Category Archives: Christian Living

-Re: ‘Gracelines’ -Examples of The Kingdom Breaking Through

GRACELINES

Today during worship ( at Antioch Fellowship, Sedalia Mo) the Spirit was moving and the Kingdom was breaking through in a remarkable way with many participating both in Word and deed.

One brother, who called out a word of knowledge for healing backs and prayed for those who came forth, admitted that he had been discouraged with healing since he had not been healed and somewhat jealous when others were but had a clear word from the Lord that he should pray for others with the same problem and did in power. Praise God.

The Spirit reminded me of what we had experienced at my former long time church in California. We learned the hard way that preconceived notions and ‘theologies’ about healing usually got in the way and produced less healing since they in fact limited the ways and conditions under which God could move in our midst. The result was discouragement and less faith in healing among believers. After all, if you go through all of the prescribed actions and declarations and yet do not get healed you begin to wonder ‘what is wrong with me’ and you ask ‘why Lord were those others healed instead.’

I believe that one of the keys to having more healing in our churches is to foster a genuine atmosphere of thankfulness for every blessing the Lord does give us no matter how small and keep on keeping on. When others are blessed and healed, believers need to celebrate and see this as a sign and a demonstration that the door may now be open for them to receive their own healing and blessings. Testimonies play a vital part in this process by raising faith and expectation. First of all, healing is not a ‘zero-sum game.’ Our God is infinite in power and love for all the children in his family.

It reminds me of something we put into practice concerning healing at Vineyard Laguna Niguel in California several years ago after which healing among our people increased exponentially. First of all, a regular time was set apart for words of knowledge and healing during every service. Then testimonies of healing and miraculous blessings were also featured. Soon we discovered that certain illnesses were being healed time and again in our church. It was like a ‘beach head’ had been established against certain maladies. We started calling these- ‘Gracelines’ since a whole line of folks had been healed of the same thing. The following is an article that I wrote 2 years ago about what we experienced at the time and came to call ‘Gracelines’:

Last year was an extraordinary year at Vineyard Community Church Laguna Niguel and 2013 seems to be even more so. ‘More’ is the key word. The church is experiencing the Kingdom breaking through in a number of different ways especially in healings and miracles.

One thing that we have decided to do in the last several years is to continue to pray for healing until proven otherwise –death proving the otherwise. Some of our congregation have finally received remarkable healings after years of prayer with no results. This has encouraged us to keep on keeping on.

Along the way we are also learning to rejoice and celebrate even minor victories when God brings any kind of relief or partial healing. Some Christians seem to find partial healings to be somewhat controversial nevertheless we are dedicated to always celebrate what ever God gives us. Yet we also continue to pray for even greater blessings.

The most important change for us came when we began to notice that healings or miracles in one area seemed to open to door and dial up the faith for others to receive similar blessings. We started calling these ‘Gracelines’ since a whole line of similar healings, miracles, and testimonies have followed.

For 5 years or more our church had become a ‘migraine free’ zone where a large number of people in our congregation who used to suffer from severe reoccurring migraine headaches had received substantial healing. Doesn’t sound like much unless you are plagued and occasionally disabled by that malady.

Then this last year one of the key leaders in our healing rooms ministry received a remarkable healing of his eyesight in one eye which had severely degenerated. Then later he and others had prayed for a lady who was legally blind and her sight impossibly began to increase over a week or so until she could actually read again. More remarkable healings in eyesight have followed and continues to this day. In my own case, I had one eye with distorted vision. When I looked upon a straight line or board with my one eye it would look crooked to me with a jagged line in the center but after prayer one day in church that went away. Still need glasses but at my age I am truly thankful for the blessing of better eyesight.

Then another brother who had continual pain in his shoulder for 5 years was healed and it has opened to door to many others with shoulder trouble and severe pain to be healed. The testimonies are still coming in on that one. Then there was another with knee problems with similar results and breakthroughs.

Another Graceline opened when a pastor’s wife testified that she had lost a necklace that was really dear to her and prayed for its return for several days. Then one morning it just appeared around her neck. I know that is a strange one for many and I have no theological explanation for it  (nor do I want too) but it has opened a door for others to pray for lost things with amazing results. Many have received dreams or visions of the location of what they had lost after prayer.

