Sunday, April 29, 2012

What The Neighbors Think

The passage below was sent in an email to me. The author requested to remain anonymous to protect her position within the Oregon City community. I will publish another blog by a local resident on Wednesday.

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Those of us who attended school from 1945 - 1957, have seen many changes in the attitude of the FOC.  In elementary school, their children seemed quite normal.  One of our classmates was best friends with a "Kisser" who came to birthday parties.  When we were in Junior High, she would not have anything to do with the rest of us.  We were all shocked to find out, in the eighth grade, that another one, T---, was dropping out of school to get married! Who would marry a child of that age?

As adults there were some followers who played cards with a group of us and belonged to the same archery club.  I didn't shoot field archery, so I would watch their baby while they were on the range.  One follower friend offered to watch my children when a group of us were in Salem lobbying for a law to inoculate all children. There was a minor outbreak of meningitis that killed a couple of their children and it made us realize that having their children in the public schools endangered our own loved ones.

One of our dear friends is not only a follower - she is a true Christian. She does not shun anyone; she embraces those who are true friends.  We giggle at one memory: She had very serious medical problems after the birth of a baby.  She was anointed and prayed for and came home in bad condition.  Another friend sneaked some pain pills through her bedroom window and she heard the women say, "Oh, look how peaceful she is resting, our prayers are being heard!"  When her husband went hunting, she would come to our parties occasionally, but she never drank liquor, she just had fun.

A young woman on our street went into labor and FOC parked any way they wanted.  The police were called, so neighbors could have access to their own driveways.  That is one of our peeves about them.  They don't care who they inconvenience, as long as they get their way. By the way, the baby died.

One of the problems that has progressed over time is the FOC teenage boys are acting ruder and more gang like than they were years ago.  This [group] has no true guidance, the children have never been taught any of the fascinating stories that are hidden from them by false prophets who started and controlled a group of people.  Their parents are totally ignorant of what Christianity means.

Open your doors, open your hearts, open your minds.  THERE IS A WONDERFUL FREE WORLD OUT HERE!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Back to Coffee Creek: Visiting Mommy in Prison

Have you thought about Shannon Hickman lately? I wonder how she is adjusting to prison life. I wonder how her children have dealt with life without their parents.

On several occasions I have brought my own kids to the visiting rooms at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. We have visited in both medium and minimum security buildings.

I’m going to stop here, and state for any who are curious or concerned that I have no intention of divulging the name and details of the prisoner we visit. This woman deserves privacy and the details of her case are not for me to rehash. I will simply state that I knew well her before she was in prison and I believe wholeheartedly that she is innocent of the charges that have landed her there.

The process of bringing a minor to a prison visiting room is not simple. First the prisoner must add an adult – in this case me – to her visiting list. Then I had to pass a background check (not difficult, but took some time), then the prisoner submitted the names, birth dates, and social security numbers of my children. I then received a notice from the prison stating the crime which the prisoner was serving time for and I had to have a notary public witness me signing off that I was aware of the prisoner’s record and gave permission for my children to visit said prisoner.

Visiting in the medium security prison (where Shannon is) is a nicer experience in my opinion – if for no other reason than the fact that you do not have to stand in line outside (regardless of the weather) for at least twenty and often more than fifty minutes when visiting the minimum security prison.

I pull into Coffee Creek Correctional Facility and stop next to a speaker system, press the button, and wait for an officer to ask how they can help me. I am to state, “I’m here for a visit,” they then invite me in. I park and walk to the medium facility gate, press the button, and wait for the “click” to let me know the gate is unlocked and I can enter. After securing that gate behind me, I walk up to the door and wait for an officer to click the door unlocked so I can enter the lobby.

Once inside, I walk up to the counter and write my name, city, the prisoner’s name, and how I’m related to her (friend). I then hand the officer behind the counter my driver’s license and each of my children’s social security cards and tell them who I am visiting. The officer checks the system to ensure I and my children are cleared to visit said prisoner, hands me back my IDs, and calls the K-Unit of the prisoner to send them to the visiting room.

I then purchase ten dollars in quarters and secure my purse in a locker. I am allowed to bring in only quarters and our IDs (though when my children were in diapers, I could bring in a diaper, wipes, and an empty Sippy cup). I sit on a grey plastic chair while my children play with an activity bus or sit next to me, then an officer calls out, “Visitors for X.” That’s us, so we approach and I place our IDs and quarters into a bowl and send my kids through the security scanner, then I walk through and the officer hands me back my money and ID.

Visitors are not allowed to wear blue denim since that is how the prisoners are dressed. This doesn’t apply to children under ten.  Women are not to wear underwire bras, but the consequences for making this common mistake are not predictable. The first time I did, I was turned away, so I drove the few miles to Target, bought a sports bra, then drove back for my visit (this wasn’t cool, because visiting hours are set and I lost about 40 minutes to that mistake). Another time, an officer instructed me on removing the underwire (I regret ruining one of my favorite undergarments!), and still other times they have let it go, done a pat down, or put a note in my visitor file that I’ve been warned.  OK, so if you’re going to visit, you’ve been warned: no jeans or underwire.

