Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Just Do It . . .

This Sunday, at our church's picnic after church, I had an amazing privilege. My youngest daughter, Abigail, came to me and said that she wanted to be baptized. (She understands the Gospel, has asked Jesus in to her life, and is already evangelizing multiple people.) When I asked her what it meant to her she said, "It means that I want to follow Jesus all of my life." So, I got to baptize her! It doesn't get much better than that!

I remember, in my early days pastoring, holding a baptism service at the nearby lake and wanting to understand it. I studied and studied all the deep meanings and the symbolism of it. I got really bogged down in all the theology surrounding it (not saying theology is bad, or understanding is bad). Then one mother about summed it up when she said something to the effect of, "Well, Jesus just said to do it. So, we do it."

I think that says a lot in a little. I am reminded of Corrie Ten Boom who said something to the effect of not worrying about what's in the Bible we don't understand, but worrying about what is in the Bible we do understand and don't live. I think I could spend the rest of my life walking that out alone.

This is, in no way, saying we shouldn't study, etc. That would be foolish! But, there are those times when we simply obey. We don't understand, but we don't rise to the arrogance of needing to understand God before we will obey Him. When I think about that I realize how silly it is to even think I might fully understand the mind of One who speaks a universe in to place when I struggle to understand how a cell phone works.

I wonder what this world would be like if all professing Christians simply obeyed what Jesus said. I wonder what inexplicable differences non believers would see in us if we only surrendered and obeyed. I tend to think they would see such a supernatural difference in us that they could only explain it by the indwelling presence of the Creator of all.


  1. "I wonder what this world would be like if all professing Christians simply obeyed what Jesus said. I wonder what inexplicable differences non believers would see in us if we only surrendered and obeyed. I tend to think they would see such a supernatural difference in us that they could only explain it by the indwelling presence of the Creator of all. "


    This single statement gets to one of my main points for being a non-believer. Christians generally claim to have a super-natural, all-powerful, all-loving deity living within them. If even a few actually could demonstrate such a thing then I would change my stance. Most christians will at this challenge claim that their own weakness or lack of faith is their reason why they don't demonstrate their claim. This is a contradiction, clearly you and most reformist believe themselves to be of no inherent value or ability outside of Jesus inside them and his sacrifice. Well, if it's the holy spirits job to regenerate you, who's problem is it really that you cannot demonstrate any unquestionable super-natural ability?

    You all claim an extraordinary claim, then you all claim that it's god's job to mature you and work through you, yet..this doesn't seem to be the case as far as evidence is concerned.

    What believers usually fall back on when I bring this up is that they change the definition of "super-natural" and "evidence"...

  2. Erick, What a blessing to see pictures of Abigail's baptism. I remember meeting her with Mary Ann in the grocery store in the first week after she was born. How wonderful to hear that she is choosing to follow Jesus!

    I say amen to your comments...In different seasons I have prayed, "Lord, help me to practice more of what I know."

  3. Deron, a good friend and a former classmate at West Point, sent me the following comment on this post via email. With his permission, its text is below:

    Regarding obedience: Lots of military situations come to mind that instant obedience is a must; explanations (from the leader) should be used as time is available. That's why it is key for leaders to develop trust among their subordinates so when the chips are down and the leader gives a "must obey now" type order, his troops already have trust he is acting in their best interest and obey first. After the dust has settled, there may be time for reflection and understanding.

