Is it time for a good book burning?

Fire

After a meeting at the small group I attend at my home church we were talking about an experience in churches that used to happen. Sometimes it would happen in a church parking lot. It may have come after a message on the danger of a certain kind of music. A bonfire would be created and people would come and throw their records or tapes on the fire. Someone mentioned the potential toxic fumes of such a fire.

This strange practice comes from a story in the book of Acts chapter 19 where people came and burned their scrolls that were connected with sorcery that they were practicing. The value of the scrolls that were burned could be compared to the value of the wages of about 135 people working for an entire year. That would have been some bonfire.

It got me thinking, “What would that look like today?” Before we can figure it out we should think about what it meant to the first people who threw the scrolls in the fire. Imagine seeing your neighbor Larry, who used to be known as a person to go to for magic, walking out of his house with an armful of scrolls that you knew were used as basically instruction manuals. It would have been the talk of the town.

These people were saying two things. First they were publicly stating to everyone that they were done with their previous sin. Everyone would know about their new commitment to Jesus. Second, by burning them, they were indicating that they was no going back to the former life. It is kind of like the military strategy of burning the boats so there is no retreat.

The first application of what they did is pretty obvious. There is something powerful about a public confession of leaving a sin behind. This could also be a public commitment to something good as well. Confession can be freeing and empowering for the journey ahead. I know there have been times when I have made public commitments to things that freed me from that moment forward. James was right when he said confession can bring healing.

Burning the boats so there is no going back in today’s world is where it gets a little more personal. Telling everyone to burn their Christian rock records often turned into more legalism than creating freedom. That being said, there is still something powerful and freeing about creating no turning back moments. Rather than telling you what to do let me encourage you to daringly ask yourself what that should look like in your life. If you ask the Holy Spirit He will bring His creativity to encourage a life-changing moment for you.

I love what the Bible says is the end result of this kind of story. “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” (Acts 19:20) Wouldn’t it be great to see that through your life?

Are you “under the influence” of God?

Drinking

I love a good word picture. I especially like one that can change our lives. To set this picture up lets imagine for a moment what it would have been like to listen to the Apostle Paul as preacher. He says that he was not a great orator, but his comments sure had the ability to get a crowd worked up.

One of those moments might have been when the church in Ephesus first read the letter written to them. Paul paints a simple picture with the words, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit.” (5:18) I am guessing that it would have gotten an interesting reaction from some in the crowd. It might still today.

Now the life changing word picture I want you to see here is not about whether Christians should drink or not. I will leave that for another day. But the picture that Paul is drawing should capture your imagination of what is possible in the Spirit filled life. Leaving aside the questions of drinking in moderation, Paul is saying don’t get drunk because of where it leads your life.

The power of what he points out as is its parallel: being filled with the Spirit. He is saying how getting drunk can lead down a road you don’t want to go so a life filled with the Spirit can take you to powerful places you never thought possible. He uses the language of drinking to give us a picture of God’s invitation to “drink” more of Him. As most sins are trying to fill a need that can only be found in God, so getting drunk is trying to fill a need that can only be filled by living a life in the Spirit.

There is a lot of depth to this word picture but let me give you one simple outflow. Smith Wigglesworth, the plumber turned preacher, talked about this verse and pointed out that a person “under the influence” may not realize how much they are impacted by what they have drunk. He said the same is true of people who are filled with the Spirit. Let me give you a couple examples.

The fruit of the Spirit: Have you ever been around someone who is so full of the Spirit of God that they just naturally express love, joy, peace and others of the fruit of the Spirit. It is not like they are trying hard, but since they are “under the influence” of the Spirit it is the natural “fruit” of their life. Have you ever seen a fruit working hard to grow? No they are connected to the tree and that is what comes out of their life.

The gifts of the Spirit: I have been around people who are so filled with the Spirit that the gifts just naturally flow out of their life. They may say something that I realize later was very prophetic and it didn’t even seem like they noticed. They asked God to fill their lives and that filling impacted people more than they realized.

Why is this word picture have the possibility of changing your life? Because the invitation is still extended to you. You too can be “under the influence” of the Holy Spirit. No matter where you are in your journey with God, let me encourage you to carry a two word prayer with you, “Fill me.” I think we will be amazed to see what happens. 

6 Places You Should Pray More

Checkout

Let’s have some fun today. What locations could we pray more? Where are some places that would have a big impact on our life? How much do you pray in each of these locations?

Shower

Two points for the shower. First the bookends of our days, getting ready for the day or bed, are great times for more prayer. As we prepare our body and mind we might as well prepare our spirit. Second, often our best thoughts come in the shower so why not engage God in that process.

Waiting in line

So much of our life is spent waiting. Maybe that drives you crazy. It can feel so unproductive. By praying while waiting you can be touching the world in the most productive way.

At your work or school

You don’t need to work in a monastery to be about the life of prayer. Walks to the copy machine can be moments with God. Routine tasks can be seasons of praise. I imagine that most of us would like more of God’s involvement in the part of our world we spend so much time.

Where you have fun

One of the dangers of our age is to separate God from the ordinary activities of our life. I am not saying that the next ball game that you go to needs to be what you imagine of a prayer meeting. But try acknowledging God in your heart a couple times. You will be surprised how amazing it can be.

Church

This might seem like something that goes without saying, it is not something that goes without saying. We live in an age where it is easy for church services to become a spectator sport. Give your heart to prayer when you gather with others from the family of God.

Where you sin most

Now this may seem like a strange thing to say, but think about it with me. What is the sin that you struggle with the most? Don’t worry you don’t need to confess to me. Is there a location where this happens the most? If yes, then you have two choices. First, and best, is to flee that location. But if that is not an option making that place a place of prayer should help.

To be fair I could have picked any location Christians go to and suggest that we pray there more. The Bible calls us to a life of prayer. This is not about guilt but about opportunity. Anywhere that you go it is a location that you can spend time with God.