A New Commandment That Was There All Along

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

There is a trick question I love to ask people. What was the tallest mountain in the world before Mount Everest was discovered? I get all kinds of answers, like “Mount McKinley “and so forth, but you know what the answer is? Mount Everest!

Mount Everest was the tallest mountain in the world (Now I know a lot of geography buffs are going to tell me there are even taller mountains in the depths of the ocean) even before it was discovered. Just like the Americas were here long before Columbus ever “discovered” them. But you know what? Columbus did indeed discover America.  And so has every person who has ever set foot on its soil! We all have discovered America!

But I digress. My point about the riddle about the tallest mountain is that Mount Everest was there before it was discovered.

Jesus tells the disciples He has a new commandment for them.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34 NLT

Jesus did not mean that the commandment had just been originated. The commandment had been there all along.

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:18 NLT

So like Mount Everest this commandment had been around since the foundation of the world. When Jesus said it was new, what He meant was it is new to you! It was new to the disciples who just moments earlier, were sitting around arguing over who was the greatest and refusing to wash each other’s feet. America may have been new to Columbus when he discovered it, but fact is millions already knew it was there! It was just new to Columbus!

So it is today. While many pray for a revival and wish the church would get back on track with their pet doctrine or tradition, Jesus reminds His disciples that the number one proof of revival and Godliness is:

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”John 13:35 NLT

I have seen people defend their theology and denominational traditions in some very barbaric and unchristian ways! Seventh-day Adventists pride themselves in their theology, but it is important to note that the Jews prided themselves in their theology and traditions as they crucified Christ!

Do you remember when God had Moses set up a bronze pole with a serpent on it? It was to point people to the Messiah and His sacrifice. Well problem is people started worshiping the pole instead of the Messiah it was suppose to point them to! In the end, Hezekiah had to destroy it.

“He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it. The bronze serpent was called Nehushtan.” 2 Kings 18:4 NLT

Somehow the pole had become more important than the event it represented. Love for God and humankind had been supplanted by this love for a pole. So in a revival Hezekiah destroyed the pole because people were worshipping it and loving it more than they were worshiping God and loving their neighbor.

Before we have a true revival in our time are there some poles you need to destroy? We know God’s law stand firm forever and will never be done away, but have we become so wrapped up in our laws and theology that we have forgotten Who the laws point to, just like those worshiping the pole forgot Who it pointed to?

There are many issues facing our church, but there is nothing wrong with our church that can’t be fixed by what is right with our church, as long as we love one another and don’t let our personal pet denominational traditions become so big to us that we forget about our love for God and our neighbor.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

Forgiveness is not saying it is Okay

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

One Sabbath afternoon I received a phone call from the mother of a child I had corrected earlier at church, who had smarted off to me, when I told her to stay out of a room that was off-limits. The mother told me, “My daughter wants to tell you she is sorry, but before she gets on the phone, I wanted to ask you, when she says she is sorry, don’t tell her it is okay. Just tell her she is forgiven.”

“Wow!” I thought. This mother gets it! Forgiveness is not saying it is okay. So many are slow to forgive, because what happened to them was so wrong they can’t just sweep it under the rug. The deed deserves to be punished. What they don’t understand is that forgiveness is not sweeping it under the rug and saying it is okay. Then what is it saying?When I share the gospel presentation, I always share this passage from the Desire of Ages. It is so clear and simple, and to me, sums up the whole plan of salvation.

“Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. “With His stripes we are healed.”  -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 25 

Now I would like to take this passage to the next level – beyond the plan of my personal salvation. I understand that Jesus took the punishment for my sins so that I can now be treated the way He deserves to be treated. Now I need to understand, that the sins my enemy committed have not been swept under the rug. Jesus was also treated the way my enemy deserves to be treated, so that I may now treat my enemy the way Jesus deserves to be treated.

Jesus did not only suffer for my sins, He suffered also for sins committed against me. Why do I need to take it out on my enemy when it has already been taken out on Jesus?

They made fun of me and humiliated me!
Jesus was mocked and humiliated on the cross in their place.

They killed my son! They deserve to die!
Jesus died because they killed your son.

They sexually abused me! They deserve to be sexually abused!
Jesus hung naked on a cross in front of the whole universe, including His own angels!

Earlier this year I was reading through the Old Testament, and when I came to Isaiah 53 something jumped out at me, when I read:

 “With his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Suddenly I realized something I had never seen before. I realized that retaliation against my enemy will never bring me healing. I am healed by the stripes of Jesus, and not the stripes of my enemy. Jesus suffering for my sins can only bring partial healing and partial reconciliation. I am made whole, and totally reconciled, not just to Jesus but to my brothers, when I realize Jesus suffered for their sins too.

