Phase II: Is Your Engine Running?
There once was a lumberjack that lived around the time that chainsaws were first introduced. This lumberjack was so strong and experienced that he could cut down ten trees a day using only hand tools. However, while picking up supplies at a store, the salesmen convinced him that he could double or triple the number of trees cut down per day if he used one of the new chainsaws.
This sounded far-fetched to the lumberjack; however, always desiring to improve, he decided to give it a try. At the end of the week, he came into the store and told the salesmen that he was only able to cut down three trees with the chainsaw the first day! However, not being a quitter, he tried harder the next day and was able to cut down four trees in a day and by the end of the week, was able to cut down five trees a day using the chainsaw. He told the salesmen that the chainsaw was causing him to work harder than ever with only half the trees cut down compared to what he did with the saw and ax! The salesman was very apologetic and offered to look at the chainsaw to ensure it was performing properly. The experienced lumberjack went to his truck and brought the chainsaw into the store for the salesman to examine. The salesman flipped the start switch, gave the starter rope a quick pull, and the engine roared to life. The lumberjack jumped back – being startled by the sound of the engine – and yelled out: WHAT IS THAT NOISE? (2)
Like the lumberjack, many have tried to live the Christian life in their own power and not the power available to them in Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the power of God (Romans 1:16. Hebrews 1:3) and is available to all Christians. It is in this second phase that we can experience the power that raised Jesus from the dead! (Ephesians 1:20. Acts 1:8)
—since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened—so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength. This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things. Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:18–23 NET)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NET)
My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
If we persevere to abide in the Word and have the Word abide in us (i.e., we come to know Jesus in the first phase), then the Power of His Word is revealed to us.
I have found daily praying (1) the following prayers of Paul extremely beneficial in “turning our spiritual engine on” during this phase of the journey:
I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:16–21 NET)
And I pray this, that your love may abound even more and more in knowledge and every kind of insight so that you can decide what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9–11 NET)
For this reason we also, from the day we heard about you, have not ceased praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may live worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects—bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might for the display of all patience and steadfastness, joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9–14 NET)
And in this regard we pray for you always, that our God will make you worthy of his calling and fulfill by his power your every desire for goodness and every work of faith, that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11–12 NET)
Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5–6 NET)
And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you, so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:12–13 NET)
We then begin to demonstrate the power of God through prayer in undoing the plans of the enemy and receiving God’s blessings. We discover the gifts of the Spirit (1) operating in our lives with the result that we experience the “all things are possible” of the Bible.
I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NET)
Others take notice and come to you for prayer; they are amazed at the anointing in your teaching and/or preaching, your boldness in the faith, etc.
Unfortunately, we might think that God has given us His power to fulfill our plans in this phase! Furthermore, we might think that God’s power and our ability make a good team (i.e., we think God is fortunate to have us on His team). Therefore, God does not leave those that begin to operate in the power of the Gospel in this phase for too long. We must learn that it is God alone and to Him only goes the glory! (1)
Now to the eternal king, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17 NET)
SOLI DEO GLORIA
The Five Phases of Spiritual Growth Series:
- Have You got Your Big Boy Pants On?
- Is Your Engine Running?
- God’s Rock Tumbler
- God’s Tractor Pull
- A License to Learn
(Security, Wholeness, Success)
Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. (3 John 1:2 NET)
(1) Select the link to open another article in a new tab with additional information.
lumberjacks and Christianity
What a great illustration of one who had the power but did not know it or had it and refused to use it. Reminds me of the story of the beggar and the king. The king sent someone to search for a beggar to lunch with him. A limo came up beside the beggar who had spent the entire morning in the dumpster seeking food to eat and some “clean clothes” to put on. The driver said you have been invited to eat with the king. So he went along. Having arrived at the palace, he was given new clothes to wear before joining the king for dinner. He put on the new clothes but “just in case” kept his rags for he might need them later. The king said, I have enjoyed your company so much that I would like you to live here with me and the beggar agreed. The two lived together for many years. They would be seen eating together and walking together. The beggar always wore new fine clothes but kept the rags “just in case” he might need them. When he died, they buried him with the rags “just in case”. How often are we like the beggar who carry around our rags “just in case” rather than putting aside those rags and enjoying the glory of the relationship with the king. “RAGMAN” was the nickname that others gave to him because when asked, why don’t you throw them away; he always answered “just in case” I need them. We have been given the power but “just in case” we hang on to our rags.
A challenge: How about we “lay down our self-will to Him”, toss our rags and dine at the King’s table. Let’s enjoy His fruits not because it is anything we have done but because He has given us His garments of white so we might be dressed “just in case” He comes. Then we won’t be known as the “Ragman” but instead the “King’s Man”.
Thanks for the illustration and the feedback! Always looking to improve! I think it will take "the church" coming together and sharing what they see and know to fully fathom God. Yes, I accept your challenge! (fyi, that will be covered in phase IV of our spiritual journey!)