Alive and Well Blog

How can I learn Immanuel Prayer if I don’t live in Chicago?

by Jessie Handy for Immanuel FAQ

Great question! More and more people around the country and around the world are excited about Immanuel Prayer. Here’s the process we recommend for learning Immanuel:

1. The Immanuel Network Directory on Dr. Karl Lehman’s Immanuel Approach website helps those interested in Immanuel Prayer connect with each other geographically or by interest (facilitation, training, networking).

2. Develop a community. Whether you start with Karl Lehman’s materials, Life Model Works, or our Alive and Well training curriculum, we highly recommend finding a few other people to do it with you. For one thing, the Immanuel and Life Model skills are inherently relational, requiring practice with other people. Secondly, you’ll have a core group of people from the beginning who will understand each other’s new discoveries and language, and who can practice together everything you’re learning. You’ll be developing the essential support system and learning community necessary for living the Immanuel Lifestyle, and, if you choose, learning Immanuel Prayer Ministry. We can’t over-stress the value of practicing together and building a solid foundation of experience facilitating and receiving Immanuel Prayer within a learning community before offering ministry to those in your wider circles of relationships.

3. Take the Immanuel Lifestyle Class. In our training model, the Lifestyle course is the prerequisite for Prayer Minister Training. It is vitally important to experience for yourself the paradigm shift from focusing on pain and trauma to focusing on connection with the Lord. Lifestyle provides the intellectual and experiential understanding of this paradigm shift. It helps future prayer ministers, and people who just want to grow in their relationship with God and others, shape their own lives around connection. We don’t encourage offering Immanuel Prayer Ministry until you are living the Immanuel Lifestyle yourself. If there’s a Lifestyle Class offered near you, we encourage you to take it in person. But if not, all you need is two friends and a computer or DVD player, and you can take this class in your own home with our Immanuel Lifestyle Class for Small Groups.

4. Take Immanuel Prayer Minister Training. Once your group has taken Immanuel Lifestyle and had some time to practice continuing the Immanuel Lifestyle skills in your own lives, it’s time to consider learning how to offer Immanuel Prayer to others. You can purchase our Immanuel Prayer Minister Training video course through our online shop, or contact us about hosting a live training in your area.

5. Receive ministry for yourself. Developing a local community of Immanuel folks – even if it’s just 2 or 3 of you – will allow you to receive ministry for yourselves. This is at least as important as learning the skills to facilitate others, and you should continue receiving ministry regularly as long as you are offering ministry to others. You’ll be a much better facilitator if you continue to experience what it’s like on the receiving end, and you’ll be able to facilitate for others from a place of greater peace and fullness if you are working through your own triggers. Cultivating a safe small group where you can receive prayer, grow your own connection with the Lord, and experience deep healing will be especially vital if there isn’t a larger Immanuel network around you.

 

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Immanuel Prayer and Willow Creek’s REVEAL Study

by Jessie Handy for Alive and Well, Immanuel Prayer, Immanuel Stories

I wrote this transcript for a short talk at Life Model Works’ Annual Gathering in April. I’m including it here without changes, as I think the content may be a helpful way to share how Immanuel Prayer – especially in community – addresses specific spiritual formation needs within the church. 

Hi, my name is Jessica Handy. I work for Alive and Well, Inc., where our main focus is training people in Immanuel Prayer. Along the way, we also introduce them to many Life Model concepts and skills. I take great joy in this ministry work, but like all of us, I’ve had a bit of a journey to reach this point.

In 2008 I was a recent seminary graduate working in the Adult Discipleship ministry at a large church. We tracked closely with Willow Creek, and one of my main tasks was to develop a neighborhood-based small group model like Willow’s. Then Willow released the REVEAL study. (If you haven’t heard about it, Greg Hawkins who was Willow’s Executive Pastor at the time, is going to share more about the amazing results of this study tomorrow morning. Quick sneak preview: the study revealed that more and better church programs weren’t producing the expected spiritual growth.) I was blown away by the study, but not as much by the fact that church programs weren’t the key to growth (I already guessed that). Rather, I was astonished that my specific church frustrations were seen, heard and given a name.

Had I taken the survey (and in fact when I did take it a couple years later), I would have been placed in the most spiritually advanced group. Yet I resonated most deeply with the study’s description of the dissatisfied. I was serving in ministry, but I felt spiritually unchallenged. I struggled to find spiritual peers, much less people further along in their faith who could show me how to keep growing. I was also beginning to recognize some deeper emotional and relational issues with the potential to stall my spiritual growth or misdirect my passion. I studied the Bible, prayed diligently, participated in small groups, attended extra worship services, served regularly, and would’ve given up everything for Jesus. But I had very little empathy, patience, or grace. I felt inadequate and deeply angry when people old enough to be my parents asked me for spiritual guidance. And I wondered if I had a single drop of mercy in my heart. The 2008 survey results showed me the problem, and I felt known and heard because of it – but the survey didn’t give a concrete solution. I was at the end of the path I knew, and I didn’t see another path to take.

