Do you have enough faith to get you through this?

I think the first time I felt disappointed with God was when I was about 5 years old. My mother was pregnant with my youngest sibling and given I already had three brothers, I was desperately praying that this one would be a girl, a sister for me. And he wasn’t.

I am sure I am not alone in having experienced this sort of disappointment:

“God, You have the power to do what I want, what I believe I really need – and yet You don’t. What is the story? Why not?”

If God loves us, why doesn’t He always answer our prayers the way we would like?

My most recent ponderings on this topic started from a totally different scenario though, so join me on the journey!

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A little while back, I quite suddenly became very conscious of the rows of trees lining the path (as in the photos) at the old golf course where I walk our dog. As they caught my attention the words, “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…” dropped into my mind. I had such a sense of not just those witnesses listed in Hebrews 11, but my own physical ancestors lining the way, as though I was in a marathon, and they were watching, cheering me on, encouraging me to keep going.

Weeks later I had a dream about running in the wilderness. I was trying to escape and evade “baddies”. With me was a companion, who was alongside me all the way as I ran as fast as I could. Even as I realised we had got away, I also realised my companion was on a horse. As I woke up, it was with the thought that it would have been much easier to get away if I had just got on the back of his horse (not to mention the question of why I hadn’t noticed it earlier!). Another aspect of the dream was that my companion was not at all worried, flustered or breathless from running. He was just with me.

The meaning of this dream was quite obvious to me. My constant companion is Jesus. With Him, I don’t have to work hard to stay safe. The question of why I didn’t notice the horse, or get on it bothered me though. I asked God the question of what I should do differently to not be living out of my own strength. Immediately the words, “fix[ing] our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” popped into my mind.

Looking this verse up, surprise, surprise, it was the second half of the instructions regarding the cloud of witnesses:

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“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Heb 12:1-2)

In my dream, I was focussed on escape, not on Jesus!

Years ago, I was taught “whenever you see a wherefore or therefore, ask what its there for”, so I thought I’d better re-read Hebrews 11. Toward the end of the familiar passage is the list of gruesome, almost “Monty Python-esque” torture people had undergone for the sake of a promise: “Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated… yet none of them received what had been promised” (Heb 11:36, 37, 39).

When we come back to chapter 12, then, this cloud of witnesses are those who have struggled, who have suffered, many for a promise they never saw fulfilled. And we are told that it is on the back of the faith of these witnesses that we are to continue running with perseverance, that we are to throw off everything that holds us back.

Somehow, even though we read so much evidence to the contrary in the Bible - even the early apostles and disciples who walked with Jesus and were eyewitnesses to His death and resurrection, suffered difficulties and pain, to the point of being stoned, beheaded, imprisoned, shipwrecked and hungry – we still have some vague (or otherwise) belief that our lives should be trouble free and filled with every good thing. Why do we think that because we live some 2000 years later that we should have lives that are so much easier with no suffering and problems?

Coming back to where I started, along the journey I have begun to realise that our idea of what is good, what is helpful and what are blessings might just be very different to what God’s idea of these are for us. While we so often look for His help and blessings to be along the lines of no troubles and many goods to make our lives more enjoyable and easy, perhaps God’s purpose for our lives here on earth is divergent to that picture. If I were to ask most, they would agree that our purpose in God is to become more like Jesus – that is our goal. Funnily enough (or perhaps not!), Jesus’ focus was far from on His own comfort and freedom from trouble.

A great quote from Smith Wigglesworth I saw recently has stuck with me. He said:

“I don’t ever ask Smith Wigglesworth how he feels!” I jump out of bed! I dance before the Lord for at least 10 to 12 minutes – high speed dancing. I jump up and down and run around my room telling God how great He is, how wonderful He is, how glad I am to be associated with Him and to be His child.”

This has confronted me greatly. So often, my focus is on how I feel about everything, from physically to emotionally and even spiritually. Returning again to my starting point, it has been easy to wonder what God was thinking giving me four brothers. However, as I have grown, I have come to realise that every part of my life has influenced and changed me. I have a choice about whether I embrace those things I would have liked to be different or continue to fight God about them. I can work with Him through them to become more like Him, or get angry, disillusioned and create distance between us. While I may not always see the benefits of the path He has me on, I do have the choice to trust Him that there are benefits!

