If we don’t read the word of God can we admit to ourselves we don’t really hunger for the God behind the word?
If we don’t read the word of God can we admit to ourselves we don’t really hunger for the God behind the word?
I’m starting a segment on my blog called TruthHurts. A “TH” is one specific statement that is meant to be a blast from the truth that moves us to wake up and think. Think of it as a reality check for Christians. I hope it challenges you to deeper things.
If your faith doesn’t revolve around helping those in need and showing grace to others, perhaps better words for what you practice is a “customized religion” rather than “genuine faith.”
If I got a B on a paper I would sulk and pout and lose sleep for days over it. I couldn’t take anything but perfection when it came to grades, which I had to constantly fight to try and achieve. I stressed myself out in school, constantly worrying about my grades and my future. When I would make the grade, I could not enjoy the moment because another paper or test was pending. It was exhausting.
Any overachievers relate to me? Anyone plagued by perfectionism? Do you ever feel guilty if you don’t work yourself to death on something? Are you what some might call a control freak? Here is a news alert… God doesn’t need you to try so hard. In fact it could be detrimental to your soul.
The Christian life is a paradox in many ways. We gain our life only when we lose it. The least will actually be first. Giving is better than receiving. When it comes to how we are to live, God is not interested in how much we can achieve for Him. That might shock you but you won’t find verses in the Bible that says, Thou shalt achieve great things for God.
He doesn’t want our efforts as much as He wants our surrender. He put His Holy Spirit in us and gave us the authority of Jesus to accomplish life altering, earth-shattering, transformative things for Him. That doesn’t come via talent, hard work, ingenuity, or anything else we could accomplish on our own. That comes through the power of God, the Holy Spirit, in us.
It doesn’t mean God doesn’t want our best effort or to use our talents but His word is full of stories of uneducated, unqualified, unprepared participants who didn’t have any influence or position yet changed the world around them. When we read the stories of these men and women, we are not noticing what a great person they were but rather, what a great God they served!
Reality check… you are not capable or equipped to do this life your own strength in a way that will honor God. You need help. You need Jesus. Your greatest efforts will fall short of the eternal, kingdom advancing work God wants to do through you.
Some of you have worn yourself out trying to change your spouse, train your kids, make a business successful, maintain a family on the verge of falling apart, all by your will power and effort. It leaves you weary and on edge. You are frustrated on how little control you have to make things happen. Truth is God doesn’t call us to juggle all of this. He isn’t testing us to see how much we can achieve. This stuff is too big for us!
You want to be a great parent to your children? You want to be an influential grandparent on your grandchildren? You want to live for something greater than a paycheck and two garage house? Then you will have to surrender your talents, your wisdom, your control, your effort to the Lord and allow Him to inspire you, empower you, and lead you into His purposes.
That’s great Dax but what if it doesn’t work? What if I do that and my kids, grandchildren, or job do not cooperate? Instead of getting frustrated you rest in the knowledge that you are trusting them to God and that He will work in The best way and at the right moment. You find peace in a God who sympathizes with you when those you love make horrible mistakes and refuse to change. You rest in the fact that God is doing things you can’t always see and will always prove Himself faithful.
Whatever you are going through right now, which one of these questions best speak to your approach: Am I putting more effort into trying to fix what I perceive as the problem OR more effort into submitting to the Holy Spirit to receive whatever He would have me to learn and do in this situation? There is a Grand Canyon difference between these two perspectives. One is a futile attempt to do things you cannot do. The other is a place of rest and peace as you surrender to His will. Which one you choose will make all the difference in what kind of person you are.
I am truly an infected saint. I doubt that God exists more than I care to admit. I have preached through much of the Scriptures. I have been through more schooling than should be allowed. I have dedicated my life to following Christ. Yet, I have times of doubt. Times where I wonder if it is real. “Is there anything beyond this life?,” is a question that whispers to me sometimes.
