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An All-Hallows Eve Ramble; Spirits & Spiritual Life in the Ministry
Topic Started: Oct 31 2009, 08:17 PM (1,798 Views)
DeanZF
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Hi ho the derry-oh, a-rambling I will go!

I’ve been reading a book that will remain unnamed, at least until I finish it. It’s about a contextual Jesus through the eyes of what seems to be a liberal historian. From my perspective, it’s a pretty good representation of what I see as a scholarly book, not pushing one agenda item, but rather exposing thoughts and opinions about all sorts of seemingly minorish points. When that happens, it comes with a lot of subtly negative, critical comments about the folks that many of us consider to be heros. Over and above Messiah’s status as divine, over and above centuries of debate, research, and investigation of events, over and above the stance of the vast majority of orthodox scholars of the Bible, there are still those who entice innocent readers and seekers of truth by clever titles and slanted texts.

The book in question was written by a man who sounds in the opening chapters of the book as though he’s a believer in Christ. He’s a professor of the history of the Jews and seems to be pretty focused on Judaism as expressed in the several hundred years either side of the birth of Messiah. He brings some things that make any thinker ponder some of our preconceived ideas. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. More on that in a bit. (I did look at the last pages of the book and the author does confess the lordship and divinity of Jesus. That’s a good thing and a relief to me.)

He also writes about events chronicled in the Gospels, narratives about things that Jesus did. This guy, however, writes about the same sorts of things being manifest in the lives of other Jewish holy men. In one chapter, he writes about Jesus’ various confrontations with the demonic realm. With deftness, the writer presents historical accounts of devout, but admittedly non-deity, Jewish holy men of that time and their encounters with demons. Like the other exorcists of that era, Jesus was treated as just another Who had His own formulae for dealing with the connection between exorcism and healing. It is true that the Hebraic mindset sees the human being as a complete being, mind/body/soul/spirit. Greek mindset subdivides us into convenient components that can be dealt with separately, with little or no connection between spirit and body, for instance. Hmmm.

Those of us who have traveled in Charismatic circles for any length of time, have seen all sorts of healing and exorcistic events. Some I’ve seen have been pretty mild, some were pretty wild. I’ve been hissed at, called names, glared at with suddenly hateful eyes. I’m sure that you’ve been exposed to similar stuff. If you’ve studied the Book, you’ll remember how Jesus and His followers, and even the prophets before Him, did this stuff. Most of how Jesus healed worked against demons was from the position of authority. He simply spoke and things happened. He also did things, however, many of which are very foreign to our western experience. In today’s disease-paranoid world, imagine putting one of your bodily fluids in someone’s ears or eyes! Can we say “lawsuit”? I’m positive that there is something to the author’s thesis that saliva has cleansing and thus healing aspects. The mouth is the area of the body that heals quickest. Remember the old adage about licking one’s wounds? We see Jesus spit in an ear, saliva-mud on the eyes—was this part of the healing ritual? Was this something that other Jewish exorcists of the era practiced? Or was this a cure that came special delivery from on high, from the throne?

Even though Jesus certainly had an earthly context, I don’t believe that Jesus was “like” other healers or exorcists of that or any other age. How did Jesus do what Jesus did? I think that we have a couple of clues from Scripture. We know that He was up early in prayer, spending time with Father. In John 5:19, Jesus gives us an even bigger clue, that the folks saw the Son does nothing on His own, but rather does only what the Son sees the Father doing. One of my earliest memories of being schooled in ministering to people was to be careful to listen to the Spirit. Don’t be praying for or declaring healing on someone unless you’re hearing or “seeing” Father heal that person. In a prayer line with someone who’s intent on doing what Father is doing, you might hear prayers for blessing for the one requesting prayer rather than prayers to heal.

