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Letter to the Churches of the Western World

Letter to the Churches of the Western World

I received the following through the post on May 5th 1974 together with a covering note which read:  ‘The writer was sitting quietly on Easter Sunday afternoon feeling a great peace and very close to the Lord.  Suddenly, as though it was a human voice, he heard the command ‘Fetch a pencil and paper and write.’  The dictation flowed and the writing was non-stop, without correction and without alteration.’ I never discovered who sent it.

Hear what the Lord Jesus says to the churches of the Western World:-

I told you that, when the Holy Spirit came upon you, you would be filled with power –  ­where is your power?

The Holy Spirit stands at the door and knocks and you refuse him entrance and you are powerless in consequence.

You blow neither hot nor cold as I told the church at Laodicea; you are filled with fear and your level of faith is so low that you cannot hear. So many that are of your number are not the members of my Body. They are those who the body should be witnessing to, comforting, strengthening and bringing into my fold. They are of the sheep the Church I founded was to feed.

You cannot feed them without the power on high for you have no food of yourselves. The food they need is of my kingdom and given to you to disburse. Not more than one basketful of my food is needed to feed the whole world – reach up and receive it for the world’s healing.

The fruits of the Spirit are nothing unless they are born of the gifts of the Spirit in his power. You cannot even love as I love unless you are empowered to love by my Holy Spirit. The love you have of yourselves is a pale shadow and fails to love except where love is returned, or is to those you find lovable. To love the unlovable, the nasty and degraded, needs power, my power. My power is the true power of love for it is me whom you have to give and to share, for I am Love.

Reach up your hands now and receive power. This is my gift – given by my Father to me to pass on to you for the coming of the kingdom and the glory of God.

The gifts of the Spirit, the power gifts which the apostles received at Pentecost, are the same gifts as I offer now. The same miracles are available to you now, the same turning of your world upside down available to you as to them in their day and age. The need is as great as it was then. A great hunger is in the world and I have what is needed to satisfy it.  Feed my sheep! Feed my sheep! !

‘How?’ you say. You have all the answers in the Word I have left with you through my apostles and those who knew my mind in the period before the world crept in and diluted and distorted my message with sophistication and human philosophical thought – of the minds of men and in the intellectual strength of men.  My words are of my Spirit to your spirit.  To those whose ears of the spirit are open, hear!  To those whose eyes of the spirit are open, see!

You, as I am, are spirit, made of the same stuff as I am, as is the Father. You are made in his image but the world is strong and is a battlefield between my kingdom and the kingdom of the usurper. He is conquered but you do not know it until you wear the mantle of my mind and have the heart of my Spirit. Then you see in varying degrees according to your surrender of self and your openness to me, from shades of grey, to light and dark, to the near brightness of the dawn of my kingdom where the stars sing together of the glory of God and you enter into my gift of eternal life.

Take note of what happened at Pentecost. Don’t be misled and pay undue attention to any one aspect of that happening. Yes, there were tongues, but this is a manifestation of the evidence, of a sealing of a happening, not the happening itself, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual truth – a sacramental happening. It gives assurance and is a gift of the Spirit, the fruits of which are assurance and confidence and a deepening trust in me and an empowering to go forward with your hand in mine.

Note what happened then.  Peter spoke in the power of the Spirit. What about?  About me.  For the Father gave me to the world for the world’s healing and if I am spoken of to the world, not in the light of scholarship or of intellectual reasoning but in the power of the Spirit, in words given by Him, then men’s hearts are changed. They hear what they long to hear, the answer to each man’s deepest need.  The words will mean different things to different people for they are words of the Spirit who knows each man’s deepest need as you cannot.

Then what happened? Peter and John showed in the power of the Spirit what can happen through people who are Spirit-filled. At the Gate Beautiful they did not send the man who was lame to a doctor, they did not give him sympathy, they did not even feel they could do anything except use the words that the Spirit gave them and the man was healed and rose and walked and leaped and praised God. They acknowledged that they had nothing to offer except me and, in the power of my Spirit, they lifted the man up to me.

I said that you would do greater things than I did.  I turned water into wine, I healed the sick, I raised the dead.  Do you do these things, and greater things?  Yes, here and there, these things are done but so few are they who so trust in me and my promises, so few who are bold enough to step out in the assurance of my promises, in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

I died to give you this power. I conquered the usurper of the world, the devil, to give you the world as part of the Kingdom of God. I entered hell and accepted forsakenness to bring you forgiveness and I rose in the power of the Spirit to give you power to continue my work and you have forgotten and are asleep.  Awake and step out again in the power I offer you.

Be baptised, as my apostles were, by the one Spirit.

