Mission and Vision

Simple Church Success exists to equip, inspire, and support those who want to know Jesus better and are hungry for simple participatory gatherings of two or more people.

We partner with Luke 10 International Ministries toward being a engaged network of visionaries, trail-blazers, church-planters, supporters, and inquirers who are learning to BE the church in simple Holy Spirit led, Christ-centered, Biblical ways.

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Prophecy Power – Imagine Hearts Being Healed by Your Words! – (Power of God Series 5 of 7)

Prophecy Power – Imagine Hearts Being Healed by Encouraging, Edifying, and Comforting Words from you! Doesn’t that sound great?

Any regrets about words you have spoken? Unsure of what to say when helpful words are needed? Want to get better at speaking sincere words that truly encourage, build up and comfort yourself and others?

If your answer is yes to any of the above questions then the gift of prophecy is for you! Paul, the apostle, wants all of us to have it. He writes, “I wish you all…prophesied.” (1 Corinthians 14:5)

Paul wants us all to prophecy, that is, to let the Lord speak through us. Contrary to popular opinion, prophesying is not spooky or full of religious pomp, rather, it is helpful in our conversations and relationships with others.

Paul likes prophecy very much, wants us to learn about it, and encourages us to practice it. Read his three reasons why below. I have repeated the same passage, 1 Corinthians 14:3, four times in as many Bible versions to let this Holy Spirit-inspired relational diamond shine.

New Living Translation: “One who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.”

Today’s New International Version: “Those who prophesy speak to people for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.”

King James Version: “He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”

New American Bible: “One who prophesies does speak to human beings, for their building up, encouragement, and solace.”

Apart from Christ’s eternal salvation, what better gift could there be? And the great news? It’s one all of us can activate and use.

In fact, we’ve probably already done so without even knowing it. Like the time Dad and I were fishing off the jetty at the mouth of the Fort Bragg (California) harbor. We’d caught nothing and returned to the car where Mom relaxing and reading.

Discovering our plight, she simple said, “Cast your nets on the other side.” We went back and did just that. Within minutes we caught our limit! Unforgettable!

Back then, in the ‘60s, we didn’t call that a prophecy. Our church’s beliefs didn’t allow for it and we didn’t see it. Nevertheless, it had all the ingredients, for Dad and I definitely enjoyed great “strengthening, encouragement and comfort!” So did Mom! Amazing!

Just yesterday, I listened for prophetic words from the Lord for a friend. I “heard” (in my spirit) the Lord saying to my friend,  “You are very tender, I love your heart, you are a person after my own heart. I love your kindness, song, and your desire for me. I am with you and will hold you safe into the future.”

The affect was wonderful. My friends joyously experienced “strengthening, encouragement and comfort!” I did too!

New Testament prophecy best not be confused with Old Testament-style prophecy, which was often about needed judgement and warnings. Jesus high-lighted this shift when he called (Old Testament) prophet, John the Baptist, “the greatest born of women” but declared him “least in the (New Testament) Kingdom of God.”

God truth does not change. God’s methods sometimes do.

In these last days, the Holy Spirit is speaking words of “strengthening, encouragement and comfort” through you. As you believe this and listen for God in the relational moments of your day you will become increasing aware of the Lord’s encouragement coming through your words and ways. That will be heaven on earth!

Giv’m Heaven! — John

John Parker, is a pastor and teacher at Chowchilla Simple Church 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Boulevard.

Click reply to connect with John

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The Power of Being Present – (Power of God Series 4 of 7)

Want to be more effective when working with people? Want to be a better listener?

In the following account, Jesus shows us how to hear, see, and live in the present in order to activate the love of God.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

Peter, a very practical man, thinking Jesus’ question is ridiculous, protests, “Master, we’ve got crowds of people on our hands. Dozens have touched you.”

Jesus, a very present man, is not deterred. “Someone touched me,” he insists. “I felt power discharging from me.”