When we make it through the security scan, we go into a small room, wait for it to lock, and then we are allowed into the prisoner visiting area. It’s a large open space with rows of chairs facing each other (the prisoners sit on the grey chairs), and several round tables where people visiting with children can sit. We approach a desk where yet another officer (or two) sits, tell him who we’re visiting, and he assigns us a seating area – we usually get a table thanks to the kids. There are also rows of the type of visiting stalls you see in movies with the glass partition and telephones – those are for prisoners who have gotten into trouble and are wearing an orange or green shirt as part of their discipline.

There is a play room, but only prisoners and children can be in there, so my children only go in (with my friend) and grab a toy or two and come back out.  There is also an outside playground that is a nice place to visit, and only prisoners and their visitors with children under twelve are allowed in this area, so it’s fairly private.

We sit at the table and wait for our prisoner to come. It can take a while for her to get there, but usually only a few minutes. Some of the things we do while we visit include playing board games or cards, spending our quarters on soda, candy, and chips, playing outside when the weather is nice enough, getting our picture taken together in front of one of the backdrops around the room - both seasonal and permanent, and talking while the kids color or play on the playground.

My friend, the prisoner I visit, has children too. They visit her about once a month. She has been locked up since they were toddlers. When they are confronted with a typical question about what they like doing with their mom (or what is their favorite food that their mom makes), they don’t have too much to choose from (though prisoner’s kids do get to come to the facility for family activities other than the visiting room I have described here).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Jerry Patton: Medicine & Faith

Jerry Patton, a former member of the Oregon City Followers of Christ, and the grandson of an FOC preacher, agreed to write about his beliefs in regards to faith healing and the role of medicine in a believer's life.

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It’s been a long time since I thought about being forbidden to use a doctor.  I can remember learning about that belief and knowing that it was something somehow I had to accept.   It’s not something that seems too menacing until pain, fear, and all kinds of thoughts are up in your face.  I did my best to embrace it, but it was that young age, probably around the age of 10, it didn’t seem to make much sense.  I could go to the dentist; he was doctor; he used drugs to deaden the pain, but that was alright.  It was there I began to realize this inconsistency.  Is this really the way faith is?  Sometimes it’s relevant – it matters - and then at other times it doesn’t?  Life hits you that way as you grow up.  Everyone gets to experience it and the crazy bewilderment it brings.

I think my experiences in being sick and injured are pretty common for the time period I grew up in: a busted lip, sprained ankle, colds, etc.  Very few folks took their children to the doctor the way they do now when all they have is a sniffle.  Even with my own kids, they were very healthy and occasionally visited the doctor when they couldn’t seem to get on top of a cold or infection.  We did make a few trips to the emergency room for stitches, an outpatient surgery for tonsil removal, but most of the time they were treated at home.  When our youngest was eight years old, my wife Paula graduated from Wichita State University with her bachelor’s degree in nursing and became a registered nurse.  I must say, I was thankful having her looking after us and so were all our nieces, nephews, and family, the church kids, the neighbor kids, and new mothers and fathers asking questions about a new one on the way.  She is always helping someone by looking at something or answering a question.

Sometimes, however, things are more serious.  I can tell you if we had not sought medical help, my father would be gone, my brother would be gone, and even perhaps a son would be.  I can simply find no place in the Old or New Testament that prohibits people from getting well.  The only time seeking care was considered wrong was if someone was using a medium or some kind of charm.  It was wrong because it was wrong to be with a medium in the first place and as for the charms, they were silly superstition, the same as idols.  Putting your faith in something like that is disrespectful to God.  At the church where I worship and fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, we have many that are sick or injured.  We lift them up constantly through prayer chains, Wednesday night hour of prayer, house churches, and whenever we meet.  We also lay hands on them and invite anyone to come join us as we pray over them.   We are very aware that medicine is useless without the blessing of God, and we believe medicine to be a blessing from God.  But God is sovereign and we respect his wisdom as he works out everything for the good.

We all know that wonderful passage from the Hebrew writer at the beginning of chapter 11 defining faith for us:

1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Why would the writer bring up faith?  Not that it’s written all over the Bible, both Old and New Covenant, but it is the language by which we commune with the Creator.  God belongs to the spiritual world where our bodily senses cannot reach and it requires faith for us to reach out to him.  He reached out to us first, where his plan would eventually merge heaven and earth and those who put their faith in Him would live with him there forever.   Through this plan he showed us we need a savior and he provided one:  the Lord Jesus Christ.  Through the life of Christ, his death on a cross, his burial, his resurrection from the dead on the third day, his appearance to many:  We have been rescued from darkness.  Those who put their faith in Christ Jesus have been claimed as “the holy ones” (the saints) of God.  

Faith and obedience are intertwined.  You can’t have one without the other.  They feed on each other.  Faith is built on obedience and obedience depends on faith.  But obedience to what?  This is going to sound funny, but, the answer is:  Loving one another as Christ loved us.  When you boil it all down, that’s where it is.  It requires an enormous amount of faith.  Jesus talks about it again and again.  His disciples, his apprentices are to practice loving others.  In order to do this, you have to set your entitlements, agendas, and needs aside in order to look out for those around you – even the ones that don’t think the way you do or the ones who don’t like you; especially them.  Who looks after my needs?  You do – through the power of Jesus Christ.  That’s where faith comes in, eh? 

When I decided to follow Jesus, all my claims of wrongs done me, all my entitlements bestowed on me by whatever means, are nailed to the cross.  It wasn’t very fair that Jesus, an innocent man, died on a cross:  what claim could I possibly have to anything?  Nailing them to the cross takes great faith, the kind of faith that makes us brothers and sisters to the One and Only King of Kings, Lord of Lords.  For me, this looking out for one another in love and compassion is what is meant by “walking in the Spirit”.

Galatians 5:16-26

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Did Paul really say that?  “Against such there is no law.”  When we walk in the Spirit and that lovely fruit is produced in us, there is no need for law, no need for rules.  Everything is fulfilled; especially us and we become what we were created to be:  Real human beings.  Now you can be someone who wants to focus on rules and about the only thing you’ll discover is how big a rule breaker you are.  And rules don’t change us, at least not in the direction we would want to go.  Paul says in the letter to the Galatians and elsewhere:  the law is death and if the Law of Moses is viewed this way then any law that man comes up with is certainly not any better and leads to the same things.

Law-keeping is focused on the mundane and diverts our eyes from taking care and looking after one another.   It gets us all wrapped around the axle in thinking about how we look, for the law shows what a righteous person looks like on the outside, but it does not have means to change us.  This is why we need the Spirit and walk with him faithfully as he trains us in his ways and over time he transforms us into the sons and daughters of The Most High.

Luke 10:25-37 NKJV

25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”

27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” 29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Don’t tell me there wasn’t some doctoring going on here.  The man received the best care he could have had in his day and age.  You wouldn’t receive much better care in an emergency room from a doctor and nurses.  Sure, we now have more modern ways to nourish him, and more effective techniques to bandage and treat his wounds but the outcome is the same.  Is there something wrong here?  Is it wrong to do good, even though you used some bactine, Neosporin, or alcohol? 

And then there’s that nagging question again - one of the things that has always puzzled me:   when does something rise to the point that it is wrong to seek out a trained professional, someone who has exhibited the God-given talent and gifts for healing?  Where is that line?  And who decides where that line is?  Men?  Bad idea.  I believe God has blessed us with incredible minds.  Do we do evil with them?  Sadly, yes.  But we can do good with them also and serving someone’s needs through healing is something that is right and good. 

Did the good Samaritan love this man even though he didn’t know him?  Of course.  Did it cost him anything?  Of course.  The good Samaritan’s actions may have delayed the business he was on and cost him a customer, but he put his faith in what is good even though the injured man had nothing to return.  In this act I see love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  

Love is so much better and yet, so much harder than law.  Is that why rules are chosen over love?  With law you know where you stand.  With love, you may never know, for the good you do may not come to fruition until you are long gone.  Loving others will consume our lives just like it consumed the life of Jesus.  But when you’re going to live forever, what does it matter?  Or do we really believe that?  There’s a saying I like:  “He is no fool who loses what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Words are so insufficient to communicate the wonder that God did through Christ.  God’s wonder continues in all the wonderful things he wants to do through you and me.  That’s what grace is.  Technically, it’s defined as “unmerited favor,” and because of the unmerited favor granted to those who put their faith in Christ, He reaches down and changes us through our love for one another.    There are basically four types of love: eros, phileos, storge, and agape.  Agape is the love that God has for us.  It is the type of love that reaches out and blesses even when the recipient has nothing to offer.   This is agape love:

I Corinthians 13:1-13  NKJV

1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

With agape love, God raises the bar all the way to the top.  This is what God expects of his holy ones.  It’s the way he loves us and it’s the way he changes us.  Since we are made in the image of God, he has bestowed on us the ability to create and like him we can create something out of nothing if we choose.  Creative goodness; that’s what love is and God wants to teach us and train us into those who do it just like him.  Faith is required.  He has written an epic story to us revealing his plans.   He has saved us and given us a wonderful example in Christ Jesus our Savior.  He has given us a great teacher-coach-counselor in the Holy Spirit.  There is no doubt – He has held nothing back - He loves us more than we can imagine.

All the things I have written down here are just a very small trickle of the great river of truth and love that is Jesus.   I could go on and on.  I want to leave you with a story I heard that is so convicting.  There was once a group of preachers that would get together every now and then and share with one another the different things that were going on in each of their parishes.  One of the preachers had a bit of a cranky attitude at times.  At one of their get-togethers, he was being grouchy and so one of the preachers that was fixing the refreshments filled his tea glass all the way to the brim and then as he served it to him, he bumped into him quite abruptly spilling the tea.  The grouchy preacher started to huff and puff and as he did the offending preacher said, “You know, that’s just the way it is in life.  When you’re bumped into whatever it is that fills you is what spills out.” 

Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth:
Set up your kingdom in our midst.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God:
Have mercy on me, a sinner.
Holy Spirit, breath of the living God:
Renew me and all the world.
May the Lord of All be with you and bless you

and may Jesus Christ our Lord come quickly. 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Darren Russell: Why I Choose Not To Use Physicians

Darren Russell, a member of the Church of the First Born, agreed to write an article explaining his practice of faith healing. Please read this with an open mind if you're interested in understanding this practice, but keep in mind that Darren is addressing "those Christians who would like a thoughtful scriptural basis for this teaching, not towards the atheist/secularists who will never accept any biblical argument above scientific consensus."

Next Sunday, I will publish an article written by Jerry Patton, a former FOC member and the grandson of an FOC preacher, which addresses this issue from another perspective.