The author in question shared that many of the historic healers spent hours or even days praying before what we might call ministry. These people were homing in on what G-d was wanting to do! This author shared one special anecdote about one evidently famous healer who spent an hour focusing his heart and preparing before he ever addressed HaShem! That’s an interesting lesson from antiquity, yes? We do things like confessing our sins and asking that any weakness spiritual, mental or physical would be shown that we could present it to Father that He might make it whole, so that we can be better and more effective vessels of His virtues.

When it comes to dealing with demons, Jesus gave us a bunch of examples. Were these “standard operating procedure” for healers and exorcists of the day? Do I care?? The point here is still the same—what is it that Father is doing and how do I do that?

Dealing with healing issues and exorcism issues of any sort are not for the faint of heart or the ill-prepared. Demonic forces play for keeps—they’ll hurt you. Remember the sons of Sceva the Jewish chief priest? We don’t know all the details, but we know that they tried to do what Paul did, but did it by an Authority that they did not know. I love the story and I have my own imaginings about how it came down. The boys were dabbling with exorcism. Were they thinking that because they were the chief priest’s kids that they had clout? They watched St. Paul the Jewish exorcist and used his formula: “Come out of him in the name of the Jesus that Paul preaches!” The demonic force answered and I swear I can hear a Jewish accent, “I recognize Jesus. Paul I know, but who are YOU?” These hobgoblins did not go “boo” and make ugly faces. This demonic force pounced on all seven of them at once, overpowered them, stripped them of their clothing and then allowed them to flee the house naked and bleeding from their wounds! PHYSICAL punishment for SPIRITUAL warfare! Do not forget that story, ever! It’s not there to amuse.

My bishop regularly says, “The day after the battle is more important than the day before.” What does that mean practically for those who minister, ordained or lay? If Sunday is my day for the ministry team, that means that the days prior, I need to be “prayed up”. Focus on confessing my sins, asking the Spirit of the Lord to show me anything that can and will be used against me and to deal with it. Confess it, renounce it, throw it out, or otherwise deal with trifles or giants. As dedicated believers, serious about our relationship with our God, we always strive to be clean before Him, but any warrior or athlete prepares differently for the battle than for daily life. Some will describe this in a lot of ways. The point is to prepare. Put on the armor, check the sails and rigging, do all of the warm-ups—prepare. Part of the preparation is using spiritual Q-Tips to get the spiritual ears clean. Come ministry time, we need to be ready to see all those in the prayer line or at the rail, depending on the church culture—see them and DEAL with them. How do we deal with those folks in the line?

As compassionate Christians, we want everyone to be healed, set free, whole. EVERYone! Is that practical or possible? No, sadly. Jesus did not heal everyone, and He was God! How do we pray for the sick? We’ve prepared, we’ve asked Father to clean our ears that we might hear Him clearly and know what to do and how to pray. What now? Might I suggest the tried and true? “Practice!” In this case, it does not make perfect, but it does help us understand and recognize His voice and His thoughts. If we don’t hear a clear word for the person’s healing or release from oppression/possession, we should not be proclaiming their healing or even praying aloud for specifics.

[Please note: This is the training that I’ve received and that I feel has worked for me in my life in ministry. Paul told Timothy to not be in a hurry to lay hands on people. I think that was primarily having to do with ordination or the passing on of spiritual gifts, but what greater spiritual gift could there be than the release of a soul from spiritual bondage?]

If a person comes forward and you feel no unction, pray blessings and peace on the person. Maybe pray for wisdom in handling the issues. Don’t patronize, don’t lie, don’t pray for something that you’re not sure “Father is seeing”.

Jesus was not like the other healers of His day. He was not the average, well-schooled exorcist student of local masters. He is the author of all this stuff! He knows the demons by name and by traits and He knows how to deal with them.

The author of the little book (at least of the point of the book where I’m at) is busy dismissing this aspect of our Lord. Jesus knows ALL this stuff!! And if we have ears to hear and are called to the task, we can hear His voice and learn of His ways. In spite of liberal dismissers of the divine nature of our Creator, He's still the very best at what He does, and His is the original!

