Friday, May 27, 2011

Strong Churches, Weak Churches

No church is a perfect church. But what do you do when things seem severely less than perfect?

The Early Christian Church was Marked with Love.
  (By Unknown Illustrator,

Mary and I saw problems as we strived to serve one church ministry. We labored and toiled to affect this ministry, but as the months passed on, most results seemed hopelessly futile. We could not please the people no matter how we tried. The congregation's agendas were very different from our own.

A ministry's true condition will ultimately reflect in its finances. That's where you meet weakness, failure, and problems head-on. However, the main point is, God did not leave us in the face of these tribulations. He worked with us. Wonderfully, a few Christians responded to grace and stepped forward to help us.

For one, a retired couple in the town noticed our low salary levels and supplemented our monthly income with a personal gift. This couple's generosity blessed us month after month as we worked through our trials. They were a very gentle couple, and unknown to others, they determined to help.

Praying the Money in.

I resolved, most of all, to pay our modest monthly payroll with God's help on time. I felt it would be unfair to have our self-sacrificing staff miss a paycheck. Well, I learned to work together with God. I found myself with no other recourse than to pray the money in. Invariably, payday after payday, the ministry checks arrived in the last nick of time.

Up and down I would pace the institution's hallways praying for hours "storming heaven's gates," spiritually commanding the checks to come in. Pentecostals call this "praying through." I found out it works. Sometimes, the funds totaled the day before payday. Sometimes, the checks arrived in the evening when people drove by and noticed the lights still on. Sometimes, the money wouldn't arrive until that very payday morning. God tested my faith. But payday after payday, month by month, I prayed the receipts in.

Never did the Funds fail to total.

The miracle was this. Never, ever, did the funds fail to total so I could pay the staff on time. God never failed me, not even once. I learned how faithful God is in answering prayer.

There was one family that shone with the extreme light of kindness and love. In my most solitary and lonely times when I was most discouraged, this bright, cheerful woman would unexplainably show up with her daughter, her son, or her gentle, executive husband to share wise advice or a cheerful word. She was a beautiful angel who came at the dreariest of times. Each time, my face and heart warmed from her Godly love as she departed her visit.

She'd cast Love as a force.

Her children and her husband always wore joyous eyes, blessed with this amazing kindness. She'd cast love as a force and leave it clinging to my person as she left. I knew God sent her each time.

"By this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35 NIV)."

Yes, there are healthy churches and there are sick churches, and there are churches somewhere in between. The two great commandments give us the first standard of measure, love. I remember our favorite small churches and our favorite large churches. Great love supernaturally marked these.

Like Early New Testament churches, some churches we served were small home churches and some were large like Antioch and Jerusalem. These churches built on the manifestations of the person of the Holy Spirit. They functioned in the fruits, gifts, and ministries. I experienced the building of the Body of Christ as the work of the Holy Spirit.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4: 3-6 NIV).

--Bill Hunt

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Give it All to God, it's Only Money!

You're on a ministry trip, calling people to faith. Your travel 

funds run short. Unexpectedly, you meet friends with more 

severe needs than your own.

"Faith expresses itself through Love." (Photo by Bill Hunt)
On our ministry trip north, we prayed over a gentle, elderly couple. He fell off scaffolding and suffered pain along his backbone. His wife suffered severe pain in her arthritic knees. Both were under a doctor's care. Mary and I commanded God's healing. He healed both of them. All pain stopped.

On Thursday afternoon, we visited another very humble pastor friend and his lovely wife, Ron and Jeanne. A very spiritual couple, we always enjoyed just sitting with them and talking about the Lord around their kitchen table.

This time, we heard a tale of woe. Pastor Ron had undergone surgery and was unable to maintain his side job for income. They were short of money.

Unobtrusively, I wondered around the kitchen and then glanced in the refrigerator. A shiny light bulb glowed, but the box is empty.

Their refrigerator is empty.

