Today is the day. The dreaded '33.' For those of you that don't know, this is the age Jesus was when He breathed His last. I remember my dad turning '33' and praying that he didn't die on us! Silly, I know, but I was a kid. I also remember thinking how old he was! Then I blinked and I am here.
I wonder if Jesus woke up on His birthday and knew, this is it. The last one?
I wonder if they celebrated birthdays like we do?! Although they get less impressive each year!
I wonder if Jesus changed anything in His life? Maybe set new goals or reprioritized things?
I wonder if He was a bit sad that there were certain experiences He didn't get to partake in?
There are a lot of things I could wonder about Jesus that lead me to wondering about myself.
Will I live like this could be my last year?
Will I give everything to my family, ministry, God this year?
Will I be enough for the people and tasks in my life?
Will I make a difference this year that will outlive my life?
I hope I can say 'yes' to all of the above! I understand that hoping is not enough. We need goals, which need systems, which need discipline. I get all of that, but one can still hope! If I look at this list too long it could very easily overwhelm me. I would think that in large part we don't accomplish enough because it is too much to take in all at once, like drinking from a fire hydrant! How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! (I do not support the eating of elephants!) This year more than anything else, I want to live out one verse. In some ways, it was a summary of the life Jesus lived. I know today is not your birthday (or maybe it is, and that would be awesome!), but I pray you might join me in living out this verse for this year. Here it is:
"And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him." Acts 10:38
I think this could be simple enough for all of us. Don't overcomplicate the will of God or the purpose of God.
1. Be filled with the Holy Spirit and with power.
2. Do Good everywhere you are.
3. Don't do anything that would make God not want to be with you.
These three things are my purpose for this year. Nothing more, nothing less. Here we go...
The silent scream. It is heard in many places at many times. This time it was heard in New York. It has shaken me, but not in the way you may think. Yes, I am heart-broken. Yes, abortion is wrong on every level. What has shaken me is my own soul. The fact that once again, I wait until a situation gets this far before I go to the Lord in prayer. Why do I do this? Could I say, why do we do this? My heart is broken for the countless unborn babies; for the parents who don’t grasp the reality of what they do. It equally breaks for my own state.
Romans 7 sums up my situation very well (My paraphrase): The things I want to do, I don’t. The things I don’t want to do, I do. Who can save me from this wicked man that I am?!
I suppose from early on, we as believers have done things in this backwards order. David Wilkerson, founder of Teen Challenge, preached an accurate sermon at Times Square Church entitled, “Right Song, Wrong Side.” This was in reference to the children of Israel singing praise to God after the Red Sea crossing. Perhaps they should have sang praises before? We see another clear description of this in the entirety of the book of Judges. Before each judge came into the picture, the Israelites did as they saw fit. It wasn’t until after judgment came that they cried out to God.
Why do we wait?
Why is this our default?
Regardless of the ‘why,’ we must be more intentional in our lives. To pray when there is no crisis. To praise before, during and after the storms. To read the Word of God when we don’t need answers or a small group to prepare for. This is how we should live. To act the way we should, no matter the environment we find ourselves in. For this reason it is called the “Acts of the Apostles,” not the prayers, the thoughts, or good intentions of the Apostles.
What’s the good news in all of this?
Where is the hope?
Back to the book of Judges: God heard their cry and answered. To the Res Sea crossing: God loved the praise given after the crossing. God is better than we think He is. He is more patient than we could imagine. He is desperate to answer our petitions.
So yes, speak up. Pray more. Get desperate for God to move. But please, when this situation in New York, that literally redefined what a human is, has some separation from our current reality, don’t forget. Don’t get comfortable. Don’t get complacent. Don’t cry out for a moment and stop.
We need a Nehemiah to rise up, who heard the report and cried out. Not only for a moment but rather mourned for days. Fasted, prayed and then took action. Don’t forget the God we serve, who had the king that destroyed Jerusalem pay to have it repaired! He really is that great! And He can do it again. He needs to do it again, and He wants to use us.
Let’s rebuild walls of faith that have been broken.
Let’s reopen spiritual wells that have been filled in.