Category Archives: Grace

Glorious Assignment

Not to put too fine a point to it, this is the grand sum of all I want my life to broadcast.*

Jesus, it’s my joy. Whatever the price, whatever the burden.

You are worth anything…and everything.

To the praise of Your infinitely glorious Grace. Amen

*It’s probably already clear enough from previous testimony, but the only “me” I want others to recognize is Jesus in and through me. Anything other falls prodigiously short.

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Praying Your Prodigal Home

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In light of my most recent posts, I thought it might be beneficial to re-share this from not so very long ago. While there’s some age to this material, no doubt its insights and encouragement are timeless. I pray it will be as meaningful to you as it has been to Sandy and me. Our prayers are with you as you wait on the front doorstep for your miracle.

Peace.

HOW I LEARNED TO PRAY FOR THE LOST

“This is the result of my search for the right way of praying for the unsaved. I have found it to produce amazing results in a very short time.

After more than 20 years of fruitless praying, it seemed that there was no possible chance for my loved ones to ever return to the faith. But after only a few weeks of the type of praying that I have outlined here, I have seen them studying the Bible by the hour and attending every church service possible. Also, their whole attitude toward Christianity has changed, and all resistance seems to be gone.

I have taken my place of authority in Christ and am using it against enemy. I have not looked at myself to see if I am fit or not; I have just taken my place of authority in Christ and have prayed that the Holy Spirit may do His convicting work. If each and every member of the Body of Christ would do this, what a change would be made in this world!

Believers everywhere are burdened for the unsaved or backsliding loved ones. However, many are praying in the spirit of fear and worry instead of faith.

This has caused me to seek for definite light on how to pray, feeling the need of praying the right prayer and also the need for a definite promise or word from God on which to base my faith when praying for the unsaved. Praise God — He never fails to give such needed help!

Perhaps because the salvation of some seemed to be an impossibility, the first verse of scripture that was given to me was Mark 10:27 – “With God all things are possible.”

The next scripture verse had occupied my attention for some time, but it took on a new meaning: “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations [speculations] and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4,5). This shows the mighty power of our spiritual weapons. We must pray that all this will be accomplished in the ones for whom we are concerned; that is, that the works of the enemy will be torn down.

Finally, I was given the solid foundation for my prayers — the basis of redemption. In reality, Christ’s redemption purchased all mankind, so that we may say that each one is actually God’s purchased possession, although he is still held by the enemy. We must, through the prayer of faith, claim and take for God in the name of the Lord Jesus that which is rightfully His. This can be done only on the basis of redemption. This is not meant to imply that, because all persons have been purchased by God through redemption, they are automatically saved. They must believe and accept the Gospel for themselves; our intercession enables them to do this.

To pray in the name of the Lord Jesus is to ask for, or to claim, the things which the blood of Christ has secured. Therefore, each individual for whom prayer is made should be claimed by name as God’s purchased possession, in the name of the Lord Jesus and on the basis of His shed blood.

We should claim the tearing down of all the works of satan, such as false doctrine, unbelief, atheistic teaching and hatred, which the enemy may have built up in their thinking. We must pray that their very thoughts will be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

With the authority of the name of the Lord Jesus, we must claim their deliverance from the power and persuasion of the evil one and from the love of the world and the lust of the flesh. We should also pray that their conscience may be convicted, that they may listen and believe as they hear or read the Word of God. Our prayer must be that God’s will and purposes may be accomplished in and through them.

Intercession must be persistent — not to persuade God, for redemption is by God, but because of the enemy. Our prayer and resistance are against the enemy — the awful powers and rulers of darkness. It is our duty before God to fight for the souls for whom Christ died. Just as some must preach to them the good news of redemption, others must fight the powers of darkness on their behalf through prayer. Satan yields only what and when he must, and he renews his attacks in subtle ways. Therefore, prayer must be definite and persistent, even long after definite results are seen. And we must pray for the new Christian even after he begins to be established in the faith.

We will find that as we pray, the Holy Spirit will give new directions. At one time I was interceding for a soul and began to feel that my prayers were largely ineffective. Then the Holy Spirit inspired me to begin presenting that person to God in the name of the Lord Jesus. As I obeyed this leading, praying, ‘I present so-and-so to God in the name of the Lord Jesus,’ I felt that my prayers were gradually becoming more effective. It seemed that I was drawing that person from deep within the very camp of the enemy. Then I was able to proceed as usual, claiming every detail of that life for God, using the power of the blood against the enemy. This is true warfare in the spiritual realm. Thank God that our spiritual weapons are mighty and that our authority in Christ is far above all the authority of the rulers, powers and forces of darkness, so that the Enemy must yield. But it takes faith and patience and persistence.

