Sunday, April 27, 2008

What a week. . .

I related to you, how I ran into a fellow Randy and his wife Joanne, that I went to school with while we were handing out fliers in the neighborhood last Tuesday night and how they were having a candlelight vigil on preventing child abuse at the civic plaza. I had planned on going down there after the revival service to offer support and possibly pray with the people for healing, etc. Well my sister called me Friday, my sister Sue who has been to both of Josh Herring's revival meetings this week, my sister Sue whom God is doing a great work in her life. . . She calls me and tells me that Jenny our cousin works in the cafeteria at Central High School and somehow was having a conversation with a lady that she worked with about the upcoming vigil for preventing child abuse. This lady was the organizer of that event. Her name was Joanne and her speaker fro CAPS, Child Abuse Prevention Services had canceled at the last minute. Somehow my name came up, the fellow she had just met doing street ministry in her neighborhood Tuesday night, my cousin Jenny told her that surely she knew me and could get in touch with me. So she called my Sister Sue, who called me. I got in touch with Joan at her break a few hours later.

This year for the first time they are trying to have an indoor program in addition to the candlelight vigil on the plaza. The was very much a last minute attempt, but in just the last couple of days they have had a building, chairs, and a sound system donated for the program. She wondered if I would be willing to speak. . . . OK let me think for about 1/2 a millisecond. . . "Yeah, I think I would like to do that."

:) :) :) :) :)

I had already been planning on going down there and ministering to people, praying a prayer of healing with them. I surely would be glad to do that. When I got off the phone with her I was just in awe with how seemingly random paths crossing turn into completely unexpected wonders with the power of God.

My mind then began trying to figure out what in the world I was going to speak about at a child abuse prevention event. For a very few minutes I pondered going on the Internet and coming up with statistics or otherwise trying to educate myself about this, but that is not who I am. I felt that God chose me to use me for something that was already inside of me. I didn't think He would pick me to artificially come up with something, there was something already inside of me that He desired to use.

This is what I talked about last night:

I do not know who I speak to this evening. It may only be one person, but I was given this message from God for someone here this evening. I cannot talk about child abuse prevention or child abuse experiences, but. . .but!!! I can talk about the power of God to heal wounds, the power of God to change bitterness and unforgiveness into peace and healing. My mother died this past February 2nd. She had a stroke on May 2nd. She died 9 months to the day later. How very very symbolic that figure of 9 months is.

In Acts chapter 3, Peter and John are walking into the house of God through the gate called beautiful. In that gate lies a man who was unable to walk from his mother's womb. The Bible says that his friends have been taking him and placing him in that gate outside the temple, outside the house of God every day for his entire life to beg. Every day he has laid there with his beggar's cup out, waiting for something from the passers by. He begged because he needed something and the people gave him that which filled an appetite of the flesh. They didn't know what else to do. Their coins bought food for him to fill his belly with, but fleshly appetites are never satisfied. You fill your belly each night and again every morning it cries for food, but for years and years all of his life the passers by had only ministered to his physical needs.

Peter and John luckily for him, had nothing with which to minister to his fleshly needs. It is always easier to attend to the physical needs, the physical hungers. They are easy to tend to. But Peter and John replied to his offered beggars cup in verse 6, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee. . . ."

What did you come to receive here today? What were you looking for when you came through that door? Please I in no way begrudge or belittle the other speakers. We absolutely need a shelter for abused women and families. We need foster parents for children who have been abused, but those services feed the needs of the flesh. That man who begged surely needed to eat all those years he lay in that gate called beautiful, but he also needed something more. He needed healing.

My mother was a woman of great bitterness. She did not speak to her parents for years and years before their death. He sisters live within a couple of hundred miles of Elkhart and she had not spoken to them for maybe 20 years before her stroke. She and my father divorced when I was 16. I am 53 years old. They divorced 37 years ago and yet to hear her talk you would have thought it was three months ago. The bitterness, the anger, the hatred within her were undiminished at all after 37 years. My mother never forgave people. She remembered every hurt, every pain, every offense committed against her. . .

After her stroke a great huge transformation took place within her. She turned to God and God did a tremendous work of healing within her. My wife and I walked into her hospital room one day in June, a few weeks after her baptism. As soon as she saw Jackie, my wife, she began apologizing to her. She told her how sorry she was that she had not treated her very well over the years. My Mom then began apologizing to me. . . for things took place when I was 9 or 10 years old. My mother had a huge problem with depression and was not able to do the things that other mothers were able to do and she apologized for not being a very good mother. . .Then. . . then. . .she asked, "How is your Dad doing? I always loved your Father so very much. . ."

The bitterness was gone. Her mind was filled with love and forgiveness. She now embarked upon a ministry from her bed. She told us of how her goal was to tend to the needs of the young women and men who cared for her. The young women especially, many single mothers, with pressures and needs in their lives. My Mom made it her ministry to listen to them, tend to their needs, care for them as they cared for her. A number of the young ladies and one male nurse came to her funeral. She touched lives. . . the bitterness was gone.

Bitterness and unforgiveness left in a wound acts as an infection, an inflammation, never allowing healing to occur. The anger and bitterness lays there festering and creating more pain. . . a fleshly appetite for revenge, for earthly retribution, a hunger for true justice that will never be satisfied. Just like any hunger of the flesh, nothing will sate the desire to see the person who caused you pain, suffer pain themselves.

The only way to heal, the only way to return to joy and to truly enter the gate called beautiful is to forgive. Jesus said that if you want forgiveness then you must forgive. One day we will stand before Him and be judged by the same yardstick that we judged others. I am not saying that it is easy. It is a terribly hard task to forgive, but to continue to carry the burden of that pain and unforgiveness will kill you. God can take that burden from you, if you give it to Him. He is the only one who can exact true justice. Give the burden to him and let your healing begin.

I then offered prayer and anointing. I read James 5 where it talks about prayer of healing and anointing with oil by the elders of the church. Only one young girl came forward. I told the people that we could still pray, there was no magic in the oil, but that the Bible said to anoint with oil, the oil symbolizing the Spirit of God and I desired to do what the Bible said.

I prayed a prayer of healing and forgiveness. . . afterwards a number of people came up, people not comfortable with coming in front of the group for prayer, but wanting me to anoint them, and to pray with them individually. One lady whose three year old son was killed by her boyfriend last year, weeping came to me and told me the she needed my words of healing and forgiveness. I anointed her, laid on hands and prayed with her. Others came for prayer and anointing. A number of others came with tears in their eyes came and thanked me and shook my hand.

I love you my God. . .
Help us to forgive. . .
Help us to heal. . .
I love you my Lord. . .


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