To this day I am grateful for Becky and Wai-Chin, the two women who reached out to me. They invited me to join a training process that eventually became Alive and Well’s Immanuel Prayer Ministry Training. Immanuel Prayer in turn led to my discovering The Life Model. Immanuel and The Life Model changed my life. They provided the path I was looking for, a concrete solution to my dissatisfaction with my spiritual life.

I learned new ways to interact with God and sense his presence throughout the day. The combination of personal spiritual practices and loving community was especially powerful. The group involved in the training had a precious intimacy as we allowed each other to see our personal interactions with God. This opening of our hearts to one another made us tender towards each other’s weaknesses, and sensitive to God’s Spirit in our midst.

God healed emotional wounding from my past. I learned relational skills I was missing because of a low-joy childhood. As God removed blockages that were keeping me from fully experiencing his love, the gap between my beliefs and my behavior shrank. Bible characters – including Jesus – leapt off the page as I began to identify with their emotions as well as their words and actions. My heart expanded as I discovered a gift for empathy. My patience grew, and I began to truly enjoy relationships. My anger dissipated. I developed the capacity to give without needing something in return. In the last few years, I’ve mentored people old enough to be my parents – and loved it!

A decade ago, I thought I was spiritually mature. Today I believe that spiritual maturity cannot be measured separately from relational and emotional maturity. I have more growing to do, without a doubt. But Immanuel Prayer, especially within the overarching framework of the Life Model, provides a clear path forward.

In a few minutes, Margaret and I will be leading a breakout about what Immanuel Prayer is and how to start it in your community. We invite you to join us and experience up close how interaction with the person of Immanuel – Our God Who is With Us – can touch our lives and our communities.

I welcome your comments!

Jessie+

 

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Connected…Now What?

by Jessie Handy for Immanuel FAQ

Question: I’ve been doing Immanuel Prayer with a few new people. Both have been pretty easy to connect with the Lord, positive memory etc. And then it just seems like they sit there. So I say just enjoy that, soak that in, what’s it like, describe everything, etc. We are usually about 30 minutes into the session when I feel like I’ve asked every question I can think of to deepen that particular experience. And it seems like the Lord is just enjoying his time with them…

At some point though, if several minutes have passed, can we ask the lord if there is anything else he’d like to work on with them? I did have them ask if there is anything else the Lord might want them to know there. Or if there is anything they wanted to ask the Lord there- But I guess my question is, what do you do when it seems like it isn’t going anywhere?  Like they are just sitting there with the Lord in the same spot?

A: This is a fantastic question! When we started teaching Immanuel, almost 100% of our students had experience with Theophostic prayer or counseling of some kind, so they all were aware of their own healing issues and we never had to address this question because it just came up naturally. The farther along we progress in reaching a wider range of people, however, the more often this question arises. And because we started taping for our video curriculum a couple years ago, I’m not sure we address it adequately in our current training curriculum.

So here are my thoughts:

First of all,
YES. It is OK to ask the Lord if there is anything else he’d like to work on with them! That’s exactly the right thing to do. In fact, it is even permissible, and sometimes quite helpful, to ask the Lord about a specific issue the recipient wants to work on. If the recipient chooses their own issue to ask about, do remind them to ask with open hands, recognizing that the Lord may have other plans. In fact, the Lord may not address that issue directly, address it in the way expected, or even address it at all. Ultimately, we trust that God knows what the recipient needs more than the recipient or facilitator does. Thus I personally prefer your idea of asking the Lord what he wants to work on.

Interestingly, I just had a chance to talk with Barbara Moon yesterday. (She is the author of Handbook to Joy-Filled Parenting, Re-Framing Your Hurts, and other books that grew out of her being personally mentored by Jim Wilder.) I hadn’t read your email with this question yet, but she happened to give me new words for directing the session at just the moment you’re describing. Here’s what she suggested: “Lord, is there any dark place where you’d like to shine your light?” I like this wording because it opens the door for God to address pain, while maintaining the focus on the light and connection rather than the darkness and pain.

