Posts Tagged ‘healing’

Before I say too much on the subject of prayer, let me state that I don’t feel that I am anyone special and I have no special powers. Jesus said that some people have much more to be forgiven than others, and I consider myself to be one of that kind. I have always felt a bit like Mary Magdalene must have felt in the presence of Christ.

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In spite of my failures God has been kind to me, and I love a song that people used to sing at the church I attended for many years. The words to that song are:

It is no secret what God can do.
What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you.
With arms wide open, He’ll welcome you.
It is no secret what God can do.

So what has He done for me and my friends when we have prayed? I will recount a few instances where prayer changed the whole landscape of a serious problem.

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I once worked with a lady at a school for the deaf and blind, and her name was Roberta. She came to work one day very distraught, and I asked her what was the matter. She said that her daughter-in-law Cynthia had just left her son and had taken their child with her. Roberta said that cruel heartless words had been spoken to her son by Cynthia before she left. Her son was grieving and any mother can relate to that helpless feeling when her children are in pain and she can’t do anything to help.

So Roberta asked me to pray for her son and Cynthia. I suggested that we pray together and separately about the matter, because Christ said that if two people who believe agree upon something, there is great power in that prayer. I recommended that we meditate upon the verse in Ezekiel in which God promises to take out a heart made of stone and replace it with a heart made of flesh. We agreed to pray that Cynthia’s stony heart would be softened towards her husband and that she would come home. We wrote two copies of that scripture on slips of paper to take home and promised to pray earnestly about the matter. I reminded Roberta that God doesn’t always act quickly upon our requests, but that it is an exercise of our faith when we have to wait.

Then two or three days later, I drove up to the school just as Roberta was parking in the lot. As I turned my car off, I looked up and saw her running towards me. Her face was glowing with excitement, and I knew this was going to be amazing. I opened the door and stepped out and she said, “Olive, you will never believe what has happened!” She told me that she had been praying with many tears before God, and that Cynthia had called her son that morning, weeping and begging his forgiveness and said she wanted to come home. We were so happy and our faith was increased because of what occurred- in only a few days the whole situation was turned around!

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Another time, I was having severe financial problems and I am the kind that hates to pray about money. It really bothers me because so many people pray for things they don’t really need. But I was really in trouble. So while I was in church for a Wednesday night prayer meeting, I decided to pray silently for God’s help. I have learned to wait for the Spirit to begin to move in the congregation before offering up my prayers. The House of God is a very powerful place during these times. It was a little after 8 o’clock in the evening in Florida when I began praying and I said, “Lord, I never come to you about money as you know, but we are really in a mess and we need your help so that we can meet our needs. If it is your will, please help us in your own way.” After prayer meeting had ended, I returned home and called the bank because I was afraid of getting an overdraft. But I noticed that my account had increased by several hundred dollars since earlier that day! I was very confused so I called the twenty-four-hour customer service line to find out what had happened. As it turned out, someone in Oregon who had owed me money for quite some time had made a deposit right after they got off work at 5 o’clock that evening. It dawned on me that there was a three-hour time difference between Florida and Oregon, and that just as I had started praying on the east coast, money was being deposited on the west coast! I would never make something like this up to impress people. This really happened!

Okay, here is one more incident: about three months ago, I had a mammogram. Normally if you don’t hear anything about it within two or three days, you know that everything is okay. So I thought I was cleared. I had planned a trip out of state about two weeks later. But two weeks later on a Friday afternoon, I received a very disturbing call about my results. A woman on the phone said the radiologist had spotted something and wanted more tests as soon as possible. I was shocked that it had taken so long for them to contact me. I asked if I could come in that day and they said it was too late and the doctor was gone for the weekend. I am a terrible worrier and I knew I had to go the whole weekend without knowing what was happening, and my imagination always runs wild in situations like this. Also, I was supposed to leave early Monday morning on my trip. So I decided I would leave later on Monday than planned. I called every praying person that I knew and requested their prayers. I asked them to pray that nothing serious was happening and that I would be able to go on my planned journey after my appointment.

