Friday, August 27, 2010

The Lord Revealed Himself...By the Word of the Lord.

“But if all prophesy (speak by revelation), and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” 1 Corinthians 14: 24-25

The verse quoted above indicates that the Lord moved among the early Christians in a very supernatural way in giving revelation, discernment, and insight to His servants as they reached out to people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I would like to share with you three examples of this happening in my own life.

A fellow on a plane
A few years ago the Lord gave me a word for a fellow who was sitting across the aisle from me on an airplane. Awkwardly I turned to the young man and said, “I am a Christian, and sometimes the Lord shows me things about people so I know how to pray for them. The Lord has shown me that there are issues between you and your father that need healing.”
The young man looked at me with a blank stare and said, “No, not really. There is nothing going on between me and my father.”
“Well, okay,” I said apologetically as I leaned back in my seat wondering if I had made a mistake. But the impression was so strong that I turned to the gentleman again and said, “Sir, I don’t mean to bother you, but I feel very strongly that there is a problem between you and your dad that the Lord wants to minister to.”
“The fellow looked at me and said, “No. there is no problem between me and my father, but there will be if I ever see him again!”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
In a very somber tone he replied, “He abandoned me and my mother when I was a little kid, and I haven’t seen him since.”
“Hmm, “I responded, “Don’t you suppose THAT is the issue the Lord wants to minister to?” I could see the light come on in his mind as he looked at me and said, “I guess you’re right.” I told him that I would say a special prayer for him. I also prayed that the Lord would use that experience to show him that there is a God who knows and cares about him.

A lady on the plane
On another occasion on a return flight to Raleigh, NC I was seated beside a lady who was flying into Columbia, SC. As the plane was about to land in Columbia, I prayed quietly to myself, “Lord, this lady is about to get off the plane, and I have not said anything to her about You. Is there anything special I should say to her?”
Suddenly the Holy Spirit gave me a name. [This is the only time this has ever happened to me]. I turned to her and said, “Who is Frank?”
Suddenly her expression froze and she stared at me speechless with her mouth open.
I continued, “Sometimes the Lord shows me things to pray for people and I think the Lord has shown this to me for your sake. You can tell me. Who is Frank?”
She very sheepishly mumbled quietly, “Frank is a friend of mine who is having marriage problems.”
I responded, “And Frank is coming to you for comfort, isn’t he?”
With mouth still open and still staring at me in shock she just shook her head and whispered,”Um hum, yes he is.”
I then told her that the Lord loved her and had a plan for her, and wanted to reveal Himself to her, but the enemy had placed this temptation and stumbling block in her path to distract and lead her away. I encouraged her to go home and find a quiet place to sit and talk to God, to seek Him and get to know Him.
Immediately the plane was at the gate, and this lady got up and walked away still in a daze. I thought to myself, “She will go home with a fresh realization that there is a God who knows her and cares about her. Maybe she will look to heaven in faith and know that He is there and that He is listening to her.”

I-95 Roanoke Rapids
I was having breakfast with a pastor friend of mine at a motel restaurant on Interstate 95 when I noticed a gentleman sitting alone at a table across the room. I turned to my friend and said, “Sam, you see that man over there. He is going through the pain of a divorce.”
When Sam and I finished our breakfast I noticed the gentleman was still at his table and decided to go to him. I walked over to his table and said to him, “Sir, my friend and I are pastors. When I saw you sitting here, the Lord showed me that you are going through the pain of a divorce, and I would like to pray for you.”
The fellow stopped eating and looked up at me with sadness in his eyes. “I am in the middle of a divorce right now,” he said.
I told him that the Lord loved him and wanted to deliver him from the things in his life that helped cause the divorce. He responded, “I am from New England, and I am on my way now to Florida to get help for these very things.”
I gave him my card and told him I would be praying for him.

About a week later I received a letter from him thanking me for reaching out to him. He shared how our meeting that morning had encouraged him. His faith was strengthened and his hope renewed because he was made aware that there really is a God who knows him and cares about him.

Conclusion
The purpose of the supernatural in the church is not for show or theatrics. It is simply the presence of God at work. It happens when the people of God are moved with compassion and allow the Holy Spirit to work through them to encourage, strengthen, heal, comfort, and touch the people around them. God speaks and acts to reveal Himself.

“For the Lord revealed Himself…to Samuel by the word of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 3:21

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Visit To A Philosophy of Religion Class

A girl from our church in Raleigh NC was taking a philosophy of religion class taught by a professor from Duke University. Nancy came to me one evening and shared how she had been brought to tears when some of the other students mocked her for sharing her faith during a class discussion. Nancy was a committed Christian and loved the Lord. She was shocked at the unbelief and skepticism of the professor and the students,and soon came to discuss it with me and fellow believers at church.

Now she was asking me to visit the class. The professor had told the students to invite their pastors to come sit in on the discussions. My first thought was, “This professor wants to pull out all his weapons of complex, intellectual, theological, and philosophical thought, all his esoteric terms, and make me or any other pastor who shows up look like an idiot in front of the class.”
But I knew this was a great opportunity and so agreed to go. The next week one of the men from the church went with me to the class. I was a little nervous as we took our seats but was filled with faith knowing the Lord wanted us there.
The professor opened the class, welcomed me and Colin, and then addressed me with the following question: “In light of ….”

