She had asked for prayer because of an all-day headache. Several of us had gathered at a home for a meal, but after dinner and just before we all headed our separate ways, she stopped us and apologized as she asked for prayer. It was about to become the moment I realized I wasn't part of any 'aquarium' of faith.
There were 5 people who immediately circled and laid hands on her while I held back, listening for the wisdom of the Lord to see what He wanted to do and if healing was the direction to go. Some of the questions I was asking Him included was it dehydration and/or altitude, as we were in mountainous Colorado Springs, Colorado and she was from a much lower elevation. That would mean prayer wasn't required, water and sleep was. Was it from being tired or stressed, as it was a busy weekend and there were family issues back home. So I waited before Him as they immediately launched an all out spiritual assault worthy of soldiers taking Omaha Beach on D-Day.
One lady took the lead and in a 'let's cover everything' sort of prayer, beginning with pleading the blood of Jesus and drawing a 'blood line in the sand'. Then she said she was storming the gates of heaven, then commanding the devil to go to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (pity the poor campers and hikers down there), then asked the Lord to have mercy on her, then commanded angels to come and minister to her, and other commands and pleadings that sounded very spiritual, done with great passion and flourish.
Then the others prayed, asking the Father to heal her, bless her family and bring them to Him, commanded the devil off her kids and husband and their business. This is what I would call a 'stew prayer' - throw everything in the pot, hope it works out, and everyone goes home with full spiritual tummies and feeling like they had kicked devil butt.
At some point someone asked how she was, and she reluctantly admitted her head still hurt. I said, let me lay hands on you, which I did saying this: "I command you to be healed in the name of Jesus. Pain leave." With amazement in her eyes she said, "It's gone! It's gone! Just like that!"
No aquarium to call home
That was the moment I realized I was not from any aquarium of the faith these people were swimming in. I was from the open ocean of believing God's Word and obeying it. That's not arrogance, it is a diagnosis. Though they loved God, their faith was in what they had been taught by popular culture and the teachers elevated by that culture, which wasn't the Word. Jesus is very clear - command healing - Jesus never prayed for the Father to heal someone (nor did the apostles), He commanded, and we are to do what He did.
I thought to myself, can you imagine Peter and John saying to the man in Acts 3, "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I give to you, in the name of Jesus, of Father please touch him, we plead the blood, get away from him devil, angels I command you to come now and minister to this man, we break the curse of the generations off this man, oh if only someone could go to the third heaven, mercy drops on him oh Lord, rise up and walk." Can you imagine that?
Make it simple
Later when asked how that man was healed, in Acts 3:16 Peter responded simply: "Through faith in the name of Jesus this man stands before you whole." Resist the urge to talk more - just speak the name and let it rest, and watch Him work. Otherwise you reveal by your many words how little you believe.
(By the way, this verse destroys the theology of cessationist's who believe healing/miracles have passed. For healing to have been only for then, so would faith in the name of Jesus have to be for 1st century only.)
But you have to know Him, and know the will of the Father for a given situation before you can have that kind of faith to speak that amazing name just 1 time and see results. Modern aquariums hit all over the target but never hit the bulls eye - teaching what inquiring minds want to know but are of little importance, they don't teach the power of the name of Jesus and knowing Him well enough to be entrusted to use it appropriately.
Side track: A brief history lesson
During a visitation with the Lord I asked Him how the body of Christ in America had gotten to the place it is, caught up in formulas and the inconsequential rather than the simplicity of the gospel, and He said this:
"I raised up what you call the Word of Faith in the 1980's to bring the integrity of My Word to those who came out of the charismatic renewal of the 1970's. But soon the enemy took advantage of lust in many hearts and perverted my Word to focus on money, thus undermining the spread of the knowledge of the integrity of my Word in my body. What you see today is the result of successive generations who never had a foundation in my Word, so they chase after distractions and another gospel and another spirit. They think they are wise and mature and on the cutting edge, but are foolish because they have given themselves to these things...But I have used these things to reveal the foolishness of their hearts that I might separate for Myself true disciples who want to move into maturity in Me..."
Feelings or Word?
When I was a teenager I remember telling the Father I felt like He didn't want my life because my dad rejected me, I didn't really like myself, and I struggled with feelings of rejection and despondency.
