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

BLOG 73 February 19, 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.

Agnes Mary White Sanford came out of a world that no longer exists. Her father Hugh Watt White and mother Augusta were Presbyterian ministers and missionaries in Hsuchoufu, China back in the days when the Western Church world saw that far off land as a place of mystery and romantic intrigue.  She wrote her own story in Sealed Orders and didn’t want some anonymous person adjusting her story or taking apart her personal theology. Consequently, this chapter is not about Agnes Sanford per se, but my experience of and with her.

I not only knew Agnes, but taught in her School of Pastoral Care. During that time, I became acquainted with Dr. Harry Goldsmith whose healing and emotional restoration laid the foundation for the healing of the memories ministry that had a worldwide impact.

While Agnes has been gone from this world for three and a half decades, her quest for the miraculous remains highly instructive. She has much to tell us about interaction with the heavenly Father and how we can access the miraculous realm. While her personal orientation was unusual, her devotion to discovering the pathway to prayers for healing remains anyone can follow.

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

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

“I wanted to inquire further 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 bakery roll 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. Her amazing relationship with nature plays a part in her healing work.

Next week, we’ll dig deeper.

Divine Intervention Stories

BLOG 67 January 8, 2018 

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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.

As this New Year begins, I have a couple of recommendations for you. If you have not seen the movie The Darkest Hour, it is well worth your time. The story chronicles Sir Winston Churchill’s rise to the office of Prime Minister of England. Viewers are put in touch with the drama, tension, and courage of England as their army was being pushed off of Dunkirk. Sir Winston’s tenacity held England together.

I am reminded of a divine intervention that occurred when the British were backed against the wall. Three thousand soldiers were stranded on Dunkirk as the Nazis bore down. British generals estimated that only ten percent would survive if they tried to evacuate. Britain was literally faced with the annihilation of their army. Churchill asked the King to call for every boat both large and small to sail down and pickup every possible soldier. The King called the nation to prayer as everything from row boats to dinghies and fishing boats went forth to save the army. All across the country, people were on their knees.

Two things happened that never occur.

The sky became turbulent with a dangerous storm sending petulant winds down on the English Channel. The Luftwaffe, the German air force, could not penetrate the clouds.  At the same time, the channel became placid which never happens when a storm is brewing. Two contradictory conditions saved the army. When it was over, virtually the entire British Army escaped. The ten percent prediction was proven wrong by a nation in prayer. The British survived to fight Nazism on another day.

In a similar vein, here’s a book for the new year. Eben Alexander, M.D., wrote Proof of Heaven (Simon and Schuster) tells the story of  his near-death experience. Complete with medical documentation, he describes  his neurosurgeon’s journey into eternity and back again. For seven days, Eben lay in a comma. Then as doctors were considering stopping all treatment, the physician opened his eyes.  In this book, he described encountering an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. Finally, Dr. Eben encountered and talked with God the Father himself.

Before this experience, Eben Alexander could not believe in the soul, heaven, or God. You will be moved as his story recounts that death is not the end of personal existence but a transition. No scientist or person of faith can ignore this book. As the new year begins, you will be inspired.

MEET AGNES Part 4

BLOG 56 September 25, 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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The healing of the memories ministry began with Agnes Sanford. Practicing her prayer experiments while making the hospital rounds during World War II, she encountered a displaced twenty-year old Jewish boy who struggled because shrapnel destroyed a two-inch piece of bone in his thigh, causing osteomyelitis. Hunks of his femur had been blown away as the war raged near his village. After two years of hospitalization, there had been no improvement, but Agnes prayed. Harry was saved from an amputation, and the bone was restored.

The young man was so moved that he vowed to tell everyone in the world about what had happened. In turn, Agnes gave Harry a New Testament. When Agnes asked him what he thought of the Jesus he was reading about, he replied, “I wondered who the other one was? When I’m doing my prayers, I often feel that I am not alone.”

As Harry developed spiritually, he recognized that he had emotional issues that also needed healing. When he became angry, he might hurl a typewriter or scream in rage. The The Holy Spirit revealed that the problem was not Harry the twenty-year old man, but the little ten-year Harry still living inside the grown man.

As Agnes meditated on Harry’s problem, she remembered the scripture promised Jesus is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow. Perhaps, time might be transcended and the child of Harry’s past could be healed. Agnes began to intercede for Harry’s childhood even back to the days of his being a baby in the cradle. She prayed fervently for his release from hurt and anger.

In the Sunday worship service in her church, there was always a time of confession when the worshippers expressed their personal needs in prayer. These moments of prayer were followed by the clergy offering a prayer of absolution and asking the heavenly Father to wipe the slate clean so the congregation could start over again. She began bringing Harry spiritually to the time of confession and asking for a divine absolution.

