Saturday, July 3, 2010

Spiritual Heritage and Healing

Today I had a unique and profound spiritual experience; the kind of experience that touches you to the core of your being.  It was the kind of experience that you have when God touches you, and I don’t mean just lightly touches you, I mean when your whole world gets wacked  - like when you are born again or filled with the Spirit or miraculously, instantaneously healed.  It changes who you are because it affects your being, deeply in your spirit and soul – in your heart.  But this experience didn’t come in the way I’ve experienced them before.  It was not at church or even alone in a place of prayer.  It was not outside  in the Texas hill country at Rio Ranchito after an eight hour fast-although Farther has certainly touched and changed me in all of these places, and many others too numerous to mention.

What happened to me today came as the climax of the last few days as Brenda and I have been praying and considering accepting an invitation for her to speak at a women’s conference in London.  As we have sought the wisdom and direction of the Father concerning this possible trip, I have been doing some research into my own family history in England that we began some years ago, but had abandoned.

In our home, we have a framed picture of my great, great grandfather and grandmother, Percival and Isabella Laurence. I have been told by family members that he was the rector at the Church of England in Walesby, and the picture that I have is of my great great grandparents in front of the old rectory in Walesby.

Imagine my great surprise when in doing Google searches, I was able to find both the rectory and the two churches in Walesby; All Saints Church, and Saint Mary’s.  There was also a history of the churches of Walesby that mentioned my great great Grandfather as the rector who was responsible for building Saint Mary’s. Also there was a contact page for the present rector of Walesby, Reverend John Carr.

Because Brenda and I have determined that we should go to London for her to speak, we felt that we must also take extra time to try to see the places that my ancestor had lived and ministered.

Without knowing what I might find out, I sent an email to the Reverend Carr and after I introduced myself and told him that we were coming to England soon, I asked him if he could help me to locate which church my great great grandfather had ministered and the location of the rectory, as well as where he was buried. 

This is the response that I received today.

Dear Mr Laurence,
 Thank you for your most interesting e-mail and apologies  we have not replied sooner but our curate is being ordained priest this Sunday 4th July and apart from lots happening at the Cathedral, we have 100 back here for lunch afterwards.
 Percival Laurence was indeed the Rector of Walesby,  he has a commemorative plaque in St Mary's church and there are many family members in St. Mary's Churchyard, including Percival himself, if my memory is correct. It is true he died the day the new church was built but, as I understand, his body was cremated and interred in the new churchyard once it was complete.
 The baptism register dating back to 1812 has many entries by your ancestor, and rumour has it that he and the parishioners  did not like walking up the hill to the old church (All Saints), especially in the winter and as his age increased, that is why there are two churches in the village.  That register is now kept at Lincoln Archives (in Lincoln- but is available to look at if you make an appointment).
 Unfortunately, the original Rectory was pulled down and the current Rectory was not built until 1927, however we could show you the site of the original Rectory.  There is a photo taken outside Walesby Hall which was next to the old Rectory, and it may be that which you have.  That building is still there so it will be easy to tell.  The old church on the hill is also still open and is used by the Rambling Association as their church. There are occasional services up there, but that is the church your great great grandfather would have worshipped in.
 Where are you travelling from?  We moved here from St. Mary of Eton, Hackney Wick (next door to Homerton) ten years ago and there are some baptists in the area who will still remember us, I am sure. 
 There are many hotels and B and B's in this area to stay in and, please, do make yourselves known to us when you are here.
 With our very best wishes for your trip
John and Liz Carr 

When I read the words, …” this is the church your great great grandfather would have worshipped in.” it was as if Father God Himself reached into my heart and touched me. I could feel what was being done spiritually, emotionally and even physically.  I stopped and began to weep from the depths of my being.  But it was not the weeping of sorrow, it was weeping that comes from the joy of being whole.

