By Leanne Payne from her newsletter archives, March, 1987
There are a few things in life more comforting than Christian friends who understand what ministry on a fallen planet is all about. Through the years, Carol Kraft (Professor of German, Wheaton College) has sent cards or cartoons that ever after find a place on the wall of my workspace for ready referral when needed. She is a treasured confidant, one in whom I can confide my deepest concerns, for she is not only a true friend, but one who has learned how to listen. She really hears whatever it is I’m struggling to put into words, then has the knack of finding a picture message that either exactly expresses it, or helps me to come to terms with the difficulty. One such card is reproduced below (marked as an original by Desclozeaux to give the proper credit), and it certainly illustrates the miraculous as we Christians so often experience it:
Isn’t that wonderful! It would be difficult to find a truer picture of the sheer grace God gives us to not only overcome, but survive the impossible; or one of how this grace is experienced: as we inch, a straight and steady line through a fallen, hostile world to our true home.
I’m sure there are many of you, who, like myself, are facing the impossible in terms of what God has called you to do and to be. Perhaps calamity, in the form of circumstances so irrational and dark that they could only have been engineered by the powers of darkness, is even now barreling towards you. The blow is calculated to maim or to crush, to stop you right in your tracks. But God’s message to His own is ever the same: “My power, and the strength that I give you, is sufficient. Call upon it, ask for it, see if I will not cause all grace to abound toward you!” Saint Paul knew and taught with all his might this great truth: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (II Cor 9:8)
The word that Saint Paul uses to describe the grace of God is polupoikilos which means many-colored. William Barkley, commenting on Eph 3:8-13 says that, “The idea in this word is that the grace of God will match with any situation which life may bring us. There is nothing of light or dark, of sunshine or of shadow, for which it is not triumphantly adequate.” No matter what we are struggling with, as ministers, or as suffering persons who desperately need forgiveness and healing, God’s grace is sufficient. Jesus, with implicit faith in the Father, said it all, when He looked directly at his troubled disciples, and said: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt 19:26)
Be blessed by this brief teaching and prayer from Leanne Payne’s archives. To come into Christ’s presence is to be converted, healed, and to become a source of His life for others! By His Spirit, living waters flow up and out of each of us, bringing new life to a thirsty, dying world.
Becoming Virtuous Persons By Leanne Payne from her newsletter archives, Fall 1996
Run your lives by the Spirit. Then you will not do what your old nature wants. Galatians 5:16 Jewish New Testament
To be led by Christ is to walk in the Spirit, and to walk in the Spirit has this ennobling corollary: its wondrous flipside, as it were, is ongoing death to the Old Man.
For the old nature wants what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is contrary to the old nature. These oppose each other, so that you find yourselves unable to carry out your good intentions. But if you are led by the Spirit, then you are not in subjection to the system that results from perverting the Torah into legalism. Galatians 5:17,18 JNT
When we walk in the Spirit, the Lord creates in us the fruits and gifts of His character – we become virtuous persons. What a wonderful word virtue is; what a wonderful epithet to have – that of being a virtuous person. And in union with Christ, we can all be that. The biblical texts above were penned by St. Paul, one who before his conversion put Christians to death; yet, he who considered himself to have been the “chiefest of sinners” became one of the greatest men in history. A man full of Christ, full of virtue.
Most moderns have to ask themselves what exactly is this thing called virtue. Well, first of all it is a quality and C. S. Lewis helps us understand this:
A man who perseveres in doing just actions gets in the end a certain quality of character. Now it is that quality rather than the particular actions which we mean when we talk of “virtue.” This distinction is important for the following reason. If we thought only of the particular actions we might encourage three wrong ideas:
1) We might think that, provided you did the right thing, it did not matter how or why you did it….But the truth is that right actions done for the wrong reason do not help to build the internal quality or character called a “virtue,” and it is this quality or character that really matters. 2) We might think that God wanted simply obedience to a set of rules: whereas He really wants people of a particular sort. [See St. Paul’s words above about perverting Torah into legalism.] 3) We might think that the “virtues” were necessary only for this present life….The point is not that God will refuse you admission to His eternal world if you have not got certain qualities of character: the point is that if people have not got at least the beginnings of those qualities inside them then no possible external conditions could make them happy with the deep, strong, unshakable kind of happiness God intends for us.
The Spirit of Truth By Leanne Payne from her newsletter archives, Fall 1990
Christian Suffering and Persecution
Frank Peretti’s novel, This Present Darkness, brings home to many the nature of suffering that accompanies spiritual warfare. Many Christians are overwhelmed at the nature of the evil and ungodliness that is today so highly energized and powerful as it takes over civic, political, and churchly structures. Just this past week, the newspapers in Illinois were carrying articles about concerned parents who were finding witchcraft and other such obscenities in school textbooks. One friend, in a chaplaincy, finds himself on a hospital staff with other chaplains who either practice sexual perversion or openly approve it in others. In some of them, there is an acknowledged and overt hatred of God, and one of the ways this is manifested is through (even as the Beast of Revelation) their blasphemies and slanders against the Name of God. This situation, a deeply entrenched one, is in a “Christian” Hospital. Unfortunately, such a situation is not rare today, and is usually “politically” protected. This chaplain is in the midst of a truly terrible warfare. He sees what the helpless and the dying are treated to, and receives against himself the bitterest hatred, derision and persecution. He is called to be a witness in that place. Two other friends, active in a Diocese full of the same, find themselves having to stand alone, often on powerful committees, where sexual perversion is not only approved, but where there is continual lobbying for the ordination of priests who are involved in it (all of this in the face of rampant HIV positive and full-blown AIDS cases among homosexual clergy who are already ordained). Christians, like my friends above, precious brothers and sisters in Christ, are called to stand, and speak the truth in the power of the spirit in the midst of demonized warfare.
In these cases, as Dr. Richard Lovelace writes, one’s authority in spiritual conflict takes “on a new significance which is much broader than individual defensive spiritual warfare. Not only can we expect to carry out offensive warfare which takes ground away from Satan in the exorcism of persons, we can also undertake, when we have liberty from God to do so, the exorcism of structures occupied by demonic forces–not only fallen structures in the church in the process of reformation and revival, but also fallen structures in society which are instruments of injustice” [See Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, pp 384. See 381-386].
Practicing the Presence of The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth
When we find ourselves in the midst of decidedly unholy situations, indeed, ones that are rife with and energized by the lies and activities of demons, it is then that — in God’s Presence and power — we stand. And it is wonderful, at all times, but especially in these hard moments, to reflect on the fact that the Holy Spirit, sent to us by Christ, is the Spirit of Truth.