I would not recommend asking this question unless you have first (preferably prior to the beginning of the session) explained it to the recipient and received their permission to ask it. The explanation could easily become part of the introduction to Immanuel Prayer when you are walking a new recipient through the connection process and what to expect. Simply explain something like this:

Sometimes there are blockages that keep us from experiencing God’s love, care, and guidance as clearly as possible. Those blockages often involve dark places in our lives – experiences of being alone or feeling alone in pain, times when we hurt others and/or were hurt by others, and when we came to misinterpret who we are and who God is. When we ask God to shine his light in those places, he will often bring up specific memories where he wants to reveal his safe, loving, caring presence and to correct our misunderstandings. Whatever the Lord brings to mind, you get to choose whether you’re ready to go there. During your session, an opportunity may arise to invite the Lord to shine his light in one of the dark places of your life. If that opportunity arises, is that something you’re willing to consider doing?

(I wouldn’t say this in advance, but if something like this comes up during the session and they say they’re not ready to go there, then you can explore what might be keeping them from going there. Often there is another layer of painful experiences and false beliefs standing in the way, such as “God’s not going to show up in that painful place,” or “I’m too messed up for this to be fixed.”)

Now, having shared the simple “shine your light” tool, here are some other things that may be happening when the session goes as you described. I think the “shine your light” tool has a good chance of working no matter which of these things may be happening. But it could be helpful as a facilitator to be aware of these anyway:

1. The recipient truly does need to just build capacity and grow in their ability to “be with” the Lord. If this is the case, the Lord will probably make it clear at some point after you ask the “shine your light” question. Either the question won’t go anywhere but the person will still be able to enjoy the connection experience and the experience will seem productive over time, or the Lord himself will communicate that he wants to stay in the connection place.

2. The recipient is consciously or subconsciously avoiding pain by staying in connection. If this is the case, the “shine your light” question would still be the first thing I’d do. If that doesn’t go anywhere, and staying in the connection doesn’t seem to deepen or produce anything valuable, then consider avoidance a possibility. (It could take as little as a couple minutes or as much as a couple sessions to discern this.) With avoidance, there is usually an underlying hindrance in place, such as fear that God won’t actually show up or help out in the pain place, or the recipient feels unworthy of God’s help or attention. You can check for this by asking something like, “It’s interesting that our next step in the session hasn’t become clear. Would you be willing to ask the Lord if there’s something standing in the way of receiving his guidance here?” (As always, you may ask on their behalf as long as they are willing for the question to be posed.)

3. Even without asking the recipient the “shine your light” question, the Lord is actually bringing to mind the next step forward in the session, but the recipient isn’t noticing or reporting it. The recipient is filtering out the important info, thinking that it isn’t important or isn’t from God – or because they don’t feel comfortable sharing it with you. You can probe for this by being more specific and directive in your “notice everything” guidance. You might say, for example:

“Take a moment and just scan that connection experience. Turn in a full circle and look behind you as well as in front of you. Is there anything you didn’t see before, or you saw but didn’t think was important enough to share?”

“There may be thoughts, impressions, words, images that come to mind but seem unimportant or unrelated. They may be totally unrelated to this connection experience. They may even be your thoughts about this session right now in this room. Take your time to notice if you have any thoughts or impressions you haven’t shared. Once you share them, we can figure out if they’re important for this session or not.”

“Are you aware of something coming up that you don’t want to share with me? If so, there may be a way for you to report it without giving details so that I can still guide you through it.”

4. Finally, it’s possible the connection is a bit “thin.” That is, a next step (whether healing or just increased connection and intimacy with the Lord) isn’t flowing naturally from the initial connection because the recipient is not really engaging with their heart yet. I went through a season where it worked to facilitate using relatively “thin” connections. But then I realized, by watching Margaret Webb facilitate, that there was another whole layer of depth I was missing. I was saying the right things, and the recipient was saying the right things in response, but there wasn’t a real depth happening emotionally. I needed to help the recipient access the level where their emotions were at the surface.

I think it just takes experience to learn what the deeper level of connection feels like so that you can recognize whether the recipient is there or not. Watching a few live sessions with experienced facilitators can be very helpful this way. Video is okay, but real-life is better because you can see the non-verbal emotional indicators more clearly. The Alive and Well live demo videos of Roger and Joanne receiving may be helpful for this.

The way I usually recognize the deeper level is body language. There are usually subtle indications when the recipient is more deeply connected, such as settling into a more relaxed posture, a change in voice tone, sighing or deep breaths, and sometimes tears or close to it. When I notice emotions coming to the surface, I usually try to reflect the words that go with them, as well as the nonverbal signals I’m seeing, in a way that makes space for those things without making the recipient self-conscious.

Sometimes deeper connection allows the healing and intimacy with God to flow more naturally with less guidance from the facilitator. Other times, directive guidance like “shine your light” can lead to a deeper connection where the emotions flow more naturally.

