April 2013

The Power of the Name of Jesus

“If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:14

Some of the most impactful mission trips that I have taken have been into a remote village in Northern Manitoba, Canada, by the name of God’s River. (Manto Sipi) It is one of a number of Cree Nation settlements dotting that vast expanse of lakes and forest accessible only by air or winter ice roads. In the 1960’s and 1970 there were a couple of pioneering ministers from Minnesota who ventured into that country to serve those communities and bring the Gospel.

I was enriched and blessed to partner with one of those men, Jesse Graham. His first foray into God’s River was somewhat unusual. He did not know anyone when he stepped off the small twin engine plane onto the gravel airstrip, coming only at the invitation of the Holy Spirit. All he had with him was his bible, a small duffel bag and his guitar. From that inauspicious beginning he established a fledgling indigenous church with one of his new converts as the pastor. Jesse made annual trips into the village and on a number of occasions at his invitation I joined him to participate in God’s work in God’s River.

Another of those missionary pioneers was a man named Maynard Howe. Maynard became a kind of legend in the north by establishing churches in many of the Cree villages. Countless remarkable testimonies of salvation among the Cree people came out of the pioneering work these men.

One testimony that made an indelible impression upon me was a story related by Maynard of a native man who had been a medicine man in one of the villages. He had become very sick and by his account had died. In death, as he was descending into utter darkness, on his way to hell, he began to cry out to all his spirits whom he had served. There was no response. No matter how fervently he prayed and cried out to these various gods nothing happened nor could they stop his free fall into the abyss. Finally, in sheer desperation, out of the recesses of a memory of a gospel message heard years earlier, he blurted out the name of Jesus. Instantly, like being grasped from above, he was pulled out of that dark pit and he felt himself being drawn upward to a bright light.

When he awoke, he asked those attending him at his deathbed, “Tell me about Jesus, I want to know this man that just saved me.” Nobody around him could answer his questions. When he was fully healed he eventually found Maynard and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior.

I love this story because it illustrates so clearly two fundamental truths about the power that resides in the name of Jesus. First, we see with regards to salvation, that indeed “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) That was literally the case for the medicine man who found that only the name of Jesus could save him from the pit of darkness and hell.

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A Heavenly Perspective on Prayer

“And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be . . .and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.” Jeremiah 29:7

Recently I was on a late evening flight from Chicago to Minneapolis. I happened to have a window seat, which I usually eschew because of my gangly frame and long legs. It was a clear night and I found great delight in looking out the window at all the lights demarcating the expressways, streets, businesses and homes of Chicago as we climbed into the night sky and headed west. It wasn’t long before the earth below grew dark there were far with less concentration of lights and as we made our way over Northern Illinois and into Wisconsin as the intriguing clusters of lights extending to the black horizon stirred my imagination.

Across the moonless landscape I was able to see towns of varying sizes and shapes with their distinctive lighting patterns illuminated primarily by their street lights. But I also noticed scattered here and there solitary lights coming from rural family farms and what I imagined to be isolated business located along the roads connecting people and the greater clusters of lights to one another

As I sat and marveled at the clarity with which I was seeing the earth below from my perspective at 40,000 feet, I began to imagine what it must be like for God to look down from heaven in search of those whose hearts are turned toward Him in prayer and intercession. I could just envision that each one of those lights represented some devout person who was at that very moment praying earnestly to God. That as it were, they were night watchmen literally illuminating the darkness around them by their intercession. As they stood in the gap before God on behalf of their families and communities and they were building up a hedge of protection against every demonic enemy, the darkness was being driven back. (Ezekiel 22:30)

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Thief scared off by prayer!

Several years ago the Lord gave me a very practical encouragement in this regard. It showed me that watching and praying really does fend off evil. And it illustrates the reality of the analogy Jesus used when He said “if the owner of the house had known at what time the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.” Matthew 24:43

A remarkable thing happened early Friday morning during our church’s week of prayer and fasting. (Bridgewood Community Church) We had scheduled 6 AM prayer meetings at the church each morning that week and I was on my way there when I received a cell phone call from the church’s security company. The caller informed me that a door had been opened in the building and it was setting off the alarm since no security code had been entered. Since I was just minutes away I told her I would be there shortly and check things out. I assumed someone coming to the prayer meeting had arrived at the church, had a key but perhaps did not enter the code correctly.

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Glorifying God in an April Snowstorm

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech.” Psalm 19:1-2

This morning here in Twin Cities (Minnesota) we all woke up to a mid-April snow storm dumping 4-6 inches of snow and regrettably extending an already interminable winter. When I went outside between 6 and 7 AM to put out our trash receptacle, the visibility was blizzard like and it took some effort to wrestle the container, wheels and all, through the snow to the curb. I was grumbling and complaining to myself and to the Lord, and vowing that no matter what, I was done shoveling for the year and absolutely would not lift a finger to get rid of the snow in my driveway. Leave it to nature for it to eventually melt away! I have had it!

As I was walking back to the garage shaking my head with incredulity and listening to the crunch of snow under my feet I suddenly noticed another sound. It caught me off guard because it seemed so incongruous with the blizzard like conditions. It was the sound of a bird singing. Somewhere in one of my trees there was some crazy bird singing his little heart out in joyful song.

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Perfectly Positioned for Prayer

In the preceding blog post I shared several compelling reasons for actively engaging our bodies as we pray. While such actions as kneeling, bowing and lifting hands are commonly recognized as expressive forms of prayer, it has been my personal experience and observation that many people do not incorporate them into their daily practice of prayer.

Recently I have been experiencing a personal renewal in prayer and have been intentional about loving God in prayer “with all my heart, soul, mind and strength (body).”

The following is a summary of the things I am learning about each prayer posture. Hopefully it will stir a hunger in you to give them a try. So here are the 7 main ways, recorded in the Bible that people, including Jesus, prayed.

1. Kneeling – This position expresses a reverence for God and seriousness of intent by the person praying. It is probably one of the most common ways people prayed and a key posture that can be used in focusing our petitions. Solomon knelt for a long period time with arms outstretched as he prayed his great prayer dedicating the temple. When he finished, fire fell from heaven. (2 Chronicles 6:13) Daniel knelt and prayed three times a day and we know the amazing results he experienced. (Daniel 6:10)

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