Kingdom Come – Now and Not Yet by Phil Tiews

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Looking for the KingdomFor a while now we have been focusing on the prayer Jesus taught us, ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven’. We have talked about longing for the kingdom, about being agents to bring the kingdom in the spheres where Jesus has placed us. We have prayed for the kingdom to come, joining with brothers and sisters across the County in the special time of the 40 Days of Prayer.

At recent prayer meetings we have prayed with folks for healing, one of the most prominent signs of the kingdom in Jesus’ ministry and part of his instruction to the disciples, ‘he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.’ Luke 9:2. And we have seen some healing – improvements, partial healings, small healings – but not much total, major, clearly miraculous healing. I know this is an uncomfortable area for some of us, it is for me.

We believe God can heal, and we even know of folks He has healed. But praying with folks to be healed raises a ton of issues. Should we pray and then claim? How much faith do we need to have, does the sick person need? How long do we keep at it if nothing happens immediately? What if nothing happens at all?

Issues with Healing We are concerned for the person receiving prayer, will they be disappointed or embittered. We are concerned for God’s reputation, will He be seen as impotent or uncaring. Frankly, we are concerned for ourselves, will we look like fools. Most of us have seen situations where these sorts of concerns have distorted the whole process and it has gone terribly wrong. It is no wonder that the churches often feel more comfortable staying away from healing (and other miracles). It is safer to simply ask God to take care of things, pray ‘thy will be done’ and leave it at that.

Healing, Miracles & Message of the Kingdom But Jesus didn’t leave it at that. He told his disciples to go heal, deliver, even raise the dead along with proclaiming the kingdom. They are inextricably tied up with one another. Healing and miracles are not just to grab attention so can get on to the message. They are part of the message of the kingdom – what it means when the King to reign and put thing right. Word and reality welded together.

This is not the time or place to expound at length about healing and miracles. I hope that we will have a lot more reflection of this as the Lord calls us into a deeper kingdom focus. In the meantime there are a few things that I think we can say which will encourage us as we struggle forward:

 As we pray and work for the kingdom to come, looking for healing and miracles should be part of what we do.

 Not everyone we pray for will be healed or every miracle we ask for come about

 More healing and miracles will come about if we are asking for them than if we do not

 If we approach praying with people for healing and miracles with humility and love, pointing them to the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, people can experienced being loved by God and us whether the prayer is answered as asked or not.

 God will use the tension between healing and miracles we ask for and the level we experience. It will drive us to long more earnestly for the full revelation of His kingdom. It will drive us to remove obstacles and learn how to cooperate with the Spirit more fully. It will drive us to deeper compassion for the suffering of people as we groan with them and all creation for the full coming of the kingdom. Actually, these things are all manifestations of the kingdom, as well!

 As we look for the kingdom to break in, we can do it with thanksgiving and rejoicing. Any taste we get here and now is an appetizer to the full banquet which we can be assured awaits us. Living in thanksgiving and joy is another sign of the kingdom in the midst of a world of complaining and despair.

Interplay of Kingdoms

Time is strange. We tend to think of it as a steady, measurable thing. It ticks by at sixty seconds to the minute, sixty minutes to the hour, and so on. But physicists will tell us that it is more complex and elastic than that. We have experienced this elastic nature of time ourselves. ‘It seems like only yesterday’. ‘This afternoon is taking forever.’ Time drags and whizzes, stretches and contracts.

Jesus declared at the start of his ministry, ’the kingdom of God is at hand’, and later, ‘now is the prince of this world cast out’, and then ‘it is finished’. But we all know that there is still a lot of kingdom of this world and prince of this world and unfinishedness all about us. This has been described as the ‘now and not yet’ of the kingdom. You can probably remember laying an overhead sheet on top of the page from which it is made. Shift it just a bit and you get two images overlapping, both there, very confusing to sort out. What Jesus has declared is true. The old is passing away and the new has come. It is here and now, just not completely here and now. I imagine that Jesus’ voice is still ringing ‘it is fini………..’ and we haven’t quite gotten to the final ‘…ished!’ yet.

