Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Thursday
May262011

HEALING  ARCHIE

Chapter 3 of Jack Towe's Spiritual Autobiography

 

"So?  Go pray for Archie's healing."  The command came from my friend, Keith McLaughlin in a phone conversation.

"Who, me?"

"Yes, you."

"But, I've never had anything to do with healing prayer."

"You've been baptized in the Holy Spirit.  You can do it."

"What do I do?  Follow James 5?"

"Yes."

"The only oil I have is 3-in-1 oil.  Will that work?"

"Probably, but it's kinder and more Scriptural if you get olive oil.  You're a GE manager.  You can afford it."

I reluctantly agreed to go to Good Samaritan Hospital to pray with Archie, but felt helpless and hopeless. I knew Keith's prayers would help, but he was in Schenectady, New York. Archie and I were in Cincinnati, Ohio. But I was willing to take Keith's commands as a word from the LORD. Why? Because Keith was laid-back. This was the first time I could recall when he had given me orders.  


Good Samaritan Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio

 

 

 

 

Before Keith's phone call, Archie's mother, Almas, had called. She wept as she told me about Archie's injury. The fingers of Archie's right hand had been crushed. Archie was working at his uncle's tree nursery.  The uncle had asked him to pull the chain off a power winch. The chain connected the tractor and a loaded trailer. The uncle unintentionally slipped the winch into forward instead of reverse. Archie's gloved hand, caught in the chain, was pulled into the winch under several tons of pressure.

Archie's injury was horrible and a frightening prospect for a first-time healing prayer. Needing help, I called my friend, Ted, to join me. We agreed to meet the next day at 5.

The time was early April, 1969. I was still a young Christian and had invited Jesus into my life only three years before. I felt helpless and hopeless about Archie -- not realizing that in Jesus, we have both hope and help. 

Driving to our appointment, I reviewed what I knew about baptism in the Holy Spirit.  For a couple of years I had heard about charismatics, and even attended one charismatic meeting – the FGBMFI gathering at Schrafts in Rockefeller Center.

Then, in December, 1968, Keith had driven me to LaGuardia Airport. We were late, so he was speeding at 70 on the Merritt Parkway through Connecticut. Keith asked if I wanted to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. I said yes, so he laid his right arm over my shoulders and prayed aloud. Because I had never prayed with my eyes open, I snuck a peek to make sure his weren't shut.

Afterwards, he asked what happened.

"Nothing."

"No unusual sounds in your head?"

"No."

I would have dismissed the experience except for Keith's comments:  "There are more sure things than death and taxes. If you ask Jesus to come into your life and take charge, He does it. And if you ask for the Holy Spirit, you get the Holy Spirit."

"How do you know that?"

"Jesus says so. Check Luke 11. Jesus gives the disciples the LORD's prayer. Then, he tells about the unjust judge, a parable with the moral, 'Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find.' Then, Jesus says our earthly fathers don't give us snakes and scorpions when we ask for fish and eggs. Jesus concludes, 'If you evil people give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.' It's a sure thing."

"But I didn't feel anything."

"That's OK. Some do, some don't. Makes no difference. You asked, and you received. Now you're empowered with gifts of the Holy Spirit to build up His church."

News to me. I thought the baptism of the Holy Spirit was for speaking in tongues. Only later did I discover I Corinthians 12 to 14. Only later did I learn that tongues are the least of the gifts.

Did I trust in the LORD's healing power in praying for Archie? Not really. Actually, I expected to make a fool of myself.

It was a reasonable expectation. I came out of a rationalist background and was a Harvard Law grad. I knew few people who had strong personal relationships with Jesus, and I mistrusted them. Keith was an exception. He was a fellow Lutheran who quietly, joyously demonstrated Jesus in his life.

When I arrived at my meeting with Ted, his fiancée, Sue, was also in the car. (Not only was I going to make a fool of myself, I was going to have an audience.) I realized that complaining would do no good, so I thanked them both for being there. We drove to the hospital.

In the underground parking garage, I suggested we pray. We bowed our heads and began. Suddenly our heads jerked up as "WHACK, WHACK" sounded on the windshield as the policeman's nightstick rapped the glass. "Are you alright?" he demanded. We said we were, and he was relieved. "I thought you were asphyxiated."

Good of him to care, but it further rattled my nerves. We went into the tunnel between the underground garage and the hospital. As we walked, the LORD gave me a gift of peace. Suddenly, I sensed the LORD's presence and realized He would take care of everything. (I hadn't asked for the gift. I didn't know I could. The LORD realized our situation and blessed us.)

When we went into Archie's room, his wife, Gretchen, was also there. By now, the situation seemed funny, and I wondered why the LORD didn't send us downtown to Fountain Square so we could really have an audience.

Archie's right forearm and hand were in a cast, with an opening for his fingers, which were dark as tar. He told about the accident and commented, "You know, they might as well kill me. I'm no good any more." It was a strange comment for a man in his early 20's, but understandable for Archie. Born and raised in Clay County, Kentucky, he was from the Appalachian hills. "They're going to cut off the fingers of my right hand, and I won't have a trigger finger for hunting. Might as well be dead."

"Archie," I plunged in, "do you believe that Jesus can heal you?"

"Yes, I do."

"Good. We want to pray for your healing. But, first, let's take a look at Scripture." I read him James 5:13 to 16 -- with neither guts nor wisdom to include confession as part of the healing. Then, I read Acts 3, about Peter, John and the healing of the crippled man at the beautiful gate.

"Archie, we're going to pray for your healing. I've never done anything like this before. And the LORD knows, I don't have any healing powers. If it works, it's going to be all Jesus' doing. I'm trusting what the Bible says."

"OK," said Archie, "let's go." I anointed him with olive oil in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and made up a healing prayer  After stumbling along, I said Amen, and so did all the others. There was no change in Archie's fingers, but Archie thanked us. I promised to return soon, and we left.

Two days later, I returned. Archie smiled and raised his cast. "Tap my fingers." I touched them as gently as possible. 

"Harder," he commanded. I was afraid of hurting him.

I tapped. "Harder."

I rapped them. "Harder."

He grinned. "Know what that feels like?"

"What?" 

"Feels like you're sticking pins in my fingers." 

"That's terrible." 

"No, that's great. It means the nerves aren't dead. The doctor may be able to save my fingers."

"Praise Jesus," I said spontaneously. (A phrase I had never used before.) "Amen," agreed Archie.

So, what happened? The doctors saved three of his fingers. They removed his right pinkie and knuckle. They tapered the edge of his hand. "Three fingers -- like Mickey Mouse," he said.

Happy ending: Because of God, and in spite of my doubts, Archie hunted again. Four years later, he received Jesus as his Savior and LORD.

Has he stayed strong in the LORD? I don't know. I've lost touch with Archie and his family. May the LORD reconnect us.

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Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

Copyright © 2011 by Jack Towe

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