The Talk Everyone Needs to Have With God

The first time I ever prophesied I was about 16 years old. I was part of the leadership for a local youth group and I was invited up on stage to pray one night. While I was praying I heard these words well up on the inside, “If you’ll get real with Me, I will get real with you.” Prophesying is down played today, just like the Bible warned against (1Thess 5:20). But those words have stuck with me all these years. I know what God meant when He said that. And it’s that most of us, when you get right down to it, are not really dealing in reality when it comes to our relationship with Him. It’s kind of fake. Kind of imaginary. It just has the feel of one-sidedness. Almost as if deep down, we don’t even really know if we believe there is a God, but we carry on somehow convincing ourselves otherwise.

 

Some may be offended I’m even saying these things out loud. But I don’t think it does anyone any good to avoid talking about it.

After seeing a lot of my friends and family fall away, or fade off into oblivion concerning their Christianity, I think it’s finally time that this be addressed head on:

 

God feels fake for a lot of us because the majority of Christians have never actually benefited from believing in or serving Him. Now, I understand the churchy cliches’ about how we shouldn’t serve God for our own benefit. Or how we should just be happy that we’re not burning in hell (and we should), but the reality is, there’s a lot the Church has downplayed in this area and it’s been to our own detriment.  

 

God is a Pragmatist

 

From the very beginning when God first spoke to Abraham it was about giving him land and making him rich (Genesis 12:1). Later, it was the same promise for the Israelites. In fact, God creating Covenant was an introduction to a legal partnership with Israel which involved all kinds of material and observable benefits. If you read in Deuteronomy (chapters 27-28) you see that tangible blessings were God’s way of manifesting His end of the Agreement. The Jews had a palpable way of knowing if they were holding up their end of responsibility.

 

Then we go to Proverbs and find a book packed full of practical wisdom on how to avoid tragedy, how to stay healthy, live long, and be rich (1:33, 3:15-16, 22:4).

 

In the New Testament, Jesus is going around manifesting signs and wonders in response to faith in Him (Matt 8:9-13, 9:2, Mk 5:34).

 

In Acts, when the Jews saw the Gentiles filled with the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues, they knew He was at work (Acts 10:44-47).

 

Over and over again, we see observable ramifications due to actual encounters with God.

 

What am I getting at? God has always expected certain actions from man, and in response, He has promised to act.

 

In a lot of ways, that makes God a pragmatist.

 

A pragmatist is someone who is concerned with measurable results. They don’t like being tangled up in ideas that don’t produce definitive outcomes.

 

On the other end of this spectrum are idealists. Most believers really fall into this category. An idealist likes to be occupied with things that might seem right, or feel right, in theory—even if there is no tangible reality or benefit behind them.

We pray. But our prayers are generic. So generic that our culture has begun to switch out praying for someone with the words, “our thoughts are with them.” What does that even mean?! Prayer has become so indistinct and ineffective in our minds that the whole concept has been reduced to little more than an abstract thought.

 

We witness. But there are no signs or wonders to accompany the message. Instead of the people being filled with fear and awe in the presence of the Living God, they’re filled with dread hoping and wishing that we stop talking so they can get away.

 

We go to church. But most of us walk away with nothing. When we say, “it was a good service” at best it means it gave us a good feeling. It made us feel nice. At worse, it means we lied and can’t even remember what it was about.

 

Obviously there are exceptions to what I’m saying—but by in large, I just described the majority of our experiences. And the truth is, most people are not going to continue down this road forever. People crave substance. They crave real. And you know what? That’s okay because God does too.

 

What is Normal?

 

I used to think this was normal until one day someone told me about a guy by the name of, Smith Wigglesworth. I found out that there were multiple reports of people literally being raised from the dead under his ministry.

 

You know what my response was when I first heard this?

 

“Was he a witch?!”

 

Imagine that! Being so programmed to expect so little, that any manifestation of the supernatural, I automatically assumed was from the devil!

 

Then I began hearing about others. People who essentially just said, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!” And would live as though the book of Acts never had a conclusion.

 

And that was when God and I had the talk.

 

I told God one day (and since then, I’ve told Him this multiple times), “I can’t do this. I can’t live normal. What I’ve experienced can’t be all there is to Christianity. If you’re real—-The same God I read about in the Bible—- then I refuse to settle for average things. I’m not going to put up with it anymore. I want what I read about in this Book. And I won’t accept anything less.”

 

Some people are afraid to talk that way to God. But I was just being 100% honest.

 

Then things began to happen:

 

Healings.

 

Exorcisms.

 

Crazy answers to prayer.

 

Even supernatural knowledge of events before they took place.

 

But you gotta be serious about it. What I’ve found from my own experience is that the devil will try to intimidate you and make you back down. And if you don’t have resolve, things will go right back to normal.