In writing on the practice of the Presence of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I’ve perhaps said less in regard to specific special ways of practicing the Presence of the Spirit. But, increasingly, as in situations I’ve just mentioned, I find myself invoking the Holy Spirit, and praising Him as the Spirit of Truth. And this is what I find myself saying over and over again to precious beleaguered brethren, “Do you know that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth! Invoke His Presence! Speak His truth. It may not be accepted right now, but it will sit on the heads of these people until they acknowledge it.” True enough, there will be some who will not be converted by what they hear, but one day, even they, as the Scriptures say, will bow the knee before God and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
What a wonderful and mysterious power truth is. How it sits atop the most resistant head, and darts into the darkest heart. That head and heart may not choose to act on the truth, or to acknowledge it, it may even repress it very deeply, but once truth is spoken, there is a place in the human heart that knows it has heard truth, and it will have to wrestle with it from then on. It is the truth, and Truth Himself, that changes people, and structures, and nations.
I have a young friend who gets mixed up on what it means to be a witness. She sometimes therefore finds herself trying to “change” people — especially those she loves. We are not called to change people, to order or control their lives. We do not transgress their wills, or attempt to coerce them into personal conversions or changes. Rather, we are called to speak the truth, to be the truth, and the truth is what changes people.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for sending us such a Comforter, such an Advocate, such a Counselor and Guide, such a Holy Spirit! Come, Spirit of Truth, and move powerfully in and through us to the healing of Your World.
RECOMMENDED READING: Dynamics of Spiritual Life by Richard Lovelace, Ch. 4, the section entitled, “The Indwelling Holy Spirit,” pp 119. This portion important, for Dr. Lovelace shows very clearly there the theological misunderstandings some Christians have in regard to the Third Person of the Trinity, those that would hamper them from such a practice of the Presence as I outline above.
from Leanne Payne’s Newsletter Archives, Fall 2004
The following, reprinted by permission of Dr. Bryan N. Maier, first appeared in Trinity Seminary’s alumni magazine. A fuller development of these issues is available (see last paragraph of this article), and we recommend it for those needing more information. In the fuller exposition, entitled A Theological Analysis of Theophostic Ministry, the editors indicate plans to deal with other things besides the issues of sin and healing, and we look forward to those articles as well.
Evaluating “Theophostic” Ministry, by Bryan N. Maier, Psy.D.
Bryan N. Maier, Psy.D., is Assistant Professor of Pastoral Counseling and Psychology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is a member of the American Association for Christian Counseling, American Psychological Association, Christian Association for Psychological Studies, and the International Society for the HistorBryan N. Maier, Psy.Dy of the Behavioral Sciences. His area of interest is the integration of theology and psychology.
During the spring of 2001, I received a call from a pastor asking me to articulate the position of the Pastoral Counseling and Psychology Department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School on Theophostic Ministries (hereafter referred to as TPM). Although I responded that our department is diverse and does not typically take a formal “position” on issues, I had to admit that I myself did not know enough about TPM to be of any help. After receiving several more such requests, I began to investigate TPM in some depth. I watched the current set of instructional videos, read the accompanying handbook, and interviewed people who had attended TPM seminars and several who claim to have benefited from this ministry. Finally, I had a brief discussion with Ed Smith, founder of TPM, during a Christian counseling conference in the fall of 2001.
Ed Smith coined the term theophostic from two Greek words that literally mean “God’s light.” The main idea of TPM is that God will shine his light on a particular lie that is embedded in the mind of a trauma victim, thus freeing him or her from the unnecessary emotional associations and reactions based on viewing the lie as true. The most common paradigm is that of an abuse victim who persists in blaming herself somehow for the abuse and thus cannot enter meaningfully into intimate relationships with others. Theophostic protocol would involve [directing] the client to focus her mind back on the abuse and any corresponding feelings. These feelings will be predictably intense and negative due to the belief in the lie (i.e., “it was my fault”). It is at this point that the TPM facilitator invites Jesus to come and speak truth to the situation (Jesus might say, “It was not your fault”), thus breaking forever the disabling power of that particular lie. This lie never has to be addressed again because its power has been forever broken. Thus the person can enjoy permanent recovery as opposed to merely “tolerable” recovery, as Smith refers to more standard forms of therapy.
Soon after launching his ministry, Smith apparently received some criticism that TPM did not have appropriate theological or biblical support. This prompted him to revise his manual. One of the major goals of this revision, according to Smith, was to “supplement a more thorough theological basis for Theophostic Ministry for the ‘show me where it is in the Bible’ group:* Because Smith now claimed that he had a theological basis for what he was doing, I was very interested to see what this basis was.
After the conference in the fall of 2001, Dr. Phil Monroe (an assistant professor at Biblical Seminary) and I began a two year project to analyze the theological soundness of TPM. We limited ourselves to works written by Smith, as the creator and founder of TPM, rather than trying to chase down everything currently practiced under the name “theophostic:” We further limited ourselves to two primary theological topics that would be of interest to Christian counselors specifically. These topics were sin and healing.
Our concerns with TPM’s teaching on these two topics were so significant that we concluded our article in Trinity Journal (Fall 2003) by recommending great caution before using TPM either as a client or as a facilitator. For this article, I will only outline briefly my concern with TPM’s view of sin. We have three main concerns with TPM’s teaching on sin.
First, Smith’s emphasis on the dichotomy between a believer’s sinless new “heart” and the residual storehouse of lies housed in the “mind” creates confusion about the nature of sin in the life of a saint. Smith appears to be advocating some modified version of the trichotomy position (that we are composed of body, soul, and spirit), claiming that only our minds retain effects of the fall and these effects consist primarily of lies inserted before salvation. This attempt to “pigeonhole” the exact mental or psychic structure from which sin emerges creates more problems than it solves. Scripture either teaches more structures than Smith advocates or, more probably, Scripture is not as particular about identifying and itemizing our inner being into discrete structures. (See Matt. 22:37 and other such passages where there seems to be an overlap.)
Second, Smith emphasizes how a person becomes saddled with lies but minimizes the person’s own role in the construction and maintenance of his or her lies. According to TPM, most of our lies come from either childhood naivete, an adult’s deception, or demonic influence. All of these are external sources, and yet Scripture seems to teach that our very hearts are deceitful (Jer. 17:9) and that we come into the world already proficient at twisting and denying the truth (Ps. 58:3).