My loved ones and I were sweating all weekend over this, and I was talking to people about what to do if something happened to me. Well, Monday morning came and I was a nervous wreck. I went in to the breast center and put on the little white waffle knit robe and waited, and the technician called me in. Usually I can remember faces, but I couldn’t see her through the fog of uncertainty that day. She took a series of pictures and sent me back to the waiting room. A wonderful sweet lady was waiting there too and I felt an immediate connection with her and we talked as if we had been close friends for years. It was so surreal in that room. Then the technician called me a second time and I broke into another sweat as she took more pictures. She sent me back to wait and the sweet lady was gone. A few minutes later the technician walked in and said, “The radiologist wanted me to check you thoroughly a second time because what he saw in the previous series two weeks ago seems to have vanished completely. There is nothing there now.” I don’t have to tell you how I felt or how my loved ones reacted. I even thought that God had placed that angel in the waiting room. All of the people who prayed for me were rejoicing because it increased their faith and I felt honored to be part of that.

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I could tell you other stories and I will write them in the future, but the point is that God is really listening to all of us at the same time- and He doesn’t even get confused. He is truly amazing, and I am so glad to be His child by faith.

Shalom,

Olive Twist

~♥~

 

 

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I know that I have been neglecting my writing for some time for a variety of reasons, but I hope to get busy again before long. I have continued looking in on your blogs and have not forgotten you.

I know it sounds cliche to say that trials and temptations are always along my path, but if you are a spiritual wayfarer, you know how it is. Sometimes we create our own woes by trying to be tough and manage our own affairs without God and sometimes our character is being put to the test, but I have learned that it’s all right as long as I don’t forget who I belong to.

I watched a film about Martin Luther recently, and how he was plagued with fears over his soul while he was young. A certain priest told him that he should hold on to Christ with all of his might and pray continually “I am yours. Save me.” This is a beautiful prayer for a child of God, because we are so helpless without our Father.

I have realized a few scary new things about my damaged heart during the past year or so.  I have discovered that many of my relationships in life- friends, sweethearts, even spiritual leaders- have been part of my subliminal search for parents. I have sought unconsciously for people to take care of me and comfort me and I have never been as responsible and self-sufficient as many adults, because there is still a frightened child living inside my body.

Fortunately God has dispatched many human angels to me over the years, who have carried my burdens with great love. But since I’ve had this epiphany, I want to rise above these fears that have troubled me for so long. I think about the words Christ spoke after He healed a certain woman. He said, “Be of good cheer. Thy faith has made thee whole.” Only Christ has the power to repair all of my damage, and no human being can ever be as trustworthy as He is.

I have loved Christ for most of my life, so pray that I might truly find my peace in Him. The scriptures say that “perfect love casts out fear.”

Shalom,

“Sister Olive”

~♥~

 

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~♥~

The name Mediterranean is derived from the Latin mediterraneus, meaning “inland” or “in the middle of the land” (from medius, “middle” and terra, “land”). –Wikipedia

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Today marks the one-year anniversary of our beautiful trip to Mallorca, Spain to visit my lost-and-found father. So I have decided to re-post some of my series entitled Spanishoeprints.  At the top of the screen, you can also click on the page with the same title for an assortment of photographs and journal writings from our trip.

I will never forget that day when we looked out of the airplane window and saw Mallorca for the first time from the sky. First we saw the pure and blue Mediterranean sea, then what appeared to be Middle Earth in the art of Tolkien.

imagesIt was a magical three-dimensional game board- green and terracotta with the curves of stone streets and walls, the hammered out cliffs, the pencil lines of fields, square and triangular pastures, and the dots of sheep and almond trees.  The game pieces were steeples and palaces and monasteries set in spirals that rose gently with the slopes to the tops of mountains.

I will never forget that feeling of being a Hobbit in the Shire for three magical weeks with my father and my son. I still dream of the place and long for the time when I can return…Sometimes I try to pretend it wasn’t real because the hollowness I feel becomes almost unbearable. Please pray for me that I may continue to “follow the light unflinchingly”.