On one occasion I could not find my keys after looking everywhere I could think of for 30 minutes or so. Finally time was up and I really needed to get going to work. Usually at that point in the equation I would have been fuming and yelling at my dear wife and blaming her for moving them but then I remembered a couple of the Graceline testimonies and turned to prayer instead and immediately had a picture of myself working in the garage the evening before and found my keys right where I left them on the work table. All this may sound trivial to some but believe me my wife is even more thankful for this blessing than I am.

Then there was a couple early last year who are worship leaders/musicians who testified that they had prayed for money to pay their rent and while driving down I5 Freeway money rained down on their windshield and when they pulled over and picked it up they found that it was just enough to pay the rent with $10 left over which they gave to a homeless person the next day. Then after that another lady testified that when she went to buy a car, the vehicle she really needed was several thousand more than she knew she really had but the Lord told her to buy it anyway and when she handed over the cash she had in an envelope it somehow had multiplied and was exactly enough to complete the sale. This not only opened a door but a deluge has followed with new testimonies nearly every week.

We have started to call these- ‘mail box miracles’ since so many of the testimonies that followed have revolved around folks receiving needed prayed for unexpected money in the mail. In these dire economic times, many in our church are living from week to week trusting in God like never before to bring what is needed to support their families. One week I was a couple hundred dollars short of the expense money I needed for an out of town business trip. I had prayed for help in that area but still was completely surprised when I received a $200 check in the mail from a Christian contractor I had used for referring him to a neighbor across the street for a job. Amazing.

We have a lot of business owners in our congregation and these have been particularly tough times for small businesses but God has been faithful through it all. I will save that for another post. But another door which has been particularly significant is the ‘job’ Graceline. So many of our folks had lost jobs in this economy or lost business that we started to actually take time on Sunday morning to pray for those who needed new jobs or business with remarkable results. While the jobless rate in our county is still above 10% nearly everyone in our congregation is now working and paying their bills.

Bottom line- this is not revival but it is better than we have ever seen before and I have already posted about the even more remarkable things happening in our outreach ministries. But there is nothing happening here that isn’t happening or can’t happen elsewhere. It is just now happening more often. It is a matter of our faith and expectations being dialed up and increased exponentially in certain areas in response to the testimonies and experiences of other brothers and sisters in Christ.

Our understanding of ‘Gracelines’ is that when you take the time to acknowledge and rejoice in what God is doing he seems to open up the door to The Kingdom breaking through even more in the same areas. We have also found that including testimonies in our regular Sunday services has encouraged our people to live by faith and include God in their everyday living. Blessings have followed, miracles and healings have increased, Gracelines have continued, and our faith, expectations, and thankfulness have gone to another level.              *Top

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-A Triple Miracle?

A Papal miracle? Actually a triple miracle. A young couple who were told they could not have children had triplets following a blessing by Pope Francis last year. Here’s the story from The Blaze:

A married couple who were reportedly told that they only had a 1 or 2 percent chance of conceiving a baby believe that they experienced a miracle that defied “all medical odds” after receiving a blessing from Pope Francis in Rome last year.  …

“I just felt so full of joy when we were in his presence,” Liz Tremblay told the outlet.

But it wasn’t just a feel-good moment, as the couple claim that they subsequently found out that they were pregnant — and expecting triplets. They welcomed Andrew, Elliot and Nicholas into the world on August 20

<Read the whole article>

Response: I believe that God can work miracles and healings through the prayers and blessings of any Christian including the Pope.  I have no doubts that God blessed this couple.

Lately, I have seen an increase in healings and miracles among Christians all around the world. We seem to lag behind the rest of the world in Western countries when it comes to miracles but I believe that will be changing soon. The fact that this one comes from a blessing from the Pope helps to publicize the reality of the supernatural in the increasingly secular Western culture.

I have personally experienced a number of miracles in my own life. The following is just One:

When I was 19 years old I severely damaged my knee playing a game of pickup football. The doctors said I would need a operation to correct the damage and would be on crutches for several months. It was the summer between my sophomore and junior year in college and I really needed to work to pay for my next year in school.

My knee was the size of a huge grapefruit and I could not walk and could hardly stand the pain when my dad called for the church elders to come and pray for me. The two elders who came had just attended a healing workshop taught by Kathryn Kuhlman.

After they prayed the swelling and pain was gone and I could walk with no problem. I went to work for nine hours on my feet and worked all Summer. Never did get an operation, praise God.