* * * *

Why I Choose Not To Use Physicians

by Darren Russell

I found Suzi's blog one day while flipping through internet pages on a site called The Apologetics Index, a site supposedly dedicated to scriptural answers for Christians. Before I found the Followers of Christ Church with Suzi's link, I ran across this page at concerning the body I grew up in, which has the same healing doctrine. The site stated we are “a group of churches whose faith healing practices violate biblical teaching on the subject. The church's doctrines and practices on this issue constitute a form of spiritual abuse. The problem of this church's approach is evident from these news items...” Then it went on to cite newspaper articles as the sum of evidence.

I searched the site looking for the scriptural arguments that supported their claim and found this on
faith healing what the bible teaches

The Bible does not condemn, forbid, or even discourage the use of medicines or other proper medical care. Matter of fact, Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke, was a doctor.

And the apostle Paul advised Timothy to use some wine for his stomach problems:

Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. - Source: 1 Timothy 5:23

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
- Source: Mark 2:17

Some may find these to be decent scriptural arguments, but I do not find them at all very compelling. I intend to address these and then give several scriptural reasons as to why I do not utilize modern day physicians. My response is directed towards those Christians who would like a thoughtful scriptural basis for this teaching, not towards the atheist/secularists who will never accept any biblical argument above scientific consensus.

That Luke was a physician is not contested, but what manner of physician was he? Does the mere mention of his occupation in scripture grant divine approval? I don't think so. One apostle speaks of Rahab the harlot (James 2:25) and Luke mentions Cornelius the centurion (Acts 10:22) but I cannot perceive of any making the argument that they are blessed vocations, especially in lieu of the context of other more direct scriptures. Still Rahab was faithful, Cornelius just, and Luke beloved; all descriptions of the person not the occupation. I would also think that Luke, who may have obtained a healing ministry the same as Paul, whom he was companion to, would not have much need to use a medical training in the presence of the Apostles. Luke says so very much himself in recording:

And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed: Who also honoured US with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.

- Acts 28:8-10

It was Luke himself who noted the case of a woman who “had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any,” (Luke 8:43) which is hardly a statement you would expect from “the beloved physician.”

Concerning Paul advising Timothy to “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” I do not see that his statement can be inferred to mean anything more than giving a dietary recommendation based upon experience. Paul had already spent considerable time in Ephesus, where Timothy had been left and seemed well aware that the water there was not potable and the source of his sicknesses.

“They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Every use of the word “physician” mentioned by Jesus was in the form of a proverb, a popular saying, and used to refer to himself. The word in fact in the KJV is only mentioned 11 times, with 4 of those referring to Christ “Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself” (Luke 4:23). These verses surely do not prove anything concerning the medical profession; Christ healed both bodies and souls through power.

When reading, people do not always sense the sarcasm that seems more obvious when heard. Tones set a context, the spirit of a conversation. In 5 of the 7 other references to “physicians” we find this to be the case. “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (Jer. 8:22) says God through the prophet Jeremiah to a back slidden nation. “Ye are all physicians of no value” (Job 13:4) speaks Job of his false friends.

Do any of these verses prove that physicians are contrary to God? No. But they do not show them to be approved either.

The vast majority of Christians throughout the world believe in miracles; that divine intervention is possible. Still most use hospitals and doctors where they are available. I choose not to, not because there is a written command against it, but because I believe my faith leads me to that decision.

I believe in God and that he has both the power and will to heal us. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” ( I Peter 5:6-7) I find it comforting to know that he cares. A minister in my church recently went to visit his daughter in the hospital who has cancer. The doctors meaning well explained to him they were powerless to change her condition. “I believe so,” he told them, “but you don't know my God.” He is right; he knows that God has all abilities to change her situation. “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy “ (Jas. 4:12).

I believe healing was specially reserved by God in the same manner forgiveness is. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.” (Ps. 103:2,3) Jesus once asked, “For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?” (Matt. 9:5) Both come from God, he is the sole proprietor of these institutions.

I believe faith healing is a sign that follows the believers, giving assurance to the message of the gospel. “These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name ... they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover...And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16:17-20) “and being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.” (Acts 15:22) Luke says Apostle Paul and his company remained awhile in“speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands..” (Acts 14:3) I fail to see how using doctors would promote God's word, it would only affirm the medical industry.

I believe that Christ gave gifts to the church, including healings, for our benefit until that day when we should all arrive to perfection (I Cor.12:28,30; 13:10) and not need them any longer. God wants us to pursue these gifts (I Cor. 14:1) and not be behind in any gift until his return (I Cor. 1:7).

I believe that the same faith toward God that can heal is the same faith that obtains forgiveness of sins and salvation, giving personal assurance of God's might. Paul was clear there is only one Lord, and one faith which saves (Eph. 4:5). This faith which healed (Luke 7:50; 18:42) is the same by which we are“buried in baptism” ( Col. 2:12). Healing when it arrives is a very powerful confirmation of God's desire and ability to resurrect us to salvation.

Does any of this mean that Christians never get sick? Far from it. I believe that as a son, suffering and chastisement is from God. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Heb.12:5-7). Paul also was afflicted with a physical impairment, “a thorn in the flesh” not because of a sin, but so he would not be “exalted above measure”. Paul says, “ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities” (II Cor. 12:7-10). We should all have this attitude, but I do not see how a doctor fits well into this scenario. Our sufferings are to teach us, and by ameliorating them we may be rejecting what he has to say, even Christ himself learned this way (Heb. 5:8).

