An Introduction of Sorts

February 3, 2021

A friend of a friend recently asked me to explain a little about what I do. This seems to be what came out…

Greetings X,

Our mutual friend tells me that you don’t quite know what questions to ask. I sympathize; I have the same problem a lot of the time. Let me see if I can help get the conversation started.  I believe she told you her experience with my work. What I can tell you about that experience, from my side, is that humans are used to being looked at, but we are not accustomed to being seen. When I make myself entirely present to another person, I often know more than I “should” know about the problem, and my hands seem to find their way to helpful places. 

In the same way you can get someone to wash their own face by putting them in front of a mirror, sometimes the human body fixes itself when it’s invited to notice itself. It is very often the case that when I lay on hands and make myself truly present, without doing much of anything, my client’s system responds by reorganizing itself in more healthy ways. There are certainly techniques and disciplines and lots of practice time involved, but how much is human ability and how much divine intervention I couldn’t really say. But then, God never intended us to exercise our abilities without Him, did He?

As to how I might be able to help you, or what your session would look like, I’m afraid I don’t know for certain. Here’s what I can tell you: I will be present. You will of course be present. God will be present. You will be involved, and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. I am not a mechanic and you are not a car; this is not something I can do to you; this is something we will do together with God’s help.

The value of direct obedience to biblical teaching is hard to overestimate; I expect to pray, lay on hands, anoint with oil. I usually work general to specific, so I’ll likely begin by establishing contact with your system at your shoulders or your feet, noticing the pulses and rhythms in your body, looking for unusual tensions or movements in your visceral cavity or anything out of balance or that draws my attention for some reason. 

From there, we will proceed as seems best to us and the Spirit.

I know that’s not a particularly satisfying answer. It would be nice to give you a definite protocol, some kind of road map for what comes next. But the people with protocols are telling you they can’t find anything wrong. I’m the guy you call when you’re off the edge of the map, and still have to navigate the territory. I don’t have a map either, but I live here, so that’s something.

I didn’t set out to be this person. When God called me into ministry as a junior in high school, I had a picture in my head of what that would entail: an expository preaching ministry in a suburban Bible church. To that end I earned a bachelor’s in Bible, then a Th.M in New Testament. During seminary, I interned in a suburban Bible church in eastern Washington, training in exactly the kind of expository ministry I expected to pursue for the rest of my life. Upon graduation, I worked as a pastor and seminary instructor.

Then Jesus mugged me, and not for the first time. The first time was when He gave me to faithful Christian parents. I came to know Him early, and hardly remember a time when I did not know Jesus as my Savior. The second time was when, as a very angry 16-year-old, I found my life unlivable, and God taught me to forgive. I came to know Him then as a worker of miracles, the one who made me able to forgive when I simply didn’t have the ability.

This time around, the mugging took the form of a surprise: the small suburban Bible church I thought I was planting turned out to be an exit ministry for people leaving a cult. By the time I realized what I had gotten into, I had bonded to the people and didn’t want to quit. Getting the people out of the cult was hard, but doable. Getting the cult out of the people…well, that was another matter. Fast-forward several years, and this teaching pastor and professor had become, of necessity, a pastoral counselor, worship leader, liturgist, and church history teacher. God was just getting started. 

He brought me next to Englewood, and over a period of years and a series of gigs in youth and city ministry, He taught me to obey some verses that, although I’d known them all my life, I’d never quite seen, if you know what I mean. I learned to sing the Psalms. I learned to pray in the manner of the Lord’s Prayer. I learned to tangibly love my literal neighbors. I learned to rejoice, for real, when people slandered me. 

And then God began drawing my attention to a series of passages that talk about laying hands on the sick, praying for healing, anointing with oil. I’m sure you know the passages as well as I do, but for me suddenly the question bubbled up: why don’t we do these things? What would happen if we did? 

Not too long after that, He led me to enroll in massage therapy school. The entire endeavor was ridiculous; I couldn’t afford the money or the time for even the shortest, cheapest program. I told Him “If we’re doing this, then You’re paying for it, and since I know You can afford anything, I’m going to the best school in Denver.” And you know what? He made it happen. 

Massage therapy led to Trauma Touch Therapy, Cranial Sacral Therapy, and an assortment of other modalities, and along the way I learned a few very important things. 

  1. Human attention heals. When one person–the whole person, body and spirit–sets all distractions aside and rests the full weight of their attention on another person, it is amazing how people can heal, even before anyone does anything. It seems that our systems adjust spontaneously in response to being really seen. 
  2. God shows up. His priorities are not mine; He doesn’t always do what I want Him to. But He always shows up, and He always works.  
  3. American Christians need a radical worldview revision. 

That last one was a real kick in the teeth. Most of us live like the world is what the materialists say it is — matter in motion — and then we add an overlay of heaven, hell, biblical miracles, resurrection, and so on. We’re basically materialists with a whitelist of exceptions that allow us to be meaningfully Christian. But no. The world was spoken into existence and is upheld by the Word of God’s power. Even matter isn’t what the materialists think it is; still less the human person. 

Genesis 2 says God made us out of dust and breath; we are a divinely forged union of body and spirit. When I lay my hands on another person, I’m never just touching a body. That fact raises an interesting question. If you have a sore back, obviously my body can work on your body for your benefit. Can my spirit work on your spirit? The materialists think it’s a nonsense question, but it isn’t, is it? 

I pray. I lay on hands. I anoint with oil. God shows up. This is either the church’s first and worst attempt at healing, a primitive medicine long since overshadowed by modern science, or it is a healing ministry God gave to the church, something we should never have stopped doing. 

I think it’s the latter. I invite you to come and find out for yourself.