Posted in Heaven, Miracles

Medical Intervention

This may possibly be the most controversial blog of this series. The reason I think so is, it seems, that everyone has their own ideas for what role the medical community should play in the healing process. The following list is a sampling of the ideas that I have come across from Christians:

  • You should use every available means to combat sickness/disease/injury. This includes home remedies, medications (both prescription and over-the-counter), medical professionals, clinics and hospitals. God gave us these things in order to alleviate our infirmities.
  • Medications should be used sparingly, if at all. Medicines, medical professionals, clinics and hospitals should be used only as a last resort. You should wait on God to provide the healing, or to give clear direction to seek medical help. If no direction is given, then seek medical help as a last resort.
  • You should not take medications or seek medical help for any reason unless specifically directed by God.

Within my own denomination, I have heard many opinions from opposite ends of the spectrum.


I believe that every bit of knowledge that we possess comes from God. Our ability to learn comes from Him. This is true for every kind of knowledge. You can read through the Bible and realize that, although it isn’t always specifically stated, God gave knowledge for a specific purpose at a specific time.

“As for Zillah, she also gave birth to Tubal-Cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron; and the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.” (Gen 4:22 NASB).

It seems strange that we should be told early on in Genesis that anyone was a “forger of all implements of bronze and iron,” yet this is all we know of Tubal-Cain. Where did he develop this idea to work with bronze and iron? It came from God. Why do we need to know about it here? So that when tools start being used (i.e., Noah) it is not strange.

This same concept of God supplying the knowledge needs to be applied to the medical world. I believe that God can heal us through many different means. I am open to receiving His healing whether it is a Miraculous touch from above, or through the skillful work of a physician. I believe that both of these things originate at the cross – “by His stripes we are healed.”

In the 1st part of this series, I quoted Psalm 103:3 which says:

1Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;”

It is my belief that God heals us in a variety of ways, one being through medical intervention. It is important that you understand what I am saying. God is doing the healing in every instance. In some cases, I believe that He uses miracles to heal. In other cases, I believe He uses medicine.

In that introductory blog, I used an example of how my broken leg was healed through medical intervention. The doctors were able to operate on my leg, insert a plate and some screws, put me in a cast, and prescribe physical therapy. The physical therapists were able to work with me to help me with range of motion and strength. However, the doctors were not able to force the bone to grow back together and the physical therapists were not able to force the muscle to respond correctly. Only God was able to do that. Could God have miraculously restored my leg without the need for surgery or PT? Yes. Why didn’t He? Well, God only knows!

The medical world is able to help the body do what it is “naturally” intended to do. I put that in quotes, because our bodies are only naturally able to heal because of God. He created us. He designed our bodies so that they would heal from wounds and diseases. However, we see that He has allowed us to be involved in the body’s natural healing process throughout the Bible. Isaiah 53:5 says:

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.”

The Hebrew word for “healed” used here is râphâ’, which is translated as “heal, heals, healed, healer, physician, and physicians.” This is where we come to know God as “Jehovah Rapha – the Lord our Healer”. He is the Great Physician. This same word is used in other places in the Old Testament about other physicians, as well:

Genesis 50:2 – “Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel.”

Jeremiah 8:22 – “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?”

There are several verses that talk about medicines:

Proverbs 17:22 – “A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Isaiah 1:6 – “From the sole of the foot even to the head There is nothing sound in it, Only bruises, welts and raw wounds, Not pressed out or bandaged, Nor softened with oil.”

Isaiah 38:21 – “Now Isaiah had said, ‘Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover.’”

Jeremiah 46:11 – “Go up to Gilead and obtain balm, O virgin daughter of Egypt! In vain have you multiplied remedies; There is no healing for you.”

Luke 10:34 – “and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.

It is also interesting that the Holy Spirit chose Luke, a physician by trade, to write not only one of the gospel narratives, but to then follow it up with the detailed history of the establishment of the first century church (the book of Acts.) It is also interesting to note that while most people think that Paul wrote 1/3 of the New Testament, he really didn’t. He actually wrote a little more than 25% of it. Luke, on the other hand, who Paul referred to as “the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14) wrote approximately 27% of the New Testament. Is that proof that the Lord intended for doctors to be a part of His healing plan? No. But it is interesting nonetheless.