You may have been swimming in a lake rather than a swimming pool. If so, you have no doubt had the experience of paddling about and all of the sudden coming on a current of cool water, often clearer and feeling different than the rest of the lake. On a hot day this can not only be surprising but very refreshing! I think of our current kingdom situation as something along those lines. We are swimming in the murky, turbid lake waters. But there is stream of fresh spring water flowing into this lake and as we move around we encounter it and are refreshed. What we want to do it to stay in that current as much as possible. Track its direction and flow. Invite others to swim over and join us in it. Learn to live in the clear, clean, life-giving waters in the midst of the lake which is passing away.

Healing of Vision -- Steve Thomashefski

Sometime during the months of September and October of 2003, I noticed that the vision in my right eye seemed to be progressively getting worse. I saw Dr. Gary Moss on the 14th of October to have my eye checked. Having seen him in January of 2003, he asked why I was back so soon and I gave him the explanation. He told me in January the vision in my right eye was 20/60 and the vision in my left eye was 20/70.

After the eye exam he said something like this: “In 20 + years of practicing optometry I have never seen anything like this. Your right eye is still 20/60-70 but your left eye is 20/25! That’s like 5 lines on the chart!

He proceeded, at no charge to me, to look at and test the 3 factors that determine vision:

     1.   the depth of the eyeball;      2.   the shape of the eyeball;      3.   the condition of the lens.

The depth and shape of the eyeball (which he measured) were the same as they were for as long as I’ve been his patient. He did not have the equipment to measure the lens but after a ‘visual inspection’ he said he could see no difference from previous exams. As a scientist, he had no explanation for how my vision improved so radically!

Glory to God who “gives sight to the blind”! In part I feel like the Lord is doing in the “natural” while at the same time He is also sharpening and clarifying my vision of the “supernatural” 

Thank You Lord Jesus!

Healing Of My Back -- Betty Brice

BettyBriceWe had gone through the Life in the Spirit Seminar and this was the evening we were to be prayed with to receive the Holy Spirit and whatever gifts the Spirit had for us. When the time came, my back hurt so much that I couldn't concentrate on what was going on.  I had injured it many years before and, because it was the vertebrae where the nerves went through to my arms, etc., it never healed properly.  I eventually had had to have carpal tunnel surgery in both wrists, but even then the symptoms weren't completely alleviated. It would be okay for a while, but with use, the pain would return and continued to get worse and worse until I had to have a series of traction treatments. I prayed a lot for healing, without success, or so it seemed. My husband and I went on the weekend, which was held at a Camp Fire Girls Camp some­place north of Linden. It was a beautiful wooded setting. There were several bunk houses, a large dining hall, the two story building where the meetings took place, and probably other buildings as well. The meetings took place on the upper floor and the lower level had the rest rooms, prayer room, and other rooms that we did not use.

During one of the talks, I went down to the rest room. On the way back up, a man that I didn't know was coming down and I heard the Lord say to me, "Ask him to pray for you." There was a little alcove halfway up where the stairs turned, so I waited there for this man to come back up. When I told him about my back and that I had heard the Lord tell me to ask him to pray for me, he said that he would get his wife. The couple introduced themselves as David and Elizabeth Rocha and they did pray for me. (They were the heads of the men's and women's group that Doug and I were later assigned to.) Nothing happened at that time and I guess I was a little disappointed.

That evening, it was announced that there was a prayer room and if anyone wanted or needed prayer they were to go there. The lady in charge of the small group that I had been assigned to, seemed concerned about me. She wanted to make sure that I had received the gift of tongues and whatever other gifts the Lord had for me. She suggested that we go over to the prayer room.

When we got there, the atmosphere of the prayer room was so thick that I had difficulty going into the room. I had to force myself to go in and then went just inside the door. There were a lot of people already there and I could see a glow down at the end of the room. It was not from a lamp and I wondered about it. (Much later, I realized that the glow was the shekina [spelling?] glory and that the thick atmosphere I had experienced was the manifest presence of the Lord.)

I sat in a chair near the door, with my back to the rest of the room, and several people gathered around me to pray for me. As they were praying, I found myself praying and entreating the Lord to heal my back. The room seemed really warm and I starting feeling something like tingles going up and down my back on both sides of my spine. It lasted for about ten minutes and all the pain went away and it never really came back. For awhile, my back would get painful, but after resting, the pain would go away. Eventually, my upper back quit hurting altogether. The vertebrae that had been injured was sore for a long time, but even the soreness went away over time.

