New Course on Healing Ministry with Stephen Seamands

New Course on Healing Ministry with Stephen Seamands

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Dan: What distinguishes your understanding of healing ministry from others? We have all sorts of different backgrounds and teachings and things we’ve heard, we’ve had a lot of connection within our New Room relationships and experiences and church worlds, but what distinguishes your understanding of healing ministry from other popular approaches? And why do you believe God’s people are ripe for this invitation now, more than ever?

Steve: Thanks, Dan. Well, if you look out there on the horizon, most of the healing ministry and the emphasis on healing in the church today is being done by pentecostals and charismatics. And over the last really 125 years, they’re the ones that have really made this a priority and a focus along with an emphasis on the Holy Spirit. It’s really interesting in global pentecostalism today—I quote, a statistic at one point in the book where the author of a book of essays on global Pentecostalism says that in Latin America, in Africa and Asia today, when they serve a Pentecostals and charismatics, they find that about 80 to 90% of them talk about healing as being an essential part of their conversion experience to Christ—that they experienced the divine healing in some manner, and that was what, you know, led them to Christ or brought them to Christ.

So there’s a strong emphasis there on on healing. But sometimes the Charismatics and Pentecostals, they’ve emphasized healing, and the spirit. But they haven’t been as biblically grounded sometimes as they’ve needed to be; they’ve had a lot of zeal, but not as much knowledge sometimes. Then on the other side, you’ve got what I call a more Word-centered, Bible-centered, orthodox Christians—evangelical Christians. Really, that was the kind of tradition that I grew up in more. And even though we say we believe in divine healing, for all practical purposes, we function like cessationists—which is a word to describe people who basically have said that the gifts of healing and healing miracles stopped after the age of the apostles, or after about the first three centuries. So there’s one group of who “over believes” in healing the other groups “under believe” in it. And I’m trying actually in this book to sort of chart a middle way. Where we both emphasize Word and Spirit.

I’m finding out there that there are a lot of charismatics and pentecostals that are hungry for a more balanced a holistic approach to healing because they’ve seen the dangers and the problems with excesses on one end, and then I’m finding on the other hand, evangelical Christians and orthodox Christians who really haven’t emphasized healing very much, given the need for healing in people’s lives today. They’re hungry for a greater emphasis on healing. And they’re just looking for someone to kind of show them away. A way that takes the Bible seriously, and takes healing seriously.

So I’m hoping that this book can actually be a kind of a middle way, between those two paths. And I do believe that everyone is hungry, I think, for an emphasis on healing today, but they want to get it right. And I feel like we’re at a time in the body of Christ, where we’re ready for something in the middle. Yeah. Not on one side, one extreme or the other. So I’ve written this book, intentionally to try to be in the middle, which I think for those of us in the Wesleyan tradition, that’s kind of where we often find ourselves on a lot of these issues. So that’s kind of what I’ve tried to do here.

Dan: That’s so good. Steve. You know, the thought that I’m having is that you referenced an article, or something J. D. Walt has said—that the church is really to be the primary healing agency in the world. Even what you just shared even helps this become accessible to many different streams that maybe would step back from another approach or another book or another voice, and would lean in because they feel represented here, in a sense. Or a kind of accessibility which seeks to united voices and streams into a possible approach.

Let’s, let’s kind of progress then into an idea. I’d really love us to spend some time on tonight, if we could. And it’s this one area in Follow the Healer where you take a section to describe the five ways that Jesus heals. And I’d love if you kind of touched on those and explain how you came to this understanding, and how does this meet the challenges of our time? And I’d like to spend a little bit of extra time in this one and just, let’s just take some time and talk about it because this is, this is, you know, this is riding the ship. They say an airplane is off course 90 to 98% of the time, right? The goal is trajectory. And I feel like this language you’ve given to it creates a better trajectory from all the cross winds that hit us related to healing. So yeah, go for it.

Steve: Well, I was introduced to what he called the five miracles of healing by by Dr. Frank Stanger, back in the 1970s. When I was a student at Asbury Seminary, he was the president of the seminary and I’m not sure if he was the one that originated this—I think he might have actually got a got it from E. Stanley Jones. He borrowed it and shaped it a bit. But anyway, I found it just so helpful, in kind of giving me a framework for thinking about healing ministry.

