Pastor’s Pondering – 2nd Sunday of Advent: It’s All About Worship!

In the same country there were shepherds in the fields. They were watching their flocks of sheep at night. The angel of the Lord came to them. The shining-greatness of the Lord shone around them. They were very much afraid. 10 The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. See! I bring you good news of great joy which is for all people. 11 Today, One Who saves from the punishment of sin has been born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord. 12 There will be something special for you to see. This is the way you will know Him. You will find the Baby with cloth around Him, lying in a place where cattle are fed.”

1At once many angels from heaven were seen, along with the angel, giving thanks to God. They were saying, 14 “Greatness and honor to our God in the highest heaven and peace on earth among men who please Him.”

15 The angels went from the shepherds back to heaven. The shepherds said to each other, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see what has happened. The Lord has told us about this.” 16 They went fast and found Mary and Joseph. They found the Baby lying in a place where cattle are fed.
– Luke 2:8-16 NLV

The second advent candle that we light this week symbolizes the Love of God and that of our love to Him…

A number of years ago, while ministering in a small rural community in Southern Minnesota, I had the privilege of being a part of a very encouraging and loving Ministerial Association. This was essentially a pastoral monthly “get together” to pray for one another and to fellowship. We all became good friends as we shared each other’s burdens and had the commonality of ministry. It was during one of these meetings that I was asked to fill in for a local pastor’s prison ministry while he was away.
Initially I was really nervous, I had never participated in a prison ministry let alone lead it and I wasn’t sure I had anything helpful to contribute. But I planned a message and selected some songs and went that next Sunday afternoon to correctional facility with guitar in hand. After a brief security check I was led into a common room where I waited for the inmates to arrive. The room was sparse except for a black metal music stand in the front and an ominous looking cross hanging on the wall. Two small windows were located on an institutional white wall, both windows barred and they only allowed a small amount of day light in.

I could feel the sadness of this place and was given a very small glimpse into what it must be like to be a prisoner here. When the inmates arrived I thought perhaps a guard or an official would lead or say a few words of introduction, but they did not. The guard simply left and I was all alone standing there amidst a sea of orange jumpsuits and staring faces.

I would like to say that I preached a powerfully moving message and that there were tears shed and it was like a Billy Graham revival service, but it was not. The songs were sung…mostly as a solo…the sermon preached…without any emotional response. It seemed as if I had preached to statues. I felt like a complete failure, as if what I had shared wasn’t what they needed to hear. Perhaps I had missed the mark and at the end of my time there I was escorted out and I left feeling defeated and somewhat sorry for myself. I remember saying to God, “well at least I tried” as I conjured up images of Jonah preparing to speak to the Ninevites.

For a number of months I put this Sunday afternoon in prison behind me and didn’t think much about it…until one day while in my office at the corps, a young man popped his head into my door. He told me he had been an inmate at the local correctional facility and that he had attended that Sunday service I had led. He told me that the message I had spoken seemed to have been directed at him and that he had felt convicted and had given his life to Jesus.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. What I thought to be a complete and utter failure of an afternoon turned out to be just what God had intended for this young man.

Isn’t it interesting what we believe to be rubbish and consider to be failures God can take and use for the amazing, even the miraculous? Isn’t that what faith is after all? Stepping out in faith, doing our very best and trusting God knows what He is doing with our feeble attempts? You see God hasn’t called us to be the most eloquent of speakers, or the most insanely talented musicians playing moving music for Him…no, what He asks of us is our best effort, our trust and faith.

Last week we discussed the fact that God invites us into His amazing story of Salvation for the whole wide world, but you see there’s more to this invitation. There is element of worship. Our love poured out for Him, and sometimes our love poured out seems like feeble attempts and failed sermons preached. Then God comes along and shows you and me that the work of the Holy Spirit is living and active even in our doubts of success while participating in ministry. When we worship God and declare Him Lord of our lives, the sweet aroma and workings of the Holy Spirit go far beyond our finite efforts. We are merely conduits for the Eternal. He invites us into this worship experience and our part is to faithfully go despite our lack of confidence in our own gifts and abilities.