Unfortunately, I never told anyone about it. Even now, I am sure that Dave and Elizabeth would like to know that they were God's instruments on that weekend.

Healing Of Congestive Heart Failure -- Betty Brice

BettyBriceIn 1989 I had been diagnosed with a large lymphoma cancer which had intruded into the liver.  I had some strong chemotherapy treatment and, after that treatment, radiation.  The chemotherapy drugs apparently damaged my heart.  I had to have a pacemaker installed in 1993 and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 1994.  In the fall of 1994, 1 had to have surgery.  The surgeon apparently did not give me enough medication to take care of fluid retention because a day or so after the surgery I had a very scary experience with congestive heart failure.  I was put on drugs to help my heart pump blood, and tried to be very careful about excess salt, etc., but periodically I would have to go to emergency to make sure the symptoms I was experiencing at the time weren't related to my heart. My cardiologist had left the practice and I had been assigned to another cardiologist whom I seldom saw.  At one point I was admitted to the chest pain clinic overnight and wasn't to be released until a cardiologist checked me over.  This doctor seemed energetic, well versed in his medical field and he invited me to sign up to be his client.  I felt frustrated with my situation and decided that I would like to see him.  I checked with my primary doctor and, since it was okay with him, made an appointment with this cardiologist.  I had to wait two months to see him and, before seeing him, I had to have an adenosine thallium stress test (which is a drug-induced stress test).

One Sunday near my appointment with this cardiologist, Sr. Ann Shields gave a testimony at the Word of God prayer meeting.  She said that someone had told her, several years earlier, that she should be praying with people for healing.  She did start praying in this manner but became very frustrated and discouraged because nothing ever happened.  Then one day, a man came up to her and asked her to pray for his healing and he was healed. She was very excited about it.

I had become very discouraged about the condition of my heart and had been praying that the Lord would heal the congestive heart failure.  As Ann Shields walked back to her seat, she went right past me and I quickly asked her to pray for my heart.  Sr. Ann laid her hand over my heart and prayed, "Lord, heal her heart" and went on her way. Truthfully, I did not experience anything. As far as I knew, my heart was still the same.

The following Friday, I had the adenosine thallium stress test. Then, the Monday after the test, I had an appointment with this cardiologist.  He came striding into the examining room with my file, which was about 1½ in. thick, and said, "Well, the good news is that your heart is normal." Then he started looking through the file. He seemed more and more perplexed and said, "There seems to be some wrong information in here." He said this several more times as he looked through the file. Finally, I said, "I think that the Lord has healed my heart." His response was, "Wel l l l l l l l, the good news is that your heart is normal. That test is very accurate and you can depend upon it." It took him 2 months to send a report to my doctor and then the report only showed what my heart was like before the test and what it was like after the test. There was no explanation of what had happened or why it had happened.

I saw this cardiologist once more several months later. He said, "We don't know what happened. Maybe your heart healed itself, or maybe the medication gave it time to heal, or maybe the medication itself healed it, or maybe it was God. The good news is that your heart is normal." Then he discharged me, but said they would keep my records of file and that I could come back to see him if I ever needed to.

Since that time, my doctor keeps track of my heart and lungs and there have been no sign of the congestive heart failure returning. I recognize that I have to be careful with salt and my diet, but there has been no sign of the congestive heart failure even though the condition of my heart has worsened and is now dependent upon medication and the grace of God to keep pumping. I was told that there is nothing anyone can do about it, other than medication, since it was damaged by the chemotherapy.

Betty Brice     September 18, 2003

Inner Healing Experience -- Betty Brice

We were attending a PRMI Dunamis Retreat. The retreat was a teaching retreat and was on praying for healing, both physical and emotional or inner. Rev. Bob Whitaker was teaching on inner healing and asked for a volunteer. I had the sense that the Lord was urging me to volunteer, so I raised my hand. Bob asked me if I wanted to face the group or sit with my back to the group. There were about 80 people attending and I knew that I would be more comfortable with my back to them. Then he asked me what I needed healing for and I explained that I wanted healing in my relationship with my mother. Even though she had died about 10 years before I still had a desire to be reconciled with her in some way. In my growing up years, I felt as though there was nothing I could do to please her and I certainly didn't experience any love from her. My brother and sisters agreed that none of us felt loved by either parent. She took good care of us, but, for the most part, my brother and sisters and I were on our own. She never asked us where we were or what we were doing. She never appeared to check up on us. It was a small town and my parents had a police whistle which they used when they wanted us home for dinner or otherwise. As a teenager and young adult, whenever I asked her for advice, she wouldn't give any to me, saying "It's your life, you have to live it." I found that very hard to deal with.

