Tag Archives: prayer

“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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A Nation Grieves

A Nation Grieves

Words to adequately describe the events in Newtown in the past few days do not exist.  For the heroes who did their best to protect the innocent children who were massacred, “grateful” is a woefully insufficient description.

It was an almost immediate response for many to politicize the tragedy, but this is not the time for the political discussion.  Whether the fault lies with “guns” or with the “moral decline” of this nation is a dispute in which we will gladly engage at another time, but it is appalling to use these beautiful, innocent, babies and their families to make points.  This is a time for compassion and support for those who have suffered the loss.

Today, we grieve.  We grieve for what the shooter did to others, but we also grieve for his family, who lost son, brother, and mother in the shooting, and must carry the family name for the balance of their lives.

I have a two adult daughters and a 9-year old granddaughter.  As I watched and listened to the news reports this past week, all I wanted to do was embrace all of them.  I wanted to tell each of them, one more time, how much love I have for them and that nothing else in the world mattered.

We know who, we know how, we know what, we know when, and we know where.  We will never understand the why.  The shooter’s personality and mental condition will be sliced and diced by the pseudo-experts over the days and weeks ahead, but, at the end of the day, their opinions may be “educated,” but they are just guesses.  Only he knew why he did what he did

Death is never an easy subject to grasp, even for adults.  The death of a child is, emotionally, even worse.   King David was a man of war.  He was accustomed to men around him dying.  But, when the death of Absalom, his son, was reported to him, the Scripture says he was “shaken.”  He wept, and cried out what every parent of every child who dies has said, “If only I had died instead of you….” (2 Samuel 18:33).

This tragedy comes in the midst of the celebration of the birth of a baby, a unique child, the Son of God.  He, too, was killed senselessly and without just cause.  But, His death was part of the plan of God, and he rose after three days as He had promised he would.  Paul reminds us that believers in Jesus Christ do not “grieve as those who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)  Note that he did not say we would not grieve.  The separation, the hopes, dreams, plans and futures that will not be realized, the senselessness of an untimely death, cause us to hurt, to grieve, to mourn.

It is right and appropriate that we do, however, because we believe that because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, we have hope that we will be reunited.  It is that hope to which we cling.  It is that hope we offer as comfort to grieving parents.  Innocent children were slaughtered, they are with God, and we live in HOPE.

To all in Newtown, and to all who grieve, we offer a prayer from the famous Christmas Carol, “Sleep in Heavenly Peace.”

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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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