 

Several years ago my youngest daughter, who was about three years of age at the time, became the sickest I have ever seen her with a severe respiratory infection. I recall it went on for weeks with no sign of improvement. We eventually had to take her to the doctor who prescribed some strong antibiotics. I had previously prayed for her to be healed and having seen no improvement, like most Christians, I sort of just shrugged it off and accepted it. The medication tasted so badly that I was never able to get her to take it. She’d try and then would spit it up. There was one particular evening when the symptoms were real bad. After putting her to bed I sat in my living room in the dark thinking about the situation. It occurred to me that when I had prayed for her, having not seen any sign of improvement, I essentially rolled over for the devil and let him have his way. I became furious and I decided I wasn’t going to put up with it.  I grabbed my Bible, and armed with a handful of passages about our authority over the enemy, I paced my living room floor for what seemed like hours, doing just what Christ did in the wilderness, quoting God’s Word. I knew the devil was getting beat up because Ephesians 6 says God’s Word is an offensive weapon, the Sword of the Spirit used in our warfare against him.  After some time I stopped and finally said, “devil, you better get your hands off my child. Otherwise this is just a taste of what I’ll do to you tomorrow night.”

 

I went to bed and forgot about it. It wasn’t until about halfway through the next afternoon that I realized that she had shown no symptoms the entire day. And they never returned!

 

But if I had done what most Christians do, I would have settled for that attack from the enemy. Maybe even concluded that God wanted her to be sick. And, yeah, she would have recovered eventually, but there would have been unnecessary suffering and things would have stayed normal.

 

It all starts with what you’re willing to be satisfied with. Don’t be afraid to get painfully—-brutally honest with God. This was all His idea anyway. He is the one who brought up healing. He’s the one that brought up miraculous answers to prayer. He’s the one that told us to expect and believe for the fantastic. So why would He be upset because you brought up what was His idea in the first place?

Have that talk.

 

7 Facts From the Gospels That Would Get Jesus Thrown out of Your Church

 

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Even after two thousand years of attempting to adjust to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the Church still finds the literal life and ministry of Jesus Christ too extreme to follow (or even teach).

Initially, none sound too radical—so long as they stay on the pages of the Bible (you know . . . where they belong). But strip your mind of the fairy tale-type mentalities that surround them. Imagine these literally happening today—-in your church on a Sunday morning. What I think you will realize is that when we remove centuries of caked on commentary, and religious jargon, it quickly becomes apparent that there is little place for the Jesus of the Gospels in our churches. In many ways, He was and is everything the modern Christian disdains.

 

Don’t believe me?

 

Have a look 🙂

 

 

1. He both taught, and demonstrated speaking to inanimate objects to make them obey you (Matt 21:20-21).

Theologians can explain it away all day (and they do). If there were any doubt about what Jesus was referring to when He told His disciples to talk to mountains, the preceeding verses remove it. When read in context, we see Jesus had just spoken to a real tree, and says “not only will you be able to do what was done to the tree but if you say to this mountain . . . ”

 

 

 

2. He taught 100% success in prayer (Matt 7:7, Matt 21:22, John 16:24).

This was before the days of, “sometimes God says yes, sometimes He says no, sometimes He says wait a while.

The idea of not receiving what you ask in prayer is completely foreign to the life and teachings of Jesus.

He also rejected weird religious idioms that still surround the concepts of prayer today. Such as the genie mentality that claims if you ask God for something, you can never truly be sure what to expect (Matt 7:8-11). He may give it to you . . .

. . . Or He may decide to kill you instead.

And if you think that is an exaggeration of what many mainstream churches are teaching—–I truly wish it were!

 

 

 

3. He made, “cruel and heartless” statements in times of tragedy that connected sin to physical calamity (Luke 13:4-5).

Jesus uses a recent accident in which 18 people were killed by a falling tower, and warned that unless there was repentance, more would perish. Young’s Literal Translation says they would perish in like manner.  He also told a man who had been crippled for 38 years to stop sinning otherwise a worse thing would happen to him.

 

 

 

 

4. He scolded His disciples for not being able to perform a miracle (Matt 17:15-20)

A man’s son is suffering from seizures. The disciples try, but are unable to help him. Upon seeing this, Jesus could have said something like, “It’s okay guys, you’re only human. I shouldn’t expect so much from you. The reason it didn’t work was because it was all part of God’s sovereign plan. He has decided to use the suffering of this child for His glory.“—Let’s be honest—- if it were 21st century jesus, that’s what it would have sounded like.

Instead of such comforting strokes that we so often hear in times of hopelessness and unanswered prayers, Jesus straight-up rebukes His followers. “You perverse and twisted generation! How long do I have to put up with you!?” (punctuation added).

 

 

 

5. He said the devil was behind disability (Lk 13:11-16, Mk 9:25).

In a world where God and Satan have apparently switched jobs (now a days God is blamed for sickness and disease) man, oh man would Christians get their panties in a bunch over such a claim. And it wouldn’t even need to happen on multiple occasions. Just once and someone would catch it on video or audio, and it would be thrown onto YouTube where it would then be devoured by ravenous Christians who confess to believe in the supernatural, so long as nobody actually takes it seriously.

 

 

 

6. He emphasized faith for miracles (Mark 11:23-24).

And no, it was not some general faith in God as sovereign, or that it’s, “all in His hands.”