Honestly, I don’t like living by faith. I can see your face right now. It’s a look of disappointment. A pastor that doesn’t want to live by faith?! Shame on you, Dax. Yet, I really would like to know by visible signs. Not just trust and hope. I’d like for the Spirit to descend like a dove from the clouds and talk to me.Or a burning bush to start speaking to me in a divine voice and tell me to remove my Nikes because I am on holy ground. I want to know God is really there, that Jesus really walked on water and was raised from the dead.
I have staked my life on a God I cannot see, touch, hear, or prove. The skeptics laugh and ridicule. They are willing to bet their entire existence on the idea that He does not exist. As John Ortberg said in his book, Faith and Doubt, “If God is there, why doesn’t He make more noise?”
Most people in our world believe in God. The minority who doesn’t believe in a higher power might dismiss the majority view as a logical fallacy known as argumentum ad populum, or “appeal to the people” — simply because many people believe something to be true doesn’t make it true. But my faith is not based on the masses’ belief. It doesn’t hurt or help my faith that many believe.
I have faith because His word has been tested in my life. I cannot deny my own experiences. My salvation experience was supernatural. In that moment in 1992, I became acutely aware of my frailty and smallness in this universe. God revealed His glory and grace. It was beyond compelling… it was transformative. God is always there as I have faith to look. I see His hand working. I recognize His intervention in my life. Faith has been my rock and refuge in an unpredictable and often cruel world.
I even praise Him for the times of doubt because God has used it to strengthen my faith. These moments of doubt remind me why my faith is so powerful in my life.
What about you? Do you feel shame when you doubt? You shouldn’t. Doubt is part of being human. God is bigger than our doubt. Some of the greatest spiritual moments in my life occurred when I came out of a valley of doubt. Doubt makes my faith stronger. It causes me to question things and to seek Truth more. I don’t need a sign to be strong in my belief. Didn’t work for Israel. Wouldn’t work for me.
God is not easily found by our senses because He wants us to come to Him in the right way. Like Israel of old, miraculous signs and wonders would just leave us feeling entitled and wanting more and more sensational showings by God. We wouldn’t be satisfied enough to be fully devoted to Him. It is in faith that we find our strength and resolve. For “blessed are those who have not yet seen but still believe.” John 20:29.
Over the last few months I have connected with “KIA,” a fellow blogger. He responded to my blog post about “Witnessing to Atheists.” KIA is a gifted poet and strong thinker. I was intrigued by his story, as he was once a minister. KIA has left the faith. I asked if he would allow me to interview him and he obliged me. I think it is vital that more dialogue happen between us Christians and those who think differently than we do. Here is the unedited, unabridged interview.
1. What do you consider yourself (Atheist, Agnostic, Other) and would you please explain what it means to you?
I don’t really know how i would Identify. as least not at this point in time. i don’t think i’m atheist because i still believe there ‘might’ be a god/gods, but i no longer believe we would ever know it if there were, nor would we be able to demonstrate their existence in the ‘real’ world. i guess for me, at least for now, the question becomes irrelevant. Who am i now? I’m just me, like i’ve always been. That’s who I am.
2. You were one time in the Christian Faith. Could you explain how you came to be part of the Christian Faith and how committed would you say you were to the faith?
Yes, I was a christian/disciple of jesus for 34 yrs, 25 of those in what i will refer to as ‘Avocational’ ministry of various forms. From teaching, evangelism (street and otherwise), international missions in two different countries and the US in the inner cities of the phoenix az area (gangs and kids pre-gang). I’ve led homegroups, led worship in small groups, outreach and church settings and have discipled men (my personal forte and passion for the last 20 years). I’d say i was about as committed and flexible a ‘disciple of jesus’ i’ve ever known without remaining a celebate, lifelong missionary in a third world country. I’ll match my ministry C.V. to anyone, anyday.
3. Why did you leave the faith? Would you describe that journey?
Evidence. Evidence had convinced me that i had been wrong about the very foundations of the Truth Claims and claims to Archaeological/Historical accuracy and the Textural Integrity of the Bible as a whole as God’s Word. to quote a verse slightly modified, “If the foundations be destroyed…” what is a christian to do but deconvert?
