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

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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.

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 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

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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.

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 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!

 

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.

YOU JUST NEVER KNOW

BLOG 72 February 12, 2018 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.

A number of years ago, I experienced a divine intervention that restored my health virtually overnight. At that time, I knew nothing about miracles, divine healing, or the work of the Holy Spirit. As I recovered, I set out to understand how I had experienced such an extraordinary recovery.

During my investigations of the work of the Holy Spirit, I realized that many of the concepts that involved healing could be taught just as churches taught evangelism or prayer. Not everyone got the ideas, but I observed many people recovering a ministry that they never conceived was possible. Eventually, I began traveling to congregations and teaching people how they might develop a healing ministry. Eventually, I taught in Taiwan and England.

On one of these trips I went to Holland, Michigan, a center of Old Dutch Calvinism that didn’t believe in the gifts of the Spirit as a contemporary reality. I knew there would be a significant resistance to my subject matter, but I ploughed ahead. I began with a Friday night gathering and introduced the subject of healing. All through Saturday morning, I shared what I learned. As expected, the attendance was meager.

On Sunday, I held a healing service in a church that had never experienced such a thing. The attendance was even smaller, but I had expected resistance. As I always did, I invited anyone needing healing to come forward. A few people responded.

However, one couple stood out in my mind. A local university professor and his wife knelt at the front of the church and handed me a slip of paper describing the problem. He had pancreatic cancer. An incurable, deadly disease that usually takes a life within weeks or months at best.

I prayed as fervently as I knew how with the laying on of hands. Nothing spectacular happened, but I could feel what I believed was the Holy Spirit working through me. I finished, said “Amen,” and they returned to their pew. The service was over. Everyone went home and I flew away in a jet.

Six months later another professor from the same university was in my office working on an architectural project. We poured over the illustrations that he had brought in with him.

Finally, he straightened and asked if I remembered praying for the young man with pancreatic cancer. I knew what he would probably say. I was wrong.

“I saw him yesterday. He told me to tell you that the cancer is gone now. It just disappeared. He was healed.

Even though I came believing, I was still astonished. You just never know.