The final and gravest concern I have is that in TPM our sin is not viewed as seriously as our wounds. Because TPM views woundedness as the root of sinfulness, woundedness becomes a deeper problem than our sin. This means logically that woundedness must be addressed first before sinfulness can be effectively confronted. All of this leads to a minimization of the seriousness of sin, which in turn minimizes the glory of forgiveness and repentance. Finally, because we need to be healed more than we need to be forgiven, this approach renders traditional spiritual disciplines practically powerless without some kind of theophostic experience to “trigger” their effectiveness.
Shedding God’s light on a person or a subject is always a good thing. However, in our search for some new experiential manifestation of that light, let us not forsake the numerous and bountiful means of light (e.g., God’s Word, sanctification by the Holy Spirit, being in community with other believers, and the spiritual disciplines) which God has already graciously bestowed upon us.
For documentation and a fuller development of these issues, see B. Maier & P. Monroe, “A Theological Analysis of Theophostic Ministries,” Trinity Journal (Fall 2003). For more information or to subscribe to Trinity Journal (a theological journal published twice yearly by Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), call 630.562.4074 or visit www.tiu.edu/trinityjournal.
*Ed Smith, Beyond Tolerable Recovery, 4th ed. (Cambellsville, Ky.: Family Care, 2000), 2.
In the following letter to the Editor of the Trinity Magazine, Valerie McIntyre expresses some of PCM’s concerns regarding Theophostics, and expresses our relief that this theological work is being done and will be ongoing.
Dear Editor: Thank you for publishing Dr. Bryan Maier’s article, Evaluating “Theophostic” Ministry. His scholarly examination of this ministry raises important questions about its theological and psychological underpinnings. Dr. Maier provides vital information for Christian leaders wanting to protect people from faddish, method-driven conceptions of healing.
Dr. Maier is perhaps too charitable toward this spiritual/therapeutic enterprise that has been widely disseminated through the Internet, videos, and a super-easy licensure program for “Theophostic counselors.” Those they counsel are often deeply wounded Christians who are frightened by traditional psychology and disillusioned by the institutional church. Sadly, they are attracted to Mr. Smith’s promises of “maintenance-free healing.” With this and other consumer oriented slogans Theophostics is being sold to undiscerning Christians. The results, however, can be devastating, as evidenced in the lives of many people I’ve met at our conferences in the last seven years.
Many, though they received initial help through the Theophostic prayer method, found that their painful feelings and dysfunctional patterns did not disappear entirely as promised. Theophostic counselors then led them into dangerous fantasies to explain the difficulties—fantasies preoccupied with the occult and what they term satanic ritual abuse (SRA). Furthermore, in most cases their Theophostic counselors “diagnosed” their difficulty as “dissociative identity disorder” (DID)—a most serious diagnosis and one that amateur counselors should not make. The topics of Mr. Smith’s “advanced training seminars” confirm that his teaching about DID/SRA is a central focus of his ministry. It is a bizarre, even paranoid, one-size-fits-all approach to Christian healing.
I sincerely hope that Dr. Maier’s article will inspire other Christian scholars to tackle what is amiss in Theophostics and to sound the needed alarm to Evangelicals.
For a Christian leader to get sin wrong is to set the stage for a heretical movement, and these movements are proliferating at this time. We are especially aware of them as they impact and pervert the healing ministry of the church, a ministry that has everything to do with the confession of sin. In the case of Theophostics, the theological errors move in tandem with the most egregious psychological ones. These combine to assure failures with regard to understanding, among other things, the symbolic nature of the imagery abreacted in prayer and in dreams,** and this has made them the offender in the false memory syndrome. This is very serious, for there is great need for understanding healing of memories if we are to see the healing of persons take place in the church of today. What is healing of memories? For teaching on this, see chapter 6 of Restoring the Christian Soul Through Healing Prayer. The following is a brief excerpt adapted from that chapter:
Healing of memories means forgiveness of sin. It is the heart’s experience of forgiveness of sin at the precise sore spot where it is needed, one that impacts the soul in its totality–in its emotional, feeling, intuitive, imaginative capacities as well as in its more conscious, willing, thinking capacities. This place may be at any level of consciousness or unconsciousness. Nothing illustrates God’s Healing Presence more wonderfully than His way of healing man’s deepest hurts and memories.
Agnes Sanford coined the term at a time when very little healing was flowing through the church’s formal confessional or informal prayer groups. The reason was that the central truth of God’s forgiveness of sin, along with all the great spiritual realities of the Kingdom of God, had been largely relegated to the abstract. Victims of the schism between head and heart, we could “talk doctrine” but couldn’t experience its healing power. We could not get it from our heads to our hearts.
Some could still preach great sermons about the forgiveness of sin, but could not administer it to the heart in need of it. In the church today, this is still largely true. The soul in need of healing is suffering due to this same schism. The head and the heart simply are not working in a complementary fashion. The heart perhaps knows something the head does not, or conversely, the head needs to rightly comprehend and then critique what is in the heart. As Agnes Sanford writes:
The truth is that any wound to the soul so deep that it is not healed by our own self-searching and prayers is inevitably connected with a subconscious awareness of sin, either our own sins or our grievous reactions to the sins of others. The therapy that heals these deep wounds could be called the forgiveness of sins, or it could be called the healing of memories. Whatever one calls it, there are in many of us wounds so deep that only the mediation of someone else to whom we may “bare our grief” can heal us.
When someone bares his grief to us, no matter whether we are a priest, psychologist, minister, counselor, or layperson, we are to lead the person in confessional prayers. We may need to learn how to pray for the forgiveness of we know not what in the past history of his family. For example, Nehemiah and other Old Testament prophets offered prayers such as: “I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you” (Nehemiah 1:6b). Or we may need to help the person forgive the circumstances of a lifetime. The point I want to stress is that we are hearing confessions of sin, and after these sins are acknowledged and repented of, we must never forget to proclaim the forgiveness of that sin as well as release from the bondage of the sins of others against us. This is the way souls find healing.
Most often, the Holy Spirit leads very specifically in what to confess and whom to forgive, but when the case is more nebulous (for example, a whole family is sick due to unconfessed sin that goes back through the generations), we need to look to God for direction in forming prayers of confession and forgiveness that will break the power of unconfessed sins over our lives. This is necessary because our woundedness and sin are related to breaks in our relationships. In order for these breaks to be set right, we must confess them. Is the break between myself and God? Myself and others? Within my own inner self am I at war? The fallen condition is a crisis in separation, and within the trauma of broken relationships resides our illnesses and identity crises. It is through prayer that relationships are mended (or at least forgiveness extended for the brokenness) and that our souls are healed of their grievous lacks due to failed relationships in the past.
King David understood this healing very well: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I did not hide. I said I will confess my transgressions to the Lord (continually unfolding the past till all is told) then You (instantly) forgave me the guilt and iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5, The Amplified Bible).
** For teaching on the symbolic ways the heart knows and images, see Part Three of The Healing Presence, beginning with chapter 8 and following, and for more of the practical outworking of this knowledge, see Restoring the Christian Soul Through Healing Prayer. All of my books deal with the need for understanding imagery and symbol, the language of the heart, for that is the “stuff” of the wounded mind and heart.
By Leanne Payne from her newsletter archives, Fall 1990
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6]
Over and over again, He Who is the Truth prefaced His sayings with, “I tell you the truth…. l tell you the truth…. I tell you the truth.” You may want to run the references in the Scriptures to see how often He did this. One of the truths He tells us is the true condition of our hearts.
As a Christian theologian and historian, Richard Lovelace in his book, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, chronicles our loss of the understanding of sin, and of its depth within the human heart. To dwell in the Presence of a Holy and Sovereign God, is not only to know Him, but it is to begin to know ourselves. And when we gain true self-knowledge, we recognize the depths of sin that afflicts the human heart, and thereby characterizes fallen man. In Chapter 3, “Preconditions of Continuous Renewal,” Dr. Lovelace, after showing how sin was perceived before the 18th Century within the Church, writes:
During the late nineteenth century, while the church’s understanding of the unconscious motivation behind surface actions was vanishing, Sigmund Freud rediscovered this factor and recast it in an elaborate and profound secular mythology. One of the consequences of this remarkable shift is that in the twentieth century pastors have often been reduced to the status of legalistic moralists, while the deeper aspects of the cure of souls are generally relegated to psychotherapy, even among Evangelical Christians.
But the structure of sin in the human personality is something far more complicated than the isolated acts and thoughts of deliberate disobedience commonly designated by the word. In its biblical definition, sin cannot be limited to isolated instances or patterns of wrongdoing; it is something much more akin to the psychological term complex: an organic network of compulsive attitudes, beliefs and behavior deeply rooted in our alienation from God. Sin originated in the darkening of the human mind and heart as man turned from the truth about God to embrace a lie about him and consequently a whole universe of lies about his creation. Sinful thoughts, words and deeds flow forth from this darkened heart automatically and compulsively, as water from a polluted fountain. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). This is echoed in Jesus’ words: “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil” (Mt. 12:33- 35).
The human heart is now a reservoir of unconscious disordered motivation and response, of which unrenewed persons are unaware if left to themselves, for “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). It is as if they were without mirrors and suffering from tunnel vision: they can see neither themselves clearly nor the great peripheral area around their immediate experience (God and supernatural reality). At the two most crucial loci of their understanding, their awareness of God and of themselves, they are almost in total darkness, although they may attempt to remedy this by framing false images of themselves and God. Paul describes this darkness of the unregenerate mind: “Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” (Eph. 4: 17-18). The mechanism by which this unconscious reservoir of darkness is formed is identified in Rom. 1:18-23 as repression of traumatic material, chiefly the truth about God and our condition, which the unregenerate constantly and dynamically “hold down.” Their darkness is always a voluntary darkness, though they are unaware that they are repressing the truth.
When we pray, as we continually do in PCM, “Help us to lift high your Cross, 0 Lord,” we are crying out for the anointing to preach the good news of Christ’s death for us in such a way as every soul can yield up it deepest sin, its individual sins, its deeply ingrained patterns of sin, — so that these might flow into Christ Crucified and that the soul might receive all that Christ’s death has won for him. Forgiveness of sin, justification, sanctification, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and authority over evil and the evil one– all of these things Dr. Lovelace goes on to write about in ways that are profound, yet readily accessible to the mind that is not theologically trained. The theological understanding he brings here is crucial to the healing ministry. I urge all who teach and minister to consider this book as the great resource that it is.
One of the reasons I picked it up and finished all 400 plus pages was for its Chapter 8, “How Revivals Go Wrong.” He writes of “aberrant revival” and of the false things that come in to destroy the true. The waters of renewal are badly muddied today, and we are seeing false emphases and imbalances, as well as the outright spurious. Those of you deeply concerned about these matters at this time will appreciate the historical precedents Dr. Lovelace, as historian, points out, and will be better enabled to intercede for the church worldwide.
By Leanne Payne from her newsletter archives, Summer, 1993
The Cross is the Abyss of Wonders,
the Centre of Desires, the Schole of Virtues, the Hous of Wisdom, the Throne of Love, the Theatre of Joys and the Place of Sorrow;
It is the Root of Happiness,
and the Gate of Heaven.
Thomas Traherne, Centuries of Meditations
I know of no modern poet who could have penned these words. There may be such a one whose lifelong meditation on Christ’s act of redeeming the world approaches the depth of the understanding this seventeenth-century Anglican poet-clergyman had, but he would have to be described, along with the likes of C. S. Lewis, as a dinosaur that somehow miraculously survived, and then suddenly appeared in this our time with its full Judeo-Christian symbolic system intact.
I read Traherne’s words to the precious folk in Denmark. I can still see the astonishment on one young man’s face. His was a wonderful one that reflected utter amazement and mutely shouted, “What in the world do such words as those mean?” Perhaps for some of you one phrase stood out. Write out that phrase in your journal just now, and then listen to God about what it means. Let the Scriptures speak to you anew of Christ’s Cross, and allow them to illumine the phrase that touched your soul. Whole books could be written on single phrases of Traherne’s eulogy. Don’t try to do that (just yet!), but begin to write out what echoed in your heart as you heard that truth.
Those of you whose hearts particularly resonated to the Cross as the “Abyss of Wonders” should not read the following until you’ve meditated upon it for yourselves. This is how it echoed in Andy Comiskey’s heart:
This means freedom from fear. No matter what man has done to me, or will do. No matter how badly I have fallen and have incurred the consequences, all that raises its head above the Lordship of Christ will die.
It dies as I dare to allow Jesus to reveal my sin or that of another against me. I believe such revelation is a risk – to face one’s blackness, to step off the ground of one’s own seeming wholeness and into the abyss of brokenness.
