It's [Not] Complicated…

Complicated and Confused

The biggest issue I hear when I tell people I’m a Christian is “Isn’t it terribly complicated? I mean, there’s all those things you can’t do.”

The hardest thing about my Faith in my experience is explaining how simple it actually is. Most people seem to think Christianity is either irrelevant – which is ok because they have a clear idea of what they’re rejecting – or similar to the Gordian Knot in it’s complexity.

In point of fact, Christianity is a very simple system. It goes something like this:

  • God is a just God.
  • He gave Adam one “don’t” instruction and told him the consequences of breaking it.
  • Adam broke it.
  • Rather than wipe out all His creation and start over, God chose to take His own punishment on behalf of Adam’s descendants.
  • He gives us the choice to accept His gift or reject it.
  • Acceptance makes us right with Him for eternity
  • Rejection means we face His judgement.

The issue most people today have is trying to deal with the thought that a Loving God will send people to Hell.

Mostly this is avoided by simply not believing in Hell. It makes it easy because people stop seeing consequences to their actions. The death penalty is no longer an effective deterrent to criminals in part because they have no concept of what lies beyond. Consider how in the USA the number of mass shootings end with suicide by the gunman. There’s no fear of an eternal consequence for their actions.

3909d-william2bbooth

William Booth spoke of the

consequences we face today at the turn of the 19th Century.

He was largely dismissed at the time as people couldn’t imagine a world where his predictions could happen.

Within 2 decades the First World War broke out and Western society changed forever. Just 21 years later in 1939 the Second World War took out the second consecutive generation of young men on a global scale and the change was effectively complete. By the late 1950s and early 60s the concept of Hell was all but dropped by most preachers. Many wouldn’t touch it because of the experiences so many had had during the War, either by bombings or on the battlefields of Europe and the Far East. Korea and Vietnam didn’t help, and the concept of “Hell on Earth” became popular and having been through it, Heaven would surely be the reward for everyone.

Now Christianity is straightforward, but not that simple.

Christianity is such a straightforward offer that it requires special talent to misunderstand it. Unfortunately, there is much of this talent available.

God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). He is undoubtedly a God of order. You can’t look at the way the planets rotate or how perfectly a honey-bee is able to draw the nectar from a flower and truly doubt the perfection of His design. Such design can only be achieved through order.

Yet somehow Christianity has been relegated to a “get out of Hell free” card in some transcendental monopoly game. So often there is little, if any, sign of Power in Faith. I’m not talking about political power, but real life changing power as the Disciples showed.

Over the last 2000 years there have been times of growth and times of stagnation in the Christian Faith. Every time of growth has corresponded with a return by a significant group to the simple, basic Truths of the Faith that have been central since Jesus’s time.

Capitec, a small bank in South Africa, advertises with the tag-line “Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication.” It’s true. The theory is sound. The simpler things are, the better they work.

Compare the simplicity of Christianity with the legalism of Islam. Eat anything because it’s what comes out of our mouth that shows us to be clean or unclean. Pray without ceasing, facing any direction you want and don’t worry if you didn’t bathe first – just talk to Me. Don’t rely on your own efforts to be “good enough” to get to Heaven, just rely on Jesus to be good enough and let Him bring you in.

I have several friends who are Muslim. We don’t often discuss religion as with some it has caused offence in the past. These days I lean more to living Christianity around them and let them ask why I’m doing what I do. It’s difficult, but I’ve always struggled with the people I’m closest to in terms of “evangelising”. I’m not a natural evangelist. On the few occasions we have spoken the differences between our faiths is stark. During Ramadan I spoke to one friend about fasting. She asked how fasting differed for Christians from the Muslim fast. I explained that when I fast I fast for a few days at a time. During that time I will eat nothing and drink only water and tea. She asked me what time each day I stopped. I explained that I didn’t. Fasting is total abstinence from food 24 hours a day while I fast.