Most people when they think about healing ministry, think about the first way that Jesus heals, which is of course directly and supernaturally we think of physical healings. And we think of Jesus on healing ministry in the gospels, most of those healing, miracles, kind of reflect that approach to healing, and praise God for the supernatural touch, for the way that Jesus can heal supernaturally in people’s lives. And I was talking to someone earlier today about a supernatural healing. They shared with me from their life and, and I believe we should, we Westerners tend to be skeptical about supernatural healing. They share art in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But this is one of the ways Jesus heals. And I believe that in our local churches, we need to create spaces where we pray for people, and we equip people to pray for people to experience supernatural kinds of healing.

But then, secondly, Jesus heals through doctors and medicine. And there’s the miracle of modern medicine that we are so grateful for and thankful for. And really throughout the Christian tradition for 2000 years, Christians have have been at the forefront of a of advocating the work of doctors and medicine. And you know, in the 19th century, when missionaries went out from America and Britain and other places, they generally started out building a church, then they built a school, then they built a hospital. Yeah, and for many of these places, this was their first experience of modern medicine, you know. So the importance of Jesus healing through doctors and medicine, which ought to lead us to pray for our doctors, and our nurses and our health care givers, and to ask Jesus to help them help us. And actually, I think we need to do a better job of affirming folks that are called to these kinds of ministries, in our churches, and to actually to lay hands on them, and to equip them and to and to say, you’re in the ministry of the healing ministry of Jesus, in what you’re doing.

So Jesus heals through doctors and medicine, Jesus then also heals through the human body’s healing power. Your body is a healing machine. You know, I was talking to someone just the other day, and they were talking about how the brain itself, all the research they’ve done, actually wants to heal trauma, and heal the trauma that’s within it that’s been created by certain kinds of experiences, and so forth. And of course, we know what a great immune system we’ve got. And we know that our blood coagulates, when we’re lucky, you know, there’s just this, there’s this propensity toward healing within the human body. And that’s a way that Jesus who is the, the, the one through whom all things were created, He is the creator of not, he’s also he’s the Lord of both creation and new creation. And so he wants to heal through the human body’s healing power.  And this, of course, leads to an emphasis on holistic medicine, and holistic healing, which means that you need to be careful about what you put into your body. Right, in terms of what you eat, and the way you take care of your body in terms of exercise, and rest and, and things like social engagement, and record recreation. And even things like humor. Help them help the human body and there’s there’s scientific data on all of this. So we need to, we need to think about the human body, and its capacity to heal as another way that Jesus heals.

Sometimes in healing ministry, I find that what I try to do is get rid of things sometimes that are blocking the body’s ability to to heal. Yeah. So when I’ve, I’ve had occasion where people have forgiven somebody that they’ve held a grudge against. And they had a physical problem, maybe some arthritis or some, some intestinal issues, whatever. And, you know, the physical problem, after they forgave somebody, we didn’t even pray for the physical problem, but it went away. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s made me think I think the body could do what it was designed to do when they got rid of that thing that was blocking and preventing it from being what it was designed to do. So that’s the third way Jesus heals.

And then Jesus heals through bestowing grace in suffering. Dr. Stanger call this the miracle of sufficient grace. You remember Paul’s thorn in the flesh. In second Corinthians chapter 12. He talks about how he prayed for that to be taken away. But the Lord did not see fit to take it away or remove it that said, My grace is sufficient for you, Paul, and my power is going to be made manifest in your weakness. And so God used this thorn to make Paul weak as it were, so that he could be strong and then you remember Paul turns around and says, so I glory actually, yeah, I boast in this infirmity. I praise God for it now. I’ve been around folks who have been given grace, to endure and to persevere in suffering. And I’ve, as a pastor I visited parishioners who, well, when I went in the room where they were, as they suffered with some disease, sometimes cancer, it was like the glory of the Lord was present there. Yeah, it was a real miracle. And, and in some occasions, had a profound effect on people who they, in their family, they were touched by that they knew that God was doing something profound.