Peace & Grace,

“Sister Olive”

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~♥~

“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

 

 

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I learned so much among the Spanish people, not only about civility which seems to be disappearing in my own nation, but about things that make life simpler and more pleasant.  I would never intentionally shed negative light on my own country, but we could learn so much if we would be more humble and listen to our friends from other places.  My father was a wonderful guide and explained many things to me as we wandered around different villages and cities.

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For example, I love the beautiful lace curtains that hang over the doorways in Spain, and it didn’t occur to me right away that I didn’t see any screened doors or windows.  My father explained that the lace is a more fashionable way of fulfilling the same purpose. When the doors are open, the lace keeps insects out of homes. Many of the people have beaded curtains, like the ones that were so popular in the hippie days in America. Flies and other insects can sense the motion of the beads in the breeze and it frightens them away.  And the homes are more aesthetically pleasing to look at without all of the screens.

One of the most pleasant features of Spain is the remarkable cleanliness of the place. The streets in even the larger cities like Barcelona were incredibly clean.  I never saw trash cans or litter drifting around while I was in there, because the business of trash disposal and collection occurs at night.  Metal hooks are set into the stone walls beside the doors, and the people place trash bags on the hooks at dusk for the trash collectors.

In the entire time that I was in Spain, I never sat at a table in a restaurant that had spills or crumbs on it.  Even in the airport McDonald’s, the tables were kept spotlessly clean and shiny. People seem to genuinely take pride in their villages and cities.

One taxi driver in Barcelona was beaming with pride as he explained to us about the best sites to see during our visit, and he pointed out his apartment as we drove by, remarking several times as he drove that he loved living in this beautiful city.  I don’t know that I have ever seen people take such pride in their places of habitation.  In America, we are proud of our own property, but Spaniards take pride in their whole community.

After a couple of weeks in Spain, it occurred to me that I had not seen any semi-trucks on the highways even in the cities.  My father explained that they transport merchandise at night, not in the daytime.

I saw a sign in the village square which showed a picture of a hand covered in chain mail, and I asked my father about it.  He told me that is was for the butcher shop. He explained that in Spain, a butcher is required by law to wear chain mail over the hand which is holding the meat when he cuts it.  It is not only a tradition but a matter of insurance liability. More importantly, it’s good sense.

My father asked me one night if we wanted to go to a tapas bar, and I glared at him and said “What?”  Then he repeated himself, and explained that tapas are appetizers or hors d’oeuvres.  In Spain you go out for tapas when you are not ready for a full meal but you need a little something to hold you over.  I love this concept because it saves the embarrassment of going in a restaurant when you only want soup or a salad and the waiter looks at you with annoyance as if to say “cheapskate” or “there goes my tip for this table.”

I noticed that many waiters wear arm bands above the elbow that resemble garter belts made of black satin.  So one day I inquired of a dashing young waiter, “Do your arm bands represent something, or do you wear them just to look nice?”  He answered, “We adjust the length of our sleeves with them, so that our cuffs don’t come in contact with the food we serve.” What a great idea! And they look much classier than rolled-up sleeves.

I saw mostly small cars in Spain, because they are economical and more suitable for the narrow roadways and easy parking.  I did not see the gigantic gas hogs driving around there like I am accustomed to seeing here.  The people are also smaller, and I rarely saw an obese person.  The competitive over-consumptive capitalistic spirit seems to be absent from the atmosphere.

Weapons don’t mean a thing to most Spaniards.  My father says that aggression takes place everywhere, but the Spanish people don’t like fighting.  In fact, he says they don’t like to place their hands on each other at all during an argument.  When they get angry with one another, they shout mostly, but seldom push or strike one another.

My father says that there is a strong sense of community in Spain, that
there is not an attitude of every man for himself, striving against the whole world.  Spaniards think in terms of every man for himself and his neighbor.  He said that Americans think this is communist, but it isn’t. Communism is every man for the government.  What could possibly be wrong with “love thy neighbor as thyself”?

There is no charge for medical care in Spain, and if you need antibiotics, you don’t need a prescription. You walk to the pharmacy and buy it complete with instructions on dosage, warnings, etc.  You are assigned a doctor based on where you live and from there to specialists if you need them.  Spain is fourth in quality of medical care in the world, and America is around thirty-two while the care is more costly than anywhere else. My father had a quadruple bypass surgery about two years ago, and paid nothing for his care. There goes that community spirit again.

