The Engine

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 5, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

How many times in our Christian walk do we feel like we are not moving anywhere? How often do we push and push and push and yet nothing is happening? I want to suggest two reasons for this. The first is due to lack of effort, lack of perseverance. We quit too easily and too soon. I am going to save that for another post in a few weeks. I am going to suggest another reason. I got this idea from Eric Ludy in his sermon “We Will Not Fear.” It is like our life is a car and it lacks an engine. Many, many of us live our Christian lives without an engine. Without any real source of power to move in it. Allow me to give the context of what Ludy is referencing and you can listen to the sermon (starts at 4 minutes in) to get the rest of the details.

Ludy had been in ministry for several years, but he would find himself coming into speaking events completely paralyzed with anxiety. He could not handle any form of stress or spiritual weights as a Christian leader. It was to the point where he could hardly carry his bag out from the airport without having to rest and catch his breath. Ludy then reveals that at age 28, he was diagnosed with a stress disorder, carrying the amount of stress as 60-year-old executives. He then declares this is what can happen when you try to do ministry without the power of God. “I needed an engine,” Ludy says.

As a rising speaker and author and possible youth minister (God has me going towards full time youth ministry is some shape or form), I look back at my life and I realize how often I have been doing things for God… without God. I grew up on the mission field and because of that experience, I have always sought to be involved in some kind of ministry. I did competitive fencing for 15 years and God opened the door for me to use the sport as a visual tool to describe spiritual warfare. I began writing and sought to use my writing in books, blogs, and such to glorify God. I have been involved with my church. I have run the computer for our services for 11-12 years (I’m losing count). I was involved with my church youth group for a couple years, and God is bringing me back into that right now. I have taught a Bible study at my church about apologetics and how to defend our faith and Biblical Worldviews for 1 ½ years. Worldview Warriors, my local Christian writers group, my books, speaking at multiple conferences, and more. Some of you may be thinking I am bragging about all I am doing that is all great ministry, but hear me out. How much of this is being done with my own strength? How much of this is really God-led?

I fully understand what happens when you are doing God’s call for your life, but you are doing it in your own strength. You get tired. You don’t seem to get a lot of fruit. Things get frustrating easily. And ultimately, it is very easy to burned out. In all I am doing, I truly believe that what I am involved with has been God-directed. I never would have dreamed about using my fencing equipment as a ministry tool unless God gave me a prompt to consider it. Writing was never a dream of mine. I stutter when I speak (I was much worse earlier), so speaking was not something I would dream of doing. God has given me many of these ministries, however, am I doing it with the power of God? Did God just get me started so I could run with it on my own?

There is another sermon that really got my attention as I reflected over this topic. Paris Reidhead gave a powerful sermon called “Ten Shekels and a Shirt.” At the tail end of the sermon, Reidhead described a pastor approaching him after a message. The pastor talked about his church, his radio program, his youth, but then he said he was lacking the “oomph.” He needed the Holy Spirit and asked Reidhead if he could help him. The response: “I don’t think I can help you… I don’t think you’re ready.” He used an analogy of driving up with a Cadillac and telling God to fill her up with the best stuff you got. He did a great thing admittedly without God and now wanted power for his programs to make it go further. Are we guilty of doing the same thing? Doing something we know God called us to do, but built our own program out of our own strength, and then seek God afterwards to power it up? The Bible is rather clear that unless the Lord builds it, it is done in vain. Are we willing to allow God to tear down what we have done so he can build it his way? Are we willing to let God take control of the wheel while we pack ourselves into the trunk and let him drive without any backseat driving from us?

I’m going to tell you now: that is convicting. I had listened to this sermon numerous times but as I’ve been preparing this series and this segment came to mind, I was convicted. I have lacked the Holy Spirit in my ministry efforts. Now there have been times where God has shown up mightily in my ministry. I’ll never forget three years ago speaking at my church on Wednesday evening to wrap up a summer series and I brought my swords to speak about the Israelite War Cry and spiritual warfare. I felt the anointing coming upon me leading into it and when I preached, I PREACHED. I repeatedly describe that time as me not even speaking, but just being a microphone for what God has to say. And I will state emphatically that it was not me that gave that message the power. It was the Holy Spirit speaking through me. That was having the engine, when it is God moving in and through you. But many times, I have not moved in the power of the Holy Spirit, where I have gone out in my own strength.

How do you get this engine? How do you live in this power? Prayer is one of the keys. If you examine the greatest missionaries or the greatest preachers, each of them had a life of prayer. William Booth and Charles Finney not only prayed, they had men who devoted themselves to prayer while they preached. If we want to truly live the Christian life, if we really want to be what God has called us to be, we need to be in a constant state of prayer.

A.W. Tozer said this: "No one has any Scriptural right to teach a Sunday school class who doesn't do it by prayer. If he isn't a praying man, he ought not be a teaching man. Because no man can teach anything that he isn't. He might try to teach some truth, but it won't do him any good, and it may not do any one else any good. The teacher ought to be a praying person." (In Everything By Prayer, 31:17-31:45)

I can say, I am convicted. How many workshops have I taught without really working them in prayer? How many blogs have I written without praying first? How much praying have I done in the writing of my books (I’ve written several, but only one published right now)? How many times I have entered the classroom without praying? How many Facebook posts have I made in prayer? Have I prayed leading into this? Sure I have at times. But not the way I should be, because if I was, God would not have needed to put his finger in this area in my life and drawn me to write this series. I need to have a working engine to make this life work. That engine is prayer.

Jesus only did what he saw his Father doing. He only said what he heard his Father saying. He walked in that power. He had the engine. The Apostles had that engine. The great preachers and missionaries had that engine. And one thing they all had in common: prayer. They all prayed. They prayed God’s prayers. They sought God’s will, God’s Kingdom, and God’s purposes. They put everything of themselves aside and leaned not on their own understanding. They did nothing of their own accord, in their own strength, in their own power. They were constantly in prayer and because of that close, intimate relationship with God, they were able to move and act in the power that Christianity is supposed to bear.

Next week, I will get into how to pray with expectations of answers. Will God turn down an honest seeker? How bold are we in what we ask of God?

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