Sure enough, Jesus was correct. After a few moments, the woman who had touched Jesus “realizing that she couldn’t remain hidden, came and knelt trembling before him. In front of all the people, she blurted out her story—why she touched him and how at that same moment she was healed.

“Jesus said, ‘Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!’” (Luke 8:47–48)

Besides crowd pressures, Jesus had ministry pressures too.  At that moment, a little girl lay dying just down the street in her parents’ house and Jesus was going to help her. In spite of that emergency, Jesus stops to help this lady who touched him.

Imagine the anxious pressure for Jesus to ”get going” and heal the sick girl. Still, he stopped because of his inner awareness. And, thankfully, it all worked out. Both the lady and the girl were healed that day!

“God is a very present help in time of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) Jesus believed that and tells us the two ways he became a “very present” man.

First, Jesus did only what his Father showed him. Jesus explains, “I’m telling you this straight. The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does.” Jesus always watched for his Father’s way. We can too.

Second, Jesus spoke only as his Father taught him. He tells us, “I’m not making this up, but speaking only what the Father taught me.” And again, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me. The words that I speak to you aren’t mere words. I don’t just make them up on my own. The Father who resides in me crafts each word into a divine act.” (John 5:19; John 8:28; John 14:10) Jesus always listened to his Father’s words. We can too.

We be like Jesus, “very present.” Our hurting world, more than ever, needs us to listen and be aware of needs and hurts¾just like Jesus was. Jesus says we can do what he did, and even more.

Jesus promises, “The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing¾but even greater things.” (John 14:12)

This is exciting. Like Jesus, we can be “very present,” watching for the Father’s opportunities and listening for his words.

Believing, we will miss less, hear clearer, and see better. As we are walking along in a crowd of people—and everywhere else too—in our homes, at work, in our neighborhoods, and at our places of worship we will be empowered to help, heal and encourage effectively.

Very practical people may miss this. Very present people will see and do even greater things!

Giv’m Heaven!—John Parker

John Parker, is a pastor and teacher at Chowchilla Simple Church 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Boulevard. For more call: (209) 564-7201 (Most Scripture passages adapted from The Message Bible).

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What do you want us to hear the about your kingdom?

Lord: What do you want us to hear the about your kingdom?

Seek first our kingdom and our righteousness. Our kingdom is ours. And yes, it is coming; thank you for asking for it to come.

Our kingdom is not of this world; if it were we would solve things a lot differently. The least, youngest, and last are keys in our kingdom. The natural man doesn’t understand that; but you all do, because, your inner person is totally delighting in us and in the mystery*.

Our kingdom is wind based and the wind is our Holy Spirit. Discerning of spirits and of every wind that blows is key to loosing and binding in our kingdom.

* Jesus told them, “You’ve been given insight  into (the mystery of – J.P.)  God’s kingdom—you know how it works. But to those who can’t see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight.  (Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Mk 4:11). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.)
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Power in Your Place – (Power of God Series 3 of 7)

STAY HERE, START HERE!

Ever wish you could find a different job, move to a new town, or even jump the fence to the greener pasture of a new relationship? If so, you are not alone.

It’s common to long for something new. It’s easy to become dissatisfied, disillusioned, and even disgruntled with current circumstances. Wondering how we got here, we may blame ourselves, others, fate, fortune, luck, or God—and want out!

Like us, Jesus’ disciples wondered about their current situation after Jesus’ resurrection. Now, they believed, he could really change things. Here’s the Bible conversation:

“When they were together for the last time they asked, ‘Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?’

“Jesus told them, ‘You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.’

“These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky.

“Suddenly two men appeared—in white robes! They said, ‘You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left.’” (Acts 1:6–11, The Message)

Jesus’ response disappointed the disciples. First, he didn’t know when the Kingdom would be restored. Second, he assigned them to stay and start in Jerusalem, the city that rejected Jesus a few weeks earlier. Third, Jesus left them for heaven¾not fun.

