The Power of One

2000 years ago, our world was turned upside down by 1 man … Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  One man claiming to be God in flesh created a wave of disruption that challenged the very core of human authority.  Of course, we know that Jesus was ultimately crucified for this bold stance, but we also know that He rose again and conquered death.

I was thinking today about how powerful we are as individuals.  Our tendency is to rely on church organizations to bring revival.  We neglectfully put this responsibility in the hands of the pastor’s, Sunday school teachers, and other church officials to do the job.  However, Jesus was stirring my heart today to consider some different options.  What could He do with just one soul?  I imagined a couple different scenario’s I’d like to share with you.

Imagine a devout Catholic woman … wise in her years.  She’s painstakingly wrestled with the downfalls of life and yet remains faithful to her duties as a wife, as a mother, as a Christian, and as a member of her congregation.  She has known God’s grace and mercy and she has seen His wrath and yet there she stands, a pillar to her family and friends.  She does so with an air of humility that leaves you walking away knowing … there’s something different about her.  Inside her, a spark was ignited long ago.  That spark has grown from a small light to a raging flame inside her as she watches the world around her cave to the realities of a sinful world.  In the privacy of her prayer closet, she has a burden so deep for her lost family members.  A burden for those around her.  A burden for the dry bones that sit in the seats next to her at church.  A burden for the souls that just go through the motions.

What if God decided that the power of that one praying soul was enough to pour out His Holy Spirit on the entire Catholic congregation the next time she was in church?

Imagine a young man having found himself down a path of destruction and rebellion where his spiritual education has been gained by experimenting with drugs and spiritual demons.  He wrestles with depression and no matter what his best intentions are, he can’t seem to let go of the kingdom that Satan has allowed him to create.  Despite what most people believe, it isn’t simply because of the ‘high’ that his flesh gets.  See, in his world, he has seen the hypocrisy that exists everywhere.  He’s listened as so-called ‘good’ teachers speak of things that shouldn’t be spoken to students.  His education of rehabilitation was how to beat the system and continue in drugs.  He’s seen through the lies of government authorities and witnessed firsthand the abuse of power.  He sees authority as nothing more than a good show of lies.  In his world, he doesn’t have to put on a show.  In his world, he doesn’t have to pretend to be good because in his kingdom, they all know that they aren’t.  Instead of fighting to put on a show, they fight to simply survive.

In his world, he sees real men and women struggling.  Struggling with the same things he does … fighting against injustice.  Why bother fighting when it’s just as easy to cave?  If you’re gonna’ be tagged as bad regardless of what you do, it’s easier to trust those that admit they’re on the losing side than with those who try to put on a good show.  But this young man encounters a problem with this route.  He keeps finding that all the things that seemed to matter don’t.  Money doesn’t matter, the thrill of the drugs, the physical pleasure of sex … none of it matters.  It all seems pointless, even in his little kingdom.  He looks at the women who allow themselves to get used and a pit from deep within wells up in him.  He watches the young men around him and he can see, there’s good stuff in there.  These guys would do anything for him.  There is a loyalty that exists in this place that you just don’t find in the world.  It’s a loyalty that says, ‘We’re all f*ck up’s, so let’s just do what we gotta’ do to survive this.  I got your back, man.’  It’s a loyalty that the world doesn’t understand because it’s too busy trying to look good.  But this young man, he knows.  He sees.  He’s experienced it.

From the depths of his soul this young man searches for someone he can trust.  How can he trust anyone?  Who sees what he sees?  His buddies are loyal, but let’s admit it, they’re screwed up.  He’s always been the guy in charge.  His father doesn’t understand his world.  His father doesn’t see what he sees.  His father doesn’t see the loyalty of these guys.  His father hasn’t seen what these guys have been willing to do for him.

This guy is not even sure he would trust God if God showed up in front of him.  So he does what he always does, relies on himself.  He doesn’t know how, but he knows that he can make a difference.  He feels it so deep in his core that it screams at him.  He knows that somehow, it wasn’t supposed to be this way.  He’s angry with the world for shutting out so many, and yet at the same time, he doesn’t trust the world enough to do things their way anyway.  Why would anyone want to submit to a world of hypocrisy?  He doesn’t see himself in bondage.  So he chooses to continue down his path searching for the answer.  He doesn’t even know what it will be, but he’s not ready to let go of his kingdom yet.  Not because of what it does for him, but because he just can’t bring himself to jump into the hypocrisy.  He’s not ready to let go of those that he knows, he can make a difference for.  Somehow, he just knows, he can help these guys.  If he could just find the answer, he knows, he can help these people figure out what really matters.