[At this point he began very eloquently using so many “ten dollar” words, rare theological terms and historical names hardly known to the common layman, the meaning of which was very difficult to follow. At first I thought he was deliberately trying to use class-room esoterics to confuse me so that I would not be able to intelligently answer his question. But then, to my surprise and great delight he concluded his thoughts with the following question.]
“Jesus and the apostles are said to have worked miracles. Therefore, since you teach your people that the Bible is true, what do you say to your parishioners who ask you why we do not see miracles today?”

This professor thought he was dealing with a dispensational cessationist, a person who believes the Bible but also believes miracles have ceased. This cessationist base is a weak position on which to stand in the face of an articulate liberal philosophy which sees it as an illogical and irrational religious hypocrisy. They conclude that if miracles don’t happen now, they never did.]

My response to this proferssor shocked him and the whole class. I answered, “We teach that the Bible is true, that Jesus died for our sins, was raised from the dead, and is alive today, and that He has given us His Holy Spirit as His living and active presence with us. Therefore, when people ask me why we do not see miracles today, I tell them, ‘Hang around here a while, and you will see one!’”
You could have heard a pin drop as I proceeded to share testimonies of healings and miracles that I and others in our church had either witnessed or been a part of. I gave examples of supernatural healings, exorcisms, and examples of the workings of the Holy Spirit as listed in 1 Corinthians 12.
The same students who had scorned Nancy’s testimony before were now sitting there silent and amazed. Suddenly one of them spoke up, addressing the professor. “The way it looks to me,” he said, “you’ve been talking only theory and words. These guys have been out doing it.”
I know there were still some skeptics in the class, but our boldness to share the truth along with real-life examples seemed to embolden those timid souls who secretly believed, but who had previously been afraid and too intimidated to speak up.

The professor then surprised me as he addressed the class. “This has truly been our most fascinating class yet.” He then turned to me and said with a subtle sadness and sense of regret, “I wish you had been my pastor when I was a kid.”
It seemed to me he was saying, “I am set in my place and position now, and I don’t see how I can change now, but if I had heard these things in my younger days, I might have taken a different road.”

Certain principles were impressed upon my mind as I left that classroom. I saw very clearly the power of the truth, the reality of the Word of God and how it penetrates the heart when spoken with confidence that comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit who confirms it to the hearers.

I saw the blindness of the world and the emptiness of philosophy. Intellect can be impressive, but devoid of spiritual life it is so empty. It does not touch the needs and hearts of the common man.

I also saw the weakness of silent, impotent Christians who do not speak up. That segment of the class had remained "invisible" when Nancy had been scorned for her belief. But upon hearing our message, they were emboldened to speak up.

I also saw the folly of mixture. Some of the students in that class believed some of the Bible, but not all of it. Therefore, they had no real authority on which to base any argument or belief. To be selective with the Bible is to make yourself the authority. Therefore, you have no authority on which to base anything. When human reason is the final authority, we end up with millions of ideas and no real grounds or authority for any of it.

I have witnessed with my own eyes the reality of the scripture. I have seen people healed through prayer. I have witnessed the miracle of a broken back healed instantly. I have witnessed a young man healed instantly of severe and advanced cases of asthma and emphysema as he was prayed for. I have cast demons out of people and witnessed the same effects as those described in the New Testament.
When given a chance, the Bible will come alive and prove itself true. I therefore, choose to believe Moses, the apostles, and those saints who have given us the Bible. I prefer to believe the written account of those eyewitnesses who walked with Jesus rather than putting my life and trust into the hands of modern unbelieving philosophers who speak out of their own intellectual arrogance and emptiness.

“[We have]…so great a salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Hebrews 2: 3-4.
“And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus…” Acts 4:33
“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to take heed as a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1: 16-21

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Never Give Up, The Father Comes to Help

After you read this, scroll down and watch the accompanying video.
I have received so many responses from people telling me they wept as they watched the Derek Redmond video below. Why does it have this effect on so many of us? First of all, the anguish and disappointment in the young man's face is heart-wrenching. Also, the determination of his loving father to help him finish the race is deeply moving.
But I think it touches us so deeply because subsconsciously we identify with this young man. Most of us don't see ourselves finishing the race so strong and proud as those who sped across the finish line up front, but rather we see ourselves stumbling, broken, limping, and often crippled, and finishing the race because our Father in heaven in His great love and mercy towards us has come to pick us up and help us along to the finish line, holding us in His arms.

These Bible verses seem very appropriate here.
"If I say, 'My foot slips,' Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me Your comforts delight my soul."
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us." 1 John 3: 1.
"Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory, majesty, dominion, and power, both now and forever, Amen."
Jude 1: 24-25.
"Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." Hebrews 12: 1-2.

"...He will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand." Romans 14: 4

I encourage you to watch this inspiring video.
Billy Long

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Pews

Over the years I have occasionally drawn cartoons for church newsletters. Below are a few from the past. Many of the characters are actually caricatures of real people whom some of you may recognize. You have to know the people to fully appreciate the humor.