Like the Angels long ago declaring Jesus’ arrival to common Shepherds in the fields, we too are invited into this worship of declaration and praise.

Advent Questions to Ponder:
-When have you been asked by the Lord to step out in faith for Him?
What happened? How did you respond?
-Have you ever had moments of revelation in your life where you thought you had failed and yet God used your efforts and brought about an amazing, unexpected response?
How can you worship the Lord this Advent season and declare Jesus’ birth to those who have yet to hear?
What is stopping or preventing you from doing so?

Prayer:
Lord, help me to understand that it is not about my gifts and abilities, but it is about my love and adoration for You. Humble my heart and help me to declare your majesty and glory to those around me this week. Help me to invited others into this worship setting with You. I want to be used by You for Your Holy purpose this week. Guide me dear Lord. -Amen.

Pondering on the 1st Sunday of Advent: “The Divine Invitation”

Scripture Passage:This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭1:18-25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I have always loved Christmas, even in the busyness of it all. There is so much to do, so little time and often times we enter Sunday morning worn out, somewhat disheveled and seeking rest. One might argue that we shouldn’t work so hard and we are short-changing the worship aspect of Sunday. Perhaps there is some merit to this, but I look at the journey that Mary and Joseph took in order to be where God had appointed them to be. The journey would have been difficult, and yet because of a government census they went to Bethlehem. It was hard work, it took time and Mary was very pregnant.

The entire story of the birth of Jesus took work, it took sacrifice, and a leap of faith on Mary and Joseph. This was not just a Divine story in which God shows up and there isn’t human interaction. On the contrary, the human interaction took concerted preparation, time and effort.

What are we willing to give in order to experience a Divine encounter today? Perhaps our God encounter will not be as it was with Mary and Joseph, but God has always been an active participant in humanity. He shows up, there is no question about that…what is in question is our ability to see, hear or experience Him because of our very distracted lives. Are we able to take the time to experience God in our every day lives? Do we stop what we are doing on our cell phones or televisions long enough to just listen? Are we missing out on countless Godly experiences because we have become deaf by living distracted lives?

‘The Homework Assignment’:

Perhaps this Christmas season we could do our very best to try and pay attention. Perhaps it will take a great deal of effort for many of us. This doesn’t mean that we cease our work or our passions, it simply means that we allow God entry into all of these avenues of our hectic lives. This will mean that we invite Him into our work week. Whether that is running bell ringers back and forth and back again. Or it means that as we count money, or prepare Christmas gifts for many families in our communities…all of these areas we invite God’s presence to sit with us. And as we run from one event to another, or from one location to the next, we simply say to God, “Lord, what are you teaching me through this?” And, “Lord how can I be your hands and feet in this moment?”

You see, the amazing thing to consider within this Divine Christmas story is that God has invited all of humanity (that’s you and me) to participate in the greatest story of love ever written. We are invited in. We are not outsiders looking into this amazing salvation story. So once we accept our invitation into this Divine story of love, our job is to invite others into this story too. Don’t keep it to yourself, share it with others. Allow others access to Nativity. Seek out those who feel cast out, a pariah, an outsider – and bring them in.

This is what the Divine Invitation is all about. Grace, love and peace shared to a world so in desperate need of such things. Salvation comes to all, and we can be help others see that God’s love has come freely to all.

Questions:
-Who needs to be invited into this Divine Encounter this Christmas that you know personally?
-How can you ensure they feel accepted and loved?
-When can you consciously stop your busyness and allow God’s invitation to enter your heart anew this week?
-Identify the many distractions in your life right now and help to filter out the noise so that you may hear God’s still small voice today.

Something more to ponder today.
Coming next week – Advent pondering #2 for the 2nd Sunday of Advent. Stay tuned and journey along with us!

