Monday, September 24, 2007

totally changing the way we think

written by bill johnson

How can God choose not to heal someone when He already purchased their healing? Was His blood enough for all sin, or just certain sins? Were the stripes He bore only for certain illnesses, or certain seasons of time? When He bore stripes in His body He made a payment for our miracle. He already decided to heal. You can't decide not to buy something after you've already bought it. There are no deficiencies on His end - neither the covenant is deficient, nor His compassion or promises. All lack is on our end of the equation. The only time someone wasn't healed in the Bible (gospels) when the disciples prayed for them was with the tormented child (Mark 9). Jesus then came a brought healing/deliverance to the child. Jesus Christ is perfect theology - He is the will of God. We can't lower the standard of scripture to our level of experience . . . or in most cases, inexperience. It's a very uncomfortable realization - not everyone can handle it. Most create doctrine that you can't find in the person of Jesus. He is the will of God.How do we fix the problem?

1. Realize it's not God's fault.

2. Learn from others who see miracles. Have them pray for you. If you don't know people who see miracles, find them. Books will help, if the author has a miracle lifestyle. (Don't try to learn from those who only have the theory of miracles.)

3. Do what Jesus told His disciples to do when He addressed the problem - pray and fast (not just for a specific problem, but for a lifestyle anointing.)

4. Take risk - pray for people (NOT - "if it be thy will" kind of prayer. In the thousands of people I've seen healed, I've never seen anyone healed from that kind of prayer.)

5. It's hard to hurt someone's faith by praying for a miracle. Not praying for a miracle gives them no chance for increased faith. That is what hurts faith. The real goal is to show people God's love. And faith grows in the display of God's love. His love is seen when we show compassion and display God's power.

6. When God heals people, give Him thanks and praise. Learn from it so it will happen again.

7. If someone isn't healed, realize the problem isn't God, and seek Him for direction as well as personal breakthrough (greater anointing for consistency in healing). Also, don't take it personal. There are other factors involved besides great faith. That is only one element in the equation. Just learn to do your best to be faithful to His gospel, and honor Him for the results. It's also not wise to blame the person who is sick.

8. There's a difference between a miracle and healing. Miracles happen in an instant and healing happens over time. It is important to recognize the progress of what God is doing in a person's body and give thanks, because healing increases in an atmosphere of thankfulness.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Message from My Friends in Mombasa!

This was taken from their blog...there is a link to more of their adventures in My Links (or here: Their stories get to the heart of the matter and are the cry of my heart. I encourage you to go there...without leaving the comforts of home! Their message is simple, yet it will change your life.
This message is from Jamie- my California surfer girl and snorkel buddy.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why Mombasa? Why Us?
So I'm not quite sure how to write this or what exactly to say, but here we go. Once upon a time, there was four kids, from four different places in America, with four different stories that have nicely intertwined for a time such as this. What time is this, you ask? Well, as one of my favorite MCs would say: "It's Hammer Time!" Okay, but really. As another one of my favorite MCs would say: "In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth." (John 18:37). Jesus was radical, the MC among MCs of his day, a rebel, a passionate lover of God's children, a teacher, a friend, and the Son of God. He wasn't just revolutionary, he is the revolution to this thing we call life. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the mediator that lets me stand before my Father in heaven. Because of Him, I am "to God the aroma of Christ" among people ( 2Cor.2:15). And because of Him, I am here in Mombasa with three other amazing people who just want to know this Man better.
Here is how our stories came together: My name is Jamie. I'm from San Francisco, California. Topher is from Boston, Massachusetts. And Carly and Terra are from Gaylord, Michigan. We all met in Mozambique, except for Carly and Terra, in a little Missions school called Holy Given School associated with Iris Ministries. Carly and Terra had just graduated from Taylor University and were ready to explore what the Lord had next (whether that be: being a surf bum in my beloved Cali or being 22 years old living in Kenya for a few months, falling in love with the Lord and His people even more). Topher was about to start med school at Tulane University, but was surprised to find a good friendship and a strong pull toward the same calling we all felt. And I was approaching my Senior year at San Francisco State University, but couldn't resist the Father's call to this awesome adventure.
In Mozambique, at Iris Ministries, surrounded by 'laid down lovers' of God, we had two months devoted to learning what missions really is. We each took something different away from this experience. I learned about missions, about the Father's heart, what it means to be a lover of Christ, what it feels like to be a 'whitey' in Africa, and, most importantly, to never forget to wear sunscreen. The list could go on. But in all reality, what I learned in Mozambique was the theory of Missions. And instead of just going back to my San Francisco life, the Lord has set it up so that we all could actually put the theories we learned into practice. I was in no way prepared for this journey to Kenya when I came to Mozambique. I didn't have a clue, and I didn't have my contact lenses.One of the greatest things I gained was some good friendships, not only with these two cool chicks from Michigan and a dude from Boston, but one very cool guy from Kenya. His name: Robert. After a few fun days exploring the city of Pemba and talking with them about his vision for ministry back in their home city, Mombassa, the Lord started to put a desire in all of our hearts to come alongside our Kenyan brother in helping build a foundation for Iris Ministries in Kenya.
Why Mombasa? Well, we asked that same question at first. Actually, we are still asking that same question at times. Everyday we ask God for wisdom. Jesus, what next? Where now? And everyday, He is faithful to give us an answer as we sit before Him and seek His face. Our mission: To fall even more in love with Him. As we fall for Him, we fall in love with the street kids who have been abandoned and rejected, who sniff glue all day long just to escape the pains of everyday life, who fight to stay alive on the streets, and who are burdened with health problems. As we fall for Him, we fall in love with the little neighbor boys who come to our house everyday for a soccer ball and guitar lessons. As we fall for Him, we fall in love with the Kenyan faces and culture of many new found friends. And as we fall for Him, we fall in love with each other in friendship and unity.I'm excited to see what is ahead, to see the fruit of what the Lord is going to do.It puts my mind at ease to think that the Lord can take the little I have and make it something beautiful. "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch on its branches." (Matthew 13:31-32). That's the Kingdom of Heaven for ya though. This upside down kingdom where the Lord uses the weak, the unworthy, and the small to create the most glorious picture of who He is.As Paul says in 2 Timothy: "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful appointing me to his service." And even better, he equips those He chooses. So we walk by faith, trusting the Lord for each next step, knowing He will equip us with everything we need. As I said: We're just four kids, walking hand in hand with Jesus.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

