You are meant to receive the abundance God promises here and now. You are not meant to wait until heaven to experience His best. Even in the midst of our broken world’s traumas and trials, you can
• learn to lower the volume of life and truly hear God
• experience what it means to speak God’s Word over yourself for real victory
• discover how to pray His promises instead of praying over the problems
With his trademark blend of humor and transparency, gifted storyteller Carlos Whittaker shares his personal struggle in coping with crippling anxiety—and how the key to his freedom was rediscovering a wild faith. That key can be yours, helping you open the door to leave mild and enter wild.
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.49(w) x 8.23(h) x 0.55(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Back in 1983 there was no such thing as VeggieTales. The children’s department at the local church didn’t have moving lights or a fog-machine haze or Xboxes lined up like airline kiosks at the airport. No.
My generation grew up with much more simplistic entertainment at church. I couldn’t wait for Sunday school each and every week. Mrs. Sullivan would place all of us eight-year-olds in a semicircle. Everyone would sit cross-legged except me. I’m not sure what happened to my ligaments when the good Lord made me, but I’m certain He forgot to stretch them out appropriately. Even as a young lad, I could not for the life of me sit cross-legged. I always had to sit in a chair while the rest of my classmates sat on the ground. So with this scene in mind—eight eight-year-olds sitting cross-legged in a semicircle and one eight-year-old sitting in a chair—follow me into our Sunday school lesson.
As soon as we all sat down, Mrs. Sullivan would reach behind her chair and grab the flannel board and a small zebra-printed bag. Iloved this part! Now, if you grew up in the eighties, this wasyour Sunday school entertainment jam. It was nothing more than a three-by-three-foot piece of cardboard or poster board covered in soft material. Flannel to be exact. And what was in that zebra-printed bag? It contained paper cutout characters that would magically stick to the flannel board as Mrs. Sullivan told the story.
Before she unzipped the bag, she spoke. “Okay, boys and girls. Today we are going to talk once again about Jesus and His disciples. Remember last week we learned about how they fed the five thousand?”
And I thought, Of course, I remember that. It’s all I’ve been thinking about all week!
It was true. Ever since Mrs. Sullivan told us that story, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I mean, how crazy would that have been! I actually went home after hearing the story, grabbed a few fish sticks out of the freezer, and secretly prayed that God would turn two fish sticks into four. I sat them on my Transformers plate and clenched my eyes shut.
“Dear Jesus, do it!” I prayed aloud. When I opened my eyes, you will never believe what I saw! Two fish sticks. Ugh. It hadn’t worked. Every single day of that week, I prayed for a miracle to happen. For something absolutely wild to happen. But nothing happened. I kept praying for crazy stuff like that to happen, but I went to bed disappointed every night.
“Mrs. Sullivan?” I asked her that morning in Sunday school.
“Yes, Carlos?” she replied.
“I tried to pray for a miracle like the fish one all week,” I said. “But nothing ever happened. Am I not praying hard enough?”
All my friends, the flexible ones on the floor around me, started giggling. I remember feeling embarrassed and annoyed. Didn’t they think this whole thing was crazy like I did? Didn’t they want to figure out how to do all the wild stuff Jesus and the disciples did? Mrs. Sullivan saved my spiraling mind.
“Carlos, maybe this story will help you,” she said.
Mrs. Sullivan placed the cutouts of Jesus’s disciples on the flannel board and began to tell us a story about how sad they were after Jesus was crucified. “They were obviously sad,” she said. “Their best friend on the planet had just been killed. They didn’t know what to do.”
Then she placed a cutout of a woman on the other end of the board. “This is Mary Magdalene. She was the very first person who saw Jesus after He rose again.” Then she placed the cutout of Jesus on the board next to Mary. I hadn’t seen this version of Jesus on the board before. He appeared almost . . . shiny.
She went on to tell us the Bible story for that day—about Jesus’s appearing to His disciples after the worst day of their lives. Mrs. Sullivan was right; this story was about to change everything for me. Imagine the flannel board as I share this story from Mark 16.