Coming back to Hebrews 12, I am reminded that through all of our circumstances, our focus is to be on Jesus alone. Sometimes, though, in the middle of these circumstances, we can find it difficult to find the faith to even look in His general direction. As we read in verse 2, however, we can see we actually don’t even have to find that faith! It is Jesus who gives us faith – He is the author: the One who initiates, creates, gives the spark to our faith; and He is the One who perfects our faith: brings it to completion and fullness. All we have to do is respond and take the next single step He lays before us. And meanwhile, we are cheered on from the sidelines by those who have gone before!

To manifest or not to manifest: Is God’s tangible presence essential to faith?

The other day I observed two women standing side by side receiving prayer for the ministry they jointly led. One was immediately physically impacted, bending almost double and clearly touched emotionally. The second woman stood virtually stock still and did not appear to be affected at all. What was going on? Why the difference?

In circumstances like these, it can be quite easy to make our own judgements. In polar opposites, we may see the first woman as being overly emotional and easily influenced, or that the other woman is hardened, not open to what God is doing. Either way, it is likely we are coming to our conclusions by making each person responsible for what God may or may not do in their life.

The topic of physical or bodily manifestations from God can produce different reactions in us depending on our own experience. For some, there is perhaps cynicism and even doubt about whether they are Godly or otherwise. For others there can be a tension because they rarely or never experience these personally. For yet others, the presence (or lack) of such manifestations are used as a measure of how close they feel to God.

For myself, I have grappled with the concept of physical, bodily manifestations of God’s presence from time to time over decades. It probably started when some kids in the youth group I was leading had an encounter with the Holy Spirit that literally left them shaking. Having virtually no previous experience of anything like this myself, the fact that they started competing to see who would shake the most did not help at all!

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The struggle has continued over time, particularly because it is not something I experience much myself. More recently, I read a book about this phenomenon, trying to understand more about it. I had wondered, again, whether I was the problem. At times when others were rolling around laughing, couldn’t walk, or were just flat out on the ground, I have felt almost like an observer. It was with some interest that about halfway through the book, I read that the author was in a similar position to myself.

As I have wrestled with developing a theology around this, having numbers of friends who have had experiences that they have in no way sought, I was not finding answers in a hurry. And I do have to admit, there have been times where I also have wondered whether some of these manifestations are actually from God. We have seemingly little direct evidence from the Bible, although the descriptor in Acts of the disciples appearing drunk is certainly probably similar, and we know God used the voice of a donkey, manifested superhuman strength in a broken man (see Samson), spoke from a burning bush, and burnt up offerings soaked in water, just to mention a few other incidences of His physical manifestations. It is possible, and who are we to limit or define what is acceptable?

At a recent event, I found myself confronted by this situation again. The worship in music and song was polished but heartfelt. Many people were in the “zone”. But I was struggling to even find much energy to worship. I felt as though I was working hard to feel anything or even participate.

In the middle, I kind of gave up on the corporate worship and sat down to have my own conversation with God. And I found myself back with a picture I had had a few times lately.

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It was a picture of a hedge maze or similar - a bit like a movie scene, where it is all misty. As I was moving through the maze, I would catch a glimpse of the edge of a garment or just the sense of movement, which I realised was Jesus.

Even as I saw this picture, I felt frustration and tiredness welling up in me:

Why? Why can’t you just sit with me? I am tired of playing this game, of having to chase You. Why can’t you come to me?

When I started to write down what I was seeing (because it helps me to hear what God is saying sometimes), I realised that Jesus was actually calling to me:

“Come on, come with Me, come in deeper!”

There was a sense of excitement and joy in His voice. At the point of my weariness, He was automatically by my side, but there was still this pull, this encouragement that He wanted me to come further into the maze. In that place, I started to feel, “Ok, if you really want me to, I will trust You, I will accept Your call to me.” It was invitational, and as such, became intimate between Jesus and myself.