What if God heard this young man’s soul crying out to be heard and decided to use that  passion to not only lead others out, but turn Satan’s rebellion against the powers of darkness?

Yeh!  That’s what I’m talking about!  The Power of One!  What God can do with just ONE soul!  Never underestimate the power of One!

I wonder where it went …

LeAnn Wolmac wrote a song several years ago titled ‘I hope you dance.’  I believe she wrote this with her little girls in mind.  It’s a wonderful song encouraging them to live life to it’s fullest and not let go of the innocence that comes as a child.  In fact, one of the lines is, ‘I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.’  As children, we have that, don’t we?  That innocent perspective that sees everything through big eyes .. believing that nothing could hurt you and that all you see is good.  Awe-struck if you will.  As adults, however, we can sometimes misplace that sense of wonder.

How easy is it to get derailed by life!  I was thinking about Stephen from the Book of Acts (Acts 6:8 – Acts 7:60).  Here this guy is full of the Holy Spirit, preaching the gospel, performing signs and wonders through the Holy Spirit, and finds himself one day confronting the Religious Sect of Jews.  The Bible tells us he was arguing with these men yet the wisdom which he spoke confounded them.  So these religious fellows decided to call the people against Stephen and have him arrested.  On the witness stand, Stephen began a sermon about Joseph and Moses and proceeded to ridicule these religious people for their lack of following the very law they claimed to enforce.  Actually, Stephen was pretty much ‘in your face’ confrontational at this point.  Shortly thereafter, the people dragged him out of there and stoned him to death.  Just before he died, it tells us that he looked up in heaven, seen Jesus, prayed for his persecutors, and then died at the feet of Saul.

As Christians, we often speak of the joy of the Lord and how beautiful life is.  However, as disciples of Christ, Jesus us tells us that we will experience persecution.  In some places still today, Christians have Stephen-like experiences and actually lose their lives.  In our country, we may not lose our physical lives, but certainly our sense of wonder can be stolen or even misplaced for a while .. which can certainly feel like you lost your life.

I often wonder what went through Stephen’s mind as he verbally battled with these men.  Did he wrestle with his own heart to see through God’s eyes and not his own?  Did he struggle with not allowing bitterness to settle in?  Was their anger in his voice as he called them ‘stiff-necked people?’  Did he have moments where he wanted to fight back, especially as the stones continued to come … blow by blow?  Did he second guess his own words and actions as he was being crushed by the stones?  My guess is, he probably had a moment where he lost his sense of wonder.  Luckily, we know that Jesus stepped in, but not to save his physical life.  I personally think He stepped in as a reminder that Stephen was on the right path.  Perhaps that last bit of inspiration was just the motivation Stephen needed to pray for his offenders.  He always shows us the way.  He promised He would.

Sometimes I think … actually, I know, we are way too hard on ourselves.  As Christians, we expect that we are supposed to be perfect.  That we are to handle every situation that comes our way with dignity and grace and any reaction to the actions against us, well, we persecute ourselves.  Not that we shouldn’t consider how we could have handled situations differently and learn from them so that we can grow and change, however let’s stop helping the devil to defeat God’s army!  When we go into the cycle of self-defeat, all we really do is arm Satan with ammunition and disarm ourselves from being effective to do God’s work.  It doesn’t mean we can do and say whatever we want, but isn’t there supposed to be ‘Freedom In Christ?’  Perhaps that freedom means that Jesus’ blood is sufficient enough to cover, not just the assailant, but our own mistakes trying to be a good soldier.

What an amazing concept!  I am in awe!  Truly, His plan was designed to INCLUDE my mistakes!  Perhaps that’s what He meant when He said, ‘My yoke is easy.’  I don’t think being full of the holy ghost means that we are going to do or say things that aren’t the ideal way of handling a situation.  I think it means that we will be given the boldness to move forward towards the cross, at all cost.  Wow!  You know … it’s funny because when I started this blog, this isn’t the direction I was headed.

But then …. God has this way of helping me find things I thought I had misplaced.

