Thinking Out Loud

September 15, 2015

Healed or Cured? Illness or Disease?

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:18 am

From the July/August issue of The Pentecostal Testimony magazine. Dr. Randall Holm is associate professor of biblical studies and associate dean of student affairs at Providence College and Theological Seminary in Otterburne, Manitoba.

For some time now, medicine has made a distinction between disease and illness.  Disease is an abnormality in bodily function caused by a specific agent, such as a bacterium or virus, while illness refers to the accompanying social, cultural, spiritual and emotional effects of the disease on the suffering individual.

Some theologians, such as Pentecostal scholar Amos Yong, have picked up on this distinction and submit that we should also distinguish between curing and healing.  Curing, they say, addresses disease, and healing addresses illness. Writes Yong, “In relational perspective, healing takes place in community, sometimes including cures, but more often reconciling lives who were formerly strangers to one another.”

March 1, 2013

March Madness, Blog Style

I don’t do repeats here until the piece is a year old.  So a new month always offers new items from the previous year that you may have missed… (Apologies to email subscribers…this is long!)

A Letter to the Nominating Committee

Dear Nominating Committee;

Visiting your church for the first time last Sunday, I noticed an announcement in the bulletin concerning the need for board members and elders for the 2012-2013 year. I am herewith offering my services.

While I realize that the fact I don’t actually attend your church may seem like a drawback at first, I believe that it actually lends itself to something that would be of great benefit to you right now: A fresh perspective.

Think about it — I don’t know any one of you by name, don’t know the history of the church and have no idea what previous issues you’ve wrestled with as a congregation. Furthermore, because I won’t be there on Sundays, I won’t have the bias of being directly impacted by anything I decide to vote for or against. I offer you pure objectivity.

Plus, as I will only be one of ten people voting on major issues, there’s no way I can do anything drastic single-handedly. But at the discussion phase of each agenda item, I can offer my wisdom and experience based on a lifetime of church attendance in a variety of denominations.

Churches need to periodically have some new voices at the table. I am sure that when your people see a completely unrecognizable name on the ballot, they will agree that introducing new faces at the leadership level can’t hurt.

I promise never to miss a board or committee meeting, even if I’m not always around for anything else.

I hope you will give this as much prayerful consideration as I have.

Most sincerely,

This Song Should Be the Anthem of Churches Everywhere

I was scrolling through the CCLI top 200 worship songs, and it occurred to me there is a song that really needs to be there; in fact it really needs to be part of the repertoire of every church using modern worship.

Eddie Kirkland is a worship leader at Atlanta’s North Point Community Church, where, just to warn ya, the worship set may seem to some of you more like a rock concert than a Sunday service. But I hope you’ll see past that and enjoy the song.

We want to be a church where freedom reigns
We want to be a people full of grace
We want to be a shelter where the broken find their place
We want to be refuge for the weak
We want to be a light for the world to see
We want to be a love the breaks the walls and fill the streets…

All are welcome here
As we are, as we are
For our God is near every heart

If those sentiments are not the goal of where you attend on Sundays, frankly, I think you’re doing it wrong.

Here’s another version of the song that was used as part of North Point’s Be Rich campaign, where each year, instead of reinventing the charity wheel, NPCC members flood secular social service organizations with money and volunteer hours.

Watch the song a few times, and then forward the link to today’s blog post — — to the worship leader at your church.

If a church of any size desires to live up to what this song expresses, there’s nothing stopping that church from changing the world.

Qualifying “It Gets Better”

One of the Church’s biggest failures of the past decade has been our reaction, and over-reaction to the LGBT community, especially to those who — absent the treatment they see their peers receiving — hold on to a faith in the Messiah-ship of Jesus Christ.

On the one hand, there are the usual conservative voices who insist that any gay sympathies constitute an automatic ticket to hell. Frankly, I am curious to see who shows up to picket at their funerals.

On the other hand, there are among the more progressive progressives, certain Christian bloggers who in their compassion have thrown out a lot of the core of the Bible’s ideal for family, procreation and partnership.

And now, to add to our confusion, we discover that Psalm 139, the scripture used as a major element in the argument against abortion, is used as a rallying cry for gay and lesbian Christians. Regardless of which translation is employed.

