Books for Personal Spiritual Growth

[A list of my favorite books right now for personal spiritual growth.]

I felt impressed to share with you a list of my current favorite books for personal spiritual growth. I told myself, “That’s not a good topic for a blog post.” But the idea would not go away. So, after several days, I am obedient to the nudge and hope that someone is blessed by my personal list. If you would like to share with others a book that has helped you grow spiritually, please feel free to share with all of us. You may be sowing a seed that someone needs. (Sorry for the bad rhyme; I blame that on too much Dr. Seuss as a kid.)

The Bible – Any version. I listen to the New International Version on my iPhone app; I read the New American Standard generally and use it for study; I read the New Living Bible before bed sometimes.

The Final Quest, Rick Joyner (Fort Mill, SC: MorningStar Publications)final-quest-trade

The Final Quest is a prophetic allegory. It is written from Rick Joyner’s dreams and visions just as he received them. The book is a fascinating and insightful page-turner. I keep reading these books over and over because they contain so much insight for our maturity in Christ.

From the web site: The Final Quest is a sobering call to those who will take a courageous stand for truth and righteousness, challenging the great darkness of our times and pushing it back. It is a call to those who will never again retreat before the enemies of the cross, but will instead take up their crosses and march forth to tear down the strongholds of the enemy. We have been given divinely powerful weapons for that purpose. Click the picture to be taken to the book.

The Call, Rick Joyner (Fort Mill, SC: MorningStar Publications)call-trade

The Call continues the message introduced in The Final Quest which challenged Christians around the world to begin living the truth with which they have been entrusted. The Call is a call to life; a call to live in the unprecedented glory of the Son of God; a call to sacrifice to do all things for the sake of the gospel.

The darkenss will soon be over, and the day of our Lord will soon dawn. Now is the time for us to take a stand against the great darkness of our times for the sake of the Light Who is greater and is surely coming. Click the picture to be taken to the book.

The Torch and the Sword, Rick Joyner (Fort Mill, SC: MorningStar Publications)thetorchandsword-mm

The Torch and The Sword continues the message that began in The Final Quest and continued in The Call. It is a call to live the greatest adventure, for the most noble purpose. It is not for the faint of heart, but for those who desire to live as true knights of the cross, refusing to retreat before the great darkness of our time. It is for those who will stand with courage and resolution for truth, righteousness, and justice as messengers of the age to come. These are the ones whom Enoch prophesied would come with power in the last days and who are now awakening to their destiny.

Click the picture to be taken to the book.

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Practicing His Presence, Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach (Jacksonville, FL: The SeedSowers).

If you wish to know your Lord in a deeper way, you are invited to join the vast host of Christians who, over three centuries, have turned to this book more than any other -except the Scriptures – in order to begin that journey to the depths of Christ.

Click the picture to be taken to the book.

Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ, Jeanne Guyon (Sargent, GA: SeedSowers, 1996).Experiencing_the_Depths__25198_1312420994_1280_1280

Jeanne Guyon has brought many people to a deeper walk with Jesus Christ and an understanding of the indwelling Christ. She leads the reader to find Christ where He is, within our spirit.

Jeanne Guyon wrote Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ around 1685. For over three hundred years, this book has led untold numbers of Christians to the riches of fellowship with Jesus.

Click the picture to be taken to the book.

The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer (Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Christian Publications, Inc., 1993).216244_1_ftc

Do you hunger for a vibrant spiritual life? Join A.W. Tozer in his passionate search for God in The Pursuit of God! Offering relevant, time-tested insights, he encourages you to seek a personal relationship with your heavenly Father with single-mindedness, clarity, and commitment. Click the picture to be taken to the book.

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Do Not Blur Your Focus

This is a brilliant post I have been thinking about all day, so I decided to share it with you guys.

In Focus

Do Not Blur Your Focus

Making the most of time available is critical if we are to become renowned in the kingdom. Great people make time; good people find time; mediocre people waste time. Some people’s use of time borders on the criminal. It is a resource more important than money. Saying “no” so that our “yes” becomes more significant is vital to our lifestyle.