Shortly after unpacking this vision, I picked up a book someone had given me to read. In the first few pages was a section titled, “Hiddenness and Manifestation” (In “Prophetic Wisdom”, by Graham Cooke). Here Cooke explores this whole issue, particularly from the view of the judgements we make about each other around this. I realised, afresh, that these manifestations have very little to do with us - they are up to God. He decides who to and how He will manifest Himself. We can’t position ourselves or even make God “show up” in this way. (As soon as we try to make God do anything, we are entering the dangerous zone of manipulation and control  - scarily similar attributes to witchcraft!)

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In addition, as Cooke pointed out, the times of God’s hiddenness, far from Him withdrawing Himself from us, are actually about Him drawing us in deeper to Himself, just like my maze picture. While we may receive blessings from the times He chooses to manifest Himself, when He doesn’t, when we don’t sense Him, He is still there, but simply wanting to teach us about Himself in a different way. The message I clearly got from God was that His times of hiddenness are times when He wants to increase our intimacy with Him and our faith in Him. He wants to show us other aspects of Himself.

In all, it reminds me a little of what Paul wrote in Phil 4:12:

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation”.

Even though this is in a slightly different context, it is simply another reminder to me to let God be God - He will turn up in whatever form He wants, when He wants, and I can be secure in the knowledge that He will never leave or forsake me, and that He is near. I walk the journey with Him whether my senses agree or not.

And, back to the place I seem to keep landing: it is all about rest. We don’t need to work so hard, but simply rest in Him, in the truth of His word, such as “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb13:5), and “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8). We may not get a physical sense, or even an emotional one, but this is a true faith that is pleasing to God (Heb 11:6). Jesus Himself said, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). After all, we are called to follow Him, not to create our own agenda or cast Him in the image and form we would like!

When your fear is bigger than your faith

“…the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

It was such a beautiful morning.  Although it is Winter and quite cold, the sky was a brilliant expanse of blue and the sunshine enhanced the colours of the garden. The grass was greener, the lingering Autumn leaves flashing their hues of reds, yellows and oranges making the view even more vibrant.

Down in the valley, though, everyone was still under the cover of cloud. Heading off the mountain, I drove down into, and then below the low-lying cloud to a day with no sunshine; to a day of misty, drizzly grey that seemed to drain all colour and joy away. What a difference a little perspective makes.

I was reflecting on the different perceptions we can have as I looked out the car window a while back. I took a photo of the cloud as it seemed to speak to me of how we could look at what is going on in our world. What struck me was the darkness of the cloud – it drew my eye toward it. But then, even as I watched, I saw the streaks of sun pushing out to the sides. It reminded me of those cartoons, where one character is trying to squash and hide another, but bits keep popping out the sides and between the fingers. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot hide something bigger than himself.

In a time when we seem to hear bad news only to be replaced by more bad news, when the negativity seems to come at us from all angles, it is easy to live like the view in the valley is reality, or like myself, focussed on the darkness of the cloud. Both these images reminded me of the well-worn quote: “It’s always sunny at 40000 feet.

On social media many people seem to thrive, or at least continually focus on how bad things are. Even many Christians seem to live under the cloud of fear of what is going to happen next. Much of what is reported is often misreported, false or exaggerated, but even so, no matter how big or how dark the clouds of bad news get, we don’t have to focus on them. There is still another Truth. We can remember that the sun is still shining above, that God is still sovereign.

"...perfect love drives out fear..."

We have a choice and it is one that we need to make every day, sometimes moment by moment. Are we going to focus on the negativity, the difficulties, the scary stuff, or do we choose to focus on God, the One who is bigger than it all, is trustworthy, faithful and true?  

What do you do when your fear gets bigger than your faith? How do you connect with perfect Love (1 John 4:8) to cast out your fears? I’d love you to share your favourite tool for beating fear here.

I want to sleep like a baby...

Driving home up the hill the other night, I caught a whiff. One of those infinitesimal whiffs that leave you wondering if you actually smelled anything or not. But it was enough to take me back in time.

For many, this smell is considered unpleasant, and it must be said that it is pungent. However, for me the faintest smell of cow manure, mixed with hot, sweaty cow, mud and milk, took me back to my earliest years. And the feelings that were stimulated were of peace, comfort and freedom. I was immediately taken to a time when life was simpler, when there were few responsibilities or expectations from others. 

