Healing Prayer

My Parents - Clayton and Esther Barker

My Parents – Clayton and Esther Barker

My father, who will be 90 in May, was admitted to the hospital this week. I have been concerned because the tests he has undergone have been inconclusive about the cause of a blood clot which appeared to be hindering his liver function.

Yesterday I attended the service where two of our daughters and their families worship. I was touched deeply by the time of prayer that the pastor led for all of those who desired healing for themselves or a loved one. He asked us to stand to signify our need for healing.

I have received physical healing several times in my 62 years, and I know without a shadow of doubt that God’s power was at work in my life. Yet yesterday I was thinking about my father, and my dear friend Gloria, who is battling MS. I stood on their behalf.

The scripture that was shared came from Matthew 8: 14-17

14 Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. 15 So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.
16 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”

The pastor focused on the importance of the part of verse 17 where the emphasis is “Jesus HIMSELF took our infirmaties and bore our sicknesses.” What a glorious truth!

We can come before our heavenly Father with boldness to ask for healing, knowing His son Jesus took our sickness with Him to the cross. We are always free to ask for God’s healing power to be manifest in times of illness.

But does God always heal?

Some would say that yes, ultimately even death is a form of “healing’ since God’s children are transported to His presence in death.

The answer is also “no”. We all have prayed for individuals who are still facing grave health concerns, some with considerable physical suffering.

At the service we then prayed for those seeking healing by laying on hands. Those of us who had expressed need sat, while those around us laid their hands on us and prayed. Our granddaughters and daughters prayed for my father – their grandfather and great-grandfather. One of our granddaughters said afterwards –
“Nana, bunches of people were praying with you!” That was a special blessing.

That evening I called my mother and found out that my father was released from the hospital that very afternoon. I called our daughters rejoicing with the good news. I asked them to be sure to tell their children and remind them that we prayed together and asked God to heal Great Grandpa.

As I rejoice with my family, I still am praying for Gloria, a precious, Godly woman who is facing the complications of MS with courage and grace. Her hope is in Jesus, who Himself bore our infirmities. I will continue to ask God to heal and restore Gloria because He is in control of the outcome and He is faithful.

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A Teacher to Remember

Would you remember a teacher who dressed like this?

Would you remember a teacher who dressed like this?

Who was your favorite teacher?

* Was it the teacher who inspired you to do better than you thought you could?
* Was it the teacher who recognized a special ability or talent in you?
* Was it a teacher who made you feel significant?
* Was it a teacher who challenged you by not accepting less than your best?

There are many reasons why we remember a special teacher, but it is almost universal that the favorite teacher connected with us as an individual, not just as a student.

As a teacher I have thought frequently about the qualities that make teachers effective. We had our first child at the very end (June 9th) of my third year of teaching. I think I approached my early parenting much as I did my teaching – not necessarily a good thing.

My father taught high school biology for 40 years. He instilled in myself and my brothers a deep love and respect for God’s creation. He did not lecture us or demand answers that would display our ignorance. He taught by example explaining the divine nature reflected in the world around us. What I remember most was the enjoyment he communicated when sharing his knowledge of plants and animals. My father communicated his faith through his knowledge of the natural world. The world was not an accident, but the result of a divine plan.

Parents are childrens’ first teachers. I think it is important for parents to recognize this role – and not only if they are homeschooling their children. Our role as teachers should be one of teaching by example and WITH LOVE guiding our children.

The apostle Paul writes to Timothy recorded in I Timothy 1:2-5:

2 I am writing to Timothy, my true son in the faith.
May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.
3 When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. 4 Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations,which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.
5 The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.

We could use verse 5 as the “Parent’s Goal” in teaching our children. “the purpose of my instuction is that my children would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.

That says it all.

As a parent or grandparent, will I be a memorable teacher for the right reasons?

The Speck and the Log

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“So, do you want the fall colored set or the summer colored set?” I asked as two of our daughters allowed me to shop with them. We were looking at dish towels.

I say “allowed” me because truth be told, NONE of our four children like to shop with me. They say I look at everything in the store – even things I don’t want. I like to look.

