Jesus Suffered to Set Us Free

As I stood outside the glass doors waiting for my client at the Vein & Vascular Institute, an elderly gentleman came out and stood with me waiting for his wife. I asked him, “What are you here for?” He said, “I can’t breathe. I just got off a stress test and I have a splitting headache.” I reached my hand over and touched the back of his head and said, “I rebuke this headache in Jesus’ name and command the pain to subside and go away, and the cause of it to be corrected.” The man looked a little surprised, then mused saying, “Well that’s something. I just got saved two weeks ago.” I said, “Praise God. He is working in your life. He is showing you that just the same way he takes your sins away, now he also takes your pain and sickness away.” At that point his wife came out and we bid each other adieu. They walked down the short hall and around the corner. I continued to stand there. I don’t care about sitting all day, so I stand or walk, taking breaks to sit down.  In a moment the gentleman came back around the corner. He said, “I want to thank you for what you did. It really took the edge off this headache.” I said, “And it will continue to subside.” Then with a little more conversation, they went on their way.

You know, I just got out of the heart hospital myself and I am taking the meds and going through the procedures, but that does not change the Word, the Spirit, and the power of God. If we will put God out there into people’s lives, he will do what he wants to do and set people free. The key is openness and being yielded. As we go, he will guide. The way he works is different for every situation, but he always works with love, compassion, and with boldness to help people out of their bondage and suffering. Obviously, the man was in a state of being open to the things and operation of God, having been saved two weeks earlier. In that state he just received what God had for him. Jesus said we are to receive the kingdom like a child. So there is balance. The Word also says the violent take the kingdom by force. Sometimes there has to be some standing and fighting. But in all times, we must be open and yielded if we are going to receive and experience the things of God. This applies to every facet of what God has for us. Most of the time we must close off the things and ways of man, religious traditions and teachings that are not in harmony with the Word and Way of God. Man’s ways will leave us deficient, whereas God’s ways are all-sufficient. The suffering and death of Jesus is given to us to set us free in spirit, soul, and body.


Rescue the Perishing

With the onslaught of the enemy and bewildered by the utter chaos, Desmond Doss prayed, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” In a moment he heard the cries of fallen comrades. He knew what to do. He went into action rescuing the perishing, going into the battlefield, putting his own life in danger, to help the fallen soldiers. Until exhaustion, he went about finding those who needed medical attention. Then he started praying, and kept praying, “Lord, just one more. Help me get one more.” This continued until he himself was wounded and was carried out. He was credited with saving 75 wounded men out of the battle of Hacksaw Ridge. “He refused to carry a gun. His only weapons were his Bible and his faith in God. President Harry S. Truman warmly shook the hand of Corporal Desmond Thomas Doss, and then held it the entire time his citation was read aloud to those gathered outside the White House on October 12, 1945. “I’m proud of you,” Truman said. “You really deserve this. I consider this a greater honor than being president.”’ (quote from online source as Desmond Doss received the Metal of Honor). Even while the wounded Desmond was being carried off the battlefield, he saw one who had greater need than himself and jumped off his stretcher and directed his bearers to tend to the one in greater need. Inspired by the movie “Hacksaw Ridge”, I went online to learn more about Mr. Doss’ bravery and courage on that day at Hacksaw Ridge. In learning what Mr. Doss did, we have a vivid picture of what a dedicated warrior for Jesus can do in the kingdom of God.

Armed with the Word of God, and with a praying faith in God, and with the commitment to help others no matter what (and not harm them), many perishing people can be rescued. That’s what Jesus came to do. That is what he called his followers to do. We are to stand firm in battle to take the land set before us, and we are to help the fallen. We don’t shoot the fallen. We help them. It takes proud self-righteousness to shoot the fallen. It takes selfishness to ignore the fallen. It is in the face of this nature of man that Jesus taught that to be his disciple we must take up our cross (death to self) daily. In this place with the Lord, we can really get the job done that needs to be done. And, the rewards and honor are great. It is much more than a metal of honor. It is the commendation and eternal rewards offered to us by the Lord himself: “Come…blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered and ye gave me meat…thirsty…ye gave me drink…a stranger…naked…sick…in prison” and when you ministered to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me. (Matthew 25:34-40).