Even as a grown up and married, when I was ill or things weren't going right I would find myself yearning for my mother, even though I knew that she wasn't there for me. My mother had hurt me deeply on more than one occasion and I knew that she didn't recognize it. And there were times when I felt that she used me to get back at my dad, especially when she was angry with him.

Bob started explaining to the group the procedure that he used and asked me to visualize a time in my life when I had experienced hurt and told me to ask Jesus to come into that picture. I visualized the time when I saw my youngest sister sitting on my mother's lap and I had yearned to sit there myself but I knew I couldn't because I had already been told that I was too big. I tried to see Jesus there with me, but I couldn't. When Bob asked me if Jesus was there, I said no, that all I wanted was to feel my mother's arms around me. Barbara, a member of Bob's team was sitting just to the right of me, facing me, and she leaned forward and put her arms around me. Suddenly, her arms became my mother's arms and I found myself crying on her shoulder with her hand stroking my head. I cried for a long time, while everyone, including Bob, just sat and waited. Little by little, a peace washed over me and I felt a release of something in me that had haunted me since childhood and I knew that there had been a healing in my relationship with my mother. Finally, when the crying had stopped. Bob asked the group what they had experience during this time. Had anyone else experienced healing during this time? I looked around and saw that many in the group had been crying along with me. It was also apparent that there had been additional healing of other mother/daughter and mother/son relationships. One woman came up to me afterwards and said that she hoped that her husband had experienced healing in his relationship with his mother as I had experienced healing with mine.

Barbara, who had never had a child, told me later that, as she held me, it was like she was holding a little child of her own.

Betty Brice Sept. 18, 2003

Healing Neck Growth -- Keith Dwyer

In March of 2009 I noticed a small growth on my neck. Initially, I thought it was a pimple and that it would go away. When it grew and began looking ugly, my wife encouraged me to have my doctor look at it. He said that it appeared to be a keratoacanthoma growth. In most cases, keratoacanthoma grows rapidly, is benign and disappears within 6 months, usually leaving a scar. He said that it some cases, however, this type of growth is cancerous (squamous cell carcinoma) and should be quickly dealt with. He ordered a biopsy to be taken a few weeks later. I subsequently saw my chiropractor for something unrelated and she advised against the biopsy in favor of a homeopathic treatment of oil of oregano (a natural antiseptic) applied directly to the growth. Well, I was a bit torn about what to do, but prayerfully cancelled the biopsy appointment.  I had to cover the growth with a band-aid so others wouldn’t have to look at it. My wife was still concerned about cancer, so I was happy to hear that Tom Naemi was coming to our prayer meeting to pray with people for healing. I received prayer and felt the presence of the Lord immediately. As Tom prayed he said, “You don’t have cancer.” He continued to pray and said something to the effect that this growth would be gone within a week. I felt a lot better about the situation and continued with my treatment. The growth appeared to be shriveling up and within four days it dropped off. There appears to be no scar. I believe that I am healed. Praise the Lord!

I can breathe!

By Carol K. Have you ever thought about the fact that an offer to pray with someone might just change their whole life? Last Fall I joyfully returned to fulltime status as a student at Sacred Heart Major Seminary after a long siege of serious illness. After the first week one of my classes was moved to a newly renovated classroom equipped for videotaping.  The chemicals given off by the carpeting and the adhesive were inflaming my lungs and I struggled to breathe. Dr. Peter Williamson, my professor for Johannine literature, asked if I would like to pray for healing.

As Peter prayed over me, all of the things that had been burdening my heart were lifted off in one great act of mercy and forgiveness. Part of the prayer was about how much Jesus loves me and wants to heal me. I couldn’t quite grasp it. “Maybe everyone else, but not me. I am not a saint but a sinner.” The spiritual healing was so amazing that at the time I was not aware of anything else. Going back in my journal I wrote:

I walked out of the seminary with a marvelous sense of lightness and literally the breath of God. I have not struggled to breathe this afternoon. I am drawn deeper into relationship with Christ and the unfolding mystery of what God has designed for my life. I am humbled in the face of God’s revelation.

