HERE’S A TRULY FASCINATING GUY!

Blog 92 September 17, 2018

padre-pio

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?

The first time I heard of Padre Pio was during a conversation with a Roman Catholic Priest  in Oklahoma City. I asked Father John W. Scheller what influenced him to become a priest. He told that during World War II, he was in the infantry that invaded Italy. Somewhere along the way, he heard about this amazing priest in San Giovanni Rotondo and found the church. That afternoon Padre Pio was officiating at the Mass. My friend had worked his way around to the side of the altar where he could observe everything that was happening. Padre Pio was wearing gloves with the fingers cut out. Because he had the stigmata (the wounds of Christ), his hands bled when exposed.

My friend watched Pio pick up the chalice and lift it up to the heavens for the concentration of the host. At that moment, Padre Pio began to rise up from the floor and hovered suspended in the air. As he put the chalice down, the priest came back down to the floor.

Father Scheller watched in total amazement.

As I listened, I found his story difficult to digest. I had to tell him that this sounded like something from science fiction. The priest smiled, but said what he saw in those moments with this Italian priest changed his life. Those few moments caused Father Scheller to spend the rest of his life as a celibate priest.

What a challenging story! The early portion of Padre Pio’s life was prior to Vatican II. Anyone from that era immediately finds the many stories of miraculous happenings easy to accept. After Vatican II in 1963, everything changed. The hallowed sense of stillness and quiet in a service gave way to shaking hands, talking, and priests telling funny stories in their homilies. Believers from this era look at the stories of divine interventions with more of an askance questioning point of view. On the other hand, Protestants have been raised with grave doubts about Roman Catholic saints and miracle stories. The tendency is to distrust the whole works. The point of view you bring to these accounts is probably more important than what you are actually reading. I know readers will be subjective in what they read.

However, I had no reason to doubt my friend. He had spent six decades as a humble man of the cloth. Consequently, I had to know more about this Padre Pio. As the years that I spent traveling in Italy went by, I heard many, many more stores about this extraordinary man’s ministry. Subjective? Yes, but when a man spends the rest of his life in a profession because of what happened in such limited contact, I had to take a long second look at what might be more objective than it was at first glance.

Let me tell you more about what I discovered about Padre Pio. Next week I will tell you more about what I learned over three decades. You’ll be fascinated!

HEY, SUMMER’S OVER!

Blog 91 September 10, 2018

colorado-fall-aspen

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?

Can you believe it? Fall is here.

I’m still out here in Colorado, but the Aspens have already begun to turn. The locals are saying we are going to have an early Fall with a cold winter. That’ll make you shiver a tad.

During the summer I’ve been turning out a couple of books and been hard at work with our new website The Early Faith for Today. You’ll find this site exploring the first three centuries and getting us in touch with the faith of the first Christians. I believe you’ll find it to be helpful and inspirational.

I discovered a number of miracle stories over the summer, but the one I’m sharing now just came in. You’d like Ryan Mackie who is one of our bishops in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches. Bishop Mackie is a scholar as well. So, you can understand why problems with his eyes would be particularly troubling. The issue was serious.

Following a retreat, Bishops Mike and Beth Owen were called on to pray for Bishop Mackie. You’ve met Mike and Beth in previous blogs. For years, the couple has had an inspired ministry in several cities. Praying for the sick has been one of their strengths.

On August 24, Mike and Beth gathered around Ryan and laid on hands just as the book of James prescribes. (James 5:13-15)  As they always do, both prayed fervently for the problem. When they finished, Ryan felt a change. He knew something was going on. During the next six days, he was sure a restoration was occurring.

The doctor had noted that Ryan lost 63% of his ability to see out of his right eye… but Ryan began to realize that he could see out of his right eye. He returned to the physician to get an evaluation. The tests surprised the doctor. Where his right eye was seeing only 37%, it was now seeing 96%. When they measured his overall seeing, Ryan had improved from 20/400 to 20/40.The last x-ray photo of his eye sight had shown a nearly entire black area inside his eye. Now, when the photo was made there was only a small black dot.

Before the Owens prayed for him, Ryan couldn’t see a student sitting in front of him in his classroom. Now, he can see the lights in the center of the test screen. While Ryan came expecting a medical treatment, any such procedure was cancelled. No treatment! No steroids. Nothing.

The hand of God had released life-altering empowerment. James was right when he wrote, “And the prayer of faith will save the sick man.” (James 5:15) What a great way to start the Fall!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

HEY! IT’S VACATION TIME

BLOG 91 July 9, 2018

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With the heat of summer comes the relief of sitting by a nice swimming pool and soaking your feet in the cool water. Maybe. Most of us are so hard at work we don’t have time.

    During the next two months I’ll be traveling, finishing up book projects, and out of sight in the mountains. Consequently, I won’t be writing blogs again until after September 1. In the mean time, the new Early Faith for Today website will continue. If you haven’t tuned us in yet, summer offers an opportunity. The Christian faith is presented as it was in the first three centuries with application for today. Check it out.

Have a wonderful summer and I’ll see you in the fall.

WORTH REMEMBERING ON INDEPENDENCE DAY

Blog 90 July 2, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

4th-of-July_2013_web

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.

On the base of the Statue of Liberty are engraved these words:

Give me your tired, your poor,

your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me.

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

We do well to remember that we are all immigrants. Some recent, some long ago, but we all came from some other land to this country. Some of our ancestors came through Ellis Island, as well as other ports of entry, but they were the homeless and the tired. Struggling to escape poverty and the pogroms of Europe, our fathers and mothers landed on this shore seeking to walk through the golden door.

