Valentine's Day has come to be associated with love, perhaps it is fitting as we continue our journey in our ministry given to us by Jesus (proclaim Kingdom, heal sick, rebuke demonic, teach and reconcile sinners) it is a nice time to return to the core of it all: Love!
Faith/trust/fidelity is arguably the more frequently mentioned virtue, however, faith, in the end, is a function of love--God's love. Because God loves us we can trust Him. Love, as understood by the Biblical authors, was not a feeling. It was a decision to act in a way that is caring and concerned. Love issues in blessing. Passions and emotions are obviously part of true love, but loveless passion and attraction is obviously possible. Arguably, the "play boy" philosophy is just that, love as passion and physical attraction. It is an outer shell which has no inside. Emotional energy can be a fruit of love, but it can also be a generated by fulfilling our own needs, or because its a particularly good day for us. At times, love will not feel good. Loving someone is about them, not us. Loving my children when they are being celebrated is emotional and wonderful. Loving my children in the middle of a sleep deprived night because they have need for me may be emotionally draining, but it may also be a greater act of love.
Love then is manifest in seeking the good of the other. "All good and only good," this is the intent of the lover for the beloved. What is the good that 'this one' wants and needs? That is the lovers question. And the greater the Lover, the greater the good that is provided. Hence, the Perfect Lover, our Father in Heaven, our Holy Triune God, is about perfect love, and perfect love is about our good-all good and only good, all the time. But as everyone who loves another knows; love can be thwarted by the beloved. It takes two in a relationship. Two loving and being loved.
With that as an introduction, I intend to share reflections on Jim Glennon's wonderful book, Your Healing is Within You. I recommend you read it, but I will be sharing his viewpoint and my own reflections on the book in the coming weeks. My first comment is that there are many people in the healing ministry who have experienced great success. They are practitioners. They also have a belief system and assumptions about why what they do works. We listen to them for insights, but we will learn that no two agree on everything. The world is big and there is diversity and variation. Approaches differ and success can be achieved by many approaches. Our hope is to glean what works for each of us individually and corporately.
The book opens with two personal stories of healing. The premise is that human parents try to keep their promises to their children, so God the Father will do the same. Jesus would be a good source for this statement!
"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him."
Glennon points out that there are numerous places where the Bible says "the prayer of faith will raise up the one who is sick" (James 5:15) Jesus calls for faith. In one story of Glennon's stories a child with a severely twisted spine (which bent him over) did not respond to the prayers of healing, so, they decided that if God did not heal their child quickly then it may take time. It took three years, but eventually the spine straightened and the child is fully functioning. Why so long? That is something we will look at later. Perhaps the better question is, would a child with a severely twisted spine be happy to stand upright? The rest of his life his back is fine. The healing did happen!
Be God centered and not problem centered
This is a very helpful starting place. If you focus on who God is and what God promises, then there is an increased openness to receive. God loves you. God has saved you. Jesus is the Savior who has taken on your condition for your good. He says too many consider "being saved" as going to heaven. It's like that is all that matters. [In the actual ministry of Jesus He never asked anyone where they would spend eternity if they died tonight. He does frequently ask "what do you want me to do for you?" and this life, here and now, does matter too] The future glory begins now, we can already begin participating in the Kingdom (as it breaks in among us).
Here is a brief outline of Glennon's chapter
1. Align yourself with God's will (pray the Lord's prayer: your kingdom come, your will be done) [Jesus does this. In the Garden He makes this prayer, facing His passion and death for our sins. (John 6:38ff "For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me." God's will is eternal life, to know Jesus and live abundantly in Him. (Mt 18:14)It is the Father's will that not one of these little ones should perish--little ones are those in need who come to Him in trust.] His point is that when we say, I do not know what God's will is in this illness, we know, God's will is that all be saved. God's will for all is that health and salvation. God is the author of life and He wants to provide for His children.
2. Be aware of the Scripture. Study to see what the promises of God are:
a. If you confess He forgives you. If you repent He has mercy.
b. Jesus healed again and again! He did this because
i. He has love and compassion for people, and power flows from Him
ii. He came to do the work of the One who sent Him (sozo -salvation/healing/rescue)
c. Our first task is to simply explain to people the promises of God (this is the Gospel)
d. They must call out for healing. Their response to His available resources is vital.
[the psalmist says, "the Lord hears the cry of the poor." In the book of Exodus God tells Moses; 'i have seen their pain, I have heard their cries, I have come down to rescue them.]
e. "Faith" is the faith of the church--not just the minister(s), not just the person, but the whole church. God heals but the whole church believes and trusts God.
f. "praying in faith" means that you believe that you have received the answer to your prayer
at the moment you asked. already. without doubting. [Jn 12:41-42 "Father, I thank you for
for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me..." Jesus prayed out loud so that the
onlookers would know God sent Him as He stood before Lazarus' tomb). As Jesus also said
"all things are possible to him who believes (Mk 9:23)" and "do not fear, only believe (Mk
5:36)" (Mk 11:23-24) if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will
come to pass, it will be done for you. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer,
believe that you have received it, and it will be yours ]
g. Progressive Healing. for me this was the most important thing I learned. Francis MacNutt
says the same thing, though his explanation for the phenomenon is different. I think the reality
is a given, the theories of why are just that, human attempts to explain a mystery. Glennon
says only a minority of people are healed at once. For the majority healing is progressive.
He thinks it is because Jesus said "it is according to your faith" (Mt 9:29)
h. Healing is part of the Kingdom, and the Kingdom, says Jesus, is like a growing seed. Glennon
thinks that the growing parables indicate that the Kingdom is in process. There is much
scholarly discussion about the Kingdom: is it already here or yet to come. Most agree that
both are true. The process approach may be like the image of birthing which Jesus used.
Glennon has laid down several key points here. To quote the bumper sticker, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." The lived reality of the contemporary church, and, therefore, the way you and I were trained, is that God does not work miracles. Many are taught that healing is not part of the Gospel (it ended with the apostles). Morton Kelsey wrote a very long book on this topic, and demonstrated that in many ages healing was very much 'not ended.' Our culture is a step child of the age of reason (and the age of treason: Christian Deism). Unbelief is taught in the church, and the failure of our prayers and disappointment reinforce our unbelief. We cannot hear God's promises because we already know what He said (or what we think He said). We believe "He sends problems our way to strengthen us, He tortures us with illness to make us feel needy, He ignores our prayers to build our faith." No wonder we miss church and find worship a burden. Fear is no motivation, and such a God is only to be feared.
Glennon says, look at what Jesus said and did. Look at God's revelation. Here it as good news, and trust Him. But trust is key and so is the faith community (or unfaith community). And that becomes a problem, because trust is not just me or you, sometimes it is all of us. More later....