5 Common Causes of Organizational Dysfunction (Re-post)

This is a helpful article that I came across recently that holds a lot of truth for any organization big or small, nonprofit or for profit. This could be beneficial for the church and any Christian movement/organization for that matter. I share this not to point out faults or disparage anyone, but rather to help us be mindful of the warning signs and pitfalls in leadership. This can be a helpful tool and resource to us all! Give this a read:
(Source, 2014 – http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=2168986 )

Regardless of size, all human groups are subject to the same dynamics. Factors that hamper a small group can also cause a much larger structure to falter. In business, managers and employees alike suffer when an organization doesn’t function optimally. Pat Brans points out what dysfunctional organizations have in common and how to spot the five biggest problems. Learn what you can do to turn your organization around.

It Starts with One: Changing Individuals Changes Organizations, 3rd Edition

It Starts with One: Changing Individuals Changes Organizations, 3rd Edition

I think it’s safe to say that every one of us knows the frustration of belonging to a dysfunctional group. We put our all into a team project, only to see our efforts diluted by organizational inefficiencies. An organization might fall flat on its face, or just sputter along indefinitely. But there’s good news! By understanding a few common reasons that groups lose their way, leaders can take steps to keep the team together—and better still, keep the group performing at optimal levels.

No matter what size it is, when an organization falls apart, it’s usually from one or more of these five causes:

  1. Misunderstood mission
  2. Lack of consensus on the nature of problems facing the team
  3. Misunderstood strategy
  4. Lack of team cohesion
  5. Lack of resources

A good leader will watch out for all of these potential show-stoppers and work to prevent them—or remedy them quickly. Let’s look at some examples.

Dysfunction Cause 1: Misunderstood Mission

Every individual in an organization must know that organization’s raison d’être. When members know the values and principles of their group, they can make decisions on their own, simply by comparing any options with the group’s mission.

The leaders are responsible for making sure that everyone knows the group’s purpose. Consider these examples:

  • The organization is a social structure, helping individuals to meet other people with common views.
  • The organization works to save the lives of children in remote areas, by making crucial medicines available at reduced cost.
  • The organization designs the best computer games in the world.

If an organization doesn’t understand its mission, most of the time it’s because the leaders themselves don’t have a clear vision of the organization’s purpose. Leaders need to reevaluate the organization’s mission constantly, knowing that the mission can (and should) evolve over time, as new leaders are chosen or external pressures change.

Another common reason that an organization might fail its mission is that the mission isn’t adequately communicated. The leaders might agree on a purpose and try to explain it to the membership, but a poorly formulated message will give different people in the group different ideas. Purpose statements should be repeated often to help everybody know why the group exists and the values that hold it together.

The clearest mission can be expressed in a single-sentence mantra. Here are a few examples from well-known organizations:

  • Google: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
  • Coca-Cola: “To refresh the world—in mind, body and spirit; to inspire moments of optimism—through our brands and actions; to create value and make a difference everywhere we engage.”
  • Peace Corps: “To promote world peace and friendship by providing qualified volunteers to interested countries in need of trained manpower, by fostering a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people served, and by fostering a better understanding of other people on the part of Americans.”

Dysfunction Cause 2: Lack of Consensus

Team members need to share a common view of the problems the group has to solve. For example, if products aren’t selling well, but only some of the team members recognize that situation, the team can’t move in a unified direction to solve the problem.

Sometimes team members agree on symptoms, but disagree on their underlying causes. Some people might think products don’t sell well because they’re poorly marketed; others might think lack of quality is the issue. Brainstorming sessions across the organization can help to uncover the real issues and their root causes. Are clients providing unclear requirements? Is upper management assigning unreasonable deadlines for the rank and file? Is group image suffering in the marketplace?

Not only should the group share a view of problems and root causes; they must also come to a consensus on priorities. Sometimes people agree on a set of issues, but disagree on the relative importance of each. Some team members might think competition is the biggest problem, others may think limited resources are more troublesome, while still others focus on lack of vision.

Leaders have to make sure that all team members share a common view of the group’s issues and their relative priorities. Without this consensus, the individuals making up the group can never work together to find solutions.