People really enjoy being together is Spain. When you meet a friend at a restaurant, you don’t sit for an hour and get your ticket from a hurried waiter. You commune with your friends for hours over food and wine presented with style and kindness. No rude service there! My father says once you sit down at a table, it is yours as long as you like and no one will take it from you.

The cathedral bells there ring out the hours of the day, the church services, special holidays, and the deaths of villagers. I loved seeing the birds flying from the bell towers when they chimed. There are unique rings for each kind of event, and the bells toll differently to signify the passing of men or women or children.

I have been dreaming of Spain ever since our departure.  My son and I wandered around the beautiful Barcelona airport for an hour or so before our departure, shopping for last minute souvenirs and gifts.  The floors were so polished that I felt as if I was walking across a pond.

When we flew into the Atlanta airport, we looked out the windows and saw trash everywhere in and around dumpsters.  As we walked inside, we smelled the dismal smell of sweat and dirt.  We were so sad that this is what foreigners experience when they arrive in America.

When will we ever learn?

~♥~

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One of my all-time favorite albums is Late for the Sky by Jackson Browne, and this song really “speaks to my condition” as the Quakers used to say.

Here are a few lines from it:

I’m just one or two years and a couple of changes behind you
In my lessons at love’s pain and heartache school
Where if you feel too free and you need something to remind you
There’s this loneliness springing up from your life
Like a fountain from a pool…

Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light
You’ve known that hollow sound of your own steps in flight
You’ve had to struggle, you’ve had to fight
To keep understanding and compassion in sight
You could be laughing at me, you’ve got the right
But you go on smiling so clear and so bright

-Jackson Browne

 

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For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.  Hosea 6:6

Red red wineHe sat across the table from me, eyes damp and swollen.  I could smell the soft scent of cologne and red wine as my father studied my face sorrowfully.

He pointed towards the room upstairs where my son was seated and said, “He would not exist if I had not done this awful thing to you. He was a gift sent to help you because of what I have done. He is pure gold. He loves you so much, and you love him, and that is such a blessing for both of you.  As for me, I have been punished because when I finally found my true love, we could not have any children.  That is how I was repaid for what I did to you.”  I closed my eyes and could not find any words for reply; I knew that my father needed this moment even more than I did.

When he had finished speaking, he hugged and kissed me and I climbed the stairs to my little bedroom. My heart was a giant paperweight in my chest. As I pondered his remarks in my bed, it seemed strange to me that an atheist would speak of a higher power and divine justice. Yet I am not interested in judgment. Only one matter is important now: to humbly participate in this redemptive work with an open and forgiving heart.

~♥~

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(Excerpt from The Twisted Cross:  Distortion of the Gospel)

There was a crooked man,
And he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence
Upon a crooked stile:
He bought a crooked cat,
That caught a crooked mouse-
And they all lived together
In a little crooked house.

What has become of the humble country ministers who lived in little cottages next door to the church, and received allowances for their travel and other needful expenses so that they could go to the jails and hospitals, and visit the elderly members who were confined to their beds?  They sought out every opportunity to further God’s Kingdom within their communities, and worked for little or nothing because they wanted to finish all of their work on Earth before they departed.

Charles Finney writes in his autobiography that after his conversion in 1821, he left his career as a lawyer to “plead the case for Christ.”  He writes of how he lost all interest in worldly pursuits:

…I had no desire to make money.  I had no hungering and thirsting after worldly pleasures and amusements in any direction…Nothing, it seemed to me, could compete with the worth of souls, and no labor, I thought, could be so sweet and no employment so exalted as that of holding up Christ to a dying world.

So, when did the Gospel become such a highly profitable business in America, and the churches so corporate and greedy?  What makes religious leaders today feel entitled to get rich when Jesus, the Son of the Most High God, did not abuse His position for personal gain?  Does anyone truly believe that Jesus lived as a poor man and suffered and died on a cross between two thieves so that Christians can drive a Mercedes Benz?