God still heals folks. This is one of the reasons that I assert that Christianity is the greatest scientific experiment of all time. Lives were changed for the better and miracles and healings happened when Jesus lived and ministered on the earth 2,000 years ago and this is still being duplicated today among his followers around the world.             *Top

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-‘Answered Prayers’ on TV

God still answers prayers. To prove the point, Roman Downey is involved with hosting and producing a new TV series on TLC called ‘Answered Prayers.’ Here’s the story from the  Christian Post:

Roma Downey’s riveting new six-part series “Answered Prayers,” which features real-life stories of people in potentially life-threatening situations who experience divine intervention, says she’s “thankful” and “humbled” by fans’ support for the show.

“We are humbled by the support of so many national prayer leaders, and thankful for how this show is inspiring so many to pray again,” said Downey about the series which has now moved to primetime at 8 p.m. ET Sundays on the TLC network.

As one of the show’s executive producers, Downey hosts each one-hour episode that incorporates actual footage and interviews paired with powerful reenactments.

<Read the whole article>

Response: A few years ago, Roma and her husband were able to convince TV executives to air their Bible series and that was a real demonstration of answered prayer. The success of that series has now led to this new one on TLC that shows God still working miracles and saving people today. A great uplifting series for family viewing. 

This is also a message that our secular culture really needs to hear and be exposed to. I am hoping that the series will pave the way for us to share our own answered prayers and miracles with our friends, neighbors, and family.               *Top

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-My Prayer: Let Their Legacy be Peace, Love, and Reconciliation

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Psalm 11

In the Lord I take refuge; …if the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in his holy temple…his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
…For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. (ESV)


Our Father,

In the news today, more Christians were killed in the Middle East, a whole village in Africa. The evil words of a young racist who killed nine praying folks in a church continues to haunt America and others continue to stir the pot of hate between the races in our big cities. Many are saying that riots are on the horizon while police are being ambushed and young black people continue to die in our streets. The voices of hate are running hot today with no relief in sight.

Father God, you are still our refuge and by your Holy Spirit let the agents of your love rise up and mediate between the forces that would tear our country and cities apart. Let agents of your love and justice rise up and speak words of conciliation in our communities and drown out the shouts of division and hate. Let believers in your Son Jesus walk over the bridges together in love Like they did with Martin LK in former days.

Let a legacy of peace and love come out of the church in Charleston, may they not have died in vain. Let Americans rise up and honor their prayers and faith. Let us be renewed and battle the hate that perpetrated this evil deed. Let it stop here, let their legacy be one of peace, love, and justice not more strife, recrimination, and division.

Let believers rise up and proclaim that you are still on the throne and your Kingdom of love and justice is coming. Let your Spirit reach down and touch the hearts of America this Summer and bring love and reconciliation all across our cities. Let your love, peace, and justice reign as never before.   

In Jesus name, Amen.

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-“It’s Friday But Sunday’s Coming”

Here it is again. My favorite message of all time for Good Friday is by Dr. Tony Campolo. It has become a tradition on this blog to post it every year on this day.

Here is a link to where the famous tape can be downloaded.

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The whole tape is great but the best part is at the end when Tony Campolo recalls one Sunday when he had a little preaching competition with the head pastor at the church where he attends.

Dr. Campolo tells how he preached the perfect sermon in every way and had taken the congregation to ‘the heights of glory’. As he sat down beside his pastor, Dr. Tony patted him on the knee and simply said, “Top that.” The older black pastor looked at him and said, “Boy, watch the master.” Then Dr. Campolo recalls for us the very brilliant message which followed.

The following is a short printed version of the 45 minute sermon–the printed version doesn’t really do justice to the original, but you can at least get an idea what the last part is like:

It’s Friday But Sunday’s Coming—

It was a simple sermon, starting softly, building in volume and intensity until the entire congregation was completely involved, repeating the phrases in unison. The sermon went something like this.

It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s a coming.

It’s Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, “Father, forgive them.” It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Holy God who will not abide with sin pours out His wrath on that perfect sacrificial lamb who cries out, “My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” What a horrible cry. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. And at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil of the Temple that separates sinful man from Holy God was torn from the top to the bottom because Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s a coming.

And on that horrible day 2000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had destroyed the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday.

Now it’s Sunday. And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn’t the only thing that was shaking because now it’s Sunday. And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb. Yes, it’s Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone and the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots because it’s Sunday, and the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed.

It’s Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin and the grave. It’s Sunday. And now everything has changed. It’s the age of grace, God’s grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it’s Sunday.

At the end of the message the pastor shouts out:

It’s Friiidaaaay!

And the whole congregation responds:

But Sunday’s Coming!

*Top

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