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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Prayer cloths, and for those who have been hurt in the church

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit..Psalms 34:18

Last week I heartily prayed that God remind me how much He loves me. I told him that I was the type of woman that needs reassurance. A few days later, I was kneeling at the alter in church and a lady comes up to me and says, "Rachelle, I really feel like Jesus is telling me to tell you that He loves you right where you are."  The funny thing is that I already knew that He was going to let me know. This isn't the first time this has happened..but it's a God thing that it happens only when I ask it..  Every single time, without fail...

Later that day, God sent a little labrador retreiver puppy to tell me the same thing. I was sitting in the grass and along comes Dutch, our little brown lab. Dutch is a very loving puppy. He kept trying to lick my face and sit on my lap.. He's playful. I kept trying to pry him off me, but He wouldn't budge even as I tried pushing him away. He is relentless. God spoke to me while that puppy was trying to love on me, and He said..That is how I love..relentlessly. "I love with a fierceness that never gives up. I love with a love that never fails and that never leaves your side. I will never leave you nor forsake you.  My love is relentless. 

I silently wondered why people would shun that kind of love.

For the week I have truly been seeking Him. I have encountered countless people over the course of the past few days...I can feel God whispering and showing me how He wants to bring healing and deliverance to their lives.  I felt as if He wanted to use me as a vessel to do this..but sometimes, I write it off and I can't help but wonder why I do that..Do I think that there will be time tomorrow? Do I think that I can send a quick email or facebook message to people to do what He wants to do face to face? 
He longs to heal us. He longs to bring deliverance to our lives. What are we waiting on?

Lord, may we never miss an opportunity to be your instrument of peace to someone desperate and hurting. It could be life or death to them. I need to write this down and put a red string around my finger. Perhaps, get rid of the smartphone that renders me stupid sometimes. 

Lately, I feel God wanting to bring us into a deeper walk. Each of us..we need Christ more than we realize. I've seen the demonic tear away bits of people and lives and families..but I hear the whisperings of Christ.. "I long to bring healing and deliverance."  The harvest is ripe, but the workers are few. How I long to be that worker..

What keeps us from doing the thing that He has called us to do? Is it fear? Is it apathy? Are we so immersed in the world that we have completly lost sight of Heaven? Where your heart is your treasures will be also, He whispers..Set your heart on me, and watch as life and beauty fall from my hand.. My treasures are not of this world..They are something that were bought with innocent Blood..

Lately, I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying. I realize that a lot of churches today are teaching false doctrines. It's in His Word. We've become weak, spiritually and all you really have to do is look around to see it.  I think a lot about what the word "church" means and what God intended it to be...
I think people would actually marvel at its simplicity and how different it looks from what we are doing today.  Today we have buildings where people congregate. In them we preach, eat, drink, and be merry, and then we go home for a week, often forgetting about what we learned...forgetting that there is a dying world out there....and then we go back the next week so that we can be "filled" from all of life's stresses and toils..We go so that we can learn something..

God has shown me more sitting in a nursing home with a dying woman than a lot of people will ever see...

I have begun to question why we do things the way that we do them and truthfully, I long for change. I envison it.. I long to be a part of it..a catalyst that sets something beautiful in motion..

I long to be that instrument.

The kind that plays the music of Heaven to ears that are tired and deaf from all the noise and all of the lies and all of the screaming and yelling and hurts of today.

So often we put our trust in man, when I can feel God's yearnings saying "Trust in Me...
Trust in Me..
I will  never lead you astray.

A long time ago I went with a friend to one of her church leaders. I was facing something demonic and I needed help. I needed guidance and answers.  This man wasn't the same denomination as me, but that never bothered me.. I don't see people as labels.
I can't quite remember everything he told me, but I remember that he didn't help me. He turned me away because of some trite reason or another. I wasn't the same religion as he was and there was some technical reason why he couldn't be of any assistance... I would've had to have gone thru some sort of red tape to match my life a little closer to what he thought it should look like.  He told me some stories about his own personal experiences and then told me just to ignore the demonic things going on in my life.. He told me to ignore the devil.
I did....a lot of what I was facing stopped...but my heart grew lazy and fat..and I slipped into places that I should never have been...
Fast forward, several  years the day I am on a bathroom floor with a razor blade in my hand and a bottle of pills in the other..desperate and hurting and wanting to end my life.

The Bible doesn't tell us to ignore the devil. The Bible tells us to put on the whole armor of God and to fight the darkness with the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, the breastplate of righteousness, the Belt of truth, and the boots of peace...

But because I was a different name, I feel like I was written off...
I could've very well died and left a son, without a mother..all because we have gotten so caught up in names and labels, that many of us have forgotten how to simply do what is right.

I put very little faith in man. Man has let me down so many times.. Man will often twist the word of God to suit a purpose...

A girl that I know once asked me why I don't go to school to become a preacher. At first I thought that she was joking with me, but I could see that she was serious. The truth is that I don't need a school to tell me what and how I should think about God..
I glean from His Word, I seek Him and listen to His voice.. He says, "Seek and you will find. Ask and it shall be given."  No one else is any different. It's all there for and He longs to share with you and love on you with a relentless kind of love.

I know that a lot of people will take beef with this, but God has been leading me to question why we do the things we ask why we accept what others tell us as Truth without seeking the knowledge from Him, firsthand. The other day, I believe that He showed me something about prayer cloths.

Prayer cloths are pieces of cloth that Christians pray over. They are given to others because they are believed to be anointed. They are believed to cause healing and deliverance in people's lives. Prayer cloths are based on the verse in Acts that says, Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even hankerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them." ...

I truly felt as if God was telling me that the use of prayer cloths wasn't right. I  closed my eyes and I could see  several Christians praying over cloths. They were murmering and praying over bits and pieces of cloth.  Truthfully I got a really bad feeling about it. I felt as if God were saying that prayer cloths take away the gift of His prescene. I felt as if He were saying that we shouldn't be praying over inanimate objects as a source of healing. We become His healing hands when our lives become holy..through devotion to Him, through prayer, through seeking Him, through the relentless process of growth and change brought about by sacrifice. Paul's garments healed because God willed that for Paul. Most of our lives probably don't even come close to looking like the life of the Apostle Paul.  Just because someone tells us that something is holy and a practice is holy, doesn't mean that it is.. Just because it was intended well doesn't mean that we aren't offending Christ by the things that we do.. That is why we need discernment. As I was questioning whether or not I should write about prayer cloths, I found an article that explains why we shouldn't use prayer cloths..I will post it at the end of this post.. In essence, I don't believe that we are to pray to inanimate objects nor are we to pray over them. Is that a form of idol worship? A friend of mine said that prayer cloths sometimes, on occassion, work..but that many people will begin to put their faith in the cloths and then it becomes like an idol. People look to the cloths for healing. Don't forget that the enemy has power too. He was sent to decieve.

The truth is that our churches are falling and failing from religious pride and lack of discernment. The establishments are corroded in so many ways. There is denominational hatred. There is denominational pride which tells us to fill out forms, there is adultery in the pulpits, there are sex abuse cover ups......We cringe that our churches will be hurt but we dare not speak about any of it..But what about the voice of the victims? Where is there voice? Why aren't their cries being heard? 
There are preachers telling us that God wants us to be rich..meanwhile, our neighbors down the street can't just got the electric bill turned off and a kindergartner with an empty belly. There is poverty everywhere, and God's church seems "hell bent" on getting more and more cash.

The truth is that I'm not picking on anyone. I simply see a lot of corruption in our churches, and I feel the call of God saying..Come to Me, Trust in Me....Don't look left or right..don't look to man, look up...I am the one who brings healing..

I see many of today's churches are like rotten boards. The structure seems fine, but the result is a lot of broken and weak people who stand  helpless as the world is literally falling apart before their very eyes. It all just makes me sad.

Do you know when I have seen Christ in our churches...truly seen Him? I see Him when I see others loving on one another, shaking hands... I see Him when I hear that encouraging word, I see Him in the sacrificial love of others... That is where I see Him in church..but we are called to be that to the world around us...we are called to show that love to the lost people around us...Jesus didn't come to save the righteous.. He came for sinners.
The truth is that we are all family. I love anyone I may have offended. I am praying that we begin to seek Him harder than ever before.  Lately, I have felt a need to be outside more. I feel a disconnect with the world in a lot of ways, but as I disconnect more with the world, I can truly, truly see more of Heaven...and I love you no matter your denomination and I am praying for you no matter where you came from or where you are going. I love you.

Yesterday, as I was sitting outside in my sister in law's yard... I saw God... I saw Him

For those who have been hurt by all this nonsense that you see, God loves you. He came for you.

I saw Him in quiet nooks meant for daydreaming and solitide

I saw Him in things that are quiet and still and overflowing with peace

I saw Him in beautiful life that grows and blossoms and blooms in its season

I saw Him in things that grow, tall, and sturdy and majestic in their season

I saw Him in the handprints of children, in innocence, and in life

Dear friends, I pray that you see Him too :)

Here is a portion of the article I read about prayer cloths.......

Prayer Cloths: Superstitious or Spiritual

I once received in the mail from a church a letter and a prayer cloth (a small piece of ribbon with
Acts 19:11-12 inscribed on it). The letter informed me that this cloth had been "prayed over by
prayer warriors" and that they were "believing God for His anointing to reside with this prayer
cloth". I was encouraged to extend my faith and use this prayer as a point of faith to believe for
my healing or deliverance, or for that of a loved one. They suggested that it could be placed in
someone's vehicle, under a mattress or in the opening of a wall of a building.
My initial reaction upon reading this letter was that this is superstition. How could they think
that their prayers could cause the power of God to dwell with a ribbon? And that one could tap
into this power and have it heal whomever by simply believing in God and placing the ribbon in
the appropriate place? This is superstition in the name of Christ!
It is all too possible that my initial reaction was well off the mark and the letter did seek to
provide a biblical argument for its use of the prayer cloth. So like a good Berean (Acts 17:11), I
will examine this letter in the light of Scripture to see if it is true or not.
The letter appealed to Acts 19:11-12 which says, "Now God worked unusual miracles by the
hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and
the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them”. The letter then said, "I believe that
the God who never changes wants to do the same thing still today”.
In response, let me begin by pinpointing the precise issue we need to address. It is not a matter
of whether we believe or don't believe that God desires to use prayer cloths. Our personal beliefs
about God's wishes are irrelevant. The fact that I believe something does not make it true. I may
believe in Santa Claus but that does not make him true. So the truth that many churches believe
that God uses prayer cloths does not mean that He does. Also, the issue is not about God's
ability to heal people through the use of prayer cloths. No true Christian would dispute that He
could. The question we need to ask is this: "Does the Bible tell us that God will use prayer
cloths to heal people today?"

The letter's answer to this question can be stated thus: Acts 19 tells us that God used cloths to
heal people. God never changes. Therefore, God still wants to use cloths to heal people.
One problem with this answer is that it fails to properly distinguish between the unchangeable
character of God from the acts of God in history. In other words, who God is must be
distinguished from what God does.
God is righteous. That never changes. God’s acts are always righteous. That never changes
either. What can and does change are the
acts. For example, a husband has an
undying love for his wife, which he expresses in a multitude of ways. One expression may be in  the form of a trip to Hawaii. Now that expression of an unchangeable love does not imply that
the husband will continually buy tickets to Hawaii! Similarly, the varied acts of God in history
are all a reflection of his unchanging character but they do not imply that he must repeat them.
God once destroyed the world by a flood, parted the Red Sea, and forsook His only Son on the
cross. These acts do not teach us that God still desires to destroy the world by a flood or part the
Red Sea or forsake His Son. Likewise, the fact that God once used Paul's handkerchief to heal
people does not imply He still desires to do the same today.
A second problem is that it assumes what God did through Paul, He will do through Christians.
Paul was a Christian, but he was a unique Christian in that he was an Apostle. God wrote
Scripture through Paul, but that does not mean that God will write Scripture through me. The
miracles that Paul and the other Apostles performed were designed to testify that they had been
sent from God to authoritatively and infallibly speak for Him (Heb. 2:3-4). Hence, Paul called
them 'signs of an apostle' (2 Cor. 12:12). Thus, unless you claim to be an apostle, you cannot
properly appeal to this text to support your claim to be able to do this miracle. And if someone
does make such a claim we know he is lying because Paul said that he was the last apostle (1
Cor. 15:8).
Furthermore, one could not even use this text to say that the other apostles performed these
miracles. This text simply recounts for us what God did through Paul while he was in Ephesus.
There is nothing that suggests that we should regard this event as normative. Therefore, Acts
19:11-12 does not justify the use of prayer cloths. It doesn't even come close!
A third problem is that Luke describes the miracles that God worked through Paul in Ephesus as
'unusual' or 'extraordinary' (see verse 11). This would indicate that these particular miracles
were not the normal ones he performed and thus not to be expected at other times.
The final problem that I will mention is that the use of prayer cloths today does not correspond to
what happened in Acts 19:11-12. Here are some of the differences. First, the objects used. Acts
19 speaks of Paul's sweat cloth (the handkerchief) and the apron he wore while making tents. I
was sent a small piece of ribbon not Paul's sweatband. Second, the role of prayer. In Acts 19 we
are told that God worked these miracles by the hands of Paul. There is no mention of Paul
praying with other people asking God to have His power reside with a cloth. Third, immediate
healing. Acts 19 says that the handkerchiefs and aprons were brought to the sick and the
diseases left them. If God is still working as He did in Acts 19 then I should be able to take this
cloth to the hospital and heal people right now.
Consequently, the practice of prayer cloths cannot be supported by Acts 19:11-12;
nor do I
believe that it can be supported by any other passage. Lack of biblical support, however, is not
the only serious problem. The common practice of prayer cloths turns the power and might of
God into magic and superstition.
There was no inherent power in Paul's handkerchiefs and aprons. Acts 19:11-12 does not say
that God's anointing resided with or in them. The same holds true for Moses' staff that was usedto part the Red Sea and the mud Jesus used to heal a blind man. These material objects were
simply the means by which God demonstrated His mighty power. They did not contain God's
power. To believe that they did or that they can today is to believe in superstition and magic.

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