making a decision for Christ might require something that he might not be ready to give up because he would be stepping into the unknown. Mike inwardly knew the Holy Spirit was calling him to make such a decision but he couldn’t release control of his life as seemed to be required. At that moment, the totally unexpected followed. An angel appeared in his bedroom. Little did he know this encounter was the beginning of a life-long journey of faith.

For untold generations, Beth’s family have been Irish Roman Catholics. As a young child, she sat in a church with stained glass windows depicting the mighty deeds of saints with statues of angels near the altar. The world of candles, incense, and sacraments created in her an awareness of both the transcendence and imminence of God. She grew up believing that God the Father continually interacted with his people in a personal, real, and tangible way.

Let’s go back to Mike’s childhood bedroom.

In the corner of the bedroom, an angel in a bright white and turquoise robe floated above the floor. Tall and larger than life, the angel stood there smiling at him. Illuminated in a glowing light, the angel conveyed personal assurance. While there was no verbal communication, the angel’s smile answered his prayers. Mike knew what he needed to do in church the next day.

Today Michael prays daily, “Dear Lord please release your Holy Angels to watch over and protect my family and me and all those we carry in our hearts.”

During the next few blogs, we are going to follow what occurred as Mike and Beth prayed that their lives would become vehicles for divine encounters for themselves and others.

A STRANGER IN THE NIGHT

BLOG 45 July 3, 2017 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.

You would like Sean Yost.

The Rev. Sean Yost is a warm, concerned person who is always willing to go the second mile with people in need. As well as pastoring Redeemer Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, Sean is completing an M.Div. degree from Gordon Conwell Seminary. Several years ago, Sean was studying in a Bible College in Jacksonville, Florida, and working in a law firm in the afternoon. Often, during the day, he walked to the court house.

On one of these trips, a young man approached him and ask for a handout. Sean replied that he had no money with him but would share what he had. The conversation progressed and the beggar ask if Sean was a Christian. He said that he was. As they walked along toward the court house, Sean noticed that the man’s questions were more profound than what he would have expected from someone living on the street. When Sean asked his name, the man said, “They call me Timothy.”

Finally, Sean told the man that he didn’t have his billfold on him, but if he was willing, after work, Sean would take him to his apartment and then to dinner. They could spend the afternoon talking before Sean took him to a Rescue Mission type boarding house where Sean would pay for his room for a week. Timothy was particularly grateful.

The afternoon progressed quickly and Sean took Timothy to check in at the boarding house. There was only one entrance with a lady sitting behind a desk checking people in and out. The mission kept a strict eye on everyone’s comings and goings. As Timothy walked in, Sean turned around and sat down on the steps.

Several minutes passed and Timothy didn’t come back out. Maybe the lady at the desk was showing him around. Sean waited around ten to fifteen minutes and then decided he should see what caused the delay.

“I’m looking for the man that came in maybe fifteen minutes ago.”

“I’m sorry,” the lady said. “No one’s come in all evening.”

“But I saw him walk in,” Sean maintained.

“There is no other entrance. They have to come by me. I’m sorry no one came in.”

Sean stood there shocked. He had seen Timothy enter but …

As Sean walked away, a biblical verse flashed through his mind. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

At first Sean was stunned, shocked, and then joy flooded over him. The entire experience seemed to suggest that God was directing his steps and approving of him. Sean had experienced an angel while unaware.

 

 

 

MEET LESLIE Part 6

BLOG 43 June 19, 2017 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE!

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Robert Wise explores the world of divine interventions from an objective point of view. Can 21st century people believe the hand of God still touches people today? Read and you’ll find new insights.

A number of important insights can be discovered through previous blogs describing Leslie Draper’s ministry. Let’s take a last look. Five words can define some of our discoveries. This week we’ll examine two of those insights and finish the other three words next week. While much of what Leslie does is unique, anyone can develop similar skills by working down the same path she has followed.

  1. Struggle

Leslie’s childhood was filled with difficulties. There is a dictum in psychology that creativity arises from pain. Suffering enlarges the soul with new openness. Leslie’s difficulties are an important part of what developed her ministry. Divine interventions often occur during hardships and pain.

Everyone has struggles they don’t like to remember, but possibly yours has more value than you realize. Could there be significance in returning to the past and examining how your soul might have been opened with a far a greater potential than you recognized?

A Confederate soldier’s prayer has been on my desk for so long that I no longer remember where it came from, but it presents the possibilities in our struggles. We may have overlooked important insights in many of our previous battles.

I asked for strength that I might achieve; He made me weak that I  might obey.

I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given grace that I might

do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of men; I was given weakness that

I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. I was given life that I might enjoy

all things.

I received nothing that I asked for, all that I hope for.

My prayer was answered. Amen.

Take a second look at your life. There may be more there spiritually than you expected. Pain can be the source of gain.

  1. Openness

Even a brief conversation with Leslie leaves the impression that fidelity is an essential part of her existence. She is a spiritually obedient person. Highly instructive for us!

It’s common for people to say, “Oh, I’m quite open –but I wouldn’t do that.” Whatever that is, points to the fact they’re actually not as open as they thought. It’s important to examine our ideals and convictions. Some people never experience the realm of divine happenings because they live inside closed boundaries.

Leslie’s recommendation? Open your heart and eyes to people who are around you. Don’t be afraid to pray with them and for them. We all grow through such encounters. No one knows what their capacities might be except as they reach out to anyone in need.