If you are waiting for your physical death to be set free from sin, then you have made death your Savior. - Georgian Banov

Friday, September 7, 2007

the girls' bathroom

I just had to include some commentary and actual text from Rob Bell's book Sex God- odd title I know. I picked it up in South Africa and it's one of those books you purposefully don't pick up because you don't want to finish it. I've limited myself to two chapters a week. The book is profound and everyone should read it...I've attempted to summarize Chapter Five. It's that good.

He begins the chapter by retelling a story from his youth of asking a girl to dance. Her response was running into the girls bathroom. But he tells the story to illustrate making a move toward someone and the risk that is involved. The person can say yes or no. In putting yourself out there you give them power. What happens when our love is not reciprocated? He then tells another story, one where a friend admits having an affair. Bell recalls being at this guys wedding and witnessing their commitment to one another. That evening, the betrayed wife comes to his door, sits on his couch between him and his wife, and cries and cries and cries. Bell writes that there are a lot of different cries, “someone I love is dying” cry and even the “I just hit my thumb with a hammer” cry. But her cry on that day was of someone who had had their heart broken into by a lover. “It comes from someplace else. Someplace far inside a person, deep in the soul. It’s a cry with a certain ache. It’s the ache of a broken heart” (91).

He then uses the Bible’s collection of love poems, Song of Solomon to illustrate risky love. The young girl sees her “beloved” and he is coming toward her but cannot get in. He is standing behind her wall and looking through the window. She most likely lives at home and is very young. Her life is safe and predictable. Her family is there to care for her. But he is calling her to a life away from them. It is a risk she has to take. It may not work out. He may not be who he appears to be. What if he says this to every woman? What if he cheats on her? Love is risky. “The heart has tremendous capacity to love, and to ache. And this ache is universal.

“You can put women from all over the world with nothing in common in a room together and they may not have a thing to talk about until one of them says, ‘And then he cheated on me,’ and instantly you have universal sisterhood” (95). They all have heartbreak in common. Heartbreak is not just about lovers, but parents and children, friends and co-workers. “It’s universal because we’re feeling something as old as the world. Something God feels” (96). In Genesis, God gives people freedom. They have freedom to love God or not love God. Genesis 6:6 reads God, “regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled” and “then YHWH (God) was sorry that he had made humankind on earth, and it pained his heart.” God has a heart, one that feels, responds, hurts and fills with pain. And we are the source of His grief.

“People God made who have freedom. Freedom to love anybody they want. And freedom not to love anybody they want. God takes this giant risk in creating and loving people, and in the process God’s heart is broken” (97).

“The story the Bible tells is of a living being who loves and who continues to love even when that love is not returned. A God who refuses to override our freedom, who respects our power to decide whether to reciprocate, a God who lets us make the next move” (98).

“Love is handing your heart to someone and taking the risk that they will hand it back because they don’t want it. That’s why it’s such a crushing ache on the inside. We gave away a part of ourselves and it wasn’t wanted.

Love is a giving away of power. When we love, we give the other person the power in the relationship. They can do what they choose. They can do what they like with our love. They can reject it, they can accept it, they can step toward us in gratitude and appreciation.