I couldn’t wait for the next class period to come so that I could report back the good news of the healing miracle! “The most amazing thing has happened! I can breathe - but the chemicals in the room are still making my lungs burn.” Peter again offered to pray for healing and immediately the burning in my lungs ceased and has not returned. In the next journal entry I wrote:

I am filled with such peace and joy, awash in the quenching water of life. This sacred space, this holy ground is food for the journey. I revel in the delight of the Lord and know beyond any doubt that I am being led - where and to what I do not know but what God begins he always blesses.

I have never experienced such powerful prayer. I am healing at many levels and I am reduced to silence in the face of awe.

About a month later during prayer for healing I was baptized in the Spirit and my life took a radical turn in the Lord. I asked Peter what kind of a faith community sustained the kind of faith and power of healing that he possessed. He told me about Christ the King parish and The Word of God Community. When I attended the first Mass at Christ the King my response afterward was “I am home.” Here was a faith community whose worship was in harmony with their living faith.

The next great event was an invitation to come to a Word of God prayer meeting. So many expectations of who God is and how God is had already been transformed and here came another one! I remember how amazing it was to be welcomed into the community with such incredible warmth and love, sight unseen, just because I am a daughter of the Lord! Marsha looked out for me as a sister (and she still does).

The whole community is a reflection of the Father’s love for his bride and the worship and praise slowly began to transform my life. The faith of the community is so confident and joyful in the Lord that the intimate relationship that began with the first healing prayer took on a new shape with an outward movement. In those early weeks all I seemed to be able to say was “I had no idea! I really had no idea!” The Bridegroom’s love for his bride is astonishing!

What God began in September he has deepened without letting up. God continues to reveal himself and manifest his glory without any merit on my part. The formerly shy and quiet woman of old, through God’s outpouring of love, will now sit beside a perfect stranger waiting for an oil change or a passenger on an airplane and start talking about Jesus. What I have discovered through the love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit is that lives are transformed before our very eyes when we let God be God.

Recently on a trip to Colorado I prayed with my Aunt that the Holy Spirit would lift a heavy burden from her and give her wisdom and peace. The answer was immediate and profound. While in Colorado I received a call from a friend of my mother’s that a long time acquaintance suffered a mishap during surgery and that they were on the way to the hospital to take him off life support. When I hung up the phone I immediately prayed to the Lord who knows all and can heal all that if it be God’s will “Lord you can turn this situation all around. Show your glory Lord!” Two days later she called back to say that when they got to the hospital, her father sat up and asked what everyone was doing there!

The living water that Jesus promised continues to gush up to eternal life. Through the Word of God community I have learned that the only way to keep from drowning in the gushing water of grace is to keep giving it away. The faster you give, the faster it comes. I have learned is that when we ask God for more (more grace, more courage, more abundance, more intimacy, etc.) that God’s “more” is far more than we can even imagine. Just when I think that I should not come before the Lord pleading for his intercession one more time, he surprises me with himself. And this is why, my brothers and sisters, I had trouble even beginning to write to you and share my experiences. When I realized that it is all about God and you, about how you have reflected God to me and the might and power of your presence in my life, THEN my eyes were opened and my heart was able to pour itself forward in praise and honor of the one who loves us beyond his own life. And all that I can offer you is thanks, simply and humbly - thanks. Praise be to God on high!”

“I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, ...

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.

O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,

restored me to life from among those who gone down to the Pit.

...You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.”                     Psalm 30

Grace abounds! The Spirit of God has blown into my life with such a mighty force that I need the community, which knows that it is all about God, and nothing about us. It is so crystal clear that it is God being God in God’s way. And how marvelous to have an avenue for genuine, unadulterated, unabashed praise of God! Thank you for your continued welcoming and encouragement. God is calling me forth in powerful ways and I try to remember that he wants me to simply stand before him in faith and trust and confidence. It takes a community to raise each of us to holiness. I thank God for you in my life and the life I have been given through you in the Lord.

Carol K.