Saturday, November 22, 2014

"My people" and the changed heart

My week-long conference ended last night, but too late to drive home. This morning, I was up before dawn, loading the car, saying my goodbyes. I had to fight back tears at leaving people I've so quickly grown to love. It's hard to believe a week could knit strangers together in such a profound way. We ate together, studied together, did homework together, and did chores together. By the end of the course, we had built a community together, as well.

The amazing thing is that we had also grown to trust each other on a deep level. Much to my surprise, I, who was dead-set against going to do mission work in one of the most dangerous places on earth, voluntarily attended information meetings on a mission deployment and requested an application. 

I meant to go to Nigeria. As I have prayed for needs there, they have become "my people", the kidnapped schoolgirls have become "my girls". I have wept countless tears over the troubles in that precious country. I intended to go to them, and still hope to, but there is a dawning realization that God just might have another plan. It turns out that my fellow students are also "my people". In a very odd turn of events, I don't want "my people" to be deployed without me. 

God is clearly doing an amazing work in this war zone, where the harvest is great and the laborers are few. Those few laborers are scooping up a harvest of souls that is astounding and, truthfully, too good to miss. This particular harvest is one we cannot afford to leave in the fields, and, much to my surprise, I find myself saying, like Isaiah before me, "Here am I, Lord, send me." 

The possibility of actual deployment is months away, and I will be seeking to know God's will. If I go, I will be certain I am supposed to go. What's amazing is how God can change a heart in such a short time. Before I went, I worried about why I might need to bring a helmet. Now, I'm wondering when I can earn a helmet of my own. 

Perhaps you, too, could do with a little heart-change. Does God have a bit of harvest with which you could help? Why not join with me in agreeing with Isaiah? "If there's a need, Lord, send me."

The persistent father, part 8

And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. But while everyone was marveling at all that He was doing, He said to His disciples, (Luke 9:43 NASB)

There were two groups present that day, the crowd and the disciples. The crowd knew His hands. They marveled and were amazed at what they had seen. They delighted in what Jesus could do for them. The disciples were also delighted and amazed by what they had seen, but they had been invited into a greater intimacy with Christ. They delighted in Who He was. 

We will soon see that the disciples did not understand all that Jesus said to them, but they understood that He spoke the words of life. They were willing to leave home and family, livelihood and security to be with Jesus. Following Him became the highest priority in their lives. 

The crowd knew His hands. The disciples knew His heart. That distinction made an eternal difference for those men who followed the Master. The question we must answer is which do we want to know? Christ's hands or His heart? Are we part of the crowd, following to be entertained and to be on the periphery of the miraculous, simply along to eat the loaves and fish? Are we, instead, disciples who want to know the heart of the One who can not only transform our eternal destiny but transform our daily lives? Do we want to follow and obey the One who came to set us free? The difference is of vital importance and we do well to seriously evaluate our commitment. 

Are we disciples or not? Our answer to that simple question makes all the difference, both now and in the life to come. Be sure, dear ones, that you follow the heart, and not merely the hands, of Christ. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

The persistent father, part 7

And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. But while everyone was marveling at all that He was doing, He said to His disciples, "Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men." (Luke 9:43-44 NASB)

A demon-possessed boy had been dramatically healed. The people were amazed, and rightly so. It was an amazing task. While the people were standing around, talking to each other about all the marvelous things Jesus was doing, He spoke to His disciples about something even more amazing than what they had just seen. The Son of Man who was the Son of God was about to do something utterly breathtaking, something totally incredible. He would be "delivered into the hands of men". The march to the cross was under way, and it was an astounding thing. 

Two thousand years later, the cross has, in some ways, become a decorative item to us. We wear it as jewelry and attach it to household items. This symbol of execution has been diminished by the casual way in which we treat it. The cross was a horrendous thing, made much worse, made unthinkably worse, by the sin Jesus bore in our place. 

Jesus was right. Healing a child is an amazing thing, but the cross is unspeakable in its greatness. If we are amazed by healing, how much more should we be amazed by the cross? We have a tendency to embrace the miracles of healing and feeding, yet reject the miracle of mercy that held our Lord on that cross. That cross is the miracle that gives meaning to all the other miracles. It is the miracle that brings hope and healing to a lost and dying world. 