In the story in Matthew 18:21-35 a man is forgiven who did not ask to be forgiven. He only asked for more time to pay the debt. However the master forgave the debt anyway. This is important for us to note, because the master represents God who forgave us without us even asking. In the Lord’s prayer we find we are to forgive as we have been forgiven, meaning that we are to forgive in the same manner. God expects us to forgive without being asked to forgive, just as the man was forgiven while only asking for more time to pay the debt.

After the man was forgiven, he goes out and sees a brother who owes him a much smaller debt. Even after being forgiven he refuses to forgive. In the parable the unforgiving man ends up in prison until his full debt is paid.

Wait a minute! Wasn’t his debt forgiven? Separated as far as the east is from the west and into the depths of the sea? How did it come back? I believe it’s this way: When I refuse to forgive my brother, what I am saying is, “I don’t think Jesus’ death on the cross was enough to pay for what was done to me.” Well guess what? If Jesus’ death is not enough to pay for my enemy’s sin, then it is not enough to pay for my sin either! By not allowing Jesus to pay for my enemy’s sin on the cross, I have just disqualified the cross as a payment for sin and therefore I must still pay for my sins – and the only way I can do that is to die an eternal death.

Forgiveness and reconciliation is not saying “It’s okay.” It is saying, “I realize Jesus suffered for your sins on the cross.” It is realizing I am healed by the stripes Jesus received and not by the stripes my enemy receives. We have to be pretty sick ourselves to think that in order for us to be healed, someone else has to be hurt. Jesus does not have to hurt my enemy in order to heal me.

“Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves.”  Christ was also treated as my enemy deserves, that I may now treat my enemy the way Christ deserves to be treated.

With His stripes we are all healed.

You may explore this week’s SS lesson here.

Does a Revival Have to be Traditional to be Genuine?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

Last week I pulled up behind a stopped car at a red light. We both were waiting to make a left turn. The light turned green but the car in front of me just sat there. I politely honked my horn. The car continued to just sit there. Frustrated I decided to just go around the parked car and make my left turn! As I did I almost hit a fire truck with lights flashing and siren blaring! Suddenly I realized why the car in front of me was just sitting there during the green light. Apparently I had my Philips Craig and Dean Best Hits CD blaring so loudly, I could not hear the siren like the car in front of me could. I felt like a fool for honking at the car in front of me and then for trying to just go around it. I thought I knew what was going on but obviously did not really understand the situation.

A couple thousand years ago, Joseph thought he understood the situation when his fiancée Mary got pregnant. Even so, Joseph decided to keep quiet about his suspicions and divorce Mary quietly. Smart man! He did not go off spouting accusations publicly that he would have to retract later. And with the evidence, you couldn’t blame Joseph for thinking he understood the situation. Like Joseph, how slow we should be to judge even when we think we have all the evidence we need for a verdict.

Joseph was a man who loved truth so an angel comes to assure him that what is going on with Mary is nothing sinister, but on the contrary is of the Holy Spirit.

“As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20 NLT

How often have we been quick to judge something in the church and condemn it because it is not normal or strange to us? While we do not want to fall for a false revival, let’s also be aware that a genuine revival may not come just the way we expect it, just like Jesus did not come the way Joseph expected!

“Let every worker in the Master’s vineyard, study, plan, devise methods, to reach the people where they are. We must do something out of the common course of things. We must arrest the attention. We must be deadly in earnest. We are on the very verge of times of trouble and perplexities that are scarcely dreamed of.” –Ellen White, Evangelism pages 122-123

When it comes to revival for the church or evangelism for the community, let’s not put God in our traditional boxes and limit Him to work within our conventional imagination.

You say, “Oh but we must be so careful we don’t fall for a counterfeit revival!” I understand. So did the angel talking to Joseph. While the situation with Mary was very strange to say the least, the angel assured Joseph it was also Biblical!

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel which means ‘God is with us.’”Isaiah 7:14 NLT

 

So just because something is strange to us does not mean it is not of the Holy Spirit or UN-Biblical! Mary’s situation was both strange and nontraditional while still being absolutely Biblical!

 

So if we see something new going on in the church let’s not condemn it just because it is strange or new to us. Like Joseph, let’s be slow to judge before we condemn something that may actually be of the Holy Spirit. Let’s pray and be open to heavenly Beings leading us in accordance with Scripture.

You may study this week’s SS lesson on revival here.

Meaningful Relationships or Time Wasting

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In her post, Life-Changing or Time Wasting, Lillianne Lopez cites that only 31% of Americans believe the Bible is inspired. Why do you think that is? I received a clue while I enjoyed reading Lillianne’s post.

