Why Did God Not Answer My Prayer?

A couple of years ago I came across a televised “healing crusade” featuring a man who claimed to have the power of faith healing.  After preaching to a packed stadium full of people, he began to call out certain illnesses and ailments, declaring that people in attendance were being healed of these various health issues.  Then he invited those who had been healed to come forward.  Large numbers of people began streaming to the front of the platform, declaring that they had been healed through the ministry of this faith healer.

I will admit I was skeptical.  But I want to believe that God can and does perform miracles and sometimes even heal people through prayers prayed in faith.  This is what James tells us (James 5:13-16).  I have heard stories of miraculous healings that have taken place through prayers of faith and I believe that God answers prayers for healing.  But I have also experienced other occasions where, in spite of faithful prayers, an individual did not experience a miracle.  People die every day of various diseases and ailments. Many of them prayed for healing and believed that God could and would heal them. 

Here are 3 ways to reconcile the frequent promises of the Bible that God answers prayers for healing, with our recollection of times when healing did not seem to occur:

  1. We must accept the fact that not every prayer for healing is answered the way we would like.  This was true of ancient saints like the Apostle Paul, it is also true of modern saints as well.  For reasons we cannot understand in this life, God doesn’t always choose to grant every prayer for healing.
  2. We can come to appreciate the fact that physical death is a form of healing.  For the Christian, death is the ultimate healing.  When someone who has been very sick and is suffering from terminal illness is released from their body of sickness, this is an eternal form of healing.  We should not pursue suicide, we should not engage in euthanasia, but we can appreciate that when God receives someone into eternal glory, it is a form of healing and prayers for healing were actually answered.
  3. We should appreciate how God works through modern medicine to help heal people.  It is not a sign that we lack faith when we seek medical care for our illnesses, it is a way of trusting that God works in and through medical care to bring about healing.  Some would try to claim that if we really have faith, we won’t seek medical care, we should just pray and have faith that God will heal.  Let the “Great Physician” be your only physician.  But that is a false dichotomy. It should not be God versus modern medicine.  It should be “God working through modern medicine.” 

I must confess that the entire subject of healing prayer is a bit of a mystery for me.  But I pray for people to be healed, I have faith in a God who still does miracles, and I encourage people to seek medical care when they are struggling with illness.  And I trust that through it all, God is at work and I leave the outcome to His wisdom and goodness.   That probably won’t pack a stadium with people, but it helps me trust where I don’t fully understand.

Pastor Mark Miller

A Confirmation Journeyconfirmation faith journey

Sunday, May 20 was confirmation Sunday.  This is an important milestone for youth in that they become full-fledged members of our church.  More importantly, they are on a faith journey to learn more about their relationship with Jesus, how they can relate that to the church, and how the church supports them through this. The act of being confirmed is the visible culmination of weeks of study, self-reflection, group discussion, prayer, and more.  It is where young people publicly declare their commitment to honor God and their Church by living as a “disciple of Christ,” and their intention to continue that journey throughout their lives. 

We were blessed with 11 confirmands this year. 

My son, Wyatt was confirmed Sunday May 20th at Virginia Beach United Methodist. The days before, I had been reflecting on how huge that event feels to me and how excited I was that he was choosing confirmation. I spent of big part of my life as a non-Christian. I found myself at VBUMC through the MOPS program in 2010. I remember pulling into the parking lot and saying to myself “Crap. It’s in a ‘churchy church.’” Long story short, I found Christ in this “churchy church.” My son Wyatt is autistic and super literal, so when he was a little boy and I was trying to get him “to do church” with me the concept of God was such an abstract thing for him to grasp. For Wyatt’s mind, I couldn’t provide tangible proof of Gods existence, therefore, He simply didn’t exist. It took years here. Through continual attendance, Sunday School, the childcare (Cove), the music ministry/praise band, CREW, various opportunities to serve, even VBS, we learned who God is through His people. More, Wyatt learned that God exists because his teachers at VBUMC are walking, talking (proof/tangible) evidence of Him.

I became a believer and somewhere along our journey together, Wyatt hit the “I believe” button as well and he’s chosen to be confirmed. I can’t even describe how full my heart is and how proud I am of Wyatt!”

– Sarah Rigowski, church member

Avoid Slacktivism

Avoid Slacktivism HOPE Missions Ethiopia water filters avoid slacktivism

“Slacktivism” is a slang word created by combining two other words, “slacker” and “activism.”   It is a word used to describe the growing trend of using social media to declare an opinion about a political issue or a social justice cause without really doing much to advance that issue or cause.  By “tweeting” my opinion or “liking” someone else’s opinion on Facebook, we can create a sense of satisfaction that we have done something significant to support a cause, when in reality we haven’t done very much at all.  Listen to the June 10 sermon, “The Action Test.”

There is nothing wrong with using social media to raise awareness about issues that matter to us, but we must not stop there.  There is a difference between tweeting an opinion and investing your life.  In the Epistle of James, we are told that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).  The idea James is communicating is that to say we “believe” in Jesus or to say we have “faith” in God means very little if we do not back it up with action.