In this season of thanksgiving, let us focus our attention on the one blessing that supersedes all others. The cross. It purchased our pardon, bought our redemption, set us free. Thank God it did! We are redeemed, but only by the greatness of the work that was done at Calvary. That, dear ones, was a miracle we should never forget!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ministry Choices and the Savings Jar

Some time ago, I received an email from the ministry sponsoring the disaster preparedness course I'm taking this week. God had provided a new training facility and they were thrilled. When you read "new" what do you assume? Yep. Me, too. I anticipated a brand new, sparkling facility in pristine condition.

Imagine my surprise when I found that the "new facility" is actually an old rehabilitation hospital that has been converted to a safe place for families in transition. I was nervous when I had to call a cell phone to be admitted to the building and was given careful instructions about making sure the door is locked behind me if I leave. After I unloaded my car, I quickly learned that the elevator doesn't work, so I carried my absurd amount of luggage up the stairs. The young woman who unlocked the door helped, for which I was very grateful. 

When we arrived at "my" room, I found four sets of mattresses on the floor. There is a bathroom in our room. It comes complete with a shower that works and a toilet that doesn't. The toilet has a pretty bad leak, so a large plastic container has been duct-taped to the side of the toilet to catch the water. Someone comes by periodically to empty the "collection". I'm not sure why, but black plastic and duct tape have been used to completely secure the entire toilet bowl. Only the pipes are exposed. Bold letters on the duct tape announce "Out of order!!! Do not use!!"  As if we could. 

It was raining the evening I arrived. When we toured the kitchen and dining area, two large plastic containers were strategically positioned in the middle of the dining room floor. The ceiling has some serious leak problems. The containers were there to catch the rain water. 

As you might expect, I was, to put it mildly, very surprised. That surprise turned to shock when I learned that the heat doesn't work in this building. We have a space heater in our room. We wear our coats constantly. Sometimes, I take my sleeping bag to class. I'm embracing the chill. 

It was a question of stewardship for me. If God had provided this new facility, why wasn't the ministry stewarding it better? Truthfully, I assumed I knew the answers to that question, and very nearly left for home that first day. I'm glad I didn't. 

It turned out that the sponsoring ministry is a guest in this facility, which belongs to another ministry that is attempting to sell the building. The sponsoring ministry has chosen not to spend donated money on their own facility. Instead, they use the money that is donated to provide ministry for displaced refugees in Iraq. Not only do they provide food and basic medical care for the refugees, they also provide solar-powered Bibles in Arabic or Farsi with enough volume for 200 people to hear, and SIM cards and mini SIM cards for cell phones with the entire Bible, also written in either Arabic or Farsi. They show the Jesus film to groups of Muslims  to whom they have ministered and have found that 85-90% of the Muslims convert to Christianity. The fields are ripe for harvest and they are bathing it in prayer and bringing it in. 

It turns out that the facility issues are not a question of stewardship. They are a question of priority. You see, this ministry could have facilities or souls, but not both. They chose souls. That sounds dramatic, doesn't it? Could they have a nice facility and bring souls to Jesus? Yes, of course, but many of those dollars being spent in bringing people to Jesus would have to be diverted. From which Muslim would you withhold the gospel in order to have extra toilets? From which child would you withhold food in order to have heat? 

Once I understood the facts, I embraced the cold, the leaks, and the mattresses on the floor. It's not so bad, and it gives me great joy to know that my minimal discomfort frees up harvest resources. This is the reason I started a giving jar. This is the reason I've chosen to live to save. It makes a difference. 

The founder of this ministry has arranged for small prefab houses to be shipped to Iraq. A small home can be assembled by two people in thirty minutes and it costs $1500. My class has decided to sponsor one of those houses so that a family can have shelter until a more permanent home can be found. (Remember, the refugees lost their homes because ISIS conquered their town.)  

In case you've forgotten, my saving jar now has $217.76. I had all kinds of ideas about investing in the kingdom of God. It turns out that God had an idea about that money, too. There are displaced families in Erbil who need a roof over their head. The little sacrifices I have made to save this money seem pretty meager in comparison with what they have lost. My little savings jar contents are being added to my group's offering to purchase a prefab house for refugees. 

Do you know the best part of this story? November's not over yet! The savings jar is still in business! 

