I had a long and enjoyable conversation a few days ago with our youngest daughter in Oklahoma. She is about six months pregnant and thoroughly excited about being a mom! It was fun to hear about all the things that she and her husband are doing in preparation for the birth of their daughter. She enthusiastically described the doctor’s visits, the shopping for clothes, furniture and accessories for the baby as well as her dreams and innermost feelings about the exciting event coming in August. JoAnna also talked a lot about how much her Mom has influenced her dreams and desires for their own children and of her desires to follow the examples Piper set during her childhood.
I can’t tell you how much that blesses me when I hear our kids talk about all the good things that my wife pursued in the raising of our four children. It also stings a bit as Piper is not currently able to enjoy the fruits of her labors… but like I keep saying, this is only a temporary distraction and she will be able to participate in our kid’s lives once again in the near future.
I was thinking on all this earlier today as Piper has a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. I awoke with certain concerns with the night time congestion she’s been experiencing. Isn’t it funny how the enemy of our souls will try to throw us off course from the moment we rise out of our beds each day? Well, I contended early on that I was going to fight through those negative thoughts and seek the encouragement from the truth of God’s Word.
As I read once again from Acts 8:5-8, I quickly understood one point that I mentioned in yesterday’s post (5/12/15 – “The Interactive Gospel”) Verse six informs us that “the crowds with one accord, gave heed to the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs which he was doing.” (EMTV) It’s pretty obvious that the people in the crowd were not just casual observers but were fully hooked up to the words that Philip shared. It tells us that the people were “hearing and seeing” his teachings of the Gospel, meaning that they were “attending to and considering what was being said” by the “use and experience” of it in their personal lives. (Thayer’s Greek definitions of “Hear” and “See”)
As I listened to JoAnna tell of all their adventures, I was reminded of Piper’s and my early experiences with our first born as well as our initial experiences with the Gospel. I think one thing that we learned very early in our relationship is that we wanted to participate in the living Word of God and not just be bystanders! We both knew that we wanted to be in the midst of the action in teaching the Word, but when we began to understand Paul’s teachings of the authority of the believer and who we are in Christ as taught in Ephesians chapters one through three, as well as in Philippians, Colossians and Hebrews, we had a burning desire to become participants in the signs and wonders and power inherent in the Word of God.
At the Baptist church we were Charismatics in a non-Charismatic congregation. We wanted to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ actively working in the lives of our family and friends there. We didn’t necessarily make a big deal about it, but it definitely was a visible part of who we were! When the kids in our Youth Group had needs we openly prayed for them. When they were sick we laid hands on them and saw results.
Like the time we were coming home from an outing at the coast and one of the kids got sick in the car. We immediately pulled over on the grade from the little town of Occidental going toward Sebastopol, stepped into the ditch and laid hands on the young man and he was instantly delivered from the illness! Or when one of the girls in our group broke her arm while on a toboggan coming down the slopes at snow camp. We prayed for her and later that night the pain stopped and she came running up to Piper and I yelling that she was healed!
That same enthusiasm and desire to participate in the action ran over into our outside of church lives as well. I still remember when one of the little kids on our youngest son’s soccer team which I was coaching (which was amazing as I knew very little about the sport at the time – thank the Lord that I had an assistant that did!) got hurt in a game. After his folks attended to him, he returned to the bench where the rest of the team was seated and kept crying. So I went up to him and asked if I could pray for him. Well, he looked at me like I was crazy (even though his family did attend church) but I gently laid hands on him, prayed and then went back to the game. A few moments later, without saying anything about the prayer, he came up to me and asked to go back into the game!
That strong passion and desire to participate in the Gospel has been the initiative to step out in faith on many occasions for many different purposes over the years even though some members of our families also thought we were crazy or simply unwise. We decided early on that if God said it in His Word then we were going to believe it… and that has always settled it for us!
Well, all of that came back to me as I was dealing with those negative considerations for my wife’s health this morning. So… when I stood up from the table to go help her up for the day, I decided and spoke it out loud that: “I will not allow what I see or hear that may be contrary to God’s Word to dictate who Piper and I are or do! I will let the Word dictate who we are and what we do!” I made up my mind right then and there that NOTHING had changed over the past forty years and that we were still going to be active participants in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What about you? Can you make that same claim with me today… no matter what your facing? To me the bottom line is simply whether we believe God’s Word to be the truth or not. I have seen and participated in the miracles of God and am not about to let go of my faith now! How about you? Have a great day. Stay in tune to God’s Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to PARTICIPATE with today?”