What is that smell anyway?

My pastor spoke today of Harriet Tubman.  Said she was a die hard to her passion to save others; her way or the high way.  I didn’t know this, but apparently, she would put a pistol to someone’s head that wanted to give up; the head of the very person she was trying to help escape.  Kind of reminds me of the Apostle Paul.  I have always imagined him to be a very determined, head strong, focused man on a mission; God’s mission, but a mission none-the-less.

In Bible School, I did a paper on a comparison of Paul vs. Barnabas.  Barnabas had a different approach.  In Acts 15:37-39, we get a glimpse of a disagreement that ultimately ended with Paul and Barnabas heading different directions.  The problem?  Due to some poor choices on Mark’s behalf, Paul didn’t think Mark was worthy of ministry, whereas Barnabas believed Mark deserved a second chance.  Paul’s attitude was, ‘my way or the high way.’  So they separated.  While Barnabas and Paul are not shown to be ministering together again, we do get glimpses that they must have at least reconciled and Paul reconsidered his decision about Mark (2 Tim 4:11).

Of course, with an onlookers perspective, it’s easy to appreciate both men’s approach.  I can appreciate the focused approach of a man determined to cut a path towards God for others.  However, I can also appreciate Barnabas’ approach of not giving up on those who perhaps were not quite as bold as Paul.  Perhaps Barnabas’ seen a young man who was willing to step forward and offer assistance, but needed a mentor before getting to the determined mindset of Paul.  Or perhaps Barnabas’ was just too determined himself to give up on a young man that was his own flesh and blood.  In either case, it worked out in the end.  Mark stepped up to the plate and eventually even Paul considered him worthy of ministry.

We had a guest speaker in one Sunday that reminded me that maybe Barnabas was onto something.  This man spoke of an incident in which he had assisted in feeding thousands of people after the 9/11 attacks.  He spoke of many people showing up to offer assistance.  In fact, he shared how a homosexual male couple showed up to help.  This Pastor could have turned them away, but he didn’t.  He gave them some pretty specific direction about keeping their mouths shut regarding their sexual orientation and not freaking people out with ‘gay’ behaviour, then sent them out to help.  He also shared how these young men continued to want to be a part of the team and if I recall correctly, were eventually delivered of homosexuality.

The thing that amazes me when I hear stories like this is that you know this Pastor didn’t agree with their sexual stance, however he looked beyond that and saw, ‘hey, these are two sets of very useful hands.’  Then, he found a way to put them to work, allowing God’s grace to direct him.  To hear him tell the story, I was cringing at how he spoke to these young men, however they didn’t get hung up his words.  They did what they were told and went to work.  Meanwhile, God did the work of redirecting their thought processes.

I can’t help but be overwhelmed by God’s grace.  We have a God that is telling us straight out, “One day, I will draw the line.  There are simply some things that won’t be allowed if you want to spend eternity with me. However, don’t fret, my son.  I’ll lead you.  I’m going to help rid you of not only the habits that really irritate me, but also the desire to do them.  That’s exactly why I came to earth as a man and shed my blood.  Not only so that my perfect blood would cover your sins, but so that I could pour out my perfect holy spirit and offer it to you.  You see, I knew you could never do this alone.  Now quit worrying.  When you fall, I’ll help you get back up.  I did all this to be with you, not to cast you out.”

Isn’t He amazing?  He really does have this all worked out!  I am so hopeful for what He has in store.  Everyday, more and more, He continues to reveal to me how I may see the stinky, stench of a poopy situation, but He sees an awesome fertilizer for His garden of glory!  Please don’t get me wrong.  It’s not that I’m walking around with rose colored glasses and refusing to see the reality of the death, sin, anger, and hatred that still exists in this world.  It’s just that God keeps telling me, grab a hold of HOPE and don’t let go!    We need to start looking and seeing that God is working way more than we give Him credit for.  He is coming back.  He is coming SOON!  I’m willing to bet He expects us to be excited to see Him.  The best way I know to get excited is take a good look around and see that He’s been here all along.  Working behind the scenes planning something really, really awesome!  Open my eyes to see how He just worked in that person, and this person, and oh my goodness, even that one over there who wasn’t even looking for Him!  Wow!  Turns out there’s a whole lot more seeds germinating here than I at first realized!

Don’t you just love a fresh garden?  🙂