Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Call To Fake It... (Fake It 'Till You Make It Pt. 5/Fin)

The development of these disciplines allows us to run to God and seek him even when we don’t feel like it

So when you are strong, nurture your roots. Build them up. Strengthen them. Spend time learning God’s truth through the scriptures, through fellowship, through prayer, and through all the ways he desires to talk to you. When the times of weakness come (and yes my friend, they will come) your roots are what will hold you in place. Without them, you will blow away into that cycle of trying the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing... desiring fulfillment, and finding none. Before you know it, you won’t even be able to go through the motions anymore. You will be destroyed.

The Psalmist captures that darkest of darks....

I'm standing my ground, God, shouting for help,

at my prayers every morning, on my knees each daybreak.

Why, God, do you turn a deaf ear?

Why do you make yourself scarce?

For as long as I remember I've been hurting;

I've taken the worst you can hand out, and I've had it.

Your wildfire anger has blazed through my life;

I'm bleeding, black-and-blue.

You've attacked me fiercely from every side,

raining down blows till I'm nearly dead.

You made lover and neighbor alike dump me;

the only friend I have left is Darkness.

-Psalm 88:13-18 (The Message)

And a contemporary folk band tells us how to be prepared…

So hold on to what you believe in the light…

When the darkness has robbed you of all your sight…
-Mumford and Sons

If you build roots, you can weather the storm.

You can fake it ‘till you make it.

You can live faithfully until your heart catches up.

That is my prayer for you all; that you would know God, and be able to trust him even when your heart is not there.

Hold on to your strength and your shield (Psalm 28:7.)

God Bless You.

Rooting... (Fake It 'Till You Make It Pt. 4)

If we are rooted in God’s word, we will not be quick to abandon him… even if our hearts feel far from him.

So the question becomes how do we grow those roots? How do we prepare ourselves for that inevitable season when we are going feel abandoned by our God?

It comes down to what is known in theological circles as spiritual disciplines. But in plain terms a spiritual discipline is simply a regular practice or habit in your life that draws you nearer to God and opens you up to what He has to say to you. This is root building.

Whenever the topic of Spiritual disciplines comes up I am always quick to recommend two books…

The Celebration of Discipline by R.C. Foster. (amazon)

The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg. (amazon)

The former is more of a classic work on the subject, while the latter is a more contemporary work. Both of them have the same goal… Helping the reader understand and apply behavior that will draw them nearer to God.

But now if you will allow me to continue, I must tell you that I am a lucky guy.

You see... I have been blessed to have a great family and many good friends in my life; a handful of trusted people who I can run to in a moment of crisis. Odds are you have a person or two like this; maybe a spouse, a family member, or a good friend. Odds are, also, that these relationships were not built only during a time of crisis or in preparation for one. They are built on other things. The relationship I have with one of my best friends began with us playing guitar together… in our garages. That’s it. Now we enjoy true friendship and can rely on each other through the darkest of darks.

The reason I mention friendship is this... If you find yourself in a crisis, you are not likely to go to someone that you have no history with. Rather, you are going to run to the person you trust, and who will look out for you; the person you started getting to know by playing guitars in the garage. You have roots.

The same is true with God. We have to get to know him before we feel like we need him (don’t get me wrong, we have always needed him, but we don’t always feel like it.) I urge you to get to know him; to grow those roots in him. Experience that spiritual discipline. Here are a couple just to give you some food for thought.

Prayer – Often frustrating because we only use it when we are hurting or are in need. Then we give it a shot, and it frustrates us. It’s easier to pray during a crisis if you are used to praying.

Study – The Bible is overwhelming at a first glance (ok, at a one thousandth glance as well.) There are times where we want to know about a particular topic or idea and what the bible says about something, but we can get lost fast and give up easily. However, if we have a regular habit of studying the scriptures, when those times of urgency come, we will know how to do it

Fellowship – This is sharing life with others; letting people into your life and your walk with God. Again, if we only strive to do this when we are in deep need, it is hard and frustrating, but if we are in the habit of spending time with other people during the calm, then when the storm comes we are not without a place to turn.

The list goes on… things like solitude, confession, worship, fasting, etc. The point of this entry is not to be an extensive list or lesson on spiritual discipline, but rather just a starting point. It wouldn’t hurt to read the above mentioned books if you want to go farther into this.

My only point is this. The development of these disciplines allows us to run to God and seek him even when we don’t feel like it. It is what allows us to fake it ‘till we make it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Roots Are Powerful (Fake It 'Till You Make It Pt. 3)

There are things that we cannot hastily let go of because we are deeply rooted in them.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned about the Bible is the importance of learning the lessons from the Bible before you need the lessons from the Bible (yes I know… that sentence is a mess. It would be way better if you could hear me articulate it!)

What I mean by this is that the Bible is full of teachings and concepts that are practical to life. However many of them are hard to apply and understand, particularly in the very moments we need them. Thus it is necessary to learn them ahead of time. Let’s take an example…

James 1:2-4 is the cliché verse to quote to someone who is going through a rough patch. The account of Job is told time after time to those who are in the midst of devastation. This is meant to encourage, but really… it doesn’t very much. Not in the midst of trouble, anyways. Not unless the individual is already rooted in these truths. Without a prior belief and understanding of these scriptures, people are more than likely going to take this teaching as an insult and find it nothing more than frustrating. They are then likely to dismiss it altogether.