But that is where Jesus is found. He descended into the abyss. In His crucifixion, He was swallowed up by the blackness but not extinguished. In truth, the deeper He descended and the weaker He became, the more He revealed His power
For the abyss finds its end in Jesus. He established the ground of the abyss by planting Himself at its darkest, most sordid point, and then unfurling Himself there, in glory. He frees the disfigured to rise with Him in newness of life, in order to restore them to their true design.
Our private and interpersonal abysses find their end in Jesus. He establishes the wonder of His love and creativity in those formerly hateful and barren places. He unfurls there and raises up one like myself to proclaim His substantial truth on the very ground once claimed by the darkness.
Andy Comiskey, Denmark, 1993
I italicized the last sentence of the above in order to point out the incarnational reality inherent in Andy’s words. The weapons of our warfare are incarnational; they have to do with the Real Presence of God with and within us. If I stand and preach the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, and am not living in its incredible, substantive reality, if in other words, I am not married to Christ, and thereby a vessel that both holds and emanates His righteousness, I will be unable to speak and to be the truth our age is dying to hear. This gospel, in its incarnational form, that is, preached in the power of the Presence, delivers souls from the spirit of this age. It gains us a full divorce from Baal and Ashtoroth, Molech and Mammon, and espouses us to God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It heals. I will do no good, no matter what I say and teach, if I am not myself a living epistle, one from whom the very Light and the very Holiness, and the very Glory of God Himself emanates — even explodes into the lives of others who hunger for God and for meaning.
And that means I will be all the more human, fully human. The earth was given to us, the Scriptures tell us. I’ll be of the earth, earthy, feet flat on the ground, toes dug into the good earth, cherishing it. Yet I’ll be looking straight up to God, hands stretched up and out to Ultimate Reality, aware that God’s Spirit lives in me, aware of my immortality and that the more fully human I am, the greater capacity I have to carry and manifest the eternal, the heavenly.
You may want to share what the Lord speaks to your heart in regard to one of Traherne’s phrases. Address such a sharing to MPC, P. O. Box 3792, Peoria IL 61612-3792. Also, you may want to share about a healing you have received in a MPC conference, and we invite you to write that out as well. To write the story of our healing is nearly always to understand and receive more! We are listening in the Presence and celebrating God’s mighty hand upon our lives.
By Leanne Payne from her newsletter archives, Easter, 1986
“We are not sent to battle for God, but to be used by God in His battlings.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, 1/19
“… it matters enormously if I alienate anyone from the truth.” C. S. Lewis, Problem of Pain
The old verities, the true nature of God and of His revelation to us in and through Christ, can never be yielded up. There are things we can disagree about, and variously stress, but we must always and earnestly contend for the essentials of the faith. Today little heresies (that will grow to be very large later on) are popping up in places we’d never expect to find them. Large ones too. Of course! Where else but the Church, where else but where revival and renewal are earnestly sought! This has been true throughout the ages, and heresies have served the Church in that they keep her humbled and alert, studious and prayerful. They force her to clarify and define, for each succeeding generation of Christians, “the faith once delivered to the saints” Jude v. 3.
But one of the things characterizing the current scene that concerns me most is the lack of love for truth itself. One devout, highly respected theologian, after trying to deal with the individuals responsible for spreading error, recently said to me in utter amazement, “They do not care about truth!” What they did care about were other’s feelings, how others thought about them, and about how things looked to other people. All this reflects the spirit of the age, one that loudly proclaims there is no ultimate truth to be known. Our love for Christ and for others is sentimentalized and even grossly psychologized when we no longer honor and care for the truth that is accessible to the holy intellect, i.e., reason enlightened by the Spirit of God in and with His people.
“Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.” Prov. 23:23
But we live in a day when many of our leaders find it oddly difficult to contend for the truth. The spiritual, moral and intellectual sinew needed to confront and replace the false with the true is oddly disengaged, missing. This has to do with the crisis in masculinity, and with the failure to not only love the truth, but to speak and be the truth in this our day.
So today we see error spreading, some of it spinning out of the muddy mysticisms, some out of rational thought separated from the truth of revelation. And when the Church does not listen to the prophets and true theologians God has always been faithful to send her, when she closes her eyes to error and pretends it is not there, it is then she finds herself at the mercy of certain cult hunters gone awry, men with no positive ministry but with a tremendous raw drive toward power (the masculine in separation from love and the fullness of truth), and a blind will to annihilate all they do not understand. The next big healing within the Body of Christ is, I believe, the healing of our true leaders, the restoration of their capacities to love and speak truth.
Recommendation: Heresies: The Image of Christ in the Mirror of Heresy and Orthodoxy from the Apostles to the Present by Harold O. J. Brown. Of this book Prof. George H. Williams writes: “Professor Brown has no difficulty in recognizing the positive role of all premature and partial formulations, heresies, in obliging the Church catholic and evangelical to become as clear as it finally did at Chalcedon, renewing this faith in fresh formulations at various subsequent moments in Church history. He regards heresy of either type, premature or of undue concentration on a special aspect of faith, as a succession of formulations that, though causing temporary confusion and even schism, have served the theologians of the Church catholic down through the centuries in clarifying the faith without the loss of the plenitude of Christ. He would, of course, deplore any past mistreatment of heretics, many of whom, he acknowledges, were personally courageous and often theologically creative, too often mercilessly maligned for many spurious reasons by the eventually victorious orthodox. The author would agree with Hilary of Poitiers that ‘the errors of heretics . . . force us to deal with unlawful matters, to scale the perilous heights, to speak unutterable words, to trespass on forbidden ground,’ compelling ‘us to err in daring to embody in human terms truths which ought to be hidden in the silent veneration of the heart’ (On the Trinity 2.2).”
“He shall see the fruit of the travail of His soul and be satisfied; by His knowledge of Himself [which He possesses and imparts to others] shall My . . . righteous One, My Servant, justify and make many righteous – upright and in right standing with God; for He shall bear their iniquities and their guilt [with the consequences, says the Lord].” ~Isaiah 53:11 Amplified
December 22, 1980
To: Dear Ones scattered over this wonderful planet Earth Read more…
By Leanne Payne from her newsletter archives, Fall/Winter 1990
To invoke the Name of Jesus, or to breathe it in prayer (as in the Jesus Prayer that comes to us from the Orthodox tradition) is a special and wondrous way of practicing the Presence. That is because:
The Name is the symbol and bearer of the Person of Christ. Otherwise the invocation of the Name would be mere verbal idolatry. ‘The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.’ The presence of Jesus is the real content and the substance of the Holy Name. The Name both signifies Jesus’ presence and brings its reality. [On the Invocation of the Name of Jesus by a Monk of the Eastern Church. Published by The Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, 52, Ladbroke Grove, London, W. 11, p. 9].
