My sister-in-law’s been fighting an aggressive form of cancer for the last couple of years. She’s been in the hospital for the last couple of weeks fighting for her life. Thankfully, the Lord brought her back from the grave, as it were, and we were able to hear her talk out loud again, smile as always, pray, sing, and have as jolly a time as could be had in a hospital bed.

Anyways, we determined from the outset that we wanted God to be glorified in Doreen’s life. Of course we wanted her healed. But most of all, we wanted God’s will to be done and for Him to be glorified through Doreen. We are not God. He alone holds the power of life and death. If He wanted Doreen bad enough He could have her and we would rejoice through our tears because we know where she’s going and who she’ll be with. There’s nothing grander than heavenly glory and there’s nothing on this earth that can keep a Heaven-bound saint from going home when it’s God’s time for her to be home. But until God lets us know it’s time to let her go we continue to pray and believe for healing—after all, that is His promise and it’s one of the things Christ provided for us at the cross.

So for the last few days we’ve been lifting Doreen up in prayer, joined by a multitude of believers and friends who’ve petitioned the Lord on Doreen’s behalf. I know God’s been blest and glorified as He’s witnessed the love, unity, prayers, and praises of His people. So many people have rallied around Doreen; they’ve lifted up the shield of faith and wielded the sword of the Spirit against satan on Doreen’s behalf. The devil’s got himself a bruising and a licking! I know God’s been so pleased and glorified by that.  He’s graciously blest us with miracles each day as we’ve seen Doreen drink more and more water, eat more broth, mashed sweet potatoes and bread, and converse freely with us.

Among the many Scriptures that we’ve lobbed against the devil are the oft-repeated promises that God has given us: the prayer of faith shall heal the sick and the Lord shall raise her up; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover; He sent His Word and healed her and delivered her from all her destructions; He heals all her diseases and redeems her life from destruction; the shield of faith quenches every fiery dart; with God all things are possible; with faith nothing is impossible; what things soever we desire, when we pray, we believe that we receive them and we shall have them; delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart; resist the devil and he shall flee from you; and many, many more.

You all know what the Word of God that Christ quoted in His wilderness temptation did to the devil: the Word sent the devil packing. The devil couldn’t do anything against God’s Word! He couldn’t win as long as Christ was using the Word against him.

In the same manner, we’ve used the sword of the Spirit against the devil and I mean to tell you, I kid you not, the devil’s been bruised and sent to the canvas time after time after time. What a glutton for punishment!

Anyways, the Lord did a marvelous work of encouragement for me as He took me to a couple of Scriptures that I had never before put together. The first was the promise of James 5:16, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. God wasn’t calling my attention to myself, as if I was going to win this battle on my own. No, this battle belongs to the Lord, the victory is His, and He has won it on His own. So the Lord wasn’t lifting me up necessarily: He was just reminding me that prayer really works when a righteous person’s praying.

Then the Lord took me to Hebrews 7:25 and Romans 8:34 where Christ is at the right hand of the Father, praying and interceding for us. Christ, brethren, is praying for us! He isn’t idle in glory: He’s praying! For us! He lives! To pray! For us!

I don’t know what you think about Christ. Some people think that Christ is only interested in our soul and He’s praying only for our soul to be saved from sin. Nothing else. But let’s face it. Christ is every bit human like us—except He’s sinless. When we have loved ones hurting we rush to their side to help them. When they’re under attack—being slaughtered and killed—we don’t just stand by and watch it happen. We get right smack in the thick of things and we do what we can to protect, save, and help the ones we love.

Jesus does the same. He loves Doreen very much. He died to save her. She belongs to Him. She’s family. From up in Heaven He sees what the devil’s doing to Doreen and what He sees moves Him to action. It moves Him to prayer. And when Jesus prays what do you think is gonna happen? Is God gonna answer His prayer? You bet!

Then the Lord put everything together for me. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Jesus is praying. It hit me like a ton of bricks! With Jesus praying—the most righteous man that ever was—His prayers are going to win out. The devil isn’t just fighting against us by ourselves: he’s fighting against Jesus too, who’s fighting him right back! Just like in His wilderness temptation! With Jesus fighting and praying the devil simply doesn’t stand a chance! Christ has him beat in this battle! The devil really is a loser! We’re victors through Christ! We have nothing to fear  or lose! We’re gonna win this one no matter how it ends because Jesus is praying! Thank you sweet Jesus for praying!