The persistent father, part 6

While he was still approaching, the demon slammed him to the ground and threw him into a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. (Luke 9:42-43 NASB)

Admittedly, it was a very dramatic scenario. The upset father brought his son to Jesus with complaints about the disciples, who had proved inadequate to the need, the demon attacked, the child convulsed, Jesus cast out the demon, healed the child, and returned a whole, healed boy to his loving father. In a matter a moments, a family had their lives turned right side up by the power of Jesus. 

It was an exciting time, and the people were amazed. I love the way this Scripture shares their response. "And they were all amazed at the greatness of God." In the midst of a healing move of God, people focused their eyes on the Almighty, rather than on the demon that had caused the problem in the first place. Despite the demon's dramatic attempt to keep the boy from Jesus, they kept their eyes toward Christ. It was a good thing, as only Christ could impact the situation and heal the child. Only Christ could save him. When He did, everyone was amazed at God's greatness. 

It is appropriate to be amazed when God performs signs and wonders in our midst. It is also appropriate to be amazed by the greatness of God in giving us breath on a minute by minute basis. Every moment that we remain on earth is a miracle of His grace. One day, we will enter eternity in heaven and that, dear friends, is the ultimate miracle of grace and mercy. 

Why is it that we wait to be amazed by a dramatic display of power, yet fail to be amazed by the equally amazing displays of His grace and love that come to us on a daily basis? We must open our hearts and allow God to give us the eyes of Christ to see Him and His works in all their greatness. We who are so unworthy to stand in the presence of the Nazarene should be utterly amazed by His grace. 

As we begin our day, let us unite in asking God to reveal Himself in such a way that we are undone and filled with wonder by His amazing greatness, mercy, and love. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Praying like your life depends upon it

My very dear friend and sister in Christ stands in harm's way today, and I have to admit that I am terrified for her. I have often quoted that verse first penned by the Apostle Paul to his young protégée Timothy two thousand years ago. 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. 
 2 Timothy 1:7

This time, It is hard to find a way past my fear. I trust God totally. It's my fellow man I'm not so sure about. My friend lives in St. Louis, MO and her city is full of unrest as they, the citizens of Ferguson, and the entire country await the decision of the grand jury in the Michael Brown shooting. Protests are already planned. The KKK stands at the ready for whatever horror they want to spread. Gun sales are at record levels, as are concealed carry permits. Tensions are high. 

A family grieves for their son and, if I could restore him to them, I would. No matter what I desire, no matter what I wish to do, no matter what the grand jury decides, the past cannot be undone. What, you may ask, about justice? We all want justice when we are wronged, myself included, don't we? 

What we often forget is that there is only One who has the authority to dispense justice. The psalmist tells us that righteousness and justice are the foundation of God's throne. Did you get that? The foundation of His rule, His authority is both righteousness and justice. Who among us dares to claim the same? Who among us dares to claim the right to execute justice? 

On the other hand, when I am wrong, when I have harmed someone (whether intentionally or unintentionally) what I want is not justice but mercy. I suspect mercy is what you want in those times, as well. You will not be surprised to know that the Bible also has something to say about mercy. 

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8 KJV)

This was my mother's favorite verse and I must had heard it hundreds of times during her life, always in this version. "Ah hah!" you might said, "There is all the reason we need to take justice into our own hands. God says to 'do justly.'" Do not deceive yourselves. This verse does not say to administer justice in God's place. What it says is do "mishpat", or what is right. 

Perhaps the words of Jesus will clarify this a little further. "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you." (Luke 6:31 NASB) Is that clear? In case it's not, let's look at how the Good News Translation says it. "Do for others just what you want them to do for you." (Luke 6:31 GNTD) 

know you understand this, but just in case, let me reiterate. We have neither the right nor the authority to take matters of justice into our own hands. Our Lord has given us clear direction to treat others as we want to be treated. No matter how they treat you, treat them back in the way you want to be treated. Our behavior is not dependent on what other people do or fail to do. 

This "doing right" is what people should do. It is what should happen in Ferguson and in St. Louis in the coming days. Will it? I pray so. If tensions erupt into violence, the temptation to share in their anger and chaos will be pressing, the risk to spread chaos across our nation will be both real and high, but I pray we do not embrace the hate, the fear, the violence. Nothing good can come of it. 