  4. To Jimmy (Twin Daddy). Hi! Thanks for the comment. I am completely frustrated, myself, that more Christians don't bear more of His image---myself included. I do know, however, that I bear a lot more of His image now then I did two years ago, and a lot more two years ago then I did five years ago, etc. It is a growth, but God doesn't force it. I believe that the Bible is clear that man's ability to make choices is so precious to God that He gave it to us knowing He would later have to die for it. I make many, many choices to ask God off the throne of my life and live as my own king instead of surrendered to His Kingship. Your anticipating a response like this does not make the response wrong. The more I make a choice to rest in who He is, and what He has done, and to surrender to His Lordship and allow Him to live through me, them more I bear His image. When I don't, and I live in my own flesh, I bear my image and the world sees someone just like it. If your are interested, there is a link in the "About Me" page of this blog to my teachings at our church. I am currently in a series about Biblical obstacles to God's movement. It is not, in any way, all inclusive---but it does highlight many, many reasons given in the Bible that God does not move in situations. In any situation, some, or many, may apply---or none. There is always that place of the mystery of God who knows so much more than I do about any given situation (or the past or the future). It would be sheer arrogance for me to make the claim I do about who I believe He is and then to demand to understand (and approve) all He is doing. That said, I believe He stands ready (and desires) to move far more through most of us than He is because we are trying to live with feet on both sides of the fence---Heaven and the best of this world as well. As for the supernatural, I would be more than happy to give you the web sites of multiple people who move in it who I would bet my life on as far as their sincerity and love for God and His Word and truth. I have met them and I do not have a doubt in my mind that they are the real thing. God moves mightily through them, and the supernatural is not a big thing for them. Do they see every healing they pray for? No. But we are not God, either, and He alone is perfect. You said if you met a few . . . as for myself, I can't tell you how many headaches, pain, etc. I have seen healed by prayer. We also have two cases of cancer (one uterine, and one stage 4 melanoma) that completely disappeared. Yet, I battle with headaches, and I have seen a lot of stuff not healed as well. But, I remain convinced of God, of His love, of Jesus' witness of healing and power, of His truth. You have been in the church long enough to know that you will never have all the evidence. Just as in evolution, there will be a measure of faith involved. God said it. You can say that is a crutch, or convenient, or you can embrace it. I, personally, am glad I don't know everything about God or all that He knows---I couldn't handle the pain and hurt He must see at any given moment. I know that plays a card you've brought up before of all the evil and suffering in the world and how a God could allow that, and I believe that we find, again, our answer in choice. He valued it in us so much He gave it at His own expense and it has cost Him and all of us dearly---but I wouldn't want to be without it. Without true choice there is no true love. I would encourage you to look at choice and the consequences of sin on the world at large, and not at an individual case of personal pain---much in the same way you thought I was looking at evolution at too individual of a level and not at the big picture. God to run. I hope that you have a GREAT day at work and that all is well with you and your family. I really hope to meet one day and share a cup of coffee and some face to face chat time. Let us know if you are ever in CA. Until then, its the blog and Facebook. God bless.

  5. Hi "Twin Daddy" (Jimmy). I hope that you are doing well. I can't believe I just wrote you a massive reply and the blog dropped it as too long. I'll try and reconstruct it, but I only have a minute. I'll answer in a couple of comments.
    As for believers not bearing His image or works. I share that complaint, starting with myself. But, I know that I bear a lot more of His image, and I have seen a lot more of His works, in this last year than I did, say, three years ago---and more then than I did, say six years ago, etc. I know that I am growing in Him and bearing more of His image---and I am doing it as I trust Him more and surrender more of me to Him. My battle is to ask Him to get off the throne of my life I freely asked Him to occupy. Either from selfish desires, or fear, or lack of trust, or missing His direction, I live too often on my own path and not His. In that case I don't have His resources available because I am not involved in His work.

  6. Hi Jimmy (#2). If you are interested, I am teaching through a series on Biblical obstacles to God's movement. There are actually a lot in the Bible! In any given situation one, many, or none may apply---but the fact is a lot of situations can play in to whether or not His desire is done through a specific person. I do believe that the core starting point of that is that He does desire to work in and through us as His body, but, because of human choice, or sometimes because of things He knows that we don't, it doesn't always happen. Anyway, if you are interested, there is a link to my teachings in the "About Me" page above. The more I study, and the more I walk out, the more amazed at how much God has submitted His desires to our choices. He didn't have to give us choice, but He did, and I treasure it (most of the time). As a result, there are tremendous consequences in and across this world (I encourage you to look at it at a large level, and not focused on one specific issue that is painful, as you encouraged me in another talk to look at evolution in a large picture). More...

  7. Hi Jimmy (#3). If you really want to meet people who move in the ways you describe I can give you some different web sites. I know that there are a lot of abuses out there, but these are people I have no doubt about their love for God, sincerity, love for His Word, surrender to His ways, and the fruit---including supernatural---is amazing. I have met some of them and I would bet much on their genuineness. Personally, certainly don't see every healing, etc., I pray for, but I have seen a lot more than when I didn't pray for them! I have seen many, many headaches and pains go away, as well as two cases of cancer disappear in people we have prayed for(one uterine, one stage 4 melanoma). We have seen prodigals return---watch out, I've been praying for you :) We have seen tremendous provision and clear instances (more numerous than we can count) of His movement and hand (once a coincidence, twice a coincidence, but 50 times? or 100?). We have a "Praise Jar" in which our family writes praises of His hand in our life and then spend Thanksgiving reading about His goodness to us over the year. There is no way "on earth" it is all chance or coincidence!

  8. Hi Jimmy. Okay, now my first reply is posted somehow so I guess I can stop repeating myself! God bless you.

  9. It's a great response Erick!

    Honestly, I think if there were any consistent miracles going on, especially in healing, then the whole world would know it. Sadly, I bet I can find an equal number of cases where the same types of things happen consistently across belief systems that your theology would never ever agree with. This is why I finally gave up trying to use any type of "miracle" as proof that someone is right. It's always over there..or somewhere else, or at some point in time..etc. I've got 3 numbers written on a piece of paper under my computer at work. A simple word of knowledge would clear this whole misunderstanding up and return a prodigal (and even a whole family!).