She nearly fell off her chair. Not being able to eat at sundown was beyond her comprehension. She asked how long I have to fast for, what the “requirements” were. Again, it was obvious that my response was a surprise. I know people who have fasted for three weeks or more in that way, and some who fast just a day or two.

The freedom from a legalistic requirement on how and when to fast or pray is integral to the concept of Relationship in Christianity. If Alexander Graham Bell had been around in First Century Jerusalem, I’m 100% certain Jesus would have likened prayer to a personal call to God from His children – and He was just waiting for it to ring. The Bible was the call to us, kind of like an answerphone message, begging us to call Him back.

My mum tends to phone me around 8:30pm most nights. If I can’t answer for some reason she leaves a message and if its not too late I call her back. But I can call her or vice-versa at any time during the day. Imagine if I could only call or receive a call at a specific time from a phone plugged in to a particular socket. That wouldn’t be relationship, it would be ritual.

Jesus is all about relationship. His purpose was to restore Relationship with the Father by His sacrifice. The breaking of the legalistic requirements of the Law by completing it was the method. The point of the Law was to show mankind that we could not make it to God ourselves, but rather to point to Him as the one we needed to receive salvation. Any religion that then takes us back to following a set of rules instead of the freedom of Grace confuses and complicates our existence.

There are rituals in Christianity. The most obvious is Communion, but while it is important, the point is not transubstantiation of the sacraments, but rather the symbolic being part of Jesus and Him being part of us. The ritual isn’t supposed to replace the relationship, but remind us of the reason – Relationship.

Simple, clear and plain.

It’s really not that complicated.

Jesus the Comic…

Joke

Rowan Atkinson did a sketch years ago where he tried to lampoon Christianity. If you’re a religious-type person, he probably succeeded. In it he plays the part of a minister of indeterminate origin somewhat haphazardly speaking at a service. At the end he tells the audience to come back for the evening service (or the following week depending on the recording) when his sermon will be “Christ the Comic, Jesus the Comedian”.

If you’ve read any of my older posts (please do), you’ll be aware that I don’t exactly fit the mould of “Preacher”.

Thankfully.

One of my favourite teachers, Andrew Wommack, said some years ago that he would be upset if people could not only tell he was a preacher, but what type of preacher when they first met him. I had the pleasure of meeting him in the mid 90s and am able to say from what I saw, he was the most normal, down to earth guy I’ve met – with the possible exception of Dave Duell, who I met the same week. Neither of them put on airs and graces or expected to be treated differently because they were “the Speaker” at the conference. I got the distinct impression chatting to them that they would have been upset if they had been afforded different treatment.

I sincerely hope I come across that way when people meet me.

I’m not even-tempered, I don’t genuflect at an altar, I get downright upset far too often in fact. Basically I’m a work-in-progress for God.

I’ve not reached perfection, and I don’t expect to this side of the grave, but I’ve begun the journey. I hope my actions reflect the Christ I serve, and my words are guided by Him rather than my own ego.

I’m not a “religious” person.

Neither was Jesus.

Jesus was outrageous. Everywhere He went there was chaos behind Him. Literally when He visited the Temple.

Twice.

He shattered the pre-conceived notions people had been beaten with ever time He opened His mouth to speak. He sat and ate with sinners, tax-collectors and prostitutes. The fishermen He travelled with were not what you’d expect the first bishops to look like. I doubt any of them wore purple robes or crowns. “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” may have been off on many things, but when Indie finds Spielberg’s concept of the resting place of the Holy Grail he at least has the historical integrity to show the cup of a carpenter as being a simple, unassuming and ordinary item. Kind of like Tupperware. The table at the Last Supper would not have had gold cups and silver plates.

Jesus was a King like no other before Him.

He was also real.

He had a sense of humour. Some of it I recognised myself growing up, and some of it got pointed out by reading “Beautiful Outlaw”, John Eldredge’s incredible book about the humanity of Jesus.