But I remember reading Ephesians that told me I was sealed with the Holy Spirit when I believed, that I had been blessed with all spiritual blessings, that I was seated in the heavenlies with Christ, and that I was created in Him for good things. (1:3, 11; 2:6, 10)
I remember the day clearly, standing in my bedroom with that old 'Snoopy and Charlie Brown' bedspread on my bed, that same bedspread I'd had since I was 10 but mom was too poor to buy me one more appropriate for a 17 year old, saying half to myself and half to the Father: "My feelings tell me I'm not saved, not wanted by you, and I have no plan or purpose in life, but I believe your Word that I am sealed with the Holy Spirit, seated in the heavenlies with you Lord Jesus, and created to good works. I choose to believe you Father instead of how I feel."
So it gets down to believing God's Word or believing feelings and memories. That moment changed my life - I decided to believe the Word no matter how I felt or what I saw. From that point on I realized my feelings and emotions could be made subject to what the Word said. I admit I was so zealous and ignorant about real life that I told my mom that with faith we would never have any problems. After a rather incredulous look from her she simply said, "You just haven't lived long enough son. Wait until you have to pay the bills."
I often get email or instant messages or have conversations with people who are convinced they have committed the unpardonable sin. The unpardonable sin, that of rejecting the Holy Spirit, is at its core the act of rejecting Jesus as Lord. Jesus died for others, not Himself, so the one sin not paid for on the cross is rejecting Him. And because the Holy Spirit is the Agent of salvation, to reject Jesus is to blaspheme (reject, speak against, reject the ministry of) the Holy Spirit.
When I walk a believer through the Word showing them they haven't committed the unpardonable sin, nearly always they respond they are convinced He left them because they cannot feel Him anymore. These are people who believe in the Lord, love Him, but are convinced God is mad at them and has rejected them because they did some sin like speaking against a preacher, or in a fit of temper told the Lord if this is what it means to serve Him, they don't want Him, or other temper tantrum typical of a baby Christian. (And don't think the time a person has known the Lord means they aren't a baby. Paul indicated Christians who are unstable, chase after strange teachings, or are in strife, divisions or envy are babies in the faith.)
The core truth of believing God's Word above my emotions kept me out of all the aquariums that were focused on formulas and ritual. I wasn't territorial so I didn't fit in the church system - but the Word said not to be territorial. I wasn't political nor a 'yes man', so I told the truth though I offended people sometimes, but that was what the Word said.
I got a call from my boss, a senior pastor, on the Monday after a Super Bowl Sunday, threatening to fire me because I was not in the Sunday night service, assuming I had stayed home to watch the ball game. I told him I had represented him 6 of the last 8 nights at various functions, and my handicapped son needed me and my wife needed relief. Yet he still threatened to fire me. I replied, 'Whether you do or not that is your business, but the Word says to put my family first and my wife and sons are my priority, and that's not going to change, for what I did was right." I kept my job, but laid it on the line because I lived the Word.
If someone taught something and my spirit didn't feel right about it, I went to the Word and checked it out. If an emotion rose up contrary to the Word, I changed the emotion, worked through it, and changed my thinking that had led to the wrong emotion, correcting myself; 'That's not right, the Word says this...'
I learned if my spirit resonated with a teaching it was because the Spirit of Truth within me bore witness to my spirit about it, but if my spirit was grieved or felt wrong about a teaching it was because the Spirit of Truth within was bearing witness to the truth that the teaching was in error. So by the witness of the Spirit and the Word I learned to trust that within as a greater authority than the most famous teacher, no matter how elevated they were in people's esteem.
And that's the core reason I didn't fit in anyone's aquarium. My allegiance was to the Word and written Word, not a system, man, or formula. Then Jesus appeared to me in February of 2001 saying this:
"See what I see. People running to and fro to this meeting and that, looking for the spectacular, thinking THAT is supernatural. While they miss the supernatural work in their midst, even in their heart, for the process of discipleship IS supernatural...as it was in the beginning so it must be now; I am moving in relationships."
Finding myself without an aquarium in which to swim, I began examining how we do church today with the way Paul did church, and I learned there is little in common between the two.
If I made my thoughts and emotions submit to the Word and Spirit in daily life, was I ready to change my thoughts about what the Word said how church was to be done? How did Paul do church?
That's next week, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org