Come to think of it, I don’t know anyone who does like to shop with me. Carol says I take too long, Alice Marie says I ask her what she thinks about something, and then after she offers her opinion, I ignor it.

I guess I wouldn’t want to shop with me either.

So, back to our daughters – I was asking them to pick out new dish towels because after staying in each of their homes recently, I noticed that their dish towels looked stained and dirty. Let me be clear – the towels were CLEAN! Yet we all know that after a while, the old dish towel is past the point of looking clean. They look like Chicago Bears uniforms when they play at home after a freeze – muddy and dirty! This is the point at which the old dish towel should begin it’s new life as a rag.

Neither daughter seemed to think that their towels were alll that bad. I assured them that oh, yes, they were and so reluctantly they each picked out a new set. Mission accomplished.

Two days later I was cleaning up in my own kitchen. I opened the towel drawer to get out a fresh, clean dish towel to hang over the freshly cleaned sink. The first one I chose was awful! How did this rag get into my towel drawer?

The next towel I chose to hang was no better! In fact, there was not one clean looking dish towel in my kitchen.

I had to smile as I remembered the urgency with which I talked my daughters into the necessity of clean looking dish towels. Yet, I had not noticed my own towels’ pitiful state.

How true this is of many areas of our lives. We are quick to notice the “dirty towels” in others lives, when ours’ may be just as bad or worse.

Jesus addressed this very issue in Luke 6:41-43 (NLT)

41 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 42 How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

Could it be that the very thing we feel needs to be changed in our daughter-in-law (son-in-law) (neighbor) (co-worker) (fellow church worker) is an issue that we ourselves have trouble with?

How blind we can be to our own “issues!”

Next time I feel the need to “clean up” someone else’s towels – I best check my own first.

Speak the Truth

Chicago Skyline  January 3, 2014

Chicago Skyline January 3, 2014

“If you don’t quit crying, I’ll leave you on this airplane!” (mom)

“NOOOO, don’t leave me…” followed by louder wailing (child)

“Stop crying right now or I’ll give back all your presents to Santa!” (mom)

Don’t give back my presents… louder crying (child)

This is the exchange I (and the other approx. 105 passengers) heard as the airplane had landed at O’Hare airport. We were waiting to dock at the gate and disembark. I’m sure the mother and child were very tired after this last leg of a long flight. Both were stressed by the cramped quarters and the extended wait. My heart went out to this mother and her difficult situation.

Yet I was struck by this mother’s unsuccessful efforts to quiet her child.

She lied to her little girl.

1) The mother was NOT going to leave her child on the airplane. The flight attendants would make sure of that!
2) The mother was NOT going to give Santa all her child’s toys. Send them to the North Pole?
3) Her threats were not working. Each comment resulted in renewed crying at an even louder volume.

The above situation was an overt attempt to calm a distressed child by using threats. Yet it is an easy trap for ANY parent to fall into.

1) “If you don’t stop I’ll turn this car around and go back home!” Really?
2) “If you don’t share with your brother, I’ll take all your toys away!” All the toys?
3) “You do that once more I’ll put you out of this car and you can walk home!” Safety?
4) “You won’t leave the table until you finish everything on your plate!” Everything?
5) “If you don’t find your shoes and put them on, I’ll leave you!” Alone?

It is so easy to make sweeping statements when we are frustrated, pressed for time, or embarassed in public. When we do this we are not only lying to our children, we are showing them that we do not really mean what we say.

In Scripture, the disciple Matthew records what is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is sitting on a mountain and teaching a crowd of people. He says:

Matthew 5:34-37 New King James Version

34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

This is a good principle for those of us who are parents and grandparents.

Say “Yes” or say “No”.

Anything else complicates the issue and often makes it easier for the child to argue. It is definitely harder to dispute a simple “no” or “yes”.

I do feel there are times when an explanation is warranted and even helpful. Yet, when parents and children are stressed, upset, or tired, reason tends to flee. The explanation may just prolong the agony.

The challenge for us as adults is to speak the truth in love, firmly, but in love.

Speak the truth – no means no.