As I stated at the beginning of this blog, there are numerous beliefs on what role medicine should play in God’s healing plan. These beliefs can be extremely varied even in close knit groups. I seriously doubt that I could have written a blog that would have influenced anyone in one way or another. So, my effort was just to lay out some basic information. I will say, though, that I do believe that the Holy Spirit was extremely purposeful when writing the Bible. Every detail was carefully chosen. I believe that each author was picked for a particular reason. They each wrote on the exact dates that they were inspired to. They were all thrust into situations that made circumstances for writing clear to them. I could go on, but that is a blog topic unto itself. Anyway, all of that to say, I believe that Luke was chosen for his particular insight as a doctor. We can also see that he was valued as a doctor, and given the prominent task to writing as much as he did.

Advertisements
Posted in Healing, Miracles, Prayer

Miraculous Healing, Part 2

In our society, today, I believe that the word “miracle”, or some form of it, is overused. I think we often forget the real definition of the word, and water it down to simply mean “amazing”. The dictionary definition of miracle I gave in the last blog for miracle was: “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” This definition suggests that something is happening that goes far beyond “amazing”. A miracle is something that must take place outside all natural boundaries. A miracle is supernatural.

In my last blog, I went to great lengths to differentiate between miracles and healing. However, some miracles are healings and some healings are miracles! As you read through the Bible, every time Christ heals someone, it is a miracle.

To really understand what a miraculous healing is, we need to combine the definitions of miracle and healing.

Miraculous Healing:

Through divine intervention:

  1. to make free from injury or disease : to make sound or whole (heal a wound)
  2. to make well again : to restore to health (heal the sick)

This simply means that God is causing the healing to occur in a supernatural way. It is my belief that no matter how healing happens, God has His hand in it. However, a miraculous healing is one in which God is not only involved, He directly influences the outcome in such a way that the normal, ordinary, natural course of events is disrupted, and a new, surprising, wonderful, supernatural course of events takes its place.

God spoke the Earth and all that is in, into existence. A simple word, “Let there be…” and it was so. However, He had an entirely different plan for creating man. He crafted Adam from the dust of the ground, and then breathed life into him. Think about that, man was such an important creation that we merited more than just a spoken word, but hands-on creation from God Almighty! Then, He put the air that we breathe into our lungs. Our bodies were perfect, and were not intended for disease, destruction or decay. Once sin entered into the picture, then things changed. When Adam and Eve introduced sin into the world, they took the perfect creation of God that was intended to live for eternity, and stamped it with an expiration date.

That is one of the reasons we need Christ. We can no more heal ourselves than we can save our souls from sin. Only the shed blood of Jesus can do either. I know that sounds like a contradiction to the list I put out in my last blog, but I will get to each of those points over time. For now, I can say with certainty, that I believe the only healing that our bodies go through is as a result of the blood of Jesus.

Now, to tie this in with the phrase “miraculous healing”. I believe that in order to classify a healing as miraculous, supernatural intervention has to occur such that explanation by any other means truly does not make sense. This was the case for the healings that Jesus performed in the Bible. It still holds true today.

Two things I want to cover concerning miraculous healing:

  1. Our calling to heal
  2. Unbelief

1. Our calling to heal.

I have a series of scriptures I want to look at. It begins with Jesus commanding His 12 disciples, then He moves on to a group of 70. Finally, He is addressing the Christian church as a whole. I believe that each of these scriptures was intentionally included in order to be a command for the Christian church as a whole.

“Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness…And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.” (Matt. 10:1, 7-8 NASB).

“Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’…‘and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” (Lk. 10:1-2, 9 NASB).

These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mk. 16:17-18 NASB).

The progression goes from the small, inner circle of 12 to a larger group of 70. Then, He says that the signs will accompany those who believe. So, if you believe, these signs will accompany you. Not might, or should, or probably, but will.

Then, we top it off with: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12 NASB). So, if we believe, we will do greater works than even Jesus did. WOW!

I would say that this is the reason that all believers should be in the practice of performing miraculous healings. Oh, no, contradiction alert! Didn’t I say earlier that we can’t do the healing? We need Jesus to do it? Now, I am saying that we must do it. In the first two scriptures, the Lord is appointing and giving authority to do the miracles. In Mark, He says that the signs will accompany those who believe, and in John, He is granting authority to those who believe. So, no contradiction. The work is actually being done by the authority of Christ.