So that’s another way I believe that that Jesus brings healing through sufficient grace and then the last way that Jesus brings healing is through victorious dying you know, for the Christian death it’s it’s it’s an enemy, and yet it sting has been removed. It sting has been removed, remove, and even though we grieve. And we don’t, you know, we don’t live in a Pollyanna world of unreality about death. Yeah, we also know that death is not the sunset for the Christian. It’s the dawn. It’s a doorway, into the presence of Jesus. And so it’s actually another form of healing. And there’s a victorious way of dying, where the once again, even in the midst of death, we see the resurrection power of Christ being manifested in this person who’s dying. And that has a wonderful impact. It’s a testimony to others. And so that’s another way that Jesus heals.

Now, in healing ministry, the question is not if Jesus wants to heal, you know, sometimes people pray if it if it be thy will, Lord, would You heal? I believe Jesus wants it always wants to heal. The question is, how does Jesus want to heal in this particular situation? And which are maybe what combination of these? Because that’s another thing, it’s not just necessarily one of these five. But sometimes it’s a combination, isn’t it? Several of them working together is often how God heals. And I believe we should not set these over against each other, or exalt one.

And make one sound if you’re really spiritual, this would happen to you. But if you’re not, maybe you should do this, you know? No, we shouldn’t see it that way. We should see the Lord Jesus working in all these ways to bring healing. So I found this very, very useful, I think in terms of as I approach people, and as I pray for people, sometimes I start, I generally start praying boldly, if I don’t know much, I want to believe that the kingdom of God is at hand. It’s now. Jesus can heal supernaturally. But if we pray for someone like that a few times and nothing happens, we begin to start thinking well, okay, how do we need to pray for this person? Maybe we need to change the kinds of praying we’re doing for them in terms of healing. So I’ve found this to be a really rich and helpful way. And I think if we could get a hold of this, we would have a have a really fully-orbed, balanced, and wonderful approach to healing ministry.

Dan: Let’s, let’s stay in this a bit. That’s so good. I’m sure we’re all just really encouraged by that. The moment you said, you know, death is not a sunset, it’s a dawn for the Christian. I’ve recently I’ve just lost two people, very close to me, from different kinds of situations. And, and I am always amazed at the thread of joy and hope that runs through the Christians vision of passing into the arms of Jesus and, and really being truly alive in His presence. It’s it’s delightful, you know? Paul talks about it in Second Corinthians that even each day though our bodies waste away, our spirits are being renewed day by day. And you just literally see that being worked out in someone’s life in front of your eyes. And it’s amazing.

Let’s take it toward this this theme you explore, which I’m really fascinated by, and it feels like it could fix—it’s got a remedial kind of quality to it, in that it might help people who have a fixation on that first way of healing—related to power. You challenge us to recenter on love. And why is that so important? Because as you talk about these five ways of healing, love makes them all make sense. Sitting at the center, power can be disorienting in that. And, you know, I’d love to hear you just talk about why are we fixated primarily on the power theme, potentially, and how can we move forward from that, or into another way of seeing it the power of God?

Steve: Well, I’m convinced, I’m convinced that what Jesus is trying to do, and what God is trying to do in all of our lives as Christians, is to make us more like Jesus. And Paul talks about three things that endure faith, hope, and love. And so often, you know, we want the Lord to exercise his power, and setting us free from some physic, particularly physical infirmity, or some, some pain that we’re experiencing. But you know, I’ve found the Lord oftentimes is actually, he’s, he’s working in our lives to bring about our transformation into the image of His Son, our sanctification. And, and, yeah, he’s, he’s doing that out of out of love for us. And he’s more in you know, he knows what’s best for us more than we do. Now, it’s, I think it’s a natural thing for us human beings to kind of want to be delivered. We’re like, like little children, you know, we operate like that. And, and then when occasion when we see a divine healing, we think, Wow, well, then why can’t that happen to me or to everyone, right? But understanding, you know, that Jesus heals first and thought foremost out of His love for us. And I could talk about how that’s spelled out in the Gospels in different ways. That’s actually really helped me because I’ve come to trust in His love. Even when I can’t see, you know, when you can’t, when you can’t trace his hand, you can still trust his heart.

