Only four days until we leave for Florida. Today is my last day of work and all I can think about is the Gospel.
I know I have been critical of other Christians in the past; I never learned how to be encouraging. As a child I learned motivation through fear, guilt, and disappointment. I now see that my writing and my ‘exhortation’ are often bred of the same negativity I experienced as a child.
Here is my burden for you: That you would continue to grow in Christ Jesus. I often feel frustration at what I see in the modern church: A willingness to be comfortable, and the acceptance of a glacial spiritual growth pace. I too have been willing to show up at church, carving out an hour of my precious Sunday morning, and expecting God to be pleased with my ‘sacrifice’.
The trajectory of my life changed the day I gave my life to Christ. Sadly, I see many of my brothers and sisters who are older than me in Christ continuing along the same path they have always been on; they are not growing or changing. They are content to “kick the can down the road”. They are what my pastor might call “Freeze-Dried Christians”: Just add water.
Brothers and sisters, I do not want this for you! I don’t want you to settle for a mediocre, lukewarm life. I want you to experience the joy of the journey my wife and I are now on. When I first accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I told my wife I was afraid God was going to “turn me into a missionary and send me to Africa”. I couldn’t think of a worse fate! And while Florida is a far cry from the poverty, war, and strife of Africa, I feel like I’m being called as a missionary/church planter to Orlando. So what changed over the last three years? Certainly God didn’t change, so it must have been me.
Here’s what I really want to say to you. If you remember nothing else from this post, please remember this: Keep saying “yes” to God.
That is what changed over the course of my three years in Christ, to bring me to a place where I am not only willing but thrilled and honored to give up everything and move without a plan or any worldly security. I started saying “yes” to God in those times when He pushed me, when I felt stretched spiritually, when I felt like I had to choose between trusting Him and trusting my own plans. When he called me to the Masters in Ministry program at Northwest University I had to choose between His plan (which involved losing our home and living off of food stamps) or continuing to support myself. I said “yes” to His plan.
In the last few months the pace of change has accelerated, and if you are a regular reader of this blog you probably can guess when it started. Remember my post “A Terrifying Prayer“? I felt God calling me to surrender myself to Him, to set my heart on fire for Him. I had an idea of what was at stake and part of me was terrified to ask God to do whatever He had to do, to make me come on fire for Him. I understood part of me would have to die but I couldn’t have guessed at how wonderfully and joyfully God would replace that death with the life of His Spirit in me! You guys, I feel so amazingly good right now! It’s 6am; I’m not high or drunk. I haven’t been popping pills. I am filled with joy at the idea of working for a God who is real and alive!
Do you want this same joy? Please say “yes” to God! Ask Him to set your heart on fire for Him! Don’t settle for your mediocre life; that is a wasted life. You were not born to be consumers; you were born to become sons and daughters of Yahweh! And all you have to do is say “yes”! I know the fear that lives in your heart, the fear that if you pray that “terrifying” prayer God will hurt you in some way. But it’s your “flesh” that dies, your ego, not you, and in its place God will give you His Spirit. It’s nowhere near a fair trade, so take it!
Just say “yes” to God.