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Posts tagged ‘spiritual disciplines’

What Do I Do With “Strangers?”

SOURCE:  Jan Johnson

Welcoming the Stranger

Not often listed as a spiritual discipline, this practice [welcoming the stranger] was one Jesus emphasized by how he welcomed all kinds of people and identified with them: “When I was a stranger, you welcomed me . . .when you did it for the least of these, you did it for me” (Matthew 25:31-35, CEV). Such welcoming is tangible and helpful, even offering them a cup of cold water (Matthew 10:40-42; see also Matthew 18:5 and John 13:20).

Who are our strangers? People appear to us as strangers for different reasons but they usually fit into one of these categories:

Outcasts.  A person’s past didn’t disqualify him or her from being welcomed by Jesus. While most rabbis threw stones at lepers, Jesus welcomed them (Matthew 8:1-4). He touched the untouchables.

Wrong-doers The immoral past of the Samaritan woman did not disqualify her either. In fact, Jesus went out of his way to extend himself: he had to go through Samaria (John 4:4). He welcomed this person who was also a stranger ethnically and gender-wise. He should not have had a conversation with any woman in public but he not only did so but also invited her to enter into a deepened relationship with God.

People longing for home. At one time Joseph, Mary and Jesus were political refugees, running from King Herod. They had to leave their homeland by night. Imagine their fear as they slipped out of Bethlehem by night and made a two to three week journey on a route frequented by robbers. This Jewish couple mixed with non-Jews and had to trust God every step of the way.

Anyone who isn’t like me.  When we see or meet people who differ from us politically, ethnically or theologically, a little “ping” may go off in our head that says, Ooh, Different. Step back. I wonder what Jesus’ disciple, Simon the zealot, thought when Jesus healed and then praised the faith of a Roman centurion. Simon would have viewed the centurion as a prime candidate for assassination.

A stranger may just be someone of a different economic class. In a church full of homeowners, an apartment dweller often feels like a stranger. A disabled person is a stranger in the midst of fitness buffs as is a non-reader among well-read folks. Military kids or missionary kids, parolees or drug rehab graduates may all qualify as strangers among those without that type of experience.

Anyone we’re tempted to exclude and ignore. Strangers are often people in power-down positions: “children as opposed to adults, women as opposed to men, minority races as opposed to majority races, the poor as opposed to middle-class, the middle-class as opposed to rich, lower-paid workers as opposed to highly paid workers, less educated as opposed to more educated, blue-collar workers as opposed to professionals.” The elderly are easily overlooked. When my quiet 80-year-old mother-in-law came to visit, our other dinner guests never engaged her in conversation. I wept later to think of the many times I had neglected to speak to an older person.

Or we may avoid pushy people, people who talk too long about themselves, those who scream and pout for what they feel they deserve, know-it-alls, or people who let their kids run wild. In any “us versus them” situation, “them” are the strangers.

The shocking thing about Jesus is that he did not merely tolerate such different people. Jesus offered himself to them in self-giving love. I am able to do this only when I ask Jesus to reach out to others through me.

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Excerpted from Invitation to the Jesus Life, ch 5. ©Jan Johnson

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The Basic Steps of “Healing Prayer”

SOURCE:  (Information compiled from work by Dr. Sian-Yang Tan, Professor of Psychology – Fuller Seminary Graduate School of Psychology &
Dr. Ed Smith, founder of Theophostic Prayer Ministry; other articles: http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1039&context=ccfs_fac_pubs)
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Healing prayer is a  (Christ-centered) Spirit-led, counselor involved, and counselee consented spiritual intervention with the specific intent of healing and breaking the chain of past traumatic, historical memory events that contain lie-based thinking/feeling still influencing present day thinking-feeling-acting.  (NOTE: Healing prayer as outlined in this article is not associated with hypnosis or guided/directed imagery.)

A goal in the use of healing prayer is that it become another important spiritual weapon or tool that you add to your repertoire and use throughout life.  Healing prayer will be useful to you along with other spiritual disciplines such as worship, prayer (conversational, traditional, listening), Scripture reading and study, fasting, meditation, solitude, etc. as you continue to cultivate your faith (Phil 2:12), seek truth and freedom (John 8:32), allow transformation through renewing your mind (Rom. 12:2) and demolish compulsions and strongholds (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

Sessions incorporating healing prayer involve the following steps:

NOTE:  Initially, this process will include a counselor who interacts with you and the Holy Spirit, as you continue to “practice the Presence of the Lord” and are comfortable interacting with the Lord in this aspect, yourself.

1) The session begins with prayer asking for God’s grace, power, healing, truth, and protection from the evil one.  The understanding is the Holy Spirit is present and leading, and this will be a time of interaction between you and He (and a counselor as present).

