WHAT DO WE LEARN?

Blog 88 June 11, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

RMT holding up Host

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.

The last several blogs have related the amazing ministry of Father Rich Thomas, a Jesuit priest working in El Paso, Texas. A survey of the life of Fr. Rick Thomas reveals important clues for understanding how the miraculous occurred. Here is what he would tell us about principles that are highly important for our quest to understand divine interventions. 1

  1. Participate in the sacrament

Holy Communion is part of the service and imparts forgiveness and empowerment. Worshipers expect an important moment of renewal, but don’t often anticipate a divine intervention. Fr. Rick would suggest that we dig deeper in order to receive more.

The Rev. Margueritte Wise, a minister in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, leads her congregation every week. Her brother Bob’s totally unexpected death and passing impacted her not only personally, but in a lingering way that stretched across the months. A year later, Margueritte still wrestled with heart-wrenching sadness. The struggle hung around her neck like a weight dragging her to the ground. She had prayed, struggled, sought a release, but the lingering impact would not go away. Seeking absolution and release, she went to the Revs. Mike and Beth Owen for help.

The Owens began praying and read Isaiah 53:4 to her. The words promised, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrow; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted… upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.” As each line of the passage sunk in to her thinking and feeling, the Owens continued to pray over her. Finally, they consecrated the elements and served her Holy Communion. The sadness began to fade. Margueritte realized that not only her brother’s death, but the death of her parents and grandparents had lingered through the years. The impact of all of this grief disappeared as well. The heartache broke and has never returned. She was set free.

Fr. Thomas suggests that when seeking the miraculous, consider coming to Holy Communion on a regular basis.

  1. Believe the Bible

The emphasis is on what scripture means for this moment. Be precise. Be concrete. When the Bible says “do it,” –do it! Fr. Thomas’s ministry manifests the importance of precision. Their acceptance of and taking the Bible at face value tells us to follow exactly what it says.

With so much nonsense floating around about how passages should be interpreted, Fr. Rick instructed that it is important to make sure we are following a solid, reputable guide on the actual meaning of important verses. Such commentaries as William Barclay’s The Daily Study Bible Series on the entire New Testament available in 20 small volumes would be extremely helpful. The Westminster Press publication will keep a reader on a steady path.

  1. Be Concrete

Fr. Thomas’ ministry’s emphasis on performing specific tasks reflects the leading of the Holy Spirit. Often people rush to a chapel to pray during a crisis. Of course, this is appropriate and can be highly important. Unfortunately, once they get off their knees, their lives go back to exactly what they were before. Their hopes were abstract; their responses never specific.

Don’t pray, “Lord, I’ll do such and such if you’ll only —.” Make a life long commitment to getting your hands dirty while making the world a better place. You’re far more likely to run into the Holy Spirit when you’re doing the work you were created to do.

Asking God for direction remains essential. Jesus said, “… seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33) In the midst of a disaster or overpowering need, everyone struggles to look beyond the moment at hand. That’s normal, but remember our quest for God’s highest and best demands positioning ourselves to receive a divine intervention.

1 Many of the illustrations and insights in this blog are found in The Bible On The Border by Richard Dunstan, published by The Lord’s Ranch Press, Vado, New Mexico, 2009. This work details the work of Fr. Rick Thomas and the Our Lady’s Youth Center.

Remember we have a new website. You’ll find this helpful. EARLY FAITH FOR TODAY Surveying the first 3 centuries, we are examining the ancient Christian faith. The focus is practical, relevant, and inspirational. TUNE IN… Join us at earlyfaithfortoday.com

MULTIPLICATION

Blog 86 May 21, 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.

The key to understanding the work of Fr. Rick Thomas and how his services brought healing to the poor is the Bible. He and his assistants believe the Bible’s message is for today, for now. For example, when they read that Jesus multiplied five loaves of bread and two fishes, they concluded that miracles should continue. In fact, they did.

On Christmas Day, 1972, the multiplication happened with burritos along with ham and baloney sandwiches. The occasion began as a surprise for the rag pickers who lived in cardboard shacks in the El Paso – Juarez garbage dump. While Fr. Rick had brought enough food for 150 people, 300 showed up. An even larger number drifted in. Fr. Rick apologized for what he expected to be a shortage and the food began to be distributed. Children lined up for the candy and then got back in line for more. But the supply simply didn’t run out. When it was over, enough was left to take to two orphanages on the way home.

The same experience has happened a number of times since. The response of most folks is, “You got to be kidding!” Fr. Rick’s answer would be, “No, you got to be believing.”

Regardless of doubters, Fr. Rick’s group trusts what the scripture says and continue to expect God to continue to do today what He did 2,000 years ago. As one follows the ministry of Fr. Rick, a definite perspective appears. Many people across the world attend services of Holy Communion every week and know about the Bible stories. They walk away and live the rest of their lives as if none of this really makes a big difference. Fr. Thomas and friends don’t. They take God at His word. The Bible says,

“when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.” (Luke 14:13-14)  Fr. Rick and friends believed it, lived it, and applied it.

And miracles followed.

Remember we have a new website… You’ll find this helpful.
EARLY FAITH FOR TODAY
Surveying the first 3 centuries, we are examining the ancient Christian faith.
The focus is practical, relevant, and inspirational. TUNE IN
Join us at earlyfaithfortoday.com

Miracle in a Garbage Dump

Blog 85 May 14, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

FrRickThomas

    Rick Thomas usually wore cowboy boots and a big Texan hat. Living in El Paso, Texas, just across the border from Juarez, Mexico. And always colorful, he was known as an exceptional friend to the poor. When he died, Rick Thomas was buried in a homemade plywood coffin. A thousand people pressed into the church to say goodbye to a man who had lived love and spirituality. Father Rick Thomas, S.J. had been a Jesuit in the Roman Catholic Church.