Accept the gifts of power, the great ones of healing, of wisdom, of knowledge, of discerning of spirits, of supernatural trust, of miracles, and the lesser ones of prophesy, tongues and interpretation of tongues.

If you are one Body, my Body in the world, my Church, then you must all be baptized into that one Body by the Baptism of the one Spirit and the gifts of that one Spirit are all needed as the limbs of the body are all needed.  All have their place, none can do without the others, none can be missed without damage to the whole Body.  The lesser gifts of power will be the most used and the most apparent.  They must be safeguarded by the more constant and obvious use lest they are forgotten and lost to the detriment of the Body.

How is it that the Holy Spirit, without which my Church would never have been born, has been so neglected and so forgotten that, except as a meaningless ritual in a mechanical rite, the power has gone out of the Church?

The devil is defeated by me and by those who are mine but alas, over the centuries, he has cast a shadow over the minds of millions so that they have lost the dynamic at the heart of things, the power that makes my Body effective in the world – the power of the Spirit.

Awake, oh my Church!  Open your hearts and minds to the Baptism I offer.  Accept in the place of your own intellects and powers, my mind that I offer you and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Feed my sheep. If you love me at all, feed my sheep.

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Freedom From Guilt

‘I can never forgive myself for killing my own child!’

The woman who said this was a member of the community in which I was serving as a Methodist minister. It transpired that she had had an abortion some years previously.  As gently as possible, I asked her: ‘Would you if you could?’ The silence that followed seemed interminable.  Eventually she whispered ‘Yes, I suppose so… BUT I CAN’T!’   ‘Good, in that case I can ask the Lord to help you’.  I have never known the Lord to fail to answer this prayer.

It is important to recognize that she had the freedom to choose. If she had said ‘no’ there is nothing further I could have done.  Having expressed her willingness to forgive herself, I could then ask the Lord to help her. Having received the Lord’s forgiveness and choosing to forgive herself, she was freed from a burden of guilt that she had been carrying for a number of years.

We can be guilty without knowing it.  I did not realise that I was a sinner needing a saviour until after I had become a Christian.  We can feel guilty for no good reason.  There is such a thing as false guilt.

Part of what God has done for us through His coming in the person of Jesus Christ is to make provision for us to enjoy freedom from guilt and the forgiveness of our sins: ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures’ (1 Corinthians 15:3).

The prophet Isaiah foresaw what Jesus achieved for us through his death on the Cross: ‘He endured the suffering that should have been ours, the pain that we should have borne.  All the while we thought that his suffering was punishment sent by God.  But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did.  We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received’ (Isaiah 53:4-5).

John, one of the disciples of Jesus, expresses it like this:  ‘(Jesus Christ) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world’ (1 John 2:2).  Through his death on the Cross Jesus paid the price for all our sins.  John also tells us that the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purifies us from all sins (1 John 1:7).

The blood of Jesus washes away our guilt. An old chorus expresses it: ‘There is power in the blood’.   This is a mystery that I do not understand but nevertheless believe.

In the Catholic tradition it is customary to go to the Confessional in order to confess our sins to a priest and hear him pronounce absolution.  For those of us who are not Catholics it can be very helpful to acknowledge the truth of what has happened to a minister or another Christian who will listen to what we have to say and remind us of the truth expressed in the Bible that if we confess our sins, he will keep his promise and do what he has said he will do: he will forgive us and purify us. (1 John 1:9)   Our part is to choose to accept God’s forgiveness.

If we have difficulty doing this we may need to consider whether we have forgiven ourselves.

How Lay Witness Missions came to the UK

For me it began with a waking dream: one word, MACEDONIA, like a place name I saw once on a Welsh railway station, with the letters embossed,  standing clear of their background.  Pouring over a map later, I realized that, for the apostle Paul, the call from a man of Macedonia was a call to take the gospel west across the sea to Europe.  Was God calling me to go west across the sea to America? I knew no one in America and saw no reason to go there.

Ten years later, in 1974, when I was the Methodist minister at Bolsover near Chesterfield, I was in my study thinking about this again.  By then I had an open invitation to visit someone in Florida and a pressing request to allow two Americans, Charles and Lucille Gipson, to take me to a Lay Witness Mission if ever I visited the U.S.A.  I was also keen to see how the Lord was at work in various situations being affected by the Charismatic Renewal which was then at its height.  I decided to go for it.

So it was that I found myself in a remote community in the Appalachian mountains where a small Methodist church was having a Lay Witness Mission.  I could see the potential for the U.K.  Several months later, early in 1975, I had a letter out of the blue from Dr. Roger Haining, a dentist living in Seattle, asking if I would be willing to help him introduce Lay Witness Missions to England.