A year or so ago, I watched one of the senate hearings regarding mega-churches and tax-exempt status, and one senator confronted a wealthy preacher, saying “Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.  So why do you feel entitled to have so many cars and private jets?” I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

I know a church mother who told me that her husband often said, “Ever since people found out that they could make a lot of money off of Jesus, they have made a shipwreck of the Gospel and the church.”  I have also heard people say they can’t afford to join a church.

One Sunday I was asked to speak at a church, and I remarked that God is not going to pay us if we keep getting paid by people for every service we render, because Jesus said that we only have one payday- on Earth or in Heaven. After the service was over, the secretary approached me and offered me some money for speaking. I told her that the Lord would bless me some other way. I knew that the leaders wanted to catch me in some hypocrisy.

The following Sunday, the minister approached me at the altar in front of everyone, and put his hand on my head and said, “Lord, break that rebellious spirit.”  I knew then that he wanted to undermine me and what I had said the week before.

When the recession had really become serious in 2008, I clipped an article from the religion page in the newspaper about how the churches were dealing with the financial “crunch.”  It said that one church had cut out all of its outreach ministries.  Another church started a “Kingdom Seeds” program to try to get people to raise more money for them.  But one lone priest in a Catholic church said that he would not accept any money for his services until his congregation had stabilized financially. I found it shocking that most churches were trying to keep the income of their leaders intact, while cutting out the ministries that represented the whole purpose of the Body of Christ in the community. It seemed strange to me that the leaders did not simply pray and trust God to bless the business of the Kingdom.

One church I attended threatened to publicly humiliate those who were unable to afford the offerings, by listing their names or having the financial reports read out loud.  They knew that many contributions could not be accounted for, because many members only gave in cash without envelopes.  Jesus said not to let the right hand know what the left hand is doing, and not to brag about what we do for God, but this church was pressuring people to disobey His teachings.

I have also seen people forced to stand in front of the church to request financial help for their household. I suspect this is to discourage people who need assistance. No one should have to be publicly humiliated because they are in need of money.

Religious leaders are quick to accuse people of robbing God, when they themselves have no accountability and seem to have no shame about it. One common practice in some churches today is for a preacher to start off an offering with, for instance, a twenty-dollar bill of their own, and to ask each person in the congregation to match the amount they put in.  They don’t reveal that a large percentage of that same offering is being given back to them behind closed doors, and that they are receiving instant returns. Technically, they are giving nothing, and they promise people hundred-fold blessings for giving to the church. Why do leaders ask their congregation to trust God to take care of their bills, when they don’t trust Him to take care of the church and its ministries?  That is hyprocrisy in its purest form.

If I give ten dollars, and immediately receive back one hundred dollars, have I paid my tithe?  Why is it necessary to lie to God’s people, instead of just collecting a love offering at the end? And why is there so much secrecy about the money? It obviously is more profitable to be deceptive.

An elder that I know once told me that he has seen preachers put money in the offering and tell the usher to give them back their money after the service is over.

Years ago, at a church I attended, a missionary couple trusted God to supply their financial needs so that they could go to Africa to spread the gospel, and they refused to take up offerings or ask anyone for money.  They just talked to friends and prayed and money started coming in their mailbox.  The pastor of their church heard about it, and said, “It is true that God supplied the money that you needed without any manipulation on your part?”  They were dumbfounded that their pastor had so little faith in God’s ability to provide for someone who was seeking to do His will.

Nowadays, many religious leaders will do whatever it takes to keep themselves comfortable while others suffer, and they never seem to have enough.  The money-raising goals for pastor appreciations and conferences get higher every year, because many leaders expect a pay raise every year, regardless of the struggles of their congregations.   If they were at a regular job, they might have been laid off or gotten a pay cut, but they think that the money should continue to flow no matter what.

Everyone questions why the church is so ineffective today, why miracles and true revivals don’t happen anymore. It’s really quite simple. God is a Holy God, and He cannot dwell in an unholy place.

It is time to return to the old ways, so that we can see miracles and spiritual power as we did in times past.  I would like to see this in my lifetime, but first we need some good old-fashioned humble country ministers.


[1] The crooked man and other rhymes, from Aunt Mary’s Little Series

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