There is a difference between having an opinion and being captivated by a conviction.  An opinion is something you hold, but a conviction is something that holds you.  A conviction leads to action.  How are you doing in living out your convictions these days?  Do your deeds match your creeds?  Put your beliefs into action, and you’ll experience the true power of faith.

Pastor Mark Miller

Potter’s House Report May 2018

The total value of support provided in the form of financial aid, bikes, and food was $33,934.06.  We conducted 190 interviews for financial aid, fed 441 households at Fresh Food Wednesday, and did this with the support of 319 volunteers! 

Among the reasons for needing financial assistance are:

  • fell behind on bills due to a needed auto repair and needing to fly to father’s funeral.
  • single Mom with 2 kids is no longer receiving SSI for children with sickle cell anemia.
  • supports adult disabled daughter and had high utility bills in the winter.
  • not able to work due to illness or surgery.

Jennifer Vaughan, who runs the Potter’s House, continues to meet with the Transition Team for the Housing Resource Center (HRC).  This team consists of the librarian for the oceanfront library, 99 for the One, Star of the Sea Catholic Church, PIN, PATH (Human Services), Homeless Outreach Team, Director of the HRC, Program Director of the HRC, Volunteer Coordinator of the HRC. Together they are trying to address the needs of the homeless at the oceanfront.

Topics they are working on include:

  • Transportation – The city will provide transportation to and from the HRC and the oceanfront.  Times will revolve around jobs and services. Possibly 3 times a day.
  • Meals – At this time, meals will only be provided for those who are staying in the shelter.
  • Services needed – Discussions are around trying not to duplicate services and determining what is needed.
  • Opening date – It now looks like move in for the offices will be in late July/August.  This time frame has changed due to construction.  The shelter will open in the fall.

2 Keys to Defeating Temptation

Everyone has experienced temptation.  Living as imperfect people with high standards, we sometimes find ourselves tempted to make choices and decisions that might satisfy a desire in the moment but would not be wise or good in the long term.  The epistle of James reminds us that temptations will come our way in life.  As James puts it, we are “dragged away and enticed” until we finally give in to temptation.  Nobody wakes up one morning and says, “I think I’ll ruin my life today.  I think I’ll do something that destroys my reputation, brings pain to the people I love and fills me with shame and regret.” Nobody does that, but plenty of people wake up one morning in that exact situation.  How did they end up there?  One small, gradual step at a time.  Listen to the June 3 sermon, “The Temptation Test.”

Tim Norris lives in a house that backs up to the Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club in Sussex England.  Tim Norris also has a Labrador retriever named Wilson.  One morning Wilson managed to get free from the backyard.  When Tim found him, Wilson was chomping down on a golf ball.  He swallowed it whole.  Fearing that the ball would cause a bowel obstruction, Veterinarian Karen Belcher took X-rays.  And what she found was quite a surprise.  It turns out that Wilson had not swallowed one golf ball, he had swallowed seven golf balls.   Surgery was performed, the golf balls were removed, and apparently Wilson is slowly recovering.  I hear he’s still feeling a little under par(hahaha), but otherwise he is going to be okay.

Tim has made the decision to move to a different house, further away from the golf course.  Apparently, Wilson’s appetite for golf balls is too strong and there’s just too much temptation with the golf course being right next door.  Moving away seems like the best option.

We can chuckle a little bit at Wilson and his weakness for golf balls, but I wonder, what is your weakness?  Is there an area in your life, an appetite, a desire, a bad habit, that tempts you into trouble?  If so, you’re not alone. 

As we consider temptation, there are two truths to acknowledge and two tips to embrace. 

Two truths we need to acknowledge:

  1. Temptation is natural and normal.
  2. Temptation is often subtle and gradual.

Two truths we need to embrace:

  1.  Be aware of those areas in our lives where we are vulnerable and avoid temptation in those areas.  This is why I do not bring any Grandma Utz Handcooked Potato Chips into my house.  I’m weak and vulnerable there.  I’ll eat the whole darn bag in one sitting.  We all have areas where our ability to control ourselves is weak.  Like Superman, we all have our “kryptonite.”   Know what those areas might be and avoid them.
  2. Keep our focus on what is good and noble and pure.  What we focus on grows stronger.  Pursuing a life that is healthy, holy and honoring to God allows us to put our focus on the things that lead us away from temptation and toward that which is good.

Still we all stumble sometimes.  We all fall short of the goal.  The message of the Bible is not “you’re a terrible person, straighten up.”  The message of the Bible is, “we are all sinners who need a savior, and God has sent us a savior.”  Jesus offers us forgiveness through his death, and new life through his resurrection, and new power through the Holy Spirit.  We may not defeat temptation every time, but we can defeat temptation most of the time.  Stay focused on the goodness and love of God, and let the Lord lead you down the right paths.

Pastor Mark Miller