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Digging In – Why Promising Prosperity Delivers Despair

9 Feb

I sat quietly in the back of the room, cringing at every word.

“God is not the author of sickness! God is not the author of disease! He has already healed you—Isaiah said ‘By His stripes we are healed!’”

Used with permission

Used with permission

She paused to take a breath.

“Ladies. Stop asking for healing and start walking in the healing He has already given you. He will heal you if you have the faith to believe it!”

The room broke out in a chorus of “Hallelujahs” and “Amens” as I sank lower into my chair.

My thoughts turned to Ethan Hallmark, a brave young warrior who lost his earthly battle to a brutal cancer that ravaged his body. As he lay in his hospice bed, he beckoned his mother to lean in. Later, she told me what he said. He was afraid, not of dying, but of something else.

He was afraid that people would blame God for his cancer.

Ethan Hallmark had great faith.

So why did he die? Why wasn’t he healed? How can his faith possibly be reconciled with the prosperity message?

It can’t.

It doesn’t have to.

The prosperity message is not in the Bible.

The prosperity message needs one important component to succeed:

Your lack of Biblical knowledge

I had politely challenged the conference speaker before the event. I asked her why people with great faith lost battles to disease and sickness. She couldn’t answer me. Her only response was that God had given her a special revelation that He has already healed us, and we must simply walk in the healing we already have.

Let’s look at the passage she cited:

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

—Isaiah 53:5

At first glance, this does, indeed, look like a promise of healing. But before we jump to that conclusion, let’s look at the next verse:

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

—Isaiah 53:6

These verses were taken out of the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Chapter 53 is the great messianic chapter of the book, and Christian scholars unanimously agree that the chapter is about Jesus. But is this chapter about our physical healing?


Verse 5 states that Jesus was bruised for our iniquities; verse 6 says the Lord laid on Him the iniquities of the world.

What are our iniquities?

Merriam-Webster defines iniquity as “gross injustice, wickedness, a wicked act or thing” and “sin.”

When Isaiah speaks of healing, he is not talking about disease or disability. He is talking about something more frightening, more desperate, and far more lethal.

He is talking about our sinful condition.

Romans 3:23 reminds us that every person that has ever occupied space on planet earth has sinned and fallen short of God’s standard. Our sinful condition is so deeply intertwined with our DNA, so intricately woven through the fabric of our lives, that physical healing is the least of our concerns.

We need a Savior to heal us of our sinful condition.

We need a Savior to save us from ourselves, because in our own strength, we are as powerless in the face of our sin as a bug is in the face of a boot.

Here are a few things of which we can be sure:

  • Life is full of trials and sorrows (John 16:33)
  • We will face many battles (Ephesians 6:10-18)
  • We will suffer (1 Peter 3:17)
  • Our own flesh wages war against us (1 Peter 2:11)

You will never find that in the prosperity message, but you will find it running through Scripture like a scarlet thread.

So where is the good news?

  • We fight from victory, not for victory (John 16:33)
  • At the end of the battle we will be standing if we stand in the Lord’s power (Ephesians 6:10-18)
  • The Lord’s power courses through our spirit (Ephesians 3:20)
  • Because of the cross, sin does not have the final say (Romans 6:6-7)

The good news is that, by His stripes, we are fully justified before the Father. We are healed of our sinful condition, and we will one day shed the sinful bodies that hold us captive, and join our Savior in glory.

The problem with the prosperity message is that it will always fail us. Eventually, no matter how many “miraculous healings” one might see, we will one day leave our bodies to be united with Christ. That is our hope. That is where we turn our thoughts and affections.

The goal of the mature believer is not health, wealth, and prosperity.

The goal of the mature believer is to glorify God no matter the cost.


Would you like to go deeper in your study of the Word? Rebecca is currently a student at Dallas Theological Seminary. Click HERE for information on their new Master’s program that is perfectly suited for the non-traditional student. Click HERE to take an online class for FREE. Click HERE for information on your last year free.

The Broken Ankle

21 Jan

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Grey hiking bootsChrist we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

—Romans 12:4-5 NIV

I blame the boots.