The last part of my response is about self-care and personal growth as well as growth as a facilitator. As we always say in our Immanuel Prayer Minister Training, keep paying attention to your own emotional state while you are facilitating. If those uncertain-what’s-next moments are bringing up any anxiety or fear for you, receiving ministry later or doing some Immanuel Journaling about it could be very helpful to address your personal triggers and remove more blockages in your own relationship with God and others. It will also help your recipient. Your emotional state, whether peaceful or anxious, does impact the recipient’s feeling of safety, even if they’re not aware of it. And the more you can stay connected to the Lord during the session, the more clearly you can receive his guidance for you as you facilitate.

Thank you again for this important question!

Jessie+

 

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Where can I find Immanuel Prayer in the Bible (Part 4)

by Jessie Handy for Immanuel FAQ

 

image from sincerelysarad.com

 

Q: Where can I find Immanuel Prayer in the Bible (Part 4)

A: In Part 1 I addressed an important assumption behind this question. If you haven’t read it, please read Part 1 before returning to finish this post.

 

Response to the Liberal: Good Fruit

Although Immanuel Prayer does not show up in the Bible in exactly Dr. Lehman’s format in its entirety, God and Jesus model some very specific elements of it. I offered two examples of this in Part 2. In Part 3, I proceeded to identify a set of biblical principles on which Immanuel Prayer is built, and to provide biblical evidence for these principles.

Now I turn to the final evidence that Immanuel Prayer is biblical: the fruit it produces. For orthodox Christians, whether conservative or liberal, the fruit (practical results, outflow, or consequences) of a teaching is an essential element of testing whether that teaching is from God. For those on the liberal end of the spectrum of biblical interpretation especially, evidence of good fruit is often the most helpful response to the question, “Where can I find Immanuel Prayer in the Bible?” or “Is Immanuel Prayer biblical?”

The ”fruit test” is based on Galatians 5:22, which says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.” The fruit of the Spirit aren’t limited to this list in Galatians, however. Additional good fruit identified in other places of scripture include humility, truth, forgiveness, generosity, trust, etc.

 

So what kind of fruit does Immanuel Prayer produce?

Here are some examples. Each sentence is a hyperlink to the blog that tells the full story.

Muslims and Hindus recognize Jesus, receive his peace and joy, and begin learning to trust him. 

Howard, a pastor, is freed from his fear of failure and disappointing others into a new delight in ministering out of his true identity.

Over time, Cindy discovers that God really does care about her, and she begins to experience more joy in her life. 

Jim encounters God’s redeeming grace in a powerful way. (The video of Jim sharing his story is at the bottom of our home page.)

Because of her experience with Immanuel Prayer principles, Lieza changes the way she disciplines her children, and it turns out to be more positive for everyone.

Angela discovers she can not only forgive but also give to someone who has abused her.

Jeremy’s prayer life is revitalized as truths he’s believed about God come to life for the first time.

After a lifetime of fearing it, Kathryn is no longer afraid to be tickled. 

For more stories, check out the Immanuel Stories category of our blog, or read Karl Lehman’s book The Immanuel Approach for Emotional Healing and for Life. You can also watch videotaped Immanuel Prayer ministry sessions to watch these kinds of changes happening as people encounter Jesus. View them in our live demo series on Vimeo or by purchasing one or more of Karl Lehman’s live demonstration teaching video series.

 

As we wrap up this 4-part series on Immanuel Prayer in the Bible, let me offer one final caveat. The fruit a teaching produces is not always distinguishable from the fruit produced by the person applying the teaching. God reminds us, “To the pure all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure” (Ti 1:15). There will always be people who misuse the Bible for their own ends, justifying things like slavery and putting heavy burdens on people like the Pharisees did. Although the Pharisees quote scripture, they did not produce the fruit of the Spirit.

In the same way, there will always be people who misuse Immanuel Prayer, producing bad fruit or mixed fruit because of their own impurities. In fact, most of us have impurities and therefore our fruit is not wholly good. For example, I am much more compassionate than I was when I started my involvement in Immanuel Prayer many years ago, but I am still not as patient as God wants me to be. Thankfully, as long as we are willing to admit that we are still in process, Immanuel – the God who is with us – continues to work out our impurities (sin, weaknesses, woundedness, false beliefs, etc.) like a refiner of gold. He often uses Immanuel Prayer to do that very thing our lives, if we are willing to acknowledge and face our own impurities and offer them to him. Thus, a snapshot of the fruit of Immanuel Prayer in one person’s life at one moment, though it may be helpful data, can hardly do justice to the whole process. Rather, the pattern of increasingly good fruit over time is a much better test of whether Immanuel Prayer is truly biblical.

