Oral Roberts: a Wide Swath

Oral Roberts: R.I.P 1918-2009

I graduated from Oral Roberts University so my connection with Oral Roberts is perhaps slightly more direct than most people’s. I have a little more context to understand this fairly enigmatic man, but I believe it’s what I’ve been learning in the last 5-10 years that has given me a greater appreciation for him. His methods have often put him at odds with many people, but I believe his impact for the Kingdom has been undeniable and is worth honoring.

In recent years I’ve become interested an excited to greater and lesser degrees by various movements an teachings. Here is a sampling:

  • 24/7 prayer
  • Making the supernatural a natural part of life
  • God is a good god in a good mood
  • Sowing and reaping
  • Christian education
  • Healing
  • etc.

As I look back at Oral Roberts, I see that, while the language and practice might have a different “look n’ feel”, he pioneered all of these things in a big way LONG before I ever got on the band wagon.

  • ORU has had 24/7 prayer in their Prayer Tower since well before the world-wide “prayer movement”
  • “Expect a Miracle” was a foundation slogan of Oral Roberts’ ministry. It was even printed on the basketball court in the arena at ORU! (and sometimes miracles were needed there…and sometimes they happened!)
  • “Something good is going to happen to you” was the theme song of Oral’s TV show. Expectation in God’s goodness was an integral part of what he was about
  • “Plant a seed to meet your need” was another famous Oral Roberts slogan. Sure the “prosperity gospel” muddied those waters somewhat, but Oral’s main book “The Miracle of Seed-Faith” could easily have been written by some recent teachers that I have heard and respect.
  • Right now we’re amongst “pioneers” in Christian Education in the Francophone world. Having a “Christian University” is in our vision here and is considered as the pinnacle of the vision. Oral Roberts University was preceded by MANY Bible colleges and seminaries and many Evangelical colleges and universities existed before ORU, but ORU was probably the first liberal arts university where the Holy Spirit was honored specifically and encouraged to move freely. Sometimes messy…but hey, God’s creative activity often is!
  • Hello! Healing?! Well, duh! Actually, it’s not been until recently that healing has been “redeemed” in my eyes. But one cannot deny Oral Roberts’ place in paving the way for praying for the sick and watching God move powerfully.

Many have said that the era of the “big name” ministries is coming to an end and I think that I agree with that in general. I do think, however, that there are “Paul Bunyan” types who make a way for others to follow. They don’t “walk softly”, which means their faults are also out there for all to see and if you’re cynical, you’ll have plenty of fodder to work with. They do, however, make an impact. They swing their ax and clear a path and take new territory. Many people benefit from their efforts. We don’t realize the debt we owe to so many pioneers.

Oral Roberts was such a man.

Who’s in charge here anyway?!

Taking a cue from popular blogging practice, I hereby point you to this interesting news story:

Piece of Supreme Court marble falls near tourists – Nov 28, 2006 – USA Today

Apparently many of us who believe that the Universe and our lives are less than random occurrences have already been blogging up a storm about this one. (see the Washington Post’s version of the story). To those who see a “divine conspiracy theory” in every action that leads to only one conclusion I’d like to offer a few observations and/or opinions:

  • When God speaks, whether by word or deed, He speaks volumes succinctly (not exactly my forté). What I mean by that is that multiple interpretations of God’s words and actions can be true simultaneously. It’s not a zero-sum game whereby my conclusion being true means that yours is false or vice versa. It’s one of the reasons we need each other; because God gives us different perspectives so that we can learn more from each other and be drawn together. Prophetic and intellectual competition is not the name of the game, seeking God’s vast Kingdom and His Righteousness is.
  • Signs given by God are not always required to be His “final word” on something. If something bad happens, it does not necessarily mean that God has turned His back on a person, place or group forever. Assuming that it is God at work, signs are often calls for God’s people to act in a specific situation and to bring the Kingdom of God into it, whether by prayer or worship or specific acts of mercy, healing, teaching, giving, etc. When we come to a conclusion and do nothing in response to a sign, that’s almost assuredly not the Lord’s desired response. He always desires mature partnership with His people in the affairs of this world.
  • The laws of sowing and reaping are also often at play in certain signs. God can and does, I believe, supersede the actions of sowing and reaping at times…usually for our good! If we always reaped exactly what we sowed, we’d have been burnt toast as a species a long time ago! We are constantly in the short and sometimes generationally loooonnnnggg cycles of sowing and reaping. This is not some sort of deist “great clock-maker” sort of philosophy or theology, this is more like a loving Creator who understands best how to live, love and celebrate the life He gave us and has therefore established consequences to guide us and help us learn how to live, love and celebrate life as well.
  • It’s not always God at work on the surface but God has, does and will use even Satan’s activities to ensure that His Kingdom comes and His will is done here on this little celestial ping pong ball, as it is in the vast heavenlies. Satan thinks he’s got some measure of control to exert his malevolent will, but God is actually the one in charge here!

So, with that in mind, I will give my interpretation of this little incident of crumbling marble. It was a piece of “moulding” that fell off and struck the figure “Authority” and the inscription “Equal Justice Under Law” at the Supreme Court building. To me it was God tapping His finger on those two things with respect to the country and to the Supreme Court, and saying, “Church, you all need to address these two issues in your intercession and your action…and now is the time to do it.”

We know from our own lives that God doesn’t put His finger on every thing that isn’t perfect all at once. If it were so, we’d be crushed in a split-second. Rather He points out the issues that He wants to be dealt with now and other things will be pointed out when the time is right (or in the “fullness of time” to use more biblical terminology).

So, now perhaps is the “fullness of time” for issues of Authority and Justice in the United States to be aligned under the King of Kings and the great Judge of all. So, in remembering that our battle is not against flesh and blood, are we ready to take some marching orders from the Supreme Commander?