Ever since Jesus ascended into heaven, people have claimed to receive spiritual gifts, dreams, visions, and special revelation. How do we determine if a spiritual experience is genuinely from God? In the Middle Ages, the number of reported spiritual experiences reached a feverish level. Folks got attention for such reports, and in some cases money and a large following. We’re in a similar environment today. Are all spiritual experiences false?
The son of one of Herod’s royal officials was close to death. The official traveled 18 miles up to Cana in the hope of successfully pleading with Jesus to return with him to Capernaum to heal his son….
The miracle of water into wine was, according the Apostle John, a ‘sign’. Was it a sign that Jesus cared about weddings? He does, but there’s a lot more going on here than catering a wedding. When John designates a miracle as a sign, he’s stating that that act, in particular, displays the glory of God in Christ.
The backdrop of this miracle is the Old Testament passages depicting Israel as the unfaithful vine that produced bad fruit (Jer 2:21; 12:10). Jesus, however, is the true vine of God (Jn 15:1–3), and we are the branches. His fruit will be the finest God’s vineyard ever produced. In other words, God saved His best wine for last. This sign declares that Jesus is the faithful Messiah. His ministry will end by dying on the cross—when His hour has come (John 7:30; 8:20; 12:23,27; 13:1; 17:1)—but this first sign, signaled its inauguration.
Let’s allow the Father to prune us, so we may produce more fruit (Jn 15:2). “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,”(Ps 139:23–24, NIV).
I have a chronic neuro-muscular condition called Cervical Dystonia. I was diagnosed in 2014. Like a wrecking ball, it shattered my once active life. I used to fly us around the Pacific Northwest in our plane. I used to practice karate. I used to do a lot of things.
This is the first time I’ve revealed my condition online. I’m doing it now because things just got worse. There are so few suffers of this rare condition that a support group must be international. Even then, there are only 2,500 members. Each major holiday we usually lose one or two to suicide. Most have unsupportive family and friends who say the most hurtful things to them. Some have no one, and no income. Tragically, they give up the fight.
I’m blessed to have a supportive, loving, and encouraging wife and family. I’m blessed to have Christ in my life. Some days, despite all my family’s love, only He can reach into the deep place in my heart that needs joy. Until He grants me healing, I join in His sufferings, and I follow His example: not my will, but His be done on earth as it is in heaven. Trust in Him is key, and so is leaning on His Word and not my own understanding.
One of the kindnesses of suffering — at least mine — is the quiet. Life is simple. The stress of managing multi-million dollar projects, for example, is gone. Many times, in that quiet, it is just God and me … and a lot of pain. I can have long quiet times. I can pray. I can reflect. I can write. I think that’s His will for me right now. I just released an updated and edited version of my book, and I have two writing projects scheduled for this year.
Due to the treatments to paralyze the affected neck muscles, I feel close to normal for three weeks out of ten, but then the slide downward begins all over again. It’s frustrating.
Hanging in there is vital. Things change and research continues on this condition. More doctors have become aware of it. Because it’s rare, many sufferers, like me, get misdiagnosed and mistreated for years. Last summer was difficult for me, but then in August a new doctor added something new to the treatments which has lessened the extreme symptoms. I’ll take it.
This is the place from which I write. Through writing I try to comfort others with the comfort and hope I have received from Him. I want others to see the grandeur, greatness, gentleness, and compassion of God in Christ through the power and presence of His Holy Spirit. I want to encourage others to take a deep dive in their faith and to get closer to Christ. Ultimately, I hope to help Christians align their wills, thoughts, and hearts with His. This is what Jesus prayed for in the Upper Room when He prayed for unity.
Many times, I have asked God to remove this thorn in my flesh. He hasn’t yet. The Apostle Paul was right, God’s grace is sufficient and His power is perfected in weakness. Yet, I continue to ask for healing.
I have experienced healing and other miracles first hand over the years. For example, last week God worked radically in my wife’s career. God is good. We’ve been praying about her situation for two years.
In contrast, last week I developed a significant complication which is causing acute pain, stiffness, and more sleeplessness. I didn’t need this, but God is still good. Today, I get an MRI to determine exactly what’s going on in my neck and to see if there is anything the orthopedic surgeon can do about it.
Chronic illness is not fun. Despite it, my goal is to connect deeper with God and to follow Christ in His suffering. Did I mention how important it was to trust God and submit to His will?
God can instantly heal me if He chooses, but then would I get too busy and too distracted to write? I often wonder if has God painted me into this corner to do the one thing He wants me to do.
Jesus is calling you deeper in your relationship with Him.
Are Guardian Angels a myth we tell children to comfort them, or do they actually exist? In Matthew 18:10, Jesus says: “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.” (NRSV)
I’m an extremely light sleeper; always have been. One night I was awakened by some faint noises in our home. I sat up listening. I expected the sounds to be those of one of our two young daughters, but they weren’t. Someone else was in the house!
Is Hebrews 13:2 true? Have some entertained angels without knowing it?
In my early twenties, I was the buyer for my family’s manufacturing company. A buyer deals with many different types of sales representatives, for many different types of products, from many different vendors. I bought whatever raw materials, tools, or supplies we needed to make what our customers ordered.
One of those orders was for the piston housings of the M1A1 Abrams Army tank’s engine. A particular challenge was finding a lathe tool bit holder that could fit in the bore’s unusual bottom shape and was robust enough to reach the 14-inch depth without chattering. I custom ordered it from a national tool supplier. It arrived within two weeks and worked perfectly. Production continued. We subsequently made thousands of these housings and the pistons that went into them.
Stomach flu, or gastroenteritis, is, to put it politely, unpleasant. I seemed to have suffered from it more often than other children. I dreaded the experience. No one, I’m sure, ever happily said, “I have a stomach flu and can’t wait for the finale.” But it appeared to affect me more severely than most.
Fortunately, three decades passed without contracting this type of flu again. Those dreadful memories had long since faded. But then, one Sunday morning, my stomach felt a little queasy. I shrugged it off, but it progressively worsened—you know where this is heading. Around mid-afternoon the feeling became vaguely familiar, but I didn’t know why. Eventually it hit me: “Oh no, I remember this!”
A few hours later, and right on schedule as I recalled the process, it was time to head to the, um, loo.
“Pastor Rob, a man arrived requesting to talk with a minister,” my secretary announced one early Monday afternoon.
I met Ted (not his real name) in the waiting room. He was clean cut and in his mid-thirties. I had just spent two hours helping sixteen people with food and other types of assistance. “This shouldn’t take long,” I thought as we walked back to my office.
Ted sat down and came right to the point, “My wife threw me out of the house. I’ve been living in my truck for the past three days, and it’s all my fault.”
We can never know when a Goliath will suddenly appear. At any moment, we can be confronted with a life threatening situation and must call upon the Lord to act, or someone will die. Moments like these are not the time to start developing a strong relationship with God, when they arise we must already have one.
My wife and I are beach bums from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Summer days on the Cape are typically hazy, hot, and humid. The three H’s, as the weathermen would say, are what we associated with beaches. That is, until we moved to the Pacific Northwest.