The men-in-white, puzzled by the disciples staring up into space, ask, “Why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky?” In essence saying, “Wake up boys! Snap out of it! It’s okay! He’ll be back!”

Unlike the dumb-founded disciples, we read the story with 2000 years “under our belts.” We know that Jesus’ commission to go “even to the ends of the world” is still working. Globally, Jesus is a household name. His popularity is on the fast-track in Africa, South America, and Asia. While we may miss this in our secularized, post-modern “Western” world, a bit of online research indicates such trending.

Soon after Jesus left, his disciples, now filled with the Holy Spirit, wrote books. Their writings—now the New Testament Bible—teach us much about the heaven into which Jesus ascended. They also make it clear that Jesus is coming back any day now “to restore the kingdom to Israel.”  They exhort us to believe and be ready!

The Holy Spirit is activating Jesus’s mission which calls us to share our love for, and faith in, Jesus with the folks in our own “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and globally.

The mission becomes clearer when we adapt it locally as follows: “What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Chowchilla, all Madera County, Merced County, even to the ends of the world.”

Accepting this mission you may not need to change jobs, relationships, or towns. With the old chorus, we can simply sing, “brighten up the corner where you are…”  Shine on!

Giv’m Heaven!—John

John Parker, is a pastor and teacher at Chowchilla Simple Church 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Boulevard. For more call: (209) 726-0119.

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Two Make a Majority – (Power of God Series 2 of 7)

Do you overthink things? Do you resist sharing? Do you try to go it alone?

Many of us were trained to be independent and work on our own and that’s good to a point. It ceases to be good when we don’t share.

Singers Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel sang: “I am a rock. I am an island.” Then they explain why: “A rock feels no pain, and island never cries.” It seems they we lamenting our need to hide and avoid sharing and inter-dependence with one another.

Such inter-dependence is big in the Bible. For example, God made man, then observed, “It’s not good for man to be alone; I will make a partner for him.”

God does raise up individuals who lead his people such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, and Jesus. But the thing they have in common is a strong friendship with God and a willingness to do anything to further God’s work of saving people.

King Solomon, (circa 1040 B.C.) believed in inter-dependence. He wrote, “It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, But if there’s no one to help, tough! Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12, The Message)

Sharing is the key to growth, maturity and love. Making the commitment stay even when rough times come along often leads to better things such as hope, faith and charity.

Jesus although he was often alone, abandoned, rejected, and betrayed understood that his entire mission was about others. He said things like:

I have “come to seek and to save those that are lost,” and to heal those who need a doctor, and free those in any kind of prison. “Come unto me,” he calls, “and I will give you rest.” He explains, I am “come to served others and not to be served.”

Jesus taught about the power of two saying, “When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”” (Matthew 18:19–20, The Message)

Jesus assigned his disciples into partnerships for success. He mixed and matched the natural brothers, James and John, then Peter and Andrew, so they did their ministries as Peter and John, then, James and Andrew.

Then, he sent his disciples out in pairs. Perhaps, like Solomon, he believed that one will hold the other up when times got tough. Perhaps, he was thinking of the Bible teaching that everything is confirmed in the mouth of two or three witnesses. Such a witness would come to help his disciples stay in faith when they both witnesses miracles and, most importantly, the resurrection of Jesus.

Today’s takeaway thought: Are you more independent or inter-dependent?  Do you team-up and share your life, struggles, prayers, and ministry with one or two others for mutual support? Doing so may change things for the better.

Giv’m Heaven!—John

John Parker, is a pastor and teacher at Chowchilla Simple Church.  Click reply to contact John.

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God is a People-Person (Power of God Series 1 of 7)

God is a People-Person

Who wants to visit Disneyland alone? Such adventures are more fun to share with someone. Right?

God agrees. God could have retired, gotten away from it all, and gone fishing. Instead, God signed up for the family vacation plan. That’s when the people began showing up.

