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Friday, June 8, 2012

National Tragedy

Its been 147 years since Abraham Lincoln was assassinated while attending a performance at a theater in Washington D.C.  That would have been during the lifetime of my great grandfather.  It seems almost unbelievable that we are still grieving over that tragedy, but all through my life someone somewhere writes an article or gives a speech on the life of Abraham Lincoln and his untimely death. (http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/06/07/researchers-find-report-from-first-doctor-to-treat-lincoln-after-gunshot-wound/?intcmp=features).

I would never claim to be an expert on national psychology, but it seems to me that the ache in our national heart over Abraham Lincoln is based in our own personal tragedies.  He has become a symbol for the loss and injustice we all experience in this world.  We have a tendency to think that good living will always produce rewards, not loss.  It is true that following good principles, and making good choices will lead to a better life, but we still live in a sinful world and bad things happen to everyone sooner or later.  That's a hard lesson to get our minds around.

As a pastor I have spoken at many funerals where people were asking some very difficult questions.  A baby died from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), a young 17 year old died in a motorcycle accident on graduation day, another 18 year old killed by a drunk driver, a seven year old girl killed in an auto accident, a man still in his prime suffocated to death in a freak accident at home, a young man in his 20's died from a sudden and mysterious infection.  So, when we hear about Abraham Lincoln's life as he struggled to be elected to public office, his emancipation proclamation that abolished slavery in America, his dedication to the brave soldiers who fought in the Civil War, his Gettysburg Address, we can't help but feel the grief rise up in our throats as we then hear about his cruel, and unjust death.  We know what that is all about because in one way or another the same thing has happened to us.

It is comforting to know that even Jesus, who never committed sin, and who always went about doing good (1 Peter 2:22 & Acts 10:38), was falsely accused, tortured and nailed to a cross to die.  If something so horrible happened to Jesus, then the sting of injustice is not so acute when it happens to us.  We will never be able to explain to our satisfaction why particular tragedies happen, but at least we can know we are not alone.  "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin."  Hebrews 4:15.  Jesus has promised the He will never leave us or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5).  He is with us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23).  In addition, we have the assurance that someday all the wrongs will be made right and every tear wiped away, for Jesus will come again and destroy death and the grave.  Revelation 21:1-4.

To one degree or another we all carry the pain of our losses throughout our lives but at least, if we have Jesus, we do not sorrow as though who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).  There are no certainties in this life that we can put our trust in, but we can put our trust in Jesus.  He will never fail us.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Prayer Stories

From time to time I will be posting a prayer story movie for you to enjoy and share.  Each of these stories are from normal everyday people who have experienced a real answer to prayer.  I hope you find these encouraging.


"More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." Alfred Lord Tennyson


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Amazing Answer to Prayer

I will never forget the powerful answers to prayer we had as we gathered together as pastors to pray.  On this particular occasion about 30 pastors were meeting at Aldersgate Convention Center near Turner, Oregon.  Our schedule allowed for times of private prayer, small group prayer, and prayer with the entire group.  It was during one of our prayer sessions with the whole group that this amazing answer to prayer occured.

Bill and Sue Smith had been missionaries overseas.  While there Sue had contracted two deadly tropical diseases.  One was dengue fever, and the other was encephalitis.  As soon as Bill and Sue realized how sick Sue was becoming they left for the Tropical Disease Center in Montreal, Canada.  By the time Sue arrived there, however, it was too late for them to do much for her.  Ultimately they told Sue to go home and ride out the illness with the grim message that she would either live or die, but there was nothing more they could do. 

I'm not a medical expert, and I may not remember every exact detail, but due to the illnesses Sue was extremely tired most of the time.  She was unable to do even the most simple tasks without exhausting herself.  In addition to that the pain was debilitating.  Even the slightest movement or pressure caused her excruciating pain.  Bill couldn't hug Sue, or even hold her hand without causing her pain.  If Sue tilted her head back to look up or hold a pencil intense pain would shoot into her brain.

The Smiths heard about the prayer retreats the Oregon pastors were having and in spite of the difficulties Sue decided to go and see if the Lord would heal her.  Our ministerial director, Garrie Williams, made the arrangements for Sue to be anointed during one of our joint prayer sessions.