I believe God's knowledge is complete, man's incomplete. That doctors are trained in their field is not doubted, but still, they lack total comprehension. A co-worker once asked me why I did not go to doctors. Knowing he was not particularly religious but fanatical about his vehicles I asked him who did his mechanic work. “I always take my cars to the factory dealer for repairs”, he said, “they are the ones who made it, they best know how to fix it.” I agreed. And so I choose to go to my maker and not to the “shade tree mechanic” who has something less than a perfect knowledge.

I find in the bible this same thing is taught. In the book of Jeremiah the prophet has been sent by God against Judah to “utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness” (1:16). He explains, , “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (2:13). They had forsaken the knowledge of God, and replaced it with the knowledge of the peoples they were around. God asks, “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (8:22) to illustrate that what they were dependent upon was not of him and of no value to them.

God tells Jeremiah, “Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence (contagious disease)” (14:11,12). The people cry, “why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble!” (14:19) and repent, “We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee “ (14:20). They even realize the cause,“Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things” (14:22).

Jeremiah at last records the previous sin and the revelation to God's people. “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart...Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit....O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters. Heal me, O LORD, and I shall behealed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise. “ (17:1,5-7,13,14)It is a lesson of how God deals with his people, a lesson with parallels today.

I believe that knowledge may come from God, but that that physicians and the medical community has obtained its knowledge by using methods forbidden by God. “The LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed” (I Sam. 2:3). Daniel and his brethren were gifted knowledge from God, even in the area of sciences (Daniel 1:4,17) but can the medical industry today make that claim? Probably the greatest source of study, contributing to anatomical knowledge, has been the dissection of humans, both autopsies and living persons. Leonardo Davinci was once expelled from that Catholic Church for this very reason. The bible prohibits touching the dead (Num. 19:11,16), except in burial process which must occur the same day (Deut 21:23), or any deriving of benefit from a dead being. ( Daniel Eisenberg, a Jewish M.D. notes that the primary purpose of autopsies “From a medical perspective, autopsy predominantly serves the purpose of improving quality control in medicine. A physician has the opportunity of finding out whether his diagnosis was correct and whether treatment was appropriate.”( Surely one cannot consider knowledge gained in this manner as approved by God.

In fact I believe the ethical problems surrounding the medical community have grown considerably, replacing Godly morality with ethical considerations based on extending physical life. We have scientists experimenting with animal parts in human beings, medically supported abortions, extending lives without any quality, all in the name of science and medicine. It is too bad that many now have extended their earthly existence without coming any closer to God. It is as Jesus said, “He that loveth his life shall lose it”, and we should be considering, “he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” (John 12:25) The case of the mother who dies in childbirth with her child at home avoided all the spiritual ramifications of her counterpart who in a hospital is induced to make a “moral” decision to save her own life or that of her child's. Where the decision is left in God's hands, there is no quandary or judgment, just a clean conscience. For me, a clean conscience is preferable to a longer life. The medical industry has blurred ethical and moral standards.

I believe that most of mankind has fallen into idol worship by placing the medical profession and their practices above God and his standards. All too often in life I witness men challenging God and his precepts. Even when that person becomes frightfully ill, he will eschew God's promises and head straight to a doctor. The doctor, he will hear. If he is prescribed medications, or counseled a surgical technique, he will oblige. After all, his health is at stake. Doctors have become the people's new priest. It is a relationship that will lead to downfall, as in the case of King Asa, who once believed in God with his heart, but turned against the prophets of God who warned him of his unbelief toward God and reliance upon men. It is recorded in II Chronicles 16:12“Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.” The verse shows if anything, how diametrically opposed physicians and God are.

There is no warrant in the scriptures to use a physician, but I find many reasons in the scriptures to depend on God and his ministers.

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

James 5:13-16

Hopefully for the reader, I have presented a biblical case against the use of physicians sufficient to illustrate the spiritual benefits of reliance upon God, and to destroy the myth that our “faith healing practices violate biblical teaching.”

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Holy Kiss

This essay was written by Darren Russell, a frequent contributer and member of the Church of the Firstborn. Want more from Darren? You can read some of his work and research here: or click on the "Guest Bloggers" tab to find his email address and contact him directly.

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For my friends, brethren, and sisters, who have been raised in the Church of the First Born or the Followers of Christ, greeting is not much of an issue. We just always did it! Or at least we have been taught that, and by faith accept that, since we can see in black and white that it was what the apostles did. What we perceive to be a totally natural and godly act among ourselves though has in many circles become an embarrassment when other outsiders are present. I have even heard some ministers who refuse the kiss in public claiming it is not right to "give what is holy to the dogs." Why this modern temperament?

I recently uncovered a handful of newspaper articles that pertained to this specific belief among us. From them I have gathered that we have not only greeted from earlier times, but also that it has not been well received by outside churches for quite some time.

One humorous article titled "Epidemic of Kissing" appeared in the Trenton Evening Times of July 21, 1908 describing an Indiana congregation. It says, "Kissing is epidemic here of late among followers...whose sect is known as the Church of the First Born and measures today are threatened to stop the practice. Every member of the sect has the right to bestow a sacred kiss...and a too plentiful resort to the mouths of the sect's adherents have awakened the authorities to the necessity of action." No commentary needed here.

