Sunday, June 24, 2012

The two articles posted below are re-prints from earlier postings. I wanted our newer visitors to have an opportunity to read them. Both articles deal with how the Lord reveals Himself supernaturally through the Church by the Holy Spirit.  -BL

The Lord Reveals 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 verses quoted above indicate 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 will 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.

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

My Preacher is so Annointed He Pure Foams at the Mouth!

How do we expect people to act when they are being used by the Holy Spirit? A fellow once said to me, “My preacher is so anointed he pure foams at the mouth.” That is a strange one, and I am thankful that the Lord does not expect us to do that. So what style do we use in our presentation?
The Spirit-filled Harvard professor very calmly walks up to someone and in a very dignified and stolid voice and says, “This is what the Lord is saying to you, Your canines will develop acariasis and become acaudal.”
A backwoods farmer then walks up to the same person and in a very emotional and enegertic manner says, “Thus saith the Lord. Thy dogs-uh will become infested with ticks and lose their tails-uh.”
The fact is, these men said the exact same thing, but each one spoke out of his own personality and style. The Lord’s word was in the content while the style represented the individual vessel.

I want to share three examples below that show us that we can be ourselves and not have to act a certain, expected way when we are being used by the Holy Spirit.

A Casual word that was supernatural
I was visiting a church in Lexington, Kentucky a few years ago. The morning worship service had ended and people were standing around the auditorium talking and enjoying the fellowship of friends and family. I happened to notice two girls standing on the other side of the auditorium. I was acquainted with one of these girls from a singles conference at which I had recently spoken. I knew that this young lady would one day make some man a good wife, and so I decided to walk over and, in a light-hearted and humorous way, encourage her.

I crossed the auditorium and went up to these two young ladies. As they turned to me I said, “There is a crazy man out there!” They both reacted with surprise and said, “What?” I responded by addressing the unmarried girl with these words, “You are going to make some man a fine wife, and there is a crazy man out there for not having already snatched you up and married you!”

I was expecting her to respond with a laugh, but instead, her eyes filled with tears. I said, “What’s wrong? What did I say to make her cry?”
Her friend then explained to me the conversation they were having just before I walked up. The single girl was sad because her fiancĂ© had recently broken off their engagement. She was depressed and questioning herself wondering why he had ‘dumped’ her. As they stood there she had asked her friend, “Is something wrong with me that he would not want to marry me?” The friend had responded, “No. There is nothing wrong with you. He’s crazy!.”
Then, “out of the blue” and totally unaware of the situation and their conversation I walked up and said, “There is a crazy man out there.”

I believe I was sent to encourage her. However, I was completely unaware of the significance of what I was saying until the friend explained to me how my words confirmed what she had just said moments before.
I was just simply trying to encourage someone based on what I had seen with my natural eyes. I was not trying to be spiritual or do anything special. The timing, however, made the word supernatural.

A Short word that was supernatural
During our first year of marriage Laurel and I were part of a church in southern California. It was composed mostly of young people and had sprung up during the Jesus Movement and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was taking place at that time. Multitudes of kids were coming to know the living reality of Jesus Christ and His presence in the working of the Holy Spirit. One thing that stands out in my memory of those days is the hunger for God that was demonstrated in the lives of those kids. They took their Bibles with them almost everywhere, they always had pen and paper to take notes during Bible study, and they all wanted to be used by God in some way.
I remember on one occasion I was about to teach a Bible study to a group of about twenty or thirty of these kids, and was silently asking the Lord to confirm my direction for the teaching that night.
Then one of the boys stood up. I knew he was about to share what he thought would be a prophetic word from the Lord. He said, “The Lord wants us to watch and pray.” He then paused and stood there silent for a minute hoping to add something more significant. But that was it. He had nothing else to say and so he sat down dejected, and a little embarrassed thinking he had failed.

I then stood up. “Our friend has just given a short, simple word telling us to watch and pray. He does not realize how the Lord has just used him. He has not only shared a word to which we should all take heed, but also, without knowing it, he has given a word of confirmation to me. I was just now asking the Lord to confirm the teaching I am about to give. My text for tonight is Matthew 26: 41, ‘Watch and pray…’ My Bible was opened to that verse and my eyes were on those very words as our friend was saying ‘The Lord wants us to watch and pray.’”