In that moment, I felt both connected and complete.  I felt as if Father God had reached back into the past and connected me to all that had come before me while at the same time confirming all that has been spoken prophetically over my life.  I had been both connected to the Godly heritage and ancestry that is mine.  And complete in knowing that the questions and accusations that have come to me over my entire life are all laid to rest.

Because I was adopted, there have been so many times over my life when others would talk of their families and their ancestors with pride and assurance. But as I would think of mine, I would soon remember, “You don’t really know any of that; you’re adopted.” These thoughts would often follow with, “You don’t really belong, or you’re not like everybody else; you don’t fit in.”

These were the malicious attacks of the enemy of my soul, trying to attack my identity and to derail my purpose and my destiny. 

But in a moment of time, in an act of love that only a Father would undertake for a son that He loved and to bring complete healing and wholeness, all those lies and accusations were silenced.

I can’t explain how all this could be or how it works. But this I do know; as surely as my earthly father adopted me into his family and by doing so gave me all the rights and privileges of a child who is born naturally into a family, I was adopted into the family of my Heavenly Father and am a son of the Most High with all my rights and privileges as a son of the King. 

When my earthly father adopted me into his family, I inherited both the natural and the spiritual blessings and callings on this Laurence family – blessings that go back many generations.   I didn’t earn it; I inherited it.  My earthly father paid a price for me to be able to enter his family.  And my heavenly Father paid a price for me to enter His family as well.  I may not have come in to my earthly family by birth, but I came by choice – I was chosen.

And so as we go to England in August we will go on assignment for our Father to do Kingdom business on His behalf. But I will also be going back to reach one hand out to touch my ancestry and my Godly heritage as a man with a calling of God on his life – like my great great grandfather. And I will also continue to reach out with the other hand to touch this generation and the ones to follow, for I am called to be a “heritage maker” and a “father to the fatherless”.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Heart Transplant - You Have a New Heart!

"You will show me the path of life..." Psalms 16:11.  Only Father can show us the path of life - the way of true life - the way of living from our heart.  But for many, the enemy has set up a roadblock to keep us from making much progress down this road. 

One of the biggest roadblocks that the enemy has set up along the way of life is the widespread belief among many Christians that their heart is desperately wicked - even after they have come to Christ.  I mean after all, isn't it in the Bible?  "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9

But wait just a minute - is that verse written about Christians or about people who have not yet given their lives over to God's control?  This  makes a huge difference - an essential difference, because if we believe that our hearts are still wicked and evil even after we have come to Christ we will never experience the kind of abundant life that Jesus came to give us.

There is no question that before we came to Christ, the problem was not just with our behavior; the problem was with our hearts.  Our hearts were cold, hard, evil and full of darkness.  "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adultries, fornications, thefts..."  Matthew 15:19 

But God's answer for our heart problem is not a just a cosmetic procedure: not just a makeover - a little nip and tuck job.  Why?  Because the problem is much deeper than the surface; it goes to the core of our being, to who we really are, to our heart. 

His solution to our heart problem is radical surgery - a heart transplant.  "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will keep My judgements and do them." Ezekiel 36:26-27.

The result of this procedure is that you don't just look a little different; you are totally changed.  Who you are is different - because at the core of your being - your heart, you are different.  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" 1 Corinthians 5:17 

You are no longer who you were, with a heart that is despartely wicked; you have a new heart and that heart is good because it is made in His image and likeness.

The way to make real progress along the path to life is to destroy the roadblock that the enemy has put in your way by telling you that your heart is still wicked and evil. The truth is that your heart is new and it is good because God took your old heart out and gave you a new one. In surgery, when we do a transplant, we don't leave the old heart in and add a new one - the old one is removed and replaced with a new one.

You have had a heart transplant; and your new heart is good.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Keeping Your Heart Healthy

You only have to guard something that is precious or important, or at risk of being damaged or stolen.

