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The self-isolation that many of us are going through right now is a golden opportunity to work on our devotional life. Personal devotion often ends up in the shadow of Sunday worship, but the fact is that a daily routine of praying and reading the Bible is far more important for spiritual maturity and lasting discipleship than weekly meetings, although they, of course, also play an important role.
Devotions can look a thousand different ways and for them to be long-term sustainable, it is only good to adapt them to what works best in one’s own household. But models can be good for having something to start from.
Therefore, since we are in Easter week, we would like to present a simple arrangement for devotion for the next five days (Wednesday-Sunday). It can be used both individually and as a family. We will read from Matthew’s account of Jesus’ death and resurrection and use the following simple structure:
- Bible reading
So, light some candles, wrap yourself in blankets and seek God with us this holy Easter time! (more…)
Tomorrow starts a conference I’m co-arranging on Christian community life, with a focus on sharing economic sharing. During worship we will actually sing some songs I’ve written, including this piece based on Ephesians 3:16-21:
Strengthen my inner being with Your Spirit’s power
dwell in my heart and give me faith
Help me grasp how wide and long and high and deep Your love is to me God, root me in love
Fill me completely with all of Your fullness
All the glory be to the One who can
do abundantly more than I even can imagine
through the power that is now in work within me
Glory to Your Name forever
I’m currently at the Frizon (“Free Zone”) Festival, one of the biggest Christian youth events in Sweden. It’s actually a music festival with concerts and stuff, but it also includes services, Bible studies, seminars and everything else you’ll find at a Christian conference. And what I really love is that it both welcomes charismatic fire and radical activism. For example, you will find:
Daily testimony meetings where the youth share miracles they’ve experienced
Almost completely vegetarian food
Prophetic guidance where prophetic people pray for you
Seminars about migration policy, poverty reduction and the fight against trafficking
From Eric Hatfield’s blog the Way?
The source of the first story is the heart surgeon involved, Dr Chauncey Crandall of Florida, a respected cardiologist in the US (as this summary shows) with over twenty years experience. He has performed heart operations in many hospitals and holds professorships in several universities.
The other 10 case histories come from the book The Miracles by Dr H Richard Casdorph an experienced doctor and medical researcher who has published more than a hundred research papers in a career that has spanned almost 6 decades. In the mid 70s he undertook a research project with a difference. He interviewed ten people who claimed to have been miraculously healed of serious conditions. He examined all the case histories – X-rays, medical reports, etc – and also submitted them to medical specialists for review.
In 2006 Jeff suffered a massive heart attack and was taken to hospital where an emergency team of doctors and nurses tried for 40 minutes to re-start his heart without success. They called in Dr Crandall as a cardiac specialist, to confirm Jeff was dead.
“As I entered the ER [emergency room] it was like a war zone. Here was this lifeless body on a stretcher.” Dr Crandall said later. “His face, his arms, his legs were pitch black with death.”
Dr Crandall confirmed what the team already knew, Jeff was dead. However then a “voice” in his head told him to pray for the man. Dr Crandall was sure it was God, so he prayed for Jeff, then stopped the surprised medical team who were preparing the body for the morgue, and directed them to give him one more shock with the paddles. His heartbeat returned almost immediately and Jeff subsequently fully recovered.
John Wimber, whom I’ve written a lot about now, is perhaps mostly known for proving that it is possible to be charismatic without being fanatic. At the end of his life, he told his fellow Vineyard pastors: “Ruthlessly assert the Vineyard value of ‘no hype’ in all communications. Avoid pumping people up for the ‘new thing’ God is doing. Demystify new emphasis even as the Vineyard has attempted to demystify spiritual gifts. Understatement is a key Vineyard value that I pray will flourish for many years.”
Jake Kail writes on his blog:
Recently I watched some old videos of the late John Wimber preaching and ministering. One of the things that was so refreshing to me was his authenticity. Rather than pushing people so that they would fall to the floor, he would encourage people to stay standing as much as possible. He would tell people that if they did not feel any positive change after prayer for healing, to simply be honest about it instead of trying to make the one praying feel good by claiming to be healed. He gave words of knowledge in a very simple and natural way. The overall feel he gave was “you can do this stuff too” not “I am a great man of God.”
I believe that there is a great need to recover authenticity in ministry today. If we are going to walk in the true power of God, we need to get real. The Bible indicates very clearly that a “love of the truth” is a safeguard against deception (see 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11). Part of loving the truth is being authentic. (more…)