Focus determines our level of power and influence. Whatever has the capacity to keep our attention has influence over us. Focus directs our energy. When our heart is focused on God, we develop stamina as we are occupied with Him.

There is one cast-iron certainty about people that will always be true. Given the choice, they will always do exactly what they want to do. Whenever people bleat that they have no time for something, it is usually that they have no passion for it or they need to say…

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The Struggle of Spiritual Growth

The Struggle of Spiritual Growth

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[Spiritual growth is characterized by as much struggle as is physical growth, yet Jesus does not leave us helpless.]

Baby Abby kicked her adorable little legs and reached out with her arms. I watched as she struggled until her legs were bent up under her torso, and she tried pushing up with her arms.

I voiced the obvious, “She will be crawling before long. She wants that toy.” The toy was just beyond her reach, and she was reaching for it and squealing. She struggled to get her legs to push her forward at the same time her arms went forward. She reminded me of a butterfly garden my husband and I visited. There were thousands of butterflies in every stage of development. New butterflies kicked and struggled to get their wings free from the cocoons. The growth process means struggle.

Sometimes we get irritated with ourselves and others when we are not flying as high or running has fast as we think we should. Maybe there is a certain toy [read goal/achievement/job/etc.] we have failed to reach yet. My friend, Jesus knows the path we take. He has ordained our growth so that we will come out of our growth process looking like Him. He is the author and finisher of our faith! He loves us more than we even understand. He knows what we need and when we need it.

The problem then becomes this: Have we asked forgiveness for looking at other things instead of Him today? Are we doing the last thing He showed us to do? Have we experienced His reassuring love today?

Living every day in the Holy Spirit realm is foreign to our fallen nature, and Jesus just loves to see us growing in His realm. I feel like Jesus just watches us sometimes as we try to live by His Words and ways. He waits for us to notice He is watching, and maybe He thinks, “She is getting it, look!” “He is figuring out He needs me—I love that!” “Aw, she recognizes what my presence feels like—precious.” “He is yielding his heart to my desires—that so blesses Me.” “Oh, she wants to spend time with me—that just melts My heart!”

Be encouraged friend; Jesus has given us His Spirit to lead, guide, and comfort us. Struggle just is part of the growth.

To see some things that hinder spiritual growth click on my post, Five Things that Choke Spiritual Growth.

Five Things that Choke Spiritual Growth

Five Things that Choke Spiritual Growth

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[Unknowingly, sometimes otherwise good Christian people find they are choked by things that hinder their spiritual growth. This article will share five important things that choke one’s relationship with God.]

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These trees were both seedlings at the same time. One grew large. One did not.

Both trees received consistent water and fertilizer. Yet, the tree in the ground was free to grow unrestricted and the potted tree was contained; it lived, but was a spindly, anemic little seedling. It was choked by its container.

Psalm 1 says that successful people are the ones who are not entangled with negative, wicked, or limiting people, but are those who delight in God’s living, freeing Word. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit in the appropriate season. Their leaves never wither, and all they do prospers.

On TV yesterday, I watched as technicians rescued a sick seal that had fishing line caught around its neck. As the seal tried to grow the line had choked its growth and cut deeply around its neck. The seal should have been around 350 pounds, but was only 125 pounds, because the fishing line restricted its growth.

Spiritually speaking, many of us, for many and various reasons, stay in situations that restrict and hinder our spiritual growth. We are still alive; the situation has not killed us, but we are not growing either. Below are five things that hinder growth. Do any of these sound familiar?

A tendency toward negative thinking: Negative thoughts are void of faith in God who is the One who can do the impossible. This is a bad habit. Ask God for strategies to replace this habit with a positive, faith-filled habit. For example, I like to say to myself [a lot], “My God is bigger than this situation.”

Judgmental attitudes: This attitude limits spiritual growth because judgment is like a boomerang that comes back, so that we do the very things we judge in others (Rom 2:1). Because God is the only righteous judge, passing judgment on others usurps God’s authority. The continuing cycle prevents spiritual growth. Yet, the cycle stops with repentance.

