It might be more fitting to talk about Easter. Bloggers usually pick current events/news/events to give ‘their opinion’. I want to still blog my thoughts of Noah and Captain America. But this is burning in me right now.
I have been going to church since before I was born. I said the Lord’s prayer of salvation when I was five years old. For 23 years now I have been listening to sermons and engaged in worship services. I have been going to summer and winter camps since 8 or 9 years old. In my church we were considered charismatic. We allowed ‘freedom’ in expression, to say the least. We allowed prophetic(a later post on what that means) words to be shared. My mom was among many prophetic words given at our church. I even shared words myself. The church culture I grew up in had room for multiple expressions of our faith.
My last two years of high school(2002-2004) were filled with many encounters with Jesus. Prayer and intercession were integrated in very intentional way. Our youth group(Generation Christ) held prayer times before all services and we made our own prayer room that would run 72 hours at at a time a few times a year. Camps and retreats were filled with much laughter and ridiculous stories as well. Camps always moved me to want more from God. Every Sunday night our church had “revival prayer” meetings. Sometimes my mom would get so “drunk in the Spirit” that I wasn’t sure if she could drive home. This happened a lot before I could drive. I by no means was perfect as a teenager. I got in more trouble with my Christian friends(the McCrew-which came from The original Ruckus Journal). But, at the end of the day, there was an ache for more of God. There was a conflict that lived in me. The conflict became the question: how do I give all to God? Everything from the pulpit made is sound like intimacy with God was the most important aim of one’s life. The Apostle Paul’s words echoed: one thing I do, I press on to know Christ!
Maybe you know where this is going. Maybe you don’t. But for anyone that has done church for a long time one will start to ask a few transferable questions. Meaning, what does this have to do with daily life? And how do I do this in my life(or my context)? How do I take the camps, retreats and encounters at church and actually let it change me?
Its easy to say it with grandeur and 10 feet over everyone’s head. Its easier to call people to it. Its simple to make it sound like whatever you are hearing is the most important message to respond to. To make a long story short, I spent 8 years in Kansas City, responding multiple times a week to either repentance for sin, or a call to a way of life. The call was either: we repent for pride, lust, or dullness and it was also: yes, I will say yes to the prophetic word. I will say yes to the IHOP-KC prayer room. I will also say yes to believe that it is more than just this prayer room I am in. This message is for the world. Or at least, it is for my generation(people my age) or this nation(for over 300 million people). Now, we know that all of America is not saved. And we also know that not everyone that is in church is living for God in a way that is of 100 percent obedience to Him. I have spent much time on this blog talking about fullness and the fear of the Lord, which will also come out more in the future.
But what about Monday? What about daily, hard, mundane, freeway slogging-life? What about your marriage? Whether it be falling apart or thriving. What about kids that I have? What about my little niece or nephew? What about my siblings? What about my parents? What about…
I think, at this point in my life, I am more concerned with how to live then what should I give. I am more concerned with the 15 hours of the day that I am awake. I am more concerned with not just the present-time word of the Lord, but with integrating God into my daily life. And I believe that most of you reading this are also concerned with this too. My context is my church. I have a great church community. I am still new to the community I am in. As I just mentioned, IHOP in Kansas City was my community for 8 years. But I feel like in our hype culture in America we respond to the hype or the big picture with few skills and wisdom to how to actually live what we just heard. If faith without works is dead, then just hearing a message does not suffice. It goes way beyond just hearing. Mark 4 gives us the parable of the sower and the seeds and soil. Three out of the four types of soil show us that we can hear the word but it cannot take root. Only the “good soil” will bear any fruit. The parable of the talents in Mathew 25 reveal to us that each person is responsible for what they do with what they have been given. The gravest mistake is perceiving God to be “a harsh man” and burying your talent and not doing anything with it.
God seems to always judge based on our response to the message. Where our heart is that is where our treasure lies. I feel that my church years have caused me to fall back on the fact that I will probably just hear the message again next week, or in a few days. Because I go so much, so no problem. This is not reality. This is not how life works. Hearing only does not mean anything. Not hearing at all, obviously, is worse then never hearing.
But, it seems like the logical response is that God judges based on what we do with the message. Go and do! Go and build! The great commission: go and make disciples! First, we are disciples. Second, we go and teach and build and add to the Kingdom of God by making other disciples. That is as basic as tithing. But, the challenge is how to live. Does the message carry over into the average working class person, or the average parent with kids. Sometimes mom’s feel guilty because their ministry is raising children. They almost need a Mother’s day message once a month. I don’t say that lightly. I mean life on Monday really is life for people. Church is helpful to attend. And I believe we are to be at church as much as we can. It always helps to be around other Christians. To encourage and build up and love on each other.
But, in just going to church a lot how does the message apply and effect you. How does the message apply to the way you relate to the people around you. Being in the world can easily get overlooked by just thinking your ministry applies to the other Christians in your life. Galatians says “be good to everyone, especially to those in the household of faith(paraphrased)” So, yes we take care of our brothers and sisters in the faith, but we also can’t neglect the world around us.
A prayer life does not just mean going to a prayer meeting, or a prayer room. That helps and can be less distracting then being alone at home, but learning how to fellowship with the Holy Spirit in your personal context of work, family and driving this is also just as valuable, if not more important.
I am concerned that we are simply just showing up. The old adage: 90 percent of life is just showing up. But the other 10 percent is called reality. And its very important for us to embrace wisdom and revelation. To really ask how God is to come into our daily lives. He really is present in everything we do. In movies we see and music we listen to. Its never a good idea to just see and hear whatever you want, but God can speak anyway he wants to.
Monday application means: what is hard for me? What are the dynamics that surround my daily life and how do I, in the grace of God, work around the conflict and go through the trials. I don’t believe God takes us out of struggles. I believe He causes us to go through them. A life of power is a life of conflict. It may not be new levels new devils, but it will certainly be new resistance with the increase. Monday and daily life requires us to filter through hype or anything near it. I realize that some hype and some rallying around a message is a part of our entertainment/performance culture. Some of it just can’t be avoided but whatever is of substance that is what we want to hold onto. Everything else will most likely be forgotten after a few days.
Some practical advice(for applying messages to your context)
1. Keep a journal. Even if you are not a writer, writing really helps. I am always writing things down because I know I will forget things I hear. Even if it is not a lot to write down just the fact that you write it down means more than just listening.
2. Daily bible reading. I have been not doing so good at this in the last couple of months but I encourage all to get in the word. Everything we test and discern with should be tested through God’s word. If we don’t know it then we parish.
3. Godly friendships. Marriage might change your friendships but the principle remains the same. We all need righteous friends in our lives. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.. iron sharpening iron.. a friend closer than a brother!” Community means more than just you trying to figure things out. We all need at least one person that can speak into us. And we all need at least one person we are speaking into. Processing how the message applies to you is needed with the help of friendships.
4. Hyped up not because. Take what is true and actually means something in reality. Throw away anything that just makes you feel good for a little while. There is power in truth and power in us to do it daily. We can totally overdo the spirit of being rallied behind something that sounds good but has little power to our lives. Remember what is true not the emotion of the moment.
5. Prayer. I ask daily for a Spirit of wisdom and revelation. I ask daily for wisdom. If its not daily then its a lot of times in a week but my goal is to pray it daily. Talking to God before we talk to others is very valuable. This is however, a practice and an exercise. We practice talking to God and it gets easier or more involuntary over time.
Hope this post helps us take what we are hearing and do it. And ask the right questions to get us to living out what we hear.