Healing Line

Healing Line

Christmas in a Time of Financial Crisis

by Francis MacNutt
Dec 2008

Many of you are suffering grievous financial hardship these days, so you are in special need of hearing God’s word during the hard times at this Christmas. Usually, we think about Christmas in connection with laughter, gifts and feasts. We love to think back on that first Christmas when Jesus was born, surrounded by the joy of the kneeling shepherds and the angels singing, “Alleluia, Glory to God in the Highest.”

But there is another deeper appreciation of Christmas that marvels at how God chose for Jesus to be born into the worst, most abject circumstances—a prophetic prelude to how he would die on the cross.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!   —Phil. 2:6

Can you imagine what Mary’s relatives thought about her being an unwed mother? Even her beloved spouse Joseph thought of “putting her away.” What would Mary have felt at this abandonment? Only later was Joseph convinced by an angel in a dream that Jesus was conceived by the Spirit. Aside from her cousin Elizabeth, she was alone. And Elizabeth didn’t even live in the same town.

Then, when Mary was pregnant, just about ready to give birth, she and Joseph were forced to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, because the Roman occupiers gave orders to enroll in the census. These orders were issued so that the Romans could make up a list so that Joseph and his relatives could be taxed. They couldn’t even find lodging in a cheap inn, and they ended up in the equivalent of a garage. No ordinary birth at home, but this birth had to take place without a physician or midwife to help—just Joseph.

>After the birth, they laid the newborn Jesus in a “manger,” which sounds romantic, but it simply means that his first crib was a feeding trough (manger is French for to eat) for animals. “Swaddling clothes” also makes it sound respectable, but that just means that a first-century diaper was used to wrap Jesus. We use these unfamiliar words to hide the stark, unromantic scene that God set for Jesus’ birth. Born on the road, a member of a despised, captive people who had to walk (are we even sure there was a donkey?) to take part in the census, whose purpose was to help the Romans to better tax the oppressed Jews.

Put yourself in Joseph’s place­­­—an embarrassing position for him to be unable to take care of Mary. He can’t even rent a room to spend the night. No birthing suite for Jesus. No one around to celebrate the birth, until God sends the angels and shepherds to brighten the poverty and welcome Jesus’ birth. And then, a short time later, Herod’s soldiers are on the hunt to kill Jesus, and his little family has to flee to Egypt to live for a time as exiles.

In spite of its poverty, that first Christmas is a deeper consolation for us than if Jesus’ birthday had been an occasion for the jolly time we expect in our own Christmas celebration. Jesus’ birth shows us that God is with us; no matter how dark, how bleak our situation, God will be our companion in it. God does not promise us wealth or freedom from trials, but he gives us strength to survive by going through them with us. “Emmanuel”—God with us.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. —2 Cor. 4:8-12,17-18

Everyone seems to agree that greed is the spiritual root cause of our present financial disaster. Unfortunately, much recent preaching promises us financial prosperity, but the real message of Christianity is that we are in a battle: the God who was able to choose the circumstances into which Jesus should be born, decided upon the simplest, humblest situation possible, so that we might have a companion (Jesus) and an example in overcoming the evils of this fallen world. To our amazement, God, in Jesus, became one of us, through the power of the Spirit.
Never give in then, … never admit defeat, keep on working at the Lord’s work always, knowing that, in the Lord, you cannot be laboring in vain.
—1 Cor. 15:58

In celebrating this confident hope, we wish you a peaceful Christmas.

Francis,
with Judith, Rachel and David


 

A Word to You When Finances Fail
Father Gerald Vann, O.P.

To be poor in spirit is to be … open-handed, to be not too much exercised about legitimate worldly purposes, to be, on the contrary, care-free about success or failure, because whichever it is, it comes from God. To be poor in spirit is to have a childlike trust in Providence, and so to be freed from fear.

To be grasping and possessive is to live always in anxiety and fear of loss; to live in the eternal present is to live in the love that drives out fear. Nihil me separabit—nothing can separate us from love, if love is not what we have, but what we are...

You must be care-free about everything that you have, material or otherwise. All the gifts that God gives us are things for which we must care and yet not care; we are only stewards. You have your own particular gifts and talents, of body and mind and heart: you must be open-handed with them, use them in your love and service of the world, and use them as God’s gifts to you, so that you do not mind if what he has given he should take away: it is not your business; you are only a steward…

Father Vann was an English Dominican and a popular preacher, lecturer, and author. He died in 1963.