In March of 1896 around the U.S. in various papers was the headline, "Religious Kisses". It was a fairly small blurb but described how the brethren in Woods and Garfield counties would "after the sermon embrace and kiss each other." It had caused quite an "excitement among the people."
(Anyone wanting to see a scan of the original article can do so at  Just look under favorites and find kissing, it will open up under a pdf file; you can thank Bro. Bill Porter for all his effort in producing this site dedicated to some Church of the First Born history and I would suggest looking at some of his other items).

In the Winfield Courier, July 20, 1876 we have a description of " two or three traveling preachers, who call themselves Christ’s disci­ples. They are reported as healing the sick and restoring the infirm to health... and observe other unusual habits. Several converts have joined them, five of whom were baptized in the Walnut, near Moore’s mill, last Sabbath." Now explicitly the "unusual habits" is not known, but it would be a pretty safe assumption to believe it was the "kiss of charity".

The Arkansas Traveler of May 8, 1878 reported about the same group that "Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Cochran and the two Misses Moore were baptized and confirmed into the church of the Followers of Christ, last Sunday. After the baptizing there was a feet washing and love feast at Mr. E. Osborn’s, and preaching at the Smith schoolhouse at early candle light." The brethren followed the same scriptural pattern as the Dunkards, many of whom were joined to the faith at that time. A typical love feast was a potluck where everyone could enjoy each other's company, and provided space to make any confessions or amendments that may stand in the way of communion. The actual Lord's supper was began in the evening, begin with a foot washing, follow through with the Bread and Wine and terminate with prayers and the holy kiss. There were some variations from this scheme, but they were trivial and usually revolved upon questions of administering the various parts of the Lord's Supper.

One of my favorite and probably the most flattering news stories of them all emanated from The New York Herald in August of 1836. I have two copies of it, from different papers carrying the story that read the same but have not seen the actual Herald copy. So even this favorable story was something of a sensation in its day! The reporter described how he had attended a gathering that met inside a home rather than in one of the fancy cathedrals of New York City. He described how the service was conducted and also how the young and the unconverted, including himself, were set apart from the rest. How he also observed the ordinance supper. He witnessed the culminating greeting with a holy kiss only to reflect that if he wasn't a heathen and disallowed he would position himself between two of the fairest ladies of the group. This writer had an obvious degraded view of the ritual but probably one that fits most concerning it even today. Afterwards he questioned them concerning their name, origin and doctrine. They did not consider themselves as from either the Catholics or Protestants, but as being in a direct apostolic line. They found no scriptural injunction for either cathedrals or paid ministry.

April of 1819 an Elder Ephraim Stinchfield of the Free Will Baptists wrote concerning some independent brethren, whose meetings he had been attending, with the idea of reclaiming them to his denomination. "After attending five more meetings among them in different places, and hearing of another considerable society of the same class, in the town of Arundel, on the west side of Saco river, we went to visit them, and called at a private house in the neigbourhood of the society; inquired after the leading, or most inteligent men among them; hoping, if we convinced any of that description, they might be useful in convincing or undeceiving their neighbors. Having obtained the necessary information as to this particular, we were directed to the house of one of the society who was reputed to answer the above description. The landlady, his wife, met me as soon as I entered the room, and wished to know whether I had the courage to kiss her. I declined, and took a seat, for which she called me a coward."

One Jacob Cochrane was even so far brought down by him that he was imprisoned for adultery, the only genuine evidence against him being that he had acknowledged greeting his sisters with a holy kiss. His wife stood by him throughout the ordeal, and many others who maintained his innocence. After his release he left Maine for New York. His biggest crime, mentioned by Stinchfield in the beginning of his book, may be that he and the brethren with him had converted as many as 2000 souls away from the different denominations in the space of 3 years. It was claimed that it was a revival that surpassed even Whitefield's efforts. These brethren never believed in paid ministry, contrary to all others, and 2000 persons missing off their church rolls left the standing denominations disdaining this intrusion by an apostolic sect.Stinchfield never made progress towards them and later used this incident and other similar ones to calumniate the leading ministers of the sect.

Most of the paper trail dives off at this point concerning the spiritual ancestry of the Church of the First Born, especially in regards to the greeting. That it was practised long before this is really not to be doubted. The brethren were extremely literal in their interpretations of scripture and it hardly seems that a group which advocated literal "laying on of hands" for the sick's recovery would refrain from a simple act of kissing. In fact in the 1730s the only other sect of people to share in communion with the brethren was the Dunkards, which insisted in that part of communion. The Dunkard ministers were on such friendly terms with our faith that they on at least one occasion sent a group of ministers from Pennsylvania all the way to Connecticut to visit their brethren of like faith. When one of the Elders of the faith passed away in Groton, Connecticut a few decades later he was even remembered by them and was honored with an obituary in their own sponsored newspaper, usually reserved for only of their community. To my knowledge the most significant distinctions between the two sects is that the Dunkards immerse thrice for each person of the Godhead, began in Scwarzenau ,Germany in 1708 through a self-baptism, and practised their "holy kiss" only on members of the same sex. I personally believe that their many visits to the brethren were for the sake of rectifying their lineage, but that is off the theme of this note.

So having established the likely use of the greeting by our brethren since its establishment on American soil, and the opposition to it by others for the entire duration, I'd like to share what I have found from the Scriptures down to its standing in previous history.

So how important is it that we practice this?