The family of five sat one row ahead of me during our six hour flight. Cal, the active one year old, occasionally serenaded us with piercing screams when things didn’t go his way. Lizzy, his energetic, inquisitive, and wiggly sister, age four, kept her folks busy too. At some point, oldest and calmest, Tyler, age six, annoyed the older man and woman sitting together in front of him.

The man made a loud, disparaging comment about parents controlling their children. The kids’ dad verbally pushed back, reminding the couple that they were once children too.

Unapologetic and unashamed of his lively kids, Dad stuck with and defended them. It reminds me of the way God sticks with us even when we get out of control and annoying.

In the beginning, when starting his family, God declared, “Let us make man in our own image, and let’s make them male and female.” (Genesis 1) Talk about an active, interesting and, at times, annoying family!

And, when God’s kids, Man and Woman, messed up, God provided a way to save them from themselves. “God so loved he world that he gave his only son,” Jesus, to reconcile his children back to himself. Yes, God wants family and friends.

That’s so great. St. Paul’s prayer says it for me: “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father after whom all families in heaven are patterned, and ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.” (Ephesians 3:14–20, adapted from The Message)

While here on earth, Jesus talked, like his Father, about family and friends. He taught us to pray, “Our Father…” (Matthew 6); announced, “I and my Father are one” (John 10); and prayed, “Father…make them one as we are one” (John 17). About friendship Jesus said, “You are my friends because you do the things that I ask you to do,” and, “I tell you my secrets because you are my friends” (John 15).

Now Jesus calls us his family and friends to bring God’s family and friends message to everyone. His instructions are: “Go into all the world. Look and listen for the people who really want to know God. Immerse them into a great relationship with us. Teach them the things I am teaching you. Know that I will always go with you.” (Matthew 28)

Railroad crossing signs used to read¾“Stop! Look and Listen!” Now, Jesus calls. “Go! Look and Listen!” Be going around with attentive love and truth. Look and listen,” but this time, for people, not trains. When you encounter learners, welcome them to enjoy God’s family and friends love with you.

Finally, true lovers of God are true lovers of people¾especially people who are different from them. With Jesus they open their arms and say, “Welcome, come, sit and eat with us!”

Go! Look and Listen! What are you hearing and seeing? Whom are you welcoming?

Giv’m Heaven!—John

John Parker, pastors leaders toward more powerful and effective kingdom  ministry

 

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How’s Your Hearing?

“My grandmother was the best listener of my childhood,” one adult student volunteered. “I knew she was listening because she asked me questions that pertained to what I shared with her.”

“My fifth grade teacher was the best listener of my youth,” another participant offered. “He would paraphrase what I said and then ask if he was getting it right. It’s a technique I still use with others to this day!”

“My high school friend, Cheryl, listened to my struggles without making fun of me or talking about me to others,” her appreciative friend told our class. She continued, “We are still friends and I can still trust her to keep my stuff confidential.”

These are typical responses to the question, “Who was your best listener during your youth”  I ask it when I’m teaching on the subject of active listening.

Psychiatrist and author, the late M. Scott Peck, M.D., states, “Listening well is an exercise of attention and by necessity hard work. It is because they do not realize this or because they are not willing to do the work that most people do not listen well.”

Jesus, was a great listener. He heard with more than just his ears.  The Bible says, “As Jesus went, he was surrounded by the crowds. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.

“‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, ‘Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.’

“When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed.  ‘Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.’” (Luke 8:42-48 NLT)

Thinking Jesus’ question, “Who touched me?” was unrealistic his disciple, Peter, challenged, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” He didn’t understand how well Jesus listened.

Nevertheless, Jesus listened so well that he could feel power go out of himself when the lady in the crowd touched him.  He was fully tuned-in to his spirit and his surroundings, even to the touch of his garment. He didn’t miss a thing.

Would that we would seek to be listeners like Jesus. We could be so much more effective if we listened better when things were happening around us—whether good or bad.

