It’s hard to believe that this year is nearly done, I’m reminded of just how quickly life travels. How true the scripture is that our lives are “but a vapor”. I am also reminded that though our time is short, the legacy that we leave behind may be remembered for generations! 2011 has been a year of transformation! I’ve been privileged to witness transformation in the lives of individuals that I’m connected with, transformation in the life of my church, and most importantly transformation in my life. I was reminded not to long ago through a favorite preacher of mine that; “you can know all about Jesus, and still not know Him”. Perhaps that is where the transformation has taken place, instead of searching to know about him, my pursuit is now to know Him! And what a pursuit it has been! What a year it has been! So this is it, my memorial stone, my reflection on this amazing year.
February 2011, Thats when it all began. My family and I were off on another adventure. Of course anytime you travel with 3 boys and one little girl it’s always an adventure! We were headed to an indoor water park in Sandusky Ohio. It’s an amazing place, while it’s freezing outside your riding waves on the inside. We were having an incredible time, but it was a welcome break. For the past three years I had been pastoring a church that I loved, but nothing seemed to be moving. The name of the church was Victory but it seemed to be better identified with defeat. Our finances were not doing well, our attendance was down, and a couple of our prominate members had passed away. I was discouraged, somewhat cynical, and at the very least ready to give up. The year prior we had spent a considerable amount of time teaching on healing. Not only that but we were also bringing in pastors, and attending conferences that centered around power evangelism. During that year we were encouraging our people to see others through the eyes of God, and even to step out in faith and pray for the sick outside of the church. Sounds nice doesn’t it. One thing I’ve learned is that no conference, and no sermon will do what the Holy Spirit will do when you set out to seek Him. No one will teach you what He can teach you, and no one will show you what He wants to show you. Some things are better caught than taught!
Because you see here I am with my wealth of knowledge, all my sermons, all my conferences, and an incredible opportunity presents itself. I think it was our second day at the water park, my wife and I were playing with our two youngest children in the toddler section of the park when I noticed the young boy. He must have been around the age of 5 and at first I thought he was pretending to be a seal in the water, but the closer I looked the more I realized something was wrong. As the young boy played there in the water it became obvious what the problem was, one of his legs was shorter than the other. At least six inches shorter, it seemed that the bottom of the foot on his short leg only came to his knee on his other leg. immediately all the sermons and conferences came to my mind, all the teaching that I had engaged myself in. Not only that but the year before I had actually witnessed two short legs growing out! And both in my own church! Not by me mind you, infact I actually held one set in my own hands, and nothing happened! Our guest speaker had to come and bail me out! But I knew the possibilities, I felt myself longing to do what Jesus would have done. Instead I found myself doing nothing. Oh if I could only go back now! One preacher said “the opportunity of a life time exists in the life time of the opportunity”. I have let to many of them slip by! I have a heart for children, with four of my own I can understand how a parent must feel to have a child with such a crippling problem. My inaction put a damper on the rest of my trip. I didn’t allow it to distract from the enjoyment of being with my family, but something was festering, something had to change!
On the drive home I confessed to my wife the disappointment I had with myself. “I preach about this stuff, but I couldn’t even do it”. I made a decision that day, that would be a turning point in my life. I told my wife “I’m breaking through this no matter what it takes”. After we arrived home I immediately began to fast, and worship, and pray. I started to pray for miracles, for signs, and wonders, but the Lord reminded me of a verse “Seek First the Kingdom of God, and His Righteousness” The Kingdom is the rule and reign of our Father, His righteousness is His nature and character. 2 Peter 1:4 “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature” You cannot establish the Kingdom of God without the righteousness of God. The very foundation of the Kingdom is built upon Gods nature, the structure of the Kingdom is His character. We establish the rule and reign of God when our nature is transformed into His! 2 Corinthians 5: 20 – 21 “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” I have not been made righteous just so I can go to heaven! I’m being transformed into the righteousness of God to be an ambassador of His Kingdom! I did not pray a prayer to go to heaven, I prayed a prayer to get heaven back into me! I didn’t pray a prayer to avoid hell, I prayed a prayer to destroy hell, and to establish God’s Kingdom (the rule and reign of God) on the earth! What a privilege!
