As a kid, my parents and I ventured to a zoo where lions roamed freely. My dad forked out an outrageous amount of cash, and then slowly inched our car through the safari-style exhibit. A rule breaker by natural design, my dad ignored the signs that clearly stated the car windows should remain up in order to protect your precious family. My mom was not amused by his rebellion. A shrill scream pierced the air. That was our first and last visit to the park as a family — a very memorable childhood experience.
About a year ago, my husband decided that I should revisit the lions. We drove to the same park I had screamed through as a youngster, but this time the experience paled in comparison: no crazy dad hanging out the window with a camera, no mom sounding off like a fire siren, and sadly, no animals roaming freely. Fences now surrounded the lions — separating them and caging them in. My heart hurt to see the noble ruler of the jungle trapped and robbed of its freedom.
Scripture challenges us that “the righteous are as bold as a lion” (Prov. 28:1, NIV). But as believers, I think we often let this world cage us in and sedate us. This week as I was digging “Into the Word,” I saw this lion spirit in the early church leaders:
“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).
What does it mean to be bold for the kingdom today? Does my life display the power of the Holy Spirit? What is caging me in and rendering me ineffective? God didn’t want me to forget about those caged lions, so this weekend, he put me in a stadium with lions for God at the One Conference. Listen to how a lion speaks:
- Francis Chan began by reading Romans 8:11: “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.” He challenged us to “fight to live Biblically when everyone else is telling you to live comfortably.”
- Christine Caine challenged that we should be fools for Christ as “Christ came to make us free, not to make us safe.”
- The legendary Franklin Graham shared the Truth of the Gospel with unapologetic passion.
- James MacDonald provided perspective with the theme: “We are ordinary, but our God is extraordinary.“
- Miles McPherson told us to love and “be a broken record — I gotta obey God.” Jesus didn’t stay in the synagogue; He was out on the streets.
- Carl Lentz, Jr. explained that we must be willing to do the “unspectacular”–“We need a love so deep that it pushes past our discomfort.”
- Ed Young asked us “Who are you reaching?” and admonished that the church is a rescue society, not a yacht club.
- Britt Merrick described how a “heart at rest” is attractive to the world and admonished that we should “discover what the Redeemer is doing and get caught up in it.” Christ put Himself in need to open up the opportunity to minister to the woman at the well.
- Rich Wilkerson, Jr. illustrated that the recipe for revival is prayer and work.
- Brian Houston shared that we should have a “glorious obsession” for God because “nothing of eternal value has ever been built out a spirit of obligation.”
- Bob Coy, my beloved pastor, encouraged us to celebrate the Son by lovingly “calling out” those brothers who need correction — using the Word to build up the body. He challenged us to feed our spirit with a healthy diet of Scripture.
- Greg Laurie asked us to examine if we are getting up in the morning because of an alarm clock or as a result of a calling. He explained that the first century Christians didn’t “out argue” the lost, they “out lived” them.
- Pedro Garcia opened and closed the conference by evoking Christ’s prayer for the church in John 17:21: “That all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”
May I live an uncaged life — bold for Jesus. Do you know any lions? How do you flesh this out in your life? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
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