THE MECHANICS OF PRAYER: When The Prayers You Make Make You

October 30, 2018

My mother, not a kind or generous mother, told me that my first words were the Lord’s Prayer. I have always treasured that knowledge, holding it close as an affirmation of who I am. My badge of identity, as it were. But after the past year or so I have come to a new appreciation of that choice of mine. To reach out into the air and decide which words I was hearing around me were the ones I wanted to speak aloud. I have experienced something strong and heart-changing in the past few months. It has to do with my prayers. Of course I have prayed all my life. In church. At the dinner table. Before meetings. For other people. From time-to-time, even for myself. Prayer is a part of my life.  In the doing.  In the studying under God.  In [...]

MIRACLES: Knocking On Heaven’s Door, or The Stretch

July 8, 2018

I don’t write about miracles that often.  I suppose that is because finding words to describe the depth of transcendence involved in a miracle is a strain, even for me. I have defined a miracle though: a stepping out of time to ensure the outcome. What this is is a comparison with ordinary prayers.  And I’m realizing that I can write about miracles a bit by comparing them to ordinary prayers. An ordinary prayer, a petition of some kind to God, involves three elements: God, the pray-er, and time. All three of these elements must align in order for a prayer to be answered.  The person making the petition must be aligned within himself (that is, his thoughts, feelings, and actions must all agree with the petition).  God, of [...]

WILDERNESS: The Wilderness—Why Waste A Good One? by Brian & Candice Simmons

May 1, 2018

From The Wilderness One of the great lessons we’ve learned in the wilderness season is this: disappointment is short-lived.  Now, when we’re disappointed with God’s plan for our lives, we just have to wait a little while longer until we begin to see its purpose and, eventually, its value.  God has never wasted a sorrow, heartache, a difficulty, or a trial in our lives.  Our great disappointment is not in God but in our impatience and dullness of heart to trust and believe. One of our early tests in the jungle was when we picked up our children from our mission school and took them with us into our jungle village for their summer break.  Our mission plane had been grounded by the government of Panama because they thought that we [...]

WILDERNESS: The Wilderness—Where Sons Become Soldiers by Brian & Candice Simmons

April 28, 2018

From The Wilderness Are you ready to be molded?  The hand of God is continually molding his people.  We pass from a wilderness to an oasis of peace and rest only to be prepared for the next wilderness.  It is interesting that the next wilderness the Isralites had to pass through was called, “the Desert of Sin.”  Let’s take up the story from Exodus 16: The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai. (v. 1) Actually, the Hebrew word for “Desert of Sin” is not the word for sin or evil, but the word for clay.  A wilderness of clay!  This is the place where we are shaped and molded by the Master Potter.  In this wilderness, sons will become soldiers.  How did one [...]

WILDERNESS: The Wilderness—An Oasis In Hiding by Brian & Candice Simmons

April 17, 2018

From The Wilderness Who said life has to always be difficult?  God seems to sprinkle our problems with Heavenly surprises of joy.  There really is an oasis up ahead – a place with flowing streams and palm trees waiting for you on your journey if you’ll just keep going! We all too often measure our life by our weaknesses instead of his breakthroughs, by our difficult day instead of a glorious decade, or by the momentary mess instead of the amazing miracle of grace.  Soon our measurements will change.  We will be absorbed by the gaze of the fiery Lover who comes to consume us into the living flames.  Then we’ll measure our life by eternity’s treasures and love’s conquest. In Exodus 5:1, God made it clear that the reason he [...]

WILDERNESS: The Wilderness—Where Our Attitudes Are Adjusted by Brian & Candice Simmons

April 10, 2018

From The Wilderness What a journey we’re on together.  We have discovered that the Lord is our healer as we “see the tree” that took away our sins.  He was crucified for our full healing.  Our bodies, our memories, and our emotions can be healed and made sweet by the revelation of the cross.  If your thoughts are bitter, cast the cross into your attitude.  If your body is broken and sick, cast the cross into your weakness.  Healing comes as you see the abundant provisions of his cross.  And the more you are healed, the more you will want to obey and follow his ways. I (Candice) can remember harboring hatred and unforgiveness toward one of our closest neighbors in the jungle.  She always seemed, in my opinion, to have a way of [...]

WILDERNESS: The Wilderness—Where God Provides A Healing Tree by Brian & Candice Simmons

April 3, 2018

From The Wilderness Can you imagine one day in the desert without water and having nothing for your children to drink?  As one day became three days, the Israelites were passing out, falling over, and unable to go any farther.  Their thirst consumed their every thought in every moment.  Angry, bitter, and resentful – the people began to complain to the leader, “Why is this happening if God is with us?  Why did God bring us into the desert to die of thirst?” I (Brian) can remember one long day in the Darien jungle of Panama when I had nothing to drink.  I had left the village to hunt wild pigs with the men without taking any water.  We hadn’t crossed any stream or rivers for hours, and I was thirsty!  What a stupid thing to [...]

