Archive for April, 2015

April 27, 2015

Put In the Work

by Lester Young

The NFL’s offseason workout program has just begun, and all rabid football fans everywhere have fully recharged their hopes and dreams that this upcoming season will be the year their beloved team finally makes its championship run. (For those of you out there who are not ‘American’ football fans – rabid or otherwise – I beg your indulgence.) And why shouldn’t we be optimistic? After all, everybody starts out even – at this point, every team has just as good a shot to take the title as any other team has.

Did you get that? I want you to note that I didn’t say every team has the same chance of winning the championship at the start of the regular season, when real games actually begin. Nope, didn’t say that at all. What I did say was that every team has just as good a shot as every other at this point; that is to say, right now – at the beginning of offseason workouts.

What’s the difference? Quite literally, days and days, tons and tons, miles and miles of difference! When the games that matter roll around in September, would you consider the guy who just started getting into “playing” shape a couple of weeks beforehand to really be on equal footing with the player who’s already spent countless hours grilling his body in preparation during those long, hot spring- and summer days? How much farther ahead do you think he’d be? Days and days, tons and tons, miles and miles. As I’m sure you could guess, the million-dollar word in such a scenario would be Preparation.

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April 20, 2015

Another Angle on Faith

by Lester Young

For the past few weeks we’ve been discussing faith. So this time around I thought we’d change things up a bit by talking about… oh… um… well… faith. Okay, big deal – the major heading is still the same. But trust me: today’s peek will come from an entirely different perspective.

In my last entry, A Pedigree of Faith, I attempted to shed some light on just where (or better yet, Who) we’ve gotten our faith from, and thus why we should be a lot more confident in it than we typically are. “‘Confident’ in our faith? Isn’t that kind of redundant – like saying, ‘Believe in your faith’?” Actually, it’s exactly like saying that, but it’s not redundant at all. Jesus told us in Mark 11:22 to “Have God’s faith” (and when He tells us to do something, if He’s our Lord then it’s not really a ‘suggestion’). That means we should believe we’ve actually been given His Faith, and believe that the faith we have and are exercising is the very Faith God Himself owns and uses. So yes, have some faith in your faith. Believe it’s the kind He said you should have and that it works absolutely correctly every time – just like Isaiah 55:11 said it would.

Alrighty then, so we possess God’s faith – the faith that’s in us is characteristically identical to His. Same makeup – the same ‘spiritual’ DNA, chromosomes, mitochondria (or whatever) – the substance works exactly the same way, start to finish (Hebrews 11:1). Long story short, it’s exactly the same stuff. And if that’s the case, most of us can guess the next logical question that’s almost bound to arise: “If God’s faith is in me, then how come nothing happens when I try to believe for something? And since we’re going down this road, here’s another one: Why’s the whole world in the shape it’s in?” I think intuition alone will bring us to the realization that if we can answer the first question, the second will pretty much unravel itself.

But before we go any further, I feel somewhat duty-bound to offer a mild forewarning: last week I cautioned that some “religious” strongholds and mindsets might experience some ‘shaking-up’. Well… this time they’re about to get punched straight in the gut. Okay, now that the disclaimer’s out of the way, let’s continue.

So, in responding to that first question above, I’ll begin by saying, “How do you know ‘nothing’ was happening? How do you know nothing was working?” Take the fig tree Jesus cursed, for example. After He’d spoken to it and walked away, absolutely nothing about that tree looked any different to the naked eye for at least another twelve hours or so. We know this because it was ‘cursed’ first thing in the morning as Jesus and His crew were on their way to Jerusalem, and when they passed by again late in the day going back to Bethany for the night, nothing whatsoever was said about it. So sometime after that second pass and before the next morning when Peter noticed and very vocally called to everyone’s attention that the tree had completely dried up, the effects of Jesus’ words became ‘visible’ (Mark 11:14, 19-21).

Now if Jesus’ words occasionally took awhile before results were seen from them, should it come as any real surprise that ours might take some time, too? And probably a little longer than His, since He was an expert at walking and living from faith and the majority of us – as yet – are not. (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17) That’s why we absolutely must be prepared to also put patience – which means “long, consistent endurance” – to work and keep it there right alongside our faith, and keep them both on the job until the work they’re tasked to do is completed (Hebrews 6:12). We simply have no other choice in the matter. So it stands to reason, then, that many – but certainly not all – of the faith ‘failures’ we’ve experienced can be attributed (either fully or partially) to growing weak and eventually just giving up on the process because we haven’t “seen” any positive results yet.

But the truth of the matter is that as soon as Jesus made the utterance, “No man [will] eat fruit from you hereafter forever,” His words immediately got busy on the situation that they were shot at (Isaiah 55:11; Mark 11:14). But they went to work on the unseen ‘root’ of the plant – which is, of course, by analogy the heart of the matter, the source of the problem, the invisible ‘spirit’ of the issue behind the visible circumstance. All spoken words – including our own – are spiritual substance, and they shape what happens in the spirit realm first, which in turn dictates the arrangement of the physical world (John 6:63; Hebrews 11:1, James 3:6).

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April 6, 2015

A Pedigree of Faith

by Lester Young

Today I’m going to tell you something that may cause your religion to shudder – and depending on just how much “religion” you have, you might even feel it recoiling in horror. What could I possibly say that would elicit a response like that, you ask? Well, allow me to answer that question by posing another one: What kind of faith do you have? Now I’m not referring to your ‘amount’ of faith or the level of your faith or anything like that. What I’m really interested in is… I suppose a better way of getting at it would’ve been asking not “What faith do you have?” but, “Whose faith do you have?”

If you’ve been born again, that should be an extremely easy question to answer. But to be truthful, it’s not a subject that’s garnered very much direct attention – or teaching. None of us can truthfully say we don’t have any faith at all, because Romans 12:3 clearly states that each and every person in Christ Jesus has been given Faith by our heavenly Father for the purpose of being used. (And since it’s just been mentioned, I invite you to read It’s All About the Mustard for a couple of interesting thoughts about that.) Now if God is the One who provided the faith – after all, He’s the Source of it (John 1:1, 14; Romans 10:17) – what faith do you think He’d give us? Whose faith do you think He’d give us? Whose faith could He give us? (Hint: He’s only got one Brand. God is pure; that is, He’s all or nothing [Psalm 99:9; Proverbs 30:5].) Since He’s a Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children, it should come as no surprise – and we should indeed expect – that the endowment of Faith we’ve been given is not some substandard knock-off, but the Real Deal (Matthew 7:11; James 1:17).

As always, our Big Brother Jesus points us correctly by telling us to “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22). But in order to drive the point home more fully, we need to consider the literal Greek rendering of that phrase, which is “Have the faith of God”; in other words, “Have God’s faith!” That means to take (as in ‘possess’) His faith as your own! And if we’ve been commanded to take God’s personal faith as our own, it can only mean that that’s what He’s already given us – and nothing less than that (John 3:27).

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