Think of it this way: If I need to remove a string from my shirt, I can grab it, pull it, and it will break. I can also take a pair of scissors, and cut the string. Now, it can be said that I cut the string, or it can be said that the scissors cut the string. It is true that the scissors cut the string; however, they had no power to do so on their own. I cannot walk up to a pair of scissors, and order them to cut a string, and expect it to be done. Just like I cannot hold the scissors next to the string and expect them to cut the string under their own power. However, in my hand, guided by my hand, the scissors will cut the string.

If I have a friend who needs to be healed, God can perform a miraculous healing. His method, His timing, His reasoning, His motivation have nothing to do with me. He can simply provide the healing, and it is done. Or, like a pair of scissors, I can be a tool in God’s hand. I can be given the authority to heal. In God’s hand, guided by God’s hand, I can perform a healing in someone’s life. It is not me, it is God. It is me, acting on the authority granted by God to do God’s will simply because He delights in sharing these experiences with His creation.


2. Unbelief

“And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.” (Matt. 13:58 NASB). We find in scripture that unbelief is given as a reason that miracles are withheld. While this is true, we have to be careful here. Some people would like to equate this saying with “Oh ye of little faith.” Jesus does rebuke His disciples at several points for a lack of faith, but it is not the same as unbelief.

Unbelief is choosing not to believe. It is so strong, that it is almost a refusal to believe. That is the scene that Jesus was encountering at Nazareth, and why He chose to do no miracle there except to heal a few sick people.

The danger in viewing this the wrong way is how easy it is to make the leap to saying “You haven’t been healed because you didn’t have enough faith.” I wrote a blog that deals with this subject 3 years ago, so I won’t rewrite it now. You can read it here. Just know that we are not healed by our faith. According to scripture:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;” (Eph. 2:8 NASB). The word “saved” used here is translated from a Greek word that means to be delivered. In the actual definition of the word, it describes sicknesses before it describes sins. So, when we look at Isaiah 53:5 telling us that Christ bore both our sickness and our sin on the cross, it makes sense that we are saved from both our sin and sickness by grace through faith and that it is a gift from God.

Posted in Healing, Miracles, Prayer

Miraculous Healing

I need to start this blog off with a couple of disclaimers:

First, I have never claimed to know all there is to know on the subjects of healing and miracles. I would love to know more. This blog is an investigation and exploration into knowledge much more than it is an attempt at teaching anything I might know.

Second, this is a very deep topic, and I plan to merely introduce my ideas. There are several ideas that I plan to introduce, and I would like to take the time to unpack them in future blogs devoted to each idea singly.

***************************************************************************************************************

4Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.”
(Is. 53:4-5 NKJV)

I often hear people say that, “He purchased our salvation.” However, usually, they are referring to the forgiveness of sins. Whenever the Bible uses the word, “salvation,” in either the Hebrew or the Greek, it is meaning “deliverance”. Deliverance most certainly does have to do with our sins, but Christ died to deliver us from more than just our sins.

Isaiah 53:4 tells us that Christ bore our griefs. However, the Hebrew word used here is better translated “sickness.” This word is used 24 times in the Old Testament. The New American Standard Bible translates it 1 time as affliction, 2 times as disease, 3 times as grief(s), 3 times as illness, 1 time as sick, and 15 times as sickness(es).

The New Testament tells us:

16When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, 17that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

‘He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.’” (Matt. 8:16-17 NKJV).

This was a direct quote from Isaiah 53, yet in Matthew, the word sickness was used rather than grief.

There is no doubt in my mind that the purpose of the cross was for our deliverance. I’m not saying it wasn’t for deliverance from our grief. Like I said, I believe the purpose of the cross was for our deliverance, whatever that deliverance may be from: sin, sickness, grief, anything. Christ saw our need, and He fulfilled that need. He paid a price for our deliverance.

Now, I am going to focus this blog, and a series of other blogs on the topic of healing. I will say that it seems that the deeper I look into this topic, the more questions I end up having. Nevertheless, I am going to endeavor to address this topic to the best of my ability, hoping that other people will ask the same questions that I am. I want to see some lively conversation startup across this blog in an attempt to raise new questions, and provide answers to old questions. I certainly hope there are people out there who are willing to join in the conversation. And, by all means, please forward this on to those who you think could add a great deal to it.

I am going to make 2 observations that I might be obvious and that everyone pretty much already understands:

  • Not every MIRACLE is a HEALING
  • Not every HEALING is a MIRACLE

To fully understand what I mean, we need a good definition of these words. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines each word as:

Miracle – an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs

Healing –

  1. to make free from injury or disease : to make sound or whole (heal a wound)
  2. to make well again : to restore to health (heal the sick)

I think the first observation is pretty easy to prove. Look over the list of miracles that Jesus did. His first known miracle was turning water into wine. No healing occurred. It doesn’t stop with that. He walks on water, calms a raging sea, and multiplies fish and bread. These are all miracles without healing.

The second observation may be a little more tricky to prove. It depends on how you look at things. For instance, I broke my leg in 2012. I had surgery to repair it. I wore a cast for a while. I went to physical therapy. Over time, the bones healed. According to my definition of miracle (see above) there was no divine intervention that I know of that caused the healing of my leg. Therefore, we had a healing without a miracle. However, some would say that I might not know if there was divine intervention. True. But I’m not sure that God is in the practice of performing “secret miracles”.

The reason I am drawing such a distinction between healing and miracles is because when people pray, they often ask for healing, but expect a miracle. I don’t think that God misunderstands our requests, or doesn’t know what we mean. However, I do think that we need to have a realistic understanding of what we are asking for and what it is that God has promised us.

In the coming weeks I will be unpacking these ideas further, but I want to introduce them now.

Psalms 103:1-3 says:

1Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;”

This says that is a benefit to us that He heals all our diseases. To say that “He heals” does not specifically call for a miracle. I believe that God heals us in a variety of ways. When I look at healing, I believe there are 4 ways in which we are healed:

  1. Miraculously
  2. Through medical intervention
  3. On our own (time)
  4. After death

I believe that God has His hand in each of these.  I believe that this is the order in which we should seek healing. I believe we should always assume that God intended to bless us with miracles.  At the same time, when a miracle does not happen, I understand that my brain will never be equal to God’s, and I will accept that He may have an alternate route for healing.

Over the next several weeks, I will be discussing these methods of healing. I hope that other people will weigh in on them as I am laying out my thoughts.

As I said, this is just the preliminary, introductory remarks, with a whole lot more to come.  But for now, any thoughts?

Posted in Faith, Healing, Jesus, Prayer

WHY??

I have used this blog several times in the past to request prayer for certain people, including myself. Well, it’s that time again. I haven’t been able to write much over the course of the past year due to my wife’s medical situations.

Early in 2017, she started a migraine that she just couldn’t get rid of. It lasted for over 2 months, nearly 3. We had to travel to the Cleveland Clinic in order to get it resolved, and to get her headaches properly diagnosed. Throughout the year, we had ups and downs with health, and thought that we had finally come out on top.

For the sake of brevity, I am leaving some details out, but in January of this year, she started fainting. I’m not talking about once every now and then, but sometimes it is several times a day. With the fainting comes falling, which leads to pain. She has already had at least 3 concussions since October, and a number of other minor injuries. On top of that, she doesn’t just faint, she rolls. So if she faints while sitting on the couch, she will fall off, and then roll across the room until something stops her. She can’t sleep in a bed because she rolls out of it in her sleep. Bed rails have proven to be worthless.

So, I am asking for prayer:

  • Prayer that her fainting stops
  • Prayer that the doctors find the reason for it
  • Prayer that we are able to get into a program at the Cleveland Clinic designed to fully assess what is going on
  • Prayer that when we are accepted into this program, the appointments are soon

When I stop to think about these things, it is easy to question the “WHY?”

WHY:

  • Does God allow my wife to have these fainting attacks, especially when she is getting hurt?
  • Doesn’t God heal her when we ask Him to?

Pain reaches us all at various times and in various ways. I am sure that many people out there have faced their own circumstances. The pain may be internal or external. It may be your own, or it might be what I call “second-hand pain”. This is the pain of watching someone you love suffer. This could be a spouse, a child, a parent, a sibling, some other relative, or maybe just a friend. Whatever the cause of the suffering or the pain, if it stretches out for any length of time, then the WHY usually begins. Maybe it is not the same WHY that I listed above, but it is just as personal and meaningful and valid to you.

For some people, the WHY pushes them away from God. Their WHY usually ends up looking more like this: “WHY would a loving God…” fill it in any way you like. Others are drawn to God. Their WHY usually looks like this: “Lord, I don’t understand WHY…but, I trust in you.”

Sometimes, this situation seems absolutely too difficult for our faith. However, as Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.” These situations are bigger than us. They are known by God. He knows the WHY. He knows the reason behind the WHY. He knows the answer to the WHY. By the way, the answer is neither, WHY NOT, or BECAUSE!

Sometimes, in the middle of these problems, it is easy to forget that God is in control. It seems that everyone likes to throw this verse from Romans at you as a reminder: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28 NASB). But it is a good verse to remember in times like these.

I also like to think about the story of King Jehoshaphat. He was up against an enemy that was too powerful, and Judah was facing defeat. He cried out to the Lord, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” That has got to be the attitude that we, as Christians, maintain in every situation we face.

Christian musician Matthew West recorded a song called “The Reason for the World” on his 2010 album “The Story of Your Life”. This song definitely links the pain we feel to reaching out to Jesus:

There are no words in times like these
When tears don’t hide the tragedies
And all you want is a reason for the world

No comfort in the greeting card
Cause God is good, But life’s still hard
and your heart just wants a reason for the world

Maybe the reason for the pain
Is so we would pray for strength
And maybe the reason for the strength
Is so that we would not lose hope
And maybe the reason for the hope
Is so that we could face the world
And the reason for the world
Is to make us long for home

For God so loved your broken heart
He sent his son to where you are
and he died
To give a reason for the world

So lift your sorrows to the one
Whose plan for you has just begun
And rests here in the hands that hold the world

Maybe the reason for the pain
Is so we would pray for strength
And maybe the reason for the strength
Is so that we would not lose hope
And maybe the reason for the hope
Is so that we could face the world
And the reason for the world
Is to make us long for home

Well I know your past the point of broken
Surrounded by your fear
I know your feet are tired and weary
from the road that you walked down here
But just keep your eyes on heaven
and know that you are not alone
remember the reason for the world

No ear has heard, No eye has seen
Not even in your wildest dreams
A beauty that awaits beyond this world
When you look into the eyes of grace
and hear the voice of mercy say
Child, welcome to the reason for the world

 

 

Posted in Faith, Old Testament

Passionate Faith

One of my favorite Old Testament stories of faith is the story of Elijah being taken to Heaven.  Elijah kept trying to get Elisha to remain behind, but Elisha was determined to stay with him.  As they were walking along, they came to the Jordan River, and Elijah took his mantle (cloak) and struck the water.  When he did, it divided and they walked across on dry ground.  Elijah asked Elisha what he could give him before he was taken.  Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit.  Elijah told him that if he saw him when he was taken, then it would be so.  Then the chariots of fire came, and Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind.  All that was left behind was his mantle, and, of course, Elisha.  So, Elisha starts walking back the way he had come.  When he got back to the Jordan River, he took Elijah’s mantle, now his, struck the water and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?”  The water divided just as before and he crossed over on dry ground.

There are so many things in this story, but what I find most fascinating is the faith that Elisha has.  He asked for a double portion of the spirit of Elijah, and it was promised to him.  He didn’t go looking for some little test to see if it worked.  He walked right up to a large body of water, did the same thing he had witnessed Elijah do a little earlier, then call out to God.  He put his faith into action without having to “try it out” first.

It was more than just that.  If he wanted to do the same thing that Elijah had done, he simply would have hit the water with an expectation that it was going to part.  However, he was more passionate than that.  He verbalized his expectation.  With his question, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he was telling the Lord that he was expecting the miraculous.  There is a difference between being confident in your expectations, and just being demanding.  Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we should be confident:  “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

If we take a look at the examples of faith presented to us in the Bible, I think we would be able to classify them into one of two categories:

1.       Obedience – Abraham gives us a good example of this faith.  God told him to take his son and to sacrifice him.  Abraham took his son and prepared for the sacrifice, right up to the point of actually stabbing him to death.  When he didn’t hesitate, God intervened and spared Isaac’s life.