WILDERNESS: The Wilderness—Where We Feel Our Limitations by Brian & Candice Simmons

March 21, 2018

From The Wilderness The truth of the wilderness is a strange truth to most of us.  Why would God actually lead us into a wilderness?  Our Heavenly Leader will sometimes take us to a place where we are limited, walled in, and hindered from going forward.  This is the first wilderness the Hebrews had to pass through, and so will we.  It is the wilderness of Shur. Moses led Israel onward from the Red Sea into the Wilderness of Shur.  For three days they trekked through the wilderness without finding water. (Exodus 15:22) Shur is a Hebrew word that means “a wall, hemmed in, or limited.”  The name of this wilderness is significant.  God led them along a wall.  They could not escape this desert.  Have you ever felt as if you have [...]

WILDERNESS: The Wilderness—Where Worship Deepens by Brian & Candice Simmons

March 15, 2018

From The Wilderness The most difficult season of your life is about to be over.  You will see a victory that will cause you to explode with joy and rejoice in song.  The prophetic destiny of your life will be advanced, even in a wilderness of uncertainty.  Miracles will be discovered in your wilderness. We have found that miracles flow in an atmosphere of music.  Worship turns a wilderness into an oasis of the supernatural.  As we lived day after day in the jungle, it was the song of worship that kept us strong and submitted to our calling.  The miracle of worship strengthened our souls.  We would never want to live without worship.  Heaven is full of the sounds of supernatural worship – musical miracles! The Hebrews began their [...]

SERMON: A Sermon Of Saint Augustine On The Gospel For The Fourth Sunday In Lent

March 11, 2018

Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lift up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” (And this he said to prove him; for he himself knew what he would do.) Philip answered him, “Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, “There is a lad here, which [...]

WILDERNESS: The Wilderness—Where Faith Grows by Brian & Candice Simmons

March 7, 2018

From The Wilderness As new believers, we became fascinated with the Bible.  After seasons of soaking our heart in the Word of God and prayer for hours a day, God would give us dreams of reaching a tribe of unreached people with the gospel of Christ.  More than anything, we wanted to go where no one had gone before and pioneer a kingdom outpost for our Lord Jesus.  Our heart’s desire was to be missionaries of the Lamb and to be the first people to share Christ with those living in spiritual darkness. Our personal belief is that everyone that comes to Christ has had someone praying for them.  A mother, a friend, or an intercessor somewhere – someone has prayed you into the Kingdom.  We certainly had those who prayed for us, a group [...]

WILDERNESS: The Wilderness—A Place Of Mystery by Brian & Candice Simmons

February 28, 2018

From The Wilderness We are all taking a journey through the wilderness, heading toward the land God has promised us.  So what exactly is the “wilderness?” The best definition I (Candice) can give you is this: it’s a place in life you’d rather not be in, a place of dissatisfaction where you know something better exists.  It can be the difficult place you find yourself in today.  It can be an unfulfilling career, a broken marriage, or the sting of loneliness that doesn’t go away.  It’s the place where you’re humbled and stripped bare – the place of not knowing and not understanding.  God may lead you on a path where a shroud of mystery covers your way. Let’s face it, at times we all walk into a place we didn’t ask [...]

SERMON: Homily For Lent by The Venerable Bede

February 25, 2018

Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshiped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto [...]

WILDERNESS: The Wilderness—Where Miracles Are Born by Brian & Candice Simmons

February 21, 2018

From The Wilderness It was our very first visit to the jungle as we were preparing to move in among the Kuna people as tribal missionaries.  The hour-and-a-half flight took us into some of the deepest parts of the Darien Gap, a dense tropical rainforest that covers large portions of Panama and Colombia.  We were finally moving to the village after years of prayer and preparation.  Our hearts were pounding as we stepped down out of the Cessna 185 “bush plane.”  We were now in our new home, the Paya-Kuna tribal village of Pucuro! Would the people welcome us?  Would they be friendly to our family?  Would their hearts be open to our message of new life in Jesus Christ?  The first words we heard from the Kuna people were not what we [...]

WILDERNESS: The Wilderness—Everyone Has One by Brian & Candice Simmons

February 14, 2018

From The Wilderness When you see the word miracles paired with wilderness in the title of this book, you might think, Are you kidding?  We all love the word miracle, but wilderness – not so much!  We’ve all experienced difficult seasons at one time or another and have hoped for that instantaneous miracle to appear.  Over and over you can hear the cry of our hearts through the psalmist, King David, as he says: How long, O Lord? When will you answer my cry? Why must I wait so long for your promise to be fulfilled? We can all identify with those words, for we’ve all had unresolved issues surface in our journey with Christ.  So in spite of what others may tell you, the Christian journey is not a life of endless bliss, with a perfect [...]