 

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Dec 2008 Issue


How Angels Appear at Christmas Then & Now

by Judith MacNutt
Dec 2008

This time of year we all remember the beautiful Christmas story when a host of angels suddenly appeared in the countryside on the night Jesus was born. The shepherds were the ones God chose to see and hear them.  One of the humbling things about our Lord is that he always goes to the people who are out on the fringes; he’s always gathering them in. That’s the heart of God. He gathers in the outcasts and the downtrodden. During Jesus’ lifetime, the shepherds were the ones who were the lowliest in society. There they are, uneducated shepherds, and the angel of the Lord appears to them and proclaims, “This night in Bethlehem …” You can just imagine what it must have been like!

When I lived in Israel, every Christmas Eve I would go out to that special place—they call it the “Shepherd’s Field” —and I would try to imagine what that first Christmas was like, to have seen an angel, and then not only one angel, but the whole sky lit up with a host of angels—all singing “Glory to God in the Highest.” Those are the cherubim who worship our Lord day and night. Those shepherds, of course, were then instructed by the angels to go in haste and find Mary, Joseph and the baby.

Years ago, before I married, but after spending time in Israel, I spent about a year speaking and traveling around America with a friend—Lynne. We went to many small churches to give talks about Israel. One night, we had probably fifteen people in a room where we were going to present a slide show and give our talk. The worship leader, Sandy, had a guitar and she started playing some beautiful worship songs. I’d been around Christians most of my life, so I knew most of the Christian songs. But I didn’t recognize any of these songs, and they were all remarkable. So at the end of the evening, I walked over to her and asked, “Did you write those songs?” She said, “No, I wish I could say I did.” I replied, “Well, who did write them?”  She answered, “The angels.” I asked, “Well, how did that happen?”  She said, “I used to go into the desert wilderness; I would take my guitar and praise God. The second time that I was there, the angels appeared, and they sang the songs you just heard.” They were incredible worship songs.  

One night when she was leaving the desert, she walked past a rundown cabin where an old man was sitting alone in a rocking chair, just rocking back and forth. He saw the guitar on her shoulder and asked, “Have you been out there singing with the angels?” She said, “You’ve heard them?” He replied, “Oh, they sing every night. That’s why I sit on the porch.”

Often God sends these marvelous angels to help us worship when we are praying in large services. Many times I have had a note handed to me saying that the whole ceiling seemed to disappear, as well as the whole back wall, and the person has seen Jesus come into the room, followed by many of his holy angels. Then Jesus goes to different people and lays his hands on them. When he’s finished praying for a person, an angel will come and continue ministering.  I’ve had this same message given to me probably a dozen times now. (I believe that it’s true because I, too, have seen them come into and auditorium.) People experience angels frequently; especially when someone is dying, that person will say, “The angels are here.”

Did you know that angels often take on physical bodies? (We read that in Genesis 18, Luke 1:26.)  They sometimes will appear as a person you know—so as not to frighten you. When we think about it, what do angels always say when they appear to people? “Fear not!” When we see angels in their angelic bodies, they can be very frightening, because they usually are large (such as nine feet tall). They are other-worldly looking, so sometimes they will take on the physical body of a human being. I personally don’t think it’s a real body; I think they are just taking on that appearance for a time. Sometimes they appear like a person who looks very comforting. I have heard testimonies, too, where they even have taken on a child’s body.

Mostly, people get their ideas about what angels look like from art. I’ve visited many famous art museums throughout the world, and usually we see the cherubim as little fat angels; they are small, semi-clad, and kind of fat and chubby. I think those artists must never have seen a real angel or they would never have portrayed them that way. Throughout art history, this image has been duplicated and passed down, so now we buy them as ornaments to hang on our Christmas trees, portrayed as cute little fat cherubim. And I think that’s why we trivialize their power in our minds. We buy them every Christmas and give them away as presents.

When God opens our spiritual eyes, we may see the kingdom of God that’s all around us. We think of heaven too often as if it were some other planet. Jesus said, “Open your eyes.” I believe he sometimes gives us spiritual eyes and spiritual ears, so that we can see and hear the angelic host all around us. We are part of the kingdom of God. That’s our great joy, and these angels are constantly battling to enlarge the kingdom of God, not only in your life but in the lives of those to whom you will minister. They didn’t just come to us 2000 years ago; they are still helping us to enlarge the kingdom of God. So when you are praying deliverance with someone, or you are praying for healing, ask God to send his holy angels. “Father, if it’s your will, send the angels; let them minister here, both with us and through us.

Then watch what happens.


