Lessons learned from a life following Christ
How can we tap into the victorious life that God promises?
I have a son born without a left hand. When David was about seven years old we were in the backyard playing catch. To teach him how to catch a ball and throw with one hand, I modeled it for him. I would catch the ball, tuck the glove under my arm, pull the ball out, throw it back to my son.
David’s younger brother Stephen then came out with his glove to play. When I threw the ball to him, even though he had two hands, he caught the ball, tucked the glove under his arm, pulled the ball out and threw it back to me.
This is the key to tapping into the victorious life that God promises. We are called to follow the pattern of Jesus. In Ephesians 5:1, we are invited to be imitators of Jesus. The word imitate is the Greek word mimitai where we get our English word “to mimic.” We are invited to not only listen to the teachings of Jesus but to watch how he lives and repeat the pattern in our own lives. When Jesus invites us to follow him, we catch the ball, tuck the glove under our arm, pull the ball out and throw it back to Jesus. This is how we tap into the victorious life that God promises.
What do you think keeps us from drawing from the incredible resurrection power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives?
The word for power in the New Testament is the Greek word dunamis where we get our English word dynamite. Every believer in Jesus has access to the dynamite of the Holy Spirit. To detonate it we must perpetually follow the three steps of Jesus:
• Jesus emptied himself of control; we must empty ourselves of the illusion of control.
• Jesus aligned his life to the will of the Father; we must align our lives to the will of the Father.
• Jesus yielded to the Holy Spirit to empower his life; we must yield to the Holy Spirit to empower our lives.
Here is what keeps us from drawing on this incredible resurrection power: We want to unleash the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish our will. It just doesn’t work that way. The power of the Holy Spirit is reserved to accomplish the will of the Father. When our lives are aligned to the Father, the power unleashed in and through us is dynamite!
Tell us about this intriguing discovery about Jesus.
A few years back Rozanne and I went out to dinner at a really nice restaurant with a couple we had not seen in years. We were so excited to catch up. When the waiter brought the check, I searched all my pockets only to discover that I left my wallet back at the house. I had the ability to pay but not in that moment. I was so embarrassed to stick our friends with the entire bill (well, they used to be friends ☺). When I got home, I sent a check to my friend not only for our portion but for the entire check, along with an apology note.
When Jesus left his home in the heavens to come down into our neighborhood and take on flesh and become a man, the nature of God is colliding with the nature of man in such a way that Jesus ends up being 100% God and 100% man at the same time. Frankly, this is impossible.
Omnipresence—God can be in all places at one time; humans cannot
Omniscience—God knows all things; humans don’t
Omnipotence—God is all powerful; humans are not
Something must give. Unable to explain it, we just leave it in the realm of a mystery. Then one day I was reading a wonderful book on theology and the author informed the reader that there was an ancient explanation that reconciled this conflict, but it got lost over time. The fancy name for this point of view is “kenotic christology.”
Let’s go back to the restaurant analogy. When Jesus left the heavens to come to earth he voluntarily left behind his divine wallet filled with the three “omni’s” above. He didn’t lose them, he intentionally left them behind. So, when Jesus walked the earth for 33 years he didn’t have access to these resources. If Jesus wanted to go somewhere he had to walk just like you and me. Jesus didn’t know all things. That’s why Luke 2:52 tells us he grew in wisdom. Jesus didn’t have the power to perform miracles, healings or raise himself from the dead. He was just like us. Even though he is fully God, while he walked the earth he didn’t want to take advantage of his divine privileges (Phil. 2:6).
But Jesus did perform miracles, healing and rose from the dead and shows us the way to do the same. (Eph. 1:18–20) That is the big discovery for me that makes up the theme of this book. Oh … by the way, when Jesus returned to the heavens, he once again gained access to the full resources of God.
How can we discern God’s voice when other voices seem to be overwhelming?
I had the privilege of being mentored by the late Dallas Willard. I read everything he wrote, listened intently to everything he said and even had the privilege of rewriting Renovation of the Hearts for students. Dallas said, “If I could keep only one bit of writing on hearing God outside of the Bible itself, it would be hard to pass over a few pages from Frederick B. Meyer’s book, The Secret of Guidance. I was born at night … but not last night. I immediately got a hold of a copy of this book and devoured it.
Meyer suggests there are “Three Lights” or “Witnesses” that help to confirm we have heard the voice of God.
Meyer writes, “The Word is the wire along which the voice of God will certainly come to you if the heart is hushed and the attention fixed.” If you want to hear the voice of God you have to be immersed in Word of God. The ancient text of scripture will illumine a path for us regarding our contemporary situation.
Willard writes, “The still, small voice—or the interior or inner voice, as it is also called—is the preferred and most valuable form of individual communication for God’s purposes … This, I believe, is the primary subjective way that God addresses us.” Every believer has the Spirit of God within who, when our hearts are yielded to God’s will, can speak directly to our spirit where a pure message is heard. The Spirit bypasses our ears, mind, and flesh where we often distort the original intent of the transmission.
Once again Meyer writes, “The circumstances of our daily life are to us an infallible indication of God’s will, when they concur with the inward promptings of the Spirit and with the Word of God.” Circumstances can be difficult to interpret but when all three lights align, we can be assured that we have heard from God.
In your book, you talk about Jesus relying on the Holy Spirit on multiple occasions. What can we learn from that?
When I was a little boy, I dreamed of being a superhero. Any superhero would do, but Ultraman was my favorite. When I was six years old, my parents got me an Ultraman costume for Halloween. When I put that costume on, I became Ultraman. Not only did I score a ton of candy that year, but I saved the world a million times over from the monsters that threatened them. You’re welcome.
When I became an adult, I knew it was time to take off the cape and get on with the ordinary, often mundane life of being a mere human. Then we read in Ephesians 1:18–20 that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us. The Holy Spirit not only raised Jesus from the dead but Jesus himself tells us in Matthew 12:28 that it was the Spirit that remained with him after his baptism that empowered all thirty-nine miracles recorded in the gospel. That same power lives in us! Eureka!
On our own we are powerless over the forces that seeks to control our lives. On our own we live constantly with the fear of death hanging over our heads. However, if we follow the pattern of Jesus, we have the power to overcome all these things, including death.
Maybe it’s time to put on the superhero cape again because that is who we are in Christ.