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.

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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!

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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 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.

MEET JOHN WIMBER Part 2

BLOG 77 March 19, 2018

wimber-filter

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.

Last week, I introduced you to John. Here’s the rest of that story.
“Sir,” John said. “I’m going to put my hands on your back. Let’s pray together.”
John made it sound as simple as opening a refrigerator door.

The man closed his eyes, quivered for a few moments, and started sinking to the floor. John kept praying and knelt beside him. The man’s legs straightened and with his eyes closed, he appeared completely relaxed. John stood up.

“We’ll leave him there for a while. When he’s ready he’ll stand up. He’s healed. Now let’s go on to the next person.”

The crowd stared, not sure of how to respond. I raised up to see what was happening. John moved on to another need. I watched in fascination. For approximately twenty minutes, the fellow on the floor didn’t move before he got up and returned to his seat. After the meeting I talked with him. He was healed.

After that evening, I began studying Wimber’s approach to ministry. I knew that he had worked with Dr. Donald McGavran and Dr. Peter Wagner at Fuller Seminary and been a church growth consultant. George Eldon Ladd’s writing on the Kingdom of God had steered John toward an expectancy that the power and authority of God was meant for the contemporary world. Francis McNutt’s Healing had heightened his expectation that recovery through prayer was possible. Each of these experiences were building blocks for what was to become a power ministry.

John had begun to attend a mainline denominational congregation. After the service, he would ask the minister when they did “the stuff.” The pastor would blink and ask what he meant. “You know,” John would reply. “Like in the Bible –water into wine –healing – miracles. “Oh, we don’t do that. We just talk about it.” John wanted more than talk, much more.

One evening John flew into Detroit and was stranded because of bad weather. He got a room for the night and stumbled in feeling ill, exhausted and spiritually bankrupt. After getting ready for bed, he knelt down and read Psalm 61. “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer,” the scripture said. “Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I am.” At that moment, he felt the Holy Spirit speaking to his heart.

“John, I’ve seen your ministry. Now, I want to show you mine.”
John began to weep. Later, he reflected that this was a turning point in his relationship with God. Once he began to use the authority that the Holy Spirit had imparted to him, miracles followed. The ministry of the Father had begun.

John would have told you that your brokenness can be the key to spiritual breakthrough. When you’ve reached the end of your rope, you’ve reached the place where God can pull you up – not let you down!

 

THE MAN WHO PLANTED MORE CHURCHES THAN ANYONE IN HISTORY

BLOG 76 March 12, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE Followers of this blog know that Robert L. Wise has traveled across many states collecting stories of miracles and divine interventions that confront the contemporary secular mind. Read and see what you think.

John Wimber was truly a secular man. He grew up in a home with no religious influence and considered himself a fourth generation pagan. His father had abandoned the family when John was a child. John once said of the Bible, “I didn’t even know God had a book out.” The first time he was in a church, John thought the ushers were bouncers with flowers in their lapels. He viewed the liturgy of the day as a menu.

John could play 20 instruments and was a first class musician who at one time had been part of the Righteous Brothers band. With a good tenor voice, he had been involved in a number of jazz groups. If there ever was a guy who grew up outside of any kind of theistic group, it was John. Involved with miracles? No way!

When I met John, the Vineyard movement was in the infancy stage. I didn’t know much about him except that he had an exceptional ability to bring divine interventions. Peter Wagner, another personal friend, had a hand in suggesting that John should start planting churches with his new type of worship experience. Jettisoning the usual format of traditional Sunday School and standard Sunday Morning Worship, John touched a nerve with people who didn’t go to church. Across the country they began flocking to his Vineyards. Today in the United States over 1,500 congregations are Vineyard Fellowships.

The evening as I listened to John teach that the miracles in the Bible weren’t for the past, he explained they were intended to happen today. John taught how Christians could receive the gifts the Apostle Paul described in I Corinthians 12:4-11 (knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues). As he described that these miraculous gifts could be imparted to any Christian, he insisted everyone in the room should receive an expression of the Holy Spirit’s gifting. Strange talk for a 4th generation pagan.

Abruptly, John stopped. “Let’s have a clinic,” he said. “I will show you what I mean.”

John bowed his head in silent prayer as the crowd waited in anticipation. He looked up. “Anyone here with a back problem?” A hand went up in the back of the room.

“Ah!” John said. “Please come forward.”

The man walked to the front.

“Now,” John began. “I always begin by listening to what the Lord tells me he wants done. That’s how I start.”

I immediately thought of Agnes Sanford’s instructions to seek the will of God before preceding in prayer. John certainly did.

Hang on! More to come next week.

MEET RUTH EATON

BLOG 75 March 5, 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.