You would never leave anything that is valuable or important to you such as jewelry, money, or fine art work out in the open; exposed so that anyone could have access to them. You put them in a place that is safe and guarded, so that nothing can damage them and they can't be stolen. In fact, the greater the value, the more protected you make these objects and the less access you give to anyone who might have the desire or capability to harm or steal them.

Perhaps then, this is why Proverbs 4:23 says, "Guard you heart with all diligence, for out of it flows the issues of life.

Your heart is your most precious possession - not just your physical heart - but your spiritual heart.

Your physical heart is protected from harm by the sternum, ribs and spine; bones that make it difficult for anything to have access to it or damage it. That is because your heart is so vital that you can not live without it. You can live without arms, legs, eyes, ears, a kidney, spleen, appendix, or portions of your liver or intestines or even parts of your brain - but you can not live without your heart.

If your heart is damaged by disease or injury, you are severely limited in what you can do. You can't get the life-giving oxygen that your body needs in order to be healthy and your capacity to live normally is diminished. If it is not healthy - you are not healthy.

In the same way, we must protect our spiritual heart from any thing that would harm it or diminish it's capacity to let the life of God that dwells in it to flow to us. His life flows to us from His Spirit that dwells in us - in our hearts; so we must have an alive, free and healthy spiritual heart to live - to really live in the way we were created to live.

But your heart is the object of a fierce battle. Remember, that you have an enemy who is both skilled and intent on your destruction. If He can't kill your heart, he wants to keep you in bondage and restrict your freedom to live from your heart.

  • Without a healthy heart you cannot love - either God or others.
  • Without a healthy heart you cannot have faith.
  • Without a healthy heart you cannot fulfill your desires, and ultimately your destiny.
  • Without a healthy heart you cannot really live.

So, we must fight for our heart - to keep it free and healthy.

But this is a battle that we can win because Jesus, our Warrior-Savior has defeated our enemy and has given us authority to enforce his defeat.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Healing the Brokenhearted

In Luke 4, we read that Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed..."

If I could paraphrase what He said, it would be:

"I have come to heal your heart and to set you free."

Then in John 10:10, Jesus said, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I have come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.

I love this declaration that Jesus made. We have had this verse in a frame on the wall of our home for over 25 years and I look at it almost every day - at least the last half of the verse - the part about Him coming to give me an abundant life. But the amazing thing to me about this verse is that the wonderful promise of the second half of this verse follows the first half - you know, the part about the thief coming to steal, kill and destroy.

The part about stealing, killing and destroying is real - just as real as the promise that Jesus made about abundant life - and that is a reality that we need to come to grips with as much as the reality of abundant life.

Jesus said that at the same time that He was coming to give us a never ending quantity of God's quality of life, there is also an enemy out there who will try to take away every thing from us that he can.

The enemy is trying to:
  • Steal - your freedom
  • Kill - your heart
  • Destroy - your life

If he can take your heart out, he can take you out. If he can get you to live from your intellect or your outer person - anything except your heart, he will have kept you from experiencing all that Jesus came to give you and make you ineffective against him.

The target of satan is the assault of your heart. If he can he will:

  • Wound you so deeply that you don't want to live from your heart
  • Twist your understanding of who you are so that you think your heart is wicked-even after you are born again
  • Take away your courage so you won't fight for your heart's freedom
  • Destroy your creativity
  • Make you so busy with religious activity that you ignore your heart
  • Make intimacy with God and others impossible

But the superior reality is that Jesus has come to heal our broken hearts and to set us free from anything that would hold us captive and keep us from life.

"I have come to heal your heart and to set you free."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Living From Our Heart

Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)

Our hearts are where our life comes from.

Life was never originally intended to be lived from our outer person or from our intellect. The life that God created for us to live, which is the abundant life that Jesus came to give back to us, is to flow from and be lived from our hearts - hearts that are fully alive and free.

But what would it look like if we were to live from our hearts?