So for weeks I prayed, I fasted, I sought the Kingdom, and God’s nature. During that time the Holy Spirit began to show me things. All of life’s issue’s flow from the heart, all the discouragement, all the cynicism, all the feelings of failure they weren’t a product of my situation, they were a product of my heart. I wrestled with the Lord, Oh did we wrestle! what a match it was! He of course won, and my walk is changed forever! You see it wasn’t enough for Jacob to experience the house of God (Bethel). The house of God alone won’t change you, it alone won’t transform you. We like Jacob must go to Peniel (Genesis 32). We must encounter God for ourselves face to face. Thats where we are transformed, that’s where our identity is changed, and that is where our walk is forever effected. It seems a though at times we chase after the hand of God, longing to see Him move on our behalf, wanting to experience His power, wanting an answer in our time of need. The moment of our greatest blessing doesn’t begin with the hand of God, but rather with the face of God.
Our Father has an incredible sense of humor! What I am about to tell you is the absolute truth. I’m smiling even as I’m preparing to write it. I thought it was going to be just another Sunday service, boy was I wrong. I did not plan it, nor was it my fault! It was after all just supposed to be a normal service! With one exception, one of our Deacon’s had informed me earlier in the week that his parents would be visiting from out of town, and that his father Charles who is in his 70′s had requested that we pray for him. Little did I know that would be the moment that would transform my mind, stir my faith, and become the most pivotal moment of my year, and most likely my life. I don’t even remember what I preached on that day, but at the end of the service I called for anyone who needed a physical touch to come forward. Charles was the first to make his way down. It was a slow decent, walking with a cane he suffered from arthritis, a herniated disk, diabetes, and poor eye site. As you can imagine he was quite a site. When he arrived to the front he immediately sat down on the front row. As my gaze fell upon this man who did indeed need a touch, something began stirring in me. I began remembering the countless times I had prayed for individuals only to see them walk away unchanged. I felt my heart rate increasing while a battle inside my mind began to be waged.
Jesus said: “ if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Funny thing is He said that to His disciples just after they were unable to cure an epileptic boy. They were unable to heal the boy and they wanted to know why. When we are unable to heal someone we generally put it off on the “timing” of God, or the “sovereignty” of God. This is the only scripture in the entire Bible where someone was prayed for, and they were not healed. Jesus told them it was because of their unbelief. Then He encouraged them that through fasting and prayer, mountain moving faith would be imparted to them, and nothing would be impossible for THEM! Signs follow the believer. Speaking to the mountain is not the evidence of belief, but rather seeing the mountain move.
So there we were, a mountain and me. I remember very clearly the thought that raced through my mind as I was extending my hand toward him to pray. “I do not want to see him walk out of this place unchanged”. More than a thought it was a declaration, It was the battle that I was feeling. Because for a split second I was about to pray the old faithful prayer “Lord we ask you for healing”. Of course it’s the Lord that heals, but I’m supposed to speak to the mountain. My assignment is to command the mountain to move! Never in my life or ministry had I ever checked anyone for a short leg. But in that moment I heard in my spirit as clearly as the words on this page, “check his legs”. I knelt in front of Charles, told him I was going to lift his legs up together, and that one would be shorter than the other. Talking about stepping out on a limb! But that is where it’s at! That is where faith takes over! Step out on the branch until it’s ready to snap, and see if faith doesn’t take over! So sure enough in my hands were a pair of legs, and one of those legs was indeed a solid inch shorter than the other! chiropractor call it short leg syndrome, I don’t want to take the time to list the causes, but there are many. Well my faith was stirring, not only did I obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but come to find out He was right! I immediately called the whole church forward, “anyone who wants to witness a miracle!” I said boldly. Many came forward and gathered around. “In Jesus name right leg I command you to grow, and be even!” And it began to move! And it became even! Well I was excited! I had Charles stand up and we all began to pray but now with expectation, for his arthritis, and his eye sight. Charles began flexing his hands, telling us that he was feeling a release. Then I had him look at a sign on the stage. He began to read letters that just moments before he was unable to see! God had touched him! It was fun! I didn’t want it to be over! It wasn’t!
I moved back to the stage, still in awe, my head still buzzing. I made another call for anyone that needed a touch to allow us to pray for them. This time the response was more than one! Many came forward. It was as if God wanted to embed something within me, eighter that or just have a good laugh. We saw 23 legs grow out that morning! We were in service until 1:30 that afternoon. Believe it or not that was still just the beginning! That night in the evening service there were a handful more. Then after service at McDonald’s we prayed for the manager. She had been in a car wreck three years prior. the injury’s were long-lasting, she lived with back pain ever since. As I was ordering my food I had a word of knowledge about her back. With no prior knowledge I asked her if she suffered with back pain. She confirmed that it was true. In front of two other employees, and a hand full of customers, her leg grew out, and the pain left her body! Even to this day when I see her she smiles and tells me her back is “perfect”.