The Show Must Go On

It is said, “The show must go on!” originated from the circus world of entertainment. When there was an injury in a performer’s act, the ringmaster diverted the attention of the crowd to some other area, to keep the show moving. Patrons had paid for their seat to be entertained and they were sitting there, so “The show must go on!”

What would happen in the church world if when the people came together there would just be earnest prayer, repentance from sin, and calling upon the Lord to fill with his Spirit and guide in his ways. A similar thing happened from time-to-time in the Old Testament, and great deliverances and reformation occurred. But today, you can’t just stop the show and really get things right with God and just pray until God moves. You would lose a large part of your congregation. They are there in their paid seats, in their place and function in the church to do the show. Gideon had a great army, but they were whittled down to only 300 watchful men, and through the direction and power of God, they defeated a great army. Jesus started with training only twelve men. But, they forsook all to just follow him and be trained by him to become effective fishers of men. These are still rocking the world for Jesus. Their obedience led to an upper room prayer meeting that unleashed the power of God on the earth that has not stopped to this day – and that was about 2000 years ago! Thousands were converted, the sick were healed, demons were cast out, and the dead were raised. The gospel spread in an exponential way. It was not man’s plans and programs that did it. It was the power of God manifesting through the lives of the people by the same anointing and power by which Jesus himself operated.  In the revival history of the church, when somebody got desperate enough to stop the show and earnestly seek God until – it was then when reformation and revival broke out. When we can maintain “business as usual” and “the show must go on” in the face of desperate needs all around us, then we are obviously spiritually asleep. We might even know and preach about being spiritually asleep, and still be spiritually asleep ourselves. Yikes! Do you mean the Word really means it when it says he who knows to do good and he does not do it, to him it is a sin that will cauterize my conscience and rock me to sleep spiritually? (James 4:17) Then, I am totally insensitive to the crying needs around me. Then, I can do my own religious thing – without God’s power. There is a better way that starts with each of us personally. Stop the show. Let us do what we need to do for cleansing and hook up with God through the cross and Spirit of the Lord Jesus. Let’s allow God’s power to be seen.


Cohesiveness and Continuity

My son, David, with a team of people, makes movies. Recently they were shooting a PBS movie in Benton for children called “Mystery League”. It is about some children conducting an investigation to uncover some mysteries in a local area. I am fascinated by what it takes to make a movie, so I told Dave that whenever he is shooting one close, let me know and I will come and observe. It is amazing how much planning, work, and detail goes into even the simplest movie, and any given simple scene of that movie. There are about 30 people in the immediate area of the set all fulfilling some function to make it happen. I was on set, standing back out of the way watching a main monitor with a person who was in attendance to that monitor. This girl would watch the monitor and constantly type on a computer keyboard and draw a line through areas of a finely detailed written out plan. When there was a little break in all the busy-ness, I asked the girl what exactly was her function. Her function was to take the plan and schedule and insert notes (with the computer keyboard) as reference points for the editor of the movie. What she was doing was helping to maintain the cohesiveness of sticking to the plan and to help maintain the continuity, making sure there are reference points to maintain the flow of the movie. Without her function the editor would get volumes of snippets and scene footage all jumbled together to try and make a properly sequenced flowing movie out of it. This is just one very specialized function that goes on among many. It all goes into making those scenes which we plop down on the couch and casually watch and say, “Lets watch a movie tonight.” They will sometimes spend hours just making one short, simple scene, every detail of lighting, action, makeup, etc., etc., being attended to. And it’s all very highly technical with computer and electronic devices everywhere – all this to make a simple movie. On the movie set all are intensely focused on doing their part, all are kind and courteous to one another, and if there are differences, they work it out to an agreement and keep on working together to get the job done. If they don’t, the movie stops.

What a picture of how the Body of Christ is to work together to present Christ to the world. We are to use all the “technology” of the supernatural power of God. We are to pay attention to every detail that it be right, keeping the cohesiveness and continuity of God’s plan to reach the world for Jesus. We are to work out the differences so the outreach goes on. We are to stick with the detailed written plan and make sure we are doing it according to the plan. By this, Jesus is presented in power for everybody in the world to see.


