After the recent Superbowl victory by Tom Brady and the team, many of us are fired up. The football season is over, the New England Patriots rest on their well-deserved laurels, and many of us feel like we now have to wait till September to get any sense of sportsmanship and championship in our lives. But do we really have to wait? Not at all.
You see, we all want to be champions in life, but the question is not just of your passion or enthusiasm. The question is – what training program are you following? Are we only doing weekly bicep curls with our black leather thumb-index Bibles, cheering on who we perceive to be real athletes, while reading about the strong and the mighty in the news or on Facebook feeds, being content with attending third-rate programs with the kind of “training” that makes you fall asleep every time you show up? Holding hands in circles and singing kumbaya gets us only so far. We have been taught for too long to be passive spectators by tradition, which has a notoriously poor track record in training real champions.
We don’t need any more preachers with three-piece suits and silk ties (or jeans and a hip T-shirt, as the case may be) to sermonize us for an hour at a time in exchange for a monetary donation. Thank God for the good ones among them, but we have enough of them already. What we need more than ever are coaches who can roll up their sleeves, get down in the dirt with us, and show us the real moves, the ones that really work. We need them huddling with us in the locker room, showing us who we really are, showing us that we are “more than conquerors in Christ Jesus”, and doing all that in a real believable way. Week in and week out, up to and including eventual championship nights.
And you know how you can tell that they are making a difference? Simple – thus trained, you would be winning in life in a way that would be off the charts. And that way of living in victory would be a norm rather than the exception in Christian lives. Instead, you would be making history in your community. And you would be signing heart-autographs for the young ones who would want to live and breathe as much Jesus Christ as you do.
We should never be telling ourselves silly stories about how one day, not sure when, we would be whisked away from the playing field of life, and we wouldn’t have to compete in the increasingly difficult game. “God, save us from the matchup – ’cause you know, what if it don’t work? What if the rations get scarce?”. That ain’t no kind of prayer. This is fear and unbelief covered over with a thin veneer of faux piety. This “conscience does make cowards of us all”, in the words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
The biggest witness to doing the church the way we have been – a staged music performance followed by a speech – is this. I have met many men and women who have been sitting on sanctified benches for 20, 30, and 40 years. A lot of them refer to themselves as being “sheep” who need to be “fed” and “prayed for”. To me, that sounds more like a nursing home than a training facility. And for some of us, if we don’t wake up to the reality of God’s kingdom within us and among us, this could become a hospice.
Of course, I am not saying that all churches are like that, but that’s more of a rule than exception in modern Western Christianity. And not only does this need to be discussed – this needs to be shouted from the rooftops. This systemic malady needs to be brought out into the open, honestly looked at, repented of, and corrected with no expense spared.
Jesus in his day ran a very different shop. After 3 years of personal training with him, the 12, 70, and 500 that he has trained went around and changed the entire known world. They didn’t need anyone to feed them, or pray for them, or clean up their little messes. Peter’s very shadow and Paul’s handkerchiefs and aprons healed people. They didn’t even need to pray. Paul raised a person, who rudely interrupted his teaching by dying, right back from the dead. Jesus, Peter, and Paul faced civil and religious authorities without any fear, and stood many other tests of faith that many of us simply can’t fathom today. What was very different was their training program. They didn’t have nice steepled buildings with mosaic windows. But what they did have changed the world.
There is a story told about Thomas Aquinas (that would be middle ages). He went up to Rome to visit the pope of the day. The pope took him on a tour of the buildings and showed him all of the beauty and the splendor of church buildings. Right then, the pope remarked, “No longer can we say, ‘Silver and gold have I none'”, in reference to Peter’s saying to the man that he healed a few seconds after he said that. But Aquinas wisely remarked back to the pope: “But, neither can you say, ‘Rise and walk in the name of Jesus Christ!'”. And that anecdotal account still rings true for many of us today.
Many, but not all. Some of us – ahemmm – take the kingdom training quite seriously. To give you a personal example. I have said words similar to “rise up and walk” to people – and have seen them rise up and walk. Not from complete full-body paralysis (yet), but I have seen limb and face paralysis healed both instantly and progressively, and many instances of arthritis, bad backs (discs, sciatica, etc), torn muscles and ligaments, broken bones, deaf ears, and many other things healed on the spot.
You know, there is a passage in the Bible where it says “believers in me shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover”. Jesus’s trifecta of ministry here on earth was “teaching, preaching, and healing”. We are told to do likewise. Ya know, this whole WWJD thing. I don’t know whose “genius” idea it was to leave divine healing out of the picture. But it’s there all right, and it’s been there for the past 1900+ years. Good thing the Bible says the same thing today as it did back then!
I have seen several dozen people walk away after a brief prayer interaction from me holding their canes, crutches, and plastic casts in their hands. And I have seen dozens of others people do the same thing – a few in person (mostly my own family whom I trained in the same disciplines), but mostly on YouTube. Nearly none of them learned that in their church from their official teaching (not as in “God can still heal today”, but as in getting trained to get a reliable track record of real-world results). The story is always either “I learned it from guys on YouTube / Facebook”, or less frequently “Well, there was this one guy in our church who showed me … “.
Hands-on – that’s how it’s done! It’s training through discipleship and personal interaction, not through listening to someone talk about things that they have heard from someone else and a wishin’ and a hopin’ and a prayin’ that one day things will change for you. Well, I got news for you – they won’t if YOU don’t. And that begins with changing your mind – a.k.a. repentance. And that’s the reason we are having this straight talk things that are as real as life itself.
There are things in my Kingdom walk where I am still not very good at. For me though, the biggest reason for that is that I can’t get hold of good training programs in those areas. In the areas where I did get hold of the right “playbook” – I excelled quickly, and the people whom I taught what I knew progressed even quicker than myself.
There is a way to get trained in the things of God. There’s a path of sustained growth. There’s a way to get to the championship level. And it’s not all trophies and confetti, either. There’s a price that you will have to pay. To give you a couple of examples in the area of divine healing. One church nearly kicked me out for praying for their sick (they didn’t believe it was possible for today, but they DID believe that I could demonize their folk by praying. That’s what the head of church security, who was an ordained minister, told me. Apparently, they do believe in the power of the devil much more than in the power of the living God).
The leadership of another church where I was praying for their sick was passive-aggressive toward me over the same thing. Faced with undeniable healing testimonies, their contention was that I did’t have an official ministry title. When I produced the ordination card out of my wallet (I was independently ordained at the time), I was then told that I wasn’t ordained in their church, and so it didn’t count. Apparently some ministers are way too territorial to acknowledge ordinations issued outside, even though it was basically the same denomination. Shortly after that I returned the ordination credentials back to the issuer, since it was clear to me that this paper was completely useless in the real world.
Those things bothered me a bit at the time, but now I simply chalk them up to being small battle scars. Each of them tells me a story of me choosing the Path of walking with the Living God over bowing down before the idols of man-made systems who were too blind to see when God was in operation among them, regardless through whom it was flowing.
Even though this path is not without trails – the rewards of following it are more than worth it, in my book. That path only opens up after taking the red pill. It’s not for everyone. It’s for those who want to be champions, reformers, pioneers. It’s for those who want deep significance for their lives.
Here’s a quote from a modern day champion, a true pioneer in the digital world:
It may not be easy, but I really think it’s worth it in the end.