A miracle of healing in response to hardly a prayer
As I was leaving a friend’s house one day, He and I passed his five-year old son playing with some toys on the ground. As we discussed other things the father showed me some sort of bone growth that was on the back of the child’s head. It was just a little smaller than half a ping-pong ball and had been there for years. The doctors had told him it was nothing to worry about. It would not harm the boy, but was simply unattractive and inconvenient. My friend and I did not focus on the child but continued our conversation.

However, as I talked with my friend, I very casually laid my hand on the back of the child’s head a couple times saying, “Lord, bless him.” Again I said, “I know it’s nothing to worry about, but Lord bless him anyway,” as my friend and I went on with the conversation about other things. Then I drove away feeling guilty that I had not taken time to pray an official and “real” prayer over that child. Instead I had only said a “Lord, bless him” in passing as I talked about other things.
I was surprised a couple days later when my friend called to tell me that the child’s growth had completely disappeared. The Lord had healed it in response to a simple “Bless him” prayer.

So what is the lessons here?
While there are often unusual and strange occurrences during great visitations of God’s presence, it is important for us to know that generally speaking we can move in the supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit in the normal conversational tone of everyday life. How else can we approach the average person in the world with the reality of Jesus Christ? We can be ourselves, we don’t have to act strange or change our voice. This is one of the keys to moving in the Holy Spirit on the job, in school, on the street, and out in the market-place. You don’t have to walk up to people and shout. You don’t have to say ‘’God-uh” or “yea, yea, thus saith the Lord.” You can be emotional or non-emotional. You can be enthusiastically zealous or you can be quiet and reserved. The key is to be genuine and real. The supernatural is not what you do, but rather what God Himself does. Sometimes God’s work is seen as obviously and patently supernatural. Other times it can be hidden and unnoticed because it is defined by the context and timing and may be significant only to those to whom it is directed.
When we care about people and reach out to them in a real and genuine manner, we will see God at work. And, as in the examples given above, we may find out later that He was at work when we were not aware of it. We may be able to say as Jacob did, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it.”

Monday, June 18, 2012

"That Way I Can Kill the Whole Bird With One Stone."

This is a reprint of an earlier post. This one is just for fun.   -BL

Just as truth can be stranger than fiction, reality can sometimes be funnier than jokes. Therefore, I try to keep track of unusual things I hear people say. Below is a list of word-abuses that I have heard over the last few years. These friends and acquaintances did not realize they were corrupting a word or using the wrong word. The following sentences were spoken in earnest.

A fellow told me he did not want to sound self-defecating.

A second cousin told me her sister had an infection in her influfial tubes.

One man said he suffered from sick-as-hell-anemia.

The hospital had to place a lady’s husband in contentious care.

Another man was in there with a brain hemorrhoid.

A fellow told me a family member had immaculate degeneration.

One man said he had problems with his heart rhythm, but the doctors had decided not to install a space-maker.

A friend told me, “While I am in town, I’ll go by and pay the fine and also return Joel’s guitar. That way I can kill the whole bird with one stone.”

This same fellow was explaining to me why he quit his job. Up to this point he had endured a few things that had bothered him about the job, but when his boss embarrassed him in front of the other employees that was the thing that broke the camel’s straw.

A fellow was suffering from digestive heart failure.

A gentleman told me that he had been reading in the book of the prophet Jackariah.

I actually heard this on TV one evening. A man who was in prison for life was being interviewed by a TV news anchor. When asked to compare the inmates of today with those who were incarcerated with him twenty years ago, he replied, “Years ago there was a certain code of conduct among the prisoners. But today these men coming in here are all messed up. You know, the criminals of today just aren’t raised like criminals used to be.”

In describing Mary’s and Joseph’s engagement, a preacher on the radio said that Mary was be-throught to a man named Joseph.

A fellow told me his brother had phosphate cancer, but he over-ed it.

When I asked a friend if any other churches took part in the conference his church had sponsored up in the mountains, he replied, “There was one local church there that dissipated with us."

A construction worker told my friend that he had to go pick up his workers conversation check.

My cousin who is a nurse just shared these with me. A patient told her he had a history of roaches of the liver. Another patient said he was going to have a buried enema. Another said the nurse had given him a depository to help his bowels move.

A fellow came to work one morning and told my friend, "My wife's arthritis is so bad we can't even have intersection."