When the time came Bill and Sue briefly told their story and then Sue was seated in a chair near the front of the meeting hall.  We all gathered around her and began to pray.  The prayers were most earnest and often a tear would trickle down the face of the petitioner as we lifted Sue's case up to the Lord.  Our prayers ascended for about 45 minutes, and then Garrie Williams brought the season of prayer to a close by anointing Sue with olive oil on her forehead.  None of us reported any unusual physical experiences in that prayer session.  There was no tongues of fire, or rushing wind, or earthquake, but we all could say we felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in that room.

Shortly after Sue was anointed the meeting was concluded and we all began to make our way to our rooms to go to sleep for the night.  About four of us stayed by a little longer just to visit a little.  Soon Ruthie Jacobsen came running into the room with the news, "Sue has been healed!"  Since I knew Bill and Sue fairly well I went running down the hall to their room and knocked at their door.  When Bill answered the door I said, "Bill, we have just been told that Sue has been healed."  "It appears so," was Bills happy reply.  There was Sue sitting on the edge of her bed with a look of serenity on her face.  She said, "the pain is leaving my body like a whirlwind, spiraling out of the top of my head."  We prayed and thanked God with all our hearts.

The next day at our first meeting Sue described her healing much to the joy of all of us.  She said she and Bill had gone for a four mile walk that morning, which was something she had not been able to do for many, many months.  She was able to hold his hand and receive his affections once more.  It was a very happy day for all of us to say the least!

Jesus said, "'I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.  For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.' Matthew 18:19-20.  I can't help but ask, "what would happen if we all met together more often to pray like that?"

Perhaps my most favorite song about prayer is simply called "The Prayer" as performed by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion.  I hope you enjoy it this morning.

I hope this day will find you in more frequent prayer to our heavenly Father.  We all need it, don't we?

Pastor Kevin

Monday, September 12, 2011

Everyday

Yesterday I was thinking about all the stuff we do everyday and how much time it takes.  For example, sleep takes up 6-8 hours of our time everyday.  Sometimes, for most of us rarely, we miss a nights sleep, but we crash the next day or night and sleep even more.  Another thing we do every day is eating.  Almost everyone eats at least two times per day, and most eat three times each day.  That takes up 30 minutes to an hour, just eating, not counting preparation and clean up.  We all have to clean up our bodies and dress ourselves every day.  That's at least an hour for most of us.  And we mustn't forget the daily commute.  There are people who commute one to two hours one way just to get to work.  Speaking of work, there it is, another thing almost all of us do every day.  There goes another eight hours down the tube.  Wow, by the time you consider all that stuff you do every day and how much time it takes it leaves very little time on a daily basis to do things you really want to do.

I doubt that you think about all that time very much, and neither do I.  We just go about doing the things we have to do and some of the stuff we want to do in the natural course of our lives.  However, every once in a while something happens that makes us reevaluate how we are spending our all-too-short lifespan here on earth.  If someone we love dies, we often immediately think about the lost opportunities to spend more time with that individual.  Or, perhaps, we hear about someone earning a degree, or getting a promotion and then we think about what we could have done with some of our extra time.  Even the birthdays of our children and grand children make us stop and think about where all the time is going.  Then, every once in a while, someone we know actually changes the course of their life to be more involved in things they really want to do.  One of my family members once abruptly quit a job so they could go to school and prepare for a career they were far more interested in.

Jesus had a way of making people stop and think about where their lives were headed and how they were spending their time.  The woman at the well in John 4:1-30 came to the well as she had done everyday for her entire life.  On that particular day she met Jesus and she was never the same.  She left her water pot at the well ran back to the city proclaiming the miraculous interview she had just experienced with Jesus.  That one brief encounter changed the entire course of her life.  Instead of a notorious sinner in her community, she became a woman of God whose story has inspired millions to do the same.

I have a suggestion . . . how about adding one more thing to your list of stuff to do everyday?  Spend some time with Jesus.  You don't have to make a trip to find Jesus somewhere for He promised, "I am with you always."  Matthew 28:20.  Take out your Bible, or go online to a place like Bible Gateway, and spend some time everyday reading God's word.  I usually recommend the book of John as a good place to start if people haven't been reading the Bible much.  Then say a simple heartfelt prayer to God about the things that matter to you whether they are good or bad.  You will be amazed what this can do for your physical, mental and spiritual growth.  If you spend this time with God each day you will see things begin to happen you never thought possible before.

Here's a contemporary song that speaks of living our lives for God, with a purpose, and not just going through the motions.  Its called "Everyday".  And may God bless you with an extraordinary day today and everyday as you spend it with Him.

Pastor Kevin