Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Remember

 Remember, God Heals


I am in the U.S. for some medical assessment of health problems I am having.

The major thing was that the neurology specialist said that my muscle loss looks like Lou Garett’s Disease (ALS). No cure, so that was bad news.

In Croatia there was a misdiagnosis that I had a pinched nerve and I would need surgery or therapy. When told we would need to wait a long time before surgery could even happen we decided to come to America for the procedures.

In regard to this bad news I have two remembrances from my heart being healed in 2014. First, I was misdiagnosis as having pneumonia back then but it ended up to be an enlarged heart. Second, the doctors said it would never heal. Once an enlarged heart it never heals. They told me I could live with that heart condition but would need to remain on medication. I remember the main downside was lack of strength. I had many conversations with the Lord about this but promised Him I would serve Him even in my lack of strength. I would do what I could do with the strength I had.

So, two things: misdiagnosis and an incurable heart condition.

We had just moved to Zagreb and knew God had sent us. So Zuzanna and I went about with our ministry duties with European Initiative, whom we were working with at the time. One of our duties was to meet with pastors in the city to enlist their aid in outreaches. God gave us great favor with the pastors, and we were even invited to their monthly pastor’s meeting. Of course, the subject always came up about my heart condition.

The final diagnosis on my heart was in February 2014. Because of the great favor God has given us, people all over the world was praying for me, even these pastors in Croatia.

Then in July of 2014, the Spirit-filled or Brongajci group of churches in Croatia met on a mountain in Lika for the purpose of praying for that area of Croatia. Lika is an area in lower/central Croatia that has no evangelical churches. So Zuzanna and I went. Now with my lack of strength I could not make it to the top of the mountain where the prayer was being held. So, I went back to the car and just prayed on my own.

I knew something really important was happening in the spirit because the most furious storm I have ever seen in Croatia came. They had to pack up the meeting and come off the mountain. It was as if the enemy was striking back with all the force he could display.

So, we went back home to Zagreb. Something started happening to me. My strength started returning. We were living on the 3rd floor of a building and I had trouble making it up the stairs. But now I could walk up the stairs without having to stop halfway to regain my energy. Before, when we would go walking in the city, I would have to find places to sit and regain strength, but now I could just keep walking. I told Zuzanna, I am healed and wanted to stop taking the medications. Of course, she said “no way.” In the first week of August I had an appointment with the heart doctor to see how I was doing. I told Zuzanna, “He will tell me I am healed”.

So, we went to the appointment and sure enough, the doctor freaked out. He could not believe it. In his broken English, he said. “We don’t see this here, but you have the heart of a normal man.” Zuzanna ask him again to repeat what he said. We knew God had done a miracle and the prayers of many had been answered.

Although this ALS sounds bad, I have a remembrance of the Lord’s healing power.

Psalm 103:2-3 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,

I do want to thank you for your prayers. The work in the Balkans is not finished.


Monday, May 4, 2020

Little Flock

"Little Flock"


Luke 12:32 Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

“Little Flock”, so interesting that Jesus would call us that. Some say He was just speaking to the disciples that was with Him at that time but the teaching was shared by Luke for us today.

This message Jesus is teaching here is mainly about, “why worry, your Father in heaven promises to take care of you”, but “little flock” spoke to me. Often, I have watched as birds flock together. They stick together. They move as one. In observing them, you would say they are of one mind. The Father has put within them this group-think instinct. Each bird must be thinking and reacting to the birds next to them. They seem to know the intents of the whole flock. They are like a kingdom that perfectly flows together.

In a flock of birds, you do not see one bird leading all the others. They function like a kingdom with no king. God is the unseen king. Relating this to a church, it is like they have no bird pastor or pope.

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they.

What would ministry be like if we, as God’s people, could function like a flock of birds? As church members, what if we were so in tune with the Father that we needed no overseer? We would all just know our giftings and would be intently listening for the Holy Spirit to move us in the greater good of the kingdom.

In reality, we are more like a flock of sheep.

Now sheep are accused of being dumb. They walk into danger not even sensing the danger. God has designed them in such a way that they need a shepherd. They need a higher intelligence to keep them in the flock. Sheep do have a worthy gift; they know their shepherd’s voice and they follow. With our human failings, we need an overseer. God has ordained overseers.

John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Let me see what kind of lessons I can learn from this. May be we fit somewhere between the characteristics of birds and sheep.

First, to function as a Christian in the Kingdom, we are to be like sheep having a leader, pastor, priest, etc. Someone who stands responsible to oversee the direction of our lives and lovingly inspires us to function in our giftings. We just do not have that instinct that automatically responds to God.

Psalm 100:3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Submission to a loving Father is so important. We are designed to be much more intelligent than birds and sheep. Basically, God told Adam he had dominion over all the other creatures. We are to manage this world were God’s innocent animals freely roam.

Least I get into dominion theology, I really want to explore submission.

Our submission to the Lord is to be neither bird like instinct nor sheepish surrender. God has endowed us with intellect to make choices that develop us into responsible coworkers with Him.
Instinct is a very useful tool for preservation, but God did not plan for us to mindlessly flow through life with no clearly defined responsibilities. God warns us about worry/fear and how it can derail a peaceful kingdom life. We do need a healthy respect and assurance of His care for us like the birds are blessed to have.