Dysfunction Cause 3: Misunderstood Strategy

Not only do team members need to know the group’s strategy; they also have to believe in it and integrate it into their work. When each member of the group knows how the group will go about fulfilling its mission, people can work in unison. Is the team strategy to build products faster than anybody else? Will the team overcome a sales shortfall by picking up market share in a specific segment? Can the team provide vaccinations in remote areas by pressuring large pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices?

Once the strategy is understood, team members must grasp the group’s tactics—that is, how the strategy will be implemented. If the strategy is to build products faster than anybody else, what approaches can they take to achieve that goal? Investing more money in tools? Training people to work better and faster?

Leaders must make sure all individuals understand the strategies that the group has targeted to meet its objectives. Once all the individuals understand and accept the group’s strategies and tactics, they can function as a group to meet those goals.

Dysfunction Cause 4: Lack of Team Cohesion

People need a sense of identity and of belonging; above all, they need to be able to trust their leaders and other team members. Through experience, I have observed the following axiom:

All human structures exist only so long as the majority of the individuals in the group believe that the structure will continue to exist.

Furthermore, group members need to count on other group members to do what they say they’ll do, and group members have to believe in team rules and procedures.

Building a cohesive team is also more difficult when the team is physically spread out. Some teams can meet no more than once a year. Effective leaders build team cohesion in such cases by using tools such as video conferencing. Establishing rules for interactions is also helpful; for example, some leaders insist that team members respond to all mail from teammates within 24 hours.

To build team cohesion, whether with co-located or remote teams, leaders have to set a good example. Good leaders promote trust within the group, and they ensure that each individual feels like part of the group. Above all, a leader first demonstrates that he or she is trustworthy.

Dysfunction Cause 5: Lack of Resources

Every organization needs resources in order to function—and those resources must be available on time. If the team can’t get the tools and materials it needs to do the job, the job won’t be done. Each team member will feel the frustration, and morale will suffer.

Does your group have everything you need? For example:

  • Do you have enough laptops to support your sales staff?
  • Do you have the right software to support your group’s business processes?
  • Will your travel funds cover sending individuals where they need to go to get the job done?

Leaders must go outside the group as needed to ensure that the group gets everything it needs to do its work.

Summary

The most successful leaders watch for these five common causes of organizational dysfunction. When one cause or another rears its ugly head, the proactive leader heads off trouble before it occurs, keeping the team on track.

Night Visitor

Shortly after midnight
soft footfalls
shatter silent slumberings…
shaking quickly awake,
cobwebs of dread
flow with every
thundering
heart beat.
groggily I peer through
sleep crusted eyes
as
her hair,
tangled and spilling
everywhere…
She pads to the
foot of our bed
shadows casting
long
and ominous…
bad dreams recounted,
replacing
sleep with
assurances of sunrise
and what
was two
in
a
bed
becomes two and a half,
with
one tossing
and turning
checking the closets
with continued
studied gaze…

some day soon
all of this
will end
and I will miss
her
footfalls
and the sweet
refrains of assurances
late at night
because the sunrise
is coming soon.


A Hero’s Song (A Poem)

When the light
began
to wan and
the ember glow
of dusk,
casting shadows
Tall, deep
and foreboding…

When I
was a child
my father,
tall and
impossibly
strong,
towered over me
perhaps he wore
a cape
but his cape
were the stories
he would read
to Sherry and me.
perhaps he
could bend
steel
but the steel
he would bend
were the words
of the page
bringing Lazarus
or was it
Charlie,
Mr Wonka
Or Danny the
champion of the world
to life.
I lived there
among those pages
the light ignited
heroes to be grasp
Weaving in between my life
dreams.

now
when the
sun starts to wan
Glowing shadows
linger and groan
arms outstretched
as if to reach toward
those pages…

and I take up
my hero’s cape
crawl into my
children’s bed
and utter the sweet
song of fiction
in the hopes that heroes
will still be born
and ignited
in their hearts.

Flying Like An Eagle…Afraid of Heights?