Psalm 2:12 (King James Version)

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

A cursory reading of Psalm 2 leaves no doubt as to who the Son is. It shows us the penalty as well of not soliciting his favour. In Matthew 7:44-46 we see the comparison of someone who loved Christ with someone who cared not for others. So how do we "Kiss the Son" when he is not present before us?

Matthew 25:40

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

This principle should apply to all parts of our lives, the manner in which we treat our brethren does reflect our treatment of Christ. So why this demonstration of love among brethren?

1 John 3:14

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

John 13:35

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Did the apostles ever instruct greeting with a kiss?

1.Romans 16:16

Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.
2.1 Corinthians 16:20

All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.

3. 2 Corinthians 13:12

Greet one another with an holy kiss.

4. 1 Thessalonians 5:26

Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.

5. 1 Peter 5:14

Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Was it practiced by the apostles?

Acts 20:37

And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him,

So what about the early Christians? Did they continue the practice? Here are some different excerpts showing its continued use.

"When we have ceased from prayer, we salute one another with a kiss."-Justin

Martyr (abt 100-165AD)

"Therefore the kiss should be given with the utmost care, since if there be mixed with it the least defilement of thought, it excludes us from eternal life."- Athenagoras (2d century AD)

"What prayer is complete from which the holy kiss is divorced? What kind of sacrifice is that from which men depart without peace?- Tertullian abt 200 AD

In the Martyrdoms, also written by Tertullian;

"And when the crowd called for them into the midst, that as the sword penetrated into their body they might make their eyes partners in the murder, they rose up of their own accord, and transferred themselves whither the people wished; but they first kissed one another, that they might consummate their martyrdom with the kiss of peace."

Tertullian, advising a Christian woman to not marry an unbeliever wrote:

"For who would suffer his wife, for the sake of visiting the creep into prison to kiss a martyr's bonds? nay, truly, to meet any one of the brethren to exchange the kiss?"

"Abundantly blessed are they who, from your number, passing through these footprints of glory, have already departed from the world; and, having finished their journey of virtue and faith, have attained to the embrace and the kiss of the Lord, to the joy of the Lord himself."- Cyprian's epistle XV abt 240 AD

"Cyprian to Sergius and Rogatianus, and the rest of the confessors in the Lord, everlasting health. I salute you, dearest and most blessed brethren, myself also desiring to enjoy the sight of you, if the state in which I am placed would permit me to come to you...What more pleasant and sublime than now to kiss your lips, which with a glorious voice have confessed the Lord..."
Cyprian, epistle
LXXX, abt 250 AD

So you see the early Christians considered the Holy Kiss as a sacred trust, it was shared between all male and female, and was on the lips. They even viewed it as mandatory, "Kiss the Son lest ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little."

Now when exactly did culture begin to attack this holy mandate? I am not sure, I would suspect it started quite early, Satan never wasting time on destroying what he can.

That the kiss was still common in the 16th century can be easily seen by a perusal of Martyr's Mirror, an Anabaptist work which detailed many persecutions. It was written about 1660 and so I would venture to say that even then the greeting was not much of an irregularity. Just one excerpt should suffice to demonstrate. In the account of the imprisonment and eventual death of one Matthias Servaues he wrote a letter to his fellow congregants, he closes with, "I greet all the believers with a holy kiss. Greet one another with a kiss of love. And do not forget us, nor any of the prisoners; but persevere in strong prayer for us to God, for this is highly necessary."

I found this news article written, that shows among other things how the kiss had already changed in the 17th century.

The New World, Volume 6, June 17. 1843
John Bunyan —Pilgrim's Progress, a book which the child and I his grandmother read with equal delight, and which, more almost than any other work, may be said to be " Meet for all hours and every mood of man," was written in prison, where Bunyan preached to his fellow prisoners, supported his family by making tagged laces, and filled up his leisure by writing. The work by which he immortalized himself 'grew from a sudden thought which occurred while he was writing in a different strain. Its progress he relates oddly enough in his rhyming apology, but more curiously in some verses prefixed to the "Holy War."

"It came from mine own heart, so to my head,
And thence into my fingers trickeled ;
So to my pen, from whence immediately
On paper I did dribble it daintily."

But we do not intend writing an essay on the character or works of Bunyan; our purpose now is merely to call attention to a singularly characteristic and amusing passage from his defense against some charges of gallantry and incontinence. It will doubtless be quite new to most of our readers.

"My foes," he says, " have missed their mark in this their shooting at me. I am not the man: I wish that they themselves be guiltless. If all the fornicators and adulterers in England were hanged up by the neck till they be dead, John Bunyan, the object of their envy, would be still alive and well. I know not whether there be such a thing as a woman breathing under the face of heaven, but by their apparel, their children, or by common fame, except my wife. And in this I admire the wisdom of God, that he made me shy of women from my first conversion until now. Those know, and can also bear in witness with whom I have been most intimately concerned, that it is a rare thing to see me carry it pleasantly toward a woman, and the common salutation of women I abhor. It is odious to me in whomsoever I see it. Their company alone I cannot away with. I seldom so much as touch a woman's hand; for I think these things not so becoming me. When I have seen good men salute those women that they have visited or that have visited them, I have at times made my objection against it; and when they have answered that it was but a piece of civility, I have told them it was not a comely sight. Some indeed have urged the holy kiss; but then I have asked why they made baulks; why they did salute the most handsome, and let the ill-favored go? Kisses, how laudable soever such things may have been in the eyes of others, they have been unseemly in my sight."