The influence of negative or controlling people: These kind of people, if allowed to influence us, will keep us stuck in spiritual muck. This attitude is not from God who is peace, faith, hope, and love. You do not have to let them influence how you live and think. Get away if you can. Otherwise, ask God for strategies to deal with these ones.

Unhealthy submission to abusive authority: This severely limits growth! In effect we are placing that person/tradition/culture above God. We submit to things God would not have us submit to because of what others may think, tradition, and fear, etc. If this is your case, share your situation with someone you can trust (who can help) and is outside the situation. Begin to seek the Lord in earnest for how to get out of this kind of bondage.

Complacency or fear of change: God wants to draw close to us, but He will not go against our own will or fears. As soon as we make the tiniest move toward Him, He rushes in to help. We all want stability, and it can be hard to get past our own comfort to change. My first advice is to ask Jesus for help to overcome complacency and fear. You can also see my post on overcoming fear.

As we begin to grow up in our relationship with Christ, our roots need to have room to grow. We need to have the chokeholds broken from our necks. We need to be able to receive the living water and fresh food that nourishes our souls.

God has such wonderful plans for us! He has a hope and a future that is good! He is simply waiting for us to grow up into them. Those plans require us to be rooted and grounded in love (Eph 3:17). And our character has to be challenged with new freedoms, experiences, and trust (Eph 4:17).

Some people may be comfortable in their current bondages, but they may not be free to grow either. That little spindly seedling had grown as far it could grow in the little pot. That poor seal was stuck at 125 pounds when it should have been 350. These natural things were stuck in a rut! They were alive, but barely!

We watched as that poor sick seal was rescued and its bonds were broken. It was free and slid back into the ocean where it could eat, live, and grow unrestricted. My husband recently planted that little tree in rich fertile earth, so now it is growing free and showing signs of new life in its limbs.

The Spirit of the Lord brings Freedom! My prayer is that you will find freedom in those specific areas of your life that are restricting you. May God bless your journey with Him!

P.S. This list assumes one has taken care of all other blatant sins such as immorality, unforgiveness, etc. If you would like someone to talk to or pray with, please leave me an email, and I will respond. Your spiritual growth is important!

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Overcomng Fear–Keep Fear From Stealing Your Life

Overcomng Fear–Keep Fear From Stealing Your Life

photo (1)For over eighteen years of our twenty-year marriage my husband worked out of town Mondays through Thursdays. I had never been afraid of being by myself or afraid of something going terribly wrong. Then one day I walked past my dresser mirror, where I had a card of Psalm 91 posted, and certain words stood out to me, “the terror of night” and “pestilence that stalks in the darkness,” and “plague that destroys at midday.” I stopped and said, “Is that You, Lord?” I had experienced Scripture standing out to me before, but this time a strange foreboding presence swept over me and I was frightfully afraid. I realized this “presence” was not my Lord’s presence. Immediately, I bound fear and commanded it to leave in Jesus’ name. The fear left, and I was at peace, although I was a bit shaken from the strange experience.

It was interesting to me that satan used the same Scripture I prayed for security to bring fear and cause panic and confusion. Of course, I should not have been surprised, because satan twisted this same Psalm on Jesus in the wilderness.  He continues with the same tactics, and we must not fall for them.

I have heard a number of people relate losing their healing in a similar experience. They each received a genuine healing; then a day or so later a thought came into their head that said, “You are not really healed.” Bam! Right then their healing was stolen, because they believed the wrong thought/voice and did not say, “No! I believe my Lord! Leave in Jesus’ name!” Fear is a lie filled with torment, and satan will use it to steal anything. Here is list of common fears people have:[1]

• Fear of what others think
• Fear of past mistakes or past pain
• Fear of the unknown
• Fear that God is not pleased with you
• Fear that what we do is never enough
• Fear of being lonely
• Fear of lack
• Fear that something bad will happen to us or people we love

The key to overcoming fear of all kinds is to face them straight on, tell them to leave, and replace them with God-thoughts. Sometimes in order to stop a harassing fear, we must take the fear to its logical conclusion. For example, if your worst fear came true, then what? Let your mind go down this road to see how God would take the most horrific circumstance, heal you, and turn it for good (Rom 8:28). This will take the “fear” out of the fear. You will capture the thing that torments you (2 Cor 10:5).