Not only was I empowered, but several of our church members began to catch what I had caught. Today there are very few days that go by that I don’t receive a text or phone call about a miraculous healing taking place somewhere in town. To give you all the testimonies would be impossible. There are a few that stand out above the rest. Such as the time we prayed for the S.T.A.N.D. strength team at Cracker Barrell. All these body builder guys had back issues, one even knew he had a short leg. I prayed for the first one, then had them pray for each other. Back pain left, and legs grew out! It was fun, and I got some BIG hugs as they left, which made me feel very small. Many of the healings have taken place outside the church, this past summer we even set up a healing “tent” across the street from a large shopping complex. We had many healings take place there, not all physical but emotional also. I remember one lady in- particular who pulled into our lot. When she got out of her vehicle she looked nearly dead. Her face was colorless, and her skin had an almost ashy appearance. She just walked under our tent sat down and barely spoke. We just began to pray, as we did the Holy Spirit showed up! We literally watched the color return to her face, and her demeanor completely changed. She began to tell us some of the situations she had been facing, and how they were effecting her life. She left changed! She even came back the next time to tell us how much better she felt, and to say thank you. So many lives have been touched! We are His representatives, and it is a privilege! Isaiah 60 : 1 says: “Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.” God’s glory is connected with His goodness. Moses prayed in Exodus 33 :18 ”Please, show me Your glory.” God answered Moses and said: ”I will make all My goodness pass before you,” vs 19. Moses asked for glory, God answered with goodness. Jesus said that he was the express image of the Father. He told his disciples, “if you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father”. Paul said in Romans that it’s the goodness of the father that causes people to repent. What if God’s glory was revealed through our goodness? What if that goodness caused us to pray with compassion for the sick whenever, and wherever? And what if they were healed? I think we might begin to take on the life of Jesus! Acts 10 : 38 “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” The command from Isaiah was to arise and shine. The only reason you have to tell someone to arise is because they haven’t risen yet. The only reason you have to tell someone to shine is because they are not shining. It’s still a resounding call! Arise, and shine! Let the goodness, and the glory of God be seen in you, on you, and through you! Matthew 5: 16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Everyday is an opportunity to both glorify the Father, and to grow in the glory of God.
Of all the things that have taken place this year I do have a favorite. It is truly a testimony to the power of the Gospel. Paul said “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” Romans 1 : 16. Far to often we try to share the gospel without putting it’s power on display. Paul also said: “And my speech and my preaching [were] not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” 1 Corinthians 2 :4. One of the great lessons I’ve learned this year is I don’t have to defend the gospel. I don’t have to try to get someone to believe, and I don’t have to argue my doctrine, or theology. When you put the power of the gospel on display you no longer have to defend it! We have prayed with many non-believers, I’ve personally prayed for individuals while they were heavily intoxicated, while they were smoking, and even while they were using language that was at the very least “bad”. I’ve prayed for people of other denominations that don’t even believe in divine healing, but I watched Jesus heal every one of them. After that you no longer have to convince them of anything. The debate is over, because power has been displayed! Romans 15 : 19 “In mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” The gospel is not fully preached where there is no demonstration. The Bible say’s that signs are given to confirm God’s Word, they are to accompany our preaching. Jesus said: Matthew 10 : 7-8 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. The Gospel is not ment to be defended, it’s ment to be displayed!
And that is what changed one young Mormon’s heart. Not to long after that powerful healing service word began to spread. We began to see many visitors, and as God would have it many of them needed healing. So we healed them! A friend of one of our members was in great physical need. Her name was Rhonda, at 52 years of age Rhonda had been diagnosed with Spinal Stenoses, and bulging disks in her neck. C 3 4 5 & 6 to be exact, I have the MRI. She was scheduled for a very evasive surgery literally the same week that she showed up at our church. It was a Sunday night, at the end of the service Rhonda came forward and described her condition to me. It honestly was probably the worst I’d seen up to that point. She had constant pain, and burning sensations in her neck and right arm due to the condition. We prayed, and believe it or not nothing really happened. Rhonda went home the same way she came in, BUT in an act of faith she canceled her surgery and she came back the next Sunday night! Luke 18 1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
If the mountain doesn’t move the first time speak to again!