 

Now may the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with the fruit of the Holy Spirit by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Jessie+

Part 1 – Assumptions About Biblical Interpretation
Part 2 – Response to the Conservative: Immanuel Techniques

Part 3 – Response to the Moderate: Biblical Principles

 

 

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“Muslim friend experiencing Jesus” – Miriam

by Jessie Handy for Immanuel Stories

image from Pinterest

Immanuel Lifestyle has been really good!  We’ll finish it up soon and start the facilitator training. So far it’s just been 3 of us Americans who have done the Immanuel Lifestyle training. We are in a non-American cultural context, and people here speak a different language, so we’ll be applying it with our friends via sharing personally what we’re learning. A couple of weeks ago I had a Muslim friend who I tried it with and she had two different pictures of Jesus with her! It was so encouraging to watch her experience him, have him give her peace and take the heaviness of her problems. It was amazing!

Miriam
Group Leader, Immanuel Lifestyle for Small Groups

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“Changing the way I discipline my children” – Lieza

by Jessie Handy for Immanuel Stories

image from babysitterjobs.com

I was praying with my boys at bedtime, asking them to think of a time that day when they felt happy. They told me, and when I asked them where they saw Jesus, he was next to them and smiling with them. They both told me that Jesus loves to be with them! It is truly amazing how connection changes everything – it’s even changing the way I discipline. I make sure I’m connected to my children, that my RCs are on, and then we talk about the consequences of their choice(s) afterwards. My oldest used to have fits about his consequences, and now he accepts them without (much) complaining.

Lieza
– Immanuel Prayer Minister in Training and Immanuel Lifestyle Leader

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Where can I find Immanuel Prayer in the Bible? (Part 3)

by Jessie Handy for Immanuel FAQ, Jessie's Reflections on Scripture

 

Image from wordblessings.com

 

Q: Where can I find Immanuel Prayer in the Bible (Part 3)

A: In Part 1 I addressed an important assumption behind this question. If you haven’t read it, please read Part 1 before returning to finish this post.

Response to the Moderate: Biblical Principles

Although Immanuel Prayer does not show up in the Bible in exactly Dr. Lehman’s format, God and Jesus model some very specific elements of it. I offered two examples of this in Part 2.

Perhaps more helpful for the moderate than specific elements of the Immanuel Prayer process, however, are Bible passages that support the general principles underlying Immanuel Prayer. Even though IP did not exist exactly in its current form in Bible times, Immanuel is rooted in a biblical worldview and built on biblical principles, including:

1. God is always with us
2. God offers us a safe, loving, personal relationship with him.
3. God brings redemption to every aspect of our lives, including the physical, emotional, and social/relational as well as the spiritual.
4. God listens to us and communicates with us in ways we can understand.
5. God calls us to remember and share what he has done, and to give him thanks.
6. God’s work always produces “good fruit.”

Each of these principles is derived from God’s self-revelation in his Word, as we will see next.

 

1. God is always with us.

Almost the entirety of Psalm 139 describes the way God knows every intimate detail of our lives, summing up his perpetual presence with the lines,

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. (Ps 139:7-10)

Not only does Jesus’ name, Immanuel, mean “God with us” (Mt 1:23), but Jesus himself assures us that he will be with us “always, to the very end of the age” (Mt 28:20; see also Mt 18:20 and Jn 14:18, 23). The author of Hebrews also reaffirms God’s Old Testament promise, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Heb 13:5; Dt 31:8; Josh 1:5).

 

2. God offers us a safe, loving, personal relationship with him.

God is not with us for the sake of tracking all our mistakes or making sure we stay in line. Rather, he is with us in love to protect, care for, and guide us – and because he delights in us.

As the Church’s creeds affirm, our Triune God exists eternally in loving, personal relationship within himself: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three persons perpetually experience and model the joy and self-giving of perfect love.

God also describes his involvement with people in relational terms. He explains it in terms of human relationships that evoke a similar self-giving love, a love that delights in, provides for, and protects the beloved. One human relationship that exemplifies God’s love for us is that of a good parent with a precious child. He says through the prophet Hosea,

When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more they were called,
the more they went away from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals
and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them. (Hos 11:1-4)

God also describes his relationship with his people as that of a faithful, tender husband with his beloved wife. After he punishes Israel for idolatry, which he likens to adultery, he relents and receives Israel back. He doesn’t relent with bitterness but with tenderness and generosity:

Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
“In that day,” declares the Lord,
“you will call me ‘my husband’
you will no longer call me ‘my master.’” (Hos 2:14-16)

God delights in us (e.g., Zeph 3:14-17). God provides for us (e.g., Mt 6:25-34). God protects us (e.g., Ps 18:1-3). God does not shame us but honors us (e.g., Is 61:7). God assures us that we need not fear him (e.g., 1 Jn 4:18).