God loves us unconditionally, and we can trust Him to deliver us from all forms of fear (1 John 4:18). We can give our fears to Him, because He is a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). God loves you, and you can overcome fear!

Have you had a similar experience? If this blog has helped in any way, please share with a friend, and thanks!

*As I was preparing this post, I saw this link. You all may want to grab this free ebook on overcoming fear. You can download simply by following their instructions. Free ebook on Overcoming Fear at the following linkhttp://www.freemorningstargift.com/?utm_source=ms-facebook&utm_medium=facebook&utm_content=free-gifts&utm_campaign=ms-facebook-free-gifts-june

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[1]List taken from Developing Power Thoughts Study Guide by Joyce Meyer

 

You Can Hear God’s Voice

You Can Hear God’s Voice

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[A How-To Guide For Hearing God’s Voice]

All believers are equipped with spiritual ears to hear God’s voice. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). We each have physical and spiritual senses. Thus, we each have the faculties to hear the voice of God. Most of us have developed our physical and mental senses and left our spiritual senses underdeveloped.

The Prerequisite:

In John 7:37-39 Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive.”

The prerequisites given were: being thirsty, coming to Jesus, believing, and drinking. Thus, the promise is for the believing, thirsty one. The believer will be able to drink from [connect with] the flow of living water [Holy Spirit]. The attitude of being thirsty, coming to Jesus, believing, and drinking is the attitude of the one that receives from the living, communicating God.

Practice Awareness

We must posture ourselves to hear God’s communication. Many times our lives are filled with many distractions, and we have not learned how to listen to the subtle voice of God. A major part of hearing God’s voice is a result of paying close attention. Most people have to practice listening to be aware of the subtle ways God generally communicates. In addition, one must make sure there is no unforgiveness or disobedience in one’s heart that would stop the flow of His communication.

The Communicating God

After proper positioning, one can expect to communicate with the living God. The following is one way to hear God’s voice that has been extremely helpful to me in understanding and hearing more specifically from God. One can also experience Him speaking through words that come alive to one’s heart in the Bible. In addition, God speaks in vision or pictures (Heb 12:2; 1 Cor 12:10), dreams (Acts 16:9), through emotions (Gal 5:22-23), illuminated Scripture, the presence of peace or pressure in one’s spirit, circumstances (Jonah), and flowing revelation to the heart (1 Cor 2:9-10).

Mark Virkler writes about four keys to hearing and communicating with God,[1] taken from Habakkuk 2:1-3 and also Rev 1:10-11. Simply stated, the four keys are:

  1. Set one’s mind on Jesus. Focus on the truth of Jesus Christ in some manner (a picture of Jesus in one’s mind, or a simple thought of love). One may also pray in tongues or listen to anointed music that helps focus on the flow of the Spirit of Jesus.
  2. Stillness. Quiet oneself to hear His voice. Ps 46:10 tells us to, “Cease striving [let go, relax] and know that I am God.” The King James and other versions, render this, “Be still, and know that I am God.” It is sometimes difficult to still all the noise, voices, and thoughts in life. Learning to quiet one’s inner being is key to hearing God’s gentle voice in one’s inner being. One can use a verse of Scripture to still the mind (for example, Psalm 23).
  3. Spontaneity. Recognize God’s voice as spontaneous thoughts that light upon the mind. Begin to notice that thoughts from one’s own mind are analytical, and thoughts from God are spontaneous, flowing from the living water inside the believer (2 Cor 10:4-5; Gal 2:20; John 7:37-39).
  4. Journaling. Write your question, “What would you say to me today, Lord?” Then write down the flow of thoughts and/or pictures that light upon your mind in return. This is two-way journaling—a discussion between you and God. It is a biblical method that can help one grow in discerning the voice of God in one’s heart. It is simply recording prayers and then also what one senses to be the answer from God. The reason journaling helps so much, is that you can just simply write down whatever spontaneously comes to mind without judging. There is always time to judge later. Just let the words flow and write—this is practice hearing! It is helpful to have several mentors, spiritual leaders, or other spiritual persons that can help you to evaluate if what you are receiving is from God.