This experience tied in with one of those gentle nudges I have been getting from God in a number of ways. It was the reminder that being part of the Kingdom of God requires us to be childlike.

“...unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
— Matt 18:3 (NIV)

The Amplified version says: "unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven".

As I have thought about what it means to be childlike over the years, I often return to the idea of freedom from responsibility; the space where I can just stop and not have to do all those things I see others as expecting from me. Its a hard place to find at times when we have "adulted" for so long that we have really forgotten how to lay down all our burdens. We have long since embraced the belief that if we don't do it, no one will, or that it won't be done properly. 

Sometimes, I have to ask myself the question, "So what"? "What will happen if it is not done?" Many things I see as being vital are really not. 

And then there is that four-lettered word that keeps cropping up: REST.

We so long for it, but are generally so bad at it. Maybe that is why we are so wistful, even emotional when we look at a baby sleeping. How much we would like to sleep like that baby, without a care in the world, in complete confidence that Someone else will take care of us, Someone else will always be there. But do we really believe it?

The problem we really have with rest is trust.

To rest, I need to trust that everything will be ok if I am not rushing around sorting it.

When I make myself the answer, when I am what is required, two things happen. One is that I take way more responsibility than I was designed for, which is pretty exhausting in itself. The other is that I deny God. I deny His ability to sort it without me and I deny Him the opportunity to do it for me.

It is tough. I know. I wonder, though, if one of our biggest reasons for taking responsibility for so much is that we have been disappointed so many times in the past, either by other people or by God. And it is not that they have let us down in their promises necessarily, but in our expectations. 

Earlier this year, I went through one of those times where I was feeling a little distance between God and myself. As I asked Him about this, He showed me that I had been building a few expectations of Him around His promises and my timing. When things didn't turn out according to my expectations, I had become disappointed in Him. 

Underlying these feelings and behaviours is the belief that I know best, that I can see clearly and that God should do things my way and in my timing. As soon as it is said, or recognised, we generally realise the folly of this. It is only in living from the place of complete trust in God's goodness and faithfulness that we can rest properly and then we get to sleep like a baby.

 

 

Take a big breath, we're going deeper

When I was a kid, we had the joy of a backyard swimming pool. After learning to dive, my next favourite activity was seeing how far I could get underwater. However, I quickly realised that if I was too close to the surface I would pop up out of the water, limiting the distance I went. I could get much further by diving deeper, even though it was scary being too deep when you really needed to breathe!

Fast forward to more recent times...

One of my favourite songs of late has been Oceans (Where feet may fail), by Hillsong United. Singing this recently, though, I was confronted by the limitations I had put on what I would like this deeper to look like.

In many ways, my experience and faith have grown deeper. Doors of opportunity have opened and 2016 had many moments of joy and excitement; the blessing of being part of ministry to others where we saw God powerfully changing lives, bringing much healing and freedom. It looks as though this will keep expanding in 2017. (Hence my lack of presence here!)

However, in our personal life at home, there are a number of fronts where it seems that the breakthrough will never come. Some things just don't seem to want to shift. We keep hoping, keep seeing signs, and then...nothing.

As I have been seeking out what I need to be doing in this space and what the way forward is, I have been challenged anew by Father God. 

A friend had written that at the beginning of the year, she likes to seek God for a word that might be significant for the year to come. I thought that this would be an interesting activity, and as I wondered what word might come up for me, the word "Resilience" popped into my mind. 

I knew it was from God, as it was not something I had been thinking. And besides, I really didn't have a particularly happy response to it. After all, resilience has high association with difficulty and struggle, with hardship. I feel like we have been going through this in a few aspects for a number of years, and, quite frankly, something like fruitfulness or acceleration would have been more to my liking - can't we move on from resilience yet?

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As I have reflected further, as usual more has been revealed. Looking up the dictionary and word origin, resilience comes from Latin meaning "to spring back" or "rebound". The picture I have with that is the idea of bouncing on a trampoline - even as you fall back on a trampoline, you can use it to bounce higher, to go further. I sense that this is what God is challenging me with: rather than just holding on, or remaining upright, to use those situations that come up in life to press back into Him, so He can 'bounce' me out further.

