Tag Archives: praise

“The Miracle Moment” 20 Years Later

January 17, 1993

William Jefferson Clinton was preparing for his inaugural, the Cowboys beat the 49ers, and God showed Himself powerful and contemporary in a Sunday School class at Houston’s First Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.

The lesson that morning was from Psalm 103, primarily verses 1-5.  David is talking to himself and instructs himself to “Bless the Lord” which means give praise or thanks to God.  He then lists some reasons for himself to do so.

He (God) forgives all my sin; He heals all my disease; He redeems my life from the grave, the pit, destruction; He crowns me with love and compassion, loving kindness; and He restores my youth like the eagle.

I stood to teach the class of 150 or more on that morning.  I had never been more emotionally drained than I was that morning.  I had never had less faith than I did that morning.  The pit David described was swallowing me.

But God (aren’t those great words from the Scripture?) changed everything.  Let me explain…

The Back Story

In 1990, I was serving as the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas and had been for some time.  First Baptist was a great church and an historical Southern Baptist Church. In January, I contracted a flu virus that ultimately penetrated the mylan sheath of my vocal folds and damaged the nerve tissue beyond repair.

Over the next three years I was seen by over 63 specialists and their teams (totaling over 200 doctors) as they tried to diagnose and treat me.  I had been left with a voice that sounded like the worst case of laryngitis you have ever heard, and could only make that if I screamed at the top of my lungs.  My daughters were both students at Baylor and I could not even call their dorm because I sounded like an obscene phone caller.

Though the congregation had been incredibly patient with my disability, I had resigned for obvious reasons in 1991.  Everything I had ever done to earn a living had been connected to my ability to speak and suddenly my “tool kit” was gone.

We had moved back to Houston and my wife had become the primary breadwinner in our family.  A dear friend gave me a job as a private investigator working in an area where my voice was unimportant, but I ached to do the ministry to which I had been called.

The Catacombs Class

First Houston had a Sunday School class that had first met in the basement of the church, hence “The Catacombs.”  A wonderful group of folks that I had been privileged to teach before I went to Brenham and with whom contact was never lost.  When they learned that we were moving back to Houston, they came to Brenham with bodies and trucks and moved us…or, as one of our directors said, “Retrieved” us.

It was to Houston’s First Baptist Church that we returned and to that class as members.  Their support and fellowship was (and is) more valuable than words can express.

In April, 1992, the teacher of the Catacombs had to take some time away for personal reasons.  Our directors (a husband and wife) asked if I would fill in while a permanent replacement was sought.  I protested that I was too hard to understand which was met with “we’ll listen REALLY carefully.”  I have come to understand that they asked, not because I was such a profound teacher, but because they loved me and knew how desperately I needed to teach.

The female half of our director team was persistent about me becoming the permanent teacher even when the educational staff of the church expressed their reservations because of my voice.  She told them that she was as certain that God wanted me to teach that class as she could possibly be and they ultimately relented.

Little did she, they, or me truly know what God was preparing.

The Moment

As I mentioned before, I was in a horrible pit as I took to the platform that morning.  Two days previous, I had sat for hours in my living room with a shotgun in my mouth and I had come to the end of myself.  “Blessing the Lord” was difficult for me.  In truth, the only reason I was there was because I could not find a substitute and I could not simply not show up.  So my teaching that morning was perfunctory, nothing more.

As I began the outline I discussed the word “all.”  It literally means “every single one without exception.”  Christ’s forgiveness of all my sin is what makes the Good News GREAT.  I had no problem with that discussion.

But, when I began to talk about healing, my words were, “I still believe God heals,” while my thoughts were, “but why not me?”  I moved through that discussion as honestly as I could and began my third thought…”He redeems my life from the pit.”

I began my discourse, “I have had, and you have had, in times past, pit experiences.”  On the word, “pit,” the pressure that had been in my throat for three years was gone as if someone had removed their hand from choking me.  I continued, startled, “We’ve all had times when our life seemed to be in a pit, in a grave, and we didn’t have an answer for the pit we find ourselves in.”  While I was speaking, I was swallowing choke-free, and I’ll never forget my thought…”is that what I think it is?”