The full prayer is: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner,” but it is best shortened to simply breathing the Holy Name.
Before beginning to pronounce the Name of Jesus, establish peace and recollection within yourself and ask for the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Ghost. ‘No man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost’. The Name of Jesus cannot really enter a heart that is not being filled by the cleansing breath and the flame of the Spirit. The Spirit Himself will breathe and light in us the Name of the Son [Ibid., p. 2].
It is no small joy to leave off breathing the Holy Name, only to hear the Spirit audibly speak it within.
This prayer, it seems to me, this holding of the Holy Name, is one of the most special ways of practicing the Presence. All this was quite forcibly brought to my mind as a way of not only preparing but safeguarding Christians in the event of persecution for their faith. I had been reading Revelation, chapters 13 and 14, and was horrified at the fate of the lost who are destined to wear the name of the Beast on their foreheads:
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world….
He [the second beast) was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name [Rev 13: 5 – 17, italics mine].
After such a terrifying word and image comes this beautiful one. It is for those whose names are written in the book of life, those in whom “No lie was found in their mouths”:
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had His Name and His Father’s Name on their foreheads [Rev 14:1].
Lord, may your Name be deeply inscribed on our foreheads even now.
And may Your Name be as a Holy Fire within us, one that not only purifies us, but spills over onto all around us.
May Your Name be so glorified in us that we can speak your truth with great authority and effect, even in the face of slander and persecution. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.
By Leanne Payne from her newsletter archives, June 1987
A fine looking young Christian father and husband, suffering with the homosexual neurosis, came to a PCM with little or no hope. His expectation, since he had so long sought help, was exceedingly low. With his lovely wife’s encouragement, and for the sake of his family, he came. Here’s the letter we got shortly after the conference, followed several weeks later by one from his wife:
Bless the Lord! My life (and my family’s) will never be the same! My walk with the Lord has quickened considerably. I am loving the Lord more, being His son from the deepest parts of my being, listening to His beautiful words and obeying Him.
Since our last newsletter, several Christian leaders have come to us with a word they received from the Lord in regard to our need to ask for intercessors. One was awakened in the middle of the night to intercede for us, and was given visions of the battle we are in, especially in regard to ministering to persons with sexual neuroses. Another had a specific prophetic word that he spoke over the PCM team, a word to the effect that from this time on those persons called to intercede for this ministry will play an increasingly vital and even critical part in the work God has for us to do. Part of that word admonished us to:
Pray that an army of intercessors be raised up, and they will go before you, springing the snares and traps of the enemy.
In our last newsletter, we exhorted you to pray for the Gift of Battle. You may want to go back and reread that part and follow through, if you haven’t already, with the recommended reading and study, for we live in a time when, although the light of our God has grown brighter, the darkness has greatly thickened. C. S. Lewis observes this phenomena when, in his novel That Hideous Strength, he puts this observation in the mouth of Dr. Dimble as he converses with his wife:
“Have you ever noticed that the universe, and every little bit of the universe, is always hardening and narrowing and coming to a point? . . . Good is always getting better and bad is always getting worse: the possibilities of even apparent neutrality are always diminishing. The whole thing is sorting itself out all the time, coming to a point, getting sharper and harder. . . .”
Mother Dimble replies that all this reminds her
“more of the bit in the Bible about the winnowing fan. Separating the wheat and the chaff. Or like Browning’s line: ‘Life’s business being just the terrible choice.'”
Surely the battle between good and evil is stepped up in this our day, and we are all involved in it, making the “terrible choice” whether prepared or not. I have an idea that our choices are often affected by whether or not we have asked for and received the Gift of Battle, and by whether or not we’ve put on the full armor of God.
One of the big temptations is to leave the positive work of the Kingdom and go down to battle on the Enemy’s own turf, one charged with his negatives, his accusations and lies. If he cannot distract us any other way, he would love to take up all our time trying to answer his charges. If you haven’t read Nehemiah’s story recently (chapters 1-6), you may want to, and, if involved in the work of the Lord at all, you’ll likely need to. Nehemiah’s enemies never stopped trying to interrupt his work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, but he refused to leave the work and go down. His enemies sent this message:
“Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.” But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.
After that his enemies began to slander him with all manner of malice and deceit. But God was with him, and the walls were rebuilt. Nehemiah was obedient to God, he was wise as to the enemies’ tactics, and he ended up doing the “impossible” task.
We too are not to wrongfully strive with forces He has already defeated and whose time is limited, but we are to rejoice in His triumphal train. “But thanks be to God, who continually leads us about, captives in Christ’s triumphal procession, and everywhere uses us to reveal and spread abroad the fragrance of the knowledge of Himself! We are indeed the incense offered by Christ to God, both for those who are on the way to salvation, and for those who are on the way to perdition. . . .” (2 Cor. 2:14).
Here is the triumphal picture, as Fr. Banks received it, in listening prayer. He had been meditating on 1 Corinthians 9:25: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
MASTER: The saints were great lovers. Love is creative energy. Their love for Me was drawn inward and upward until they became free to serve the Highest. These holy ones, these athletes (1 Cor. 9:25) of the Spirit, had their battles of course, but they triumphed not so much by any frantic striving with the forces of evil as by concentrating rather on the Sun of Righteousness. They absorbed the rays of My perennial light and heat, and so they literally transcended their lower selves and entered into oneness with the Divine. From Banks, The Master and the Disciple
Nehemiah’s enemies were those from outside the covenant, the people of God. All too often our main onslaughts come from within the Church itself. And when this is the case, we have to be so very careful. Christ’s teaching on the wheat and the tares is apropos here. [See Matthew 13:36-43.] There are those today ignorantly and recklessly pulling up the wheat with the tares. Some who are doing this reckless pulling up of the wheat with the tares are themselves sowers of the bad seed: they are sowing fear and hatred (among other things) of the imagination, being ignorant of the true, and they are sowing fear and hatred of fellow Christians. They are slandering great servants of the Lord whose work and fruit of that work speaks for itself and needs no defense. They are also sowing the seeds of poor scholarship, poor theology, and poor psychology. This is, as those who have attended PCM Schools will realize, a predictable part of the “flight from the feminine” [see also Crisis in Masculinity]; the flight from the intuitive ways of knowing, and of hearing from God: all so important to the preaching, teaching, healing ministry of the Church.