My Amazing Wife flew like an Eagle…I on the other hand flew like a stone.

I was at a youth conference recently and we had this required evening fellowship to attend. I had been forewarned it involved an element of skydiving and I certainly was not looking forward to it. In my mind why would someone jump out of a perfectly operational airplane in the first place? So we go to this indoor wind-tunnel facility and we have to sign a waiver basically releasing the organization from any deaths that could occur while getting thrown around in a wind tunnel with speeds as high as hurricanes (you can see how much of a fan I was). After the “life-signaway-waiver” we were taken into a training room and instructed on hand symbols and how basically our hands, feet and head are all rudders and that any slight movement on any of our appendages would cause you to spin or dip or ascend. The whole time the instructor is speaking you can hear the wind turbines above us whir and roar as others were getting tossed into the air.

Finally it was our turn to enter the hurricane. If I told you there wasn’t an army of butterflies in the pit of my stomach I would be lying to you – I was as nervous as I could be. I don’t do well with roller coasters, let alone the sensation of plummeting out of an airplane and falling to earth (thanks gravity!). I watch as others in our party fly with the help of the instructor, even my wife seems to fly with ease and she floats and somewhat flies assisted by the fly instructor. Then it is my dreaded turn…and on shaky legs I force myself through the entrance to the wind tunnel with a whispered prayer and a sentence that may have gone like this, “Lord if it’s my time to die, at least don’t let me make a fool out of myself!” Oh, the Lord has a great sense of humor, because make a fool out of myself is exactly what I did.

I followed the instructors directions. I got into “fly” formation with my legs at a near 90 degree angle and my arms slightly outstretched and I thought I was doing well except the instructor was working hard to keep me in the air. I thought I understood the position I needed to be in in order to fly, but try as I might I couldn’t sustain lift off. Eventually I got the dreaded “shut off the turbines” command by the instructor to the operator, and I was “grounded” and told with hand gestures to “relax”. The funny thing was I thought I WAS relaxed. I thought I had maintained the correct posture in order to sustain flight…and yet here I was with the instructor’s arms around me to keep me steady, but I was grounded and not even in the air anymore. Meanwhile, all of the other “flyers” managed to lift off and fly.


After our group completed its time in the wind tunnel, the instructor demonstrated to us what could be accomplished in that the hurricane tube. He soared, he dove, he spiraled and performed many amazing feats that we now knew were extremely difficult to do, but he performed them with the greatest of ease. Meanwhile, we noobies to the wind tunnel flight could barely gain lift off (and myself not even having accomplished lift off at all).
The instructor’s flight looked so graceful and easy, but we knew it was far from easy. We were all sore from the positions and movements, and to witness the instructor’s ease while in the hurricane tube made it all the more impressive.

You see, very similarly, in life the spiritual life can be a lot like that. When we were first starting out in the faith we would look at more mature “veteran” Christians and admire how firm they were in their relationship to Christ. They seemingly soared while we could barely achieve lift off at all. Perhaps some of us became frustrated or considered giving up altogether because the task seemed so daunting and insurmountable. But the interesting thing is the veteran Christian, the one with all the growth, soaring and maturity actually is there to help you take flight.

When I was in that wind tunnel that amazing flier of an instructor had his arms wrapped around me so that I wouldn’t get hurt. If he would have let go I would have been smashed against one of the walls or perhaps tossed into the air to hit the ceiling high above us. The mature, high flying instructor knew the dangers and the adversity of that hurricane tube and was preventing me from getting hurt.

I owe a number of fellow Christ-followers, who are more mature than I, a debt of thanks for their leadership in my life. These legends of the faith showed me how to walk (and soar) by faith. They also came along side me when I was still learning how to actually walk with Christ. They understood the trappings and the adversity I would face because they had journeyed the same path only many years prior.