Approach the couple who just miscarried a child with Jeremiah 29:11…

Approach the family who’s oldest son is constantly getting in trouble with the law with Proverbs 22:6…

Approach the woman who just found out her husband has been having an affair with Romans 8:28…

Approach the man who lost his job and has no idea how to break it to his wife with Philippians 4:19…

Approach the college student who just had her heart broken by the man she thought she would marry with Psalm 37:4…

How they receive these scriptures will depend on their roots. If they are already rooted in them, there is room for comfort and encouragement. They will be able to trust God despite the circumstances they find their selves in. If there are no roots, however, they will find insult and discouragement. They will lose trust in God due to their circumstances.

You and I will react the same way.

That is why it is important to grow deep roots during the good times. The soil is more fertile. When trials come (and yes, they will come) and hard times find their way to our door, it is those roots that will keep us grounded.

And this is what it means to go through the motions; to rely on our roots even when our hearts are far from them.

If we are rooted in God’s word, we will not be quick to abandon him… even if our hearts feel far from him.

Roots are powerful.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Matter At Hand (Fake It 'Till You Make It Pt. 2)

Do you frustrate yourself with the motions? I feel like a poser when I do that. Relying on muscle memory to ‘do what’s right’ doesn’t feel right.’

Of course it’s frustrating!

Extremely frustrating!

To have something that once brought you joy become stagnant; that is frustrating!

To have something that once brought you purpose seem meaningless; that is frustrating!

To have something that was once fulfilling turn into a burden; that is frustrating!

So what do we do? We can stop and move on (or away) to something else, or we can go through the motions. Going through the motions gets a bad rap in our culture because we have had it instilled in us that we are supposed to “keep it real,” that we are to live in (and for) the moment; to live for instant gratification. Thus it comes very naturally to us to abandon what we have once accepted and jump toward something new, or different in the hopes of being instantly fulfilled again.

And honestly… that can often work for a while, but before you know it, dissatisfaction returns and it's time to look for the next new thing again (and again, and again… and yes, again.)

So should we go through the motions? Going through the motions isn’t all that bad. In fact everyone does it. Who hasn’t spent a season going through the motions at work? Everyone has days, even if they love their job, when they go through the motions. They do what needs to be done, and they do it as well as they can even if their heart is battling against it. What about relationships? That marriage? Even the happiest of married couples have approached moments where they found that their hearts were not fully engaged. Yet to survive, they go through the motions.

Why? Because generally there is a lot invested in these things. There is too much at stake. With the job, it’s an income, a sense of purpose, or a matter of pride. With relationships it can be a matter of family survival, emotional stability, or financial security. Whatever the reason, we do not lightly abandon these (and many other) things. For most people, they cannot be abandoned even if the desire to jump ship exists. There are things that we cannot hastily let go of because we are deeply rooted in them.

Read that last sentence again because it is key to the whole point of this series.

A Conversation (Fake It 'Till You Make It Part 1)

This happened months ago. Church had just wrapped up. I just finished leading the fine of people of Christ’s Fellowship in worship. Then I got a text message from an old friend whom I had recently reconnected with in the last few months.

What do you do when you become jaded about church? When you just can't bring yourself to go through the motions to satisfy others?

Gosh. Who, after a few years of following Jesus, hasn’t asked that same question in one way or another? Who hasn’t been frustrated, jaded, confused, hurt, or even lost in the midst of being found.

And the truth, which I told my friend, is that I have been through recent bouts of feeling jaded myself (another story for another day perhaps); but that I continue to go through the motions. However, I don’t go through them for anyone else. I do it for myself. Even when I don’t want to, I try to do the things I know are right. Sometimes I fail, but heck, I failed when I wasn’t jaded as well. That’s when the pivotal question that sparked this blog series came about…

Do you frustrate yourself with the motions? I feel like a poser when I do that. Relying on muscle memory to ‘do what’s right’ doesn’t feel right.’

Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Review: Rid of My Disgrace by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb

Just finished reading Rid of My Disgrace by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb. I am going to try and write reviews on books I read and share em. I also want to get back into blogging, but that is another thing altogether...


Anyone who works with hurting people needs to check this book out. As I get to know the stories of more and more people, I find that more and more people have some aspect of sexual sin or abuse as a part of their story. Almost every victim feels defeated by it. While this book is not a comprehensive manual for treating or counseling victims of sexual assault (nor is it means to be) it is a wonderful groundwork for understanding the struggles that come from such sin. Both people who encounter victims as well as victims their selves can find a lot of good in this book.

It breaks down into three sections...

1) Disgrace: This section consists of two chapters that define sexual assault and the effects it can have on victims. At times this section can be a bit graphic, but then again, so is the topic at hand. I will say that if you are a victim of sexual assault, it might be a good idea to skip this section only because its graphic nature might stir up some emotions you would rather not relive (this recommendation comes from feedback I got from a couple people I shared the book with.) However, this section does a lot to help clarify, particularly for those who might wonder "is what happened to me really sexual assault?"

2) Grace Applied: This is my favorite section of the book. This section discusses some of the most common reactions victims have after being abused. It reassures that there is normalcy in feeling this way after an assault, gives practical help on how to handle it, and gives a biblical perspective on each struggle. Along with that each chapter has a testimony that speaks to the healing people found through Christ as it relates to the struggle at hand. This is the section that has the most practical, helpful information.

3) Grace Accomplished: This is the theological cornerstone. The core idea of this book is that people have been hurting people from the beginning of time with sin, that God has a desire to redeem those who are broken, and that such redemption is made full through the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Though theology and scripture are used frequently throughout the entire book, in this section it is laid out.

The thing that I love about this book is that very clearly connects the reader to Jesus and to scripture while providing practical insights and help. That is what makes it stand out from every other book or article on the topic I have read. There is redemption and healing in Jesus. Every pastor/minister/Christian counselor should read this book. It lays a good foundation in understanding the problem and finding freedom.

Check it out @ Amazon
Check it out @ Google Books