In this time of struggle and debate over immigration , let us remember this country was built and sustained by “the least of these” as well as the best. Let us never  forget the world still looks to America to find for the golden door.

Remember the words of scripture: “He (God) executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

They all want in. No one wants out.

 

Recovering the Miraculous

Blog 89 June 23, 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.

ORFamily

    Quinton Moore grew up in Pentecostal land. His grandmother had been the baby sitter for Oral Roberts while the cotton pickers worked in the field. Today Jessie Moore would be thought of as an old time Pentecostal. She lived in a world that assumed miracles came with the Christian faith. Quinton grew up in rural Oklahoma where Pentecostalism was a major religious force.

Grandmother Jessie Hargrove, a full blood Cherokee-Osage Indian remains as one of his early memories. Quinton watched her pace back and forth praying in the Indian language and in tongues. Suddenly, she stopped. “Yes!” Jessie cried out. “I sees him!”

Eight-year old Quinton wasn’t sure what was going on, but watched his grandmother grab a shawl and run to the door.

“Come on, Quinton,” she demanded. “We got to get to your uncle quick. I now knows where he is now.”

Quinton piled into the pickup and they went flying down the road. He had no idea where they were going or where they were. Grandma Jessie seemed to have a map in her head and only she knew what was ahead. After a number of 90o turns on dirt roads he had never been on before, Quinton looked up and saw what was ahead.

“Hey!” he shouted. “That’s the cab to my uncle’s truck turned over!”

“Yes, son,” Grandma Jessie said. “That’s what the Holy Spirit showed me.”

They pulled up alongside the semi-trailer cab laying on its side. Jessie leaped out and climbed up the underside of the cab. “Just as the Spirit said! Your uncle’s down there out cold. He’s hurt. I’ll try to shake him loose. You run to that house over yonder and have them call an ambulance. Git with it!”

Quinton went running down the road to the nearest farm house. They were able to get his uncle to the hospital and saved his life. But Quinton couldn’t ever forget that experience. Without any knowledge of even an accident, through her prayers his grandmother Jessie had been able to discover the disaster and locate her son. She considered divine interventions to be simply part of her journey.

In the next several blogs, we will attempt to understand what was going on with people like Grandmother Jessie Moore. They will add another dimension to our insights in how divine interventions occur.

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

 

 

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

AND HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?

Blog 87 June 4, 2018 MIRACLES NEVER CEASE

bibleontheborder

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.

In the last blog, I shared the amazing story of Father Rick Thomas feeding 500 people with food for 150. Quite a story! With a charismatic orientation, Fr. Thomas’s Youth center exists to reach need wherever it occurs. Volunteers work in the Juarez municipal jails and mental hospital. The men preach like Billy Graham with invitations to kneel and pray. Often half the prisoners do so.

The mental hospital offers its own challenge and many times the patients are resistant. Thomas’s volunteers don’t give up easily. After people are prayed for, many are released much earlier than expected. The ministry and miracles continue.

The point is simple. They all participate. Fr. Thomas’s ministry does what’s needed to help the poor and needy. He and his friends do God’s will. In the process of ministry, the heavenly Father provides what they need to do the work. Complicated? Actually, the procedure is simple. Do it and He takes care of the rest.

From 1969 to 1970, the Charismatic Movement swept through El Paso. A new emphasis on the Holy Spirit emphasized personal encounter and Thomas found a value in the scripture that he had not recognized earlier. His group began studying the scripture earnestly. From their deliberations came the principle that has guided their work ever since: Obedience. Everything from working in the city garbage dump to visiting the jails is guided by being faithful, not to any human authority, but to God alone. While many Christians recognize this principle, Fr. Thomas’s staff expect their obedience to take a specific form. Going to the jails or the city dump are examples of precise leading. When they follow these directions, the divine interventions show up.

Their response to the scripture has a specific orientation. Many fundamentalists groups take the Bible literally, but they do so with an eye to the past. They maintain certainty about what God did yesterday. Fr. Rick’s approach is to take scripture with equal seriousness but seeing it as a guide to today. The goal is to live out what is found in the Bible.

When the group studied Luke 14, they noticed that as Jesus was describing a banquet, he spoke of sharing. The word “sharing” suggested a different approach than “giving.” The scripture imparted the idea of sitting down together. Consequently, they set out not just to be the good guys but to do exactly what the passage described. Bingo! The multiplication of food followed. Fr. Thomas believed it is important to perform concrete expressions of the faith. Saying we believe in caring for the poor is fine but no one is fed. The act of actually sharing food makes the difference. The answer is in doing, not saying.

Fr. Thomas’s experience taught him the Bible is a source of God’s power. Consequently, the Bible is used to perform God’s will. Fr. Rick’s group found that the scripture can be like a chisel that keeps chipping away at a rock until a new shape emerges. Repetition of key passages seems to crack open the hardest rock.

Fr. Thomas discovered that scripture was extremely important when they dwelt with occult influence. Strange as it may sound to many middle-class Americans, when ministry reaches to the bottom of the human ladder where brokenness and poverty abound, there too the occult flourishes. Fr. Thomas found that Psalm 52 was important in these circumstances. Verses three and four say: “You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.” The entire chapter confronts the plans of evil and refutes them. Scripture can help break the hold of Evil.

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

Memorial Day

Memorial-Day

Sorry, Friends. I’m out of pocket. My daughter is graduating with her doctorate degree from the University of California and I have to be there. The following week, Margueritte and I will be traveling, but I’ll be back with you on June 4.

Memorial Day weekend is a sobering time as we remember and honor those who have fallen in defending this country. In our families, we make our own private journeys to the graves of those we loved and lost. Bless you in such moments of remembrance.