Have you ever heard a Christian say that they don’t have grace for something?
Christians often make the statement, but is it true?
Apparently at some point in Jesus ministry, he had a house. In Mark Chapter 2, Jesus is preaching “at home” and there were so many people there, you couldn’t get in.
The house is packed and you got these four guys carrying a paralytic man on a mat to Jesus, so that he can be healed.
Their faith is bringing them to Jesus.
But when they get there, their faith runs into an obstacle. The obstacle is that Jesus is preaching in a house and there’s no way in.
The house is full.
Now what would you do in this situation? When your faith takes you so far and then runs into an obstacle, what do you do when you hit that obstacle?
These guys tore Jesus’ roof off.
Do you have faith that tears the roof off of Jesus’ house?
That’s what they did.
They didn’t say, “I guess it’s not our time”. They didn’t say, “it must not be God’s will”. They didn’t say, “God must not want to do this”.
They believed so strongly that God wanted to heal this man, that they literally went up on the roof and tore it open. They probably had to dig through it and at some point it started interrupting the meeting. But they didn’t mind interrupting the meeting. They didn’t mind ripping a hole in Jesus’ roof. They believed that God wanted to heal this man and they were willing to do whatever it took to get to Jesus.
And what was Jesus’ reaction?
It says that he saw their faith, forgave the paralytic man’s sins, and healed him. Amazing.
Do you have faith that can be seen?
It doesn’t say that they said that they had faith. They didn’t have to. Their faith was visible. Their faith did something. Their faith was aggressive. Their faith tore the roof off of Jesus’ house. Their faith actually left a hole in Jesus’ roof.
After that meeting, there was a hole in Jesus’ roof because some guys had faith enough to believe that God wanted to heal a paralytic man, and they were willing to do whatever they had to do to activate their faith. Jesus saw their faith and responded with forgiveness of sin and healing.
What do you do when you hit that obstacle of faith? What is your response? We all hit obstacles in our faith. We all hit doubts. We all do mental gymnastics sometimes, wondering if God really wants to do this.
It’s not just that they believed that God could heal. Or that he did heal. Their actions showed that they believed that God wanted to heal.
And how much of faith is really about that?
How much of our struggle is not so much about our belief in whether or not God has the power to heal but more in God’s desire to heal? How much of our struggle is believing that he loves faith and that faith ravishes his heart? How much of our struggle is believing that faith that tears the roof off of his house is not offensive to him but something that he rewards? (Heb 11:6)
What does your faith look like?
Do you have a faith that tears the roof off of Jesus’ house?
Next time you pray, next time you’re faced with an obstacle, think of Mark Chapter 2. Think of these five guys and ask the question, “does my faith tear the roof off of Jesus’ house?”
I want my faith to be that which does not stop at the obstacle of a full house but says, “God, I’m going in through the roof if I have to.”
Recently I’ve been struck with a particular view of God that David pretty consistently spoke of in the bible, regarding God being for him. The fact that David is referred to by God as “a man after His own heart” (Acts 13:22, 1 Sam 13:14) makes me all the more eager to discover what David believed about God, in hopes that I too might be a man after God’s own heart.
I recently wrote about this particular view of God that David possessed in a post titled “David And Two Little Words“. As I’ve been studying David and what he believed about God I was again struck by another scene from his life in 2 Samuel 16:5-14.
The backdrop for this scene is a conspiracy by David’s son Absalom to take the throne. David catches wind of it and flees Jerusalem to the wilderness. While David is on his way, “a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei” came out and cursed David continually, throwing stones at David and his mighty men saying, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.”
One of David’s mighty men offers to take off Shimei’s head.
David’s response is pretty fascinating:
“If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.”
“It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.”
So in other words, David basically is saying, “Could it be that perhaps this cursing is the means by which God will bless me?”
Who thinks like that?!?
David. A man after God’s own heart.
What a liberating way to live.
Do we focus on the pain and weariness that being cursed and wronged is causing or the possible good that God might be bringing?
David believed what Paul would later write: “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28)
David had a firm belief in the goodness of God being directed toward him, even in the worst of circumstances, even in the midst of cursing. And he believed it at a time of great loss and personal pain. He believed it when the kingdom he had waited for so long to receive was being taken from him from his very own son. Insult being added to injury didn’t cause him to waiver in believing that God was for him and that surely, goodness and mercy would follow him all the days of his life (Ps 23:6).
“So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust. And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan. And there he refreshed himself.”
I want a heart like David.
In 1st Samuel 22 there’s an obscure verse that happened to catch my eye while studying the bible with a handful of men.
While David was hiding from Saul in the cave of Adullam, with his motley crew of 400 misfit men, he sought to find a place for his parents with the King of Moab.
“Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me.” (1 Sam 22:3)
What stuck out to me about that verse was the last two words: “for me“. A lot of people would have excluded those two words and just said: “Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do.”
But David added those two little words to the end of his sentence.
And if you look, you’ll find that David often talked this way. In fact when writing a psalm when he was in the cave, he used similar language. He closed the psalm with these words:
“for you will deal bountifully with me.” (Ps 142:7)
David was waiting in that cave with confidence that God would “deal bountifully” with him. David believed what Paul would later write in Romans: that God is for us, and “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31) Even though he was sure that his enemies were pursuing him, he was more sure that goodness and mercy would pursue him all the days of his life (Ps 23:6).
What about you?
When faced with difficult trials in your life, what do you say?
“We’ll see what God will do” or “We’ll see what God will do for me“?
The question is really more about what you believe about God.
Do you believe he’s distant and aloof, indifferent to you and your situation?
… do you believe that he’s for you, that he’ll deal bountifully with you, and that it’s a sure thing that goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life?
Two little words make quite a difference.
“We believe the church must move away from an emphasis on revivalism. Under revivalism, the key to spirituality is revival—an event where the Spirit of God catches the church up in a spiritual experience of rejuvenation and catharsis that converts the lost, heals the sick and delivers sinners. We believe revivals happen (and we have enjoyed them in our church), even though this is not a New Testament emphasis. New Testament Christians are never instructed how to bring about a revival. Further, the ideology that places revival as the key to success in the church can be destructive to the notion of a church planting movement. People may look to such supernatural events for a shortcut. This expectation drains energy from regular daily evangelism, living for God, and disciple making, which seem mundane and unremarkable by comparison. Church multiplication takes daily effort, often exerted in very non-showy, quiet ways, such as building up fellow believers and engaging in friendship evangelism as a way of life. Consistency is essential. If a spiritual revival comes, we should accept it with joy. But waiting for the Spirit to “fall” often runs counter to the lifestyle needed for successful church planting.”
– Dennis McCallum (taken from “Urban Home Church Planting at Xenos“)
I agree with Dennis. If a revival happens – awesome. Who doesn’t want to see the lost converted, the sick healed, and the demonized delivered? But I believe there are some dangers in an emphasis on revivalism.
Sometimes where there’s an emphasis on revivalism, certain things get valued over others that shouldn’t. The seemingly mundane and unremarkable tasks of changing diapers, working a job with integrity and Christ-like character, being a good husband or wife, cleaning toilets, disciple making, etc. can be devalued compared to platform ministry, healing, prophecy, etc. Noah & Jeremiah’s preaching were no less spiritual than Paul’s, regardless of the results, and Jesus working as a carpenter was no less spiritual than Jesus healing the sick.
Revivalism puts a lot of hope and emphasis on a future move of God. If this is not coupled with a present “in the now” satisfaction in God, completely independent of the possibility of any spectacular future move of God, an unhealthy dependence on borrowing from the future can occur in an attempt to pay for today’s deficit. The danger with this is that God does not guarantee revival in your sphere, in your lifetime. So if that’s what you are banking on for today’s satisfaction, you could find yourself ten years into it, spiritually bankrupt and disillusioned, with not a whole lot to show for years of commitment to something that hasn’t happened and may never happen.
Because of a contemporary dirth in the centrality of the gospel in some circles, a vacuum of motivation has been created. The gospel then becomes in danger of being replaced with the dangling of euphoric revival carrots. As great as revival is, has been, or ever will be, it cannot trump the centrality of the gospel’s power to motivate followers of Christ to obedience and sacrificial service.
How radical, hot, devoted, or sacrificial does one need to be, in order to see revival? How much prayer is necessary? How much fasting? This lack of specificity, especially over prolonged periods of time without revival, can lead to unhealthy personal and/or corporate striving for greater sacrifice in order to achieve revival.
Whenever the key to spirituality or what individuals or groups of people identify primarily with becomes anything other than the person and work of Jesus, the danger of elitism is lurking right around the corner. And this danger becomes all the more prevalent amongst a generation starving for purpose and meaning, who are engaging in radical sacrifice for the purpose of revival.
It’s not uncommon for people to have a diet plan or a workout plan. Especially at the beginning of a new year, millions of people make plans to train their body.
Part of the reason it’s so common to have a diet or workout plan is because most people know that if they don’t have some sort of plan to lose weight and/or to workout, that they won’t.
Benjamin Franklin said “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” and Antoine de Saint-Exupery said that “A goal without a plan is a wish.”
Although many Christians believe these things to be true when it relates to physical training, unfortunately many don’t apply these principles to spiritual training.
The apostle Paul said it best in his first letter to Timothy:
“Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Tim 4:7-8
If we plan for things that have “some value”, how much more should we plan for things that have “value in every way”, in both this life and the life to come?