God also disciplines us, but it is because he loves us. It does not mean he doesn’t want to be with us or that he isn’t safe. Rather, he wants to be with us right in the midst of our sin, in order to restore us and train us in right living. His willingness to get dirty, and even to die, from the mess of our sin is the ultimate test of his love and desire for relationship with us. (e.g., Mk 2:15-17; Jn 4:39; Rom 5:6-10; 2 Cor 5:21) (See my blogs “While we were still sinners” and “The thing Jesus wants most.”)

 

3. God brings redemption to every aspect of our lives, including the physical, emotional, and social/relational as well as the spiritual.

Jesus inaugurates his own ministry by reading from Isaiah 61, a passage that exemplifies the full scope of salvation that he offers:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Lk 4:18-19)

Jesus “became flesh” (Jn 1:14) in order to redeem flesh. He took on a physical body because he wanted to redeem the physical as well as the spiritual. (More on this in my blog “Taste and see!”) Jesus showed that the forgiveness of sin is intimately linked to physical healing: “Which is easier,” Jesus asked, “to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?” (Mk 2:9; see also Ps 103:2-3). Forgiveness of sin is also linked to relational reconciliation. When Jesus pinpointed her relational brokenness, the woman at the well not only acknowledged Jesus as Messiah but in the process was transformed from the outcast to the evangelist for her whole village (Jn 2).

Like “shalom” in the Old Testament, the Greek word “sozo” (salvation) in the New Testament is used to describe a return to wholeness in all of its aspects – not only salvation from sin, but salvation from suffering, punishment, brokenness, sickness, demonization, and destruction. For example, Luke uses the word “sozo” to describe Jesus’ death on the cross, and he also uses it to describe all of the following:

–  Jesus telling Zacchaeus that “the Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost.”
–  Jesus teaching that those who seek to save their lives will lose them, and those who       lose them shall save them. (Lk 17:33)
–  Onlookers mocking Jesus on the cross, saying “save yourself!” (Lk 23:37, 39)
–  Physical healing of the woman with the flow of blood. (Lk 8:48)
–  Deliverance/restoration of the Gerasene demoniac. (Lk 8:36)

 

4. God listens to us and communicates with us in ways we can understand.

The Bible is God’s ultimate communication tool, and the standard by which we test all other communication from him. But it is clear from scripture that he expects ongoing, interactive conversation with his people.

The Old and New Testaments both distinguish between God and idols. One of the most common complaints about idols is that they “know nothing,” “cannot see,” and “cannot understand” (Is 44:18). They are mute (1 Cor 12:2). The implication, of course, is that God is not like that. Rather, he knows, sees, understands, and speaks.

The entire story of the boy Samuel revolves around the Lord speaking specifically to Samuel as well as through Samuel to the Israelites (e.g., 1 Sam 3:8-11, 19-21). Noah and Abraham also conversed back and forth with God (Gen 6; 18), and early church leaders asked for and received input from the Lord (Acts 4:23-31; 9:27; 10; 11:27-28; 13:2; 16:9-10; 21:10-14). Other specific examples from the Bible are too numerous to list here.

Lest we think communication with God is only for spiritual giants, the general principle of God speaking to his people is affirmed throughout the scriptures, including these verses:

People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. (Isaiah 30:19)

I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. (Isaiah 65:19, 24)

The gatekeeper opens the gate for [the shepherd], and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. (Jn 10:3-4)

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. (Jn 16:13-14)

 

5. God calls us to intentionally remember and share what he has done, and to give him thanks. 

The verses below are self-explanatory and represent a perpetual theme in God’s dealings with people. (For more on the role of thanksgiving in Immanuel Prayer, see my blog “Enter His gates with thanksgiving.”)

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. (Dt 4:9)

Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. (Dt 32:7)

Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Josh 4:4-7)

Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD. (Ps 102:18)

Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me. (Ps 50:22)

Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy. (Ps 107:22)

Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither people nor animals, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying, “Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; his love endures forever.” (Jer 33:10-12)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (Jas 1:17)

 

6. God’s work always produces “good fruit.”

I will address this last point in Part 4 of this series, identifying what “good fruit” means and giving examples of good fruit produced by Immanuel Prayer.

 

Jessie+

Part 1 – Assumptions About Biblical Interpretation
Part 2 – Response to the Conservative: Immanuel Techniques

Part 4 – Response to the Liberal: Good Fruit

 

 

 

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Should I buy gold?

by Jerry Webb for Jerry, Money and Stewardship

image from theforex.news

As I write this, the stock market has been reaching all time highs, partly due to Trump’s promises to lower taxes, increase our defense spending, bring jobs back to America, and spend massive amounts of money by making infrastructural improvements that will put many Americans back to work. With our current national debt above $17 trillion dollars, he promises to pay for it because our Gross Domestic Production will increase from 2% to 3% or more, which he says “will make it a whole new ballgame.”