Anyway, I’ve already blogged my personal place of balance on this issue, but in thinking about it this week, I’ve realized that my particular choice of words has a bearing on another commonly heard phrase particularly among teenagers who either come out of the closet by choice or who are outed by their classmates.

The phrase is, “It gets better.”

For the bullied, the confused and the lonely, I certainly hope it does. Soon.

But I have to say this, and maybe this can be your response as well, “It gets better, but it doesn’t necessarily get best.”

In other words; I’m there for you.

I understand.

I’m not someone looking at this from the detachment of an outsider; I’ve read your blogs, I’ve looked in to your online discussions. I do get it.

But with all the love in my heart, I just think that ultimately, God has something else in mind which, because He made it, is perfect.

So yes, it gets better, thought it doesn’t necessarily get best.

A Powerful Story Echoes Three Decades Later

This was recorded nearly 30 years ago at a Christian music festival somewhere in Canada. Nancyjo Mann was lead singer in the band Barnabas. I always knew that I had this in my possession — on VHS, no less — and have always felt that more people need to see it. For those of you who knew me back in the days of the Searchlight Video Roadshow, you’ll remember that I often closed each night with this particular testimony.

July 27, 2012

Truly Healed

Filed under: prayer — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:39 am

“Tony Campolo tells a story about being in a church in Oregon where he was asked to pray for a man who had cancer.

Campolo prayed boldly for the man’s healing.

That next week he got a telephone call from the man’s wife. She said, “You prayed for my husband. He had cancer.” Campolo thought when he heard her use the past tense verb that his cancer had been eradicated! But before he could think much about it she said, “He died.”

Campolo felt terrible.

But she continued, “Don’t feel bad. When he came into that church that Sunday he was filled with anger. He knew he was going to be dead in a short period of time, and he hated God.

He was 58 years old, and he wanted to see his children and grandchildren grow up. He was angry that this all-powerful God didn’t take away his sickness and heal him. He would lie in bed and curse God. The more his anger grew towards God, the more miserable he was to everybody around him.

It was an awful thing to be in his presence.

But the lady told Campolo, “After you prayed for him, a peace had come over him and a joy had come into him. Tony, the last three days have been the best days of our lives. We’ve sung. We’ve laughed. We’ve read Scripture. We prayed. Oh, they’ve been wonderful days. And I called to thank you for laying your hands on him and praying for healing.”

And then she said something incredibly profound. She said, “He wasn’t cured, but he was healed.”

March 20, 2012

Powerful Testimony: Nancyjo Mann from Barnabas

This was recorded nearly 30 years ago at a Christian music festival somewhere in Canada. Nancyjo Mann was lead singer in the band Barnabas. I always knew that I had this in my possession, but for the last few days I’ve had this very strong leading that more people need to see this. For those of you who knew me back in the days of the Searchlight Video Roadshow, you’ll remember that I often closed each night with this particular testimony.


September 17, 2010

Suppose I Were To Tell You…

I hesitated to write this.   Just three short weeks ago, I wrote about confession in general, and the website PostSecret in particular.    While it would have been more simple to devote that space to a discussion about why it is that we have this need to vent or get something off our chests, I wrote instead about the fact that this type of confession doesn’t really go anywhere beyond confession itself.   It lacks what we experience in a liturgical church service following the confession of sin:  The assurance of pardon.

Why am I returning to this subject?

Because this week blogger Mandy Thompson (who just this week, in the link list, we referred to as not that Mandy Thompson) offered her readers an opportunity to comment (in this case, confess)  anonymously beginning with the phrase, “What if I Told You…”

While this sort of thing may not be your preferred brand of reading — perhaps you consider it prurient or voyeuristic — I think that every once in awhile something of this nature bears reading; in this case for two very particular reasons.

First of all, these were Christian readers responding to the opportunity, not readers from among the general population.   In fact, a very noticeable percentage of them were pastors’ wives or pastors; something very reminiscent of Anne Jackson’s books, and her current Permission to Speak Freely book tie-in website.   Apparently, clergy families are in desperate need for an Ann Landers or Dear Abby page on which to bare their deepest hurts.

As we are all from time to time.

Secondly however, and this is why I’m linking to this today; at what I’m sure was  great personal emotional exhaustion, Mandy took the time to answer each and every response.   That’s with the number of comments closing in on 200.

What if I told you I’m impressed?

