Friday, April 22, 2011

Dead Man Walking

I enjoy cookies and milk. Scratch that - I am passionate about cookies and milk. Call that crazy and sinful - you'd be right. But whatever the case is, there's very few things that beat eating a meal and then proceeding on to a glass of milk and some macadamia nut / chocolate chip cookies. I glorify God for this wonderful combination. But have you ever gotten out a glass, milk, and a box of cookies, only to discover that the milk has gone bad in your fridge? Pretty bad, huh?

Tell me about it.

I find this to be one of the most supremely aggravating predicaments, especially when I've spent time during my meal hyping up the dessert. (Yes, we've already agreed that I'm crazy.) But, consider this: there was never anything wrong with the jug, but only what was inside of it.

Christ works the same way. After trying to describe this to you with a really lacking analogy, I hope you'll listen to me. God created our bodies perfect. Without error. He originally intended it to be the temple of His Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 6:19-20) But when sin came into the world and man fell, we became slaves to our flesh.

Because of the fall of man, God created a master plan which was beautiful in every way. He wrote the story of the redemption of His fallen children through His Son, the Christ. In this story, God the Father sent His only Son, Jesus to die a horrible, horrible death for the sins of a people that only mocked and beat Him. It was the ultimate picture of Love, Mercy, Wrath, and Grace all rolled into one event.

He did this so that we could be filled with the power of The Living God.

When I was a freshman in high school, (or somewhere around that age) I was forced by my Personal Fitness class to either find a group sport to do, or write a research paper. Naturally, I chose the group activity. I decided to go to this step class at this local gym. I used to think that all of those middle-aged women doing these kinds of classes were weak. Let me tell you something:

That class destroyed my body.

I tried to bike home after that class and I could barely walk.... for a week. That class drained me of everything my body had to give. So I pathetically tried to get home on my bicycle, almost falling and hurting myself in the process. I had no energy.

Trying to do anything for the Kingdom of God apart from the power of Christ is impossible, ineffective, and just plain stupid.

This is something God has been showing me. A lot. Look, I try to write these posts with all of the excellency in literary skills that I have. But if the power of God is not flowing through me as I write, my words will be meaningless. All of my attempts at helping you change your heart about certain matters will result in absolute failure.

My youth group (that I've been involved in for years) used to be very focused on making kids have a good time and trying to teach them a little about the Bible. In a resurgence of belief, we have changed our focus from, "What event can we do to make kids come and have fun and learn about the Gospel?" to "Let us pray and beg the Holy Spirit of the Living God to come and break down the brick-hard walls of these kids."

It is only He, through His supernatural ability and strength, who can reach His Almighty Hand into the depths of someone's soul, past the darkness and deceit, and revive a heart that was cold and lifeless. It is only Christ who can bring about the Revival of the world. And it is only the one true God who can bring someone out of their pain, suffering, and anguish.

This is the God we serve, and everything we try to do without begging for His strength will end in making Christianity trivial and weak.

I guess I always knew this to be true, but it had never become a pungent reality until recently, when I had been asked to speak for a group of middle schoolers at my church. I knew what I was to speak on and I had been praying for a long time that I would be filled with God's Spirit in the message. Let me explain what happened to you this way: every time I had ever spoken, it was always a good speech in the sense that what I spoke about flowed very well and I was able to apply certain oratory techniques into my talk.

When I got up to speak, I stumbled over my words, got caught up on ideas, and what I said did not go very smoothly. I finished speaking and was pretty confused as to why this had happened, when I had prayed so hard for the message. But after I spoke, my pastor and a brother of mine assured me that I had spoken in the Spirit. They told me that I said what needed to be said.

I think God was trying to tell me, "Hey, look, it's cool that you're trying to make this message cool and stuff, but just remember one thing: I don't need those things. In fact, if that's all you get across, it doesn't mean anything. My power will work whether or not you express something poorly or excellently. Just rely on Me."

Ever since then, I've been praying what is found in Galatians 2:20. "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me."

I try to die to myself daily and pick up my cross daily so that the power of Christ may work through me. There is no other way! I try to let my body just be a vehicle and a microphone that moves, speaks, thinks, and acts only as Christ would desire for me. And I'm not talking about being a robot. I'm talking about my desires and passions becoming those that God has, and acting as He would.

The passage I just quoted is saying to do away with your flesh completely! Because anything we do, whether it is fighting sin, doing things for God, or bringing people to Christ, is a total failure when we try to do it in the flesh. We must do it filled with and through the Holy Spirit. Because in the end, our most valiant efforts serve to show us only how weak we are in doing anything that has any importance eternally.

So, I'm sorry Nike, but "Just do it" doesn't cut it.

We must be operating in the power of God.

The only other option is worthlessness.


Great post! I know so many times when I'm planning a lesson for my teens at church it's so easy to get caught up in trying to create a fun/active/entertaining lesson that will keep them involved in the lesson that I forget about the actual point of the message and the lesson I'm trying to get across. God's been working on me lately to remind me how important it is to seek Him and make sure to prepare my lessons and messages not in a way that may be the "funnest" but in the way that HE wants to get the message across. Thanks for the reminder! Be blessed!

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