“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Romans 12:2 NLT
I hope you enjoyed celebrating the fathers in your life this past weekend!
Lately, we’ve been talking about the God we serve as a model Father—and how He raises us up as His beloved children.
For many, this requires a completely new mindset about how they approach their heavenly Father—and it is a paradigm shift that is desperately needed in the Church today.
If we took a survey, it would show that more than half of all Christians don’t believe God speaks to people today, or that His voice only comes through church leaders.
There are tens of thousands of different ways this is taught, and as many different denominations that have formed as a result—tens of thousands of different “daycares” housing toddlers that will never grow up because they have not learned how to communicate with their Father in heaven.
Tragically, that equals hundreds of millions of believers who will never grow up into what God has for them.
And the world we live in is the worse for it.
If God’s will for good is not being done on the earth today, either we as Christians as a whole have deceived ourselves in some way that is keeping us from the power of God, or else there is something we are supposed to be doing that we are not.
It doesn’t take an Einstein to look at the world and either come to the conclusion that God doesn’t exist, He is sadistic, or else for some reason things are not the way He wants them to be.
Since I know that God exists and that He is good, then I also know it must be the last of these options.
There is some disconnect between heaven and earth, and if it is not on God’s side, then it is on ours.
Too many of us as Christians are ineffective in our missions because of this very disconnect.
We are not plugged into the heavenly Command Room that is trying to coordinate our individual part in God’s overall strategies and campaigns.
Too many “generals” are doing their own thing rather than doing God’s thing—and too many foot soldiers are doing little or nothing at all.
Too few are getting in on the big conversation that is going on in God’s throne room!
The answers are there—the long-term solutions are there—but the Church has yet to grow out of toddlerhood.
Instead, we crawl around in our playpens self-absorbed, bickering, and crying—too lost in our own shortcomings to listen in and translate God’s instructions into programs of action and victory upon the earth.
Toddlers don’t transform kingdoms—at least not in good ways.
If we want to plug into the purposes, plans, and victory strategies of heaven, we must endure the rigors of the boot camp of prayer, and pass its obstacle courses and challenges with flying colors.
A New Mindset for Prayer
While much of the religious world would have us think that God is a distant curmudgeon, stingy with His blessings and advice, that is simply not the picture Jesus painted when He taught us to pray, “Our Father.”
As if we didn’t get the revelation from those two words, He goes on to explain, “If you, being corrupted and selfish, know what is good to give to your children, how much more does God know what is good to give you?” (Matthew 7:11).
It’s an analogy worth taking a little further.
If God is our Father and He is good, just what kind of parent is He?
Scripture tells us that He loves us, that He created everything in the universe so we would have a place He could walk with us, that He is not short of resources with which to bless us, and that “every good gift and every perfect gift” (James 1:17) comes from Him.
However, good parents never give their children anything that they know will harm them.
They don’t spoil their children, nor do they pamper them, or do anything that would encourage them to remain immature, selfish, and incapable of playing well with others.
Good parents, like any coach, want their children (or members of their team) to reach their full potential.
Success in life and victory on the field of competition depends on competence and excellence.
Good parents don’t want their kids to grow up physically, but keep living in their basement because they don’t have self-discipline. They will never abandon their children, but they also want them to have lives, loves, and children of their own.
God wants the same things for each of His children as well, but too many of us want to be coddled rather than disciplined.
Look for a moment at how the writer of Hebrews expresses this need to spiritually mature as God’s sons and daughters:
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:5-11 ESV)
If we kids are going to stay “in the family business,” we need to keep in closer contact with God Our Father than just coming by on Sundays for brunch. At the very minimum, we should be receiving daily instruction—if not hourly.
If we are doing something truly world changing, then we should be in even more frequent communication. We should have regular planning meetings and strategy summits together with God and each other.
We should be in constant communication about every detail of what needs to be done in every moment of every day.
There is a maturing process that happens through prayer.
We learn to endure the times of silence in prayer as well as the times of overflowing revelation.
We should also be partnering together in Dad’s work, “joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, caus[ing] growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).
It is only when we can do this that nothing shall be impossible for us.
Calling God “Father” demands a different type of relationship with Him and with each other.
We must learn to work together as a family—to receive God’s grace for ourselves, and minister that grace to one another.
Staying closely connected as we pursue the course He sets before us will cause us to grow up in Him as a strong, healthy, and mature Body. There will be nothing we can’t ultimately accomplish as we stay knit together in close relationship with Him.
Peter speaks of this growing up process as we continually present ourselves to God in prayer:
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:6-7, emphasis added
When is “due time”? It is when we are mature enough for God to promote us into our next phase of responsibility and leadership authority without our childishness derailing the blessing.
Friends, it’s time to grow up.
To fast track your growth, join me in just a few short weeks for Kingdom School of Ministry. There is nothing like it in the world that will take you to the next level in God—and launch you into the next level of your ministry—as quickly.
Make this the year you grow into all God has for you!