Missionaries on foreign and home fields can resist the enemy in their districts, communities and schools by using the power of the blood of Jesus against the powers of darkness, sin and unbelief. With the authority of the name of the Lord Jesus they can demand the enemy retreat. Note that ‘it is the spirit that quickeneth the flesh profiteth nothing’ (John 6:63) and that ‘the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life’ (II Cor. 3:6). Therefore, we must constantly seek the motivation of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, in our faith, in our prayer and in our testimony. It is most important also that we confess our own sins and have them forgiven.

The enemy will use every possible means to silence our intercession and to block our attack against him. We must not only understand our enemy, our authority in Christ and how to use our spiritual weapons but also how to wear the armor that God has provided for our protection. Thus equipped and protected, we need not have any fear. But let us always remember that we have no power and no authority other than that of Christ.

‘Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ’ (II Cor. 2:14)

‘Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world’ (I John 4:4)

— L.M.
(The writer has asked her name be withheld)

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A final note. Our heartfelt thanks to Carey Childrey, a long-time friend and mentor, for sharing a copy of this marvelous message with us. Within weeks of posting this – knowing others needed its encouragement also – the Father ran to meet our own prodigal and welcomed him Home.

Can’t wait to share in the fatted calf with you, son.

Gone…But Not Forever…

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Graham, sharing with the millennials group in 2012. He was in a recovery program in Atlanta and in a ‘good place’

It’s fitting that before I could post this, my 9th (and presumably last) installment since our son passed, I needed to sit by Graham’s graveside and read it out loud to him. I’m not intending to sound melodramatic, but, somehow, I feel I owed him that. Anyway, you, dear reader, have graced me more than you know for following along. Processing this way has helped ferret out many of the emotions tremendously. Thank you. Oh, and since I’ll still be blogging, come back and visit from time to time. I’ll probably need an ear or a comfy shoulder again soon.

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(Continued from previous post, “Gone…But Not Homeless…”)

It was March, in the year of our Lord, 2003. Our church family was challenged to believe Jehovah-rapha for my healing, to press in, intercede, and see if God wouldn’t take my body and raise it from the prison of paralysis, and grant the healing so many cried out for. Graham, then 13, was out front, emotionally leading the charge.

Before we left for church that morning, this conversation ensued:

“Dad, let’s put the regular van driver’s seat in today.”

“The regular chair?” I asked.

“Yes sir. You’re not going to need your wheelchair after the service. You’re getting healed this morning,” he answered with unhinged exuberance.

I knew that “faith comes by hearing the word of Christ” so I used the moment to teach my boy a little something about how God operates, as best I understood it.

“Has God told you I would be healed today, Graham?” I pressed.

“I just know you will be, Dad!”

“Graham, buddy, I haven’t heard that He will. Only that we are to ask together as a church family and see what God might do,” I tenderly explained.

He could not be deterred. He even held a stiff hand out to stop me.

“I know you’ll be healed today, Dad!”

And that’s when I sensed something dangerous afoot. I had to do something, say something, to help my son see that just because it’s a strong wish doesn’t mean it’s God’s will.

“Graham, what if I’m not healed today?” I pleaded.

He shook his head sternly. He wasn’t hearing that. No way. I was getting healed that morning. End of story. The matter, as far as Graham was concerned, was dropped.

The rest of that morning, I didn’t pray with the couple hundred who gathered around me, pressed shoulder to shoulder, groaning and pleading and crying out for my healing. Instead, I was praying for a boy whose young faith was almost certainly going to take the hardest of hits. I felt Graham at my right shoulder, dying by degrees the longer the prayers went “unanswered”, and knew in my spirit he’d be fully deflated by the end of the morning.

We left that service and I rode the lift up into the van and locked my wheelchair into its place behind the steering wheel. Just like always. Graham, sitting in the co-pilot’s chair, was quiet. Nothing changed. The hopes he’d pinned to my full healing were lying in shattered pieces at his feet.

Later, in the gloom, Graham confessed to something else occurring while all the praying was going on. It confused him greatly.

“Dad, everyone had their eyes closed, but I just watched. I watched you for awhile, but nothing was happening, so I just started watching people.”

There was an unsettled expression on his face that prompted me to ask: “Did you see something?”