Thankfully, this deeper type of listening became normal for Peter. He was able to discern the real need of the lame man asking for money—and heal him. (Acts 3:6)  He was able to discern the corruption of Simon the Magician who wanted to buy the Holy Spirit’s power with money—and say to him, “You are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.” (Acts 8:23)

Peter got good at listening and so can we. Listening is “by necessity hard work” but with Jesus’ help we can hear the deeper things going on around us however so quietly they may be speaking.

Giv’m Heaven!—John Parker, Listener-in-training

Listen with John at Chowchilla Simple Church 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Boulevard. Information: (209) 564-7201.

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God Likes You. Oh, and loves you too. You may like “like” better, like I do.

GOD LIKES YOU

“God likes you,’ sounds different than, “God loves you.” Sometimes people say they love us but we know they don’t like us. So, hearing that God loves us may not feel very good and may not convey how much God actually likes us.

God does like us because he himself designed us. As the bumper sticker affirms, “God don’t make no junk!”

We discover how likable we are to God when we read King David’s praise. He writes to God, “Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb…You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them!” (Psalm 139:13–17, The Message)

Still we wonder if we are likable to God or people. Like that famous ballad, “Don’t Know Much,” laments, “Look at this face, I know the years are showing. Look at this life, I still don’t know where it’s going. Look at these eyes, they never seen what matters. Look at these dreams, so beaten and so battered.”

The point is we may believe God loves us, yet remain uncertain that he actually likes us. I was struggling the other day and asked the Lord how in the world he could actually like me. I’ve lived with myself long enough to wonder if I’m likable, based on the things I’ve said, done, or failed to do.

I wrote to the Lord, “Thank you that you are here and like me. But truly, I can’t see why you do.”

The Lord kindly responded, “John, we (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were communicating as One) made you and designed you to be you, so we like you very much. You have always been creative, adventuresome, and relational and that’s exciting for us. You bring us to others through those traits. We liked you when you were little and, now, we like you, even more, if that’s possible, as you have opened up to our “like” and love.”

Hearing that cheers me up! I remember myself as that little four year old boy they were referring to. I realize that, in spite of my human track record, where everything hasn’t gone as I planned or hoped, I am still that boy in my heart of hearts. I am still creative, adventuresome, and relational at my core like when I first started out in this world as that little boy. God knows exactly what he is doing. Those negative thoughts against myself come, not from God, but from the darkness that seeks to darken our hearts against God.

The Gospel assures us, “There is not one single bit of condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,” and, “God sent not his son to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.” (Romans 8:1; John 3:17) Thankfully, dark judgment melts away in the light, love, and like of God through Christ Jesus.

Giv’m Heaven!—John

John Parker, is a pastor and teacher at Chowchilla Simple Church 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Boulevard. Information: (209) 564-7201.

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Did your folks have favorites? Did they admit it?

Did your mother have a favorite child? Perhaps your father did. Was it you, or another sibling? How did that affect you and the family?

Favorites create challenges. That’s probably why most parents deny having any. Siblings sometimes tease each other saying, “I’m Mom’s favorite.” Laughter follows, and so does the secret question: is it true? Nevertheless, in spite of the accompanying baggage, most of us want to be someone’s favorite.

Nations want that too. They grant each other “Most Favored Nation” (MFN) status which positively affects trade between them. The United States granted Great Britain MFN status clear back in 1794. Nowadays, the World Trade Organization requires its members to grant each other MFN status.

The Bible testifies that a great day is coming when a new most favored nation status will be given by the Lord God himself.  Isaiah (circa 750 BC) prophesies about it, declaring:  “On that Day, there will be a highway all the way from Egypt to Assyria: Assyrians will have free range in Egypt and Egyptians in Assyria. No longer rivals, they’ll worship together, Egyptians and Assyrians! On that Day, Israel will take its place alongside Egypt and Assyria, sharing the blessing from the center. God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who blessed Israel, will generously bless them all: “Blessed be Egypt, my people!… Blessed be Assyria, work of my hands!… Blessed be Israel, my heritage!”” (Isaiah 19:23–25, The Message Bible)

Israel is at the center as God’s “heritage.” Assyria, is called by God, “the work of my hands.” Egypt, God calls “my people.” What a day “that Day” will be! Peace in the Middle East is on its way.