With her bright red-hair and rambunctious style, Ruth Eaton was one of the most delightful persons I’ve ever known. Ruth had been a member in two churches that I pastored and was always on the go. Visiting a friend in a nursing home, 86 year-old Ruth discovered that many of these “old” people had no one left who knew anything about them or cared for them. She simply couldn’t let this be! The work she began on their behalf never stopped until Ruth died at age 93.

Ruth Eaton made it her job to find a gift for every lonely person in a nursing home in Oklahoma City. She watched for specials in the newspaper and came up with everything from women’s socks to men’s underwear. Her living room was piled high with boxes and wrapping paper for her “best buys” being prepared for delivery on Christmas Eve.

Ruth’s only daughter had died at age 44. I had the service for her and knew that the death had nearly killed Ruth. At that time, I couldn’t fully comprehend how the affect lingered for years. Only after the death of one of my sons did I realize how difficult it had been to deal with the death of a child. Ruth didn’t speak of her experience often, but it was always there.

On this particular Friday, I told my secretary not to let anyone in or any phone calls get through until I had my sermon completed. Thirty minutes later, I could hear Ruth raising a ruckus. “I don’t care what he said!” she yelled at the secretary. “I demand to speak with him NOW!” And in came Ruth.

She had been sitting on her couch wrapping presents when she began to think about her beloved daughter and wondered where she was today. At the same time, Ruth thought about her mother who had died many decades earlier. The remembrance of these two important and significant persons had been highly important to her.

Ruth abruptly had the strangest feeling. She looked down at the end of the couch and there stood her mother and daughter. Though they had been many years apart in age, they now both looked exactly the same age at about 25. Ruth stared in amazement. Mother and daughter smiled back at her, reflecting their joy at what she was doing. The three of them seemed to communicate telepathically, sharing their love and devotion.

Ruth swallowed hard and looked away. When she looked again, they were gone. For a long time, Ruth sat there in astonishment, trying to grasp what she had experienced. Whatever else Ruth might have been uncertain about, there was no question in her mind, but that she had been visited by her deceased mother and her daughter.

That’s when Ruth came to my office.

What did it all mean? Ruth was certain that her view of eternity had been assured.

Mary Eaton was truly and earth angel!

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MEET AGNES SANFORD—AGAIN!

BLOG 74 February 26, 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.

I’m sharing again some of my experiences with one of the most gifted people I’ve ever known. You can find the original blogs on Agnes Sanford back in September, 2017. However, I’m repeating some encounters that I think have important value for today.

Many people came to Agnes through the years, but not everyone was restored in some dramatic way. Some people went home the way they came. I wondered how she knew what to pray for all of these people. Agnes had an answer.

Before she prayed, Agnes listened to hear the mind of God. What intentions did he have for the specific person in need? If she felt healing was not possible at that moment, Agnes blessed the person. When she got a green light, she interceded for the specific need.

If you didn’t know Agnes, you’d think that her praying about the wind, earth, and sky was off the scale. However, she prayed about hurricanes, against wild fires, and for the rain to start and stop because she believed it was the will of God for humanity to do so

Once during a conference in Southern California with people seated outside, the rain started to hit. She looked up and said, “I’ve got five more minutes then you can start. Please wait.” The rain stopped. When she finished, Agnes looked up again and said “Okay, you can start now.” It did. The crowd stared. The issue was the will of God.

The same was true for dying. I knew that Ted Sanford had a powerful, pleasant dream about dying that occurred five days before his death. Agnes had suggested it might be prophetic of what was to come. When the end came, it was just as Ted had dreamed. Neither Agnes nor Ted were afraid of death as they lived in the light of the resurrection. When her friend and house companion Edith Drury called to tell me that Agnes had died, the same amazing dimension had been there.

Agnes came out of her bedroom one morning and told Edith that she believed the Lord was calling her to fly. Could Edith see if a glider might be found to take them for a ride? As she always did, Edith accepted the unusual request in stride and started calling local airports. A week later, Agnes came out as she always did with an adjusted request.

“I think I got it wrong,” she said.

“Really?” Edith answered.

“Yes. I don’t believe I’m suppose to fly in an airplane. I think it’s time for me to go. I believe I should die.”

“Are you certain? I mean – well, after all –”

“I think so. Please call the women in our prayer group to come over and pray for me. I think I’m supposed to leave on Sunday.”

Edith shrugged. “I’ll do what you tell me. Yes, I’ll call them right now.”

On Sunday, the small group of people gathered around Agnes’s bed and began to pray for her release. In a short time, she was gone. Agnes died on February 21, 1982, the day celebrated in many churches as the Feast of the Transformation. It certainly was hers.