New Beginnings 2017

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 6, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

For those of you who have been following my posts for a while, I have spent the last five months studying prayer. One of the things that God exposed in that study is how much of my Christian walk is purely on the intellectual level. I know the theory. I know the correct doctrine. I know the Bible. I know how to debate atheists. I know the facts. My brain has such a high level of retention of knowledge that I can be considered a walking encyclopedia or, as my old Intervarsity friends would call me in college, a walking concordance. Hear me: I am not boasting. I am not saying: “Look at who I am and what I know!” What I am saying is that despite all this knowledge, I need a new beginning. A new start.

One of the things God began to do with me is tear down my understanding of Christianity. So much of it was pure theoretical. It was not in practice, and even more so, it lacked the power that Christianity demands. I have longed to return to true Christianity. I have listened to preachers such as Eric Ludy, Paul Washer, Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, and others who know what it is supposed to look like and are not seeing it in action much at all in our American culture. And they are preaching a message that gives me fire, but I am not yet retaining the fire. It grieved me to be with my church youth group who went away to camp and came back on a high and wanting to be hot for God, and less than a month later, the youth either revert back to what they were or fall even further back. And how often did that happen with me? More times than I can count.

As God has been exposing my own short-comings, I have seen how much people’s faith is purely on an intellectual level. They believe God exists. They claim to believe in Jesus and his work on the cross. But it is mere intellectual ascent. There is no actual belief, trust, or dependency upon that being true in their lives. But it is more than that. Nearly ten years ago, I was witnessing to a co-worker who had some dabblings in the dark arts. I did not catch it right away, but it soon ended up where I was dealing with a demon. I knew the theory. I knew that Christ has the authority, and that I had authority in him to drive it out, but it was theoretical. I did not have the “high ground.” I did not have the authority or the working of Christ in power. Now did God pull that from me to keep me humble? Possibly. But I was in very close danger of entering the territory of the Seven Sons of Sceva. I’ll dig into that more next week.

What is more is in this situation, my co-worker told me had said the Sinner’s Prayer and “accepted” Christ, and honestly I did not know what to do with that. I did not get how it “did not work,” because that is what I grew up with. I did explain to him that he needed to surrender to Christ and let him have the authority to get the demon out, but I did not understand at that point what I was dealing with. I knew the theory. I knew the battle plan. But I did not know how to walk it out and engage in the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

Eric Ludy gives a great illustration of what we think is true Christianity versus what is actually true Christianity: He compares us to elk. I grew up in Colorado and I’ve seen elk, creatures that get you to slam on the brakes and get out your cameras and stare in awe. Those are 5-8 feet tall, but Ludy describes what is now considered extinct: the Irish Elk. Over 10 feet tall at the brow with 12 foot wide antlers adding an additional 5 feet over its head. And he suggests that we have settled for the smaller elk, thinking the Irish Elk no longer exists. He calls for a return of the Irish Elk form of Christianity.

I would love to not merely see that kind of Christianity in action, but to be one of them. However, as I have read the testimonies, the biographies, and the stories of the Christians who would fit this “Irish Elk” form of Christianity, I learned this: there is a cost that comes first. Rees Howells was one of these “Irish Elk Christians.” During a plague in Africa, he made a declaration that no one would die on his mission, and no one died. During World War II, he prayed many of the battles through to victory. He was a man who did great things, but very few of us have what he had.

BEFORE he reached this point, God took him through a process of complete surrender of self. His job was at the direction of God. His prayer time was at the direction of God. His finances were at first dedicated to missions first, but then God even asked for complete control of every penny. He could not even buy a thank-you card without permission from God. He was willing to take on tuberculosis in order to intercede for someone who had it, even to the point where he was to be a “living martyr.” His life was on “borrowed” time completely yielded to Christ. Will God find such surrender in us? In me? If not, do not be surprised if God does not do much in and through us.

James 1:22-25 cannot be much clearer. We cannot merely hear the words of Truth. We must obey them or they have no purpose in us. And what is more, if we have heard truth, we are responsible for how we deal with it. We will be responsible for obeying the truth, or for rejecting it. I talk about taking what I teach seriously because I don’t want to find out what is worse than a millstone for teaching falsely, but do I obey and practice what I am preaching?

I have said this before and I will said it again. I am tired of the mere theory and no action. I am tired of the bold claims and nothing coming out of them. But do I really want it? Do I really want to put it all aside to go after it? I have to start anew. I need a new beginning. I need God to finish tearing down my Christianity that is built upon intellectual ascent and plant a new, firmer foundation built upon obedience and living Christianity in his power. So with this post, I am starting a short series (only 6 posts this time) about the difference between a faith of intellectual theory and a faith of actual practice and life. Let our faith be real and something more much than a brain exercise.

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