4. What is your take on Christians today? If you had then all gathered up in a room to listen to you what would you say?
My take on Christians today? I would hope they are like me, asking questions and searching for answers, even if those answers lead them away from what they believed as irrefutable and incontrovertible Truth. What would I say? Don’t be afraid to Think, read and question for yourself. Don’t ever stop growing in your knowledge and curiosity of the world around you and how you fit into it. Overall, Think for yourself and don’t let anyone tell you to just accept the answers you are given.
5. What advice would you give Christians on dialoging with those they disagree with?
Be respectful, diligent and courteous. listen and allow yourself to think thru the questions and the answers from both positions. “seek first to understand, then to be understood”. be open and ready to learn, but also ready to express and exchange what you hold to be true.
6. If Christianity is a farce why do you think millions and millions have followed it since the time of Jesus, many even to their deaths?
Millions of people believing something to be true, “even unto death” is not evidence of it actually being true. Realize, there are millions of Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus who have also lived and died for the Truth of their beliefs. would you concede the same ‘value’ to their convictions that they are true beliefs? i’m not sure you would.
Thanks to KIA for taking the time to answer my questions. If you have a question for him I am sure we will respond.
You can also check out his site at https://recoveringknowitall.wordpress.com
As infected saints, we would do well to not avoid topics because they are convicting. If we desire to be like Jesus, we should want to know and experience the deeper things of the faith. Here are the topics I believe are being neglected by most Christians today.
1. Fasting– Fasting is found throughout Scripture as a way of mourning and refocusing. Even Jesus fasted before He started His ministry. Fasting is a spiritual act of creating space by abstaining for a period of time from something good in order to draw nearer to God. I can say from my own experience with fasting that it is a megaphone to God’s voice in my life. I gain clarity of purpose and perspective from the Lord. It is a neglected discipline that would be powerful in our lives if we practiced it.
2. Repentance– Who wants to talk about turning away from the pleasures of sin? Repentance is out of style with churches that have gone easier on sin. Yet, repentance is a way of life for a Christian trying to be like Jesus. Confessing and turning away from sin must be part of the Christian life.
3. Holiness– We are called to be holy as God is holy. We don’t talk often enough about being “set apart” as a holy people. Holiness is what makes us different than the world. If we look like the world, then our message loses its relevance and power to a lost world. How we live matters.
4. Accountability– In our rebellion towards God, we resist accountability. We don’t want to be told we are wrong, especially when we like doing what we are doing. We find all kinds of ways to excuse accountability and rationalize our sin. Many Christians neglect this practice in their lives and are hindered spiritually because of it.
5. Singleness– The church often lacks a strong message about being single. Most messages and programs are centered around the married. Singleness is not addressed as it should be. The Bible celebrates singleness as an opportunity to be more devoted, without distraction, to the Lord (1 Cor 7).
6. The Holy Spirit– We often celebrate two members of the triune Godhead. We magnify the Father in worship and prayer. We highlight the Son as our hope of salvation. So often, the Holy Spirit is, at best, insinuated in our churches. There is the assumption the Spirit is real and moving. We non-charismatics just don’t speak about Him often enough. He was so vital to the church that Jesus told His disciples to be glad He was leaving because He was sending the Spirit!
7. Sex– This is often a taboo topic in church, though it is a major topic in the minds of young people and adults. Its distortion is plastered on billboards, magazines, Internet, and television. Yet, God created it as good. The church needs to speak boldly and clearly on the topic.
8. Old Testament– It is easy to focus on the New Testament as a Christian; it is the story of Jesus and His church. On the other hand, the Old Testament offers strange stories, the constant failure of Israel, several gruesome battles, and prophets preaching naked in the streets and talking about dry bones. It feels more appropriate for a Jerry Springer show than our reading list. Yet, the Old Testament is raw because life is hard and cruel—it gets real about sin and consequence. It tells the story of man’s restoration to God and the promise of the coming Savior. Therefore, it is vital to our understanding of the Gospel.
9. Heaven/Hell– We refer to Heaven and Hell a lot, but do we talk about them as a future reality in our lives? We need to talk about Hell because it creates urgency within us to share the Gospel with those who are without Jesus. We need to talk more about Heaven because it spurs us on to endure and finish well.