Our Lord taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Barclay, in his commentary on Matthew 5:9, speaks to this word. First of all, it is in the loving, active facing of issues that we make peace; we can’t evade issues and think we are peacemakers:
There is many a person who thinks that he is loving peace, when in fact he is piling up trouble for the future, because he refuses to face the situation and to take the action which the situation demands.
This making of peace requires our getting the mind of Christ, His love and wisdom replacing our incomplete knowledge and ignorance.
The Jewish Rabbis held that the highest task which a man can perform is to establish right relationships between man and man. That, says Barclay, is what Jesus means. There are, however, people who are always storm-centres of trouble and bitterness and strife. Wherever they are, they are either involved in quarrels themselves or the cause of quarrels of others. They are trouble-makers. . . . The man who divides men is doing the devil’s work; the man who unites men is doing God’s work. So then this beatitude might read:
O THE BLISS OF THOSE WHO PRODUCE RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN MAN AND MAN, FOR THEY ARE DOING A GODLIKE WORK!
Lord, preserve us from fighting Your battle in our own strength. May we never pull up the precious wheat with the tares. May we triumph, not by frantic striving with the forces of evil, but by keeping our eyes securely fastened on You.
An intercessory prayer suggestion for those who have attended PCM conferences: Oswald Chambers reminds us: “The way fruit remains is by prayer.” You have name lists of those persons who attended with you [perhaps this is a practice we should restart for MPC schools today!]. Pray that (1) the fruit of their healing remain and grow in them, (2) that they be sent forth as laborers into the Lord’s harvest.
There will be those of you specifically called to intercede for this ministry. Please let us know if you are one of these and keep us informed of how you are led to pray, and of anything else the Lord lays on your heart to share with us.
But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matt. 5:39
Such a “hard” saying as this one of our Lord’s chases many of us to a full study (time and again) of the Sermon on the Mount. In that discourse Jesus makes statement after statement like this one, and in doing so, contradicts and overturns the best Jewish wisdom of the day. You may want to take Barclay’s (or some other fine commentator’s) paper-back commentary on the gospel of Matthew along with you on your late summer vacation and study anew these words of our Lord. They reveal, as Oswald Chambers says, “the humiliation of being a Christian. Naturally, if a man does not hit back, it is because he is a coward; but spiritually if a man does not hit back, it is a manifestation of the Son of God in him. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but make it an occasion to exhibit the Son of God. You cannot imitate the disposition of Jesus; it is either there or it is not. To the saint personal insult becomes the occasion of revealing the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.” (July 14, My Utmost for His Highest)
This is a wonderful lesson in Incarnational Reality: Another lives in me and He is love. And there is nothing that will bring us back to this most basic of Christian truths like a skirmish with those who hate and malign us. We soon find out if we are battling in our own strength.
In Donald Bloesch’s book Crumbling Foundations, published by Zondervan, he writes of our need to pray for the gift of battle. In a section titled “Rediscovering the Spiritual Gifts,” he reminds us that “Christians can only live out their vocation by discovering and exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And he mentions this additional gift which is alluded to in both Testaments, one that he believes has crucial significance for our time: “Christians who are under the cross of persecution need to pray for the gift of battle, the ability to endure under trial, the boldness to challenge immorality and heresy in high places. The gift of battle is properly included in the gift of might or power (Isa. 11:2). It is the power to enter into conflict and the stamina not to grow weary. It must be accompanied by and fulfilled in the gift of love, since we cannot wage war against sin successfully unless we love the sinner. We must speak the truth, but we must speak the truth in love.”
Once again we are face to face with the essentials. We are either practicing the Presence of Another, or we are striving in our own strength and are growing weary in this day of “crumbling foundations” and spiritual battle. Recently in a Greek Orthodox liturgy this wonderful prayer “leaped up” from the page and now has a permanent and prominent place in my prayer journal. Just in case some of you might feel the need of such a prayer, here it is:
Save, O Lord, and have mercy upon those that envy and affront me, and do me mischief, and let them not perish through me, a sinner.
In vital connection with the need for this gift, “Christians who enter the battle against the powers of darkness cannot persevere without a life-support system, without a supportive fellowship that continually holds up its members in intercession to the living God.” Those of us who have these support systems are deeply grateful for them, but those who do not have them must pray earnestly for them.
Besides the book mentioned, Dr. Bloesch has written other important theological works, and I cannot recommend them too highly to you who are looking for theological answers to the problems facing us at this time. I especially appreciate the fact that he is building bridges between the sacramental and evangelical worlds―a crucial theological task at this time in history―and Catholics and Protestants alike will be edified by his works. For starters, for Catholic as well as evangelical, I would recommend The Future of Evangelical Christianity: A Call for Unity Amid Diversity (Doubleday). And for one of the finest studies on gender language in the Scriptures, Is the Bible Sexist? (Crossway).
“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isa. 40:28-31)
Dear Friend and Fellow Laborer in the Work of the Lord:
The response to the ministry of prayer for healing of spiritual and emotional problems in general, and to The Broken Image in particular, has forced me to organize my life on new lines. The mail to be answered (and the ministry that that represents) is simply overwhelming. Many of these letters are from persons who have long suffered in silence some sexual neurosis, or some equally debilitating emotional block, and for the first time they are opening up to help. How can these people be put in touch with persons who know how to pray? How can more people be trained to pray effectively for healing in others?
Many other letters come from clergymen and other Christian counselors seeking answers to emotional and spiritual problems they are finding in their counselees. They ask, “Can you come and help us out here, help train gifted laypersons, hold healing missions?” And, as you probably know from some similar experience, every time I had to say, “Sorry, I can’t come; I can’t help you,” I got a little wearier, a little more discouraged.
In the midst of my weariness, however, the Lord began to minister those wonderful words out of Isaiah 40 as well as other scriptures to my spirit. And, as I rested in Him, He began to stir up and strengthen organizational gifts within me which I have always resisted and even declared were simply not there. I knew there had to be new ways to have seminars and retreats for ministers and doctors, new ways to help laypersons get in touch with their God-given gifts and mature in them, new ways to help pastors in the mainstream of renewal, whose flocks have grown to phenomenal numbers and whose responsibilities for persons with special spiritual and psychological needs have grown accordingly. I also knew that persons with healing ministries, such as myself, must work shoulder to shoulder with other ministers in the mainstream of renewal, receiving strength from them while training others, or they will simply burn out.