    Do I even need to mention that almost every miracle in the bible wasn't for a believer, it was for the lost. Jesus, nor his followers had any issues at all using miracles to convince the lost to believe. Well, here I am..

    I think what mostly happens with miracle believers (of any faith), bias confirmation. You even so much as aluded to the fact above that God ALWAYS answers prayer, however, the answer is ALWAYS a yes, no, or maybe. These are the same answers I get from a milk jug (in fact youtube has a video on just that).

    When a believer in anything prays for something and it happens, then God did it, when it doesn't happen, God is either teaching them, or it's not his will. I Might argue that just as the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet, any gift you may have is subject to you to. You either have faith or you don't. If you can heal a headache (not miraculous), then you could regrow a limb I think.

    Keep in mind, my comment is driven by decades of hearing claims, and decades of no real evidence...

    Thank you for responding.

  10. Great pictures, Erick. May she battle sin daily for the rest of her life in keeping with this sacrament.

  11. Hi Jimmy---Part 1. I have a bunch of youth crashing at our place tomorrow which I am trying to get ready for, so I can't give the depth of answer I'd like to, but here's a few thoughts (knowing they just scratch the surface and don't begin to give the depth they need to stand alone). Here goes, in sort of the order you mentioned things:
    1) Check out Heidi Baker and Iris Ministries in Mozambique. This woman loves the Lord beyond measure and the miraculous that He does through her and that ministry is amazing. Just a starting place.
    2) I had thought you'd introduced the supernatural as evidence which is why I brought it up. Sorry if I misunderstood your original comment. That said, however, there is not a doubt in my mind of the supernatural and miraculous---from the miracle of changed lives to physical healing.
    3) As for other belief systems---the encounter with Moses and Pharaoh's magicians makes it clear there is another power at work. God's is the most powerful, but clearly they drew on a power as well.
    4) 7, 14, 31. Just kidding. Jesus walked past many people, and was given the Father's work or nudge for only some. Why not all? I don't know. Might God give me the numbers? He could. Will He? I don't know. I won't play with Him. He is holy and awesome and I try to never forget that. I could share with you person after person who have had words of knowledge given to them or by them that have no explanation besides God. Things no one ever knew. It is real, Jimmy, and I know you are jaded but it is real and you and your family are loved by a real God.
    5) What do you want Mary Ann and I praying for in your life? I would be honored to pray for real needs (not numbers under a computer, smile).
    6) I am sorry that I am not the full picture of Christ to present to you. I would love to be able to demonstrate Him for you in ways that would shatter your walls of pain. I can't, but I know He is real and I have seen His hand in my life, my changed heart, and in power in far too many ways to ever deny it. Has He always done what I asked? No, and I thank Him for that. Have I seen every prayer answered? No, and I don't need to.

  12. Hi Jimmy---Part 2.
    6) I don't think I alluded to the fact that God always answers prayers in some way. It is kind of a Christian cliche. If you listen to my Obstacles series that I am teaching through I think you will see my heart. There are times I think He stands ready to move, but the people or place is not ready. There are times it is "no" but for reasons we'll never understand. May I never cast Him from my heart because He doesn't perform for me exactly as I want.
    7) I believe many people have been wounded by Christians praying and then, when it is not answered, they cast blame on the person they are praying for. Is that God's fault? No.
    8) I can't heal anything. God does. Is healing a headache any harder for Him than regrowing a limb? No. Might we be the ones who struggle more in faith because we make it bigger to us? Yes. Is that an excuse? No. Do I need to make excuses for God? No.
    9) Jimmy, we don't have a lot of money. But, I talked with Mary Ann, and if you want to fly out here I will do what I can to help with the cost. I would be honored to sit with you, introduce you to my family, pray with you, share my experiences with you, show you books and things, and just talk. He is real, Jimmy, and the best way I can show you that is to love you as He does. To be His hands and feet in your life right now loving you. He came all the way to the cross to meet you, Jimmy. Don't walk away from Him, or mock Him on your page, because you perceive that He wasn't there at some point for you. Think about what you are saying. Think about what it means to believe in a God that creates a universe, and then to be angry or unbelieving because there is something that happened you can't explain. In the end, will the failure of Christians to completely portray Christ may grieve Him, it won't be an excuse to deny Him. He is real, Jimmy. He is real. God bless you.

  13. Brad---Thanks so much! It was a special day. Thanks for your writings as well, and for your heart to serve God.

  14. Congratulations Pastor Erik! What a blessing for a father to see his child's heart seeking to follow the Lord's example!
    ~ Kierstyn


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