Which brings me back to the challenge from "Oceans". Even as I talked with God about those things in our life that are not moving at the speed I would like, He explained to me that my disappointed hope was because I was placing parameters around events that were not His. I was setting time frames and outcomes that I wanted, that didn't quite match up with what He had in mind. Hence my disappointment and weariness. 

So, as I sang those words, "Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, where my faith will be made stronger", I felt a gentle nudge.

"What if going deeper is not all about 'exciting, life-changing stuff', but just about normal, everyday life, even the harder aspects of life? What if that is the deeper I want to take you?"

Gulp. Not the direction I was looking for. 

But I do have a sneaking suspicion, that as with all the paths Father God takes us down, it is one that is important, necessary for my growth and development, and perhaps even survival. Resilience, the ability to bounce forward, in tough situations enables us to continue to move ahead even in the worst scenario. Just like my ability to travel underwater without taking a breath increased with practice, maybe He is calling me to practice greater resilience in life.

In further reading*, I came across two pointers for the way ahead. The first was the idea that if God asks me to do more than I can (or feel I can), when I feel like I am at the end of my strength, He steps in. The example was used of Ezekiel (from Ez 1-2). When Ezekiel was confronted with the glory of the Lord, he found himself face down on the ground. He had no strength to rise. In the midst of this, God told him to stand on his feet. He had no ability to do this, but at the same time, the Spirit came and lifted him to his feet. I am to have confidence in His enabling, His grace me to get through.

The second pointer is closely aligned. The idea is that we are often so focussed on the final outcome we would like that we miss the seed that is being planted and growing. We are so hungry to see the whole result at once (and yes, sometimes that does happen!), that anything less is a disappointment. Instead of being grateful for seeing the beginning of the process of change, we complain or get bitter about what is not.

If I had set my goal in the pool as three laps underwater from the start and given up because I didn't even make one, I would never have gone any further. By celebrating the little signs of growth or change, I gained confidence and was energised to keep doing more.

How much more would we be encouraged if we focussed on the growth and change that is happening, rather than our failures and struggles?  

Staying safe and comfortable won't stretch me to grow, won't increase my ability. Re-framing my understanding of the struggles into growth means I change my attitude to what is going on. Going deeper into Father God can be scary if I am trying to hold on to me and my wants. I have to let go of my desire to breath on my own, if I want to get closer to Him. The goal and pleasure is that the deeper I am found in Him, the safer I am, the stronger I get and the further I can go. Time to take a big breath and dive in!

* Experience the Impossible, by Bill Johnson - I highly recommend it!

 

Is God Good?

Another mass shooting in the US, more bombings in Syria, floods, storms and earthquakes. Seeing the news makes it easy to wonder what God is up to. Where is He? Does He even care?

And lurking under these questions is another question; one that we hardly dare admit: 

Is God really good?

I know some who struggle with the idea of God’s existence and this is one of their biggest issues. If God is good, why does He allow so much bad stuff? Why doesn’t He step in and fix it? We might have our stock answers about free will, or even that He might ask us that question: what are we prepared to do about it? But underneath, if we are really honest, God's goodness is a question many of us struggle with. If all this horrible stuff is going on in my life and my world, can God really be good?

It’s not a new question, though. It actually goes right back into the Garden, right back in our humanity. The serpent responds to Eve with a direct attack on God's goodness - God is withholding something good from you. It is a tension we have been grappling with ever since, every time we feel our lives are not quite how we would like them. "God, you could do better for me. If you were really good, my circumstances would be different." We might not give voice to these thoughts and feelings, but they often dwell somewhere deep inside us.

It is vital we settle the answer to this question in our own heart. It is a foundational aspect of our faith, and if I doubt the answer, I will constantly battle with it and constantly lose that battle. If I do not have a deep conviction of God’s goodness, my circumstances and what I see around me will continually trip me up in my faith. If I doubt God’s goodness at any level, this is where I will put more faith in what I see in the natural than in God. Put another way, when I believe with all my being that God is good, I have a different perspective on what is going on around me.

I recently read a blog about the Israelites having to walk around the walls of Jericho 14 times before the walls did anything, (When the Walls Don't Seem to Move, by Allison Bown). The walls didn’t start to crumble or shake or do even sway in the breeze until the final lap was done. Allison suggests that the battle many of those people were fighting on those seven days of walking was actually in their hearts and minds. Did they really trust God? He had told them what to do, but would He come through? They were investing a great deal into this – time, faith, energy, their reputations! What if it didn’t work? 