FAITH: Growth Through Humility by The Venerable Bede, Priest and Confessor

February 23, 2017

And it came to pass that there met him ten men that were lepers. They may well be described as lepers who, while having no true knowledge of the faith, profess a variety of heretical teachings. For such people do not hide their ignorance, but proclaim it as the height of learning; priding themselves on what they have to say. There is no false doctrine in which some truth is not mingled. True doctrine therefore mixed without order with what is false, in a man’s discussion or conversation, and showing like the colors in a body, resemble the leprosy that spots and blemishes the human body with patches of true and false color. Such persons are to be excluded from the church so that, if it is possible, placed afar off they may with a loud [...]

POETRY: The Ten Lepers by Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon

February 22, 2017

’Neath the olives of Samaria, in far-famed Galilee, Where dark green vines are mirrored in a placid silver sea, ’Mid scenes of tranquil beauty, glowing sun-sets, rosy dawn, The Master and disciples to the city journeyed on. And, as they neared a valley where a sheltered hamlet lay, A strange, portentous wailing made them pause upon their way— Voices fraught with anguish, telling of aching heart and brow, Which kept moaning: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us now!” Softly raised the gentle Saviour His eyes like midnight star, And His mournful gaze soon rested on ten lepers, who, afar, Stood motionless and suppliant, in sackcloth rudely clothed, Poor Pariahs! by their nearest, their dearest, shunned and loathed. Not unto Him prayed [...]

GRATITUDE: A Belatedly Grateful Leper by Loretta Pehanich

February 21, 2017

From Ignatian Spirituality Luke 17:11-19 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that [...]

PRAYER: The Miracle Prayer

January 23, 2017

(Author unknown) Lord Jesus, I come before you, just as I am. I am sorry for my sins. I repent of my sins. Please forgive me. In your name, I forgive all others for what they have done against me. I renounce Satan, the evil spirits, and all their works. I give you my entire self, Lord Jesus, now and forever. I invite you into my life, Jesus. I accept you as my Lord, God, and Savior. Heal me, change me, strengthen me in body, soul, and spirit. Come, Lord Jesus, cover me with your precious blood, and fill me with your Holy Spirit. I love you, Lord Jesus. I praise you, Jesus. I thank you, Jesus. I shall follow you every day of my life. Amen.   [...]

MIRACLES: One Little Yes, by Mark Batterson

November 22, 2016

From The Grave Robber Do you believe this? (John 11:26) After asserting his identity as the resurrection and the life, Jesus pops a point-blank question that punctuates Martha’s life: Do you believe this?  Remember: Jesus hadn’t called Lazarus out of the tomb quite yet, so Martha was still in the depths of despair.  Hope was four days dead.  Yet Martha responds with her simple profession of faith: Yes, Lord. One little yes can change your life. One little yes can change your eternity. The litmus test is the same now as it was then.  The only question on God’s final exam is: Do you believe this?  It’s not a multiple-choice question.  It’s true or false.  And it’s the most important question [...]


October 30, 2016

It was a time of flight. I used to define flight as a time when I had one foot in the seen world and the other in the unseen world. But recalling this time I think that it would be better defined as having both feet in the unseen world, while still being in this world. This flight was most profound.  So much so, that for the two years that it went on, I never needed my reading glasses to see. I thought, at the time, that this was an indication that I had received a healing to my eyes. But, no.  Over the years that followed the flight, my eyes gradually went back to being “normal.” My first miracle was when I touched the hand of a woman born deaf, and she was healed. And now I was beginning work on my second. When it was time, [...]

BODY OF CHRIST: Nothing Will Be Wasted by Francis de Sales Wagner

October 18, 2016

From Grace in the Wilderness When they were satisfied, Jesus told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” (John 6:12) We waste an awful lot.  Food, time, energy, water, money.  The list goes on.  Ours is a disposable society.  Everything is important, but nothing matters much. We waste words.  Many speak.  Few say anything.  No wonder so few listen. We waste opportunities.  They fly by every second of our lives.  Every once in a while, we grab one and make the most of it.  Most pass by unnoticed, never to return. We waste knowledge, emotions, actions. We waste joy, sadness, courage, fear, conviction, uncertainty, pleasure, pain. We waste people.  If we’re honest, we’ll admit we [...]

POETRY: Reflection On “A Certain Woman” by Enuma Okoro

October 5, 2016

I. I confess to stealing healings caught on rims of rough cotton linens. Securing double blessings in grief and desperation. A master turned to claim His own, to seal my blood flow for a later date and I’m lauded for a faith that bore no options.   II. If I believed like She did and pressed through my crowded thoughts to steal healings and blessings in desperate faith fear and trembling kneeling to confess my theft and my plagues… Would my blood flow stop as I often fear it may?   [...]