A lady friend of mine instant-messaged me, saying she was frustrated with the singles websites, because the men contacting her were only after one thing – sex. She was disappointed she could not find anyone interested in a genuine relationship. I am sure they are out there. God has wonderful people all over the world. Still the question crossed my mind, is that why so many people don’t accept the Bible? Because, like the men contacting my lady friend, 69% of Americans are just looking for ways to gratify themselves instead of giving what it takes to make a meaningful relationship?The Bible does not do much for the pleasure seeker.

Then he [Jesus] said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23 NLT

The Bible does not do much for human pride.

 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. Romans 7:18 NLT

The Bible does not do much for those wanting to be in the elite social circles.

You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.Matthew 24:9 NLT

Hence, the temptation – since the Bible does not tickle our fancy we cast it aside as uninspired and navigate towards those who flatter our pride and cater to our whims. We flatter those who flatter us, calling them inspired and profound, while they flatter us by assuring us we are on the right track, or as Jesus puts it, the blind leading the blind. Many mega and not so mega churches, have dropped teachings about self-denial and commandment keeping from their teachings, because they learned they are just not good marketing tools. Some call this being “progressive,” while their strategy is really nothing new. It was used by the apostate church way back in the Dark Ages.

Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, “the mystery of iniquity” carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions. The nominal conversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth century, caused great rejoicing; and the world, cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished, became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed followers of Christ.  -Ellen White, Great Controversy, Page 49

What a clever marketing scheme! It really made the church grow by leaps and bounds. By worldly standards it was brilliant. Yet we cannot gauge the success of the church or our personal lives by worldly standards. I don’t think I told you earlier, that it was Christian websites and – may I dare say it – Adventist Singles websites my friend was visiting, while everyone was trying to get with her for their own sexual gratification, instead of a meaningful relationship with her.

God would be better pleased to have six truly converted to the truth as the result of their labors, than to have sixty make a nominal profession, and yet not be thoroughly converted. Ellen White, Evangelism page 320

See friends, God is a lot like my lady friend. He is looking for meaningful relationships, instead of a multitude of people seeking their own gratification. While I am happy being single, I think I could also be happy married. Meanwhile, I have my family, friends, church and people in all my study groups, to keep me so busy I don’t have time to be lonely. (I didn’t even tell anybody that last Thursday, on my day off, I actually sneaked down to the Florida Everglades for some alone time!) Meanwhile I meet single people who are lonely. They are not seeking sexual gratification. They are seeking meaningful relationships. One told me, “I know they say marriage takes a 50-50 effort on both sides to make it work, but I would be willing to give 90 and only take 10 if I could just share my life with someone.” My heart broke with sympathy when I heard that. I knew they were telling the truth.

Friends, if you are looking for self-gratification I can see why you would toss the Bible aside. Yet if you are looking for a meaningful relationship, let me share with you Someone who has already given, not 90% but 100%.

Since he [The Father] did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:23 NLT

Are you still hesitant because of the verses I shared with you earlier?

But what do we give up, when we give all? A sin-polluted heart, for Jesus to purify, to cleanse by His own blood, and to save by His matchless love. And yet men think it hard to give up all! I am ashamed to hear it spoken of, ashamed to write it.

God does not require us to give up anything that it is for our best interest to retain. In all that He does, He has the well-being of His children in view. Would that all who have not chosen Christ might realize that He has something vastly better to offer them than they are seeking for themselves. Man is doing the greatest injury and injustice to his own soul when he thinks and acts contrary to the will of God. No real joy can be found in the path forbidden by Him who knows what is best and who plans for the good of His creatures. The path of transgression is the path of misery and destruction.  -Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 46

To all those who are looking for something beyond superficial self-gratifying relationships offered by the world, and would like a more meaningful and deeper relationship, may I introduce to you Someone Who is willing to give 100% to have a real relationship with you? May I introduce to you a God who loves you more than life itself? He has written a very eloquent and inspired love letter for you called the Bible. If you appreciate real love instead of superficial self-gratification, I know you will agree it is inspired.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

Little People, Great Revivals

Tampa Storm 2012

I am writing today from the cloudy and rainy Tampa Bay area.

Wednesday’s section of this week’s Sabbath School lesson asks the question,“What does Jesus’ miracle of multiplying the loaves and fishes teach us about the sharing of our faith?”

One thing we learn is, the boy who gave his lunch, enabling Jesus to feed the multitude did not have to grow up before Jesus could use him in a great way.

