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Receiving and Using Jesus’s Power and Authority

(Note, [there wasn’t room for this note in the local paper]: I feel so inadequate to write on this topic, because there are many distortions and misuses of scripture’s teachings about truths like the authority of believers and healing. But the temptation often is, when a teaching is distorted or misused, to avoid this teaching altogether, and that is wrong. Just because people sometimes counterfeit twenty-dollar bills I have not sworn off of them. In the same way we must teach what Jesus teaches us about authority and healing, even though these teachings are frequently distorted.)
I ended last week’s column this way: “When we become adopted children of God through faith in His Son…then I believe Jesus gives us as a community some of his own authority and power.” I continued, “Next week…I shall continue to discuss (from scripture) the kinds of authority which I believe Jesus has given to his people.” So this week, let’s dive again into the Bible in an unexpected place, Genesis 41:42. Th…

Praying on an Airplane

Praying on an Airplane
I wrote my column for this week while flying on an airplane last Friday. My wife’s father was an Air Force colonel, and partially for that reason I think, she has always been very comfortable flying. I used to be down-right terrified of flying, but I am more comfortable now-though not nearly so comfortable as my wife.
When I was really terrified of flying I remember I used to be fearful that maybe the pilot was incompetent (or even tipsy.) Later as my faith in the Lord gradually increased, I found I still prayed during flights (especially when there was turbulence) but I also came to believe that ultimately God was in charge of everything and not the pilot. (although I still pray for the pilot!)
Perhaps I am a not-altogether-typical American Christian though, since I also believe that God has given his adopted children, who are part of his royal priesthood (see 1 Peter 2:9), some of his own divine authority and power in this world. Because of that, I have been know…

Urgent Need for (Yours and My) Revival

Urgent Need for (Yours and My) Revival
Recently my wife and I were watching a PBS show we had recorded. It was about all the problems of an American town, Dayton Ohio.It was an informative and sad program. The narrator explained how Dayton was once a cutting-edge technology hub. It was an aeronautical center and a car manufacturing center. A major company, National Cash Register, had its headquarters there. But the auto plants closed, other industry moved away, and NCR moved to Texas. So the city’s population shrank, and high paying jobs disappeared. In one poor area of town where many people live, there is no longer even a food-store.
But the coup de grace has been the opioid epidemic, a horrible and tragic scourge for much of America. In Dayton, this drug epidemic is destroying individuals and families.An already-burdened city does not have the necessary funds to begin to dent the problem.People are not sure what to do, but they say they need a major infusion of dollars, many more tre…

Fear and Faith

Fear and Faith
Even after years of being a Christian and reading the Bible, I am often amazed by things which Jesus says. The real Jesus breaks through the “imagined Jesus” I sometimes make up in my own mind.Or as my British friend the Rev. Mike Endicott says, my own sometimes “out of focus (oof)” Jesus gets replaced by the real Jesus you and I find in the Bible.
Take the issue of fear. As a pastor I have often said to people who report being afraid, “It’s natural and normal to be afraid. God understands.” (I do believe that God still loves us when we experience fear, but I now believe that He wants to free us from bondage to fear by replacing it with childlike trust in Him.) Let’s look at a couple of scriptures I have noticed lately.
1. In Luke 4:40 Jesus is asleep in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, accompanied by his disciples. Waves start to swamp the boat, and the terrified disciples wake him up. He then says to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”(If I …

Healing and the Kingdom of God

Healing and the Kingdom of God
Jesus announced that the kingdom, or rule, of God was near in him. He challenged people to believe that good news and to live in the kingdom now by faith. As he announced the presence of the kingdom in himself, he often healed the sick and cast out demons. On one occasion Jesus’s opponents accused him of casting out demons by the power of Satan and not by the power of God. Jesus then pointed out that a house divided against itself could not stand and that he was he was healing and casting out demons by God’s power. In Luke 11:20 He continued, “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” “As you see the miracles and know they are from God,” Jesus was saying, “then you know God’s kingdom is here now.”
In Matthew 11:2-6 we read about another occasion when Jesus‘s ministry was questioned. “When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is…

Our Hearts Burn Within Us

Our Hearts Burn Within Us
During the second Iraq War a young man from our church was in Iraq, fighting near Fallujah. I was led to send him this scripture: “A thousand may fall at your side Ten thousand at your right hand But it shall not come near you.” Psalm 91:7
I was glad when he returned home alive and un-wounded.
We do not know who wrote Psalm 91, and we do not know to whom this Psalm in particular was addressed. It contains powerful promises to the person who seeks their refuge and defense in God. Verse six says,
“You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.” Verses fourteen through sixteen say, “ ‘Because he loves me, ‘says the Lord,’ I will rescue him, I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.’ ‘He will call upon me and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.’ ‘With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation…

Trusting God For Today

Trusting God For Today
I was thinking recently about how so many of us, including me, often keep running head of today into tomorrow. The result is that, even though the only time we are living in is today, we do not fully live today.
In Matthew 6:34 Jesus said “do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Jesus was telling us to live today and deal with today’s problems and to not worry about what might happen tomorrow. This came at the end of a larger talk in which he was telling us not to worry.
Let me quote a few other things he said in that talk.
“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink or about your body-what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying …