Are You Desperate to See?

Jesus didn't die so we could have a religion.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Befuddled

I have questions, people.

When I read the New Testament, I get confused sometimes.

Peter and John were outside the gate Beautiful and a crippled man asked for money. Peter said, “I don’t have a nickel to my name but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ the Messiah, get up and walk.”

And that’s exactly what happened.

My question is, why doesn’t stuff like that happen anymore? (I know there are exceptions, but it isn’t prevelant.)

Why do some people pick prophesy and speaking in tongues out of the gifts Paul spoke of and say that they are dead now and don’t have a place in the world or the church anymore?

Where are the miracles that draw people in? Peter healed that guy and then a crowd gathered and he was able to tell people about Jesus the Messiah and people were saved.

My God does not change. The Counselor, Friend and Spirit he gave those guys is the same one we have today. I think it isn’t God that has changed, he is willing to pour out his Spirit in measure in order to revolutionize the world, but we aren’t looking for it. We aren’t expecting it. We aren’t ready for it. We don’t trust it.

Is that what is going on? Why is God seemingly less powerful than in those days?

What do you think?

11 Comments:

At 3:07 PM, Anonymous tracey said...

Amber Lynn -- You ask this good question: "Where are the miracles that draw people in?"

Faith itself is the miracle. Miracles don't necessarily produce lasting faith. Sometimes they produce people who aren't satisfied until that next "miracle" comes along.

Look at the children of Israel -- manna, quail, water from a rock, etc. -- miracles from a loving God. And they still grumbled. And they still fell away. And they still broke God's heart. I believe we are to seek God's heart, not necessarily His *hand*. It's His eternally good and loving heart that is our sufficiency.

I've seen and known so many people who are waiting for the next "move of God" in their lives, for the next "promise" He's going to fulfill for them, and they end up desperately unhappy and disappointed with a God who doesn't seem to do enough for them.

A friend once told me she didn't "feel" God's love anymore, that she needed God to "do something for her." (And it's easy to slip into that thinking.) I said to her, "Is the image of Jesus on the cross enough proof of what He's done for you?"

My point is: He's already done everything. He doesn't need to prove Himself. And if He did miracles for us constantly, we would still grumble, we would still want more, because our flesh is never satisfied. And there would be no need for faith.

God wants us to love Him for Him, not for what we can get from Him. It's not that different from how we want to be loved by others.

 
At 9:22 PM, Blogger Amber Lynn said...

tracey- Good points. I am not asking for the miracles for myself. I am wondering if the Bible is true and the stories are true and we have as much of God now as they did then, where is the disconnection? It is like lacking something and saying we shouldn't ask because we should be satisfied.

I am satisfied in God. I have a strong relationship. I just wonder what is really going on here.

 
At 11:04 PM, Blogger coco said...

I'm sorry. I wasn't meaning to sound like I was questioning your faith. I certainly don't *at all*. I'm just wondering what you think is missing. What do you want to have happen, I guess would be my question? I believe God is the same, too. He doesn't change. But I believe He moves at different times in different ways to fulfill His purposes.

In the past, I have sought and relied on the more "spectacular" or "overt" manifestations of God -- stories which I plan to tell on my blog. I've been present to see people supposedly "filled with the Spirit" who barked, growled, twitched.

As I would watch in horror, I'd be told that God was pouring out his Spirit on these people. Later on, I would learn that several of these people had emotional breakdowns or had their faith shaken or became completely confused in their thinking and their walk with God.

I'm not saying at all that you're seeking these things. I can only say -- for me -- in the midst of desperation, I sought things that seemed godly at the time, that seemed like a "new" way to experience God, and, every time, it led to utter confusion and depression for me.

He certainly could pour out his Spirit to revolutionize the world, as you say. And you know what? I think he already has. Maybe it's just more quiet than what we'd hope for. Maybe it's in each believer's heart and life -- and from there, from your heart, Amber, which is thoroughly sold out to Him, from there He chooses to work to revolutionize the world.

Just some thoughts. But I do love your heart for Him. As I'm sure He does, too.

 
At 11:06 PM, Anonymous tracey said...

Oh, man! I typed in "Coco" once upon a time as a joke -- on someone else's blog -- and it came up again! That last comment was me, Tracey. Sorry! Sheesh.

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger Amber Lynn said...

Tracey- thanks so much for talking to me about this! I really appreciate it. I am hungry, hungry, hungry for God. It just continues to grow. And I am very excited about God. And I and on fire for God. God is my passion and my pursuit. So when I read these passages in the Bible, I get very excited because I see the things that God is willing to do in people's lives to win them for him and to show that he is alive and well and moving and compassionate. But I look around at the state of Christianity in the US and people aren't like the disciples of the beginning church but I don't really see an explanation for it. I think the lack is on our end, not on God's end. I am really seeking for truth here. I want as much of God as he is willing to pour out and I don't want to ask for something I shouldn't ask for, but this is in the Bible (all over the place) so why don't we have this manifestation of his presence and Spirit working any more?

 
At 4:38 PM, Anonymous tracey said...

Amber Lynn -- You know, your heart is so obvious! I truly think part of the problem in the US is we just have too much. Many Christians just don't have that hunger that you do because our culture makes it so easy to fill our empty places with fluff, with anything *but* God.

I was on a missions trip to Thailand last year and the Thai Christians blew me away. Their country is, what, 95% Buddhist or something, so when a Thai person becomes a Christian, they pay a heavy price. They are usually ostracised from their families, at best, but their hearts are on fire for God in spite of their losses. Our translator, Emmi, said that she knows of Christians from her part of the world who are coming to the United States to evangelize us!

Our team had a chance to go up to the border with Burma to a refugee camp for a Christian tribal group called the Karen (rhymes with "you're in). The situation in Burma is so horrible, so unstable, that people are being raped, tortured, and killed daily, especially Christians. The Karen -- who have been a Christian tribe for 2500 years -- have been forced to leave Burma for their very lives. However, due to long-standing, stupid agreements between Thailand and Burma, they cannot live free in Thailand. They live in this camp. They are not physically free, they live every day with the knowledge that the Burmese army could attack their camp, but in the face of this fear, there are no people I've ever seen more free in the Spirit. They understand suffering; they embrace it as a blessing from God, even; and they are FULL OF JOY.

It was humbling to me to hear them speak of what they pray for. You'd think they'd pray for freedom or for protection from the Burmese Army or for God to radically show up for them. (You know, all the things I wanted for them.) But they said this: "We pray, not for God to change our circumstances, but for God to CHANGE OUR HEARTS AND TEACH US TRUTH."

Wow.

We are far too materially blessed in the US. There are just too many pursuits that eclipse God, making us distracted and dull to the truth. We don't see how desperately we NEED it, like the Karen see every day. We need to pray THAT prayer for ourselves and the church in the United States.

May I tell you your heart sounds very much like theirs? May I tell you -- without freaking you out -- that your heart sounds like a missionary's heart? You'd love the Karen people.

So in this area, I'd ask the Lord to help me pray rightly, wisely. I guess I would pray the simple, effective prayer of the Karen:

"Change our hearts and teach us truth."

 
At 6:43 PM, Blogger Amber Lynn said...

Tracey- Thanks! I guess I think at the heart of the issue is that people don't want God enough to live like his apostles. '

I believe I do have a heart of a missionary but I believe my mission field is wherever I am at. I think America right now needs God so badly. I don't have to go anywhere else to find opportunities to minister in a radical way.

 
At 8:11 AM, Blogger rev-ed said...

Amber Lynn - tracey has covered much of it pretty well, including all the false manifestations and the dangers there. Miracles are a temporary phenomenon that draw people, but as tracey said, faith is the real miracle because it lasts. Jesus told His disciples that they would do greater things than Jesus did! Greater than healing the sick, walking on water and feeding a stadium full of people with a sack lunch? Yes. Bringing people to Christ is a much greater miracle.

I'll give you my own theory as to the why. When Pentecost came, those gathered there were specially empowered by the Holy Spirit. Those eleven men (plus Paul later on) had a specific ministry. And it attracted a crowd. The twelve used that empowering responsibly to the best of our knowledge, but there were some who wanted the same kind of power -- like Simon Magus in Acts.

The thing is Simon wanted to glorify himself. The Apostles were glorifying God.

Even today, the more supernatural gifts are what many seek. Reading through 1 Cor. 12-14, you can see that everyone wanted to speak in tongues, but Paul said that not everyone would. In our human nature, we desire the "flashy" gifts which bring attention to ourselves. Some try to manufacture the gift of tongues so that they can call themselves "blessed."

God, in His wisdom, has seen fit to keep most of us {maybe even all of us) from seeking to glorify ourselves through supernatural gifts. The temptation is tough enough to deal with when you've been given "natural" gifts, like being a charismatic speaker or a beautiful singer. The natural inclination is to sing or speak to become famous (oh, and incidentally bring glory to God). It's a tough thing to deal with. Someone this morning had a post about becoming a popular blogger by calling attention to oneself, which is that same natural calling to glorify oneself instead of one's Creator.

BTW, God still finds instruments to use to bring about the miraculous... a doctor who can "heal"... a speaker who "change minds"... a ministry or church which can "supply needs".

 
At 1:30 PM, Blogger Deleted said...

We, the so-called believers, don't believe in much of a God anymore.

We lack faith!

Amber, your blog is very inspiring. I get so sick of hearing about young people not believing. The young believers I hear about want the kind of Church that Christ envisioned for us. The kind of Church that can move mountains. Now, if the old people could get off their butts(I'm talking about my peer group here)we could change the world for Christ. Keep going, Amber!

 
At 3:58 PM, Blogger Kristen said...

"Why do some people pick prophesy and speaking in tongues out of the gifts Paul spoke of and say that they are dead now and don’t have a place in the world or the church anymore?"

Short answer: I don't know. I don't say that. :) Your questions are legitimate, but there's certainly no easy answer.

I applaud your willingness to see what the Bible says and not accept that God has changed just because some people say He has.

Does the fact that there are deceptions and false manifestations mean that the true gifts of the Holy Spirit are no longer in operation? Not in my book. I don't think we should stop preaching the whole Word because Satan is misleading some with falsehood. That happens in more areas than just supernatural gifts and occurrences.

 
At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Michael said...

I agree with tracey. It does not take long to realize that those who are being persecuted in their faith, experience things unheard of here in America. Our spiritual condition is so weak here in America, our need of God is so small. We have everything, money, food, housing, and safety.

Why does God move powerfully in places where Christians are persecuted, where they have almost nothing? I do not know.

I read a book entitled, "Tortured for Christ," and the author wrote a bit about his experience in the west. He felt that he was starving because of the lack of spiritual fervor. He saw a drastic difference.

Anyway, God bless you all.

 

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