The Holy Spirit prodded my heart. Mary and I counted very little money after our trip north. Only a hundred dollars was left in my wallet. But here I could see my brother had no income, no money, and no food to provide for his wife and three little boys. His need was greater than mine.

After all, I also knew a hundred dollars was never going to return us to Florida. Yes, I was apprehensive! With God's persistent nudging, I secretly emptied my wallet underneath the kitchen table. I placed the cash on top of the refrigerator as we left toward the front door.

Yes, I swallowed hard. I now had no money remaining for our trip home. In my flesh I was afraid.

"Now you've done it!" said the devil.

"God, we're in your hands," I prayed.

On that Friday, next day, while I was out, Mary visited with her mother at home. The elderly man who had fallen off the scaffolding telephoned and asked if he could visit. Mary's mother invited him to come.

"My wife is healed, and I am healed," he said when he arrived at the house, "Here's the money I would have paid to the doctor. I figure now that we are healed, I should give it to you."

Into Mary's hand he placed a roll of cash, two hundred and forty dollars. When I arrived back at the house, Mary gave me the cash.

It was the money we needed for
our return trip to Florida!

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:38 NIV).

On Sunday, at Pastor Abe and Naomi's "Grace Chapel," our teens Monica and Brian each sang to the congregation. Then the whole family sang worship songs, glorifying God. Boy, was I thankful!

--Bill Hunt

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Family Healing for God

Driving north for a family healing trip is a God time.

"Wonderful are the Active Healing Gifts of the Holy Spirit."
   (Photo by Bill Hunt c. 2011)

Now there is an art to loading six kids into the back of a station wagon for sleeping. You can pack more in by placing the three taller teenagers, Monica, Brian, and Emily, head to foot across the back sideways. Then place the smaller children, Joanna, Margaret, and baby Daniel, lengthwise up behind the parents' front seats.

We placed packing and mats throughout the back of our station wagon to level it and boarded all six kids for the trip from Florida to Upstate New York. We drove north on a family mission for God. This glorious trip was the one where baby Daniel noticed every passing truck with his own expression.

"Oof! Oof!" said baby Daniel 
in low horn tone.

Of course, his big brother, Brian, encouraged the act by pulling his imaginary truck horn with his fist and arm at the window. The big rig truck drivers noticed this ceremonious load of young expressions and honked their booming truck horns back at the kids.

"Oof!  Oof!" echoed the back end of  the car. Yes, this was a memorable trip all the way up the Eastern Seaboard. Upon arrival, we ministered on a Wednesday evening in our former neighborhood church prayer meeting.

We invited people to 
come forward for healing.

Five men, father, sons, and brothers, actually related to each other, came up at the same time. They decided to lock arms as we prayed for their individual needs. 

I laid hands on the first one in line. The power of the Holy Spirit flowed like an electrical current on his head. In fact, the power simultaneously flowed through the five men with locked arms. The fifth man in line dropped to the floor.

"Never, never put God in a box!"

You cannot limit God. One by one, we prayed over each of the men, and one by one they dropped to the floor! Never expect God to work in a set pattern.

Next up, we prayed for a dear lady friend of ours. Beautiful in her gentle spirit, she suffered for a time from hemorrhaging. Trying different medicines, her doctor had been unable to stop her bleeding.

Well, Doctor Jesus did. She felt the healing power and phoned us within a few days. She dried up, no more bleeding.

Next, came a humble mother of small children. She suffered painful tendinitis in her shoulder. I suspected it was caused by the loving carry of her children in arms.
The pain immediately stopped when the power of the healing Jesus touched her.

No more pain.

Last of all, we prayed over a gentle, elderly couple. He fell off scaffolding and suffered pain along his backbone. His wife suffered severe pain in her arthritic knees. Together, they were under a doctor's care.

Mary and I commanded God's healing. Jesus healed both of them. All pain stopped. 