Oops. I’m sure some people just clicked away. Yep. Jesus was human as well as God. People forget that. Mary had to teach Him to walk, talk and use the toilet. Although possibly not in that order. He had to learn to write. Joseph had to teach Him to use carpenter’s tools.

In all ways, Jesus was as human as you and me. More so. He was human the way Adam was created.

I’m told blood-line genetics is largely determined by the father. A woman cannot produce a “Y” chromosome, so a man is required for procreation. If you have a son, ladies, it’s because somewhere around nine months before birth your egg (or his biological mother’s egg if he’s adopted) was in contact with a man. Sperm are either male or female, but eggs are always female apparently. Please let me know if a geneticist is reading this and I’m wrong – I’m just repeating what I was told in biology about 3 decades ago.

So Jesus had a Father, God, and a mother, Mary. Adam’s Father was also God.

He got His personality from His Father largely. God is no respecter of persons and I’d never accuse the Gospel of being politically correct.

Jesus called sin sin. He never held back at the people piling religious guff onto the poor, widows, orphans, or anyone else they considered “beneath” them (which was everybody).

But Jesus had a sense of humour. Like His Father.

Anyone who can read the Bible and not conclude God has a sebb54a-weak-thingsnse of humour is reading it wrong. Take Balaam. Balaam was a prophet, a man with a hotline to God. When he refused to answer said hotline, God uses a donkey to prophesy to Balaam. It’s the only recorded time God ever spoke out of His ass…

Consider Caleb. 85 years old. “Give me the mountain country”. Hebron had the fortified cities where the giants lived. Now imagine your grandfather at the age of 85 storming Omaha beach in Normandy. That’s Caleb.

Abraham was 100 years old. Sarah was 90. Isaac means “laughter”. I guess Abraham got the joke!

He meets Moses in a bush that’s burning but not burning up. Exodus says Moses’s response is ““I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”  So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”” (Exodus 3:3-4) Mike Yaconelli says this is the English translation of the Hebrew word “AAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!”

“You feed them” says Jesus. The disciples look out over 5000 men and their families. Possibly 20,000 people there since they only counted the men. The most steadfast disciple would flinch, so Jesus turns to a boy with a packed lunch…

He takes a stroll to meet the boys… in a storm… over the surface of the sea…

He talks to a Samarian woman about her live-in boyfriend and sets her off into town telling everyone “Come and see a man who told me about my whole life”. I can imagine the men of the town getting nervous – and the woman, freed from her past, laughing.

Then there are the cultural “in” jokes we can miss today. He alludes to the Pharisees being shepherds. Shepherds were not highly thought of. They smelled of sheep and had a rough way about them. More Clint Eastwood than Mr Rogers. Imagine you go to church on Sunday and find the guest speaker is Dirty Harry. The general population would have been very amused. (The Pharisees less so!)

He uses a Samaritan as an example of how to behave in a Godly way.

He was born in Bethlehem but grew up and was known as a man from Nazareth. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46 emphasis mine)

The disciples don’t know which way is up a lot of the time until Jesus explains the parables.

Then look at the disciples. The 12 guys Jesus picks to start a movement to reclaim the whole of mankind from Satan’s grip after Jesus goes back to heaven.

Peter: aka Simon. Mr Swordsman himself. Passionate, clumsy, abrupt, and generally opens his mouth for the express purpose of changing feet. This is the guy anointed and appointed to be the leader of the 12.

He picks the first person to show Himself to after the Resurrection. Mary, a reformed prostitute. More, a woman. In First Century times, you didn’t make a woman your ambassador. But Jesus did. She’s the first one to declare “He is risen”.

The Gospel is good news. When the Holy Spirit fell on Pentecost, the people of Jerusalem thought the disciples had been drinking. Probably not belligerent drunks looking for a fight, but happy drunks. During the “Toronto Blessing” era in the 90s the church I was part of was marked by one thing more than any other: Laughter.

Jesus liked a party. He cracked jokes – usually at the expense of religious-types. He feasted and celebrated Life.

And we remember Him with dry bread and the world’s smallest sip of wine/juice.

