Clint Eastwood rose to fame in the 1960's through the "Man with no name," Italian westerns.  It's kind of humorous that a character who had no name, gave rise to a previously obscure actor suddenly "having" one.  I see a parallel to that in the church.
     Jesus made the promise "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."  The number of those who claim this promise is beyond counting. Yet, how many have found that this promise "works."  Just what does "anything" mean anyway?  
     Perhaps the answer lies in our understanding just what it is to ask in His name.  For many, it is the spiritual equivalent of rubbing a lamp, uttering the words "Abbra Kadabbra," and Jesus, like Aladdin's genie, grants our desire, no matter what the desire might be.  We open our Bibles, find a scripture that we think can help us realize our desire, and then "claim" the promise before Him.  The difference between us and Aladdin is that we don't rub a lamp, just our Bibles.  I don't think this is what Jesus had in mind, but if we're honest, some element of this has been in ours. How often have we seen Christ as some kind of magic genie, who doesn't limit us to 3 wishes, but grants us unlimited ones, the only limit being on what it is we can think to ask for.
     I've a friend who says that to truly ask for anything in His name means we must be surrendered to being a people, a person, with no name of our own.  Asking in His name then means we have become so one with who He is, that the desires that flow out of our hearts are the very desires that flow out of His.  We ask of the Father what He would ask of the Father, and we do this as pertains to every aspect of our lives, our families, our professions, our ministries, and His church.  To do so leaves us open to the very real possibility that what He asks for is in direct opposition to what our self-absorbed flesh would ask.  Indeed, He may ask for what, in every way, appears to be harmful, even destructive.  It may give the appearance of failure.  It certainly will require deep sacrifice, perhaps even the sacrifice of our very lives.  Aladdin would never ask for such.  Yet to be one with Him means a willingness to not only accept the cup the flesh would never accept, but to ask for it if that is what pleases the Father.
Only a life that is fully in Him can do this, and at the same time cry out, as Christ did, "Abba, Father!"
    Not many of us are wanting to live in such a place with Him.  In fact, none of us can in our own strength and will.  It requires a total dying out to our agendas and desires, so that we can come alive to His desire and way for us.  A desire and way that will always lead in a direction that the flesh doesn't wish to go.  It's a way that looks like death, and is, to the flesh, but the yield is life, His Life.
    T. Austin-Sparks said that Satan, through our flesh, "gets us focused, preoccupied with self to the obscuring of Christ.  The Holy Spirit seeks to preoccupy us with Christ, to the obscuring of self....Occupied with what we are, not who He is."  How close does that come to where you and I are living?  How much of what we seek from Him will, at root, benefit us more than anyone else?  We can, pastors or laymen alike, ask for many things that benefit others, but will benefit us as well, maybe even moreso.  The motive, and it can be buried very deeply, lies in self, in the advancement of our kingdom, not His.  As one who prayed those very same types of prayers throughout much of my life and ministry, I know the truth of this.  How true is it for you?
    In the end, who really lives in obscurity; we, and our flesh identity, or Christ and His Kingdom life?  John the Baptist, upon truly beholding Christ, said, "I must decrease so that He might increase."  With you and I, one or the other is always decreasing and increasing.  It just comes down to who that "one" is.  Who is it?

Pastor O 
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   May 2019   
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