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Church of Christ: Let's Take Hell!
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I was once a Member of the Duncanville, Texas Church of Christ where
I was baptized. Charles Hodge, a well-known preacher, was the minister
during the 8 years I attended there. I learned a great deal from "Hodge,"
who always had a pocket filled with candy for the kids every Sunday.
Over the years, as I've gone about teaching a Bible Study called "Jesus Said,"
of all the attendees from all the denominations who have taken part in
this series, it has always been Members of the Church of Christ that
have always had the best handle on the Scriptures, especially among the
young people. I was always secretly quite proud of that fact.
My reason for writing this message is simple: I want people in the
Church of Christ to be made aware that there's more!
When I was diagnosed with a hereditary spinal disease at age 28, I
became desperate. I began asking many people of various Christian
flavors to pray for me. It was only when I permitted those who
believed in the laying on of hands and anointing with oil to do so that
I began to experience results. These days, my doctor says I have a
"textbook spine." I'm 47 as I write after having been told I would be
immobilized by the time I was fifty. In fact, on New Year's Eve 2001,
I moved to Stephenville, Texas to be closer to my children so that I
could get help washing clothes, carrying groceries, etc. I had no job,
knew no one, but quit a good-paying job and relocated out of
These days, I travel in different circles. I am a staunch supporter of
the burgeoning House Church movement and I write and speak in
homes in regard to this topic. I am also a Non-denominational
Workplace Chaplain, traveling to ten Nursing Home facilities
throughout the state, responsible for the spiritual growth of over 500
employees throughout North Central Texas.
One afternoon, while returning home from a day at my firm's Grand Saline,
Texas facility, I received a call from a man in Washington State. He
prefaced his conversation by stating that he was a Member of the Church
of Christ and, after reading something I had written online, felt that he
should call me. He related a story of how, as his mother lay dying in
ICU ten years ago, two women came by asking if they could pray for
and anoint her with oil. Her physician had just warned the family that
their family's beloved matriarch would not make it through the night.
Reluctantly - but out of desperation - the man's father decided to allow
the two women to pray. The next day, fully expecting that his mother
had expired during the evening, he walked up behind the physician who
turned around, smiled broadly, hugged him "like a long-lost brother,"
and tearfully exclaimed, "She's gonna live!"
Ten years later, she's still alive.
My personal contention is that the fullness of the Holy Spirit is
available to everyone with the faith to step out and submit themselves
to Him for Kingdom use. In Luke 11:9-13, Jesus encourages us with
these words, "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek
and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For
everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who
knocks, the door will be opened. "Which of you fathers, if your son
asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg,
will give him a scorpion? 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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
I have found that those who dare to ask are the individuals who
understand that, whether God chooses to heal a person through their
ministry or not, whether the prophetic utterance one dares to speak is
true, whether one's Word of Knowledge is appropriate or not, the
worst that can happen is that they completely miss God. The one being
prayed for may die. The one they prophesied over may have no
witness whatsoever to what was said. Oh, well...in those cases, the
one who stepped out in faith is now stronger for having exercised
their faith muscles. In those moments when they DO experience what
co-laboring with God is all about, their faith and confidence grow
and, well...watch out, devil!
The best that could happen? Isn't it obvious? Sick people will be healed,
people will be amazed and put their trust in God, a prophetic word will
edify, exhort and comfort, just like all New Testament prophecy is
SUPPOSED to, etc.
But if all of us choose to do NOTHING, guess what will happen?
Romans 8:11 tells us that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead
dwells within us. Let Him out! Work WITH God. In 1 Corinthians 3:9,
the apostle Paul reminds us, "...we are God’s fellow workers; you are
God’s field, you are God’s building."
Release the healing virtues of the Lord Jesus Christ into someone's
Declare peace into a chaotic situation.
Take authority over the demons in control of someone's life.
Go on...I dare ya! More importantly, God dares ya. So does Satan. Far
too often, God's people are bound with fear. We're afraid of looking
stupid. What if the sick person dies? What if they ridicule us? "I'm no
prophet," one might say to themselves, "...who do I think I am anyway?"
With that kind of logic, what if a baseball player never swings his bat
for fear of striking out? What if he DOES swing and belts a home run?
In Philippians 1:20, Paul writes, "According to my earnest expectations
and [my] hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but [that] with all
BOLDNESS, as always, [so] now also Christ shall be magnified in my
body, whether [it be] by life, or by death." Paul was not merely HOPING
to glorify God with his actions; he EXPECTED that God would use him
whenever he stepped out in faith. He was "fully persuaded" (Rom 4:21)
that God had power to do what He said He would do.
Are WE fully persuaded?
Recently, I was inspired by an article I'd read about persecuted Chinese
Christians who will go into an area and actually ask to see the most
sickly person in town. Their God-ordained strategy? When this person
is healed, others will come to believe.
So, armed with the confidence which that article had inspired, while
visiting another facility, I asked to see the sickest person there. I was
directed to a man named Curtis who, I was told, was dying. I was
informed that he was a lifelong member of the Church of Christ and his
family was there with him. After speaking words of faith and
encouragement to his relatives, testifying to the healing power of God
in my own life and in the lives of others I know, the family agreed to
allow me to lay hands upon their beloved Curtis and pray. In fact, at my
request, they encircled his bed and laid hands upon him with me. There
were tears as I prayed and hugs and expressions of gratitude as I left
Curtis in God's hands.