2 Things To Consider:
1) Are we pliable to the instruction of mentors? These mentors and mature Christians know almost every trapping and danger along the way. They have walked this path before us, and they have an intimate knowledge of what it takes to soar. How flexible are we to the guidance of others? Or does pride well up and prevent us from acknowledging our immobility and shortcomings? The instruction and guidance isn’t there to point out all of our fears and failures, it is there to lead us to higher altitudes of faith, growing us closer in relationship to the Father.
2) Are we mentors to others? When we have accomplished flight, how do we convey what we have learned? Are there others who are still grounded and in need of encouragement and guidance? How can we lift them up? How can we offer them love and tangible hope of taking that next leap? We cannon forget how we felt when we were at the beginning of our faith journey. We need to journey beside these young believers and provide to them understanding and the leadership of flight. Never forget where we have come from and how far we have journeyed since then. When we call to mind that path, we are then able to provide that much needed guidance for others.

Are you ready to soar today?
Are there those around you who need help?
God has always journeyed along with us, and He desires a deeper relationship with you and me. Perhaps some of us are afraid of heights, afraid of failing, afraid of looking like a fool with others, afraid of the cost of discipleship and what will need to be sacrificed. God is here reminding us that we were meant to soar and He longs for us to take flight.

The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

-Isaiah 40:28b – 31

Something more to ponder today.

Dear Body Of Christ, Don’t Be An Appendix!!

1 Corinthians 12:27-28 says, “Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. And God has placed these in the church…”

What does being a part of the body entail?
Do we do our own thing? Sometimes.
Are we a part of the collective body, known as the Church? Yes.
Will we always see eye to eye (body of Christ pun intended)…? No.

But sometimes I think we get the idea of what being a part of the body of Christ wrong.
Especially when it comes to ‘membership’ in that same body.

Thom Rainer, in his book “I am a church member” puts it like this; “It was a big deal for this young boy living in the small Southern town. I didn’t know what a country club was, but I knew one was coming to town…I began to learn a lesson. Membership means perks. Membership means privileges. Membership means others will serve me. Just pay the going rate, and you can have others taking care of you while you enjoy a life of leisure.

And, tragically, this understanding of membership is what many church members hold. “This is my church, so you have to play the music just the way I want it.” “Look pastor, you need to remember who pays your salary.” “If you don’t do this program, I’ll withhold my check to the church.” “I’ve been a member of this church for over thirty years, so I have a right to get what I want.” “I don’t pay good money to this church to listen to sermons that long.”

Okay, get the picture. Those unfortunately typical comments come from members of church who have an unbiblical view of membership. Their view of membership is more aligned with county club membership…“.
I think Thom Rainer is right.
How many times do we pull the “church privilege card”?
How often have we either, subconsciously or consciously, decided that we deserve to be served instead of servants? How often have we lorded our assumed membership privilege over pastors, youth pastors, staff members, worship team etc?

Didn’t Jesus himself say, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…”? So what gives us the right to pay homage to ‘service’ by words but not deeds? Shouldn’t the latter precede the former?

Dear Church member…don’t be an appendix.
What do I mean by that?
A body is made up of
many parts. The legs, the arms, the eyes, the head, the tongue…are all irreplaceable parts, but then there are parts that can be removed and the body can go on without ever missing that former part. The tonsils, the gall bladder, the appendix. Don’t be an appendix in the body of Christ.

These parts can flare up, cause problems, discourage healthy living only to be cut away from the body because the infection has become too dangerous, too toxic to the body as a whole.

Do we risk becoming an appendix by way of our infectious personalities and constant need to be served? Do we risk poisoning the body with our tempers when things don’t go our way, or with the words we choose to lash out with that are not healthy or wholesome to this very same body?

Questions to Ponder:
Have I
misunderstood my role as a member of the body of Christ?
Am I more prepared to be served than to serve?
Do I have an unhealthy view of the ‘pecking order’ of those within the body of Christ? And have I placed myself as more important than those that I have judged and deemed to be lesser than me?
Have I become an appendix rather than a vital part of the body of Christ?
Do I need to repent of the way I have acted or treated others?