I guess there’s a joke in there as well!

 

Contacts

I’ve had some problems with email filters recently and have just found there were a lot of emails filtered out as spam which were contact forms from this site.

Apologies, but if this is for you, please send your mail again to david@eagleswingministries.org DIRECTLY rather than use the form for now.

This applies to any contact from the last 3 months!

Thanks

DavidAbout David

Stubborn and Pig Headed…

Stubborn

 

I’m not known for keeping my temper. Mostly.

I don’t usually act on my baser impulses physically, but I do tend to not run from a confrontation either.

One of my qualities is that I tend to not change my mind easily once I’ve made a choice. This can be both a Blessing and a curse, depending on the choice I’ve made.

Margaret Thatcher once said “The lady’s not for turning”. I forget what it was in reference to, but it stuck. I didn’t agree with her political views very often, but I had a great deal of respect for the dogged way she would stick to her guns once she’d made a choice.

There’s something very different in the way things happen today than 30 years ago. I’ve written before about the way heroes are portrayed in movies now, particularly in some of the major blockbusters of the last few years.

The best example is definitely Aragorn in “Lord of the Rings”. He is confident in battle, but as far as accepting the throne of Gondor and taking his place as King it seems like he has to be coerced into it by Elrond. He doubts his own strength and second-guesses his way through the trilogy up until the final battle. Compare this with the Aragorn of the Tolkien books and he is barely recognisable. Tolkien wrote him as a man set on a mission to claim his throne and restore the realm of men, standing fast against Mordor.

Again in “Lord of the Rings”, the four young hobbits start out like children in the movie, wandering into the local ale house and afraid to speak to Rosie behind the bar or stand up to anyone about anything. Then they go off to war. Frodo and Sam walk alone into Mordor to destroy the Ring of Power, Pippin and Merry become a Guard of the Citadel of Gondor and an Esquire of Rohan respectively. They face dangers and battles, becoming warriors in their own right. Tolkien’s ending far better fits the change they undergo on the journey than Peter Jackman’s interpretation. Tolkiein has them return to find the Shire under an iron rule, Bag End having been taken over and the house-sitters of Frodo’s appointment murdered. But the four hardened hobbits with armour and swords are more than a match for the usurpers and drive them out of the Shire. Compare that with the movies where, having faced Sauron, Saruman and the nine Wraiths and defeated them all the four return and are instantly back into the way things were, except Sam finally has the courage to talk to Rosie. Quite a difference.

Doubt and uncertainty has become virtuous in this modern age.

The thing is, the world is still looking for decisive leadership. That’s part of the lure Donald Trump has – he appears decisive and sure of himself. The problem is that there have been so few people prepared to take a firm stand that his hate and fear-based bluster comes across to the uninitiated as confidence. Much like the Germany of the 1920s and 30s, America is lost in doubt and internal conflict. Despite unemployment being relatively low and an expanding economy, Trump has managed to convince an alarmingly large number of people that America needs to “recover”. I’m not sure what from, but it needs to.

Donald said so.

One member of the old guard (who frankly should know better), Clint Eastwood, spoke this week about the pandering to politically correct parties by “leaders” of recent years. Since this is a Christian space I won’t quote him verbatim, but I will say at least he was emphatic – and this is a man who genuinely knows about leadership. My disappointment is that despite Trump’s shortcomings Eastwood says he will still be voting Republican in November. My lament over this is that he seems to be unable to see that the Republican ideals he has believed in for so long are actually being eroded by the man picked to represent them.

I don’t really care which party wins any election. As a Brit, I’ve voted exclusively for the candidate I felt embodied most of what I believe in as an MP for my area, and similarly for the party I felt least unsuitable to lead in General Elections. This has meant some hard choices from time to time. I was relieved at the last election that since I no longer live in the UK I’m not registered to vote there so I didn’t have to choose which lunatic was given the keys to the asylum – much like America has to do in November.

