Updated: Jul 15, 2020
Our next few years of ministry were full of major ups, and major downs.
My husband had grown tired of the "dog and pony show" way of doing church. In a seeker style church, you have to always keep the crowds entertained. You always have to keep them happy, because happy people mean bigger numbers, in attendance and tithes.
The Truth of the finished work of Christ should make people happy. At least, so we thought.
This is why a lot of pastors don't talk about the controversial stuff. Talking about the Holy Spirit, healing, abortion, homosexuality and sex in general, about borders, socialism, and politics, would whittle their congregations down to a faithful few. (If you are a pastor or leader in the church, we are praying for you! Be bold! Share the truth as God shows you! He knows what your congregation needs to hear.)
Ironically, bigger numbers do not necessarily reflect a more spiritually mature congregation. Is the church as a whole about actually making disciples and leading people to maturity, or is it about having a bigger church?
This way of "doing church" is incredibly exhausting, for the leadership and the congregation.
People need more than just rules and religious platitudes.
Jason had always said he just wanted to live and minister like Jesus did. Jesus performed many miracles, but he also experienced tremendous rejection and religious persecution.
How bad do we REALLY want to live like Jesus?
One of the major ups during those years was that we had prayed for five people who were diagnosed with cancer, and ALL FIVE were healed! When they went back to their doctors, they found no trace of the tumors. Only one of them went through chemo.
Hallelujah! Praise Jesus!
He healed them!
But unfortunately, for the one who went through chemo, her story ended tragically.
They had found tumors in her colon. The cancer was advanced, so they proceeded with chemo treatment for several weeks. She became extremely sick, as we all know what chemo does to the body. She was scheduled to have another test to see if the cancer was diminishing. She came to see Jason alone, without her husband.
She believed God wanted her well. She believed God was good, and loving, and she saw how God was healing and working in our church members, and she wanted it. I honestly can't imagine how she felt, going through chemo, knowing of the 4 others who didn't have to. Jason agreed in prayer with her for healing, and of course, the doctors could find no trace of the tumors after that, because God is SO GOOD!
Perhaps the doctor was just trying to cover his own rear-end. Perhaps he wanted more money, I don't know. (Did you know that doctors get paid a commission off the chemo treatments?) But because the cancer had been so advanced, and the doctor was positive it would come back, he advised her to start taking chemo pills.
Even though they found no tumors.
She didn't want to continue taking any chemo. The tumors were gone.
She knew that God, Our Great Physician, had healed her!
But her husband did not believe God had healed her. He convinced her to keep taking the chemo pills, because that's what the "expert" said to do.
She died two years later from cirrhosis of the liver, a result of taking the chemo pills.
We were incredibly heartbroken, because we knew she believed. God had healed her. But she died because of her husband's fear and unbelief. She honored him by taking the pills.
He picked her poison. He chose how she would die.
I don't know why it's so hard for people to believe that God really does love them. That God loves them so much he sent his Son to die for them, to take their sin, sickness, sorrow and pain on the cross, and then He raised Him to life. So we could have life, and life abundantly.
Jesus's finished work. There's so much more to it than just getting a ticket out of hell.
We were taking back territory from the devil, and he didn't like it. God was healing. God was winning. Just in our little church, people were giving their lives to Jesus by the HUNDREDS.
But there were still some that could not, would not, believe. For some reason or another, they couldn't believe that God loved them so much He wanted them well.
Maybe they had been taught that God doesn't do things like this anymore. Therefore, they couldn't receive His love or His healing.
Many people reject what they don't understand.
The religious Pharisees of Jesus' day could not receive God's love either. They also rejected it.
I used to be the same way. I thought I had to earn God's love. I thought the Holy Spirit was scary.
How can we possibly understand the love of God with our human intellect? We cannot. That is why it requires faith.
For many, it is easier just to trust the expertise of a doctor than to trust our Creator and Healer. But our doctors are not God.
During this time, I had a Christian friend whose husband was a surgeon. He mainly saw patients with stomach issues, and saw many with cancer. She was bewildered by my faith and could not understand why I would preach the hope that God wants us well.
She said that when her husband, also a Christian, would pray for his cancer patients, it never turned out well. The patients, and their families, would ultimately lose faith because they rarely, if ever, survived. "Trusting God to heal them" actually made things worse.
But on the other hand, when he told his patients that they were going to die, to get their things in order, that they only have so much time to live, the families and patients seemed to deal better with that reality.
He would tell his dying patients, "Life is like a card game. And this is the hand you've been dealt."
OH. MY. WORD! Where is the hope in that?
His explanation of why "God would allow this" was that we are in a game of chance, and some are healed, some are successful, and others are just out of luck.
Why would anyone believe this?
I call BS on that.
That is NOT what God says. His plans for Israel, for us, are for good. For hope. For a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
Jesus came to save the world, not to condemn it (John 3:17).
A mind set on the flesh is death. But the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6).
There is power in agreement. For good AND for bad.
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)
That was Jesus talking there. Jesus.
We can agree, in Jesus' Name, for healing, and the prayers of faith will heal the sick (James 5:14-16).
We can also agree with the doctor's report that we are going to die. And that's what will happen.
Can it really be that simple?
In the coming days, we were about to find out how hard it really is to live like Jesus.
Disclaimer: This story is not a knock against doctors. I know several good, Christian doctors that even pray over their patients. I do think it's important, however, to get a second opinion. Ultimately, The Great Physician's opinion should outweigh the rest. If He says to take the meds, then take the meds. If He says get the surgery, then get the surgery. Health and healing is the ultimate goal, right? It is not about rules or platitudes, do this, do that. It's about relationship with Him. Following the Holy Spirit is all that matters, and obeying him should trump anything I say on this blog!
Click here for the next chapter in Our Faith Journey, Part 9, "From Death to Life."
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