Recently, when Brenda and I were on a short vacation, we were watching a group of young children playing. As I watched them for a short time, Father began to speak to me. He said, "Watch those children and you will get some idea what it is like to live from your heart." As I began to watch more closely, I began to see what He was saying.

These are some of the characteristics that I began to see.

Children are:
  • Accepting of others
  • Full of joy
  • Inquisitive
  • Trusting
  • Enthusiastic and passionate
  • Unedited - they will tell you what they think
  • Open, honest - free to express their emotions
  • Fearless
  • Forgiving

What I saw in those children began to give me a picture of living fully alive and free.

I believe that one of the reasons that we love children and want to be with them is that they show us, at least in a measure, how we were intended to live; and it resonates with our heart.

Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it. (Mark 10:15)

What are some of your thoughts about what it looks like to live from our heart?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Getting Down to the Heart of the Matter

I have been doing heart surgery for over 35 years and I have held over 10,000 hearts in my hands; not many people have had that privelege. After all these years I am still amazed by the physical human heart.

I have observed that there are some intresting correlations between the physical heart and the spiritual heart.

There are three types of problems that affect the physical heart: congenital, traumatic, and acquired. Congenital problems are ones that you are born with, traumatic problems are those that happen to you such as gun shot wounds or lascerations, and acquired problems are those that happen when we don't take care of our hearts, such as coronary artery disease and diseases of the heart valves.

In the same way, we can have spiritual heart problems that are congenital, traumatic, and acquired. We can have congenital problems through generational sin and curses. We have traumatic problems that occur through abuse, neglect, or attacks against our heart that others bring against us. And we can have acquired problems with our heart if we fail to take care of our hearts and keep them free and healthy.

In the Bible, our hearts are God's central concern. To illustrate this point, the heart is mentioned in scripture more than any other subject - 860 times in the Old Testament and 161 times in the New Testament, for a total of 1021 times! It must be of vital importance for so much to be said about our hearts.

Let's focus for a minute on exactly what God means when He talks about our hearts.

The heart is the inner man, the very core and center of life, the innermost part of human personality; it is the essence of our existence and the center of our being.

To sum it up, your heart is the real you - the deepest, truest you.

The Bible says that our hearts can be:

  • cheerful, glad, merry, joyful, rejoicing, or troubled, wounded, pierced, grieved, broken
  • whole or divided
  • wise or foolish
  • steadfast, true, upright, courageous, or freightened, faint, cowardly
  • wandering, forgetful, stubborn, proud, hardened, wicked, perverse or pure and noble

Our hearts contain our emotions and passion, our motives, our conscience, our thoughts, our memory, our creativity, our courage, and our love.

Our hearts are where our life comes from.

In John 10:10, Jesus said the He came to give us life and the life He gives would be abundant.

Abundant life - a never ending quantity of God's quality of life.

But to really experience and enjoy this life that Jesus came to give us, we must realize that life must be lived from a heart that is fully alive and free.

We must come to see that life is not a set of principles or rules to live by; it is not a list of do's and don'ts to perform or avoid. This life can't be managed with programs and steps.

Life was originally intended to be lived from the heart.

The Christian life is really a love affair of the heart.

We love God and others with our whole heart - a heart that is fully alive and free.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Heart Issues

This blog will be about issues of the heart. Why? Because all the things that really matter in life are issues of the heart.

I have a unique perspective about the heart. I have been a Surgical First Assistant in cardiac surgery for over 35 years and have scrubbed on well over 15,000 surgical procedures, so I know a little about the physical human heart. And as a Bible teacher for over 35 years, I am familiar with what God's Word says about the heart.

Proverbs 4:23 says, Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the issues of life. Another translation says, Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it. The New Living says, Above all else guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.

We spend so much time, money and effort to make sure that our physical heart is healthy, because we know that if our heart isn't healthy, we are in deep trouble. But what about our spiritual heart? Are we protecting it and making sure that it is healthy? The heart that we should be most concerned about is our spiritual heart.