Since Then

Doctors confirmed that it was what I thought it was when I saw them the following days.  My voice has been totally restored, and to quote my lead physician, “I can’t find any evidence that you ever had a voice problem.”

The event happened on January 17, 1993, the third Sunday of the month…today.  The event was caught on tape in the most casual way.  The event changed my life and has affected literally millions of people worldwide.

The Catacombs Class started recording lessons decades before that Sunday.  In a large group, 100% attendance is impossible.  In order to be of service, a cassette recording was made no matter who taught, and one or two copies would be made available the following Sunday.  The cassettes would simply be on the back table and if you wanted one, it was there.  When I say, “no big deal,” I mean, “no deal at all!”  But in that church with over 20,000 members that was the only class that recorded their lessons.  Anywhere else would not have had the impact that God intended.

I didn’t ask to teach the class, our director fought to have me teach.  I didn’t write my own material, I was using what used to be called, “Bible Book Series” material that was used Convention-wide.  And, don’t forget, I didn’t want to be there.  Coincidences?  I think not.

From that day to this I celebrate the restoration of my vocal ability.  I wrote of the experience the following week and described it in terms that likened it to Lazarus coming from the grave.  My gratitude and my emotions have not waned in 20 years.

I have crisscrossed this country and the world telling the story of that moment.  God has used me as an object lesson of His grace and power.  I have appeared on the Oprah show and have shared my story with one little lady in a nursing home who could not speak, but wept as I related the timeless story of His Goodness.  I still go wherever the opportunity is given to share the story and I will do so until I am physically unable to do so.

If you would like to hear The Moment for yourself, go to our website, www.nuvoice.org.  It can be heard on our Home Page.  Listen and believe this…if God could do that for me, He can solve whatever problem you have in your life.  He loves you every bit as much as He loves me.

We’ve been saying it for 20 years….and counting.

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Are These The Last Days

Current Events Create Question

The political struggles of the Middle East are nothing new.  Not one of us living today has seen anything that remotely resembles “peace” in the region, nor is there any “peace” on the horizon.  The television debates being seen from Libya, to Israel, to Gaza, to Iran, to Iraq, to Lebanon, to Syria, to Egypt, to Susan Rice, to our President’s own behavior, to the vote of the United Nations table granting a Palestinian state “non-member observer” status has caused a renewed interest in Biblical prophecy.  Daniel Chapter 11 is being read and commentary is being offered by many regarding its relevance in the “real” world of today.

Make no mistake, I am an unabashed Christian.  I believe the Bible’s veracity from its cover all the way to “Maps” so my views are no doubt as unbiased and objective as any reporter from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, or the New York Times.  What differentiates me is that I disclose my bias instead of hiding behind a report of “the news.”  When I learned journalism, that disclosure was required.  Now, it seems that the line between journalism and marketing has become very muddled at best.

Because so many of you are wondering, “Are these the last days?”  “Is Jesus Coming Soon?”  “Should We Be Afraid?”  Let’s see if we can answer some of your questions and allay some of your fears.  Let’s talk about The Second Coming of Christ.

There are 1845 references to the Second Coming of Christ contained in the Old and New Testaments.  It is a subject of prominence.  There are 318 references to the Second Coming contained in the 260 chapters of the New Testament, roughly 1 in every 30 verses.  In fact, for every reference to the initial birth of Christ, there are 8 references to His return.  It is a subject of significance.  23 of the 27 Books in the New Testament allude to the event, and of the four that do not, 3 are single chapter letters written to individuals for a specific purpose.  It is a subject of preeminence.

The Second Coming of Christ is still one of the most debated theological subjects.  Biblical scholars are divided as to the method of His coming, the manner of His coming, and the moment of His coming.  Fundamentally, one must ask, “Is the Christ Really Coming?”

While I am certain that we will not resolve every argument in this space, I want to give you the “Miller Theology” on the subject.  I will not take the space to quote every complete Scripture that I reference, but will give you the “address” so you can look into it for yourself.  I believe you receive the instruction given to the Bereans and look into matters on your own.

