Being able to make a decision underrated. Looking at how many pople live life – how they let others make decisions for them about what car to drive, what clothes to wear, where to live – it is amazing that we struggle for personal freedom to be able to make a decision at all. It seems so many people reject this basic freedom.
I used to work a group called Young American Showcase. They trained their representatives in many things that were helpful on the road. Mainly they taught us to know what we were doing. That is, they taught us to know our appeal to the audience and commit to it.
In entertainment, doing a performance without committing to it is death. Half-hearted performances just don’t appeal to audiences, and if they see that you aren’t sure of your performance, they begin to think that you are messing up.
In the Christian life, the same is true. In many ways, Christians don’t seem sure of what it is they are doing. Poling churches, one stresses a moderate lifestyle while another encourages freedom. There are just as many perspectives on how to live a Christian life as there are churches (and probably a whole lot more). There seems to be little uniformity though and very little commitment, and that points to how unsure they are about what the Christian life is about.
This is maybe the biggest indictment on the state of discipleship. Discipleship is the process of how people learn they are about and is the way they are shown the way to commit to it and be decisive.
I don’t know what happened. Completely tapped out, my season of incredible creativity turned. Suddenly, I have nothing left to give. Have you been there, got the t-shirt and later sold it at a yard sale? Many times I have found myself in this place. I usually recognize it when I finally have some free time and don’t know what to do. There is no promise of inspiration in these times. What to do now? Here’s my approach.
1. Be faithful – No matter what I do, I remind myself that I need to continue looking to God and following. Even when I am not inspired (or particularly inspiring), I can still be obedient in my call and work.
2. Do nothing – When I find myself here, it is often because I have been doing too much. I need some time to rest, think, remember, meditate, be indwelled, be enriched in the presence of Jesus. My best practice is to find a quiet spot of nature and let it speak to me. I’m not a spiritualist by any means, but I grew up surrounded by nature. It tells me things deep inside that I need to hear.
3. Confess – I always underestimate the power of confession. Sometimes the best thing I can do is just tell someone that I am feeling empty and alone. Never has this been fruitless.
4. Ask for help – I am a horrid example of this. Sometimes, I just need someone to encourage me, or confront me, or kick my butt. Honest friendship is a resource beyond most practices. It doesn’t wait for me to ask, but it is always beter when I do.
How do you defeat a dry spirit?
Last night I had two great surprises. One was when an out of town student was able to come. She lives over an hour away and doesn’t make it often. So last night was a treat.
We talked at length last night about the requirements for being a Christian. I love this talk for teens because it is usually an affirmation of their faith. I always approach this question with the verse from Romans 10:9 – “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (NLT). So we call Jesus savior because he saves us by grace through the justification of our sins. We also call him Lord because we are expected to follow him and through sanctification. Both of these things are what the Bible describes as saving faith. We talked about faith, a right relationship and obedience.
The last word usually trips teens up. They know just like anyone one that they aren’t perfectly obedient. So they question their faith. I just happens that I am working on an article about teaching obedience, so we dove right into this paradox. How does is escape the church’s perspective that all of the things that make us a Christian pale against experiencing God’s love?
I had never thought about it explicitly, but last night I wondered about this. We had an infant baptism yesterday morning. I love those, because it is also a reaffirmation of our faith. I also grew up in the Baptist church and have a certain affinity for immersion and believer’s baptism. Never have I heard in either situation a call to experiencing God’s love as vital to our faith.
Here’s where I land the ship. Yes, we need salvation, and yes we need obedience. I don’t think those are in question here, but why isn’t the love of Christ stressed in our vows and continually through our discipleship afterwards? Isn’t it through Jesus’ love that we learn to obey? I think that the appeal to our hearts is clear through the Bible. With all the teaching lately about the need to engage our hearts, I hope the future of the church includes teaching the necessity of God’s love.
Marko is writing a series on Leading Without Power. I expect this is going to shake a lot of trees. It reminded me of something that happened to me a while ago. I was cutting the grass when a very real conversation happened. First, I love cutting grass. I know, come over anytime, right? Well, for me there is something peaceful about this mindless task that lets me have great conversations with God. That’s what happened this one day.
I was mowing and crying out to God about a ministry situation. A parent had sabotaged an event just because she didn’t want to have to tell her child he couldn’t go. When you have a group as small as mine, this can effectively kill an event. So I was crying out about the injustice of it all. I my head, I said something like, “God, I really can’t do anything else. This is out of my control.” God’s response as clear as the sky I was under was, “Good!” Everything got very still for me right then.
Good!?!?!?! Was God himself making fun of me? Really?
God explained himself, or somehow I reasoned it out. Whenever I have a problem, I tend to try to fix it – usually on my own. I’ve had countless reminders of how, apart form him, I can do nothing, but somehow I always seem to forget that. I tried to use my own strength (power) to fix this situation and came up powerless and God thought it was good.
What I realized was that I needed to let God and his resources fix this problem. He cared way more about these people and me than I did. He had a plan, and it involved me waiting for his solution without trying to fix it myself.
I think Marko is onto something with powerless leading. For me, I have a couple of very real experiences that have confirmed the same things in my life.
Seth Godin thinks living with doubt is costly. He makes a good case for how much we give up (money, time, resources) for a measure of certainty. It’s a good point for those of us who are believers and live very comfortable lives.
If God is the person he claims to be and all of his promises are true, then why don’t we as believers give up the expense of certainty and live into the promises we believe? That is the crisis of faith all Christians find themselves in. If I believe the promises made to me as a father, husband, youth worker, etc., then where does doubt live in my calling?
The only real battle is in giving up the will to live life the way we want and accept life that is given to us. I label this a paradox, but I think it is more of a praxis than mystery.