Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Last Sunday's Healing Service - Mike & Hazel Simons, Jimmy & Becky Pearce - Promiseland Television Network

I trust your week is off to a good start. Teresa, the children, and I drove over to East Texas after lunch Sunday to spend the night at a cabin together. Jean-Marc and Charity always love having a few hours with us without any distractions. As our Children’s Pastor, Susan Rutledge, often says, “Children spell ‘love” like this: ‘T-I-M-E’!”

Ever since last Sunday, I have found my thoughts going back to our special healing service with Mike and Hazel Simons, Jimmy and Becky Pierce, and the Promiseland Television Network team. I want to share some of my reflections with you. I apologize in advance for the length of this post. Please understand that my heart is very, very full!

The ministry time following Pastor Mike’s message lasted until 4:30pm and neither he nor the Pierces ever missed a beat…! Having travelled around the world in ministry for many years, I am no stranger to lengthy altar services or to large crowds desiring personal ministry, but I have never before seen a preacher take so much time to interact invidually with so many people in one service. That is a real tribute to Pastor Mike’s love for God and for people. Our ushers estimate that he personally laid hands on over five hundred persons. It reminded me of the time I heard Richard Roberts say that his father Oral’s shoulder joints have completely disintegrated through the repetitive motion of laying hands on so many people over so many years. Pastor Eduardo Ribeiro from our Brazilian Ministry reported to me this morning that they also experienced a supernatural outpouring in their 7pm Portuguese language service that evening.

Teresa and I were also deeply touched by the way Hazel Simons remained completely engaged in prayer and focused faith throughout the entire time. Mike and Hazel obviously have a deep love for each other and are equally committed to their ministry. This speaks volumes about them as people. One of the best evidences of any minister’s character is a happy wife and family. They typically know much more about what goes on behind the scenes in a man’s life than anyone else around them! I am also very thankful for the way the Simons were so easy to work with “behind the scenes.” They made no demands financially and were very easy to please in every way. What a refreshing contrast to the attitude of many ministers today, such as the ones I wrote about in my blog post entitled, Fire in Grady’s Bones. Teresa and I did our best to feed their entire entourage a fine dinner at Maggiano’s afterwards on your behalf. If you would like to add something to the offering we received for the Promiseland Television Network this past Sunday, you can do so by contacting our church office. We will be sure to forward every cent of anything you designate for PTN. We want to be as generous with them as we possibly can in response to the way that they have ministered to us.

If you received a definite, supernatural touch from the Lord on Sunday, I want to encourage you to rejoice over it and walk it out in faith without trying to understand everything about it or analyze how it happened. Know that Satan often tries to take things away from us that God has given to us. We must stand on God’s Word in order to prevent the enemy from stealing the blessing we have received. It is very important to clearly discern exactly what God is saying to you and then to trust Him to fulfill His promise. Sometimes the Lord speaks to us through people, sometimes He speaks directly into our hearts and thoughts by His Spirit. When such “spoken” or “rhema” words come from Him, they always line up with the Bible, His written word. You must listen “beyond” whatever human voice He may choose to use and beyond the voice of your own mind so you can hear what He is saying to you. Do not focus your thoughts, your spirit, or your faith on anything I said to you or that Pastor Mike said to you, simply because we said it and because you have confidence in us as servants of the Lord. Focus your faith on what you know for sure God was saying to your heart and soul by His Spirit. As you stand on His word to you, remember to “feed your faith” and “starve your doubts!”

If you did not receive a physical healing or some other answer that you were seeking from the Lord, remember this very, very important truth - GOD LOVES YOU, TOO…! Do not allow Satan to play tricks with your mind or “mess” with your spirit by planting seeds of doubt, disallusionment, or bitterness in your heart. God is sovereign and He expresses His love and faithfulness to each one of us at different times and in different ways. He loves us all and He cares about all of our needs…! Continue to look to Jesus as your answer. What He was, He still is and what He did, He still does! Many times, God profoundly touches people in the days and weeks that follow such a service as they reflect on what they saw God do and as they hear testimonies from the lips of others around them who received a miracle. God is not limited to our church facility. He can meet you right now in your home or office as you reach out to Him!

For some people, the most controversial and hard to understand part of such a service, especially if they have never been present in one before, is seeing people fall down as they are being prayed for. I have heard all types of theological, biblical, and historical arguments for and against this phenomenon, including a European perspective that in Scripture the only people who fell to the ground fell forward, not backward. According to that paradigm, the only “biblical” way to fall to the ground “under the power” is on our faces, not on our backs. My letter to you today is not intended to be a theological treatise. I am just going to share with you the conversation I had with our nine year old daugher, Charity, on Sunday evening. As we were lying together on the couch watching the fire die down in the fireplace of the cabin our family was staying in, she suddenly looked up at me and asked, “Daddy, why did the people fall down Sunday while they were being prayed for?” Here is the gist of my answer to her question on a level she could understand:

Sweetheart, people fall down in church for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it is because they suddenly sense the power of the Holy Spirit in an unusual way and they are no longer thinking or concentrating on standing up and they get “lost” in the Spirit and lose their balance. On the Day of Pentecost, when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they did something that caused people to think they were drunk. It may well have been falling down or staggering around without their normal balance. Drunk people do not suddenly start speaking in languages they have never learned like the disciples did or have tongues of fire suddenly appear on their heads like it says in the Book of Acts, so it wasn’t those things that caused people to think they were drunk.

