Spiritual dissatisfaction is a real part of life. I won’t lie to you and tell you otherwise. We all get in slumps. Some of us can identify them as part of a deeper issue and at other times we just might want to be grumpy.
I realized spiritual dissatisfaction was real several years ago. I could identify when things weren’t right, when worship wasn’t doing anything and my prayer life was non-existent. I wondered why I was even a person of faith.
God simply wasn’t big enough for my world.
Or so I thought. The reality was I hadn’t allowed God to be big enough. I had a faith and trust issue. What was small was my view of God. Emphasis on my. I realize know I wasn’t satisfied with the God I had created. The real and living God was and is plenty big enough for anything we can go through. The basic beauty of the incarnated God come to our world is how Jesus went through the full range of human experiences so He could fully save us. In every way we needed to be.
We can become dissatisfied and we will become dissatisfied when our self-constructed (and self-centered) conceptions of God fail. They will.
The best way to deal with spiritual dissatisfaction is the same way holy people have for thousands of years. Even when you feel furthest and at the bottom you have one thing to do.
Begin the practice when you don’t feel like you need it. Commit to a regular scripture reading. Find a time of prayer and the best way for you to express faith. Gather around you Christian friends to speak into your life and influence you. Learn to worship no matter what the music is like. Begin a regular pattern of leaning into God.
The classic rhythms and means of Grace will strengthen you. It’s like building up a savings account and knowing you will need to dip into it one day.
Spiritual dissatisfaction is a real thing. Expanding your reality of who God is, instead of your own version of him, is the best safety net for when we really feel far from God.
Evangelism is scary. Well not all evangelism, but the perception many people have about evangelism is scary. The idea of street callers, door to door conversations with strangers and hate speech is pretty jacked up. I experienced the door to door type as a teenager and it never quite sat right with me. But evangelism can’t be ignored.
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)
The final word Christ gave his disciples was to take part in the activity He himself had been leading for 3 years. Bringing others into the reality of God and teaching them what it means to belong to God.
There is one key word and concept we need to remember when we think about evangelism.
The Most Important Word in Evangelism is context.
Context is the idea of people carefully learning and applying what is appropriate in any situation. In the days of John Wesley and George Whitefield field preaching was a super effective method of evangelism. It brought the preachers into a situation to be seen and heard by the most people. A public teaching/speech was a completely normal activity in their culture to both teach people and convince them of something. Folks were used to it. Those first field preachers were working into their context. Each one of us is responsible for finding out what is the best culture of evangelism in the place we live. Some will look different and others will look really similar.
Let me share with you three simple and relational ways you can practice evangelism in your context.
1. Read your Bible in public.
This seems almost simplistic, but I promise you it will lead to conversations. I try to do this several times a week and it rarely fails. I also try to spend my time in the same places over and over and it has led to me serving as a chaplain in several business. Folks know they can come talk and pray.
2. Share with people about your church online.
Did you experience a great time of worship in church? Let people know. Those facebook/twitter/instagram updates are golden for people knowing you are a person that takes faith seriously. It will open you up to relational conversations and make it easier to invite friends to church.
You can also share key status updates from your church with others. Have blanket open invitations to worship. Find out what are key pieces of communication from your church and share share share.
3. Be a public person of prayer.
Pray in public. Another simple one. Pray for your food and when you tell someone you will pray for them do it right then and there. This doesn’t mean you hold an entire prayer meeting in your local Starbucks, but don’t be afraid of a few sentences. I have also found when I tell people I will pray for them I will also write it down and keep up with them. If this is a friend at church it might not surprise them, but if you come back to a co-worker in a couple of weeks it will!
I love podcasts. I first got into them in 2005 when the idea of RSS technology really started taking off. I remember when iTunes got into the podcast business and revolutionized podcasting. I had a 20 minute commute and enjoyed listening on my way to and from work. Meredith and I would cue up our favorites for trips.
I got out of the podcast habit (with the exception of Bigfoot podcasts) for several years. Meredith stayed into them and started finding some favorites she has been listening to since. Around a year ago I picked up podcasts again and I haven’t looked back.
Even though my commute is shorter (I can get from the house to the church before my seatbelt reminder dings), I always find time to listen to them. Lately it is in my shop or when I take walks in the evening.
Here are my undoubtedly favorite podcasts.
This is quite the eclectic mixture, but I don’t miss an episode of any of them.
The Bigfoot Show: The hosts of TBS have risen to the top of all of sasquatchery. They also put on pretty entertaining content. The episodes tend to run long and they don’t update that often, but each show is totally worth it. If any of you think the idea of the great North American primate is sheer quackery…listen to these guys. (iTunes)
#Think Digital. Justin Wise is a renowned social media and communication strategist. He also loves 90’s rap music. Both get equal play time on his show. Justin provides really direct content and communicates it in a way anyone would enjoy. (iTunes)
The Evernote Podcast: Evernote is one of my favorite apps. This podcast goes through updates, new ideas on how to use Evernote and other tech related news. (iTunes)
The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast (iTunes link): Andy Stanley is a pastor and writer/thinker in the area of leadership. I absolutely eat up almost everything he thinks. Even if you aren’t a person of faith he can teach you amazing things about communication and organizational management.
This is Your Life with Michael Hyatt: This is the podcast that brought me back to podcasts. Michael’s writing has been a favorite of mine for the last few years and the podcast brings it all into a completely different realm. He talks about productivity, vision, creativity and a host of other things. He also spends tons of time focusing on creating personal platforms.(iTunes)
You need to be listening to podcasts. They are a great (and free) way to bring plenty of information into your life. If you have an interest, there is a corresponding podcast. Podcasts are also a great way to reach out and explore new interests. If you believe in self education Podcasts provide a great resource to learn from the best out there. Plus they are pretty cool.
I even started a podcast a few months ago with two of my really good friends Drew and Joshua called The Threshing Floor. We focus on the idea of spiritual journey and talk about current topics affecting our own journey and those of our listeners. We also mention Willie Nelson in every episode. I would love for you to give us a listen here or subscribe in iTunes.
Do you listen to podcasts and what are your favorites?
On Monday I posted about why I love using a digital Bible app. I also told you I would post about why I use a paper Bible. So here we are!
I have to admit, I love my Bibles. In college I sold them for awhile and became really familiar with translations, publishing houses and different editions. There was even a year when everyone in the family got a fancy Zondervan study bible for Christmas.
Why I use a paper Bible
1. I like the feel of Books.
You can’t go wrong with a book. It has a smell and that certain sound when you open them for the first time. I love the physicality of my Bible. Over time it becomes a companion.
2. So I can write in it.
I want to use my Bible. I tend to buy one and use it for a couple of years until it is falling apart and I can no longer read anything in it because it is so marked up. This is one thing I have never been happy with an app. It is to hard to take notes.
When passages grab me I make note of it. When the Lord is really showing me something new I want to be able to remember it. So I write in my Bible.
3. To become familiar with scripture.
After I have used a particular Bible for a length of time I am able to remember scripture better. I can picture where it is on the page in my mind. I can turn to certain books easier. I can keep notes on when I read something and it helps me to intentionally concentrate on the whole Bible.
4. Consistent meditation on scripture.
While a Bible app makes reading large portions easy, a paper Bible lends itself to a more contemplative read. It is much easier to spend 30 minutes reading and praying (the fancy word for this is Lecto Divinia) when you are using a paper Bible. Focus is clearer when you don’t have notifications popping up every few minutes. I also use my physical copy for my slower reads at night. I like using youversion for longer reads in the morning, but at night I settle down and turn the pages with scripture and paper.
5. It makes you take your Bible in public.
I think we should all be carrying a Bible. In our vehicles, purses, bags…whatever. I have had the most amazing spiritual conversations with people when I am reading during my morning coffee or while sitting by myself at McDonalds during lunch. It is an instant conversation starter.
What is your favorite thing about using a paper Bible?
Part of our cable package in Monroe is a great channel playing all live music. Music was a GIGANTIC part of my formative years. I really enjoy catching about 30min or so of this channel at night. You never know who is going to be on. Between concerts tonight, I caught this clip of Iron Maiden performing their classic “Run to the Hills” in Colombia.
At the least you can say I was transfixed. It wasn’t the fact that they pulled it off perfect (Bruce Dickinson still has pipes), but the crowd amazed me. Oddly, we can learn about worship from this video.
3 Worship Lessons Iron Maiden Teaches Us.
1. Worship should be filled with awe.
I imagine any headbanger worth his Advil would be pretty excited to see Iron Maiden. You can pretty much trace most of heavy metal to these guys and a few others. You are in the presence of someone truly great. If you are into sports, imagine what it is like when you happen to be in the same stadium with your hero.
Worship should be an event filled with awe. It is a meeting of the one true God. Inside it, the things of heaven are lifted up and the church is caught in a dramatic interchange with their Father, the creator and redeemer of this world. Someone big is in the room.
2. Worship should be filled with anticipation.
The beginning of this video is amazing. The crowd chomps at its bits. The military is going through some serious checkpoints because they know what these people are capable of! The anticipation can cause an otherworldly experience, breaking any sense of ration or what might be safely appropriate.
In worship, the church rehearses the eternal actions of heaven. We anticipate what is promised. When the church acts like the church, it’s capable of anything…things that might be considered dangerous to those who want to maintain a comfortable status quo away from the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. Worship should be a shared activity.
The best part of this video is when the band gets to the first chorus. Songs like this are best sung with huge crowds, and you can tell these folks are enjoying participating. They now have a sense of a shared activity…they are part of something together, in participation that makes their anticipation worthwhile. They are part of the event that seems infinitely powerful to them at the moment.
Worship is not an isolated event. It transforms a group of people on a journey with Jesus into a powerful mass. No matter what idea of “lifestyle of worship” might make sense to us now, the people of God gathered together are a powerful bunch! Shared voice declares light defeating darkness and a Messiah who defeats death. It tells salvations story in the narration of those experiencing it.
hmm…Run To The Hills as an alternative translation of Psalm 121?