Thursday, December 29, 2011


     I have renewed my commitment to finding a quiet time during the day to sit and listen for God's voice. This morning I prayed, "Say anything you want."

     I sat in quiet and nothing came, so I opened my Bible to where I had left off reading. Matthew 6:34.
"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." 

     I thought good luck with that. 

As with most of you, I do worry about tomorrow.
  • I have 9 children, 4 of whom are overseas doing mission work in dangerous places. Two of these have recently faced real danger. 
  • I worry about whether or not I have what it takes to do the work I think I have to do
  • and keep the promises I have made. 
  • And, of course, the perennial worry common to many, money. Will there be enough? Where will it come from? 
  • Etc.
     I worry.

Then it hits me. I just asked God to speak to me and then Jesus says, "don't worry." That means, any worry thoughts about tomorrow are not from him. So if I want to think his thoughts, which I do, they will never be worry thoughts.

     Fretting about tomorrow is reflexive and it seemed to me like a responsibility. But, if Jesus' words are anything to go on, worry thoughts are not his voice and I don't have to entertain them. Jesus says in effect, "You're fired from your responsibility to worry." 

     Planning is ok. Fretful planning isn't.

     In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus and his disciples are confronted with five thousand hungry people needing to be fed. Jesus tells his boys to feed them. They worry, "We only have five loaves and two fishes. Jesus tells them to bring what they have to him and he makes that more than enough.

     I think I am called to do more than I have resources for. Jesus says, "Bring what you have to me. My leading is my feeding."

     Most of us spend way too much time regretting the past and fretting the future. Jesus says that none of those thoughts are from him, so stop it.

And the freedom just keeps coming!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Long Blog - Apologies

     Last time I asked you to reflect on Mark 11:24 in light of God's promises and our response. I recently committed myself to believe what Jesus said in that verse, and its parallels in Matthew and John, and my life has changed as a result.

     On November 16, 2011, a friend I hadn't seen in years phoned to ask if I would go to Haiti to teach and train Christan leaders. Because of Haiti's recent troubles he thought they would be more open to my emphasis on grace, healing, and non abusive styles of leadership. Normally I would have said yes, but because of deepening depression and fatigue over the past 10 years, I told him I was limiting travel to keeping only the promises I had already made.

     Then he told me his healing story. Earlier in his life he spent years suffering from severe intestinal problems. He was in constant pain, could only eat chicken and water and doctors offered no help. Not even a good diagnosis. In despair, he decided to take his life. While in the final stages of planning suicide, he read about a man who was healed from a terminal illness by believing Jesus' words in Mark 11:24. My friend said to himself, "If believing Jesus' words worked for this guy, maybe there is hope for me." After months of proclaiming Jesus' words in Mark 11:24 and believing as best he could, he was finally healed. He has been mostly symptom free ever since.
     I responded to my friend's testimony by saying, I'm happy for you and all, but it sounds like the name-it-and-claim-it prosperity foolishness that I have so roundly criticized over the years.

     He said, "That word-faith stuff is about manipulating God, this is different. Read it again."

     So we hung up and I opened my N.T. to Mk.11:24. Jesus says, 
"Ask for whatever you will and believe you already have it and it will be yours."

     Although I have preached through the N.T. countless times I never preached on this verse or its parallels in Matthew and John. I didn't because I wasn't sure what to make of them or, more likely, I simply didn't believe them. My next thought was where do I get off choosing from Jesus' words what to believe and not to believe?

     At this point, I said to myself, OK, I have to think this through. Is Jesus really telling us to play make believe or live in denial, pretending we have something we don't? Then I saw it. 

     Wait a minute....

     I already believe what this verse is really saying. I have been preaching and writing for decades that we received all we will ever need for our life in and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus 2000 years ago. Along with Peter, I have been saying that all we need is provided for us already because of our participation in Christ (II Peter 1:34). I had simply never connected the "everything we need" with my own need for healing. This is ironic and embarrassing since I wrote the best selling book on Christian healing 20 years ago. Over those 20 years, I have prayed for many thousands and seen hundreds healed, and sometimes dramatically so. But if they were not healed, I never told them to believe regardless. I said instead, let's pray some more.

     At any rate, on the evening of Nov. 16, 2011, I said to God, this is the last time I ask for my own healing. I am now going to believe I have it and say thank you. That ends my responsibility in the matter. The "and it will be yours" is your responsibility. I look forward to seeing what you do.

     I thought, as with my friend, it would take time for anything to happen and was prepared to take a stand regardless. But I awoke the next day - and it was as if someone switched on a light. Depression lifted and I had more energy. There have been ups and downs during the past 40 days, but the trend is decidedly up. I have not felt this well in 10 years.


     It seems too simple, too childlike. And of course, it is... 
"unless you change and become like little children..." Matthew 18:3.

     Oh, and I'm going to Haiti.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


     I often think of my life as a chess game played with the Holy Spirit. He makes the first move. Then he waits for me to move. Then he makes another move, and so on. When he moves a piece, I have to respond to that specific move. He is not playing against me, rather for me and with me, helping me win. I have learned that he usually doesn't move out of turn and he doesn't make my move for me as a rule.
     God makes promises to us. We read those in the Bible. Those are his moves. Our move is to respond in faith and act as if we believe. Then, in time, he moves.
     Thinking of our lives as a call and response to the lover of our souls makes sense of so many Bible stroies:
  •      He promised Abraham a son, making him the father of many. God's move. Then Abraham and Sarah, the old couple, had to couple. Their move. Then, Sarah, whose womb had long died, gave life. God's move.  
  •      God tells Israel that Jericho will be delivered into their hands. His move. They had to march around Jericho seven times. On the sixth trip around there there was no evidence that God's promise would be kept. One more time around. Their move. The walls came down. God's move.
  •      Jesus told the man with the withered hand to stretch it out. God's move. The man does as he was told. His move. Jesus healed his hand. God's move.
  •      To the man born blind, Jesus said, "Go wash in the pool of Siloam." Jesus' move. The man does it. His move. He receives his sight. God's move. 
  •      Etc. etc.
     You see what I mean.

     For whatever reason, God wants to partner with us in everything. His call is his promise. Our response is faith in a person we can trust. Then he moves again. And as I have learned, he usually doesn't move out of turn.

     Even though we only need faith the size of a mustard seed and we get to pray, "I believe, help my unbelief," we still need to believe and act as if we do.

     In light of that, what do you make of Mark 11:22, 24?

Jesus said to them, "Have faith in God..."
"For this reason I tell you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."