The idea was that we would have a joint American and British team for the first weekends that Roger would lead.  My task was to find the British team members and the churches to have the first missions.  Roger was hoping that they would be held later that year but as time went on it became apparent that though it was easy enough to find some volunteers to be the first British team members, finding enough churches willing to have an American led mission about which they knew nothing was a different matter!

The Lord knew that I needed help.  I recall vividly the day when Nev  Marples, a neighbour and a member of the church at Bolsover, called at the manse looking very worried.  He told me that he had been putting on his boots ready to go to work at the local Coalite plant when he heard a voice telling him to go to America.  When he recovered from the initial shock and asked whereabouts, the answer came back clear as a bell “Spokane”.   This was totally outside Nev’s experience and when I asked him why he was looking so anxious he told me that he thought I might recommend him to see a psychiatrist!  He had never heard of Spokane (neither had I for that matter).  Looking it up on a map he found that it was near the west coast!

After Nev’s visit I came across the word ‘Spokane’ on three separate occasions, one of them in a letter from Roger saying that the Methodist church in Spokane was thinking of sponsoring one of their young people to join the team.  I realized that Spokane was not all that far from Seattle and asked Roger if he would like to invite Nev over to sample a LWM so that he could then come back and help me find the churches to have the first missions.

The day came when Nev was dropped off at Spokane and told that he would be collected again later in the day.  Looking around and wondering what he was doing there, he noticed a building with a cross on it.  When he went to investigate he found that it was a shelter for disadvantaged men.  Nev ended up having lunch with the director who told him how he had been a successful cattle rancher when the Lord called him to the work in which he was now involved: how reluctant he had been and how he had been thrown from his horse, ending up on his back with plenty of time to think.  He told Nev: ‘If the Lord calls you to do something you’d better do it!’

Nev was taken to a Lay Witness Mission and also saw their potential for the U.K.

When  Nev came back home he had an amazing story to tell and was the one who encouraged churches to have the first missions as well as becoming a member of the management committee and going on missions himself.  Sadly, Nev died a few years ago.

The 1,000 Lay Witness Mission was held in October 2006.  This coincided with the 30th anniversary of the first mission being held at Bolsover.

Looking back it feels as if I had the privilege on entering into something that God was doing.

Miracles and the Ministry of Angels

angeleI was a boy at the time, riding down a hill on my bicycle.  Rounding a bend, I looked up and saw a parked car right in front of me.  All I could do was shut my eyes.  When I opened them again I was the other side, continuing my journey.  I remember thinking at the time: ‘That’s good, I must have gone on the inside’. I knew that there was no way I had gone round it.  Years later, for some reason it came back to mind.  Thinking about it again, I thought: ‘No, I didn’t go round it, there wasn’t room.  In any case I had my eyes shut.’  So how did I get to the other side?

I was recounting this incident in a group one time when a woman spoke up and told us how, when driving along a country road, she was faced with the inevitability of a head-on collision with a lorry.  Nothing happened.  When she looked in her driving mirror the lorry was continuing its journey behind her.

How are we to understand incidents like this?

Bill Bryson says this in ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’:  ‘The world in which we live is not as solid as it appears.  Everything is made up of atoms that are mostly empty space. The solidity we experience all around us is an illusion. Every atom is made of three kinds of elementary particles: protons that have a positive electrical charge, electrons that have a negative electrical charge; and neutrons which have no charge at all. When two objects come together in the real world – billiard balls are most often used  as an illustration – they don’t actually strike each other.  Rather the negatively charged fields of the two balls repel each other.  Were it not for their electrical charges, they could, like galaxies, pass right through each other unscathed.’

Perhaps an angel turned off the electricity?

Towards Wholeness

Soon after leaving theological college in 1960, the opportunity came to study Clinical Theology under the late Dr Frank Lake, a Christian psychiatrist.  This involved attending seminars over a two-year period.  Dr Lake had developed a model for understanding the development of the human personality called ‘The Womb of the Spirit’ and emphasized the importance of what happened in the first nine months of an individual’s life. We looked at various types of personality and it was not long before I recognized myself as fitting into the schizoid  personality pattern, someone shy and withdrawn who found close relationships difficult.  I was very sensitive and tried to bottle up my feelings.

Following this I was generously given permission to attend a further course at Lingdale that was then the Clinical Theology centre in Nottingham.  We met on alternate weeks from Monday to Friday over a six month period.

We were a small group of clergy, all Anglicans apart from me.  The facilitator of the group was Brian Lake, also a psychiatrist and Frank Lake’s brother. We met together every morning with the same task: share what you are feeling.  Metaphorically speaking, I would hide behind a newspaper and peer out occasionally to see what was going on.