When I’m praying with someone, I know that God wants to bring about transformation in this person’s life. He loves this person. And so when I pray for people, I want to see them excel. I ask myself, What needs to happen that this person might experience God’s love for them? Even if it doesn’t come particularly in the way that they expected or wanted. Because you know, if they get if they experience God’s love, it tends to make everything all right. I could live with whatever comes knowing that I’m his beloved and then that he delights in me. So anyway, I think it’s so important to get that right down.

Dan: We have to get that right, don’t we? You know, I’d love it if you could imagine a day in the life of the church that’s really following the Healer, the body of Christ following me here, what? What does that day look like? What’s happening in the church? What’s happening in the boardroom or the home—the house? What? Like, what kind of day in the life could you imagine with this kind of loving, fully scoped vision of healing happening? Does that make sense?

Steve: Jesus did three things he preached he taught, he healed. And in a way, when you think of what of the church, all three of those things are continuing through his body, the church. Yeah. But, yeah, it would, it would seem to me that one of the things that would happen if if we took, if we understand that Jesus he wants to heal, is that we would, we would create a context and an expectation in our congregations that coming to Christ, and receiving Him for the forgiveness of sins, and an entering into a relationship with Him, leads to the need for healing in one’s life of the areas of brokenness in their life.

My father, David Seamands, wrote a famous book years ago called Healing for Damaged Emotions. And it was almost like at that particular point, like that book came out in 1981, or something like that. And it was like the idea that there could be for the Christian a healing of your emotions, that was almost like a revolutionary idea. Right? I think we should help people to come to know that that’s just part of the package, because Jesus, Jesus wants to heal areas of brokenness in our lives. He wants to heal relationships between people within the body, he also wants to heal, bring healing and reconciliation to races. And, you know, so if we started out, that was, first of all, it would it would frame it would give us this overarching, understanding that that is something we expect to see. And then I think, Dan, it would lead to specific practices. Where we gave people opportunities to experience healing, whether it’s in a small group where we pray for people, and not just sort of pray at the end, you know, but literally, address healing needs and allow people to receive healing there or, or in our worship services, giving people opportunities to come and receive healing prayer.

I think that, obviously, we have programs like Celebrate Recovery, which are really an expression of the healing ministry of Jesus, I just use that as one example, where people are experiencing healing for brokenness in their lives, and addictive patterns for in their lives. We should be doing those kinds of things regularly, we also should be calling out people from the body who have giftings in the area of healing, their spiritual, certain other spiritual gifts that are sort of naturally gravitate to healing ministry. We should be, you know, and then we should be equipping those folks to be able to do the ministry of healing. And, again, healing and evangelism go hand in hand. Yeah. You know, there are many people that if you try to share Jesus with them, they’ll push you away. But if you say, Is there something I could pray with you about? So often, they’ll end up sharing a healing need, right? And, you know, then when you pray and experience healing, this is what’s happening in the global church, and many occasions, it’s out of the healing that happens that that then they come to Christ. So these are just some of the ideas that come to my mind, begin to see how this whole thing begins to open up, you know?

Dan: Yeah, your kind of central theme is that, that this is the continuation of the ministry of Jesus. Yeah. And that sense is not ours to cling to. It’s Jesus ministry, moving through us, and we’re agents of healing. If we saw our work as Christians to be agents of healing and all these respects, the whole tide would rise, you know, in so many ways in the body.

Steve: And, and I think that the culture around us would sit up and take notice. Yeah, because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that we are very, we are a very broken needy people right now. Yeah. Absolutely. And I think I think they would hear, hear our message gladly. If they could experience Jesus the healer.

Dan: Absolutely. Well, let’s, let’s turn that, then toward this this question. So what’s your encouragement tonight to ordinary Christians? Maybe they’re apprehensive, or they’re anxious about praying for people to receive healing, or kind of moving forward in this, what will they learn from from the book and the in the on demand course? What kind of words would you have for for those folks?