More and more companies are using this political and economic uncertainty to market gold aggressively, urging us to “buy gold” because of coming inflation or to avoid a coming economic and geo-political crisis. They say it is not a matter of “if” but “when.”

However, just because people make big claims about the market, and about gold, that doesn’t mean their perspective is the only one, or that it’s accurate. As Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” In fact, there are predictions of gold going down right alongside predictions of gold going up.

So, is there a place for owning gold? If so, what is the best way to own it, and how much should you own?

I believe gold should be part of everyone’s portfolio, as part of an asset allocation plan. Let me explain why and how to take this step.

Why to buy gold

On the positive side, gold can protect part of your nest egg from inflation or geo-political risks. Those risks seem to be rising as our national debt goes up and political and economic uncertainties abound. Gold increased about 8% in 2016.

On the negative side, the dollar is one of the most stable currencies in the world, and gold doesn’t perform as well in a strong dollar environment. And gold tends to go down when interest rates rise, which is expected to happen soon.

Whether or not the political, geo-political risks, and coming inflation will offset the strong dollar and rising interest rates remains to be seen. No matter what happens, though, I believe that everybody should have 5%-15% of their investments in gold as a simple matter of diversification. By dividing your assets into different investments which are negatively correlated (move in different directions), you will experience less volatility (more peace and stability) in your portfolio. As Ecclesiastes 11:2 says, “Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.”

How to buy gold

There are lots of ways to buy gold, some better than others. Here are a few tips to make wise decisions about buying gold:

The best way to own gold as an investment is to purchase the ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) with the symbol GLD. It’s a fund that most closely emulates the price of gold and is the least expensive way to own gold. You don’t have to store it, you can easily buy and sell it, and you can quickly exchange it for dollars. The primary risk in owning gold this way is if terrorists attack our stock market exchanges, which could prevent you from selling your gold for a period of time (and would make tip #2 below particularly valuable). Of course, other stocks wouldn’t be able to be sold either, so your gold ETF would probably be higher whenever you could sell it.

If you’re buying actual gold coins, you should buy at least some gold coins that are less than an ounce in size in case of crisis. Gold coins would give you something to use in place of money if there are massive power-outages that make cash from ATMs and banks unavailable. To buy gold (or silver), go to golddealer.com and buy at least some of the Swiss Franc, which is about a fifth of an ounce. You can buy one-ounce coins too, but they would be very difficult to barter with because they are worth so much. Smaller sizes have a little higher mark-up but are easier to use in crisis.

Avoid scams, such as the investment scheme going around now called Karatbars, which sells overpriced gold. Here are some ways to avoid scams:

  1. Compare the price they’re offering to the actual value of gold by checking the continuously updated prices on the CNBC ticker.
  2. Avoid people who sell gold but won’t buy it. These are not dealers – they are “sellers” just looking to turn a profit. A real dealer won’t contact you to sell coins. You have to contact them.
  3. Look for dealers who don’t make a commission.

 

Jerry

Questions? Email jerry@alivewell.org

 

 

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Where can I find Immanuel Prayer in the Bible? (Part 2)

by Jessie Handy for Immanuel FAQ, Jessie's Reflections on Scripture

 

Joseph (image from goodnessofgodministries.wordpress.com)

Q: Where can I find Immanuel Prayer in the Bible? (Part 2)

A: In Part 1 I addressed an important assumption behind this question. If you haven’t read it, please read Part 1 before returning to finish this post.

Response to the Conservative: Immanuel Techniques

Immanuel Prayer does not show up in the Bible in exactly Dr. Lehman’s techniques, or format, in its entirety. I invite you, however, to consider three things before dismissing Immanuel Prayer as unbiblical:

  1. There ARE specific examples of God and Jesus modeling various elements of the Immanuel Prayer process. The following two examples are not an exhaustive list, but they represent the way we can find elements of the Immanuel format, or techniques, in the Bible:

One key element of Immanuel Prayer is that we seek God’s perspective on our own lives and our personal history. As we come to see our lives the way God sees them, we gain a new understanding of his role in our lives, we grow in knowledge of the truth, we discover that past events that caused us pain no longer hurt in the same way, and we are freed to forgive and move forward in a new level of freedom and Christ-like character.

Joseph experienced these same effects when he gained God’s perspective on his past. Joseph must have been hurt when his brothers mocked his dreams, not to mention the physical and emotional pain when they sold him into slavery. He was betrayed by his own brothers and lost his family, his home, and his comfortable role as the beloved son. In exchange, he was falsely accused, imprisoned, and sent before Pharaoh with his life on the line.

We don’t know for sure what kind of mountaintops and valleys Joseph experienced in his faith during those years in Egypt, but certainly he had to come to grips with his past in some way. Did he simply ignore it, putting it behind him as if it had no impact? No. We can tell from his tearful response to his brothers that he remembered and was emotionally moved by his history with them. But – amazingly – his tears were not an expression of anger, despair, grief, or bitterness. Rather, they were tears of love and redemption. Why? He says to them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen 50:20). Somehow during those years he had come to see his life the way God saw it, and that gave meaning and purpose to his pain. He recognized and acknowledged the harm they caused, but because he saw God’s redemptive purposes in it, he was able to respond with forgiveness.

In fact, Joseph goes beyond forgiveness to reassurance, kindness, and generosity, telling the same brothers who betrayed him, “So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children” (Gen 50:21). God allowed Joseph to see his own story – and his brothers’ stories too – the way God saw them, and the result was redemption and healing: tears of joy and love rather than bitterness; reconciled relationships; peace for his father; and provision for the line of Abraham, God’s chosen people. This kind of healing and redemption is what we seek from God in Immanuel Prayer. We ask for his perspective on our lives, and we consistently see this kind of fruit. (For more about the fruit of Immanuel Prayer, see #3 below.)

Jesus models a second element of Immanuel Prayer when he responds to Peter’s denials. When we use Immanuel Prayer specifically in order to find healing, we have a two-fold focus: on a memory when we sensed God with us in a caring way, and on a memory when we had a hurtful experience that caused us pain. When we are able to focus on both of these experiences at once, we find that God often allows us to begin to see his presence in the hurtful experience just like we see it in the positive experience. We begin to see the hurtful experience from his perspective, and to experience the same kind of healing and redemption that Joseph experienced.

Jesus models this two-fold focus when he restores Peter. In the early morning before the cock crowed, Peter denied Jesus three times. He did so while warming himself at a charcoal fire just outside the room where Jesus was being questioned (John 18:15-27).

When the time comes for Peter’s restoration, Jesus greets Peter by providing a miraculous catch of fish on the Sea of Galilee. This would have brought back a flood of memories for Peter, not least the memory of another miraculous catch of fish just before Jesus called him the first time (Lk 5:1-11).

So Jesus starts with a positive memory. But he has also arrived in the early morning and built a charcoal fire on the beach (John 21:9). The description “charcoal fire” is only used two times in all of scripture – at Peter’s denial and at his restoration – so it is surely significant. On the beach, Jesus intentionally creates a setting that will remind Peter not only of his original call to follow Jesus, but also of that devastating moment of denial. Instead of “putting the past behind him” as if it never happened, Jesus directly addresses the hurt Peter has caused to Jesus and to himself. Jesus then invites Peter back into ministry three times, once for each denial.

Thus Jesus brings up the past hurtful memory, but he does so for the sake of redemption and he does so in the context of another, positive memory. In this way he helps Peter see his past sin and shame in the redemptive way Jesus sees it. The denials really happened, and that can’t be changed. But Peter has been called to ministry and is still called. He need no longer suffer in shame, for he is still loved, included, and trusted to care for Jesus’ “sheep.” Again, this is the kind of remembering, re-seeing (seeing afresh through God’s eyes), and redemption that God models for us in scripture and that we experience in Immanuel Prayer.

 

  1. Even though it is not in the Bible exactly in the form Dr. Lehman has created, scripture is full of verses and general principles that support the use of Immanuel Prayer.

We live in a world very different from the world of Jesus’ day, and we are often involved with things the Bible doesn’t address directly. But we still have to decide whether to surf the internet, invest in the stock market, use contraceptives, or allow guitars in church services. Because we don’t find those things directly addressed in the Bible, the only method we have for deciding whether these things are acceptable is to look for similar or parallel things (i.e., a lyre instead of a guitar) or general biblical principles (i.e., what does God say about the role of music in culture, in worship, and in its impact on our minds, hearts, and souls).

We can use a similar approach for Immanuel Prayer that we do for these other things that aren’t directly addressed in the Bible. Even though it is not in the Bible exactly in the form Dr. Lehman has created, scripture is full of verses and general principles that support the use of Immanuel Prayer. I will address these verse and principles in Part 3.

 

  1. Immanuel Prayer produces the kind of fruit God desires. I will provide evidence for this in Part 4.

 

Jessie+

Part 1 – Assumptions About Biblical Interpretation
Part 3 – Response to the Moderate: Biblical Principles
Part 4 – Response to the Liberal: Good Fruit

 

 

 

 

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