In my defense, they were fabulous boots.

Grey suede faux leather (I’m cheap when it comes to trendy things) with a furry lining that folded over the laces. Four-inch-heeled hiking boots, and baby, I felt fierce.

My sister calls them a “statement piece.” You know what I mean. The kind of clothing item that makes you stand a little bit taller, walk with a bit more swagger, and feel like you’ve hung the moon.

So there I was in the security line at Denver International Airport, fresh off a true mountain-top experience. There were ten of us on the power retreat—all ministry-minded women with a heart for Jesus and a dream of reaching His daughters through conferences and events.

I must have been thinking of them when I fell.

I should back up. (more…)

The Must-have Christmas Present for 2015

19 Dec

Flikr. Used with permission. Not for commercial use.

Flikr. Used with permission. Not for commercial use.

It is a principle of physics that “no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time.”[i] It is a reasonable conclusion, then, that one object cannot occupy two spaces at once.

I, my friends, have defied the laws of physics.

You see, I am a woman divided; wife, mom, employee, blogger, and part-time seminary student. The physics-defying moment happened in the kitchen. I was preparing supper, going through the motions of chopping vegetables and thinking about the fifteen-page paper due in less than twenty-four hours. A moment ago I had asked my son about his day. He was happily chattering on and on as I nodded and did my best to look engaged.

The next thing I knew, my husband came striding into the kitchen with an irked look on his face.

“Did you tell Nick he could play on his Kindle?”

We have a strict, seldom violated no-electronics rule during the week.

“No!” I answered defensively and called out to my son.

“Nick, come in here!”

My eight-year-old walked into the kitchen looking confused.

“Mo-om,” he cried, turning one syllable into two as only a child can do. “Mo-om, you told me I could play Geometry-dash!”

As tears threatened to spill over onto his cheeks, I realized what I had done. I had given an auto-answer without even hearing the question.

I looked sheepishly at my husband and confessed my mistake.

“I’m sorry, Mike. I’m preoccupied with this paper. I wasn’t really listening when he asked me.”

Mike shook his head and turned to our little boy.

“You lucked out, buddy. You get ten minutes, and that’s it.”

The incident played itself back in my mind later that week while I was thinking about their Christmas gifts. The shopping was nearly done, save a few, small stocking stuffers, but instead of feeling relieved that, for once, I was ahead of the game, I was ashamed. How many moments had I missed because I was there but not there?

My children don’t need more presents. (more…)

Charlie Sheen’s Problem is Not HIV

24 Nov

It was with sadness, but not surprise, that I watched Charlie Sheen announce to the world that he is HIV positive and has been for the last four years.

My first thought was of the women. How many women who had known the actor in the past were watching this with shock and horror? How many would reach for the phone to call a doctor? Or a lawyer?

My second thought was for his children – five in all, some of them very  young, and only the oldest had been told in advance.

Then I thought about the weight that he’s been living under for nearly half-a-decade; a weight heavy enough to squeeze millions of dollars in hush money out of him as he sought to silence extortors. Money, he claimed, that wasn’t for him, but his children.

A heavy weight indeed, but nothing compared to the vacuum in his soul.

And therein lies the problem.

Charlie Sheen’s problem is not HIV.

It’s not his alcoholism or drug addiction, nor is it his pornography addiction.

Those are symptoms and HIV is the fruit of his hard-lived life.

As I watched Charlie Sheen sitting next to his doctor, trying desperately to hang on to the facade of “fine,” I was frustrated and angry. I wanted to reach through the television, grab him by the shoulders, and cry, “When will you realize it doesn’t work?”

The world doesn’t work.

The world can’t work, because the world cannot fix what is wrong with us.

What is your big “if only?” You know, that thing that lies just out of your grasp but close enough to see. That thing that you know will bring satisfaction and peace if you could just grab onto it. Maybe it’s a new job or a new house or a new number on the scale. Perhaps it’s a spouse or a baby or an accolade. Is it power? Fame? Money? Recognition?

It won’t work. None of it works, and here’s how I know: (more…)

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