A week or so ago I felt the Lord urging me to pull out some books from my personal library that have ministered greatly to me in the past. The first one I began to re-read is a book about revival written in the late 1990’s by a former chaplain at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa Oklahoma. The other three were written by pastors of denominational churches who questioned why they didn’t see the same powerful acts in most modern churches as were common place with Jesus’ and His followers in the New Testament. One book was written in the 1960’s, one in early 2000 and the other as recent as 2013, which I have just begun reading with Piper each day after breakfast and lunch.
Two nights ago as I read from the book on revival, I noticed a familiar excitement rising up in me. When I quizzed the Lord about its meaning I realized that it was that old hunger stirring in me for a strong faith in a simple Gospel! As I have since been praying about that hunger, I have found myself traveling back in time to Piper’s and my life in the 1980’s.
Soon after we were married in 1975 I read some books, including a couple written by the author of the above mentioned book written in the 1960’s. These books answered many questions I didn’t even know I had at the time, they began to satisfy a deep inner need I was sensing, and sprung Piper and I onto a spiritual path of discovery and adventure that a few years previous to that time I would NEVER have imagined me to be on!
During the 1980’s that hunger developing inside of us lead us to do and go almost anywhere to learn and experience more of God moving in ways that ignited what would become our life-long slogan and belief that “If God said it in His Word, we would believe it, and then act on it… and that’s it!”
During those years we joyfully went to a church that met in Motel rooms (and occasionally in a meeting room with a fully stocked bar…), and then another that met at the YMCA - happily arriving quite early and leaving late for set up and take down of all our equipment, chairs and other furniture and supplies. We would drive an hour or two… or more... to different meetings, conferences, or seminars in the South Bay area, (south of San Francisco – which was an hour away from our home town), travel an hour each way to lead praise and worship for our Pastor who was helping some believers start a church in another city, and not miss any mid-week services as if our very lives depended on it!
We were hungry for God and continuously fanned the flames of our child-like faith in Him and His Word and taught our own kids as well as the youth and children we ministered to each week to do the same! That passion ebbed a little in me as we stepped into the nineties but was rekindled with the new church we helped to start later on in the decade. But somewhere after the dawn of the new century, I began to get more concerned about acting like and looking the part of the successful, spiritual Christian than in the simple doing. Then my eyes were really opened when we moved out of state so that I, and later two of our children, could attend Bible College in Oklahoma.
When Piper and I returned home after three years everything around us was different and so were we. Lots of things happened during those four or five years before we moved out here to North Carolina that began to open my eyes to some of the mistakes I had been living and I began to earnestly seek out Papa God’s answers to all the questions I suddenly found myself asking.
Out here it is like life has begun anew for us. There is a satisfaction and peace here that makes me recall similar feelings I experienced back in the 1980’s! I am learning that I want to be real! I want to be around people who are real! I want to fellowship with Christians who are comfortable in their own skin, comfortable with their lives and lifestyle, background and most importantly those who are hungry for seeing the kingdom of God expressed in their daily lives in a simple and humble way.
I think that is why the Lord has been leading me back to those books that talk about the pastor’s journeys from trying to live their Christian lives and responsibilities in such a way that crossed all the “T’s” and doted every “I”. In other words, living a life that is more concerned about meeting some expected form and expression of spiritual perfection that doesn’t rattle or offend anyone nor draw them away from limiting their faith beyond what they can see and hear with their physical eyes and ears.
I am now beginning to see that the Lord is re-igniting my hunger for childlike faith in what HE can do… just like He did it back when the New Testament was written. After all, Hebrews 13:8 does tell us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and forever.” (KJV)
Oh! Oh! Oh! I hear it, don’t you? Quick… turn off that radio or TV and listen closely… Ah…. There it is… don’t miss it… It is that inner voice reminding us that “If God said it in His Word, we will believe it, and then act on it… and that’s it!”
Hummmm… a strong faith in a simple Gospel! Has a certain ring (and truth to it) doesn’t it?
Have a GREAT and HUNGRY for the simple things of God day… and as you do, keep asking yourself… Whose Word and Whose kingdom activities am I expecting to see in my life today?”