Feasting at the Table

I will prepare a table for you in the presence of your enemies. This is what the Lord told David in Psalms 23 verse 6. From a shepherd’s practice in that part of the world, we know the shepherd will go before the sheep on a plateau of grazing land and check for snakes and other sources of harm to the sheep. He will take his rod and poke it in holes and around bushes and if a snake is discovered he will kill him in protection of the sheep. This is a picture of what the Lord does for us as the Good Shepherd. By our submission to him, we can know he is working on our behalf dealing with the enemy. Our part is to deal with the enemy of our flesh. The Lord gives us grace and understanding, and the power of his Word and Spirit, to enable us to deal with our flesh – to put off the bad and put on the good. With the Lord doing his part and us doing our part, we can effectively deal with our enemies of satan and the flesh to overcome all things and walk in the will of God. We in the western world think of a table as a place to eat. Sometimes we clean up and dress up and go to a dinner. We have an “anointing” of fragrant cologne and we go feast on an abundance of good food and drink, with our cup running over in abundance of goodness.

The basic lesson in either illustration is this: Even in the presence of “enemies”, the Lord can be counted on to make provision for us to be sustained abundantly. We might be facing opposition in some way – from others, from our own weaknesses and faults, from supernatural adversity of satanic activity – regardless of the source, we are promised a feast in the Lord. It might not be a feast in our circumstances or in what we see, feel, think, or hear, but with our mind stayed on Him, we can have peace, joy, and overcoming power. And with that promise, we are further promised that “surely”, without fail, God’s goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life as we dwell in His house, as we abide in Him. This is promised to be forever. What a deal! If I put the Lord first, trusting in Him as my Shepherd, he will take care of me here and now, and forever.

You can’t beat that! To have the Lord Himself caring for you! How could we refuse such an offer? As I dealt with an elderly man today who wanted to know the Lord, he asked how he could turn from sin and have Jesus? I said decide you want to give your whole life to him and do that, asking him to be the Lord of your life. He prayed and did that. He is starting to feast at the table.


Yelp Out to God

Waylon and Willy are my little 20 pound fur-ball friends that are apparently of a terrier type breed. I rescued them from an eight foot deep dry well they had fallen into as pups, and the owner insisted that I keep them. They’ve been my little friends and part of the family ever since. One day my brother Joe and I were standing behind his house, which was set in the woods, just yakking. Waylon and Willy were exploring just out of sight, down the little hill from where we were standing. Suddenly I heard them carrying on. Joe said, “Sounds like they jumped a rabbit.” I said, “No, I think that is a distress bark.” In another second there was even more carrying on, and with what I was hearing, they were definitely in some kind of trouble. I immediately started running into the woods down the hill toward the sound. In another couple of seconds, here comes Willy high-tailing at full speed out of the woods. In another second Waylon comes into view coming up the hill as fast as he could possibly run. Then in the next second I saw a fox right behind him. As I ran toward them at full speed, I began shouting and flailing my arms wildly to try to head off the inevitable. That fox was right on him ready to take him down. I remember the urgent anger that rose up in me. Without thinking of my own safety or well-being, I remember thinking, “I will tear that thing apart with my bare hands if I have to!” It just rose up in me. Good thing, I got the fox’s attention and he turned back while Waylon ran past me toward the house. Honestly, I think I would have tackled that thing to keep him off of Waylon.

You know, if we as a human will react that way toward a pet that is yelping out, don’t you know how God reacts toward his children who are “yelping out” to him. Jesus said a similar thing in Luke 11 where he was teaching on prayer. He said if a son asks for some bread of any of you that are a father, are you going to give him a rock? Or, if he asks for a fish, are you going to give him a venomous snake? Or, if he asks for an egg, are you going to give him a poisonous stinging scorpion? The answer is no, no, no. Then his point was that if you, being evil (natural), know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give  the Holy Spirit, the power and ability of God, to those who ask him (vs. 9-13). Father God does not want us to be devoured by the enemy in any way. He made his power available to us by our yielding our all to the Holy Spirit. All who ask and yield in faith, receive.