So here we have it, a self-proclaimed preacher whose work has been idolized by millions since, dispenses with the greeting because he THOUGHT IT WAS GROSS! Culture suppressed the Word of God! But not for all.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Seeking A Medical Opinion

My sister-in-law Maggie Smith Shumaker has written two previous guest blogs: WhatMy Family Thinks, and Maggie’s Story, Part 2. In today’s entry, Maggie tells the story of taking her newborn son to a doctor.

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Here we were, raising our two boys, and just weeks into our second son's life, I discovered a bulge in his groin. This was common among Follower families, (at least mine). My nephew had something similar prior to his return home from my parent's house after his birth. My sister, her husband, and their new baby lived at our home for what seemed like maybe wasn't that long. 

From what I remember about my son's experience, I called my mom, she told me to call my sister. My sister came over, and could find nothing wrong. The lump wasn't there. She said to keep an eye on it. Seemed like every time I had to change his diaper, it was there, and whenever I tried to show someone, it wasn't. My sister told me to call another woman in the church that had more experience with this condition. So, I made the phone call. She wasn't able to come over, since her child had chicken pox, but she told me some suggestions.

After describing what this lady told me, with my husband, he suggested taking our son to a doctor. WHAT?  Really? He wanted me to go to a doctor? Whoa...

But his explanation was spot on. He said that instead of calling a bunch of women that don't have knowledge of what this was, to take him to someone that did have knowledge. What was the difference in calling a bunch of different think so ideas than finding the real reason behind it.

We talked about where we'd go from there. If the doctor said he'd need surgery, we'd think about that option, but wouldn't do anything without praying about it first. Let's just find out first.       

I made an appointment at the Health Office in Oregon City. I was nervous, but had been there as a child with my own mother, getting some type of lotion for a rash my sister and I had. Once the appointment had been made, I asked my mom if she'd come with me to take him there, since my husband had to be at work. She turned her nose up at the idea, and said she didn't want to go with me. She did not support us taking our son to the health department, but she took my sister and I? I was confused. What was the difference of a rash we had, or a lump that my son occasionally had?

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law babysat my oldest son while I took the baby to the health department alone. I'm not sure why my mother-in-law didn't come, but it wasn't because she opposed it. My husband's family supported doing the right thing.

While at the doctor’s office, I was asked all kinds of questions about my baby. Who was his doctor, where is his shot record, did he have a PKU test? They made me strip my newborn and put him on a scale. They weren't very loving or friendly about it either. The nurses made a big deal about him having a hernia and he'd have to have surgery. They were kind of mean to me and intimidating because my newborn didn't have a pediatrician. When the friendly, male doctor arrived in the room, he put me at ease with a smile, and examined my baby. "Oh, this is a...." He explained. To this day I can't remember the name he used, but described it as fluid buildup. It was not a hernia like the nurse insisted it was. He did NOT need surgery.

The doctor said he'd seen it lots, and it typically goes away on its own in about a year's time. He said by the time my baby was walking, we would not even notice it. The doctor left, and the nurse stopped me in the hall and asked who delivered my baby. They then attempted to take a PKU test. She ripped his sock off and tried poking his heel.  I was disgruntled, and grabbed the sock back and covered his feet with his blanket as I walked out to the car.

By this time, my son was screaming. We had not gotten off on a very good nursing habit and he was hungry and upset at all of this commotion. I was practically in tears. I tried nursing him in the car, but he would have no part of it. I put him back in his car seat, screaming all the way home. What a nightmare.

But, thankfully, we could rest in the fact that it was not life threatening, he wouldn't sustain any harm from whatever this was, and eventually, it would go away. This could be a long first year...

In our experiences, with sickness and injuries, we anointed with olive oil. So, after sharing with my husband the prognosis of our son's affliction, he told me to anoint him every day and we'll pray that he's healed. So, we did just that. When my husband cared for him, he'd anoint him, when I cared for him, I would anoint him. It didn't seem to bother our baby, but we kept on even when we didn't see the big bulge. Faithfully, every day, we anointed him, praying for healing in Jesus’ name.

It seemed like the right thing to do...pray for someone that was afflicted, injured, or sick. We all met over at my mother's bedside praying for her, as she lay in bed afflicted with the swollen belly. She had been down for what seemed to be a couple of weeks, and our baby was probably a month old or better. While my sisters and I were in her room, visiting, I explained to them we'd like them to pray for our baby. I told them what was the matter, but leaving out the part that I'd "taken him in". My oldest sister rose up out of her chair, and loudly voiced her opinion of no, she would not pray for him, as we'd taken him to a doctor. Her words to my knowledge were, "Oh, you take him to a doctor and THEN want us to PRAY for him?" as she stormed out of my mother's bedroom.

Wow! I sat in awe. I was speechless! How can one say they are a follower of Christ and deny prayer to another humbly asking? My mom just laid there, shocked at her daughter's response.  I can't even remember what happened after that.

I believe our son was about three months old, when we noticed the last few times we had anointed him, we didn't see any bulge.  I'm not sure if it got smaller over time, or what, but he was not nearly one year old when this fluid buildup was gone. Our prayers had been answered, he had been healed. We thanked God for his mercy with our son.

Imagine, God having mercy on someone who went to a doctor. God is good, and we believed that.