Are you wondering why I am so passionate about this situation? It is because I know the solution, and His name is Jesus. 

Dear ones, healing our land begins only when the people of God humble themselves, pray, and repent of their sin. Undoubtedly, healing is needed in this situation. Catastrophe threatens without it. This is a call to action. Let each of us get on our knees, humble ourselves, and repent of the sin to which we have clung. 

Oh, dear ones, pray for mercy, pray that peace will reign, pray that the flames of hatred will be smothered by the love of Christ, and that further needless, pointless death will be avoided. 

Pray for my precious friend. Though her skin is a little darker than mine, our hearts are just alike and we both belong to Jesus. So it is in Ferguson and St. Louis. 

Hit your knees and raise your hands in prayer. 

Pray as if the entire world were riding on those prayers. It just may be that our nation depends upon the faithfulness of God's people to do what only we can do. Repent and pray. 

Body of Christ, a nation depends upon your faithfulness. Don't fail Him now. 

The persistent father, part 5

And Jesus answered and said, "... Bring your son here." While he was still approaching, the demon slammed him to the ground and threw him into a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy and gave him back to his father. (Luke 9:41-42 NASB)

From the moment that Jesus called the boy to Himself, it was clear He intended to heal him. Judging from what He had done in other circumstances, there is no other assumption that can be drawn. The enemy, of course, knew that as well, because he knew Jesus. 

The enemy was not willing to give up even a bit of the territory he held, especially not the boy, through whom he had terrorized not only the lad, but an entire family. In an act of utter defiance so typical of the rebellious one, the demon slammed the boy to the ground in a vicious attack. Perhaps the demon intended to kill the child rather than allow Jesus to have him. 

Jesus, however, had called the boy and, just as God's word does not return to Him void, so the calling of Christ did not return without accomplishing that for which it was given. There was one key point that made freedom not only possible but certain for the boy. When the demon slammed the child to the ground, his father scooped him up and carried him the rest of the way. Scripture doesn't tell us this, but how else would the child on the ground have covered the remaining distance? 

That demonic attack was the final attack, as Jesus rebuked the demon, healed the child, and returned him to his father. What would have happened, though, if the father, seeing the child falling to the ground, had failed to take his son those last few steps to Jesus? What if he had given up, thinking that the enemy had won? What if he had interpreted the child on the ground, looking more dead than alive, as a hopeless situation? Could Jesus have healed the boy if the father had given up hope and turned aside with his son? Yes. Would He? We don't know that. 

This story not only demonstrates the power of Christ over illness and demonic attack. This story demonstrates the importance of pressing through, of the relentless persistence of a loving parent who refuses to cede territory to the enemy of our souls. Dear ones, when we pray for those we love, the enemy will fight to hold territory, and fight hard. That battle does not render Our Lord powerless. When Jesus calls those we love to Himself, we must be willing to continue to carry them before our Lord in prayer until He has accomplished all for which He called them. Do not mistake this one very important point. The boy had such a battle raging in him, there was very little chance that he could bring himself to Jesus. The father's role was not just important but utterly critical in the healing and freedom of his son. 

Are you praying for someone you love? Do not stop. Do not cede territory. Do not give up. Press on, for The One to whom we pray did not stop until our own redemption was accomplished, and we must be willing to do the same for those we love. Press on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The second day at crisis training

As a child, this young Muslim girl prayed often to Allah. She longed for her god to speak back to her, but he never did. When she was seventeen, she awakened  and heard a voice that said, "This Allah that you worship is not a real God because he doesn't talk to you." She knew that, if Allah was not true, neither was her Muslim faith, and was instantly set free. Her parents were, of course, terribly upset but, amazingly, did not abandon her at that time. She eventually married a Muslim man and they moved to the US to pursue their education. 

Her burning desire became to know truth. She tried many faiths and spent time as a Hindu, Socialist, Buddhist, and New Ager. In her seemingly futile search for truth, she became desperately depressed and suicidal. 

