I recently saw an article that stated where half of Americans are obese. The article quoted Dr. Susan Thompson, a professor of brain science and weight loss expert who said, “we are literally eating ourselves to death.” This is symbolic of a nation—and church—that gorges itself on food, sex, pleasure, and entertainment, yet is never satisfied.
As I attempt to walk with God, I notice that I’m more aware of the sin-flesh within. Some mornings I cry out, “Lord, please keep my flesh crucified!” And I ask Him to help me live in His resurrection power.
More often than not, the crowd gets it wrong (John 6).
Sometimes I think I must be crazy or wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Since so many churches are content with prayerless, performance-driven services that breed isolated Christians, and many of the pastors leading them were seminary educated, why am I saying this isn’t right or Biblical? Until I read through the book of Acts, and I’m reminded once again that the early church was devoted to teaching, fellowship, and prayer meetings, not a rock band and a sermon.
I was at a church recently that sang songs about revival, then the guest speaker spoke about revival. Revivals are sparked by fervent prayer over an extended period of time with confession of sin, not singing songs, posting on social media, or talking about it.
Suffering has a language all its own. Only those who have suffered know it. The best counselors and comforters are well-acquainted with pain, failure, and sorrow.
I never focus on what my spiritual gifts might be. God might call me to do something that I’d previously assumed “wasn’t my gift.” I don’t want to pull a Moses at the burning bush.
A church full of married men viewing porn means there is a church of wives who are hurting. Yet, have you ever heard a Sunday morning message that talked about what the wives go through or offered them help? Wives are the key to the porn epidemic in the church yet they’re usually ignored, forgotten, or the victims of spiritual abuse.
I went through my share of spiritual warfare over the holidays. One night I had to wrestle with nightmares so intense that when I woke up I momentarily wondered if the dreams were real. Why don’t churches talk about spiritual warfare more in these dark times? Or during the holidays when so many are getting wailed on?
I pray often, “God please give me more fruit from my life with the time I have left!” I don’t want to waste it. Retirement isn’t an option.
Some churches have really big, polished pulpits. The pastor, the teaching, and the doctrine are everything; the morning service is built around a 45-minute message with all the loose ends neatly tied up. The early church began with 7 days straight of prayer meetings. Peter’s first message, powered by 7 days of prayer and the Holy Spirit, saw 3,000 come to Christ, yet his sermon was several minutes long. It’s the unction and prayer behind the message that counts, not the length of the message or the education of the man behind it. Peter had no letters behind his name.
When my wife and I are disconnected, nothing works. This is by divine design. We’re not meant to feel good comfortable if our marriage is out of balance. The distance usually began when we let praying together fade away.
It shocks me when I hear a believer question whether there is spiritual warfare of demons. How can you question the spiritual battle with all the evil that’s running rampage? Then I realize, Satan is happy to keep those who aren’t making a significant spiritual impact distracted with comfort, pleasure, and entertainment.
I’m a father of four kids. There are still moments when I have a deep sense of unworthiness as a father.
If you feel qualified for the Christian life, you’re not. It’s those who don’t feel qualified who are because they are apt trust in God for His strength and wisdom.
Your education and theology can mess up your relationship with God. The Lord had a habit of blowing away the theology of those he encountered. Just ask Job, or Paul. Trust in God, not your knowledge or the way you think life should go.
Suffering is a blessing. Without it we would be completely arrogant. Pride must be burned off in the white-hot furnace of affliction for the believer to live an effective Christian life, have a clue of what humility is, and understand how to walk in obedience. Nothing trains a prayer warrior like suffering. Paul was given a demonic thorn in the flesh after he had an encounter in Heaven. Jesus learned obedience from the things He suffered. If you want to be a Christian, you must be willing to suffer.
I’ve always been attracted to people who went all-out in their relationship with God and lived their life with eternal impact. Keith Green, Oswald Chambers, Amy Carmichael, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, David Brainerd, Peggy Smith, and Jim Elliott come to mind. They proved their beliefs by their actions. Bonhoeffer was a theologian, yet he left the circles of academia and put his life on the line to the point where he was executed in a German concentration camp. Oswald Chambers taught a Bible College near London, yet left the UK to serve as a chaplain in North Africa in World War 1 where he died at the age of 43. Faith without action is just talk.
If pastors believed what they taught about prayer, they would have had their flocks on their knees every Sunday and during the week, and we would have had a radical spiritual awakening years ago. The modern church believes that worship bands and sermons are enough; prayer isn’t necessary.
Immediately after Paul’s conversion, God said “I will show him (Paul) how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16). Can you imagine a modern church telling people that if they come to Christ they must suffer?
The most powerful, life-changing moments in my life have been when I was alone with God, focused on Him, resting with Him in silence. Not in church, or a counselor’s office. The time the believer spends in prayer and silence determines his spiritual power and opens doors for healing and unexpected gifts from above.
The comfort zone is one of the greatest threats to the believer.
Many believers are terrified of silence. Have you ever been in a church when the pastor had the flock spend several seconds in silence? You can feel everyone squirming in their seats. Silence forces us to face our heart. Have you ever noticed there is always noise in most modern church services?
I love prayer meetings. The prayer meetings that stand out to me with the most power and where the presence of God was thick were at a wives retreat in 2018, prayer phone conference calls (usually with wives), prayer times at retreats I led in Europe, and while counseling hurting people. Those who participate in our Wednesday Zoom prayer call report encountering God’s presence too. I can’t recall an experience like that at a church in the states, although I’m sure they must occur… somewhere.
I love prayer. It is the doorway to Heaven, power of the Holy Spirit, healing, joy, conviction, peace, and the unexpected blessings that come from communion with God.
Update on The Way of the Rogue
We just ordered proof copies of my next book, The Way of the Rogue Christian: Living a Life that Counts for Eternity. If everything goes right we should be ready to launch by January 20.