The Faith That Moves Mountains: Do You Have It?

faith-mountainsDo you have faith? Do you have life changing, mountain moving faith?

When Jan Crouch was twelve years old, her pet chicken was run over by a car. She and her friend prayed for the little bird in Jesus name, and the bird was resurrected. The famous teacher and healer, Benny Hinn, told people on October 19, 1999 that he would raise their loved ones from the dead if they would roll their loved ones’ caskets infront to a T.V.

The saga continues. Everywhere we go, we hear that our problems can be solved by having more faith. If we have the faith to move mountains, then we can be certain will we get our dream home, our spouse will return, and we will overcome our cancer. We can do all this and more if we have the mountain moving faith that Jesus talks about in Mark 11:20-25. Jesus told us in Mark 11:23 “Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.” This is an incredible faith. This is a faith we should all long to have. But if we do not have this great faith, this faith that can bring chickens back to life, we must ask, “how do we get it?

But before we answer that question, we must answer another more pressing question. What is our faith in? What are we to believe in? The text tells us in back in verse 22: “Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.” The object of our faith and the power behind this mountain moving faith is God. It is not us, but God.

Often we misunderstand this fundamental nature of faith. Instead of placing our faith in God and his work on the cross, we place our faith in ourselves. We trust in our ability to manipulate God. We think that great faith equals some sort of mental disposition often expressed through prayer that will force God to work. We trust in our ability to persuade God to give us a new home, an awesome spouse, or a miraculous healing. We view this great faith like the hit-bell game found at state fairs. We grab the black harmer of faith and slam it down on the metal platform sending the little ball flying upwards to the bell. If we do not hit the bell, we swing again and again. We may take a brief break to go to one of the religious conferences held in the main pavilion on positive thinking or prayer in an effort to exercise our faith muscles. Then we come back and start swinging until that metal balls finally zips upward with enough speed to ring the bell for the world to hear. We ultimately believe that if we have enough faith in ourselves to force God to work, he will work.

To put it another way, we keep putting quarter after quarter into the vending machine believing that our efforts will eventually cause the machine to give us an ice, cold Coke. In both instances, the object of our faith is not God. The object of our faith is our ability and our works.

But Christ is not talking about such man centered faith.  He is not talking about raising chickens or about showing revivals in mortuaries. The faith to move mountains is not based upon us and our works but upon Christ.

What does the faith to move mountains truly look like? What does trusting in Christ look like? Those who have the faith to move mountains believe God’s words are true and regularly forgive others.

The whole conversation about faith is set against the back drop of Jesus’ words coming true. Jesus curses a fig tree in Mark 11:14 and Peter remarks that the fig tree is dead in verse 21. The remark about Jesus’ word coming true causes Jesus to launch into a discourse on faith. Jesus is placing mountain moving faith within the context of his word coming true. Jesus is not promising us that we will get everything we selfishly desire (new car, dream home, great health, kind spouse, beautiful kids) if we have enough faith. This is not his point at all. He is saying that if we trust in him, his word will come true.

Given a predisposition to charismatic thought, we tend to think that claiming God’s Word can be still be a name-it and claim-it endeavor. We can claim our mountains and have faith in God that he will throw them into the Sea.

Again this is not what Jesus is telling his disciples. He is speaking hyperbolically. Though there is some debate about which mountain Jesus is referring, the text seems to indicate that he is speaking about the temple mount. He was walking into Jerusalem by way of the Mount of Olives. The temple mount would have clearly been in view. He is saying that the temple could be tossed into the sea if we have faith. Jesus is not speaking literally. Jesus could have tossed the temple mountain into the Sea. He created the world and sustains the world. All of nature obeys him (Col 1:16-18). Every bird, mountain, and star awaits his command. But Jesus never tossed any mountain into any sea or ocean during his lifetime. Jesus is not telling us to command literal mountains, illness, or people by faith.

Jesus is commanding us to trust his Word. He is saying that believing in his Word trumps the sacrificial system. The temple is no longer needed and can be cast into the sea because God reigns and lives. God’s Word comes true.

True faith consist in believing the words of God up to the point where we know they will come true. True faith is the porn addict trusting God for purity and receiving it. True faith is the worry wart trusting God for all her needs and receiving confidence in the character of God. True faith is the liar trusting Christ for the power to speak truth and becoming truthful. Truth faith that moves mountains results in men and women becoming more like Christ.

We can recover from cancer without Christ working miraculously. We can manipulate our spouse into coming home without Christ doing a work in our heart. And, we can get the promotion at work without faith in God’s sovereignty.

But we cannot grow in our faith without Christ. We cannot grow in our love without Christ. We cannot get victory over our pride without Christ. We cannot become new creatures without the help of Christ. True faith is a faith that trust Christ to makes us into his image. True faith is a faith based upon the work of God that is defined by a confidence that God’s Word will come true.