As we grow older and we go through life’s manifold experiences and trials; as our bodies go through the degenerative aging process; I’ve learned this much—we all need the Lord. Every human being without exception needs the Lord.  Not everyone realizes, acknowledges, or accepts this basic fact of life. Many live and die rejecting God and ridiculing the absurd notion of God. As far as they’re concerned, they have no need for God. I am so glad to be contrarily minded.

  • When we’re sick in a serious way, we need God to heal us.
  • When the doctors give us no hope, we need God to fill us with hope.
  • When we’re confronted with life’s greatest fears, we need God to calm our fears and fill our mind with His peace and the knowledge that everything’s going to be alright. He’ll take care of us.
  • When the tragedies of life overtake us and our soul is disconsolate with grief, we need God to bring peace to our troubled soul.
  • When we’re tormented and driven to insanity by our inner demons, we need God to set us free and give us rest.
  • When the trials of life assail us on every side and we just can’t find any reason to hold on and live, we need God to shine the sun of His love upon us and show us a better morning coming.
  • When everything we’ve tried just isn’t working and we’re at our wits’ end to find an answer or solution, we need God to give us wisdom and show us the way.
  • When we’re confronted with so many conflicting opinions, beliefs, and philosophies—each one sounding singularly good and right; we need God to show us the light of truth and deliver us from the damning lies of men and demons.
  • When we’re driven to the point of despair and hopelessness where taking our life is the only remedy we know; we need God to intervene and stop us. We need Him to give us hope and a reason to live for just one more moment. And for each moment after that.
  • When our strength is gone and we lie at the mercies of others to care for us, we need God to fill us with strength beyond our years; and if not that, then to give us a sense of our dignity and worth.
  • When our mind fails and leaves us, we need God to be with us still and let us know He’ll not leave or forsake us.
  • When we’re staring death in the face and are on the verge of passing into “The Great Unknown,” we need God to let us know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He’ll be there to usher us into a better world and a better life.
  • Finally, when our life is over and we stand before the Judgment Seat of God, as every human being will surely stand; we need God to be merciful to us and grant us a place in glory. How we’ll need Him to deliver us from a pained and tormented eternity in the fires of Hell—indescribable pain for time without end. O how we all need the Lord!

I am blest to believe in God and to be His child. I am a recipient of God’s many, and daily, mercies. Yes, I’ve known life’s many trials and I’ve cried my share of tears. But God’s been there for me and I’ve made it this far because He’s borne me in His arms of love. I face an unknown, uncertain future. But this much I know. God will be there for me. And, with Him by my side, I can face what lies ahead with peace, hope, and joy in knowing that He’ll never leave, fail, or forsake me. I praise Him. And yes, I need Him. As much, and more, now than ever before.

Life-Changing Images: Conversational Carnage

I’m not gifted with visions. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a vision. What I have had, though, are a handful of really powerful mental images or pictures that the Lord has given me. They’re all so vivid and all of them have had such a profound, life-changing effect on me. Here’s one of them.

Sometime during my pastoral ministry, as I was teaching on the tongue, the Lord allowed me to see a heart-rending scene that has haunted me ever since.  In this scene I was a witness and bystander.  Two men were standing apart at a distance, as in a duel. One of the men pulled out a gun and summarily shot the other man in the head. As the wounded man fell to the ground, I ran frantically to assist him. As I sat on the ground and held him in my arms, I was crying and screaming. The man’s brains were spilling out of his skull. Blood was gushing out at a furious pace. I was rapidly becoming a bloody mess. But I was nowhere near as pitiful as the dying man who laid there, powerless to resist the inevitable reality that now faced him: he’d be dead within a minute. I felt so utterly powerless to save him. As I sat there crying, trying to comfort the dying man, the murderer, still at a distance, walked away.  He never saw—not close up—the carnage and bloodbath that I now held in my hands. He didn’t see the gory mess, he didn’t feel the pained emotions, that were a direct result of his pulling the trigger. He just shot and then walked away.