Asserted, Attested, and Anticipated

Jesus, Himself, asserted that He would return.  In the Gospel of John, chapter 14:1-2, Jesus is preparing his disciples for his crucifixion and death.  Some have suggested that this passage refers to His crucifixion and resurrection, but that interpretation is impossible on its face.  His words of comfort spoke of a time when He would take us to the place He prepared for us so that we would be with Him forever.  No one ascended with Him.  His words were of a future event.  This message is consistent with the message of redemption delivered from Genesis forward.  So, we begin with a direct promise that He would return.

Then, there is the testimony of the angels at the ascension in Acts 1:1-11.  Their words, “this same Jesus” are literal.  The words are significant.  There are some who believe in a “spiritual” return of Christ, meaning that His work continues or whenever someone adopts His lifestyle, He has “come again, “ but “this same Jesus” denies the viability of such a theology.  He is expected in a literal, physical, return.

His coming has been anticipated since the Ascension.  Paul wrote to the Thessalonians (I Thess 4:13-18) to encourage their faith and perseverance.  He reminded them that we do not grieve at the death of those we love like “those who have no hope.”  Believers have a hope that extends beyond this life.  It is anticipated that we will live beyond this life and it will be eternally “with” Christ.

Secular humanists are existential because they hold no hope of life beyond their last breath on this earth.  We, on the other hand, are clear that this life will be full of challenges, but life exists beyond this plane.

Is This “THE” Time?

Many theologians and scholars accede to the Second Coming of Christ, but spend their time and energy trying to answer the question, “When?????”  The renewed interest in Daniel chapter 11 comes about whenever timing becomes a popular issue.

I do believe that there will be war in the Middle East that will be beyond anything we have ever witnessed.  I believe the war will be for dominance in the Muslim world and will occur between “The King of the North” and “The King of the South” with Israel being both the scapegoat and the prize in the battle.  Daniel, chapter 11, gives context not only to the historical division of the Kingdoms referenced when the prophecy was given, but also to the cataclysmic events at the return of Christ.  You may reference “The NuZ” article, Will The Gaza Peace Hold? to read more on the subject.

But, are these the last days?

The simple and direct answer is, “We don’t know.”  Jesus was asked the essentially same question by His disciples in Matthew 24.  His answer was unequivocal.  “No one knows about that day or hour….”  Any time (including now) that you hear or read about someone fixing a date for His return, RUN!!!  The person is a false prophet, I care not his credentials.  The Bible is clear that we are NOT to do such.  But, in that same discourse, Jesus did give us a couple of descriptions of the times that we could recognize.

When He said it would be “as it was in the days of Noah” (v. 37-42), His message was that the people who were lost in the flood didn’t think that would happen.  Noah was considered an alarmist nut.  Society at large had no time for Noah’s message of impending judgment….and then it happened.   Christ’s return will occur to a society that will not listen, much less heed the message.

Jesus gives a bit more detail earlier in the conversation (v9-14).  He told His disciples, and us, that apostasy will be rampant.  He describes ridicule, rejection, and martyrdom.  He describes a time when the Gospel would be preached throughout the world, but that the opposition would be so strong that even those who have professed “love” would grow “cold” in their faith.

Any cogent analysis of the world situation would indicate that the indicators of His Coming are obvious, but that does not mean we should expect Him by December 21.  We are looking for His return, but not vacating our responsibilities to share the Gospel.

Israel is God’s chosen people.  The Palestinian issue has been ongoing since Ishmael and Isaac.  It will not conclude with Israel being annihilated.  Neither will there ever be a politically negotiated permanent solution in the Middle East.  The prophecies of Daniel will come to pass.  Only when Christ returns will peace be achieved.

The fact that Israel is becoming more and more isolated, even by the United States, is, in and of itself, an indicator of “the last days,” but we don’t know if these “last days” are THE last days.  There have been many times in history when the “last days” were proclaimed, all were obviously erroneous.

What We Do Know

Here’s what we can say, “If these are not the last days, when the last days come, they will look just like this!”

Will there be a ground war in the Gaza Strip?  Will there be an invasion of Israel?  The answer to both questions is ultimately, “Yes.”  Turkey needs Gaza for easy entrance into Egypt and Egypt needs to defend Gaza for that reason and others.  Both will use the Gaza conflict with Israel for their own political ends.  Will America abandon Israel?  Unfortunately, yes.  Will Israel cease to exist as a political entity?  Perhaps it will, for a time, but God is in Israel’s corner and they cannot “lose.”