This is the blogosphere at its best.   When someone tells you that blogs are a waste of time, let them see what’s happening at, and then don’t miss some of her post-mail-avalanche comments that follow more recently.

If you’re a blogger, do you see what you do as a ministry?  Are there times someone left a comment that resulted in you taking on the role of counselor?  If you’re a reader, have you ever had a blog writer that you really connected with and received help from?    For either category, have you ever continued the dialog off-the-blog?

July 18, 2010

Miracles Should Be Remembered

Filed under: prayer — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:39 pm

The other day I was challenged with the question, “Have you ever seen a dramatic healing in response to prayer?”  I paused to try to think of one. I needn’t have paused, however.

Over a year ago our family exercised our faith in prayer for someone in need of healing, but it’s lamentable that now, twelve months later, it’s so easy to forget God’s intervention.   Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge the Israelites in the Old Testament.   Here’s the blog post as it appeared here on 7.14.09 (or as we say in Canada, 14.07.09)…

prayer requests

Because of the nature of my work, I have the opportunity to hear from a number of people in the course of a year who express their desire to see God meet a specific need in a special way.

“I’ll pray for you;” I tell them. I explain that we pray together as a family at about 9:00 PM every night, which readers of this blog will remember me discussing a few weeks ago here.

After we read the Bible or devotional book selection for that night, I’ll say, “There’s someone who came in the store today; I know you don’t know them, but I’d like you to pray for ________.”

But every once in awhile, I’ll say, “There was someone I promised to pray for tonight, and now I can’t remember who it was.”

That’s what happened in the case of A.  I forgot.   He had been going through a rough time with a digestive tract disorder, a situation we’re not unfamiliar with. For six years. He had mentioned more recently that it was hitting particularly hard.

Later, I remember his situation, my memory kicking in, and we started praying for him about six weeks ago. Once on our “prayer list” my kids rarely let go of a name, even when they forget the details. But they did remember that A. was one of two situations where we were asking God to something really, really special.

So we prayed.

I should also explain that A. has a really big sense of humor, and sends me e-mail forwards at least every three days. Some of them are little edgy; you’d never know this guy has a brother who is a pastor in a conservative Baptist denomination. But I do open them all. At least, I thought I did.

It turns out I missed the one where he either described going to a Toronto hospital, or facing surgery. But we kept praying.

Then, on the road in Boston and doing my best to get e-mails despite the fact that in hotels, “Free Wireless” is a meaningless phrase, I read something about him “recovering well” and expecting to “go home from the hospital.”

Did I miss something? I e-mailed to ask if he had some kind of procedure; and told him the boys and I had been praying. He e-mailed back to advise that he had a tumor removed, was recovering well, and was being released a day early. There’s even some question as to whether he even had the digestive disorder that he felt he had all these years. Wow!

To jump to the obvious high point in the story: We started praying in earnest at the same time A. needed it most; not knowing specifically of the current need. And it took a couple of e-mails afterward to convince him (and myself!) that our praying and his need had definitely converged at the same time.

Despite having what I consider to be a decent measure of faith, I’m also marveling about this. The boys and I weren’t just saying a name on a list; we were really asking God to do something ‘outside the box’ for A.

And I believe that He certainly did.

March 22, 2010

Bullying: Echoes of a Past Life

It didn’t attract a lot of comments a year ago, but I felt it was one of the better things on this blog, and because I have new readers, I decided to repeat this item today…


This story of an 18-year old in Cincinnati who hanged herself last July after constant taunts from both school friends and strangers had an eerie resemblance to several other stories that have crossed my path lately. We sometimes call it cyber-bullying, but it’s really just harassment, ramped up to the nth degree.

Suddenly, my mind flashed back to a scene in a different era several decades ago… A group of teenagers returning from a weekend at the beach. The cottage, situated on one of the Great Lakes, was owned by a good friend, and his dad was driving us home. He’d dropped people off one at a time and arranged it so at the end it was only my friend and I left in the car.

Then he let us have it. “The way you treated ***** was terrible;” he said. “Don’t you know the boy has feelings?” Actually, no. Mainly because ***** seemed content to laugh along with the rest of us, as we ridiculed his speech and mannerisms. And some of us — like me, for example — didn’t know back then how to let a joke die…

Dear RG

The chances of you reading this are one in a gazillion, but I need to know that it’s out there. Perhaps someone else will read this who isn’t you and doesn’t know me; but they’ll claim it as their own. Perhaps by some miracle you’ll see this and recognize my name and know it’s for you.