What is your godliness training plan?
Do you have one?
Paul goes on to say the following in a subsequent letter to Timothy:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16-17
So Paul commands us to train ourselves and then points out the specific, useful tool that God has given us to accomplish our training: the bible.
So what’s your plan to get in the bible? What’s your training plan?
If you’re serious about training yourself to be Godly, then you should be serious about getting into the bible.
What are you going to read or study? When are you going to do it? How often? What time? How long?
Consider reading through the bible in a year. Study something you want to improve in. Practice bible meditation. Pick a portion of scripture and keep rereading it over a period of time.
Your options are endless.
Don’t let yourself get spiritually lazy this year.
Get a plan and start training!
(Image Credit: A&A Photography)
Do you know of any other good questions to help stir up deep meaningful conversations?
(Image Credit: The U.S. National Archives)
No one gets excited about contrived accountability. You know what I’m talking about. If you’re a guy it usually consists of three questions:
Did you read your bible today? Did you masturbate? Did you look at porn?
How do you escape this mechanical, impersonal form of contrived accountability?
The following are three essentials to real organic accountability:
“Open wide your hearts.” (2 Cor 6:13 NIV)
There’s no accountability without vulnerability. And to be clear, vulnerability is not the same as transparency.
Transparency is an open window. Vulnerability is an open door.
A lot of people guard themselves from having to be vulnerable by developing a reputation for being transparent. Transparency isn’t enough. Dean Sherman said it best, “A relationship is as deep as it is open, as strong as it is broken.” An open, vulnerable heart makes accountability so much easier and natural.
Is your heart open to other people? Are you only transparent or are you vulnerable?
“Make room in your hearts for us.” (2 Cor 7:2)
“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” (1 Thess 2:8)
The best accountability takes place in a natural, safe, and comfortable environment. A warm, inviting home can provide a space like that.
Opening your home is practical and provides a certain level of privacy that’s conducive to safe heart connecting. Having someone over for a meal or drinks, very often allows someone to feel comfortable enough to let their guard down to open the door of their heart.
If you don’t open your home, your left trying to be vulnerable in public places or the other person’s home and the other person may not be ready or willing to open up their own home. Usually if a person finds it difficult to open up their heart, they’ll also find it difficult to open up their home. Opening up your home creates a safe place when their own home is not.
Is your home open? Do you have other people over? Is your home warm and inviting? How often do you have others over for a meal? Do you show hospitality without grumbling (1 Pet 4:9)?
In the busyness of our culture it’s very important to make time for people. Time equals relationship. The deeper the relationship, the more natural the accountability.
Do you intentionally make room for other people in your schedule?
If you have an open home and an open schedule, but your heart is closed, what good is that? You’re basically making room for shallow relationship.
If you have an open heart and an open schedule, but your home isn’t open, you’re not providing space and comfort for people to practically open up.
If you have an open heart and an open home, but you don’t make time for people to access your heart and home, what good is that? That’s just a facade.
True organic accountability requires all three: open hearts, open homes, and open schedules.
How are you at these three things?
There’s an interesting story in the bible about David’s first wife Michal despising him in her heart after he dances with all his might as the ark of the Lord is returned to Jerusalem. If this was all you knew about the story, one could easily look down on her for despising David. Some might say she was a “Jezebel” or that she had a “religious spirit”.
Although it’s definitely not right to despise anyone in your heart, a quick look at what we know about Michal’s life could help us to look at her with a little more compassion.
Let’s take a look.
The story of Michal is a sad story. It’s hard to imagine what kind of inward thoughts, pains, and attitudes she must have dealt with and how difficult it may have been to keep from being bitter towards men.
The takeaway is this: be careful before you pass judgement on a woman. Take the time to understand where she’s coming from. I’m not saying someone’s difficult past justifies any sinful behavior, but considering a person’s past can help us to be more compassionate, especially in a world where 1 in 3 girls are sexually assaulted before age 18.
How have you treated and spoken about the Michal’s in your life?
If you’re proud, then the answer is “yes”. (James 4:6)
What an incredible statement. Of all the things that could be opposed to me, nothing could be worse than having God opposed to me.
The bible says that Moses was “more humble than anyone on the face of the earth” (Num 12:3 NIV) The weird thing is that the book of Numbers was written by Moses. Is it possible to be more humble than anyone on the face of the earth and to write about how humble you are? Yes, because humility is seeing yourself for who you really are. Pride is seeing yourself for who you aren’t. Pride either thinks of yourself more highly than you ought or more lowly than you ought. Both are pride. Humility thinks of oneself “with sober judgment… according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Rom 12:3)
Are you proud?
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10)
Hi, I’m Josh Christophersen, and this is my blog. I want to help you do your life well. Enter your email so I can send you free updates: