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Recovering the Cross in Healing Prayer Ministry: A Conference Breakout Preview

Here is another preview of a breakout session from our upcoming conference in NYC during which Laurel Marr and Ben DeHart will be discussing the cross and healing prayer. Join us April 14-16!

Healing prayer ministries in the church today are centered on theologies of glory – beliefs that faith, positive thinking, and works are needed for personal empowerment or to alleviate sickness or poverty. Where do we turn when this isn’t working?

8242bd9abefcc938d12a39d6f9f2cd1f“Everything is possible for anyone who has faith.” (Mark 9:32)

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.  “Truly, I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:22-24)

Have we missed the real power of prayer because of insufficient faith? The promise of God’s healing power to be released if we just rally our faith never works. The good news is that we don’t have to count on our own offerings of faith to receive God’s blessings–even healing. God does not grant any favors for prosperity ministries that proclaim law-based methods will secure more blessings for those who can live within their rigidity.

What is faith anyways? How do we find healing? We don’t find it; it finds us.

The Gospel pronounces that we are already forgiven and our justification ends conditional thinking and the language of the law. God commands us to believe and He creates faith in our hearts as he covers us with the His own righteousness. It is a condition, not a choice; a gift, not an offer. This saving faith is a result of His choice and His commitment to us, not ours to Him.

“For by grace you have been saved by faith. And it is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, no a result of works so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Perhaps offerings of faith for healing miracles should be considered works, and we don’t have anything God needs or wants. Faith flows from His will and work, not ours. It is time to bring healing prayer ministries to be centered on the Theology of the Cross – where the cross of Christ is the heartbeat of our faith.

Pre-register today!

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Footprints in the Sand: The Remix

Footprints in the Sand: The Remix

Growing up, “Footprints in the Sand” was the kind of Christian poetry that everyone agreed to like without question. It was like the WWJD bracelet of literature. By my middle school years it was everywhere. You could get it on a quilt, on a print, and even on actual flip flops. If I’m being really honest with you, I had to read it like 5 times before I understood what the writer was saying. My initial thoughts upon reading it were:

Wait! What happened to my feet?
Wait! Why did Jesus leave?
Wait! Did I just die?

So, after that confusing math game, I…

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Mindfulness, Meditation, and Existential Panic: What Did We Think Would Happen?

Mindfulness, Meditation, and Existential Panic: What Did We Think Would Happen?

This one comes to us from our friend Bob Guterma.

A few weeks ago, The Guardian UK published an article called, “Is mindfulness making us ill?” From starving artists to high-powered businesspeople, from The New York Times to obscure spirituality weblogs (including Mbird’s own archives), you can find people extolling the virtues of mindfulness throughout Western society. But you rarely hear talk of the potential negative effects from practicing mindfulness.

Just to make sure we’re all talking about the same thing, mindfulness is a modern cultural movement, and a cognitive and therapeutic school of thought, that espouses meditation as a means to mitigate any…

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In Spite of Everything, He Loves Me

In Spite of Everything, He Loves Me

This passage is written by Simone Weil. The French theologian and writer, Jean Sulivan writes in his Spiritual Journal Morning Light that, when he thinks about the tenderness of God, and the enigma of Christ, nothing for him describes better the longing (and pain) better than this passage from Simone Weil. 

He brought me out and made me climb into a garret (an attic). Through the open window one could see the whole city spread out, some wooden scaffoldings, and the river on which boats were being unloaded. He bade me be seated.

We were alone. He spoke. From time to time someone would enter,…

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Just Like That Bluebird: The Mortal Prayers of David Bowie, RIP

Just Like That Bluebird: The Mortal Prayers of David Bowie, RIP

Gutted by this morning’s tragic news about the death of David Bowie. His incredible new single “Lazarus” had actually been on repeat in our office the past couple weeks. By way of paltry tribute, here’s the reflection from the back of A Mess of Help, slightly embellished. The world will be a duller place without him:

Rumor has it that David Bowie lobbied for the role of grand elf Elrond in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of The Rings. As good as Hugo Weaving was, Bowie would have been better, and not just because he played more or less to type in…

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Michel Quoist Hits Temptation

Michel Quoist Hits Temptation

From Prayers of Life. This section sounds like a modern mixture of Jesus calming the storm (Mt 8) and the psalmist’s cry in the night (Ps 6). Quoist then gives us God’s response.