Neither are we to mindlessly live life as a sheep being led from pasture to pasture. We do need that sheepish sensitivity to the Shepherd/Father’s voice so we can know why we go from pasture to pasture.

I have learned over these many years of walking with the Lord, submission to His will is where peace and happiness are really found. God wants coworkers that recognize His way is best. This may sound robotic but God’s design for us is not anything like that. We are in no way clones but rather each individually made with distinct characteristics to fulfill distinct task especially assigned to us. We each have a special relationship with our Creator. Therefore, our submission takes on a divine domination that affords us a special relationship with God and His eternal purposes. We are the happiest when we know and flow in His plans.

So, know this, He has especially designed you to have a special roll in His divine design. Church is when we flock together for His pleasure.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Three Responces to Kindness



Three Responses to Kindness (1 Samuel 24-26)

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

I was reading chapter 5 of Matthew until I got to verse 16 and I stopped to meditate on it. I felt the Spirit had something deeper to say. Then I saw a reference in my Bible for 1 Samuel 24. Ok let me see what that says. I turned there and begin to read about the conflict between King Saul and David.

Earlier chapters in 1 Samuel speak of how David had to flee from Saul. He gathered to himself four hundred men and formed an army. (1 Samuel ch. 22) Saul, seeing this as a threat, assembled three thousand men to go after David. David and his men were hidden in a cave and King Saul took leave to go into the cave to relieve himself. Evidently Saul had laid his robe down and David slipped up and cut off a corner of the robe. David’s men were telling him, “Look the Lord has delivered your enemy into your hands.” (1 Sa. 24:10) But because of David’s righteousness, he knew he was not to touch God’s anointed. Although the anointing had departed from Saul, David honored the king’s office.

Acts of kindness are not always in line with convenience.

After Saul left the cave David also came out and called out to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men saying, ‘Indeed David seeks your harm’? Look, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed …’” (1 Sa. 24:10) David goes on to try and convince Saul there is no ill intentions on his part against the king.

Saul’s response was of remorse, saying, “You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil…”. (1 Sa. 24:17) Saul goes on to acknowledge that David had showed mercy. Saul even acknowledges what Samuel had proclaimed to him before, that the kingdom would be taken from King Saul and given to David. The result of this encounter was that Saul was sorrowful but not to the point of embracing David.

Here we see a response to righteousness that is two-faced, not sincere. Forgiveness is temporarily acknowledged but bitterness remains. We know this, because in chapter 26 we see Saul coming after David again.

Chapter 25 takes us to the story of Nabal.

Nabal was a rich businessman in Carmel. Although the text does not explain how or why, but evidently David’s army was indirectly providing protection for Nabal’s men while they were going about their business. David and his men were hungry, so they sent a message to Nabal asking for food.

Nabal outright refused David’s request and belittled David as a person of no status. So, David assembled his army to go and deal with Nabal because he refused to show kindness where kindness had been given.

Nabal’s response was ungratefulness.

But Nabal had a smart wife. The Bible says, “And she was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance.” (1 Sa. 25:3) Her name was Abigail. She understood the grave situation especially after the young men told her of how David’s men had gone out of their way to protect them as they sheered sheep. Abigail knew this was a situation where kindness was due for kindness that had been given. She knew also that her husband’s pride and stubbornness was going to get them killed.

So, Abigail secretly, unknowing to Nabal, assembled bread, wine, lamb meat, roasted grain, raisins, and fig cakes, loaded on to donkeys and she slipped these things out of their village to David and his men. David received the gifts of substance from Abigail and his anger against Nabal subsided. Actually, David saw the Lord’s hand in the bold sacrifice of Abigail.

So, we have here three responses to kindness given.  

First David spared King Saul’s life and Saul outwardly showed kindness but as you read in chapter 26, at a later time Saul came once again to kill David. We have here a two-faced kindness that is a response that accepts the kindness and then only returns kindness because it is expected. Saul’s heart was not changed.

Now Nabal just out-right felt no obligation to return kindness for kindness given. He was so selfish that he could not see beyond his stubbornness. These are people that are so wrapped up in themselves that they can’t see the blessing in the kindness.

But Nabal’s wife, Abigail, returned true heart-felt kindness for kindness given. She gave even to the point of risking her life.  She could see the power of kindness to defuse a bad situation. For her correct response she unleashed a blessing from heaven that not only saved her people, but she was blessed to have her whole life changed.

As the story goes on, Nabal threw a feast and got very drunk. The next day, after he had sobered up, Abigail told her husband what she had done. The Bible says, “… that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone. Then it happened, after about ten days, that the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.” (1Sa. 25:37-38) This could have actually ended bad for Abigail, with no longer having a husband that provided well for her; but David took her as his wife and she became part of the house of David.

So, when you give kindness, you can expect different responses. A response that is two-faced, a response that is not returned, or a response that unleashes the blessings of heaven.

Let me give an added dimension to Abigail’s response. Her response begun with a deep apology. She took up the position of an intercessor. (1 Samuel 25:23-31) She apologized for her husband and took on the guilt as if it was her own. This is the power of an intercessor to really touch the heart of God and unleash mercy.