A ramble this has been, loosely inspired by the appearance of Hallowe’en and the spiritual darkness that too often accompanies it in our society, along with the book being read. I look forward to the thoughts of those who have rambled with me on tonight’s mental walk.
Blessings!

Dean
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Posted Image mmitch47
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:snoopy: hello my friend... thought I would find some word from you for the season. Here it has not only been economically dark, personal (not mine) tragedy dark and October dark. The oppressive cloud is heavier than I have ever felt it. Your word is right on the money. Brought to mind a story Joe Cooper shared about praying for healing and in the midst of the enormous crowds wanting prayed for he told God "I can't do it all" and "there are so many" "Please bring forward those who can help." Suddenly there was someone next to him telling him what was wrong with the person and how to pray. When it was over he looked for the man to thank him and he was nowhere. Whether angelic or humble human, Joe didn't know. He just knew he was able to see eyes opened, people walking etc. and all needing prayer were prayed for. You and I know how prayed up he is when he traveled over seas. He is alive because of the cloud of prayer he walked in. In our day we read of Benny Hinn spending hours and hours in prayer, Joe is another, David Duplessis from Scotland. We have been given a bushel of reminders to be prayed up before we pray. The issue for me is too many of us let the rush of living take control rather than God and our respect, relationship, with him suffers or becomes nonexistent. Why do we not see his miracles take place, we don't know his voice because we don't really spend the time it takes to do it. We minister with the spirit of "I've got 5 min. to pray and then do so I hope he will be here." Sometimes we are fortunate that God loves the ministeree enough to bless them in spite of our puny offering in ministry. I am having a hard time making myself really clear but my heart aches for the body to stop making excuses for not being about the Father's business. We are part of what God calls prayer. He cannot move if we do not pray. That is how important it is.

As far as dealing with demons, the old faithful Pigs in the Parlor is still in print and still a good manual (?) to dealing with the devil. If we are in any prayer ministry at all we will meet some of the cantankerous uglies. Stay prayed up, Word fed, and praised and worshipped into a place where God has an environment where He can do his work. Then bravely, courageously dress for war per Ephesians 5, take up your sword and do battle and then stand and see what God will do. I am ready for war. Are you?
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DeanZF
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Good words, dear friend. I'm also sensing the darkness, and the call to deeper prayer than I've experienced for some time. Some of the prayer is very specific, other times, a call to pray "in the Spirit".

There have been a lot of petty and not so petty attacks on those who have an effective ministry. Children of pastors, worship leaders, and lay leaders of all sorts are coming down with debilitating, cash draining/stamina draining illnesses, taking energy and attention away from kingdom issues and ministries. It's really hard to concentrate on the worship list or the sermon series when your child or spouse is chronically ill.

More of the teaching that you and I have both sat under has to do with some of Satan's tactics. :decision: If he can divert our attentions and delay or dilute the ministry, lives are affected dramatically or actually remain UNaffected because we could not achieve the degree of readiness that was required to hit the mark. And if Satan can't distract us, he'll try to drive us into such intense activity that we still miss hearing what Father has to say! It's a tricky line to walk when you have a target painted on your chest.

I've been asked to spend some time teaching the adult Sunday school class. I'm in the midst of a class on prayer. I've sensed for a long time that many saints are never really taught how to pray, just instructed that they ought to pray. That implies that people have been expected to learn by osmosis. Not the best.

Part of what has been the focus of the class has been some of the great and powerful prayers found in Scripture. The one prayer that has transformed my own prayer life over the years has been the prayer that the disciples prayed in Matthew 6, "Lord, teach us to pray." :pray: I was too frequently guilty of praying presumptively, as though I knew what the right answer for the problem was, without ever consulting Father about it. We find in John 5:19 that Jesus also taught the disciples something else important about prayer and ministry. This is the New Living Translation.
John 5:19
 
So Jesus explained, "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.


There seems to be a protocol here. Because I am a small s son of God, I think I ought also to be looking to see what Father is doing before this son "also does".

More soon on the progress of the prayer classes. Blessings!
Blessings!

Dean
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