Through a divine orchestration of events and programming, a man on a corner "with the eyes of Christ" handed her a Bible. The fear of going to hell for reading the Bible, ingrained in her as a Muslim child, prevented her from opening it. At the same time, the only program on television every single time she turned on her TV, regardless of the time, was the 700 Club. Every program was filled with people who told their story of transformation as a result of faith in Jesus. She had never heard the name of Jesus before, but she wanted what those  people had. Finally, in desperation, she called the 700 Club and spoke with a counselor who prayed with her. She prayed to receive Christ but "thought nothing happened."

Eventually, she ended up at a New Age camp. Sitting by the lake one day, talking with one of the leaders, the woman looked at her and said, "There is a beam of light coming down from the sky going through you. When you get up from here, you will have so much joy and the things that have bothered you will be past." Even though the woman was not a believer, and had no idea about the light she saw, she spoke the truth of God. This young woman walked away inflamed by Christ, filled with forgiveness, and in love with our Lord. 

Last night, she prayed with me and for me, speaking great truth into my life. Today, she shared her amazing story of redemption and deliverance with me. This beautiful woman is radiantly in love with Christ, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and freed from the years of seeking. She has found her King and has dedicated her life to serving Him. 

This former Muslim has a relationship with Christ that those of us who have grown up in the church would do well to emulate. We, who have so many advantages, do not adequately treasure that for which she sought so long. Oh, dear ones, that same Lord who spoke truth to a Muslim teenager, who orchestrated every step along her path to Him, longs to do the same for all of His children. May we relinquish ourselves to Christ with the abandon of our Savior who held nothing back in His quest of redemption, purchasing our pardon with His own dear blood. 

The persistent father, part 4

I begged Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not." (Luke 9:40 NASB)

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. [ But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."] (Matthew 17:19-21 NASB)

This is a heartbreaking passage. A boy had a demon that caused him to have convulsions. Sometimes it caused him to fall into the fire, sometimes into the water. His life was in jeopardy and he would almost certainly die without help. His father knew that Jesus was the only help for his son, but Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration. The father took the only option that appeared to be available to him. He took his much loved son to the disciples. 

The disciples had been given both power and authority over demons. They should have been able to heal the boy, but they could not. After Jesus did what they were powerless to do, casting the demon out and healing the boy, they went to Him and asked why they could not drive out the demon. "What happened to our power?" they were saying. Jesus was very clear. First, their faith was too little. 

The second reason they couldn't heal the boy was something they had failed to do, and it would likely have made the difference. Unfortunately, it is a failure that we often share, and is one of the reasons we see so little of the miraculous in the churches of this country. Prayer and fasting.  Jesus was clear about this. Some things will not be healed, some victories will not be achieved, except through prayer and fasting. 

In our affluent society, denying ourselves is not a popular concept, but it is not optional if we expect to have the power Christ  intended. Is there something about which you are desperate for the intervention of God? Pray and fast until you answer comes. 

Sometimes the fast that is required is a complete abstinence from all food for days at a time. Sometimes, the fast that is needed is an abstinence from a pleasure, an activity, or a food group (sweets, meat, etc). Some fasts last for a period of days or weeks, some fasts are prolonged for years. An example might be a weekly fast (of one meal or an entire day's meals) that lasts until the answer to you prayer, the intervention of God that is needed, finally arrives. 

Is there a situation about which you are powerless? Is there a need that is unmet? Perhaps what is needed is prayer and fasting. Someone has said fasting lets God know you are serious about your prayers. In fact, He knows your heart before you fast. He knows how serious you are. Perhaps what fasting does is not so much letting God know we are serious as it is letting us know we are serious. Regardless, Jesus was clear. Fasting makes a difference that nothing else can do. 

Do you lack power? Pray and fast. Do you lack victory? Pray and fast. Do you need an answer to your prayers? Pray and fast, but don't stop until God's answer comes. 
Link to last night's post:

Monday, November 17, 2014

The first night at Training

Nashville is the training site for the Preparing Communities of Refuge course I am attending. We assembled last evening and the course started in earnest this morning. Last night, I had the opportunity to chat with Sean, a 23 year old with a deep understanding of faith. 

Sean grew up in a Christian home, with great parents who were disciples. He joined the service after graduation from high school and says, "I realized I was Christian because I grew up in Oklahoma, and my parents are Christian." He spent some time as a prodigal, but a Christian friend helped him find his way back to Christ. 