Jesus asked Mary to go and tell the disciples that He was alive! But there was one major problem; they didn’t believe her. Nope. They weren’t having it. Let’s be honest for a second. I don’t know if I would have believed her either. I mean, He had just been crucified! But what I love about this story is that when Jesus showed up to see His friends and disciples again, He let them have it. He laid into them!
I love the way this interaction is set up: “Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table” (Mark 16:14, esv). I can imagine the conversation that was happening around the table, especially because it says they were reclining. The Greek word anakeimai means to recline as a corpse or at a meal. Obviously, I didn’t look up the Greek word when I was eight, but I have since learned the meaning, and I now have a new way I want to eat.
So imagine for a second, the eleven disciples totally relaxing around the table. Arguing about whether Mary is crazy or not. It sounds like they were just chillin’. Then Jesus showed up and the very first thing He said to them wasn’t, “Hey, guys, it’s Me! Can you believe it? I pulled it off! I’m alive!” Nope. That’s not how it went down.
The first thing Jesus said to His disciples after He rose again was a little more harsh. The Scriptures say, “He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen” (Mark 16:14). Sounds to me like they got a pretty harsh tongue-lashing. Almost as if Jesus was trying to say that things were about to get crazy and if they were all in, they’d better buckle up. Because there was going to be no more room for doubt.
Then, after they were probably feeling super guilty, Jesus went on to tell them the thing that my eight-year-old self had been waiting an entire week to hear. I just didn’t know it yet.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16:15–20)
After Mrs. Sullivan finished the story, which I’m sure she told with a little less commentary than the way I just told it, she simply looked at me and smiled. I remember my heart was pounding and my mouth was hanging open.
Drive out demons? I thought. Speak in new languages? Have superhuman powers? Heal people? My eight-year-old mind was going wild. I was a disciple of Jesus! That meant this stuff was gonna happen to me! I realized in that moment why Mrs. Sullivan told me that the story would answer my questions. These miracles, these signs and wonders, and this wild faith? It wasn’t meant to be a magic show. It was meant to change people’s lives. It was meant to take people from weak . . . to wild.
As an eight-year-old, I was ready to experience all that Jesus told His disciples they would experience. But then a funny thing happened. I grew up. I got older. My confidence slowly went from looking like the disciples’ faith after Jesus’s pep talk, which is called the Great Commission, to looking like the disciples’ faith before the pep talk. As an adult, I began to find myself doubting all sorts of things about what Jesus said my life should look like.
Adult life and circumstances had kidnapped my childlike faith. Worry robbed my wonder. Anxiety robbed my amazement. For you, it may have been fear, doubt, or anger. The cause may be different, but the effect is the same. For me, it was unreal levels of anxiety. Before I knew it, I found myself like many of us in the church . . . with a small, boring faith. A mild faith.
But what if I told you that you didn’t have to stay here? What if I told you that a mild faith can blow up into a wild faith? Will it take hard work? Yes. But here’s the truth: you can wake up every single morning and sprint into a day filled with miracles, signs, and wonders. It’s possible. Absolutely. It happened to me.
Let me show you what it’s like to Enter Wild.
Table of Contents
Part I Enter Rest
1 Gold Thrones 9
2 Losing Our Minds 21
3 Be Still 29
4 Daily Prayer 35
5 I Finally Heard! 43
6 Get Specific 51
Pause and Pray 61
Part II Enter War
7 This Means War 65
8 Pray the Promise 73
9 All Is Lost … Again 87
10 This Is How We Fight 95
11 All the Parts of Me 101
12 Beet Juice 109
13 Roadblocks 117
14 Me, Me, Me 125
Pause and Pray 133
Part III Enter Wild
15 I Doubt It 137
16 Redneck Thai 145
17 Googling God 153
18 The President 163
19 Adjust Your ISO 173
20 The End 181
Pause and Pray 191
My Daily Prayer 193