On Sunday, at our friends' Pastor Abe and Naomi's "Grace Chapel," our teens Monica and Brian each sang solo to the congregation. Then the whole family sang worship songs, glorifying God.

At the end of the service, we called for a healing line. A mother and child with severe scoliosis in their backs came forward. They later reported healing to their pastor.

"It was definitely a ministry trip," said Mary. "It felt like a ministry trip. We came as a family to share healing gifts with the Body of Christ."

--Bill Hunt

Why not start a Jesus Prayer Support Group with friends in your own home? Watch your Christianity come to life!

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Friday, May 6, 2011

The Paralyzed Carpenter

Jesus heals the paralyzed carpenter and the woman with Parkinson's disease.

Jesus, himself, was a Carpenter.
   (Photo by Peter Griffin, PDPics.)

One of my favorite healings took place at a Full Gospel Businessmen's meeting in Ocala. Toward the end of the meeting, Mary and I as the guest speaker ministered to several people for the visible readjustment of arms and legs.

At one point, a man came up with a paralyzed arm frozen in an outward, awkward position with his elbow in the air. He told us he was a carpenter who had fallen off a ladder two stories high. We prayed for him with no immediate results.

That evening, almost everyone else we prayed over displayed the visible readjusting arm and leg lengths which often demonstrate shoulder, back, and hip alignments. This is common.

Then I was quite surprised to find myself praying over a younger man for whom nothing at all seemed to happen. That was until I looked up at him from ministering at his feet and saw he was facially mocking my prayer. God could not heal him. When the evening was over, as the people left, I felt troubled for the individuals we had not been able to help. Healing is always a mystery, God's determination, not man's.

As we picked up our things, only one man remained in the room. Suddenly, he began to cheer and shout excitedly. It was the carpenter.

"Look, I'm healed! I'm healed!" 
he exclaimed.

He had just discovered his healing. He was spinning his once paralyzed arm in circles over his head. He was so exuberantly happy. His paralyzed arm was free!

"Look, I couldn't do that before!" he said, picking up, pouring, and balancing a cup of coffee.

No one else was present to see the carpenter's exuberant moment of healing. God always picks the time and circumstance in which he acts.

Friends that knew him, however, reported to us the carpenter bought all the tools he needed from a pawnbroker and returned to work, a free man. Everywhere, he told people about his healing.

"The doctor said I have Parkinson's disease.”

One elderly woman cried softly. “I really don't know why. This is a terrible thing. I just don't know what to do."

Mary and I, sitting in an Ocala, Florida, church, overheard one gray-haired lady seated behind us talking to her friend. Compelled by the Holy Spirit, we both turned around in our seats. My wife asked the lady if she had heard right, if the disease was Parkinson's, and the lady affirmed her condition.

"May we pray with you?" 
I asked my favorite question.

Over the backs of our hard metal chairs, we commanded the woman's mind and body to be healed. The woman later reported she returned from her doctor who found absolutely no evidence of the condition remaining.

Another woman in her forty's wore a thick two-inch lift sole on one shoe to support her short leg. In fact, all her shoes were so equipped with this medical device. Mary asked her to come to the front of the church with us.

My wife invited the congregation to watch.

The woman's legs readjusted as she prayed over her. The short leg grew out until both legs matched in length.

God says to buy yourself new shoes for the new walk he is giving you,” Mary smiled at her.
As a result of this healing, the woman's husband began attending church with her.

Yes, the Great Carpenter, himself, healed them. When I see healing, I want to tell what God has done. People need to know the healing love of Jesus.

Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Luke 7:22 NKJ).

--Bill Hunt

Why not start a Jesus Prayer Support Group in your own home? Watch your Christianity come to life!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Battle Tornadoes With the Angels

Through prayer, God protects our lives, even during the double trouble of twin tornadoes.