Love is a giving away. When we love, we put ourselves out there, we expose ourselves, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

Love is giving up control. It’s surrendering the desire to control the other person. The two- love and controlling power over the other person- are mutually exclusive. If we are serious about loving someone, we have to surrender all of the desires within us to manipulate the relationship” (98).

So God, creator of the universe, doesn’t overwhelm us by showing up in great power with bolts of lightening and making things happen. If He did, he’d scare us away. “The last thing people would perceive is love” (99). So He expresses His love by stripping Himself of all things that come with power and authority. “That’s how love works. It doesn’t matter if a man has a million dollars and wants to woo a woman (or vice versa), if she loves him for his money, it isn’t really love.

If you were an almighty being who made the universe and everything in it, you would need to meet people on their level, in their world, on their soil…like them.

This is the story of the Bible. This is the story of Jesus” (100).

Throughout the life of Jesus, He chooses love, not power. “Connection and solidarity rather thank rank and hierarchy. Touch rather than distance. Compassion rather than control. He comes on a donkey, not a horse” (101).

In Philippians it says that Jesus, “who, being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing” (Philippians 2:5-11).

There is a weakness that is actually strength. And a strength that is actually a weakness” (102).

Managers and bosses who use their position to bully others to get things done have a strength that is actually a weakness. Their authority only comes from a title, one that can me taken away in an instant. They appear strong, but are actually weak.

Bell uses Ghandi as a prime example of this in his commitment to nonviolence. He was able to stand up to the British Empire!

And this is the approach of Jesus. “In His emptiness, He shows us how empty the way of the world really is. …Jesus is God coming to us in love. Sheer, unadulterated love. Stripped of everything that could get in the way. Naked and vulnerable, hanging on a cross, asking the question, ‘What will you do with me?’”.(105)

Thus the cross speaks to us of God’s suffering, pain and broken heart. “It’s God making the first move and waiting on our response” (105).

If you have ever given yourself to someone and had your heart broken, you know how God feels. If you have ever given yourself to someone and found yourself waiting for their response, exposed and vulnerable, left hanging in the balance, you know how God feels. If you’ve ever given your heart to someone you loved deeply, only to have them lie to you, cheat on you, use you and rip your heart into pieces, you know how God feels. The cross is God’s way of saying, “I know what it’s like”.

So often we get angry at God, raise our fists in the air and tell Him how unfair He is and how He has no idea what we are going through or how much pain we are in…But the cross is God’s way of saying that He does know.

In seeing Him in this way we come to a place where we realize we are not alone, “where we find strength to go on. Not a strength that comes from within ourselves but a strength that comes from God. The God who keeps going. Who keeps offering. Who keeps loving. Who keeps risking. A God who knows what it’s like. The cross is where we present our wounds to God and say, ‘Here, you take them.’

Our healing begins when we participate in the suffering of God. When we don’t avoid it but enter into it, and in the process enter into the life of God. When we see our pain not as separating us from but connecting us to our maker. And in this connection, there’s always the chance we’ll find a reason to risk again”. (107)

If you’ve had your heart broken, risked, offered, been lied to, deceived, used, there is something divine in your suffering.

“You know how God feels.

Really good people get hurt. It’s the way things are.

It’s when we choose not to love again that there’s a problem. A decision not to risk again is a decision not to love again. In matters of love, it’s as if God has agreed to play by the same rules we do. God can do anything- that’s what makes God, God. But God cannot do everything. He can’t make us love Him- that’s our choice. Love is risky for God too.

Which is a bit like a boy asking a girl to dance” (109).

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Anybody there?

I have no idea if anyone is reading this any more, now that I am home and safe and sound...But I am not really sound. The perks of the western world have worn off. I never got that pedicure that I was dying to have in Mozambique. I still have not had my hair trimmed. Air-conditioning is too cold, hot baths are too hot, my bed is too soft, and department stores only have fall clothes on display and it's way too hot for that. All the comforts of home, aren't so comfortable.
So what do you do when you are out of your comfort zone? How do you find peace in the wilderness? I depend on the "cloud by day" and "fire by night". Thank goodness I am not my own source of peace and contentment. I thank Jesus that He died not only to save me from my sins, but save me from myself. So, I look to Him for new direction and a new plan in life. I have no idea what this looks likes, but I am excited. He has great plans for us and the only way we can discover them is to ask Him.
I may have the opportunity to go to Kenya. It is very up in the air and a lot would have to take place for it to happen (selling everything). However, I am looking into it. So just don't be surprised. As I said before, "get your passports up to date".
I still have tons of stories about Mozambique and life in Pemba that I want to share with all of you. Please email me or call as I would love to share with you all one on one.