Thursday, January 26, 2012

Doin' the Stuff

John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard Movement, used to coin all kinds of helpful sayings that captured the essence of a larger concept. One of my favorites is "Doin' the stuff."

He used to talk about his first experiences of going to church. As an unchurched new believer, he would read the Bible and hear about the incredible healings and miracles performed by Jesus and the early disciples. At church he would ask an elder, "Where do we do the stuff?"

"What stuff?"

"You know, the stuff in the Bible."

"Oh, we don't actually DO the stuff. We study about it, but we don't actually do it."

As we've started to go through the book of Acts on Sunday mornings, Luke's opening description of his writings to Theophilus really struck me again. In his Gospel and in Acts, he was describing all that Jesus "began to DO and to teach."

Jesus wasn't merely a great teacher--although He was one, and the greatest one who ever lived.

Jesus was also a DOER of what He taught. The works of Jesus were just as important as the words of Jesus. They went hand-in-hand.

And so it is with us, his disciples. If we are to be true followers of Jesus, we will not only teach about the Kingdom, but we will demonstrate the presence of the Kingdom by our Spirit-empowered works.

In the book of Hebrews, the writer tells us that God Himself confirmed the message of salvation through "signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will" (Heb. 2: 4).

Do you hunger, like me, to be a disciple of Jesus in both words and works? Let's get filled and equipped for ministry and then take the risks necessary to actually do the stuff.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wrestling With God

I did something prophetic for the New Year: I shaved my beard. It made me feel a little like Ezekiel: "Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber's razor to shave your head and your beard" (Ez. 5: 1a).

Symbolically, I removed something that represented the past so that I could have a fresh start. Goodbye, 2011; Hello, 2012. I think I needed to leave a lot of what was difficult about last year behind me.

For the Passover celebration every year, Israel was instructed to remove all yeast from their home: sweep it away. Yeast represents sin. Get it out of there so you can have a fresh start.

I feel God calling our church corporately and me as an individual to focus on the next phase of our journey with Him. Like Jacob who fled from his father-in-law, Laban, and returned to the promised land, only to face the daunting prospect of an angry brother, Esau.

God used the opportunity to strip Jacob of his self-reliance, deception and manipulation. He jumped him at the Jabbok and they wrested all night. (Gen. 32: 22-32)

It wasn't really a fair fight. I mean, God just needed to touch Jacob's hip and it was wrenched out of the socket. But Jacob would not give up. "I won't let go until you bless me!" (Gen. 32: 26b).

And I think God loves that kind of chutzpah. There's not a really good English equivalent: audacity, gall, guts, nerve. In the face of God himself, Jacob still fights for the blessing.

And God gives it to him in the form of a new name. Israel. No longer will he be "he grasps the heel--that is, he manipulates to get ahead." Instead, his name will be "he wrestles with God." That is, he still fights to get ahead, but with God, the One who can REALLY bless.

How about you? Are you wanting God to bless you this New Year? Let go of trying to get what you want through manipulation and get into it with God. Begin to wrestle with Him until you get your answer. You may end up walking with a limp--but maybe then you will remember where the blessing really comes from.