The Unexpected Path to Superpower

The Unexpected Path to Superpower

Handling the Keys of the Kingdom

by Chris Tiegreen

I can still remember my “season of discovery”—that time after someone becomes a Christian when everything is new, the whole Bible comes alive and waits to be explored, and every truth becomes deeply personal. (Not that those seasons have to fade, but they seem especially intense in the first few months of faith.) And I can still remember the thoughts that went through my mind when I read that I had authority over snakes, scorpions, and every power of the enemy (Luke 10:19); that as an abider in Christ, I could ask whatever I wish and it would be done for me (John 15:7); and that I have the power to move mountains with my words (Mark 11:23). I felt like a spiritual Superman.

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I tried out that authority, a few well-chosen prayers, and some choice words for the mountains in my life. Nothing. Well, nothing visible and immediate. Apparently there was more to being a spiritual Superman than putting on the cape of a few isolated verses.
I now understand these truths a little better than I used to. I realize how foolish it was to try out my newfound authority in Christ before trying out my newfound character, values, and priorities in Christ. Clearly, the kingdom agenda and abiding in Him involve a maturing process. Few of us receive the keys of the kingdom, stick them into God’s ignition switch, and immediately go for a spin on the highway. We need a little driver’s training first. We need to understand that we don’t grab for the perks of the gospel we most desire while ignoring the responsibilities that come with it. It’s a whole Person who lives inside of us, not just a power supply.

There was more to being a spiritual Superman than putting on the cape of a few isolated verses.

But I still wonder sometimes, in light of the extravagant promises of God, why divine power isn’t just oozing from my pores because of the Christ who lives within me. I’ve gotten clear glimpses of that power, of course—answered prayers, words that really did move mountains, and the unraveling of the enemy’s strategies. But I’ve also experienced painful contradictions to those truths. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably experienced both extremes of that spectrum too. Undeniable miracles, irreconcilable contradictions. A clear “yes” right next to an apparent “no.” And a whole lot of theological gymnastics to try to explain the difference.

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The Fork in the Road
I’ve noticed two reactions—both in myself and in others—to the juxtaposition of those extremes. Some people are drawn to God in it, and others are driven away. Some see the “not yet” of promise and pursue Him more zealously and intentionally, while others see the “not yet,” ask a demanding “why not?” and throw up their hands and walk away. This dynamic of partial fulfillment is really a very accurate tester of faith. It reveals a lot about a person’s heart.

Those who press through the questions and even the doubts will discover an encouraging trend. When we grow in God’s presence—when we live as though we are thoroughly and constantly aware of Him—we find that healing flows from our prayers and our hands in increasing measure; that our vision of eternal truths and purposes comes to the screen of our minds much more often; and that the treasure within us burns brighter than all the circumstances around us.

This dynamic of partial fulfillment reveals a lot about a person’s heart.

In the process, we find that brokenness of the vessel reveals the glory inside it (2 Corinthians 4:7); that submission leads to authority (Mark 10:43-44); and that the deepest truths are the simplest (Luke 10:21). It’s an unexpected path to superpower, and it requires the eyes of the kingdom to see the way. But it’s an assured path for those who follow it in faith. Those who come to this fork in the road of faith and choose to pursue the promises will find them wholly true.

A Matter of Presence
Live with the awareness that Jesus is not only with you, He’s in you. Most Christians heartily affirm that great truth and then live each passing moment as though it isn’t true. The fact of Jesus’ presence then takes on all the power of an encouraging pat on the back rather than a living reality. That’s sad—and so much less than God intended.

The only way to experience His presence as a living reality is to talk to Him as though He’s in the room, make decisions as though He’s in your mind, let your feelings blend with His so that your heart coincides with the divine heartbeat, and remind yourself—constantly remind yourself—that He is really, truly, effectively there. As your awareness grows, your experience deepens; as your experience deepens, your inner life is gradually but radically transformed until you are shaped to be like Him; as your life is transformed, the power of the promises becomes more tangible; and as the power becomes more tangible, the outflow increases and bears more fruit.

That’s when authority can be wielded with a sense of maturity, that’s when answered prayers become an observable phenomenon, and that’s when mountains move. When the true spiritual Superman rises in our hearts, the unexpected power changes lives. Especially our own.

Experience God’s power through prayer in your church or your small group. Learn how to cultivate a powerful prayer life and experience breakthroughs with 40 DAYS OF PRAYER – see more 

God on the Floor

God on the Floor

When Power Isn’t His Purpose

~ Chris Tiegreen

My son Timothy and I like to wrestle with each other. We get down on the floor of his room at least a couple times a week and battle it out. We each try to pin the other’s shoulders to the ground for three seconds and declare victory. Then we lie on the floor exhausted for a while before getting up and saying, “We’ll have to do that again soon.”

These wrestling matches don’t really have anything to do with which one of us is stronger or has better moves. After all, I’m a lot bigger than my son. I could win every contest if I wanted to. I could prove my mastery and enforce my will at any moment in the match. I could show Timothy that I am stronger than he is and rebuke him for even doubting the fact. I could show him who’s boss.

Why don’t I? Because I’m a dad who enjoys the interaction with his son. I look forward to the wrestling—even the strained muscles, popping joints, and the mental exertion of constantly reformulating a strategy. That’s because there’s more a demonstration of strength at stake in our wrestling. There’s closeness and a lot of laughter along the way. We bond.

