Monday, October 30, 2017

Moving from the page to reality...

Last year I read my first book of John Bevere’s entitled ‘Good or God’.  I loved it so much that I bought a few friends a copy and even give my own copy away.  This revelation is a thing that some may find surprising as giving any book away doesn’t come easy to me. What can I say, I am a book hoarder…

John Bevere has an open and direct style as he refuses to sugar coat his words.  As I read his challenging content my heart frequently gives a deep groan of agreement. As it does my mind ponders on which behaviours need to change and compromises rescinded. As I return to read his next chapter it has often been an act of discipline as I know what it took to process and deal with what he had written in the previous one.

Obedience and unhealthy compromises have been a theme to my recent conversations with God.  Its quotes like this one, another of John Bevere’s from his latest offering ‘Killing Kryptonite’ that haunt me. 

‘Worship is not some slow, beautiful song; it is obedience.  No matter how we ‘perform’ in church, if we do not obey God in our daily lives, we are not worshipping Him’ John Bevere.

Another author I have been reading recently is John Eldredge.  I struggle with some of his gender generalisations in the early chapters of his book ‘Wild at Heart’ however the last half of the book offered so much help I can manage to overlook them.  

The second book I read of his this year is the lesser known ‘Walking with God’ and I have to say it’s probably one of the best I have read on the subject of hearing God’s voice in many years.  It’s a helpful read full of practical and easily applied suggestions.  It is also a real eye opener and when I place both books together they have really complemented each other and held a challenge I couldn’t easily dismiss. Both authors of the aforementioned books have had a significant impact as they challenge compromises and encourage radical obedience within me.

One of the bigger shocks came as I applied some of John Eldredge’s teaching to my own day to day life.  He points out that often we have struck agreements with ourselves and the enemy which aren’t God honouring and in fact need broken.  These agreements aren’t always complex and deep and in fact I have found that in my case some are exactly the opposite.  Yet having been hidden in plain site I have allowed them in my ignorance to have a detrimental and on occasions crippling effect.  

An example of this that I would give is with my health as for the past 2 -3 years I have been suffering from chronic fatigue.  It’s been going on for so long and has left me so confused I no longer know when I am genuinely tired or am looking an out from doing something. Generally speaking compared to 3 years ago my productivity is way down.  As I read ‘Walking with God’ it challenged me to audibly pray, breaking any agreements I have made whilst rejecting that which is having a negative impact upon me.  One day a few weeks ago after lunch a heavy fatigue fell upon me; with quite a hefty to do list I then opened myself to another unwelcome guest – anxiety.  Literally as the fatigue and nausea rolled over me I had two options.  I could literally buckle under it or reach for the tool my reading had given me.  In desperation and frustration I prayed audibly.  ‘In the beautiful and strong name of Jesus I commanded fatigue to leave me I embrace the restoration my King is offering.’

‘In the beautiful and strong name of Jesus I commanded fatigue to leave me I embrace the restoration my King is offering.’

Audibly I accepted his love and declared my openness to receiving anything and all that he had for me.  Still feeling rubbish but with all the faith that I could muster I pushed on into the work and found that God in His faithfulness provided.  I worked for four hours at my desk completing more work than I aimed for and had energy enough to start cooking the tea.  I was to my shame literally shocked at the impact my prayer had had.  From that point on both my wife and I have been speaking out in prayer,  breaking agreements we have come across and the results have been a true blessing.

In closing I return to the theme of obedience.  Living with agreements and compromises can become all too quickly our norm, then morphing into some kind of perverse comfort blanket.  The longer we have held them around us the more we refuse to let them go eventually holding on to them for grim death.  The truth is but whilst holding on to that blanket are you refusing to declare and live by the truth that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. (Philippians 4:13) In your state of deception are you refusing to leave your comfort zone and serve?  What God honouring and pleasing adventures are you being robbed off? (Ephesians 6:12)

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