“I saw Jesus,” he said.

I didn’t say a word. I trusted my son. If he said he saw Jesus, I believed him. Whatever it was he saw confounded him, clearly.

“He just kinda appeared in the back of the church. Then He passed through all the people and came right up to you.”

“To me?” I prodded.

“Yes sir. He just knelt in front of you.”

“Did you see His face?” I asked, masking excitement.

“Not really. That was a blur. But I remember He put His hands on your legs and I could tell – even though I couldn’t see His face – that He was looking at me.”

I thanked God that night for graciously revealing Himself – in whatever way it was – to the most devastated soul in the room. That experience puzzled, more than moved, our son. He wasn’t making up a story to appear spiritual. No, he was already mad. He didn’t want anything to do with God. But he couldn’t deny…something happened. And was flummoxed.

A common prayer of mine became,

For Graham, I pray that a great and mighty olive tree would grow from his tender shoot and that future generations would be blessed through him. May he not “settle among the Philistines” but always pitch his tent in spiritual places, leaving altars to You everywhere he goes, and may he constantly be seeking to build new altars to You! May the fire never go out. May faith be his walking stick, and obedience his shoes, and may Your provision always fill his backpack every mile of his journey with You…

The pull of darkness, however, was irrefutable and our gorgeous son, in spite of God’s tender overtures, lacked the intent to refuse its draw. He was defiantly pitching his tent toward Philistia.

There was no lack of warnings, mind you. One of Graham’s strongest champions, his school administrator who loved him unconditionally, once looked into his eyes and said, rather brokenly,

“Graham, you have had so many chances to repent – more than most. Just remember, young man, GRACE REFUSED IS GRACE REMOVED.”

Dark storm-clouds began to move across his countenance. His sweet face turned sullen and hard. In short order, he was devolving into a slave of darkness, feeding himself the opiates of satan’s kingdom to compensate the emptiness within. He hated God, hated me, hated church, hated ministry, hated…yes, I’m very certain, even himself.

Many have commented on his tattoos and have seen it as a positive expression of his artistic side. I’m sure there’s s o m e of that but I also have an altogether different take on it. While I was so proud of his script (handwriting was never his specialty!) and how beautifully his drawing was evolving, many of his own tattoos were also ugly and dark. I sensed for some time that the way he inked his body reflected how he intrinsically felt about himself, deep down, minus the masks.

I know others will take issue with me on this front, but I know my son better than anyone except his mother, plus I know a thing or two about the nature of evil and how it manifests. It eats from the inside out.

I also know that 24-year old Graham was tired of his rebellion. Living in opposition to the higher plan of God does that to you.

It exhausts you.

It leaves you empty and unfulfilled, running on putrid fumes.

In the fullness of Graham’s shortened time on earth, God intervened and mercifully rescued our boy and received him home. God’s grace does that. It takes what the enemy means for evil, turns it upright, and creates something beautiful from the wreckage of our choices. Something praiseworthy.

This GLORIOUS REVERSAL first became evident to us when Dr. Venugopal, the attending cardiac ICU doctor at the Univ of MN hospital, called me at 5:30 p.m. on December 16th. I had been expecting her call for several hours so I had my pen and little notebook handy to write down everything she said. The last word we got was that Gra-Gra was found alone in a car, unresponsive at the scene, likely an overdose, but that he was on some sort of “blood warming” machine and that the next 24-48 hours were critical to his survival.

That’s all we knew.

So I’m driving Sandy to the airport so she can catch a flight to Minnesota to be with her baby boy and we’re scared and we don’t know details and we just want someoneanyonetocall
andletusknowthateverything’sgoingtobeokaywithourGraGra
andwhyisn’tthedoctorcalling…?

We pull up to a Zaxby’s because Sandy hasn’t had a thing on her tummy all day. The drive-thru lane is wrapped around the building for the supper-time rush, so my lovely goes inside, discovers she has no appetite, orders a drink, then visits the ladies’ room.

And.

You guessed it.

While I’m waiting in the van, Dr. V calls.

I pull out my pen and moleskin notebook. I need to write it all down, word for word, can’t miss a detail because I’m not, by nature, very detail-oriented (except in my writing) and I’ll need for Sandy to be completely in the loop.

“Mr. Mitchell?” the female voice responds when I say hello.

“Yes?” (Pretty sure my voice cracked)

“Mr. Mitchell, I’m the doctor in the cardiac ICU here at the hospital. You can call me Dr. V because my name is pretty long…”

My heart is in my throat.

