Daily Archives: April 29, 2004

I Asked for Strength, and God Gave Me a Limp

Being a godly person requires a strange mixture of humility and boldness. Jesus modeled this out by casting the merchants out of the temple while at the end of His earthly ministry He endured the pain and shame of the cross.

Jesus never shied away from boldly proclaiming the truth and challeging the authorities that were leading the masses astray. Yet, He continually gave praise to the Father and hung out with the lowliest of the low.

Modern day Christians should avoid pride while clearly recognizing their position and authority in Christ. Just as we are not to make outrageous boasts, we should avoid belittling ourselves or living in the dumps of condemnation. The true identity of a Christian can only be found in the depths of what God says about us and His work on our behalf.

Jacob sought a blessing from God when he wrestled all night with the Angel of the Lord. Jacob’s willingness to hold on no matter the cost illustrates his determination to get God’s best. Oh, that I would wrestle more instead of wallow in the muck of life. God answered Jacob’s request. He blessed him and oddly broke him at the same time.

The Angel of the Lord touched Jacob’s hip causing it to become dislocated. Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life. Sometimes we find the greatest blessings in the most surprising places. We must first be broken before we can be made whole. God can work through our weaknesses and pain to shape us into a masterpiece.

The apostle Paul wrote that God said to him when He refused to take away Paul’s thorn in the flesh, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9).

Auto Pilot Christians

The more I “do” ministry, the more I discover that most people go through life on auto pilot. I tend to do the same thing. We have different auto pilot settings depending on the circumstance. There are settings for work, family, church, social gatherings, sports, school, court, public transportation, night clubs, first time encounters, etc.

The auto pilot helps you navigate the situation without making a big social blunder or exposing yourself to some kind of personal attack or being vulnerable in any way. The auto pilot keeps our facade in tact and reputation golden. But does it also keep us from really living?

What happens when you “go to church” every week with the auto pilot on? You may be a regular at the Sunday service but never really encounter God or others Christians. The auto pilot allows you to have a “good time” without having to make any major changes to your coarse.

If we want to see the power of God mainfest in the church, we must be willing to take off the auto pilot. The price may be great, but the rewards are beyond comprehension. Unfortunatley, most are not willing to take off the auto pilot. They would rather play it safe.

Church leaders can help people see their need to take off the auto pilot by creating gatherings which by design force people to face the unexpected. What would happen if a pastor walked out half way through a sermon and encouraged the congregation to read the Scripture passage for themselves and discuss it with those around them? What would happen if a worship leader introduced the novelty of worship without music? What would happen if a foot washing ceremony mysteriously landed on the Sunday agenda one week? What would happen if prophets started acting like they did in the Old Testament? Some of these guys did some pretty outrageous things just to get the people’s attention…No I’m not encouraging anyone to take their clothes off like Isaiah did.

The medium can really be the message. How we do things can matter more than what the preacher says from the pulpit. People remember more what you do than what you say.

Sometimes our church practices run contrary to our words. This destroys the effectiveness of the message and causes people to turn away from the church. If you want to see the power restored to the church, be willing to take the auto pilot off and let God be God.

Who knows what could happen then!!!