Whatever the situation, we do not live in fear.  Our faith and hope is in the Prince of Peace, and that gives us peace.  Whether He comes before we exhale our current breath or does not come for another 1000 years does not affect the truth of the Gospel and the hope that we have in Him.

Jesus proclaimed that His Kingdom was not of this world.  Our citizenship is ultimately in His Kingdom so it is not profitable nor necessary to be worried about the political situation of this world.  Make sure that your citizenship in the Kingdom to come is assured.

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A Time To Give Thanks

 

 

A Christian Tradition

 Name the first three things that come to mind when I say Thanksgiving.

 That’s what I thought you’d say, “Turkey, football, and a nap!”

For many people those three things are really all the holiday is about.  Gorging, gang-tackling, and grabbing the couch.  But I have three other things worthy of your consideration at Thanksgiving.  How about, Praise, Prayer, and Purity?

Praise

 Now, praise is a divinely empowered weapon for human hands.  A life that is full of praise can overcome anything.  The Word tells us to put on the “mantle” (cloak or garment) of praise (Isaiah 61).  The instruction is to use it to replace the spirit of heaviness, fainting, or despair.  When you begin to praise the Lord, you are loosing a power that elevates you above storms and trials.  You are elevated to see from God’s perspective.  In most circumstances praise will remove the clouds from your vision to allow you to see God’s solution to the problem.  There are many Biblical examples of the results of God’s people overcoming with praise.  But the key is the “doing” and not the “preparing.”  The challenge for us is to use praise as a deadly weapon on a consistent basis to destroy the work of the enemy.  Praise is a better weapon than any defense that will ever take the field!!!

Prayer

And then there is prayer to consider.  Prayer is the discipline of seeking God’s heart for the many affairs of our life.  It is giving our heavenly Father the opportunity to influence our daily decisions.  Jesus said in Luke 19:46, “My house is a house of prayer…”  We are also told that the Church would become temples not made by human hands (that’s us folks).  There is a familiar chorus that states, “Know ye not, know ye not you are the temples of the Holy Ghost.”  The point is that our lives should be saturated with prayer.  We should be full and running over with the life of God from the time we spend in His presence; houses that are full of prayer.  We have talked and preached about it, but this is the season to do it.  Paul wrote to the Colossians and said, “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” (4:2).  “Devote” means to “give your entire person over to; set yourself apart unto a purpose; become addicted to; apply yourself wholeheartedly to.”  ‘Nuff said!  Instead of napping, start praying.

Purity

Finally, there is the word, “purity.”  The “Puritans” who founded the holiday here derived their name from the root word.  Purity means living according to the character and statutes of the Living God.  America has prospered because it has always had the Judeo-Christian ethic at its heart.  Our people have been blessed because our lifestyle has honored the Word of God and our society has been structured to acknowledge and honor and emulate the purity of Almighty God.  I genuinely fear that such is no longer true.

 In the Scripture, Israel prospered until sin overcame a majority of the people.  Israel was left to its own consequences when it ignored or denied the holiness of God.  America has known and taught the purity of the Scripture, but America is desperately in need of learning once again, “to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”   When you really think about it, our primary function as believers is to behold His beauty until it permeates every area of our life.  Another expression that is often used to express this concept is to be “filled” with Him.  The apostasy of our nation is blatant and overwhelming.  We need a true awakening of purity and holiness.

 There is no doubt that the Thanksgiving turkey looks so good when it comes to the table, it tastes so good when passing over our tongue, it fills our tummy ‘til we think we won’t ever be able to eat another bite.  But it doesn’t satisfy for very long.  Before the day is over, we’re back in the kitchen looking for a snack.  Not so, the purity, the holiness of God.  Beholding His beauty, permeated with His power, sated with His splendor, and meditating on His might brings satisfaction that is incomparable.  Sin loses its attraction when compared to the beauty and grace of our Lord.

 This Thanksgiving, as you pass the cranberry sauce, think Praise, Prayer, and Purity…enjoy, share, and be blessed.

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