When we say an unkind word—a critical, judgmental, hateful word, a false accusation, an untruth, an unloving word—we are like the murderer. We just shoot at the mouth, then walk away without really seeing all the pain, suffering, and damage that our hurtful words inflict. Brethren, as long as you shoot and walk away, you never really know the full extent of the hurt and damage you’ve inflicted. And it’s what keeps you shooting time and time again. You can keep on shooting, keep on hurting, keep on killing, because you never really see what a wounded, dying person goes through after you’ve shot them. But when you as a murderer linger around, come up close, and see the damage for yourself, hopefully, you’ll change. Hopefully you’ll cry in anguish at the pain you’ve caused and the life you’ve taken. And, hopefully, you’ll change. Friends, we all have got to quit shooting and killing one another. We’ve killed too many people already. Ours is a ministry—not of death, but of life.  Put the gun away and help me bandage up the wounded. Together, let’s work to save a life. That’s what we’ve been called to do.


There was a huge recreation center on Guam in the village of Asan by the ocean. On several occasions  dad would take my brother and me to watch a boxing match there. We would go only when a particular Filipino boxer was fighting. He was coached by a member of our church named Sim Malinao. We were pretty up close to the ring where we could see, and feel, all the emotion and pain emanating from that ring. Honestly, I can still see in my mind’s eye the drops of sweat that would fall off the boxers as they fought their way to an upraised arm at match’s end.

Fast forward years later along a different train of thought. In the summer of 1979 I came to Anderson, Indiana to go to Seminary. I first boarded in the house of a lady named Donetta Cooke. Sometime during my first semester I met a really  nice collegian named Marlene Howell. She told me about her aunt, a widow and a diabetic, who was living by herself in the same city and subject to frequent diabetic attacks. It seemed to me Aunt Ruth needed help. So I moved in with her. We had lots of blessed times around the supper table. Afterwards, we would go out to the living room and watch a religious broadcast or two. But always,  before we’d go to bed, we’d both kneel down in the living room and pray together. What wonderful times they were!

Anyways, one night, I had a dream. It was a dream of Aunt Ruth lying flat on her back in bed, wailing. Her arms and legs were flinging in the air, much like the way a baby does when it’s crying its heart out. Instead of hearing sounds,  the sounds were made visible to me as sound waves coming out of her mouth and making their way to my ears. I woke up right then and there. And wouldn’t you know it, do you know what I heard? Aunt Ruth wailing like a baby in the next room over. You bet I was scared silly. I was trembling off the Richter scale. Knowing what I had to do, I reluctantly got out of bed, went to her room, turned the light on, and  there she was, wailing and flinging—just like in my dream. Her eyes and her wailing had the Devil’s name  written all over them. They just weren’t natural! This was not Aunt Ruth! That fiend of a Devil was beating her up.  As I stood there watching I truly felt helpless. For the very first time in my life, I felt like I met up with the Devil Himself—just he and me, locked up in this small bedroom, this boxing ring. I was scared as scared can be. My knees were literally bent and knocking together. To this day I don’t know how I was able to stand in that room. But for the grace of God, the Devil would have sent me to the canvas that night. But I did the only thing I knew to do, and that is, rebuke the Devil in Jesus’ Name. So, with trembling knees and voice, I pointed my hand at Aunt Ruth and said, “I rebuke you Devil in Jesus’ Name.” Immediately, and I mean immediately, the fight was over. Aunt Ruth calmed down and she laid perfectly silent and still. I was truly amazed. I’d never seen anything like it before. The Devil actually listened to me–even though I was scared out of my socks–because I used the Name of Jesus against him. Snapping back to reality, I walked out to the kitchen, picked up the phone, and called a neighbor. She came over within minutes, gave Aunt Ruth some orange juice, then we all went back to bed.

For months thereafter I’d be scared at night, fearing this dreaded encounter with the Devil would happen again. It never did. Aunt Ruth never had another diabetic attack for the two years that I stayed with her. Though fearful for a long time afterwards, I manage to chuckle and grin every time I remember my night with the Devil in the boxing ring. God raised my arm and, in Jesus’ Name, declared me the victor in the ring. All glory to God, the Devil got a bruising that night. Instead of me, it was  he who got to taste the canvas. Sweeeet!