2.       Passion – This story of Elisha truly tells of passionate faith.

As I was thinking about this, I thought that in order to live out faith with the passion that it deserves, you have to be willing to “throw caution to the wind”.  After thinking about that, I wondered if that was really accurate.  There really is no such thing as a cautious faith.  By definition, faith is risky.  Author Bruce D. Main writes, “Faith is putting ourselves in situations where if God does not show up, we are in trouble.”

I think that sometimes God is just waiting for us to get passionate enough about our faith to take the bull by the horns and dare it to buck.  I think God is waiting for us to take our mantle, smack the river, and holler out, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?”  Am I suggesting that God only helps those who help themselves?  NO!  But I am saying that He is looking for faith.

If we start putting passion behind our faith and start coming to the Lord with confident expectation that He is going to answer, I wonder how different our lives will look.  I think this applies to everything we pray for.  Anything we pray for, we need to ask for with confident expectation.  Again, that is not the same as a demand.

What do you need a miracle for today?

  • Healings (physical/emotional/mental/spiritual)
  • Finances
  • Relationships
  • Etc.

In his newest album, Matthew West talks about being passionate in your faith, only he uses terminology that is a little cooler, and probably easier to rhyme:  All In.  To go “all in” means to be totally committed to something.  Really, that is what being passionate about our faith is, to be totally committed, to be ALL IN.

Starting now, I am committed to going All In.  Are you with me?  Click the “Like” button at the bottom to tell me you are ALL IN, and/or leave a reply.

Here is Matthew West’s lyric video for All In.  Enjoy:

Posted in Jesus, Prayer, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Prayer

Due to some medical situations and some other commitments, I haven’t been able to do much with this blog this year. Somehow an entire year has slipped away and not much has been written. I’d like to change that in the coming year.

With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, I thought I’d take an opportunity to write out some thoughts.

When I was a child of in the 4-to-6 year-old age range, I had a good idea that I thought would be a great timesaver, so I told my mother. I said that we should just pray over our meals 1 time and say “Thank you, Lord, for this food, and for every meal you provide from now on.” I figured that would cover it, and we would not have to spend so much time praying for our food before each meal. My mother answered by saying that I wouldn’t want someone saying, “Thank you for this present, and for all the presents you may give me for the rest of my life.” You see, the gratitude should be fresh, meaningful, and should have something to do with what you are actually thankful for.

I think about his whenever I am thanking the Lord for my food. How easy is it to slip into a stale, old recited prayer that has nothing to do with what you are about to partake? Teaching children to pray “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.” Is fine, because it is teaching them to pray, but at some point, they need to be taught to break the routine and pray an original prayer. It does not help if mom and dad are praying the exact same word-for-word prayers every day. The only thing this teaches is how to memorize a script, not how to communicate with God Almighty.

We see several times in the New Testament where Jesus takes bread and “blesses” it. The form of this word in the Greek actually means “to celebrate with praises”. In other words, He offered His thanks for it. In another scripture, we see the Apostle Paul, after having endured a violent storm and many days without food, “he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and he broke it and began to eat.” (Acts 27:35). These prayers, I’m sure, were not some rote, memorized-from-children’s-church, candy-coated prayers. I am certain that these were heart-felt instances of joyous praise, thankful for what God had provided. This is what our prayers are supposed to be.

I challenge, no, I dare everyone out there to cut loose of all of the memorized, routine meal prayers. Instead, model each and every one of your prayers to the situation at hand. Pray for each other. Pray for needs. Ask God for healing. Pray for lost souls (at meal time? YES!!) Be specific about what you are thankful for concerning the food. There is no need to rush the prayer, bless the individual dishes. We often think of the prayers that Jesus prayed over the food as a quick prayer to the Father, but think about how we just defined the word “bless” – “to celebrate with praises.” No celebration is going to be a quick little “bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies.”

This Thanksgiving, and every day, turn your mealtime prayers into something more than just a routine, well-practiced, memorized, repeated quotation. Instead, celebrate the goodness of God the Father.

I wonder what will happen if we all quit praying routine mealtime prayers, and instead, actually include God in our prayers?