Joanna drove the street between the twin tornadoes! (NOAA Photo)

The neighborhood sirens sounded with gruesome wails. Tornadoes hit with sudden terror in the nation's Midwest. I certainly didn't expect to face a double-header. One pouring, rainy day, twin tornadoes dropped from the dark storm clouds easterly into the Tulsa streets.

The LORD is slow to anger and great in power;
the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
the clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nahum 1:3 NIV).

My wife Mary, daughter Meg, and I scampered invited to our neighbors' underground shelter. Down through the gray metal hatch, we descended into the black hole, all soaked wet in the pouring rain. Finally underground, we felt safe.

Twin tornadoes split along 
parallel streets.

We missed our teenage daughter, Joanna, and our little son, Daniel, out shopping. The three of us earnestly prayed for them. Tulsa is a city designed on a uniform street grid. The twin tornadoes split up along parallel routes. One headed east on 51st Street and the other headed east on 71st Street.

Driving in blinding rain, Joanna also prayed and listened to the radio announcements. By God's wonderful grace, she decided to drive home west on 61st Street. Ultimately, she passed between the oncoming twin tornadoes, one on each side of her.

There was a knock on our dripping metal hatch, and we opened it to find Joanna and Daniel quickly climbing down the wet ladder. When they found our house dark and empty, Daniel remembered the location of the neighbors' tornado shelter. Joanna found relief from the stress of her adventurous ride, broke down, and cried. The rest of us praised God for our children's safe deliverance from the twin threat.

This tornado formed around 
our neighborhood!

It happened again! This time, the tornado formed right around our new neighborhood in West Tulsa. We found ourselves in the center of its rotation. Meg, Dan, and I formed a shelter under a mattress in the hallway where we could look out through the nearby bedroom windows and the sliding glass door.

We watched amazed as the thick rain flew horizontally in a circular motion past us, not toward the ground. The tall backyard trees actually bent double and touched their tops to the ground in the twister's high winds. The water mains broke in the street intersection at the front corner of the house. Flooding rose almost to the foundation along our small ground rise.

Daughter Meg and son Dan, and I prayed earnestly in the name of Jesus and commanded the tornado to leave. God gave us the grace of faith and confidence in his care. I was amazed the glass windows and especially the glass in the sliding door did not break. It was as if the Lord cupped his hand in protection over us.

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear...” (1 John 4:18 NIV).

Some fifty minutes later, the tornado soared from the ground passing over the river and Central Tulsa, touching down on the east side of the city. More than 50,000 homes lost power and phone lines for up to three days.

I was most concerned for Mary who worked across town at the time. As it turned out, she did not directly encounter the tornado, other than the severe rainstorms. We were very glad when she arrived home safely a few hours later.

Angels battle this tornado!

One devastating F5 tornado hit the western region of Jefferson County and the suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama, on the evening of April 8, 1998. It traveled 30 miles on the ground and 32 people died. It badly damaged or destroyed 14 churches but spared all lives attending Wednesday evening services.

In this case, I listened to the national radio and television news broadcasts tell about two young girls huddled in the hallway at Open Door Church in Alabama. The girls claimed to have seen and heard angels shouting above the sound of the striking tornado.

The angels held the wall from collapsing on a class of children sheltered in the hallway as the giant tornado struck. Although most of the building was destroyed, the retaining wall saved the lives of the children, bearing out the girls' story.
"It was a God thing!" said reporting journalist, James Spann. The story flashed around the country.

A tape recorder caught the 
frantic conversations.

A tape recorder run by an adult in the hallway as the tornado hit caught the frantic conversations of the two adolescent girls. They described the angels shouts to each other over the noise of the twister during their defensive efforts to hold the shaking wall.

Yes, the armies of the Hosts of the Lord save us even from the attack of the whirlwind. From our experiences with these tornadoes, I couldn't agree more.

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don't you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid. Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4: 38-40 NIV).
The truth is, Jesus showed us how to calm the storm.

--Bill Hunt

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