My oldest niece is getting married next month, yet God used her years ago, when she was only 5 to teach me a very valuable lesson. My sister and her family and I were visiting my parents in Tulsa. We were all having lunch at home, after I had just preached in the church I grew up in. Someone’s name came up who we all remembered from a long time ago. I made a comment on how that person used to get on my nerves all the time. My little niece’s mouth flew open, and with a look of shock at what I just said, she exclaimed with her five year old wisdom, “You can’t be a good preacher and talk bad about people!” We all looked at her, surprised that those words flew out of her mouth. You know, if those words had flown out of anybody else’s mouth at that table 19 years ago, I would not be writing this, because I would not have remembered it. Those words were not from my niece, they were from God. God knew the only way I would remember those words, were if they came from a five year old. So while He could have spoken through anyone at the table that day, He spoke threw a five year old so I would have a true revival and reformation that day. Sure, I was speaking in the comfort of my own family, yet it was not just the way I spoke that needed to change. I needed to change the way I thought. You don’t have to worry about inappropriate words flying out of your mouth if you never think them in the first place.

The boy giving up all he had to revive a hungry multitude, and my 5 year old niece, inspiring a revival which led to a reformation in my way of thinking, are not to be isolated cases of God using young people, now and not just when they get older.

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. Joel 2:28-29

By referring to servants and even handmaids, God is telling us He is going to use little children in His great last day revival. It should not be that big a deal if you think about. I mean, if God can use simple pieces of dust in the wind like you and I, it’s really not any kind of a stretch for God to use little children. Remember God spoke though a donkey when He spoke to Balaam, so God does not consider it a really big deal when He speaks through me anyway. He could use the dog next door to write this post if He wanted to!

In order to be humble teachers we must also remain humble students willing to be taught by anyone God wants to use to enlighten us. A true revival will never revive our pride. A true revival will lead us to realize God can use the most humble instruments to crucify our pride and experience a genuine revival of Godliness.

Folks give Eli a bad rap for not controlling his own sons better, but even with all of his faults Eli got something right. When Samuel was sleeping in the temple, he repeatedly thought Eli was calling him. Finally Eli realized God was calling little Samuel, and the humble priest instructed the young child what to say next time he heard the voice of God.

 “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.” 1 Samuel 3:9

You know what I find remarkable in that simple story? In Eli’s day, as well as in our day, a lot of priests and religious leaders with fancy titles and letters behind their names, would have told themselves, “That couldn’t be God talking to little Samuel, because if it was God, He would be talking to someone important like me  and not some little kid.”

With all his faults, Eli was humble enough to realize that being the high priest did not make him any more useful to God than a little boy. You can pick and find fault with Eli if you want to, but in the end, Samuel led a revival in his day because Eli was humble enough to step aside and let God work through whatever instrument He chose. Likewise God used a small child to work a revival and reformation in my heart at the lunch table one afternoon 19 years ago. And long before that a multitude was revived because a small little boy did not wait to grow up before he gave Jesus everything he had that day.

Recipe for Revival Part 3: Seek God

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

While living in Texas, one day as I was grocery shopping, I decided I was tired of bringing the proverbial bachelor dish of canned corn to church potlucks. I wanted to actually make something. I stood there in the middle of the store, with my cart, wondering what a bachelor like me could possibly make.

Enchiladas! Those can’t be too hard.

So I set out on a hunt, looking for things that would go well in an enchilada dish. I came up with enchilada seasoning mix, refried beans, Morningstar Farm meat crumbles, onions and cheese. 1 I then found some enchilada sauce, vegetarian chili and green onions to top it off with. Oh yes, and. of course. corn tortillas.

I felt I had all the right ingredients, but I knew there had to be a process to make it all fall in place. For example, after I filled the tortillas with the mix, and then started to roll them up into an enchilada, they began to break. I found I had to dip the tortillas in hot olive oil before trying to fold them, so that they would fold right. (Now I just lay them out flat and make my enchiladas more like a lasagna.)

I used to mix the seasoning together in one pan, while mixing the beans, veggie meat crumbles, onions and cheese in another pan and then combining them. I would then add the filling in each individual tortilla. Now I just add the fillings into the pan with the seasoning mix, and I lay the tortillas out flat and pour the contents on top kind of like a lasagna, instead of filling each tortilla individually.

I have to say the enchiladas have been a hit. I have had several families with whom I do Bible studies over, and they love them. One family I have been studying with for a while especially loves them. The kids are always asking when I will make them again. I joked with the parents, that in addition to teaching them the Bible, I could also save them all from a burning building and yet at my funeral all they would be talking about would be how I made good enchiladas!