And true faith lacks doubt. The word to doubt in verse 23 meanings to weigh or measure. To doubt means we are still analyzing God’s Word comparing it to Dr. Phil, Buddha, humanism, and the spiritual advice of our coworker who is really into yoga these days. Doubting means we give God a chance, but we are not sure if his word will come true. We are not sure if God really can help us overcome our drug addiction and our poor money management skills. We doubt that God’s Word will come true. We doubt that the power to change, the power to move the mountains in our life rest in Christ. We doubt, we second guess, and we are quick to mix in all kinds of worldly ideas into our quest because we do not trust God.

We are not supposed to doubt. We are supposed to believe. And we believe on the finished work of Christ. The fig tree is dead. Christ died for our sins and is alive. His word has come true. We should believe it without doubting. And when we do, we have all that we ask. “It will be done for him.” Christ will accomplish his word. He will change us. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”(vs. 24).

He may not remove our cancer, but he will give us the patience to walk through the trial well. God make not change our spouse, but he will grow our love. Christ may not give us more money, but he will grow our contentment in him. He will do the impossible. He will makes us more into his image.

To have the faith that moves mountains is to have the faith that believes God’s Word will comes to pass.

But our faith will not have just a vertical dimension. True faith has a horizontal element; it effects how we interact with our friends and neighbors. Those who have the faith to move mountains are quick to forgive. Jesus says, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (vs.25). The presence of the faith that moves mountains is not found in how many Chickens you bring back to life. The faith is evidence by Christ radically changing your life and in your radically choosing to forgive those who sin against you.

If you have the faith to move mountains, you will be quick to forgive others. When we forgive others, we are not saying we have not been hurt. We are not saying that harsh words, that infidelity, that betrayed trust, that stolen money, and dashed hopes do not hurt. We legitimately have been hurt. We have something against the one who has offended us.

Rather, we forgive in spite of the hurt because we desire to be right with God. We forgive because we have been forgiven much and because we desperately want God to continue to forgive us. We forgive because we realize that we (like the people who have sinned against us) our sinners. We realize that we are not morally superior than those who have hurt us. Like our enemies, we daily sin. We daily offend God and others. We daily need forgiveness. Those who have been redeemed understand this reality. They understand that their best thoughts and works apart from Christ are filthily rags. They understand that they are sinners who daily need and experience grace. And because God has forgiven them, they forgive others. They have seen God forgive them and radically change their lives. They know that God must continue to work in their hearts for them to have growth.

Thus, they forgive others because they daily need the grace of God.

Truth faith is not measured by the number of cancer patients we cure. The faith that moves mountains is not measured by our ability to attain money, health, or success. The faith that moves mountains is based upon Christ. This faith is a faith that believes that God’s Word will come true in our life. It is marked by spiritual mountains being moved and by us having forgiveness. This is the faith to move mountains.

Do you have it? Is God’s Word at work in your life and are you forgiving others?

New Year’s Resolutions: From Failure To Compassion

failureI do not want to get all of you new dieters, runners, and organizers depressed. But the odds of your New Year’s Resolution coming true are not in your favor. (Sorry Hunger Game Fans.) Eight percent. That’s right. According to Statistic Brain only 8% of those self-starters will accomplish their 2017 mid-night goals by 2018. In other words if you and nine of your best friends all made resolutions, there is a chance that all ten of you will fail. How’s that for 2017?  Yikes!

Change is hard. And substantial, demonstrative character change is all but impossible when left up to you and me. Sure we might be able to put aside soda for 365 days, but we cannot be nicer, kinder, or wiser on our own. Such goals always end in disappointment. Perhaps this is why 51% of us completely forgo all pretense at change and didn’t even bother to make a New Year’s resolution.

So what do all these dour New Year’s Eve stats have to do with parenting? Everything.

We tend to get angry, disappointed, and loud with our children because they fail to change. Our kids fail to understand that biting the furniture is bad idea; they fail to see that skipping their homework is foolish; and, they fail to grasp arguing over their choirs is pointless. In short, our kids refuse to change. We tell them again and again to do better, to trust more, or to listen close. And yet, they still refuse to comply to our standards, to our hopes, and to our goals. And when we have had enough, we lose it. We shout, pound our fist, and begin the lecture series anew, wondering, “Why won’t those losers change?”

Sadly, we don’t have to look far for the reason. We just have to peer inside our own hearts.

The reason our kids do not change is the same reason we cannot achieve our New Year’s Resolutions. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. We cannot change ourselves. We cannot make ourselves better people on our own. Likewise, our kids are powerless to change themselves. They are powerless to change their hearts.

When our kids mess up for the umpteenth time, we should not get mad. We should not blow up. Rather, we should extend mercy and grace as we correct them. We need to approach our children with humble hearts that our ready to forgive. As the Scripture says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Eph. 4:32. Nothing your children have done or will do, we compare to what God has done for us.

parentingGod has forgiven us. And now, we can forgive our kids over and over again. We can patiently contend with them, seeking to lead them to Christ. And though the days can appear dark (horrible dark at times) we know that we can survive, because parenting is not up to us. God is working through us. He gives us to the power to hold our tongue, to ask our children’s forgiveness for our sin, and to patiently endure our kids’ new haircut.As Pastor and author Paul David Tripp said,

If your eyes ever see and your ears ever hear the sin, weakness, and failure of your children, it is never a hassle, never an interruption, never an accident; it is always grace. God loves your children and has put them in a family of faith, and he will reveal the need of their hearts to you so that you can be his tool of rescue and transformation. 