There’s more a demonstration of strength at stake in our wrestling.

So instead of proving my mastery over my son, I engage on his level. I certainly don’t make it easy for him, but I reward his really good moves or his audacious perseverance with success. I often choose to be put in a vulnerable position. Sometimes I even let him pin me. If I didn’t, he’d eventually lose heart and the wrestling matches would soon end. He has to get something out of them other than the knowledge that dad is stronger than he is. He has to enjoy the challenge. It’s all part of the interaction.

 

Engaging with God

I think that’s how God interacts with us a lot of times. Yes, He’s our Master and Lord. Sure, He’s sovereign. He could crush us with His presence. By all rights, we should fall at His feet and fear even a glance upward in His direction. But we were created in His image for a reason: to relate to Him. He didn’t make us so He could prove His lordship; He isn’t exactly insecure about that. He created us so we could bond with Him.

That’s why God comes down on our level so often in scripture—through one-to-one interactions with His people like a wrestling match with Jacob, or by incarnating Himself as a Son of man, and more. He gets down on His hands and knees and wrestles with us, practically inviting us to put Him in a vulnerable position.

A lot of people don’t know that. I’ve heard some Christians rebuke other Christians for their close interactions with God and their bold prayers with lots of very religious-sounding statements and questions: “God is your Master, not your friend.” “God doesn’t owe you anything.” “God isn’t obligated to fulfill your desires.” “Who are you to question God?” “God is centered on His glory, not your needs.” And on and on.

God got down on Jacob’s level and even made Himself vulnerable to Jacob’s persistence.

The problem with such statements is that even though they are often theologically correct—at least theoretically—they do not reflect how God has chosen to relate to us. They miss His heart completely, as though God’s greatest desire is for us to know how invincible He is. It’s true that God isn’t by nature obligated to answer our prayers, but He chooses to obligate Himself by giving us certain promises that bind Him to His Word. He doesn’t have to fulfill our desires, of course, but He does choose to put desires within us, and He promises quite often to fulfill the desires of those who seek Him and delight in Him. He could prove His majesty and glory by being a dictator in our lives, but He opts instead to make Himself vulnerable in His relationship with us. He invites us—practically begs us—to relate closely to Him, petition Him, ask our desires, make claims based on His promises, persist until we move Him to act, and so on.

 

Awe or Intimacy?

This is a common debate. On one hand, many people emphasize that God is so majestic and holy and “other” that we can’t grasp Him. On the other hand, many emphasize that God is so loving and intimate and familiar that He is always approachable and accepting of us. The commentaries on God’s wrestling match with Jacob in Genesis 32 give us a good sampling of this debate. Some say God wrestled with Jacob to break Jacob’s will and prove who the real boss in the relationship was. And though Jacob surely needed to learn to submit to God—don’t we all?—that’s hardly the point of this passage. If God simply wanted to demonstrate His lordship over Jacob or break Jacob’s will, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have taken all night. And I’m also pretty sure it wouldn’t have ended with a blessing, a name change, and a declaration that Jacob had “struggled with God and with men and [had] overcome” (Genesis 32:28). No, God got down on Jacob’s level and even made Himself vulnerable to Jacob’s persistence—not because God is weak or less than God, but because He wanted to.

Both the awesome “otherness” and the intimate personal sides of God are true. But without giving up His strength or His holiness, God chose to get down on the floor with us and wrestle. (After all, that’s what the cross was all about; it allowed a holy God to get up-close and personal with unholy human beings.) Why does He do that? Because there’s more than a demonstration of strength at stake in our wrestling. There’s closeness and some laughter along the way. And, in the process, we bond.

The Great Reward – Chris Tiegreen

The Great Reward – Chris Tiegreen

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The Great Reward

– Chris Tiegreen

My righteous one will live by faith.

~ Hebrews 10:38

In the Word:

The quote is from Habakkuk 2. Paul used it in Romans 1 to indicate how sinners are justified. Here, the writer of Hebrews uses it to launch into his famous passage on faith. For centuries, Christians have treasured Hebrews 11 because of its implications for our trust and hopefulness. In isolation, it can be rightfully applied to all sorts of situations. But it wasn’t written in isolation; it was written in the context of Christians under fire.

It sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Here these Jewish Christians are being beaten and bullied for trusting in the Messiah, and the writer urges them not to shrink back because God “will not be pleased.” That in itself could come across as intimidation, except for one wonderful fact: this passage isn’t just about God being displeased with shrinking faith; it’s also about God being very delighted with persevering faith. Behind the prohibition is an amazing blessing. Those who believe until the end will enjoy all the treasures of God.

In the World:

What kind of faith do you have in a hardship? The issue really isn’t how disappointed God will be if you fail. The issue is how much you’ll miss if you don’t persevere. God wants us to remain steady because He knows what joys He will trust us with when we do. He wants us to persevere, not for our pain, but for our ultimate pleasure.

The kind of faith that is birthed in us is an enduring faith. It has to be – it comes from God. It doesn’t fade away easily, even when people or circumstances rail against it. It enjoys the highs of discipleship, and it plows through the lows. It is focused on two things: the Rewarder and the reward.

Faith is the sight on the inward eye

~ Alexander Maclaren

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