I’ve been vocal about Trump, but that does not mean I support Hillary. Frankly I believe Bernie Sanders might be the best President America never got (possibly second to Al Gore), but I don’t believe either of the current major nominees should be elected based on their actions over the last few years.

Then again, I live in South Africa now. The less said about unsuitable presidential material in power, the better…

Bluster has replaced conviction on a global scale. It’s scary how nobody seems to have noticed.

Conviction is a very different beast.

Look to Jesus as our example.

In Luke 4, He returns from 40 days being tempted by Satan without sin and goes to the synagogue. Here He takes the scroll of Isaiah and reads:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”[k]

Luke 4:18-19 NKJV

In 1990 I heard Tony Campolo tell this and he said Jesus basically was saying “I’m IT Baby!” to the people.

That passage declared Jesus to be the Messiah.

The people responded by trying to throw Jesus off a cliff, but Jesus simply turns and walks through the crowd seeking His death.

That’s authority.

In the last weeks of His life and ministry, Jesus turns towards Jerusalem and the Cross. He sets His face hard and moves purposefully towards the Battle. Genuine decisiveness. He cuts off all other possibilities except the path to the Crucifixion.

The path to service.

Jesus was single-minded. Peter could not dissuade Him, and when he protests Jesus recognises the influence of His enemy over Peter and rebukes him (the enemy) immediately. (Matthew 16:23) Something of note is that Peter had a teachable heart. His rebuke of the idea that Jesus should die is rebuffed in a very hard way, yet there is no record of Peter feeling dismayed or offended by this. The Gospels are not afraid to show the feelings of the disciples, particularly Peter, in other places so we should note that Jesus’s words are not a source of offence for him. Rather they allow him to grow.

Peter was hard-headed as well. Stubborn in a way most of us actually should dare to be. He walked on water, he declared Jesus to be the Christ even before the Cross and his own single-minded focus on the things of God allowed him to preach in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, heal the cripple at the Temple and raise Dorcas from death.

Stubborn Faith doesn’t quit.

Single Minded

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

James 1:5-8 NKJV

If a double-minded man shouldn’t expect to receive anything from God, the inference is that a single-minded man who doesn’t doubt can confidently expect to receive whatever he asks for.

Consider Daniel, Joseph, Moses and all the great leaders of Faith. The single thing we see in them is that when their faith was tested they stood fast on it and God came through.

Every

Single

Time

Joseph kept the vision he was given as a youth in mind and saw it fulfilled when, many years later, he is made second in power only to Pharaoh. Daniel goes through the lion’s den, Moses oversees the Red-Sea Pedestrians (thanks Monty Python!) and 40 years in the desert. Caleb keeps God’s promise in mind and wins his mountain at the age of 85 after 45 years of walking in the desert and capturing the rest of the Holy Land for Israel before he asks for his own inheritance.

Single-minded, stubborn men won great victories by being single-minded and stubborn in their devotion to God and remembrance of His promises to them.

So yes, I’m stubborn and pig-headed.

I suggest we all should be…

Ask, Seek, Knock…

Craving

Deep inside all of us there is a desire for God. Our souls cry out for Him, even when we try to deny it. Most people will end up filling this void with meaningless junk and false idols. Nobody is immune.

We crave God’s presence in our lives.

For once I stayed out of an online conversation between an atheist and a Christian recently, choosing this time to watch as the argument unfolded.

Sadly, atheists are blinded to their own situation.

 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense. For even though they knew God [as the Creator], they did not honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation]. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God for an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles.

