You know what I realized today? The more you pursue the heart of God, the more you strive to be like Jesus (as much as humanly possible), the more time you spend in the Word, the more time you spend in prayer and the more you discipline yourself to be aware of the Lord every hour of the day, the STRANGER you become!! Bet you didn't expect to hear that from me today! Now you might be different, but that is what is happening to me. I probably come across as very peculiar to a lot of people in general. The crazy thing is, I don't really mind.
There was something that happened to my thinking several months ago when I read a verse in one of John's epistles. "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." (You have to love that King James, or in this case the New King James!) I read that and started questioning myself as to if I really did act like Jesus. I decided that sometimes I did and sometimes I didn't. Then I started thinking about Peter and Paul, the great apostles and how they ministered and lived. Talk about guys who probably came across as weird, these guys would have taken first place in the "strange" category. I mean can you imagine being in jail for donkey stealing and these guys next to you start rejoicing, singing and praising God? Can you imagine the other prisoners thinking, "Who are these guys?" What about men who were told by authorities to never speak or teach in the name of Jesus again, only to go to their friends and pray for boldness and then go out and do it all the more? Talk about putting a big target on your back. Now imagine shopping in the city and watching a homeless or crippled man approaching two men for money. Suddenly one of the two men, instead of reaching in his pocket for change, looks this guy in the eye and says, "We don't have any money, but what I do have I give you!" Can you imagine the shock of everyone to hear next, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk?" Can you even imagine the boldness to command something like that? Well, I started asking myself why I've never been more like those guys. I mean I've read the Bible and I don't see anywhere where it says that the things that the apostles did were ever supposed to stop. So why did they? Jesus hasn't changed, so the logical explanation is that people did.
Oh, and if that wasn't enough I haven't stopped there. Recently I've been doing a lot of reading in the Old Testament, especially first and second Kings. I've read a lot about the "crazy" stuff that Elijah and Elisha did. I don't even know where to start with those guys. I think I'll leave that up to you. If you aren't familiar with Elijah and Elisha, you really need to do some reading on them. I've even found myself laughing out loud at a couple of the stories regarding Elisha, especially. I mean one time there were a bunch of "youths" harassing him and calling him "baldy", so he called out a couple of "she bears" to take care of them. How about being at work and having one of your tools (in this case the head of an ax) fall into a river and watching your boss make it float so that you can retrieve it. So much for taking the rest of the day off! One time some guys tried to bury another man in Elisha's grave and when the dead man touched Elisha's bones, he came back to life! I so want that to happen when I'm dead. Not to be the one to come back to this life, but to cause someone else to suddenly wake up and climb out of the grave. Can you imagine the look on the faces as guys are shoveling the dirt? They'd be so startled that they would be jumping in! Those guys just did a lot of great miracles, and one night last week as my wife and I were praying, I suddenly heard myself asking the Lord to give me the same spirit that Elijah and Elisha had. I mean, why not? God doesn't put a limit on what we are allowed to ask for, especially if it's for His glory. Now here is the really crazy part, I'm just dumb enough to believe God will give me some of that spirit.
So do I just wonder about this stuff or just talk about it, you might ask? Nope. I'm just strange enough that when I go out in public I look for opportunities to do some of this, so you probably want to go the other way should you see me coming!!!
Seriously, and because I'm feeling really goofy right now I had to say "seriously", I do believe we should act more like the leaders of the early church. I know that God is pouring out His spirit enough on us in order to bring about a return of more signs and wonders. I can think of dozens, if not hundreds of people that I know who believe the same thing. When I go out of the house now, I've learned to continually ask God to show me someone who needs an encouraging word or prayer. And you know what, God honors that. There was recently a stretch of three days in a row around Madison (where I live in Ohio) where the Lord stopped me in my tracks to go to someone and offer to pray with them. I won't be rude and God doesn't want us to be rude, so I won't push myself on anyone. If they look uncomfortable at all, I will just look at them with kindness, smile and let them know softly that I don't want to attract attention or cause embarrassment, so I promise to pray for them as I walk away. The Holy Spirit just isn't into the habit of wanting to embarrass people either, so if He nudges you to approach someone you can be pretty sure that they really need it, or will receive you well. Earlier this spring I was in a restaurant in Pennsylvania and the Lord told me some things about our waitress and how she had a hurting spirit. I knew that God wanted me to encourage her. So I approached her in gentleness and as I talked to her she confirmed everything the Lord had told me. I reassured her that God loved her heart and that He also had her back and would be looking out for her. Her response was, "I really needed to hear that today." Just last month I was in the same restaurant with my parents and this same waitress approached and said, "Weren't you the ones here on Mother's Day?" We told her we were and I asked how her summer was. The happiness that I felt inside when I heard her say, "It's going good and I have had some major changes in my life recently." I could tell you some other fun things that I've experienced, but we will save them for another time.
Why do I tell you this? To bring honor and glory to myself? God forbid. This is all about Him and His honor and glory. My friend, I tell you this because this is how we change the world. Well, we need to start with our hometown first, but it will and is spreading like fire. This is what it looks like when heaven invades earth. Instead of spending so much time bad mouthing what we don't like about people, our governments, or protesting things that go against our values, why don't we put that energy into changing lives in the name of Jesus and His love?
Maybe you don't feel comfortable doing this kind of stuff. There was a time when I would have been scared to death to even think about doing the things that I just described and don't think for one minute that I don't get nervous sometimes. I've learned though, that with Christ in me, He is the One who does it anyway. There are a lot of people who say that public acts like this are just not for them, but what they are really saying is, "I don't know how to do that and it kind of either scares me or makes me feel uncomfortable." Hey, there is no shame in that! God loves an honest heart and He can do a lot of things with a honest heart.
I can't think of one Christian, though, who isn't thrilled when they see their prayers being answered in amazing ways. As a beginning step, why don't you just start praying and asking God to help you to gain confidence and boldness. Then begin to look for a church or someplace that offers classes for the things that I'm talking about. It gives you a safe place to learn. It is becoming more and more common to be able to learn how to hear the voice of God, not only for yourself, but for others, too. There are gifts that God has given us that we already have inside of us that just need to be awakened and when they are that's when the fun really begins. Believe me, doing this stuff can be a whole lot of fun, too!!!!
I will admit that the more I fall in love with Jesus and want to be just like Him; the more I want the spirit of Elisha and the boldness of Peter, Paul and the gang, and to be used to bring about signs, wonders and miracles the more I'm beginning to realize.................I'm starting to do some really strange things! Regrets? NO Way! Bring it on, Lord, bring it on!
God's own peculiar people.
Peace out brothers and sisters!