10. Parents as Spiritual Leaders– Parenthood is the toughest thing I do! It is difficult to parent well. Our kids need to see their parents are not Christian in name only. Kids should not get all of their spiritual knowledge and training just from the church. Parents need to be challenged to be spiritual leaders at home. This is an epidemic in churches today. The church is given the task of raising students spiritually. That robs children of the guidance they need from their parents spiritually. It robs parents of playing a role in the most important area of their child’s life!
I pray we give more and more attention to these topics. They are vital to our spiritual life. ~Dax
Should students (K-12) be separated from their parents at church? This is a question of much debate among some. Those who argue that separation is negative for the family believe children need to see their parents worship. They learn by imitation, and, the way our culture is heading, students and parents already spend a majority of time apart from each other doing their own thing. Besides, there is something special about parents worshiping alongside their children. I see value in that.
Yet, my experience with this says children are mostly bored with “adult” talk and don’t engage in this setting. I think having times where togetherness happens should be a part of every local church’s planning, but more than ever, our churches need strong children and youth ministries that are intentional about engaging students in ways that train them as Christian warriors. It is beneficial for students to be with their peers learning about Jesus and what that means for their lives. Adults need that alone time with their peers as well.
Every pastor to students (children and youth pastors) worth his salt longs to do family ministry. Pastors don’t want to be “all things spiritual” to students. They are burdened for parents to step up and be the spiritual leaders. They long to walk alongside them in training their child spiritually. They don’t want to replace the parent, but they are experts in understanding how students tick. They know their needs are different than adults, and they know how to engage minds and hearts in a way students understand. Instead of hoarding this knowledge, they desire to help parents better engage their children spiritually.
Yet, most parents see student ministry as a replacement rather than a supplement. “Teach my child spiritually because I am not doing it at home” is how many parents in the church are approaching their child’s spiritual life. This is not healthy! Student pastors are aware of this and long to see parents wake up to the reality that they need to be the loudest voice spiritually in their child’s life.
Our children are under attack. Everywhere they turn, their inexperienced eyes are bombarded with temptation, immorality, cruelty, and wickedness of every kind. There is no debating this is only getting worse. It doesn’t matter if you send your kids to public school or homeschool; unless you lock them in a room and keep them away from all technology and outside influence, they will face these things to some degree. Even if you manage to shelter them from most of it, eventually they will step into the world as young adults. No matter what, they will face the realities of this wicked world.
Good student ministers intersect the Word with life on a level students get. These ministers speak honestly and boldly about temptations that will be faced and help students be prepared to stand against them. They are skilled and passionate and, therefore, effective at not only training students but also working alongside parents to train their children to be in the world but not of the world. The best student ministers do not oppose family ministry but embrace it by seeking to influence parents to better engage their children with spiritual truth.
I see four ways that motivate student ministers in these tasks:
Thriving student ministries have no desire to isolate students form their parents. Instead, they provide a valuable service of walking alongside intentional parents who long to see their children know God and make Him known. Rather than dismissing student ministries and bringing families together for the whole time at church, Christian parents need to catch a vision for their role as spiritual leaders to their children and embrace student ministries as a helpful reinforcement to their own efforts with their children. Our children need godly parents and godly student ministries. This will lead to children becoming mighty warriors for God.
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
Is it wrong to be this angry? That really is the question is it not? Anger is not necessarily a negative emotion. It really depends on the “why” and the “how” behind your anger. I would suggest your goal not to be to eliminate anger but to better understand the dynamics behind it so that you can better manage your anger.
So first of all, WHY do we get angry? What leads us to get so upset that our blood boils? See if one or more of these do not relate to your struggle.
So there are four reasons we get angry. If you are like me you can relate to all four of them. Question now is how do we better manage our anger in a way that honors God and is healthy for us.
HOW to deal with your anger:
Anger is not always the wrong response to life but often it indicates a greater issue that exists. Be honest with yourself about why you get angry. Is there one of the above reasons that resonates with you the most? Consider how to deal with the source of that anger. Have courage to face your insecurities and fear head on. Knowledge is power and your being aware is a great step. You can do this with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit behind you.