Judith MacNutt Judith MacNutt is the Founding Director and President of CHM. Dec 2008 Issue


A Healing Place

by Jim Francis
Dec 2008

Many years ago God gave Francis and Judith a vision of a healing place. This would be a place where people could come from all over the world to receive healing, be taught the biblical principles of healing and be equipped to bring the gospel of healing to millions of others. Since then, Francis and Judith have traveled through various states and nations teaching and administering healing to thousands.

The reality of this vision is taking place now at a 6o acre site in Jacksonville. The land is ideally set with cathedral oaks, beautiful marsh land, pristine waterfront and abundant wildlife. It is a setting where the presence of the Holy Spirit is apparent in the quiet of the natural setting. The CHM staff and various board members continue to plan for the future use of the land for a conference center with prayer cottages tucked gently between the massive oaks. The theme of the most recent meeting was to maintain the nature and style of the property in the structures and to make as small a footprint as possible so that every visitor feels the majesty and glory of God.

Last month CHM held a conference in Jacksonville where participants from 37 nations gathered for a week long healing sessions under the leadership of Francis and Judith and the CHM staff. The conference was outstanding and all present witnessed God’s healing. Imagine the difference, however, if the conference were held at the new healing center instead of a cold hotel. Also, imagine how many more thousands of people could be healed and taught to bring healing if we were not constrained by scheduling and renting space at hotels.

What can you do? Pray for God to shower down the resources on CHM for completing the new center. Go to our website, www.christianhealingmin.org, and see the information about the site. Email us to show your interest in the project at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or simply click “DONATE” on the website.


Jim Francis is a member of the Board of Directors of CHM, as well as the Chair of the Capital Campaign Committee. Dec 2008 Issue


A Non Traditional Christmas Story

by Linda Strickland
Dec 2008

I love the Christmas season. The whole world seems to take on a special glow—enhanced by all of the sparkle and glitter, the twinkling lights and the shiny wrapping paper covering carefully selected gifts. It’s the time of year that we entertain family and friends, and make a special effort to call or send greeting cards to people we hold dear in our hearts.

We, as Christians, also celebrate Christmas by re-enacting the birth of Jesus with church pageants and lawns decorated with manger scenes and lighted choirs of angels.

It is truly a joyful and happy time of year.

Some time ago, someone gave me a lapel pin that read “Jesus is the Greatest Gift of All.” I couldn’t agree more. As a matter of fact, my husband and I decided to drop out of the “frantic shoppers club” several years ago. We buy a few things, but for the most part, we just simply enjoy the season with visits and special meals with family and friends. It has also become our custom to “ring the bell” for the Salvation Army, and buy a few toys for children who, would otherwise, not have anything under the tree on Christmas morning.

Reading the Christmas Story in Luke chapter 2 has always been our tradition on Christmas Eve, but a few years ago, I was encouraged to read Revelation 12 in its place. This powerful chapter opened my eyes to the intense warfare that must have been going on in the spiritual realm, during the birth of our Lord Jesus.

I love all of the characters in the Christmas story: Mary and Joseph, the farm animals, the shepherds, the wise men, the host of angels, and of course baby Jesus. But to be honest with you, I had never thought about warring angels, demons and dragons as characters in the story as well. But surely they were there too. A fierce battle took place that Christmas night as the Savior of the world was being born.

And so—I invite you to read this astounding passage of scripture as an added account of the Christmas Story. Although this passage is from the Book of Revelation, it is a convincing image of what most likely took place (between heaven and hell) on that splendid Christmas night.



Revelation 12 (NLT)

The Woman and the Dragon

Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance. I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant, and she cried out because of her labor pains and the agony of giving birth.

Then I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth. He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born.

She gave birth to a son who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to care for her for 1,260 days.

Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.

Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—
salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
has been thrown down to earth—
the one who accuses them
before our God day and night.
And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
that they were afraid to die.
Therefore, rejoice, O heavens!
And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!
But terror will come on the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you in great anger,
knowing that he has little time.”

When the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But she was given two wings like those of a great eagle so she could fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness. There she would be cared for and protected from the dragon for a time, times, and half a time.

Then the dragon tried to drown the woman with a flood of water that flowed from his mouth. But the earth helped her by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that gushed out from the mouth of the dragon. And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.



In addition to the powerful spiritual battle this passage portrays, it is significant to recognize that we (you and me) are the children, referred to in the final sentence, which a war has been waged against.

And the battle continues….

This year, as you celebrate our Savior’s birth, I would like to encourage you to feast on God’s amazing love for you. “For God loved the world so much that he gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) NLT

Merry Christmas! And may the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.


Linda Strickland Linda Strickland is the Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt. Dec 2008 Issue