Carlos Whittaker is a voice we need right now. A voice who speaks truth and calls us to live life abundantly and to the fullest. He shares his life and stories through vulnerability and humor, and you can’t help but to be drawn in. In his latest release, ENTER WILD, he reminds us that we don’t have to wait until heaven to experience God’s best. Even in the midst of our broken world’s traumas and trials, we can hear from God, experience victory, and believe His promises. We CAN experience John 10:10 today! It’s a grace to welcome Carlos Whittaker, to the farm’s front porch today…
Is there more? Is there really, truly more to this Christian life than we have experienced?
John 10:10 says this: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (ESV).
This verse, this verse. This verse has confused more people than I can count.
Is God’s promise of life to the full real? Is His promise of abundant life an actual thing? Is His presence actually something we can tangibly enjoy on a daily basis?
The simple answer is yes. The more complicated answer is also yes.
Look, the offer we have been given by God Himself is this: a life that is filled with heart-pumping, joy-releasing, victory-claiming, beauty-experiencing fullness!
Now will all that be opposed? Of course. Opposed by what?
Well, Scripture tells us there is an enemy in our midst who is not out to borrow, push, or upset. No, the Enemy is out to steal, kill, and destroy. But we have been given all the tools we need to fight and win.
How is it possible that John 10:10, a verse meant to give us freedom, has so confused us? It’s not the scripture’s fault. Obviously.
Just reading it, taking it at its word, is so life giving. But it’s been taught incorrectly. Much of the pain comes in misunderstanding the meaning of the word abundance.
That is where so many Christians get tripped up. And I know why. It’s the gold. The shiny, gaudy gold. At least it was for me.
Is the Blessing for Me?
When I was growing up, we often drove past the TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) headquarters in Costa Mesa, California, off the 55 Freeway. My family would drive by in our 1981 Buick Regal, and I would stare in absolute awe and wonder.
Five-year-old me was enamored with the gaudiness of it all. If you haven’t ever seen it, imagine for a second if you combined Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the Taj Mahal in India, and Daddy Warbucks’s mansion in the 1982 film version of Annie. Yep. That’s exactly what it looked like. I was constantly looking for Punjab (Annie’s rescuer) to be standing on one of the balconies as we drove by.
“Daddy? Who lives in there?” I once asked my dad.
“Oh, Carlitos. Nobody lives there. That’s a Christian TV station,” he responded.
A Christian TV station? My little mind would spin.
We were Christians, but I didn’t know any Christians who had digs like that. Maybe Christian movie stars?
I mean, isn’t that who worked there? Christian celebrities? Probably. And we were not that.
My dad was the pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista de Pico Rivera or First Bilingual Baptist Church in Pico Rivera, California.
There was absolutely nothing about our lives that matched that place, at least from what I could see. I’d never seen the inside though. Maybe just the exterior was fancy.
“Dad? What does the inside look like?”
When we got home, he showed me. He turned on TBN. I think it was channel 56. Bill Gaither was singing “The King Is Coming” with a few other men in white suits, and there were lots of old people crying as they sang along.
They were singing on gold microphones in front of gold columns and these massive red velvet chairs with gold trim. The floor was marble, and there were these two people sitting behind the quartet mouthing every single word.
“Who are they, Daddy?” I asked.
“They are like the pastors of the TV station, Carlitos.” They were like my dad!
I can literally feel the emotion as I type, the hope and desire that began to creep into my chest. Was this sort of lavishness made for us too?
Maybe we would have this one day. My dad was the pastor. He loved God. This had to be the goal. Right?
I started watching TBN when nobody else was around. The lady pastor, the woman with the big hair and all the makeup . . . she was so pretty and so confident.
She would stare into the camera and say stuff that made me feel like God was on my side. Her words made me confident I would have all that Daddy Warbucks stuff, too, someday. I didn’t necessarily know what “sow a seed” meant, but as a child I wanted to do that if it meant my familia would end up with all that swag.
Is this it? Is this what Jesus was talking about in John 10:10? This bougie life I saw on TBN? And if John 10:10 is for real, then why is life so insanely hard?
You pray for that promotion, someone else gets it. You pour your blood, sweat, and tears into a dream, and it fails to turn out.
You try counseling to fix your marriage, and your spouse doesn’t want it as bad as you do.
You are believing for physical healing; your symptoms get worse.
You lean into your faith like you never have before, reading the Bible, praying every morning, going to church every week, listening only to Christian music—you are doing it all right—but it all seems to fall short of the promise.
You hear sermons talking about freedom and abundant life, of peace that passes all understanding, but this stuff never seems to materialize for you. It seems like an unattainable goal, and life is just so unrelenting.
How can we live the truth of God’s promise while on this side of heaven? It seems impossible.
But, friends, we have mistakenly defined abundant life to mean a better job, more money, a fixed marriage, that house you’ve been dreaming about.
No. Although those are great and fantastic things that God may give to us, those are not what John 10:10 is referring to.
We have to switch our definition to mean abundance no matter your job.
Abundance no matter how much money you have.
Abundance no matter your marital status.
Abundance no matter your living conditions.
What does Jesus mean when He speaks of abundant life?
It’s clearly not a nice little life.
Abundance has nothing to do with accumulating things and everything to do with accessing the King.
Carlos Whittaker is a People’s Choice Award winner, a former recording artist signed to a major label, a social media maven, and currently spends the majority of his time writing books and speaking on stages around the world. Currently Carlos is regularly teaching at churches and conferences worldwide. Including Catalyst Conference, Embrace Church, FreshLife Church, and many more.
In Enter Wild: Exchange a Mild and Mundane Faith for Life with an Uncontainable God, Carlos teaches how 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, and discover how to pray His promises instead of praying over the problems.
With his trademark blend of humor and transparency, gifted storyteller Carlos 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.
[ Our humble thanks to Waterbrook for their partnership in today’s devotion ]