I started to see some of my circumstances through the eyes of this marching around the walls. The promise is there, has been given, has been reinforced a number of times, but there are not even any cracks beginning to show. Nothing seems to move. In fact, some of those walls seem to be getting bigger, getting stronger. Do I keep marching, or do I try something different? Maybe I heard wrong? Maybe I should be using a cannon while I walk, or a sledgehammer, or some dynamite, or, or…maybe I just give up and go home because it is all too hard.
And so I come back to this question:

Is God good?

Because if He is, if His word lives up to His promise, then it is a game changer. If I can really trust Him to come through, to cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him, (Rom 8:28), then I don’t need to look at the exterior, to what outward appearances would seem to say. I can have confidence that He will work His good purposes and plans to fruition. I just need to continue to do what He asks me.

In the face of difficulties, in the face of catastrophe, disaster, horrific circumstances, we each have to settle this question for ourselves. 

Is God good? 

If I am not 100% sure, if there is any part of me that struggles to hold on to that belief, then I have some work to do. There is a place that needs healing in me, there is a place I am still allowing fear to reside, a place where I believe what fear says rather than God. I have to break up my partnership with fear. I have to end the deal I have believing everything fear would say to me, and renew my partnership with God. I have to allow Him and His Word to soak into those fear-filled spaces. After all, perfect love casts out all fear. And there, in that place, where His love floods over and through me again, I am able to say with all my strength and conviction:

YES. GOD IS GOOD!

 

Christianity: Powerless, Small and a Little too Sanitised

As we sat in our Good Friday service this morning, I found my eyes drawn to the wooden cross that is placed on the platform at Easter. Quite unexpectedly, I found myself wondering at its dimensions.It suddenly seemed small and a little too sanitised. I found myself wanting it to be made of heavy cross beams, rough cut and less regular, rather than two pieces of neat, clean 6 by 4.

Do we sanitise our faith?

It made me wonder: Do we sanitise our faith? Do we reduce it to meet our experience? We have been disappointed before, so we don’t want to expect too much. Yes, we are happy to hope for eternal life when we die, but we’re not looking for or anticipating much, here...now...today.

A verse that has been prominent in my thoughts the last week or so is from Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” I have been reading Dutch Sheets' book “The Power of Hope”, where he discusses the results of living in a place where we feel as though hope has been deferred too long, too often, which include loss of faith and courage. We stop believing for big things, and the things that seem big in our lives grow bigger again, with a life of their own, becoming bigger than God Himself in our perception.

One of the songs we sang this morning is “The Power of the Cross”. At Easter, we celebrate that Jesus overcame the power of death, and yet, we struggle to believe that we, through Him, can overcome the power of our limitations, struggles and sin here and now. It is easier to live small and defeated lives, because, underneath, we believe the adage, “Blessed is he who expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed”.

But this was not what Jesus promised; this is not what He came for, and certainly not what He died for.

When Jesus said that He had come to bring life that we might have it to the fullest, when He said that He had come to give the blind sight, to make the lame walk, to set the captives free, this was far more than just physical (although that would blow most of us away). He came so that we could see the reality of what it means to be sons and daughters of the Most High God, that we could walk, leap and run without being weighed down by our experiences of the past, and that we could live the free and abundant life of knowing we are loved unconditionally, that there is nothing more we have to do.

I don't want a faith that lacks power, and I don't want it for those around me, either.

If we are serious about wanting to make a difference in this world, we cannot afford to continue to accept mediocre, wishy-washy, ‘expect little’ faith. If we are serious about wanting to make a difference in this world, it is time we get things back in proportion, back to the size they should be. 

If the cross (and I mean all that the cross signifies) is central to our faith, then we need to make it real and make it big in all its power and force and beautiful ugliness. It has to match with the reality that death was the last obstacle Jesus overcame to give us abundant life here and now. 

Are you prepared to come to that place where you get real, get down and dirty, and lay it all on the line with God? 

Because it is here, and only here that transformation begins and it is only from here that we connect with the power to transform the world.