No. It was purposeful, specific faith in the desired outcome. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus very seldom (and one could argue—never) spoke about faith in God when it came to answered prayers. (We discussed this lie in a recent article.)

On another occasion He even said to a person, “your faith has healed you.”

Blasphemy! Faith doesn’t heal anyone. God does!

 

 

7. Most of His teachings on prayer were centered around how to get things (Mark 11:24 John 16:24)

He didn’t talk about how we are supposed to spend hours, “listening” for God’s voice in prayer (although I think we should). And He didn’t talk about how we should spend more time just thanking God in prayer (although I think we should.)

Now a days, all of us are trying to downplay asking God for things. Always coming up for reasons why prayers aren’t answered. How He isn’t a, “Cosmic Bellhop” etc etc. . . And yet—–When we actually read the accounts, we see that time and time again, Jesus is teaching us how to get what we need, and even what we desire by prayer. And He does it unabashedly and with great frankness.

 

 

 

Jesus

What Your Reaction to This Kid’s Lie May Just Reveal About Your Christianity

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“Nearly five years after it hit best-seller lists, a book that purported to be a 6-year-old boy’s story of visiting angels and heaven after being injured in a bad car crash is being pulled from shelves. The young man at the center of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, Alex Malarkey, said this week that the story was all made up.”
-NPR News

After much prayerful soul searching, I have arrived at a deep, heartfelt reflection to this gut wrenching story . . .

 

 

 

 

 

. . . So what?

I mean seriously, who cares?

From hearing all the buzz, there seems to be two groups that have made the biggest deal about this: Atheists . . . And Christians.

For the atheist, this is of course a chance to pounce on the, “See! I told ya so! The supernatural is bogus!” train. But then you have Christians saying, “See! I told ya so! The supernatural is bogus!” riding the caboose.

Believers, denying the extraordinary? Well, unless you’ve been living in a protective bubble your entire church life, this should come as no surprise.

 

Gut Check Time

 

Late last year I wrote a piece that challenged the Body of Christ with a very difficult question: do we really believe the Bible?

Our reaction to this recent story, I’m afraid, adds more evidence to the contrary.

How so?

There are some severe inconsistencies in how we are treating the testimonies that we hear from other Christians. If a guy claims God delivered him from fifteen years of drug addiction we celebrate and shout, hallelujah. If someone else gets up in front of the congregation and says they had to go in for minor surgery with a 98% success rate and came out of it alive, we say, praise The Lord!

But . . .  If someone claims they went to heaven—  we get all puffed up like a toad fro1g, holding our Bibles in one hand and the world’s largest microscope in the other and the interrogation begins.

“Hmph! Well, it’s because their experience of what they saw in heaven does not match the biblical description.”

Sigh.

I don’t want to be offensive or rude here so I’m going to attempt to say this nicely . . .

Can we all stop pretending like the Bible gives any real expository description of heaven?  The idea of these experiences, “largely not aligning with what the Bible says” is baloney and we all know it.

Now, if you want to attempt to make an argument from silence by claiming these stories give descriptions of things not mentioned in the Bible, I can at least respect that. But this is where we run into the inconsistencies.

There is no Bible verse that mentions God delivering anyone from drugs. Nor anything about God, “guiding the physician’s hand” during a routine surgery. Yet we accept these stories without giving them a second thought.

So . . . What’s going on? How do we condemn a story in one breath because it’s, “not in the Bible” but then very clearly accept others?

Let me introduce one thought here that will cause all of this to come into crystal clear focus: The question of whether or not a story will be scrutinized and rejected among Christians does not depend on it being biblical, but supernatural. If it sounds like something that you would read in the book of Acts, it’s criticized and largely dismissed. If it sounds like something you’d hear at a Tony Robbins’ convention, we welcome it with open arms. “Wow it’s so normal and boring. It could have happened in any other religion on the planet. What a great testimony.”

 

Ugh . . .

 

Can you imagine replacing all the supernatural events in the book of Acts with the testimonies of today? “Good news everyone. Brother Philip passed his last kidney stone. And finally, after two weeks, The Lord saw fit to heal James of that nasty flu. Praise be to God.”

 

Ugh, again . . .

 

So . . . What does all this have to do with a kid who lied about going to heaven? Simply that if his story had been more, “normal” we wouldn’t even be talking about it. If we discovered that someone had lied about being delivered from drugs or someone else had never really had hand surgery, how many of us would gasp and say, “well, there you have it. God doesn’t do that stuff. All these others must have been lying about it too”?

None.

The double standard in our treatment of these things is so glaring, it literally hurts to think about.

Here’s the thing . . .  I can’t read people’s minds or hearts, but I suspect that there are folks in our ranks that, regardless of what the Bible says, do not believe in the supernatural today. And rather than admit it, they cover it up with long, drawn out explanations that really just amount to excuses.

If you’re one of these people—–and again I’ll attempt to say this nicely— please just own up to your true beliefs and stop adding confusion to the Body of Christ with wonky justifications for them.

You’re making the rest of us look bad.