2) Within the safe confines of the counseling room (or a quiet, calm place you choose at other times) in the Presence of the Holy Spirit, you allow yourself to relax as you become receptive to God anticipating (but not demanding) that He will move in a curative way.

3) You will focus intently on the emotions you are feeling, a statement (of self-talk) that feels painfully true, or a known traumatic event.  This may surface painful imagery or memories.  Ask yourself the question, “What are the emotions I feel about myself in this present situation which triggered these emotions?”  Feel for the statement(s) that best describes how the situation made you feel and couple the statement with the emotions you feel.  For example, “I feel stupid.  I feel used.  I feel rejected.  I feel hurt.  I feel violated.  I feel abandoned.  I feel inadequate.  I feel unloved…..”

4)  With the emotions and/or lie statement in focus, allow yourself to disconnect from the present and let the Holy Spirit enable you to drift back to the origin and source of the emotional pain.  Ask the Lord to lead you to the place where you need to be to find complete release of the lie statement that feels true and is causing the pain. The Lord may have you recall an uncomfortable event from your past childhood, He may keep your focus on the lie statement, or He may have you focus on a more recent troubling event.  Regardless, let your attitude be one of, “Lord, I trust You to take me to the starting point at which I need to be.”

5)  Just let the past memories come to you.  Keep your focus on the feelings and lie statement that feels true.  Do not try to analyze memories or attempt to pick which memories are important or unimportant.  Whatever memory comes to mind, focus on it.  Feel your way through the memory being careful to examine every part.  Sometimes the memory will begin to open up and unfold, revealing things you had long forgotten.  Find out why this memory has an unpleasant feeling about it.

Ask yourself, “How does this memory make me feel?” or “Why do I feel this way in this memory?”

6)  Allow the intensity of the emotions in the memory picture to increase as you face and embrace this lie statement (that feels true) as the truth.  When it is strong and uncomfortable, invite the Lord Jesus to come into the memory.  Simply say to the Lord Jesus something like, “Lord Jesus, I invite you to come into my memory, and I ask You to reveal Your truth to me in whatever way You choose.  What is Your truth, Lord Jesus?”  Don’t prescribe anything for the Lord or try to help Him in any way.  Don’t try to make anything happen.  Let the Lord do what He will.

Allow the intensity of the emotion to increase as much as you can.  In the midst of this darkness, continue to ask the Lord to reveal His truth to you.  He may speak a word to you, give you a visual picture, or simply bring a realization of truth to your awareness.  Whatever you hear, see, or sense from Him, confess it out loud. Even write down your awarenesses for further reflection.

7)  If Jesus does not reveal truth to you fairly soon after focusing on the lie statement and emotional pain, it is most important to remember that, by faith, you can be assured of God’s Presence and intervention.  Remember, that while experiencing God is a wonderful result of this kind of prayer, an experience is not the goal.  Should you not receive a result you thought you might, remember that God invests value in your letting go of control and embracing trust in God, who truly cares and works things out in His good timing.

Additionally, sometimes, emotions such as anger, hate, rage, offense or revenge will be present in the memory or an aspect of what you are dealing with.

If this is the case, ask yourself these questions:

a) Why do I feel these emotions in this memory?  b) Do I really want to be free from these feelings?  If you truly want release, then confess your anger, rage, offense, etc., to Him and admit your powerlessness to overcome it on your own.  Ask Him to release you completely.

After this prayer, go back into the memory or to the lie statement and engage the process again.  If He still does not speak, you may not have discerned the core/main lie.  Look around in the memory for clues to what it might be and continue through the process.

Finally, sometimes there can be an evil presence inhabiting the memory. In such case, you will need to rebuke it and take authority over it as a believer in Christ who has been born anew into the family of God (John 1:10-13) and who serves as a member of a holy and royal priesthood (1 Pet 2: 4-5, 9).

8)  After the Lord has revealed His truth to you, go back to the memory or lie statement and search for any residual negative feelings that might remain.  Make sure there are no bad emotions left.  If you sense some evidence of unpleasant emotion after the Lord has provided truth, there may be another lie still present.  This is not uncommon.  Go back to step one and process this new lie the same way you did the other.  Once you can revisit a past hurtful memory and/or stir up the lie statement and find that a sense of calmness and peace is present based on the truth revealed by the Lord, that core lie has been dispelled.

Additionally, even after the Lord applies His truths to overcome lie-based thinking and negative emotional upheaval, feelings of sadness or grief can remain.  This is normal and healthy given the reality of past losses suffered and not necessarily part of harboring past lies.  If you discern this is the case, bring the sadness and grief to the Lord; allow Him to comfort you and walk with you through this time of healing (Ps. 119: 50, 52; 1 Pet. 5:6-7).

Remember, healing prayer is a time of faithfully calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ for His truth to dispel what has been operating in our lives as a distorted “truth.”  Healing prayer is not just a technique whereby God can be manipulated or the right formula that will bring results.

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