As I prayed about all this, key people and circumstances quickly moved, like pieces of a puzzle, into place, and a wonderfully clear picture of what to do appeared. Briefly, the plan is as follows. There will be five-day retreats held annually in several locations in the United States and Canada, and these will be in close proximity to and even in conjunction with churches presently in renewal. The purpose will be twofold. First, that of training clergy, professionals, and gifted laypersons in healing prayer. Second, the ministry of healing. These retreats would provide the place for those seeking help and healing prayer to come. Once again, those such as clergy and professionals in the health fields who are in a position to “pass the healing on” should be given first priority, and then selected needy persons.
Insofar as possible, these seminars would be held about the same date annually and in the same locale. If all goes as planned, there will eventually be four to five schools per year, and they will be located in the Midwestern, the Eastern, and the Southern parts of the United States. The Western retreat will likely be in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I, along with one or two lecturers, will teach. There will be times for private interviews and prayers with the leaders and other persons who have been trained in the host institutions. There will be workshops in prayer for healing.
I ask for your suggestions, observations, godly wisdom, and above all, for your prayers as I work with legal advisers and my prayer partners in setting up Pastoral Care Ministries, Inc. The Lord has graciously provided the home and the office space, and the many praying hearts and hands to assist me in this endeavor. The Lord bless and keep you, one and all.
To have the privilege of greeting you once again is precious indeed. As I write, it is Holy Week, and my heart is full to bursting with the message of our crucified and risen Lord and with thanksgiving for our great, unspeakable inheritance in Him. The Paschal message proclaims the victory of the holy over the unholy, the noble over the ignoble, and of a Kingdom whose King reigns in righteousness and enables us to do the same.
For our sake he (God the Father) made him (God the Son) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. (2 Cor. 5:21-6:1 ESV)
“You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:16 ESV)
Since I attended the Palm Sunday Eucharist, tears of joy, when not falling, are close to the surface. That is because in the Eucharistic liturgy, as we celebrated Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, I had such a heightened sense of the throng’s cries of “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” and personal memories came flooding in of the myriad ways our King comes to us, never ceasing to purify, hallow, and strengthen us for the battles we face. Today, for all of us who dearly love the real and the splendor of the truth that streams from it, these battles are increasing and loom ever larger. But in them we find that most faithfully, our King always causes us, in Him, not only to overcome but to be fruitful as through us he invites multitudes of lost and wandering souls to enter His Kingdom and find His healing.
It is no small thing to be wed to Him, to be a church in anticipation of the wedding feast of the Lamb! You may want to ponder Zechariah 14:1-9 and Revelation 19:6-16, and then go back to verses 8 and 14 of Revelation 19 for what it means, as individual members of the bride of Christ, to wear white raiment at that feast and then, in that glistening raiment, to accompany the King of Kings as He returns at the end of time. It is no small thing to be fruit-bearers in the Kingdom. Who of us blood-bought ones can, in the midst of a Palm Sunday Eucharist, meditate on such Scriptures and not be overcome with tears of joy?
Leanne Payne, made an extraordinary contribution to the ministry of healing prayer through over forty years of service and leadership. Called a “great soldier for Christ” by the philosopher Dallas Willard, she founded Pastoral Care Ministries, dedicated to teaching, healing, and growth in Christian maturity. She wrote seven books that continue in print in English and in 12 other language translations.
Leanne Payne was born during the Great Depression on June 26, 1932, in Omaha, Nebraska, the elder daughter of Robert and Forrest Mabrey. Times were hard and became even more difficult when her father died when she was three years old. Her mother moved with Leanne and her younger sister to Little Rock, Arkansas, to live with family.
Leanne’s early adult life was shaped by several impulsive and painful choices that ultimately brought her to a place of deep repentance. At the end of herself by her mid-twenties, she underwent a full and lasting conversion to Christ, stepping firmly onto the path of obedience to God.
In 1963 Mrs. Payne became the dorm mother at Wheaton Academy, beginning her forty-plus-year association with Wheaton, Illinois, and its legacy of great evangelical leaders such as R. A. Torrey, F. B. Meyer, and Dwight Moody. A year later she joined the prayer circle of Fr. Richard Winkler, considered the grandfather of the charismatic renewal movement. In 1965 while working for Wheaton College, she enrolled as a student and thus began her formal education. From 1965 to 1974 she studied at both Wheaton and University of Arkansas, earning a BA and two MA degrees.
During the next several years she wrote her first book, Real Presence: The Christian Worldview of C. S. Lewis as Incarnational Reality, taught at Wheaton College, and assisted Dr. Clyde Kilby, the visionary who established the C. S. Lewis literary collection at Wheaton College (today’s Marion E. Wade Center). She catalogued the letters of C. S. Lewis while sitting at his desk and benefitted richly from Lewis and the mentoring by Dr. Kilby.
Fr. Winkler introduced her to the healing-prayer ministry of Agnes Sanford in 1973, and Leanne was soon serving with Mrs. Sanford in her Schools of Pastoral Care. By 1976 she was ministering full time through writing and healing prayer. She moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1978 and served as a research fellow under Henri Nouwen at Yale Divinity School in 1981. This year also saw the much-celebrated publication of The Broken Image.
In 1982 she incorporated Pastoral Care Ministries with the guidance of friends experienced in business matters. The establishment of this ministry structure brought order, and Leanne flourished in generative creativity. From this time onward, she provided pastoral care through prayer and counselling mainly at the week-long PCM schools conducted throughout North America, Europe, Hawaii, and Australia. She published five more books in the years that followed: Crisis in Masculinity, The Healing Presence, Restoring the Christian Soul, Listening Prayer, and finally in 2008 her spiritual autobiography. Dr. Donald Bloesch said of Heaven’s Calling, “It poignantly shows how the author has been mightily used by the Spirit of God to spearhead a ministry of renewal and celebration.” In 2009, Ministries of Pastoral Care was founded with Leanne’s blessing, which has allowed pastoral care schools to continue beyond her retirement and to this day.
Leanne was known for her deep devotion to God, her profound thought, her writing about “incarnational reality” – how God dwells in his people – and for the way the triune God would respond mightily to her prayer, “Come, Holy Spirit.” She shared the winsome character of her mentors Dr. Kilby and Agnes Sanford, the “eternal child,” delighting always in creation whether it be a squirrel, a perfectly formed flower, or a man or woman made in the image of God.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
A friend of mine, interceding for a newborn baby in the hands of a pathologically selfish mother, could not sleep for her extreme concern for the child. She had tried to procure help for the baby, but all her efforts (and seemingly even her prayers) had failed. Read more…