“Mr. Mitchell, what do you know at this point?” she asked kindly, like a gentle counselor, not professionally.

I told her.

“Mr. Mitchell, I understand your situation is that you’re in Georgia?” Her voice lilts on the end.

“That’s right.”

Dr. V sighs. And pauses.

“Mr. Mitchell…”

I’m ready, pen in hand. Can’t miss anything she says.

“…If only there was some other way to do this…”

I thought she meant having to give all the medical jargon over the phone rather than face-to-face.

I thought…

Rather, she said ten plain words: “Mr. Mitchell, I’m so sorry, but your son is…”

Oh God

“…GONE.”

My hand, holding the pen, was shaking. A blast of sorrow came through my insides and exploded out my mouth. I don’t usually cry hard. My eyes get watery and leak, sure. My voice cracks, yeah. I pause to collect myself, certainly. But this was so sudden, so unexpected, a dam inside released and oceans of sorrow – years of pain and pent-up sadnesses – broke out and through.

I heard Dr. V saying other words but I, for whatever reason, put down my moleskin notebook and picked up a white piece of paper in the cupholder. Who knows why? It was a receipt from an earlier stop. I turned it over and wrote a single word:

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I’m almost finished, you’ve been so patient to make it this far, but I beg you to stay with me because the next paragraphs are the most critical. They put the “amen” to this epic story. Read on, I beg you. You won’t regret it.

Earlier that same afternoon, as Sandy raced home from an early shift, to pack and race again to catch a flight out of Atlanta, a myriad of thoughts whirled through her mind. At the forefront was her son’s soul. She cried. She prayed. She veered through traffic. She stormed heaven.

God, who was already cradling our boy, prompted Sandy, through the chaos, to play her worship CD. He always seems to speak to her through music. Her finger touched play and the disc responded with the song, “Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone.”

Meanwhile, I’m sitting at the dining room table, waiting for Sandy to get home and I’m crying out for my son’s soul at the exact same time. I’m thinking the next day-to-two-days is crucial, so I’m praying that God will intervene. I honestly was thinking this will be Graham’s ‘wake-up call’, that he’ll somehow survive, and I’m asking God to run ahead and use it to redeem him from his broken path.

And turn his heart toward home.

Little did I know he was already there.

Once upon a time I’d been given a word for Graham: “as long as you’re looking for a way out instead of the way HOME, you’ll always remain a prodigal.”

Recalling that truth, I prayed this scary turn of events would turn our prodigal son home.

So I prayed. And, just as Sandy was prompted to push play to hear from heaven for herself, the Father of mercies niggled at me to open the Bible app on my ipad and read the “verse of the day.” And this is what it was:

Psalms 85:2-3
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you covered all their sin.
Selah
You withdrew all your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger.

Maybe my theology is askew here, maybe my imagination is running awry, but you’ll be hard-pressed to convince me otherwise of what I believe my son’s dying moments were like in the realm of the Spirit.

I believe the adversary – satan – was fully convinced Graham Scott Mitchell would be his. As our baby man was expiring in that back seat, the accuser was posturing for his claim, talons snicked, breath hot and visage contorted with hellish glee. He had won. He was sure of it.

But in those last milliseconds, as our son’s breathing slowed to a final heave, a Voice thundered in the heavenlies. As his last gasp pushed through the natural realm and into the unseen, I can almost hear what the Almighty commanded as He dispatched His guardian escorts:

Psalms 87:4-6
Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon;
behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush —
“This one was born there,” they say.
And of Zion it shall be said,
“This one and that one were born in her”;
for the Most High himself will establish her.
The Lord records as he registers the peoples,
“This one was born there
.”
Selah

The great deceiver was himself deceived in the end.

HALLELUJAH!

Dear reader, if you’ve journeyed with me in these few posts, you’ll agree that these truths buttress and serve as soluble bookends to our boy’s life and are our unarguable and unchanging testaments to this God-story:

The LORD gave…miraculously
The LORD has taken away…mercifully

Thank you, merciful God, for setting Your affection on Graham, and seeing him Home before the darkness swallowed him up. I know You ran to meet him, because You never disowned him, and that’s how You treat Your own. Thank you for letting us have those very last words with our boy: “I’m so glad your mine” (Sandy) and “I’m so proud of you” (Me). Now he’s safe, he’s gleaming and he’s free.

Amazing Grace, his chains are…GONE.

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