The Thrill of the Hunt

As a kid growing up in the country around Poyen Arkansas, I was familiar with the sport of “coon hunting”. My neighbor, Vernard Webb, took me coon hunting one night. Back then they used a carbide headlamp to shine up in the trees to locate the raccoon the dogs had treed. It was quite an adventure for me to go out into the darkness of the woods with just that little light bouncing around on the trees and vegetation. There was no path. You made your own path by finding the way of least resistance through the woods. Once you hear the dogs trailing and treeing, adrenalin kicks in to get there quickly and find out what they’ve got. At that point you just fight your way through whatever you encounter to get to where the dogs are. I remember fighting my way through all kinds of tangles of vines and low-growing brush. I remember crossing a creek with no hesitation or mind that now the water will be sloshing in my boots with pants legs wet. As we approach the dogs at the tree, Vernard, with the brightly shining carbide headlamp looks up in the tree revealing two eyeballs reflecting the bright light. It was an easy target. The 12 guage quickly put out the two little blinking lights with a bang, then a heavy thump on the ground. For a young guy who had never experienced such adventure it was an exhilarating time which I will never forget. Yes, it was a good time. But, two days later a case of poison ivy started developing on my body that I also will never forget. I did not know the vines and growth I fought my way through in the thrill of the moment was loaded with poison ivy. For me, that was not good. We got the coon, but the coon got me. Sometimes we get ourselves involved in a situation that is a great adventure and thrill for the moment. What we don’t bargain for are the consequences that come out of that “thrilling hunt”.

God’s Word gives us bright light, telling us sin will without fail find us out. It tells us the wages, the payment for sin, is death. If we would just understand that life is filled with poison ivy, and with the headlamp of the Word we can shine on our path and avoid the contact. We might enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, but there will always be a price to pay in some way. The good news is that by turning from our way and going God’s way of knowledge, understanding, and guidance given to us in the person of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, we can avoid the pitfalls. If we have gotten ourselves into a case of the ivy, we can follow the Lord in faith and obedience to heal and restore. By following Him, we learn of great pleasures in Him with no ill consequences.  


Remove the Training Wheels

We have a 24’ x 24’ concrete slab behind our house that was once the floor of a carport. It now serves as an open patio with a basketball goal on one side and patio tables and chairs on the other. It is a place of year-round congregating as weather permits. Also parked on one side of the patio are four little bikes with training wheels. Great grandkids also enjoy this “speedway” throughout the year, the concrete surface providing a fine place to race and go round and round on their bikes. There will be a day the little bikes will no longer be used. Some kids use training wheels for a long time. Others skip the training wheel stage, and perhaps after a fall or two, go right into fully balanced riding without assistance. At some point the bikes will have no training wheels, and the kids will go on to bigger and better things, with the whole world of travel before them.

In our walk with the Lord, most of us go through a training wheel stage. We start out wobbly and depending on the guidance of others to keep us heading in the right direction. Then, as confidence and understanding grows, we launch out on our own in different areas. There might be a fall or two, but because we have the desire for God burning within us, we get up, brush ourselves off, bandage the scrapes and scratches, and keep pushing forward to master the challenge to be free to go places and do things in the Lord. We read in the Word of God how Jesus was anointed with the Holy Ghost and power and went about doing good healing all who were oppressed of the devil, for God was with him (Acts 10:38). Jesus had his “training wheels” for a time. Then, when that time was fulfilled, it was time to launch out and ride. And he did that, carrying the presence of God into the lives of the people for deliverance in every way. There is power available to all today. God has provided through his Word and Spirit for each person to roll on and go places and do things in Him. God’s destiny is for us to grow beyond the 24 x 24 concrete patio with our religious training wheels. Jesus promised to pour his Spirit out upon all flesh, baptizing us with the Spirit and fire of God. Jesus promised to immerse us with that same Spirit that raised him from the dead. He promised the Spirit of love, truth, and wisdom to guide us into all truth, supernaturally empowering us, setting us free, and setting all free who will hear and obey him. Each one of us must remove the training wheels and launch out, with balance and determination, to receive all God has for us. As we do that, we don’t know where the journey will take us, but we know in the Lord it will be good.  