Romans 1:20-23 [AMP]

9a93a-wrong2band2brightPaul doesn’t pull his punches when he writes to the Roman church. The city was in a very similar place spiritually to 21st Century Western society. There were so many false gods, Apollo, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and many more, that it was inevitable that the Christians would be exposed to them. The temples often had prostitutes working in them so sex was offered as a “sacrifice” of sorts to whichever deity it happened to be. Switch to 21st Century times and in place of the Roman gods we find actors, pop stars, politicians and even televangelists being “worshipped”. The prostitution of pornography on the internet and television & movies may be less exposed, but it’s no less real. Remember Christ told us that even looking lustfully at someone was as bad as adultery to God. Porn is designed to incite lust. Satan doesn’t need to have actual prostitutes any more, the images on the screen mean tens of thousands of men and women give themselves over to his influence on an hourly basis. North Korea, by blocking contact with the outside world may be isolated in terms of technology and society, but it’s about the only place relatively unaffected by the sewage flowing from the porn industry online.

And then there’s the modern “golden calf” brigade. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Harley-Davidson, Daimler-Benz and so on. Every brand has its devotees and fans, but few conjure up an image like Harley does – and I can’t think of another company that is so worshipped that its acolytes actually have the company logo permanently tattooed onto their body!

The difference is that the “educated” atheists don’t realise they are worshipping a false god when they religiously polish the chrome or wax the paint of their chosen steed for three hours on a Sunday while the neighbour goes to Church. “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God for an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles.” Today I’m sure Paul would add television and movie stars and most of the brands we “have” to own.

Now I’m not knocking the brands – don’t get me wrong. I have owned a Harley a few years ago, and I would buy another if I had the resources for it, but my reason has changed over the years. When I was a kid I liked the idea after watching “Any Which Way You Can” and “Every Which Way But Loose” with Clint Eastwood as the bare-knuckle fighter “Philo Beddoe”. I was very young, and didn’t notice the surname was spelt differently to my own – but even now I’m in my 40s I love the movies! Since then I learned to ride and ended up getting my first Harley based on a test-ride and finding it was simply the best put together machine I’d ridden. In terms of the “look” I was more drawn to the Yamaha Virago!

We look for something to fill the hole in our lives. As Christians, we know that hole is God-shaped and nothing else but Jesus will fill it. The World, however, can’t see it. It runs around trying to put a square peg into this round hole and no matter how close it seems for a while, it never quite fills the void.

Everyone worships something. At our core it’s what God designed us to do: build relationship with Him through worship. Satan corrupted this and now we look in all the wrong places. Sex, money, drugs, science, titles, “success” in the eyes of the World. All this and more are used to try to fill the gaping void.

Atheists are so blinded that they can’t even recognise the infirmity of 03382-atheismtheir own standpoint. They decry the teaching of Christianity in schools because it disagrees fundamentally with their belief that there is no God. They are so blinded by this that they then insist that evolution be taught as scientific fact. In truth, evolution is a theory. Maybe it’s a good one, but it’s still a theory with no conclusive evidence to confirm it beyond a scientific doubt: which is why it’s a theory. It’s technically a philosophy.

From a non-Christian perspective, this makes some sense. But then it begs the question “where is another theory to compare evolution with?”

Christians can point to Intelligent Design at this point. But the millisecond the concept of a creator higher than mankind on their evolutionary scale is mentioned the poor, persecuted atheist announces it can’t be because scientific proof can’t establish evidence of God’s existence. But from their perspective, Christianity is also a philosophy.

And so the argument goes on. Carbon dating to show age in millions of years, then the hard-core fundamentalists jump in and declare the planet is only 6000 years old because of Genesis.

Personally I think the Truth is lost in the argument. It doesn’t matter if the world is 6000 years old or 600 million or older than that. What matters is that God Loved us so much that He took on the form of His creation to win back the authority Man had surrendered to Satan rather than destroy everything and start again.

We devote our lives to a search for meaning. We ask what we think are deep, meaningful questions and debate them endlessly. We argue among ourselves and become divided about minutia that are irrelevant.

So what should we do?

Jesus had the answer.

Three steps that we see illustrated perfectly in Paul’s life.

  1. Ask. Ask God who He is. Trust me, He can take the question. When He knocked Paul off his donkey on the road to Damascus the first thing he says is “who are you?”
  2. Seek. Search out intimate knowledge of God through Jesus. Sit under teachers with a solid foundation and learn from them. Paul knew the Old Testament, but he went after he met the Risen Christ and learned from Ananias and the disciples in Damascus, then joined the Apostles in Jerusalem for a time before he went on his journey.
  3. Knock. Paul took every chance he had to knock on the doors of people’s hearts. It’s impossible to read Acts without seeing this in his every action. The nickname “Christians” was given by the church in Antioch. It literally meant “little Christs” or “little anointed ones”. The only way they would be given that title would be if they acted like anointed ones who had the same Spirit they spoke of in Jesus.

Ask. Seek. Knock.

It’s so simple when you think about it. And oddly, everyone does it.

Everyone asks. The nature of mankind is inquisitive. We invent new and varied ways of doing everything from hunting for food to moving around to finding shelter to heating our homes. It’s said Edison tried 10,000 combinations before he made a light bulb. He kept asking “what if”. We all do.

What if I apply for this job?

What if I ask her out?

What if we live in this town?

And we all get answers. All who ask, receive. What the real trick is, however, is asking the right questions.

Paul asked two: “Who are You?” and “What do You want me to do?”

Seek. We all seek something. What we eventually (hopefully) realise is that we are seeking Jesus. But the reason is the issue. Why do we seek Jesus?

We seek Jesus so we can find God. So Satan puts up counterfeits everywhere. The tin-pot idols of today that satisfy for a moment or two but then leave us thirsting, craving, more. Like drinking salt water, it cannot meet our need. Our being was created to run on God’s intimacy and input in our lives. I worked at a filling station for a while and one day this beautiful sports car pulled in and the attendant somehow filled the tank with diesel instead of petrol. A petrol engine can produce power from combusting diesel, but it’s not going to give the performance it was designed to. The car pulled away, coughing and spluttering with billows of smoke behind it as it burned the wrong fuel. It still moved, but it was not happy. We drained the diesel, flushed the tank and filled it with petrol. The result was immediate. With the right fuel, the engine purred as it ticked over, and screamed as the car drove away.

Knock. We don’t do this very well. It involves being around other people much of the time. Knock to have the door opened for us. Not “push”. Knock. It allows us to be dependant on God working for us through someone else. Paul was good at it. We, generally, are not so good. Modern society praises the “self-made man”. Frankly I like it when someone describes themself as “self-made”. It means they accept responsibility for the screw-ups they’ve made. Of course, they just sit with a blank expression and wonder why I’m laughing…

I don’t like relying on other people. Growing up I played individual sports. Tennis, Squash, Badminton, Fencing. I hated team sports like rugby, soccer and cricket. I had trust issues from being “different” from everyone else. I didn’t mind being different, but it meant I walked to the beat of a different drummer, and as a result I am still not very good at the “knocking” part of the Christian life. Yet it’s vital to our maturity. Salvation is a solo path, but Church is a team sport. We don’t all have the same gifts, but to mature we need to be exposed to Pastors, Teachers, Evangelists, Apostles and Prophets. Miss any of them and we don’t get the whole picture.

And our craving grows bigger.

But if we do get the right mix it grows better. We crave more of the right things. I did the Atkins Plan for a while to get healthy in my late 20s. It worked brilliantly. My body ran smoothly eating fats and protein instead of carbohydrates. My muscles were stronger and more defined and I had less brain-fog. But I went back and began eating starch again. The weight came back and the muscle tone vanished. Now in my 40s I’m trying to move back to the higher protein & fat diet I had so my body will grow right again.

Spiritually it’s the same. I’ve been in churches that were like McDonald’s. All starch and no substance and ultimately highly toxic on a Spiritual level. I’ve been in churches that were the opposite as well. Lean and fiery. And I crave that in my walk again. But when you’ve been toxic long enough it’s hard to break the habits even though you know they’re killing you. Like an alcoholic keeps drinking or a lung cancer victim keeps smoking, we sit in toxic spiritual environments because we are addicted to the junk.

But all it takes to satisfy our true craving is to Ask, Seek and Knock.