We like to think things were better back then. There was no e-mail, or texting, or instant messaging, or Twitter. No matter what people thought about you, you could go home and shut the door and be within the safety of your family. I don’t know if your family provided that kind of refuge for you, or if our remarks were so hurtful that you went home and cried.

We didn’t really mean to hurt you. We thought you were in on the gag. Looking back, you were probably just being brave, just being defensive.

Today, the kids have all this technology and we know that bullying doesn’t have to be physical, it doesn’t have to mean picking a fight. While we didn’t have the technology to invade the sanctity of peoples’ homes and continue the harassment; we should try to remember that we weren’t that innocent in those innocent times. People were mean and cruel and said things they shouldn’t have; and some of us didn’t know when to quit.

So, RG; I’m sorry. I hope you were able to triumph over our high school stupidity and that you’ve made a good life for yourself all these years later.

For what it’s worth, I went to church back then, but didn’t understand the dynamics of living as a Christ follower. I didn’t let my faith deeply impact my behavior. I didn’t know my life was supposed to reflect a difference; a distinctive; patterned after the One I had pledged myself to serve and obey.

Some of that came together during the very last weeks of high school; some I figured out in the second term of first year university; some came together when I was 21; some I learned when I got married and had kids of my own; some stuff I worked out last year and last month; and a lot of what it means to bear the name of Jesus Christ I truly have yet to learn.

Yesterday I read a story about a young girl in Cincinnati and how the taunts of her friends and acquaintances drover her to the lowest point. I read of the agony of her parents; the grief of losing their only child, and all the hopes and dreams and aspirations they had for her.

And suddenly I thought of you; I thought of us; I thought of that cottage weekend when I simply didn’t know when to shut up. I wish I could relive that weekend over again; and I wish I could have been a true friend, instead of using you as a prop for my personal love of attention.

It’s never too late to say you’re sorry. I’m sorry.



While looking for a graphic for today’s post, I came across this, which also provides some food for thought.


January 11, 2010

To Know The Lord vs. To Be Known By The Lord

Filed under: Jesus, theology — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 3:18 pm

In the last 48 hours I’ve received two prayer request e-mails concerning two people who are facing a terminal disease and are not Christ-followers.

This kind of request is often worded something like:

Prayer for __________ who has been diagnosed with _________; he does not know the Lord.

Pray for the ________ family, the mother has only ________ weeks to live and the family does not know the Lord.

Of course we pray for healing, but mostly we pray that these people will come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

It’s interesting to contrast this with the phrasing in Matthew 7:23 where Jesus talks about people who wish to claim righteousness based on their good works, and He says that in the last days He will say, “Depart from me… I never knew you.

Now import that phrasing into the above examples:

Prayer for __________ who has been diagnosed with _________; he is not known by the Lord.

Pray for the ________ family, the mother has only ________ weeks to live and the Lord does not know them.

That last one ought to especially grate when you consider that there is nothing the Lord does not know; He is omniscient; He knows us down to our hair count.   It does however deal with the large number of ‘religious’ people in our world who know about God, but don’t know Him. They can write the Wikipedia entry, but, so to speak, they’ve never met the person who the article is about.

However, working backwards, it does magnify the finality of Jesus’ statement of denial of His self-styled disciples.    God knows everything there is to know, yet doesn’t know some people?   (Hang on, we’ll get to that.)

I tried to do a translation comparison on this as I did a few days ago, but this time around everyone maintains the “never knew” form in Matthew 7, except for The Message translation:

I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’  And do you know what I am going to say?  ‘You missed the boat.  All you did was use me to make yourselves important.  You don’t impress me one bit.  You’re out of here.’

But what if we consider that this is a God who — since Eden — really longs for relationship with His creation, and flesh out the “never knew” phrase a little more, such as:

In the past, I didn’t know God, and I didn’t allow Him to get to know me.

Before _______ became a Christ-follower, she didn’t open herself to God.

This also has echoes of Eden, because in their sinful state, A&E (not to be confused with Arts and Entertainment) hid themselves from God and tried to cover themselves with foliage, the first recorded attempt at camouflage.

Application:  Some of us don’t really allow others to get to know us, let alone God.   As humans it’s possible to not want to have relationship with Him, not want Him to get to know us.

Imagine hearing:

  • “You never let Me get to know you.”
  • “You always hid from Me every time I tried to be close.”
  • “You never opened up; you never shared what was on your heart with me.”

God is pursuing a loving relationship with Himself.   Yes, this ultimately will result in our desiring to give Him lordship over all aspects of our lives, but initially, we need to soften our hearts and begin to experience the Love that he wants to pour into us.

PS: Although I haven’t mentioned names, please pray for two people who are indeed in the situations described.

John 3: 16-17 (The Message) This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

December 14, 2009

World of Dod’s Blog: Charismatic Cartoons

After mentioning this site in December 2nd’s link list, I finally found a couple of  ‘toons on World of Dod’s Blog that were of a size I could screen-shot them for you.   This blog is part funny, part thought-provoking, but you really need to have spent some time in the Pentecostal or Charismatic community to get all the nuances.   And that crowd isn’t known for a lot of introspection, let alone humor.   It’s a whole other world out there!   (Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt…)  So when you find a diamond in the rough…

Here’s another one:

These are just a couple of the recent ones.   Be sure to visit the site at:

All cartoons are copyright of Dod Cartoonist, © 2009.

August 22, 2009

Come and Get Your Healing

Today we were in the big city, where, if you lift your gaze above the retail shops at street level, you see the one-flight-up storefront churches, tucked in among the dance studios and offices of insurance adjusters and pool halls.

The one that caught my eye today had lettered on one window the words, “Come and Get Your Healing.”

I believe in healing.   I’m one of those people convinced that the gifts of the Holy Spirit did not cease at the end of the Apostolic age, including the gift of tongues.   (The real gift of tongues, not the people who are faking it.)   I believe in praying powerful prayers.   I believe in a limitless God who invites us to stretch our faith muscles to believe in limitless possibilities.  (Based on His resources, not our possibility-thinking things into existence.)

So my personal beliefs lean slightly in a more Charismatic direction, even if I find some of the forms excessive and find that identifying myself as part of the broader Charismatic movement places me in a category of people with whom I largely don’t identify.    (I keep meaning to read and review Rob MacAlpine’s book Post Charismatic here sometime, as I feel that term better describes me.)

church upstairsEven so, I find the lettered sign in the window of the walk-up storefront church a little distressing.   While church-planting is the rage and the home-church movement is producing little organic fellowships at a rapid rate, the nature of many of these small groups is such as to place them at the extreme fringes of the Evangelical mainstream, perhaps even the Charismatic mainstream itself.

How about a sign that says, “Come and discuss life issues related to the quest for meaning.”    Maybe the Alpha Course fills that void.   Or, “Come in for a look at the various religious belief systems available.”    Maybe the more cerebral, more intellectual, more ‘bookish’  members of our faith tribe just aren’t the kind of people to put first and last month’s rent down on a former ballet studio or fabric trade sweat shop.

But no, it’s “Come and Get Your Healing.”    Will these people get healed?   Will they get what they saw promised on the window sign?   Will they be asked to jump through a number of hoops before their healing manifests itself?

I’m also current wrestling with the question, “What if Jesus had never healed anyone?”    Certainly the healings demonstrated His divinity and it’s hard to imagine the gospels without them; though the power of His words also arrested men and women in their tracks.   But it would seem that a modern expression of the Christ-follower movement begun 2,000 years ago would contain the potential for healing.    And many who came to Jesus, attracted by the miracles He performed, stuck around and became part of the core group; while others were told to go back to their home communities and share what they had seen.

“Come and Get Your Healing.”

It just seems too simplistic.

How about, “Come and find acceptance.”   “Come and find forgiveness.”  “Come and find meaning to your life.”   “Come if you’ve been hurt.” “Come and meet Jesus.”   “Come and let us love you.”   “Come and help change the world.”

TODAY’S BONUS ITEM — On one my wife’s many blogs, she recounts the story of doing a ukulele performance this week for a group of developmentally challenged adults.   As a well-known local worship leader, this collection of songs represents her “alt-repertoire” which seemed highly suitable for the assembled audience.    Read her post here, and see why I say she is the better writer in the family.

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