Israel, God’s covenant nation in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) shows up as the favored nation in the Christian Bible (New Testament) as well. It records that Jesus came unto his own people, the Jews (John 1:11). His precise genealogical records ((Matthew 1, Luke 3) prove him to be the legitimate heir to the throne of King David and, thus, the “King of the Jews,” just as Pilate posted on the cross.

Paul, God’s apostle to the nations, makes it clear that Jesus’ own people, the Jews, are first and foremost in God’s plan of salvation. Paul writes to the Christians in Rome, “I can’t wait to get to you in Rome, preaching this wonderful good news of God. It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else!” (Romans 1:15–16, The Message)

This shows that God is still at work among the nations and that the center nation of all his work is the Jewish nation. It could be that Israel’s existence as a nation is the first fruit of a modern day miracle and sign of God’s continuing, active involvement in world history. The rise of Israel among the nations may not be a chance accident, but, rather, an act of God.

Of course, Jews are humans, just like the rest of us. The Good New is that God has not forsaken them, or us, and because of them we all get to be included in the Gospel through Jesus the Son of David, Son of Man, and Son of God.

John Parker, is a pastor and teacher at Chowchilla Simple Church 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Boulevard. Information: (209) 564-7201.

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Does God Help Those Who Help Themselves?

GOD’S WORK

They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28–29)

But we have our own ways of getting his work done that lets us feel better our own ability, power, and plans. The following excerpts from his article, “The Propaganda of Willfulness,” by the late Gerald May, shed light on how we skirt the command to trust God completely and, instead, help him out a bit.

May writes, My least favorite saying is “God helps those who help themselves,”…my mother used it on me when she thought I was being lazy. I can’t get away from it; it is likely the best-known adage in the English-speaking world. A poll reports that 82% of Americans believe it comes from the Bible.

But the Bible says nothing of the sort. If anything, the Bible maintains that God especially helps those who cannot help themselves.

The same philosophy has been infecting spiritual communities for at least four centuries. You may have heard it: “Pray as though everything depended on God and act as though everything depended on you.”

This version troubles me even more than the simpler form. It appears to encourage prayer and intimacy with God, but before you know it, it tells you to act as though God weren’t in the picture at all. Yet people continue to quote it without question, as if Jesus himself had said it.

They reject Jesus’s exhortations to trust God completely. They maintain that you can’t expect God to just bless you with gifts; you have to make things happen instead.

They would have you believe that Jesus was just exaggerating when he spoke about the lilies of the field, and that he was simply mistaken when he said Mary, not Martha, had chosen the one thing necessary.

Why are such twisted distortions so uncritically accepted? I think such sayings are popular because they rationalize our mistrust of God and our subsequent desire to master our own destinies.

These sayings justify our desire to have our spiritual cake and eat it, too. We want to consider ourselves faith-filled, but we are terrified of actually letting go and letting God.

We pray about decisions, but we feel we must also have logical justification for everything we do. We seek God’s guidance, but we are also compelled to look like we’re using our heads. We want to give our hearts to God, but never so completely that we might appear foolish.

But the Gospel is foolish. It’s downright ridiculous. The Good News is just too good to be true, and it demands nothing less than everything.

If we are honest, we don’t need fraudulent aphorisms to rationalize that the Gospel is too much for us. Instead, let us just admit that we cannot accomplish our own faith. We cannot help ourselves, not where it counts the most. We need God’s grace even to trust God’s grace.

And much as our willful-ness might want to deny it, God is far too intimate and loving for us to utter a single silly word about how to pray or who God does or doesn’t help. (Thank you, Gerald! Complete article at www.shalem.org.)

Giv’m Heaven!—John

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