Venison On the Runway

My wife’s grandson, Brandon Wilson, is in commercial flight training. On his first night flight training session, just as he lifted off the runway, a deer ran out of the darkness and the landing gear hit it going 70 miles per hour. The plane was immediately powered back to successfully land back on the runway. Damage was done to the landing gear of the plane, but it could be repaired so the plane could continue to fly. Years ago Brandon made the decision that he wanted to become a commercial airline pilot. His life was focused on that goal. When the reality of it began to be unfolded, he encountered this incident. He could have gotten “spooked” by the deer incident and decided to pursue some other career. But, he has a made up mind. That’s what he is going to be. He did not get side-tracked by the incident and any other adversity. He learns from it all to be a better pilot for it. It is all taken as part of the training.

So many times incidents happen in church that causes “offence”, and people will turn their back on the things of God. I know of an incident where there was a disagreement and a fist fight in a church meeting, causing a person to decide to never set foot in a church again. That’s like if after Brandon hit that deer, he said, “I’ll never get in an airplane again.” What that would show is that Brandon wasn’t really committed to flying. We can be religious, but not really committed to Jesus Christ as Lord. We can be born again but living after a natural point of view instead of living by the mind of the Holy Spirit. This results in being easily offended by incidents and opposition. Some people “quit serving God” because of the death of a loved one. If we have a made up mind to walk with God with a heart filled with the Holy Spirit, even when we don’t understand things, we still have our source of life and peace in the Lord. We will still walk with him. We might not understand things but we know that he does, and as we trust in him and live our life in his presence, we will come to the understanding we need to come to. We must understand that God is good, the devil is bad, life and people can be bad, and every person is responsible to obey the promptings and leadership of the Spirit each day in life. As we each do that, we live in victory even in the face of bad incidences, decisions, actions, and attitudes, and in the face of the devil’s devices. To successfully learn to “fly” in this life, we each must learn to submit all to the Lord seeking to learn from and trust him. He is God. We are not. We must make our mind up to walk with him no matter what.


Why Pray?

My siblings and I have had a good relationship over the years, but we never spent a lot of time just talking on a regular basis. Two are gone and now it is just me and my eldest brother living in another state. It occurred to me over a year ago that one day one of us will be gone, then the other. In the past, we have gone years at a time not communicating. There was no problem between us. It was just each being busy with life as it is. I determined to call him once a month and we were just going to talk. I will text ahead of time to see if it is a good time to talk. For the past year, that has been happening, and we both look forward to our monthly chat. There is no set day, but my determination was to do it in the first part of the month, knowing that if it was put off, a month could slip by and we not communicate. Through our monthly communication we have tapped in on a good thing that we were missing. Sometimes we have talked more than an hour, laughing, exchanging ideas, and reminiscing the pastjust having a good ol’ time – something that was unheard of in the past. And we have had a face time call or two when there was something of interest to be shown and seen. I would encourage anyone to do what you need to do to communicate with family in a positive way. One day the family is gone and we will have missed out on some good things that were available to each of us.

The question has been asked, “Why pray?” We communicate with God because words share ideas, desires, observations, burdens, and questions. With prayer to God we should always have a time when we shut up and just be quiet and listen to hear from God. He can communicate back to us directions, encouragement, reproof, instructions, and solutions. As we of the same family can communicate back and forth, so can sons and daughters of God communicate back and forth with their heavenly Father. If we are busy with life so that we don’t set aside the time and initiate the call, we can go days, months, years, and even a lifetime with no communication. When we fail to be in communication with God, we stand to lose a lot here and now and our eternal soul forever. One day it is all over and we have missed the goodness and benefits that could have been experienced. When this is realized, there is good reason for gnashing regret for not making the call with Father God on a regular basis. Why pray? To open our heart before our heavenly Father who cares for us. Then, hearing his Word to our heart and mind allows him to share his heart with us. Prayer from the heart is always a good thing.