God's presence was in that room. No, Curtis didn't get up and walk.
Not at that moment anyway. Let's face it, even the Ten Lepers were
healed "as they went" while the woman with the issue of blood was
healed instantly and a blind man needed prayer twice. Jesus couldn't
do much in His own hometown and had to clear the room of faithless
people in order to raise Jairus's daughter back to life. Curtis is in his
80's and, as his sister told me, "he knows his Lord." Perhaps it's time
for him to go home where he will experience the healing of all healings.
That's between him and "his Lord."
That was 15 days ago today. I just received an eMail from the Nursing
Home Administrator. It read, "Curtis is doing very well!"
The day after ministering to Curtis, I was asked to come and minister
at the local hospital to the father of one of our employees, a man in his
80's who, I was told, was dying. His name was Clarence. Again, the
family was a Church of Christ clan. Again, by the time I finished
sharing testimonies of healing with them, their faith had risen to the
level of attacking Hell with squirt guns. Soon, we were all in ICU -
all ten of us - laying hands on Clarence, their patriarch, family
members hugging, crying, comforting, and agreeing with me in prayer
as I spoke life and healing to our sedated brother in Christ. Two other
family members requested prayer afterward as well.
Though his vitals actually improved the next day, he remained in ICU
seven days later. But that family experienced God that day. No doubt!
They experienced peace. Their focus was redirected to what - WHO -
is the most important person in the Universe. God was there. It was
glorious. Even the menfolk were crying and gave me bear hugs when I
left. One family member has informed me that our encounter has inspired
much God-centered conversation and questions about life, death and
I'm no healing evangelist. No Benny Hinn. I don't claim to be a "Faith
Healer" or any such thing. I'm just an average "Joe Christian" who
can't find anywhere in Scripture where Jesus commands His followers
to "pray for the sick." No, what I DO find is where He instructs us to
"HEAL THE SICK." When we know the Healer, it's pretty safe to say
all I need is (A) the Faith and (B) the opportunities. Whatever happens
next is, frankly, between them and God.
I could go on and on with testimonies of this nature. Some, by human
standards, were apparent, immediate "successes" and others appeared
to be dismal failures. For example, within a few days of each other,
two women - one in her 90s - got up out of their wheel chairs last month
when I prayed in Jesus' Name. One hadn't walked in ten years! Some
folks are healed, others aren't. Some I've prayed for require additional
prayer while others have actually died. In every case, somebody is
tremendously blessed and has an encounter with the Spirit of Christ -
each and EVERY time!
Whether it's healing prayer, prophetic words, the description of a
vision God might give us, I have learned that the worst thing that can
happen is that we look plain foolish whenever we dare to step out of
our comfort zones. Well, shucks! I guess I'll perpetually be marked as a
fool for Christ, the One who stepped out of His comfort zone for all our
sakes in the first place. Even in the most "foolish" of instances, people
will be blessed as we release the Spirit of Christ from within us...
something we should all do more often, even on a moment-to-moment
basis in day-to-day family life (a great place to practice, by the way).
I am convinced that it all comes down to Obedience and Availability.
Pray when the opportunity arises and minister in the way that God
instructs you to minister. Be available from the time you get out of bed
every day. Watch as God provides Divine Appointments - even if by
eMail or telephone or in an office setting. You just may find that God
will give you a brand new reason for getting up in the morning!
Today, Mother's Day, I received an email from a man in west Texas.
Apparently, his House Church group - all self-professing Church of
Christ "refugees" - are looking for direction and purpose for meeting.
He asked if I would come and my wife and I have agreed to do so.
Ironically, the House Church movement among those from the Church
of Christ in Texas is spreading rapidly. I'm thrilled to assist in that revival.
This verse of Scripture has been floating around in my spirit for weeks:
2 Corinthians 2:14 (New Life Version) "We thank God for the power
Christ has given us. He leads us and makes us win in everything. He
speaks through us wherever we go. The Good News is like a sweet smell
to those who hear it."
UPDATE: Remember Clarence, the Church of Christ man in the local hospital?
Well, they took him off his respirator Friday morning. The Dr's thinking was
that he would either breathe on his own or he would die. Well, I visited the
hospital Friday night. He's breathing on his own, his vitals are good, he was
sitting up in bed and trying to talk, devouring ice chips. We prayed for him
again and he shook my hand twice and thanked me. The countenance of the
entire family in the waiting room had changed as well. It was a wonderful
atmosphere! All glory to God!
On Saturday afternoon, they moved him to a regular hospital room. The family
is ecstatic. Last week, when his daughter asked - just in case he didn't make it -
if I would officiate his funeral, I replied, "Sure, ask me again in ten years."
Yesterday, Clarence was discharged from the hospital. Praise God!
A servant of God
NOW, FORWARD THIS MESSAGE TO AT LEAST 5 OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR CHURCH.
THEN SEND IT ON TO YOUR BAPTIST, CATHOLIC AND METHODIST FRIENDS, ETC.
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