I’m at the end of my rope, Lord.
I am shattered.
I am broken.
Since this morning I have been struggling to escape temptation, which, now wary, now persuasive, now tender, now sensuous, dances before me like a seductive girl at a fair.
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know where to go.
It spies on me, follows me, engulfs me.
When I leave a room I find it seated and waiting for…

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A Sleep Poem by Wendell Berry

From the 1990 selection of Sabbath poems.

The body in the invisible
Familiar room accepts the gift
Of sleep, and for a while is still;
Instead of will, it lives by drift

In the great night that gathers up
The earth and sky. Slackened, unbent,
Unwanting, without fear or hope,
The body rests beyond intent.

Sleep is the prayer the body prays,
Breathing in unthought faith the Breath
That through our worry-wearied days
Preserves our rest, and is our truth.

What Would You Write If You Weren’t Afraid? Mary Karr on the Art of Memoir

What Would You Write If You Weren’t Afraid? Mary Karr on the Art of Memoir

September is always a great month for books and music, and this one is no exception. Among the many releases to be excited about is Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir. In celebration, I had planned to reference her 2009 interview with The Paris Review in a weekender, but then I (re-)read it, and Bam. Simply too many sections jumped out, both one-liners and extended exchanges with Amanda Fortini, the interviewer. They talk about writing, family, memory, addiction, God – what more could you ask for? Since she was working on the new book when their conversation took place (not…

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The Power of Love – Michel Quoist

A new find for me, but this will not be the last Michel Quoist post. Quoist was a French priest and activist who wrote prayer books in much the same way the psalmists did. That is to say, his prayers are short vignettes and poems about everyday life. They also are not complete prayers–they do not try to “see the whole picture”–which seems to me to be an authentic prayer. One thing seems clear in Quoist’s work: for him there is little distinction between church life and human life, religious and secular. God in Christ moves through suffering and love, and so Christ is everywhere. This one comes from a new collection, Keeping Hope: Favourite Prayers for Modern Living. 

quoist-prayers-480I was called recently to the bedside of a dying man. He was very old and his face was ravaged and distorted by illness and suffering. I watched his wife. She was leaning over him, caressing him and whispering to him such tender words: ‘How beautiful you are, my love, how fine you look!’ I was embarrassed and thought: ‘How can anyone be so blind? Love is blind!’

Then an extraordinary thing happened. As she caressed him, the old man half-opened his eyes and a hesitant smile appeared on his face. He look at his wife a long time and she looked at him. There was a mysterious communion between them. And his smile spread. It was like the sun after a storm. I saw it. I know that I saw what she saw! She was right–the old man, made ugly by suffering, was beautiful. Love is not blind–love lets us see what others do not see.

That woman was guided by love to go beyond the deep wrinkles of her husband’s suffering face and had joined someone who was beyond, far beyond, the body, someone who could not die even if his body were to crumble away in her sight and finally disappear.

Frank Lake on Praying Badly

Frank Lake on Praying Badly

From Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology, one of the original voices in clinical pastoral counseling, this passage talks about the purpose (and pitfalls) of prayer for the Christian wound up in his/her own neuroses.

One of the reasons why pastoral dialogue with men and women suffering from the common symptoms of psychoneurosis is necessary, is in order that prayer, which is their life-giving communication with God, may be re-established. When Christian people fall into despair, into bitter isolation, into depression, into separation-anxiety, or into dread of non-being, they have, to this extent, lost any clear sense of God as loving or personal, fatherly…

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Of Death & Southern Comfort: The Making of an Everyday Priest

Of Death & Southern Comfort: The Making of an Everyday Priest

Walking through an abandoned rent house and seeing the ruins of former tenants is an exercise in human connection—archaeology of life, or the privation of it. In nearly twenty years, I haven’t often found deep meaning in getting a house “rent ready,” but I find myself being taken in by the nihilistic futility of Rust Cohle as I traverse from one scene of archaeological ruin to the next. Nothing draws these connections as powerfully, though, as when the ruins are left in a tenant’s wake even though their earthly body still blocks the house’s front entrance. This just happened a…

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Devastating and Hopeful: Collect for the Second Sunday of Lent

Devastating and Hopeful: Collect for the Second Sunday of Lent

Looking through our archives the other day, I was surprised to discover that we’ve never posted an excerpt from The Collects of Thomas Cranmer by Paul Zahl and Fred Barbee. It’s a wonderful little book, really more of a devotional, and not just for those who are interested in Cranmer’s prayers or the Anglican tradition. Take for instance the meditation on the collect for the Second Sunday in Lent (this past Sunday):

The Collect: Almighty God, which doest see that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; keep thou us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls;…

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