Daddy has seen some other people fall down because I was so excited and enthusiastic about what I felt in the Spirit when I prayed for them, and about what I believed God was going to do for them, that when I laid my hands on their heads and prayed, I grabbed their heads or laid my hand on their forehead harder than I meant to, and I knocked them off balance and they fell over. That is why Daddy tries to be really careful about the way I lay hands on people when I pray for them, because I don’t want to accidentally knock somebody over and have them get hurt. Some other people who come up for prayer really want to fall down because they have seen other people fall down when they had a profound encounter with God and they want to experience it, too. They think if they don’t fall down as well then there is something wrong with them, so if I touch them at all or if they feel any touch of the Spirit at all, then they fall over. Sweetheart, I have even seen some people fall down in church because the preacher praying for them mistakenly thought that pushing them over would help them get in the Spirit so they could receive their blessing from God.

There are lots of different reasons why different people fall down in church services. I cannot tell you exactly why everyone fell down Sunday, but this I can say for sure…at least some of those people fell down because they were having a very, very profound encounter with God. When we prayed for Pastor Alvin, for instance, it felt like he had just been hit with a lightening bolt. I was standing nearby and I suddenly felt a really, really strong jolt of supernatural power, as strong as I have ever felt before at any time in my entire life, something like a thousand volts of electricity, something I do not even know how to describe. I believe God did something very, very special for Pastor Alvin in that moment, and I believe God did special things for many other people on Sunday morning, too.

Sweetheart, people fall down in church for all kinds of reasons. The most important thing is not whether or not they fall down, or even why they fall down, but rather, what happens in their hearts and lives and bodies, whether or not they receive a special touch from the Lord and have a supernatural encounter with Him. So don’t try to figure out or worry about why this or that person fell down when they were prayed for. Just thank God for what He did for those people who encountered Him in a very special way today and pray that they will let Him do everything that He wants to do in their lives in the days to come.”

On a personal level, what probably impacted me the most Sunday was seeing the desperate needs and intense hunger in the hearts and lives of the people who came forward for prayer, specifically in the area of divine healing. All throughout the afternoon, I kept thinking of New Testament passages like these,

"40 When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people…42 At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him…" (Luke 4:40-42 NIV)

"32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons…35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”…45 Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere…1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them." (Mark 1:32-2:2 NIV)

"9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him." (Mark 3:9-10 NIV)

"54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed. " (Mark 6:54-56 NIV)

" 23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them." (Matthew 4:23-24 NIV)

This last Sunday’s service dramatically illustrates the effectiveness of supernatural ministry in response to people’s greatest needs. At Hillcrest Church, we are called by God to become a place where people know they can encounter Him in a supernatural way. As we consistently move people into God’s manifest presence and the word gets out that this is the case, our auditorium will not be large enough to contain the crowds. People desperately need the Lord and they will come when they know they can enounter Him in our midst!

As we move forward, I want to ask you to pray for the following things:

  1. Pray for each person who came forward for prayer this past Sunday. Pray that those who were touched by the Lord would allow God to finish the deep and wonderful work that He has started in them through the power of His Holy Spirit. Pray for those who have not yet seen what they believe God has promised them, that their faith will not fail, even when Satan tries to persuade them to doubt the Lord. Pray for those who did not receive their miracle, that they would rest in the certainty of God’s love for them as well.
  2. Pray for the Promiseland Television Network, Mike and Hazel Simons, Jimmy and Becky Pierce, their families, and their team. Pray that God will protect them and provide for them. Pray that God will reward them for the considerable investment of their time, energy, and gifts to us as a church family. Pray that He will pour abundant provision out upon them so that they can move forward into the next season that He has planned for their ministry. Specifically, pray that the fiber optic cable they have ordered will be installed quickly on our church campus so that we can begin broadcasting our own program.
  3. Pray that God will help us retain the harvest He has granted us here at Hillcrest Church. Pray that we would connect in a meaningful way with all those He is calling to become part of our church family. Pray that we would be able to effectively disciple them into strong, mature, vibrant followers of Jesus Christ.
  4. Pray that our Hillcrest church prayer team will move forward with greater anointing and stronger faith for prayer for the sick. Pray that we would see mighty miracles in our services on an ongoing basis.
  5. Pray for the finances of Hillcrest Church. December was a fantastic month, but our church offerings in January so far have been far lower than our needs. Please pray that God’s full provision will be released upon our ministry.

I want to thank each one of you for the way you have responded to my call to seek the Lord in a special way during these opening days of “2008 - A Year of New Beginnings!” I also want to thank all of you who made a special effort to come early to our Sunday service to help greet our many visitors. Some one hundred and fifty people either filled out visitor’s cards or signed in using our attendance books on Sunday morning!

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Pastor Mike’s message and ministry time, as accurate as I can get them from pure memory, without having taken any notes:

“The supernatural is when God takes His super and adds it to your natural.”

“Signs are things that point you in the right direction.”

“Wonders are things that make you wonder.”

“When people ask me if they should go off their medicine, I tell them to go see their doctor and ask him. He is the one that put you on medicine. He should be the one that takes you off it.”

“If you are really healed, go see the doctor and let him confirm it.”



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