One day my dam broke: floods of tears and the release of incredible inner pain.  When the storm passed, I discovered to my surprise that my colleagues were still there, accepting and supporting me.  It was a most wonderful experience of love and acceptance.

Why was I hurting so much, where did the pain come from?  I began a search to find out.

Not long after this I became aware of the ministry of Wholeness Through Christ, a small charity offering training in prayer ministry through five-day training courses held at various conference centres up and down the country.

Each person attending one of these courses is offered time to explore their own need for healing and discover how the Holy Spirit can bring both healing and release from the effects of past hurts and sins as well as giving us the grace to forgive those who have hurt us.

Over a period of time I attended a number of Wholeness Through Christ courses and was eventually invited to join the team.  I found them very helpful and beneficial but the question that set off my journey towards wholeness was still unanswered.

By now I had come to understand how the Holy Spirit, the revealer of truth, can enable people to recover ‘forgotten’ memory, even the memory of an unborn child.

I went on another course called ‘Journey into Healing’ with the express intention of finding out how I was feeling when my mother was carrying me.

I was encouraged to lie on a mattress, curling up into a foetal position and breath deeply.  I began to experience some very powerful emotions, including murderous rage.

I realized that I could never be what my mother wanted me to be because she was hoping for a little girl.

At last I had found the answer.  My pain stemmed from feeling rejected while still in the womb.  I found that the discovery of the truth set me free, as promised by Jesus (John 8:31-32).

Healing Defined

Healing is defined as wholeness of spirit, soul and body (1Thessalonians 5:23-24).  Healing of the spirit is concerned with the healing of our relationship with God and release from oppression by the spiritual powers of darkness.  Healing of the soul is concerned with the healing of the mind, will and emotions.  It is concerned with healing the hurts of the past and becoming released from the effects of trauma.  Healing of the body is concerned with physical healing.

Healing begins when we put our trust in Jesus Christ.  He is the Lord our Healer.  He has made provision for our healing through his death on the Cross (1 Peter 2:24).  As a result of his resurrection, he lives to be our Lord. Jesus ministers to people today through the person and work of the Holy Spirit who is described as ‘the Spirit of Jesus’ (Acts 16:7) and ‘the Spirit of Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 1:19).

Healed by the Word of God

“He sent forth his word and healed them”. Psalm 107:19

One day, driving past a hospital, I recognized a familiar symptom.  Discomfort in my left tonsil told me that I was about to have another dose of tonsillitis. Infections had tended to go straight for my tonsils ever since I had had acute tonsillitis when I was a boy.

This time, almost simultaneously, another message dropped into mind: ‘By his wounds you have been healed’. It was unbidden and unexpected.  My unthinking response was ‘Thank you, Lord’.  The symptom faded.  I did not get tonsillitis.  This happened about forty years ago and I have not had it since, though from time to time the symptom has tried to return.  When this has happened, in order to stay healed, I have found it necessary to stand on the truth of the word of God rather than accept what the symptom was trying to tell me.

The words that dropped into mind that day were a quotation from the first letter of Peter chapter 2 verse 24: ‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.’

Peter, the apostle, is saying that when Jesus died on the Cross he made provision both for the forgiveness of our sins and the healing of our sicknesses.  In claiming this he was echoing what the prophet Isaiah said: ‘Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.’

Isaiah 53:4-6.

Something to notice is that whereas Isaiah said ‘By his wounds we are healed’ Peter, looking back to the Cross, says ‘By his wounds you have been healed’.

In 1980 I was diagnosed with a skin cancer (malignant melanoma) when a mole on my face started to grow.  It was removed by surgery but returned a year later.  It was removed by surgery again. Then a black spot appeared on my leg.  By then I had met a lovely Christian woman who had a strong conviction about the Lord’s willingness to heal so I asked her to pray for me.  I did not have any faith of my own, but I did have faith in her faith.  The spot was removed by surgery and declared to be benign.

Someone who played a significant role in my healing was John Wimber, an American who made a significant impact on sections of the Church in the 1980s and 90s.  During his last visit to this country he led a conference at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester.  By then he was seriously ill with cancer himself and confined to a wheelchair, but was still ministering powerfully.  As the Holy Spirit came upon him, he rattled off at high speed a list of things the Lord was doing including ‘Someone with a cancer on the left cheek has been healed’. This is where my cancer had started and my response was to throw my hands in the air exclaiming  ‘Thank you, Lord’.

The practice of the Christian ministry of healing arises from a biblical world-view, the conviction that the bible tells it like it is and that it is the Word of God, authoritative for faith and practice.  However this is not to make a god of the bible and we need to be aware of the warning of Jesus:

‘You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life, yet you refuse to come to me to have life’ (John 5:39-40).