We talked about his reason for coming to the conference. He said he had a steady job and was making a life but doing nothing for God. One day, he told me, we will have to answer to God for how we served Him. "I didn't want to say, 'I did nothing.' People are persecuting Christians, raping Christian women and I do not want to face God one day and have to admit that I did nothing to help."  He had to start somewhere, so he googled "how to help persecuted Christians in Iraq", found this course, and signed up for training. He has said from the start that he plans to deploy to Iraq to serve the very Christians for whom he has been so burdened. 

One day, Sean will stand before our Lord, and I expect he will hear those beautiful words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. When you did it unto the least of these, you did it unto Me." Sean understands a basic principle we all would do well to embrace. We are accountable for the impact we make in the world. We are accountable for how we serve, as well as for how we do not serve. 

There will come a day for each of us when we step into eternity and give account of our lives. Be sure, dear ones, that the account you give will stand up to the divine inspection, and remember that when you serve the least person, you have served our Lord. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The persistent father, part 2

And a man from the crowd shouted, saying, "Teacher, I beg You to look at my son, for he is my only boy, (Luke 9:38 NASB)

The father, bringing his son to Jesus, asked a beautiful thing of Him. "Look at him," he said. He understood what many of us do not. When Jesus looked at the need in that boy's life, He would see him with compassion and would respond to the need. The father wanted his boy healed. There is no doubt about that. He had asked the disciples to heal the boy already. Because of his faith, he simply asked Jesus to respond to the need He saw, knowing that whatever Jesus did would be enough. 

The word here indicates a turning of the eyes with compassion and intent. It implies turning the gaze away from the sights before one and turning toward something else in a way that allows not just sight, but sight with insight and understanding. What a beautiful word picture to consider Jesus turning His gaze toward us with insight and understanding, seeing our need and responding to it! May He turn His gaze to us and our loved ones, responding to our deepest needs with whatever solution is best! 

This turning of our gaze from that which distracts is how we should "look" at Jesus, as well. Our looking to Him should be with such intensity that we gain understanding and insight into His ways. Our looking should cause us to become more like Him. 

The prophet Hannai was speaking to King Asa, but his words are no less true for us today. "For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." (2 Chronicles 16:9 NASB)

If we turn our eyes to the Lord so fully that our hearts are completely His, when He looks at us, He will not just take delight in us, but also have compassion for the heart of love He sees. 

Oh, dear ones, "turn your eyes upon. Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."

Look to Jesus. 

The persistent father, part 3

I begged Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not." And Jesus answered and said, "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here." (Luke 9:40-41 NASB)

This is a sad commentary on the disciples. The father begged the disciples to cast out the illness (or demon) that afflicted his son, but they could not. In Luke 9:1, Jesus had clearly given the disciples authority over unclean spirits (demons). They had the authority to cast the demon out of the boy, but not the power. This story is related in Matthew 17, and that passage includes Jesus' rebuke of the disciples as well as a discussion between Jesus and these failed disciples. "Why couldn't we cast it out?" they asked. "Because of the littleness of your faith," Jesus replied. 

We will look more at this tomorrow but for today, look at the rebuke Jesus gave them. "You unbelieving and perverted generation" he called them. The word translated as unbelieving is also translated "faithless". The word translated as "perverted" is not used here to indicate sexual deviant, but "twisted" or "turned away". Jesus was saying that, although He had equipped them with all they needed to heal the boy, they had turned away from the faith in Christ that would have been sufficient for the task. 

How far away were they from their faith? A mustard seed's distance. Not far at all. It behooves us to stay close to our Lord. A task they had accomplished with ease on their journey was impossible when they moved away from their Lord just a bit. In fact, they were still right in the midst of the crowd. Still ostensibly close to Christ. An onlooker would not have been able to tell that they had moved away, but it became apparent when their power was gone 

What a truth for us! We must be diligent to stay close beside our Lord, consistently and constantly faithful in order to have the power to accomplish the tasks God has given us. Perhaps this is the reason we see so little of the miraculous in our churches today, so little of divine intervention. We have the appearance of disciples, but not the power. 

The words of Jesus could well be words for us today. "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you?" What is it we lack? Faith. We lack a mustard seed sized faith, and it separates us from the power our Lord would so freely give. Oh dear ones, step closer, move in, embrace our Lord and the life of faith He longs to give us.