Monthly Archives: April 2023

What’s in a Name?

Many years ago some friends of ours prayed for healing of my glaucoma at a large Christian gathering at Shea Stadium in New York.  After a talk on healing, the speaker encouraged the audience to pray with one another for whatever needs people may have had.  The friends we were with knew of my glaucoma, put their hands on my head, and prayed in the name of Jesus that the field of vision that had been lost would be restored.    

It just so happened that the following Monday I had an annual field of vision test with my ophthalmologist.  I will always remember his words at the initial diagnosis that while we might be able to preserve the field of vision I still had, I would never be able to recover the approximate one-third of my vision that had been lost.

While he conducted the test, I heard him continue to say, “Hum.”  After about the fourth hum, I asked if there was something wrong.  He said, “Well, you seem to have a full field of vision.  I said, “I thought you told me that I could never recover the vision that I had lost.”  He said, “Yes, I did.”  When I told him where I had been on Saturday and that some friends had prayed with me for healing, he said, “Well, I will take all the help I can get.”

After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit following Jesus’ ascension, Peter and John were entering the temple one day, and Peter healed a crippled beggar.  The onlookers were astonished and everyone wondered how this happened.  Peter boldly proclaimed, “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.”(Acts 3:16 NIV)

Do we treat the name of Jesus with the same awe and wonder as Peter and the early followers of Jesus?  Have we allowed the name of Jesus to become so familiar and common as to strip it of its power and majesty? 

Peter was simply doing what Jesus had instructed the apostles to do.  “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these.”  And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  (John 14:12-13)

I realize that not all prayers in the name of Jesus by faithful Christians appear to be answered.  Yet, might we not take Jesus at his word, have greater awe and reverence for his name, and act with the same faith as Peter did with the crippled beggar?

When was the last time that you prayed in the name of Jesus for healing or other needs?

Being a Witness for Jesus

“You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:48)

These are the words of Jesus to the disciples after appearing to them following his resurrection.  After showing them his hands and feet, eating a piece of broiled fish and demonstrating that he was indeed physically alive, he opened their minds to understand all that was written about him in the Scriptures.  He instructed them not to leave Jerusalem until they received the power of the Holy Spirit, and then go and preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name.       

While most of us will never be preachers, we can still be witnesses to Jesus in how we conduct ourselves and live our lives. Sometimes we will have the opportunity to witness with words, but most of the time we will demonstrate our belief and faith in Jesus with our conduct – treating people with respect and kindness, being honest and acting with integrity, and being open to care for others as the need arises. 

In fact, if our witness is comprised of only words before we establish credibility with our conduct, the words may have little effect and even accomplish the opposite of our intended purpose.  There are times, however, when Jesus expects us to witness to his presence in our lives, particularly with family and friends with whom we have an established relationship.  They should know that our Christian faith is important to us and that we strive to live by that faith. 

After being prayed with to be filled with the Holy Spirit, it changed the course of my life.  I had a greater desire to pray, read scripture and be open to following God’s will in my life.  I shared my experience with a work colleague.  He seemed to have accepted  it well, and in turn shared it with one of our senior executives who I knew but would not likely have ever had the opportunity to share directly with him.  As a result my witness was able to go beyond what I was able to do myself.  God loves to multiply our witness.

A number of years later this same colleague called me one day and asked if I would come to his office.  It turns out that he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.  He was very distraught and worried not only about his cancer, but also about his family and how he was feeling guilty because he had let his work take too much time away from his wife and two daughters.  We talked.  I listened, and offered to pray with him.  We prayed that God would bless him with a special peace and give him an opportunity to draw closer to his wife and daughters during his time remaining.  He died a few months later. 

How have you witnessed to Jesus with your conduct and words?

Fruit of the Resurrection

After the burial of my father, I was riding with my mother and brother out of the cemetery back to town, and I started to have this overwhelming sense of joy.  It was in the middle of January, on an overcast, cold day.  The snow drifts along the road were covered with soot from the windswept plowed fields of northern Iowa.  It was a bleak dreary day. 

Yet, here I was, inexplicably experiencing this heightened sense of joy.  I said to my mother and brother, “I know this sounds odd, but I have this great feeling of joy.”  They both looked at me as if I were crazy and said nothing.  We drove on, but the moment of joy in me remained.  The next morning while I was praying in my father’s bedroom, the following words came into my mind, “The reason for your joy yesterday was because your father is with me in heaven.”  As I shared these words with my mother the tears streamed down her face as she rejoiced in knowing that her husband of 50 years was with the Lord. 

This past Sunday, we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ after his tortuous and cruel death, a turning point in human history.  For the Creator of all that exists completed the loving and humbling act of becoming one of us, and then willingly sacrificing his life so that we might live forever.  I have no doubt that my father, and now my mother and brother are alive with the Lord Jesus in a way that we will never be able to comprehend fully ourselves until we complete a similar journey.   

We may remember the words of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus after Jesus appeared to them following his resurrection.  “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)  Although not initially recognizing him, they said that their hearts burned within them as he spoke.  My heart burned within me as I experienced that sense of joy and heard those words, “Your father is with me in heaven.”

Praise God for his plan of redemption for the human race!  Praise Jesus for his humility, love and sacrifice! 

Have you ever experienced the presence of God or his word that burned within your heart?

Purpose Fulfilled

“It is finished.” (John 19: 30)  These were the last words of Jesus from the cross according to John’s gospel.  He had done all that the Father had asked.  He submitted fully to the Father’s will.  Now there was nothing more for him to do in his human state.  Whatever was to follow was in God’s hands.  Jesus was showing his complete trust in the Father.  

In the end he submitted to the Father’s will to endure the suffering of the cross even though he asked three times that he might be spared.  Whatever his divine nature was, it did not relieve him of the agony of the garden, the reality of physical suffering and the realization that he was about to carry the weight of all mankind’s sin.  I am not sure we can begin to fully comprehend what he was feeling.     

Jesus introduced the kingdom of God on earth through his teaching, example and miracles.  He fulfilled all the prophesies about him as the anointed one, the Messiah.  He said he was the way, the truth and the life.  He said anyone who has seen him has seen the Father.  He was not only created in God’s image, he was God in human form.   He showed us what is possible if we are totally human and lay down our will to God’s. 

Like Jesus, God has a specific purpose for each of us. We are an unrepeatable creation of God. Not only are our fingerprints unrepeatable, but each of us is created with specific attributes designated to do only what we can do with the people and circumstances God places in our lives. 

Like Jesus, we need to grow in wisdom and seek God’s will in all that we do.  As Jesus told the disciples to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit so that they would be equipped to fulfill their call, he offers us a similar path with the same Holy Spirit.

As I look back on my life, that includes my wife of almost 60 years, my five children, their spouses and our thirteen grandchildren, a business career, a Christian ministry, etc., I am still not able to say, “It is finished.”  For as long as we have breath, we have purpose.  There are still people and circumstances to serve in line with God’s will. 

Jesus knew when he completed his work for the Father.  We may not be as certain.  But when it is finished, may we hear the words of Jesus, “Well done good and faithful servant!”  “Come, you who are blessed by my Father.  Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Mt. 25:21, 34)  

What purposes has God given you to fulfill?