Dear Brother and Sister in Christ, don’t be an appendix…Do not live as a master of others, but rather roll up your selves and genuinely serve regardless (or especially) if anyone else is noticing.

Something more for the Body of Christ to Ponder today.

What Happens When You Lose Your Faith?

Recently in the news there was the story about author of “I kissed Dating Goodbye” Joshua Harris, and how he has lost his faith. Apparently he is no longer a believer in Jesus. Many have read this news story and are scratching their heads. Let me be candid with you for a second: It happens. This is nothing new. That might seem harsh, but perhaps we need to have a harsh conversation from time to time about our faith, because faith isn’t always puppy dogs and cotton candy…it takes real work to maintain.

News Flash:
We are ALL susceptible to losing our faith if we are not careful.
I don’t wish to alarm you, but if we do not guard our hearts we can allow other elements of our old selves to take root in it.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” -Proverbs 4:23

Life can be extremely difficult sometimes, and it might make us want to throw up our hands and want to walk away from the faith. Other times we might permit sin to creep in by rationalizing things away by saying to ourselves, “a little bit won’t hurt me.” (Sounds like an anti-drug slogan – sorry). Eventually we become desensitized to it, and we begin to deafen towards the sound of the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. When this happens we have lost our way.

BUT…

There is always hope.
There is always a returning.
There is an Eternal Love that stands waiting for us…willing to run to us when He sees us from a distance.

What happens when we lose our faith?
We have a God in heaven who leaves the other 99 to search for you and for me. (Matt 18:12)
We might have given up on God, but He hasn’t given up on us.

3 Things To Help Prevent Us From Losing Our Faith:
1) Make Faith In Christ Yours (Make It Personal)
We cannot survive on the faith of others to get us through this life. We need to personalize it, make it ours. It isn’t our parent’s faith. It isn’t our grandparent’s faith. It isn’t our friend’s, girl/boyfriend’s, mentor’s, denomination’s, or other’s faith…it’s yours – so own it. Yes, God is after the collective body of believers, but most importantly He needs to be your firm foundation first. If you haven’t made this faith yours, then you have only shallow roots and you will be susceptible to the changing of the mind through various seasons in life.

2) Ask The Tough Questions
True faith is not only believed, but is investigated and explored. This means asking the hard questions, tackling the places of doubt and finding others, who are deeper in the faith, to help you. Study, read, listen to podcasts, watch some videos, get into a church with sound doctrines and really explore your faith. If you don’t ask the questions, you could possibly be leaving that door doubt open in your heart which become an escape clause when things aren’t going so well in life.

3) Find People Of Like Minds To Challenge You.
Look for Christ-following mentors to guide you. Find people who will not only be your friend but challenge you to be better (in love). Study the Bible with other people who might have a different take or perspective on things. Accept the fact that you don’t know it all yet and be a student of the Most High.

I don’t know what is going on in Joshua Harris’ life right now, I do know what I’ve read and I am sorry for the difficult road he is on. I sincerely pray for him. Unfortunately what can also be said of this faith journey is this: the more influence you have in the world, the greater the temptations and pressures there will be as well. Unfortunately Mr Harris’ story isn’t an abnormal one. Many have traveled this path of losing one’s faith…it’s where you end up on the other side is what’s most important. I do hope that while on this path of self-discovery Josh Harris, and others like him (for there are many) will too rediscover their faith in Christ with a whole new perspective and hope.

If you find yourself at the end of your faith rope, know this: you aren’t alone. Many have been disillusioned by church, by other Christians and by life itself. Have a real heart talk with yourself, don’t lose the aspect of genuine prayer to God himself, and ask for direction. It won’t be easy…it never is, but I pray you find your path again with a firmer footing than before and with a deeper, richer, firm foundation of Christ alone.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Something more to Ponder today.
L: Have you lost your faith? Will you share in the comments below your current journey and where you’ve been? We want to hear from you…because it truly helps! Please know there isn’t any judgement here, just a healthy dialogue from real people sharing their faith (or lack there of) story with one another. We look forward to hearing from you!

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