Mark 8 : 23- 25 “So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Then He put [His] hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Even Jesus exercised persistence! So Rhonda came back. There have been times while praying for people that I have “felt” something, and there have been many more times that I have “felt” nothing. Well this time I “felt” it! Many of us gathered around Rhonda and as we prayed I literally felt what I can only describe as electricity flowing through my arm and hand into Rhonda’s neck. Not only did I feel it, but she felt it also. immediately she was healed! Pain was gone, and she had a full range of motion in her neck. She had suffered with this pain for 22 years! Now it was gone! Rhonda now attends our church faithfully, she would tell you herself of the amazing miracle that took place in her body! So what does that have to do with a Mormon. When miracles happen the word spreads! Rhonda happened to have a sister that was told by the doctor she would have to have a knee replacement surgery. Rhonda’s sister Charlotte visited our church just a couple of weeks after Rhonda was healed. It just so happened that on the same night one of the teen girls in our church had invited her good Mormon friend Beau. I had met Beau prior to this service. Beau was good looking, and very friendly young man. He was getting ready to start his senior year of high school. Beau grew up in the Mormon church all his life. Both of his parents were devoted to their beliefs, and devoted to raising their children under those beliefs. The young lady that had invited Beau had spoken to me on separate occasions about Beau’s beliefs. She was looking for ways to engage him, and present him with the truth. When she called me to tell me earlier that day that he was coming, I got excited. Not only was I going to have a bad knee case, but a Mormon as well! I gave the best gospel presentation I could muster, then very publicly I called Charlotte forward. As Charlotte came forward I had her sit down on the front row. I asked for a few of our church members to come and help me pray. Then I looked out into the congregation at Beau. I gently, but firmly asked him to come forward also. I asked Beau to stand behind me as I knelt on the floor with Charlotte’s feet in my hands. With her legs straight I showed Beau that the leg with the bad knee was about an inch shorter than the other. Beau confirmed, I told him to watch carefully. “In Jesus name, knee you be restored, leg you grow” It came right out! The next thing I know the Holy Spirit landed right on Beau! Tears were flowing, he was visibly shaken, I grabbed him, hugged him, then spoke truth into him. Not only was Beau forever changed but so was Charlotte. She did not need that knee surgery! Beau should be preparing to go into Mormon missionary training, instead he will be enrolling into Bible College next fall! Beau attends our church faithfully now. I asked him not to long ago if it was hard to transition from Mormonism. Buea told me that in the moment he witnessed the miracle and in the days that followed the Holy Spirit removed every ounce of deception, and replaced it with truth. The Gospel was never ment to be defended, it was ment to be displayed! You don’t have to tell them what you believe, you can show them!
So many more incredible things have happened since then, and continue to happen. Just recently a gentleman that attends our church had severe pain in his shoulder. After the MRI came back the doctor reported to him that he was suffering from multiple tears in the tissue surrounding his rotator cuff. The doctor also made it clear that these tears Do Not heal on their own. Surgery was scheduled. We began to pray. The pain in his shoulder began to subside, and full range of motion began to be restored. When the day of surgery finally came the doctor inserted a scope to examine the injured area. All the tears had been completely healed! And surgery was no longer necessary! Just this past week we received word from a lady named Linda. She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. First the doctor’s told her it wasn’t as bad as they thought, now they are telling her they can’t find it in the area’s where they had first discoved it! Oops! Durring the week of Thanksgiving, on a missions trip to Guyana South American I watched a Rastafarian’s leg that was at least three inches shorter than the other grow out. He had been in a life altering car wreck years before, that had crushed his hip. We healed him, then told him about the Kingdom of our God! Luke 10 :9 ”And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
In some ways I feel like I owe that little boy at the water park a thank you. I do know that if he crosses my path again (and I pray that he does) things will be different this time, much different! Mostly I just thank Jesus, that He is who He says He is, and that I am becomming who He says I can become. I’m not there yet but “I press on”.
When it comes to stepping out and praying for the sick we often ask the wrong question; “what if nothing happens?” The greater question is; “Who will be affected when something does happen?!?”
Be encouraged! All things are possible!
“For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17 : 21
“Fear looks; faith jumps. Faith never fails to obtain its object. If I leave you as I found you, I am not God’s channel. I am not here to entertain you, but to get you to the place where you can laugh at the impossible.”