If we try to parent in our own strength, our parent success rate will probably resemble that our New Year’s resolutions. But if we rely upon our heavenly Father recognizing that we are sinners in need of mercy parenting smaller sinners in need of mercy, we will succeed. We will succeed in becoming more patient, kind, and wise. The more we look to Christ and meditate and him and his work, the more we will become like Christ! Are you ready to shift your focus from you and your kids to the God of the universe?

 

5 Ways To Resolve Conflict

Conflict-BlogIt finds us. Whether we stay at home, go to school, or commute to the office, conflict will find us. Kids will disobey us, coworkers will disagree with us, and friends will say hurtful things to us. And what often starts as a bright day full of hope quickly becomes rocked by thundering rain clouds of frustration. Conflict has arrived.

Now not all conflict is bad.  Often competing ideas can be used by God to promote godly change, to increase productivity and to develop godly character. As we learn to submit to another in love, the church wins. As Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

But obviously many conflicts do not turn out this way. Instead of leading to unity, conflict often produces anger, bruised feelings, and broken relationships. Why does this happen? According to James 4 sinful conflict explodes in our lives because of what’s in our hearts. Notice what he says,

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.

We fight, we get mad, and we quarrel with each other because we are not getting what we want. Think about some of these common responses to conflict: “I don’t care what he said, he has no right to talk to me that way; I deserve better; all I wanted was a little peace and quiet; who does she thinks she is; don’t they realize all my skills, abilities and years of service.” This is not to say that the other party is innocent. But the reason we get mad, the reason we respond to sin with more sin is that we love things more than God. We want respect, peace, ease, and love. When we don’t get them, we arm our passions and go out on the war path seeking to attack, humble, and destroy anyone who does not worship us like we worship us. Hence, we are involved in sinful conflict because our hearts are focused on things other than God.

So how do we resolve conflict and bring it to a conclusion?

1. Seek To Glorify God:

Conflict is not fun. But it is also not pointless. Conflict exists so that you and me can
become more like Christ. As we repent of sinful heart attitudes, practice forgiveness, and extend love, we will see our faith expand. Though trials are never enjoyable, they are not pointless. Conflict exists so that we will become perfect and complete. If we want to see our conflicts resolved and our relationships restored, we must seek to redeem the situation we find ourselves in. We must not fear conflict. We must see it as an opportunity for good and for kingdom expansion!

2. Repent:

We get mad not because of what someone else did or said. We get mad because we are peace maklerfinding satisfaction in something other than Christ. To disarm our hearts, we have to confess to God that we are prideful, selfish, and coveting. We have to set our minds on the things above. We must meditate on all that God has done for us through the cross. We must find our hope, joy, and validation in him. Before we can hope to solve human conflict, we must first get our hearts right with God.

3. Confess:

After we repent of our sins, we must seek out those whom we have offended and confess our sins to them. Even if the other person started the fight, even if they’ve done more wrong than us, we must go to them in love, confessing our sins. If we hope to win our brothers and sisters back, we must honestly tell them all our wrongs and ask them to forgive us. We must as Jesus says get the log out of our own eye (Matt 7:5). Many conflicts roll on year after year unresolved because no one is willing to confess their sins. We can’t make others change. But we can deal with our own sin. To begin the process of restoration, we must repent and confess our own sins to every person that we have wronged. As Proverbs 28:13 says,

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

4. Go In Love:

After we have confessed our sins and mistakes – then and only then- can we loving
express our concerns to others. Of course, we should only directly talk to those that have wronged us. Telling our friends what so and so did may validate our sinful heart attitudes, but those words will not lead the other person towards repentance. Rather, we go privately go to the person who has offended us, and tell them their sin (Matt 18). And we do not list every character flaw they have ever had. Instead, we tell them about specific sins, hoping that they will respond with repentance.

5. Forgive:

If someone has wronged us, we must be ready to forgive them. When a former enemy asks us to forgive them, we must say yes. We must remember all that God has done, forgiving others because God has forgiven us (Col. 3:13). Regardless of what someone did to us, we have done more to God and been forgiven. If we are God’s children, we can forgive others. This may not come easy. Our flesh will say, “No way.” But as we plead with God to help us, he will change our hearts. If we have been redeemed by God, we can love our enemies. Now forgiveness does not mean that consequences disappear. The child who ate a one-pound bag of Oreos by himself is still banded from the pantry. But his parents, no longer hold the crime against him. They no longer mention it or bring it up. They have forgiven him. As Ken Sande said,

Forgiveness is a radical decision not to hold an offense against the offender.

We must be ready to forgive.resovling conflict

Conflicts can get tricky in a hurry. But no conflict has to destroy. For Christians, there is always hope. For more info about how to deal with conflicts, I highly recommend that you checkout Resolving Every Day Conflict or The Peace Maker by Ken Sande.

Are you ready to biblically resolve your conflict?

 

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