Inspiring verse for this post: “But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; 17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’” Acts 26:17
As I’m re-reading The Purpose Driven Life, I fall upon these golden nuggets of wisdom, and I just can hardly help but write about them. Today I read Day 11, Becoming Best Friends with God and in it Rick throws The Message version of Acts 26:17 in the mix. I wanted to see how the NASB version said it, and that lead me to read all of Acts 26 – which, can I just say how much I love Paul’s courage? If I lived in Paul’s time, and further, it so happened that I had the divine opportunity to get to know Paul, I think we’d be friends. He’s got spunk and sass, but in a good way.
It’s incredible how cocky I can get sometimes. I’m not sure if this happens to everyone, but I would image it’s fairly common: you get to a point where you feel like you’ve heard it all. Christianese is a “language” you’re fluent in. You’ve heard every sermon in one way or another, you’ve read through the entire Bible several times, you’ve discussed every Biblical topic under the sun (I hope you can sense the sarcasm here)…nothing surprises you. Nothing thrills you like when you learned the power of the Gospel for the first time. And, even though you know that there’s always something new to learn, and that you’re FAR from knowing it all (and never will), you still feel like you’re just spinning your wheels. As people who work to bring the unsaved to Christ, this is a dangerous spot to be in. Sometimes, you’re here, but you don’t want to admit it to yourself because, you work for a Christian organization…you know how to handle this, and /or …you’ve been a Christian for years, you teach others how to move past these valleys, you know the answers like the back of your hand; surely you can work your way through this. Is it sounding familiar yet?
If complacency is creeping in, it may be time to nip it in the bud by giving yourself a discount double check (insurance commercial, couldn’t resist) to make sure you are actually applying the basics. And, if you’re in that place right now, you are probably thinking, “Yeah, that’s definitely the first time I’ve heard that…way to solve the mystery, Sherlock.” But, like most things God has said, the power behind the simplicity is easily underestimated.
Here’s a checklist of questions to ask yourself when you think you’ve heard it all:
- Is your Bible reading quality time with God or just your eyes scrolling over small words in red and black print (or on a brightly lit screen)?
- When you pray, do you feel renewed, refreshed and energized? Are you being specific? Are you thanking God for all the good things in your life or just presenting a “to do” list to Him?
- What kind of real fellowship are you involved in? Let’s say a serious problem arises. Do you have at least 1 person who you would want to have a one on one, in depth conversation with about it? Would this person be able to give you godly advice on how to handle it? I’m not talking about someone who you’d give a Christianese rendition of the problem to – I mean someone you can put it all out on the table with, tell them how you really feel regardless of if the feeling is right or wrong.
- Have you alienated yourself from any group in particular? What were the reasons behind it? Would Jesus have you separate yourself from those people or are you avoiding something?
- Do you hold resentment toward anyone right now? Who? What for? Do your thoughts and actions express to yourself, them and others that you have forgiven them?
- Are you around people who don’t have a relationship with Christ? When is the last time you personally told someone who doesn’t know about Jesus how He makes a difference in your life?
If any of these items are a continuous problem for you, and you seem to have forgotten why you keep struggling, it might be time to take a little jaunt over to Basicsville. Remember, it’s not like remedial math; we all need a refresher course every now and again. It’s like keeping a professional license up to date.
First, Prayer. “Pray without ceasing.” Now, read it again, “Pray without ceasing.” Pray continually, all day, in every minute detail, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Is this a habit for you? Greet Him in the morning when you wake up, talk to Him about the song on the radio on your drive to work, or better yet, turn the radio off. Pray for your co-workers as you enter your place of employment, pray for your family member’s specific needs, thank Him for things like your car, food, computers, spouse, children, the weather, paved roads, for giving some blessed individual the idea of creating donuts, etc. Try walking around your house and looking at each thing you see thanking Him for all that you have. Or, walk around your neighborhood and pray for the people in the houses you pass. Again, have you heard this before? Most likely. But, are you doing it? I wasn’t. And, when I truly was having an ongoing conversation with God throughout the day is when I felt His presence in an incredible way.
Are you renewing your mind on a daily basis with God’s teachings through the Bible? Notice that I didn’t say, “Are you reading extended passages of scripture on a set plan that has been outlined by a figure of established Christian authority?” Of course, there would be nothing wrong with that. But, if that’s not working for you right now, then you need to go a different route. If you are in a rut– try reading until you hit a point where you feel convicted, compelled, motivated, [insert missing internal quality you are craving here]…keep reading until you feel God has shown you what He has for you that day. It might be one verse. It might be 10 chapters. Whatever it is – it’s important that you reflect on it and pray about the steps you will take (starting today) on how you’ll honestly apply it to your life. You may be so far “gone” that you don’t “feel” Him no matter how much you read. If that’s you, keep at it. Be persistent. You know he’ll show up. Do you know how I know that you know that? You would not be where you are today – the commitment and sacrifice you make for your organization is not something a person would do if they didn’t wholeheartedly believe in the cause. It wouldn’t be worth it. We’re certainly not there for the money 😉
The truth is, sometimes, though we are surrounded day in and day out with trying to accomplish the Master’s work, we can get stuck and because we are continually surrounded, we may feel embarrassed or unworthy because of our feelings on where we’re at in our walk. I’ve been there. It’s a tough road, but there is hope. If you are struggling, please post (anonymously) below how we can pray for you – or if you want to avoid even that, message me and I’ll pray for you and try and help in any way that I can.