When one begins hearing our Lord’s voice in two-way journaling, one will find He gives healing, love, and affirmation. He will speak edification, exhortation, and comfort to one’s heart (1 Cor 14:3). He will lead one into a fuller love relationship with Himself and provide encouragement and self-acceptance.

Characteristics for Recognizing God’s Voice:

  1. God’s voice comes as thoughts in your mind most of the time.
  2. God’s thoughts will always line up with the Bible.
  3. God’s thoughts are spontaneous and not cognitive or analytical, which means one must move from living solely out of reason and embrace spontaneity as well (like children, Matt 18:3). Jesus lived out of an inner flow of thoughts and pictures from His Father (John 5:19-20, 30).
  4. God’s thoughts flow easily and are expressed in first person.
  5. God’s thoughts will be expressed through one’s personal style and speech, just as each of the Gospel writer’s personalities came through in their writings.
  6. God’s thoughts often are light and gentle, easily cut off by any exertion of the self will.
  7. God’s thoughts will be wiser, more healing, more loving and more concerned about one’s heart motive than one’s personal thoughts.
  8. God’s thoughts will cause a special reaction inside a person. They will cause excitement, conviction, faith, life, awe, joy, love, and peace. Negative or accusing thoughts are not God.
  9. When one embraces God’s thoughts, there is a grace, strength, and joy to carry His thoughts and words out.
  10. One’s spiritual senses are trained by becoming more and more sensitive to God’s thoughts and communications.

This is a short blog on a topic that fills multitudes of books. Yet, hopefully, these small nuggets of information have resonated with you in some way and added some valuable insight into your pursuit of our gracious Lord. If one practices these keys, one will experience a dynamic friendship with God. I highly recommend reading the Virklers’ book, 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice, and they have much good information on their web site at cwgministries.org.

P.S. In learning to recognize God’s voice and presence it is helpful to be in physical proximity to others who hear and experience His presence. I am developing a workshop/seminar in conjunction with my doctoral work on knowing God more intimately. The plan is to offer this workshop/seminar in the fall this year in Spokane, WA. In the seminar we will learn and practice several strategies that deepen personal knowledge of our Lord. So, stay tuned!

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[1]Mark and Patti Virkler, 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2010).

“Did You Learn to Love?”

564676_518863361553045_50167720_nI acutely remember this testimony today because we got call to prayer for a friend in a serious accident. So, as I remember the truths of testimony, I want to share with you all as well. There are many things we do not understand about the nature of God or the spiritual realm, but consider the testimony of Bob Jones:

I was in pain on the earth, and blood was shooting out of my mouth like a geyser. And all of a sudden, I wasn’t in pain anymore. This Man, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, stood by my side, and we started walking. And as we walked, I saw a Man who was white light. All white light was around Him, but He was the whitest of all white lights. He had His hands out. As I came into that white light, there came a feeling over me like I had never known before. I asked the Man beside me, “What is that?”

The Man (Holy Spirit) said, “It is the love of God.” I said, “It’s just so wonderful. It’s so glorious.” And He said, “That’s what it is—it’s the glory of God.” I said, “How can it be both?” It’s in John 17—the love I had with the Father, the glory I had with the Father.
So that was the greatest experience I have ever had. Just enveloped in His glorious love. That’s possible down here. The glory of God is coming, and it is going to be in His glorious love.

I noticed another group of people on my left side, and they had what looked like a conveyor belt underneath them. They were wrapped up in all different kinds of things. I looked at them and I asked this Man, “Why are they wrapped up that way?” And He said, “They are wrapped up in the earth with their gods.” It’s the gods they worshiped on the earth that followed them into death. They were on their way to hell with their gods. I saw a man wrapped up in dollar bills. I saw a man wrapped up in his sod or grass; his yard was his god. I saw a man that had no body; he was just one big head. He was an atheist, and he worshiped himself; he was his own god and going to hell with it.
I saw many things people worshiped on the earth that they are going to spend eternity with. Well, I worshiped the Lord, and I am going to spend eternity with Him. But these others who don’t are going to spend eternity in total darkness with their god. And their gods will be their tormentors, not for 100,000 years, but for eternity.

