Are We Missing Something?

Are we missing something? This is something I find myself wondering this every one in a while when I get myself deep into spiritual thought.

When it comes to Christianity, specifically American Christianity, are we missing something?

I have read multiple accounts over the years about major spiritual successes and revivals and miracles from all over the world. The weird thing is that you find these accounts coming from third world countries and places outside of America.

From the Middle East to Inda, from China to South Korea, the Church is exploding in spiritual power.

And so, one has to wonder: are we missing something? Is there something we are not doing here in the American Church that they are doing in other parts of the world?

Or are we doing something that they aren’t doing that is actually preventing us from accessing the Divine power of God?

I have been dealing with this question for some time and I am working on something that in my opinion will change the face of Christianity and restore the power of the Church.

I want to find that missing link. I want to help bring power back into the Church.

I don’t know what that is going to look like. But I want to be a part of it.

In Your Wildest Dreams…

I remember a phrase that used to go around in the middle and high school dating world: “Not even in your wildest dreams.” Now, I’m 27, so that was a familiar phrase, said a lot around me to myself and some of my friends. And, of course, the meaning is clear. That guy/girl wouldn’t go out on a date, go to a dance, or kiss you even in your wildest dreams.

Now, we all have some wild dreams. We’re king of the world, we’re a mass murderer, we’re running from a mass murderer, we’re married to someone different, our jobs are better, or worse, we lost a family member, etc, etc. And we daydream extravagantly too. We daydream about our perfect jobs, our perfect spouse, our perfect lives, a lot of money…anything, everything. We imagine great things for our lives, and we think: “There’s no way…”

What if I were to tell you that there was a way? What if I were to tell you that God can help you get the things you want (within reason)? He can.

In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul mentions, “God can do anything, you know-far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (3:20; The Message) Put differently, He is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…(ESV).

The God that we serve is able to amazing things in our lives, and He is able to give us more than we can ask or imagine, anything beyond our wildest dreams, as long as His power is working in us and His Spirit is in us. That part is key, because there are so many positive thinking courses who just say it takes our own spirit, but it takes the Spirit of God to accomplish anything of great value or worth in His Kingdom or in our own lives.

Have faith in your God. He can and will do great things, as long as His Spirit resides in and is working in you.

I Hate Being a Christian

I do. I know that sounds bad…very bad…but I do. I absolutely hate it.

I know what you’re thinking. “Why do you hate it? There are so many wonderful things about being a Christian! You get that personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit of God that guides you and helps you do the right things and reminds you of what you have read in the Bible and what God has taught you.”

And you’ve hit the nail on the head. THAT is why I hate being a Christian.

Recently, I started getting back into the Bible. I started praying more, studying what God has to say about certain situations and meditating on His laws. And I’ve found myself in situations with friends and co-workers and just life in general that have caused the Holy Spirit to nudge me in a certain direction.

And every time I get in these situations, I feel the battle. I don’t know about you guys, but when I feel the struggle between what my flesh wants to do and what the Spirit of God tells me I should do. I find myself reasoning with Him, trying to justify my human reaction, trying to make it seem like what I want to do is better in the long run than what I have to do (have to as in what the Biblical, disciple of Jesus should do).

For instance, I recently had a friend lie to me. Not a big deal, I know. Except I trust this friend. I would trust this friend with my life if I had to. Even though they’re not a Christian, I still trust them. And they lied to me.

Not only did they lie to me, but they lied right to my face and in the next minute…not even a minute, more like 10 seconds…they live out the exact opposite of the lie. And it infuriated me. I wanted to call them out on it right then and there.

Shoosh (my new word, btw), I almost did. I actually pulled a Nathan (you know, the prophet that confronted David for his adultery with Bathsheba [2 Samuel 12:1-14]) in conversation with them one day to see how they would react to a story of someone doing the exact same thing. Not as successful as Nathan’s confrontation.

Anyway, I was mad, to say the least. I thought, “How could they do this? How could they lie right to my face and blatantly forget the fact that they lied about it in the next 10 seconds? I trusted them.”

I still do trust them. And here’s why:

For the next few days, I kept reasoning as to why I should end the friendship right then and there. Just drop it and walk away. And I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was weird, because they truthfully deserve that treatment…by human standards.

Sunday night, while I was working, the theme of forgiveness kept running through my head, particularly one passage:

“Then Peter came up and said to him (Jesus), ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.'” (Matthew 18:21-22)

Did you see that? Seventy-seven times. Some translations read seventy times seven times. That’s 490 times! 

Here’s the idea: no matter how many times a friend, a family member, a loved one, your spouse, your church leader or whoever sins against you, you should forgive them. But don’t keep count. That’s not the point Jesus is making with that statement (because I mean, really, who’s going to keep track up of how often someone sins against them, especially if you’re counting up to 490? You’d lose count). The point is, it doesn’t matter how often someone sins against you. You should always forgive them.

And that’s what Jesus was pushing me toward the past few days. “It doesn’t matter if this person hurt you. Forgive them. They’ve hurt you before and you forgave them. They’re going to hurt you again. That’s just the way they are. They’re only human, just like you. Forgive them.”

The parable Jesus tells about forgiveness should cause us to reconsider holding grudges against people for the hurts they have caused us.

I’ll paraphrase it, but if you want the whole story, check out Matthew 18:23-35.

There was a king who decided to settle debts with people and one guy owed him around 1 million dollars. When the guy said he didn’t have the money, the king was going to sell him and his family and everything he owned to make up the payment. But the guy begged for mercy and more time to get the money. What did the king do? He actually erased the debt! Completely cancelled. No money owed. Forgiven.

That’s great!

But the guy went out and found one of his friends, who owed him a few bucks, probably around $20, and demanded repayment. Well, his friend didn’t have the money, so the guy had him thrown in jail until he could pay him back.

Now, wait a second! This guy was just cleared of a $1 million debt and then goes and throws his buddy in jail over a few bucks! That’s not right! He should have been more merciful, since he was shown so much mercy!

The king thought so too. When he found out what happened, he confronted the man and told him just that. So the king had this guy thrown in jail until he could pay back his $1 million.

Here’s the point of the story: God, in His great mercy, has forgiven us the huge debt we owe him due to our sins. Jesus came along and paid the whole thing in full with His life. And here we are holding grudges against people who committed such little sins as lying and stealing. That doesn’t make sense. But it’s what we do.

So, here’s Jesus saying to me, “I forgave you for all the stupid things you did and here you are refusing to forgive your friend for lying to you. How does this make sense?” It doesn’t. So, I forgave them. They’re still my friend. I don’t think they realize they sinned against, me, and that’s okay. I still love them and pray for them, and I pray daily for their salvation.

Getting back to my earlier point: I hate being a Christian. I hate that internal struggle between my sinful man and the Spirit of God. It’s nerve-racking.

But, here’s what I love about being a Christian: everything. The peace, the love, the joy and the freedom is too much for words. I stand in awe of His mercy and at the sheer fact that He has cancelled the debt I owed Him. And I stand in awe of the sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross on Calvary.

I hope this doesn’t deter anyone from following Jesus, because once you get deep into Him and have that fellowship, there is nothing greater, nothing more amazing, than that relationship with the Most High God.

Let Him dream for you.