Father Thomas still has insight for us about the world of divine interventions.

MINISTERING TO THE POOR

One of his significant places of ministry was the garbage dump for El Paso- Juarez. The sheer squalor of this sprawling pit of filth remains overwhelming. Poor Mexicans struggled to survive by living in the trash pit, having children here, and scratching out an existence in the midst of the debris. An untold number of the poverty-stricken live in cardboard shacks made from boxes tossed out in the trash. Fr. Rick regularly marched into the muck to hold religious services for them.

On the occasion of a visit to the United States, Sister Briege McKenna went with Fr. Rick to the dump. Sister McKenna was born in Ireland and entered the order of the Sisters of St. Clare where she became widely known for her ability to pray for the sick. With hesitancy, she walked into the worst squalor she had ever experienced. Sister Briege couldn’t see how any dignity of worship could be manifest in such filth.

To her shock, nearly a thousand people had already gathered when they arrived. The contrast was staggering. These people literally had nothing. Setting up an old table for his altar, the priest went to work.

An old woman walked up, carrying a bundle in her arms. When she unfolded the cloth they saw a little child completely burned from head to foot. The dirty child was filthy and screaming. As she was crossing the mountains, the woman had found the child smoldering and picked him up. She handed him to Fr. Rick.

Sister Briege and Fr. Rick stared at the child that was nearly skinless. Finally, the priest suggested that they place the child under the table during the Communion Service. The service began and the congregation of the poverty stricken prayed with fervor. The Sister could feel the reality of the Holy Spirit descending across the mass of people.

Sister Briege began to weep and wondered if her faith might not be as strong as theirs.

As the Mass ended, they realized the baby had long since stopped crying. The child had crawled out from under the table. Sister Briege gasped! The little boy was happily playing in the sand – totally healed.

The Sister hurried over to the woman and ask, “What happened to him?”

The old woman looked at her with skepticism in her eyes. “What you mean what happened? Didn’t Jesus come?”

While the poor received the Mass, the child received new skin.

Remember we have a new website! You’ll find this helpful… EARLY FAITH FOR TODAY
Surveying the first 3 centuries, we are examining the ancient Christian faith. The focus is practical, relevant, and inspirational. TUNE IN ~ Join us at earlyfaithfortoday.com

MEET JOHN WIMBER Part 7

Blog 82 April 23 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

holy-spirit-dwell-in-me

Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world? Read and you’ll find new insights.

Last week we learned: Turn Hard Times Into Productive Times!

That’s almost John Wimber’s story. A survey of ministries with divine interventions is fascinating but we can’t escape difficult circumstances. We’ve noted traumatic experiences have played a role in the development of the ministries of these persons. Susan Conway shared her discoveries of hearing the Holy Spirit through reading the scripture, but her spiritual breakthroughs came during trying times. Her encounter with the Virgin Mary after the birth of her child was totally unexpected but played a part during difficult years later. During her emotionally childhood struggles, Leslie Draper discovered angelic assurances.

Soul-wrenching times and emotionally painful upheavals opened these persons to a new level of spiritual insight. The times of desperation when the world seems to be collapsing are always filled with more opportunity that we thought. Here’s another clue.

Exhausting our Sense of Inordinate Worth

Remember that times of collapse are the moments when our self-sufficiency is most severely challenged and that’s worthwhile. John Wimber’s account of desperation was the key to unlocking a ministry of divine interventions and the discovery of how the Lord’s work was so vastly beyond his own. Becoming open probably means setting aside our sense of self-importance.

Gifted people?

Are these ongoing ministries the work of exceptionally gifted people? Certainly each person had important capacities and John Wimber was a talented musician. Some were certainly exceptionally bright. Mike and Beth Owen are highly intelligent and competent people. However, I found that each of these persons did not consider their native-born abilities had much to do with their spiritual gifting. I.Q. was not a factor. In fact, the gifts of the Holy Spirit often seemed to come in the areas that were contrary to their talents. Mike Owen was an outstanding athlete and his children had the same abilities, but his spiritual gifts didn’t reflect this heritage. Susan Conway is highly logical and not emotional and yet her experiences moved her deeply. Leslie Draper’s ability to convey angelic message is generally without any personal insight into what the messages mean. The point is that the initiative in divine interventions begins and ends with the Holy Spirit. The important starting point is to seek whatever God wants to give.

While much of the foregoing involves healing ministry, healing is only one demonstration of empowerment in the work of all of these people. An abrupt reversal of a deteriorating physical condition is certainly miraculous, but the dynamic is the same whether it is hearing the voice of God, seeing a vision, or reordering old memories. Miraculous and divine interventions come in all shapes and sizes. Pay Attention!

We have just began a new website ~ EARLY FAITH FOR TODAY ~

Surveying the first 3 centuries, we are examining the simplicity,  mystery and awe of the

ancient Christian faith. The focus is practical, relevant, and inspirational. TUNE IN

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!

INTERESTED IN THE UNFOLDING MIDDLE EAST SITUATION?
Robert Wise’s blog
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
WILL KEEP YOU UP TO DATE

MEET AGNES SANFORD

BLOG 73 February 19, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE!

missionaies_0

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 

darkesthour

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.