POETRY: St. Peter and the Angel by Denise Levertov

September 14, 2016

Delivered out of raw continual pain, smell of darkness, groans of those others to whom he was chained— unchained, and led past the sleepers, door after door silently opening— out! And along a long street’s majestic emptiness under the moon: one hand on the angel’s shoulder, one feeling the air before him, eyes open but fixed . . . . And not till he saw the angel had left him, alone and free to resume the ecstatic, dangerous, wearisome roads of what he had still to do, not till then did he recognize this was no dream. More frightening than arrest, than being chained to his warders: he could hear his own footsteps suddenly. Had the angel’s feet made any sound? He could not recall. No one had missed him, no one was in pursuit. He [...]

PETER: Peter’s Miraculous Mission, by Bart D. Ehrman

September 13, 2016

From Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene What accounts for Peter’s success as a missionary?  In the book of Acts, there is no ambiguity about the matter: God works miracles through him, and this convinces the crowds that he represents the truth they need to accept.  The first conversions come when the apostles miraculously receive the Spirit and begin speaking in tongues on the day of Pentecost.  Peter preaches a sermon and thousands convert.  He heals a lame man at the temple, a crowd gathers, he preaches a sermon, and thousands convert.  Eventually we’re told that all the apostles begin doing “many signs and wonders” with the result that “many more were added to those who believed in the Lord, both men [...]

MIRACLES: The Task Of Definition, by Robert A. H. Larmer

September 10, 2016

From Water Into Wine? It is important to be clear on what we mean by a miracle.  I shall begin, therefore, by defining the term.  Only if we can be clear on what we think a miracle is does it become possible to discuss questions of whether they occur and in what circumstances.  A problem we immediately face, however, is that the word, miracle, like a good many other words, is used in a number of different ways.  For my purposes, I shall distinguish between two major uses which I term subjective and objective. Before attempting any formal definition, I want to say a few words about each of these uses and indicate the one with which I am concerned. Two Uses of “Miracle” I begin with the subjective use of the term.  What [...]

CANA: Chain Of Command

September 9, 2016

It is the story from the Bible for which I have the strongest reaction. The kind of story that makes me look around in church and wonder why people are nodding their heads at it. This story, the story of the Wedding at Cana, makes me want to crawl under the pew, or just get up and walk out. But it wasn’t until last Sunday when I heard a priest speaking from the pulpit and, having once been in the military, spoke about his subject at hand from the reference point of a chain-of-command, that things began to fall into place for me. He also spoke of orders that come from outside the chain of command. This week, as I mulled this whole story over, along with my lifelong reaction to it, I began to break it down into parts. And, oh how many [...]

JESUS: The Wedding At Cana, by Brant Pitre

September 8, 2016

From Jesus the Bridegroom Jesus and the Wine of the Messiah First, by performing a miracle in which he provides miraculous wine, Jesus is beginning to reveal his identity as the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. In order to see this clearly, it is important to emphasize not just the miraculous nature of the transformation of water into wine, but the amount of wine produced.  According to the Gospel of John, Jesus goes far beyond just solving the problem of the lack of some wine for the wedding guests at Cana.  In carrying out the miracle, he specifically instructs the servants to fill to the top the six stone jars used for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.  If we do the math, it totals up to [...]

JESUS: Water Into Wine, by N. T. Wright

September 8, 2016

From John, Part 1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee.  Jesus’s mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. The wine ran out. Jesus’s mother came over to him. “They haven’t got any wine!” she said. “All right, mother,” replied Jesus, “but what’s that got to do with you and me?  My time hasn’t come yet.” His mother spoke to the servants. “Do whatever he tells you,” she said. Six stone water-jars were standing there, ready for use in the Jewish purification rites.  Each held about twenty or thirty gallons. “Fill the jars with water,” said Jesus to the servants.  And they filled them, right up [...]

JESUS CHRIST: Changing Water Into Wine, by Tom Harpur

September 6, 2016

From Water Into Wine John, or the Fourth Gospel as it is called to differentiate it from the three Synoptics, calls the miracles attributed to Jesus, “signs.”  In other words, then, the author wants to make it perfectly clear that the meaning of the signs, of which significantly there are seven in his Gospel, is symbolical or allegorical.  This includes the healing of the blind man and other healings.  Still, down the ages into the literalisms of today, the vast majority of ordinary Christians have simply assumed they are meant to bear a pedestrian literal sense – and the clergy, for the most part, though knowing better themselves, have done little to avoid the misunderstanding. This issue can be clearly seen in the very [...]