So I looked at that line. It was so horrible. Everyone in the line recognized Him. Their eyes got big. Everyone who is going to hell has had a witness in one way or another tell them that there is a God. And every one of them willingly denied Him. For each two in the line that I was in, there were 98 in the other line.

I watched the Lord speak to people who were coming there. He asked them only one question: “Did you learn to love?” He’s not going to ask you what you did. If you learn to love, you are going to do what is right. Did you learn to love? He asked them that question and they said, “Yes, Lord,” and He kissed them right on the lips and embraced them, and the double doors of His heart opened and they went right in.
Some had a lot of angels with them and they would go on in [to heaven]. The angels went too because they had testimonies; they helped people do things on the earth. Angels have no testimony until they help you do something. We are the ones who will judge angels by their rewards for what they helped us do. They are more willing to help you do something than you are willing to submit and let them help you do it.

As I came close to the Lord, I was thinking, I learned to love. I’m OK. I’m going home. As I did, He held His hand up to me and said, “No, I want you to go back.” I told Him, “It was too hard to get here. I don’t want to [go back] because I wasn’t doing any good there.” He said, “You are a liar, because you spoke My words, and My words will always bring it to pass.” I said, “Well, nobody was believing it, and it was painful.” He said, “Yes, and you have a cowardly nature too. Up there, it’s about the truth. But you love. You had a heart for souls. I want you to go back. If you look at that line over there and then tell me you want to come in, I will bring you in.”
I looked at that line and looked at their faces and said I would go back for one. I would go back and spend a day on a cross for one. He said, “I’m not sending you back for that. I’m sending you back to wake up the church because I am going to bring a billion youth to Myself in one of the greatest waves of all times. I’m going to honor Myself beyond anything that man can imagine. I want you to go back and touch the church and speak to the church of what I am going to do in these last days.” So I told Him I would go back.

I came back. I thought that when I came back into my body, I would be healed. As I came back, I saw two of the biggest angels I have ever seen. I know who they are. They are the resurrection angels. And I saw the death spirit as he left when I came back in.
When I went back into the body, I wasn’t healed. The pain was there, and I couldn’t understand why. I was gone from my body probably for about three hours. The pain was there, and I said, “What’s going on, Lord?” And then I heard a phone ring. And I saw people answering the phone and they were saying, “Bob Jones needs prayer.”

They started praying, and I felt better. It was Friday. People kept praying; the prayers kept increasing and increasing. And then people came over and prayed for me that night until the pain was hardly there.
On Saturday at 3 a.m., the last person stopped praying for me. I could see who was praying for me. The pain was coming back and I thought, Boy, it’s going to be a long time.

And then I saw an old sister who wasn’t highly thought of in the church because she didn’t take very many baths. She always sat in the last seat in back of the church. She got up early in the morning and cleaned offices for a living. Her phone rang, and she answered it. She got up at 3 a.m. and started praying for me, and I went to sleep.

She had to go to work at 5 a.m., and others began to pray for me, so Saturday was pretty good. People came over Saturday and I thought, Well, I know He sent me back down here to live. Prayer and intercession sure made the difference.
That night the pain was there until about 3 a.m., and all the other prayers ended except hers. She got up and prayed for me again; she didn’t have to work on Sundays. She prayed for me until about 7 a.m. [When she stopped praying], it was the worst time because there was no prayer. People were going to church.

And it was really bad until about 10:05 a.m. At 10:00, Viola asked me, “How are you doing?” I told her I was worse than I had ever been. I was swelling and couldn’t even get out of bed. At 10:05, I became totally normal, totally delivered. I got up and we went to church, and I testified of it.

I found out the value of prayer. And I found out the value of not having an opinion about saints. I found out the value of ministry, that one saint was able to void all of it so I could sleep.

These words were spoken by Bob Jones at a 2006 conference in Albany, OR. Jones went home to be with the Lord on Feb. 14 of this year after more than four decades of prophetic ministry.

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