Steve: Well, right off the bat, in the first chapter, I strongly emphasized the fact that it’s not about you asking Jesus to help you in your healing ministry. But it’s about you joining him in his ongoing ministry of healing. And remember, so the first and foundational thing I would say, is remember that you’re not the healer Jesus is. And don’t take the burden of healing on your self. Right? You know, you, let me just tell you, when you get into this kind of ministry of praying for people, you’re in over your head from the get go. Yeah, um, so that’s part of the reason why I think people sometimes avoid this. Yeah, I’ll get up and read scripture, if you asked me to, or I’ll do this. I can do. But, you know, we’re in over our head, but that’s okay. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. We’re not the healers, anyway. And I like to say, you know, remember, too, that in healing ministry, you’re not in management, you’re in sales.

What Jesus has commanded us to do is to pray for the sick, and, and to pray for those with healing needs. And ultimately, when we pray for them, we really do so not because we’re gifted, or we actually know necessarily what Jesus wants to do in every situation. There are occasions when the Lord, you know, really leads us and guides us because, because he really wants to heal them. Yeah. And he, he gives us insight, and sometimes words of knowledge and ability to pray. But all in all, it’s so important to understand that it’s his ministry, not ours, and that we join him. And that takes the, you might might just say that takes the burden off of us. And it also it also tells you tells me what my main, the main thing he, he calls me to do is to abide in him. Right, and to and to deepen my own relationship with him. So that when I’m in the moment, or in a situation with someone, praying for them, or listening to them, that he can see then that he can flow through me and work through me. But I would say I would definitely underscore that, Dan, remember that you’re not the healer. And no,

Dan: There’s our takeaway. There’s our takeaway tonight for that. Well, let’s let’s do one last question here. And then I’m just going to note, note the book in the course for all those who are watching the video this that this final question is really kind of turn toward awakening. You know, our work at Seedbed is focused on awakening—to gather, resource, and connect the people of God to so for a great awakening. What would happen in our hearts, in our homes, our churches, in our cities, if God’s people were to take this message to heart and become open to participating in the healing ministry of Jesus?

Steve: There’s a there’s a wonderful Old Testament prophecy concerning the coming Messiah and in the in the book of Malachi—the last chapter of the of the last book in the Old Testament. I look at chapter four, that says this, “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go free leaping with joy, like calves lead out to pasture. On the Day when I act you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet, says the Lord of Heaven’s armies.”

That’s quite a word there. And actually, those of you that know Charles Wesley’s great hymn, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”—know how he picks that up in one of the verses: “Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace, hail the Sun of Righteousness, light and life to all he brings risen with healing in His wings.” And that’s a really an allusion to that prophecy in the book of Malachi.

Well, I believe if this is the message of follow the healer is taken to heart, that we will come closer to the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy. That Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of righteousness, will surely begin to rise as never before with healing in His wings. That’s what the prophecy says, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing and his wings, will we will see that the fulfillment of that and the body of Christ will see the fulfillment of that as never before, as as we move toward the return of the Lord. And, and then as a result that the prophecy says that the two things will come to pass it says: We ourselves and those in our homes and churches and cities—we’ll go free leaping with joy, like calves lead out to pasture.

You get the picture in your heart, the calves that have been cooped up all winter. In the barn, but all of a sudden, the springtime comes and we let them out, and they get out and they kick around and the joy that comes when the Lord heals is is freedom that comes to people and joy, and experiencing who they were designed to be as human beings, you know? And then and then it says, Finally, God’s people will tread upon the forces of wickedness and evil, as if they were dust under our feet. And though Satan, the thief, comes to steal, and to destroy, and, and to tear down—to keep us from being who God intended. But we can be people who receive healing. Actually, that’s one of the ways that we do spiritual warfare. He won the battle against evil in the world. “On the day when I act,” it says, “You will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet.” Surely all God’s people can say amen to that.

Dan: Amen. Hallelujah!

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One Response

  1. I picked up Stephens book at New Room 2023. Unaware at the time of the challenges I would be facing going forward. My daughter was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in December and my world fell apart with grief and pain. I picked up this book and I think I underlined the whole book. This book is so full of godly wisdom and truth clearly presented. It has guided my understanding in so many ways. I love that the Father knew I would need it and provided for that need. God bless you Stephen and thank you.

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