During this experiment I have learned the importance of creating a delicious meal in the proper sequence.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

God also gives us a recipe for revival in 2 Chronicles 7:14. He not only gives us the ingredients for the revival, He also shares with us the process. We must humble ourselves before we can pray a prayer which leads to revival. And we must seek God before we can turn from our wicked ways.

It does not do any good to pray if we have not humbled ourselves first. Remember the publican and the Pharisee? They both prayed (Luke 18:10), but the Pharisee did not humble himself. (Luke 18:11-12) The publican humbled himself and went home justified, while the Pharisee did not. (Luke 18:13-14)

It also does no good to try to turn from our wicked ways if we do not first seek God.

Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.  Jeremiah 13:23

No matter how hard we try, we just cannot change ourselves to be “good enough” to come to God.

Because they do not understand this, some confuse the teaching of “holy flesh” with righteousness by faith. They expect to come to a point where they are beyond temptation and cannot sin. Ellen White denounced this teaching in 2 Selected Messages, p. 31, just as Paul denounced it in Romans 7:18.

The doctrine of righteousness by faith does not teach that the flesh becomes holy but that the flesh must be crucified, and we must be emptied of self to allow God to fill us with His righteousness which delivers us from the power of sin. See Galatians 2:20 and Great Controversy, p. 623.  

What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself. When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. (Ellen White, The Faith I Live By, p. 111.)

Only God can change our hearts. This is why the church is a hospital for sinners instead of a country club for perfect saints.

Jesus said

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”  (John 12:32)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

We must come to Jesus before we can rest from the works of the flesh. (Also see  Galatians 5:16-24)

Just as recipes have sequences to their ingredients so does a revival and reformation. First we must humble ourselves. Secondly we must pray and seek God’s face. Then and only then can we turn from our wicked ways.

 

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.
  1. I have also experimented with vegan cheese, but let’s not fill the comment section with quotes about cheese. That’s just not what this post is about.

Recipe for Revival Part 2: Prayer

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

While prayer is not the only ingredient to revival, it is very important.

Prayer is the breath of the soul. It is the secret of spiritual power. No other means of grace can be substituted, and the health of the soul be preserved. Prayer brings the heart into immediate contact with the Well-spring of life, and strengthens the sinew and muscle of the religious experience.  –Ellen White, Heavenly Places, Page 83.

Just as we discussed in part one that binge dieting does not lead to good health, neither does a binge revival lead to good spiritual health. Actually a binge revival is no revival at all.

Binge praying will not lead to revival either. Prayer must be a daily part of our life, If prayer is the breath of the soul, then when we stop praying, the soul stops breathing, and when it stops breathing it dies.

Revival must be a way of life and not something we just experience from time to time. I have heard people refer to camp meetings and other spiritual retreats as an opportunity to get their spiritual batteries charged. Problem is we don’t have any spiritual batteries! Our souls are not batteries.

The other day while I was charging my cell phone, it froze on me. I tried to restart it, but I could not even turn it off. I then did what I have done a few times before and just took the battery out to make it go off. It still did not turn off! I quickly realized why. It was still plugged into the charger and so obviously was still receiving power even without the battery. I then unplugged the charger and restarted my phone.

Charging our spiritual batteries is not the solution. Staying connected to the Charger is. Many people have a golf cart religion. A golf cart charges its batteries in the morning, then runs all over the golf course all day under its own power. That does not work for us. We are not golf carts. We are more like trolley cars. A trolley car has no battery. Neither do we. The trolley must be connected to the cable or it cannot move a single inch. Once the connection is severed to the cable, the trolley stops dead in its tracks. So we must stay connected to Christ throughout the day.

Many people wonder why they try so hard to live like Jesus but keep falling short. One reason could be that they are trying to do it in their own power like a golf cart. Often we focus on the miracles Jesus did in the multitude without focusing on what Jesus first did alone, often for entire nights.

He prayed.

We can’t expect to live the way Jesus lived until we pray the way Jesus prayed.

Like us, Jesus realized He could do nothing in His own humanity without the Father.

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ‘The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.’”  John 5:19

And Jesus promises us that if we stay connected to Him as He is connected to the Father, even we can do great works.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.  John 14:12

Although there may be a tainted, corrupted atmosphere around us, we need not breathe its miasma, but may live in the pure air of heaven. We may close every door to impure imaginings and unholy thoughts by lifting the soul into the presence of God through sincere prayer. Those whose hearts are open to receive the support and blessing of God will walk in a holier atmosphere than that of earth and will have constant communion with heaven.  –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 99 

I want to learn to pray as Jesus prayed, so I may live like Jesus lived. How about you?