Shortly after these prayers of intercession, Harry wrote, “What are you doing? All of a sudden I feel just ridiculously happy from morning until night.” The Holy Spirit had brought liberation. Agnes had learned how to pray about difficult memories and bring recovery from those often nearly forgotten experiences.

As Agnes prayed for healing the past, she always imagined the person actually being restored and asked the person being prayed for to do the same. Images seemed to bring connection that allowed divine interventions to follow. When the injury was caused by someone else, forgiveness brought liberation.

Why could recovery in some people linger for years before the person was set free? Her answer was that God has given us free will and He doesn’t violate His own principles. The Holy Spirit waits for our invitation before His healing work begins.

 

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 LESLIE Part 5

Blog 41 May 22, 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.

STOP! Got a road sign for you. This is the last blog until June 12. Sorry, but I’ll be traveling and out of the country. As you probably know, I work with Pope Francis as his Apostolic Representative For Christian Unity. I travel all over creation talking with Catholics and Protestants about the possibility of “unity without uniformity.” That idea suggests we can be friends and fellow travelers even if some of our beliefs and perspectives are different. On June 4, Pentecost Sunday, we will gather on the Piazza in front of Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica to celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

I’ll be back on June 12 with an update for you.

Now, on to Leslie. She discovered that angels have the capacity to intervene but do so only if it is for the highest good and honors free will. In her experience, angels don’t have “egos” and we cannot make them angry. Rather than saying “don’t do it,” they offer guidance and counsel. They never interfere with free will and only offer guidance. When Leslie asked about the nature of God, in contrast to what she had heard in church as a child, they showed her a “being” of loving light with hands that turned into angels. Angels are the hands of God. The hands can intervene unexpectedly.

For example, Rita Jester’s son David was killed in a car wreck. The fact that a careless driver crossed two lanes and hit him head-on wrecked her faith and created bitterness. Rita turned to lawyers for retribution. They told her it would be necessary for her to look at gruesome pictures of her dead son during the trial. Sitting in the lawyer’s office, Rita writhed in agony, wrestling with whether it was possible for her to endure seeing those terrible pictures. She couldn’t make a decision. Her son had been her best friend. Rita began crying out, “David, help me.”

At that moment, Leslie Draper was driving down the highway. Abruptly, she was emotionally overwhelmed and had to pull over to the side. Without knowing why, Leslie knew she had to call this number rolling around in her head and tell the person who answered, “not to do it.” She dialed.

Rita Jester had no listing. She had no idea how the party calling could get her phone number. Leslie’s voice said, “don’t do it. I believe the angels are telling you not to do it.”

Leslie had no idea what the message meant. She was simply obedient.

Greatly relieved, Rita Jester knew she had heard a message from God. After canceling the lawsuit, she went home with her faith renewed.

The recovery of direction was extraordinary for Rita; normal for Leslie.

SEE YOU JUNE 12!

In the mean time pick up a copy of BIBLE LANDS: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO SCRIPTURAL PLACES

 

 

 

Phyllis

Blog 26, 2017 February 6, 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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At age twenty-four, Phyllis had three children. She had come out of a home where her parents struggled with alcoholism. To escape those problems, she married at age seventeen. With the coming of three children was also the awareness that her husband had been a poor selection. Phyllis considered him the handsomest man she had ever seen, but finally realized that he not only didn’t provide help for the family, he never would. The needs of the children and the failure of the marriage left Phyllis in bottomless despair. Phyllis decided to kill herself.

After putting the children to bed for the night, Phyllis went into the bathroom and filled the bathtub with almost intolerably hot water. She found a razor blade to slit her wrist and climbed into the nearly boiling water.

As she settled against the back of the tub, suddenly she began to speak. Her mouth moved. But it wasn’t her voice. Phyllis was speaking in a masculine voice – she wasn’t producing what her ears were hearing. A force within her was producing the words she heard. The “voice” began affirming her worth. Phyllis had never felt valuable to anyone and now was being told that she had great value. Her merit and usefulness were proclaimed in detail. Words came out of her mouth explaining the struggles that she had lived through as child. The mystery of her parent’s alcoholism was resolved and she realized facets of their problem that she had never known. Each of the difficulties of her life were unraveled and she began to see purpose that she wouldn’t have dreamed existed.

Almost in a trance, Phyllis’s “voice” explained the adversities she had faced and kept affirming her worth, her value for the future. Over and over, her importance for tomorrow was described. Deep within her welled up a new sense of usefulness, significance, and merit. Her life was of a far greater importance than she could have ever realized. She pushed the razor blade away and recognized she had a place in the world and an important assignment to fill. Phyllis no longer wanted to kill herself. She had to live.

Her voice stopped. No more words came out of her mouth. And the bathtub water had become cold.

Phyllis went on to become a friend to the poor of the Appalachian Mountains, helping struggling people believe they could rise above their station in life and hope for a better day. Because she was part of the plan of God, Phyllis touched hundreds of lives.

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