Failure to Launch and The Sin that Steals

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Quite often I am in a situation where the idea of “failure to launch” is a problem someone is trying to overcome. At times I even think it is a generational hurdle, affecting many people in their 20’s and 30’s. Listlessness is part of the path many consider to be growing up. It is acceptable to be a non functioning adult, without any sort of clear direction. I don’t think life was supposed to ever be like this. It should be seen as a sin that steals life away from us.

I realize I am stepping on some toes here…but I ask you to hear me out. I completely agree our current society has set up an odd dichotomy of vocational exploration. Higher education no longer offers the best path towards adulthood and sustainability. For many, a non-traditional route must be taken to explore what calling looks like. I know people who spent years in college and are now entering into the workforce as apprentices and journeymen (and women) learning skills they deeply love. This isn’t the issue at hand.

What I am talking about is when people appear to be aimlessly drifting through important seasons of life. Some might call it an issue of personal drive. I think it is an example of a very serious and ancient form of sin called Acedia.

Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us this.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  (NIV)

The author of Hebrews talks about focus. Focusing on something instead of allowing oneself to be tangled up. Acedia is the very behavior that does the tangling.

Many of us are familiar with the concept of the 7 deadly sins. Laziness is listed as one of them and we can easily see what the particular issue of laziness looks like. It’s close cousin is acedia. The particular idea of acedia developed in the medieval monastery. Participants displayed a unique form of carelessness and disregard for the environment around them. Some have said it is connected with depression (which many people use to describe their modern listlessness). But acedia lives as the highway to a soul simply not caring about anything around them. Their environment doesn’t matter and their current state leads them deeper and deeper into deadly helplessness. The monks saw acedia contributing to suicide.

Acedia has the ability to slowly strangle the soul, rip it away from the love of God and literally kill. Put simply…

Acedia Steals Life.

So what does an obscure medieval idea of sin actually teach us about life?

1. There is more to productivity than getting things done. It is about being fully human.
Reinhard Hutter wrote a phenomenal article last year in First Things about the relationship between acedia and pornography. He essentially argued the basic stimulus people seek from a detached intimate relationship stems from spiritual boredom. Pornography is the willingness to live an unreal life in the most intimate space.

When we are willing to put ourselves to any sort of forward facing work, we are exercising the fullest human capacity. Work makes us who we are. We were made by God to be active and doing things. Acedia is a sin which traps us inside our own mind and makes us unable to fulfill even any sort of action that makes us human.

2. Acedia keeps us from seeing the relationship between work and worship.
Part of the monastic vocation from the beginning has been engaging in mundane vocational tasks for the sake of sustenance. Modern monasteries are known for making cheese, fruitcakes, fudge, candles, beer, bread, coffins and many other things. Besides the high quality, these monks are working to grow closer to God.

Part of the tradition of the Jesus Prayer is the repetition of the gospel message of God being done through the daily work. People train themselves to pray without ceasing while doing simple and complicated work.

Work (and it’s companion productivity) is a holy task. Faithfulness to all the rhythms of life is part of growing closer to God. Amy Freeman wrote a wonderful article on this in the latest issue of Christian Reflection and you can read it free in this link.

3. Christians aren’t born, but made.
Being born into church and baptized doesn’t make someone a Christian. Becoming a Christian is a constantly evolving process where one harness themselves daily to the demands of Christ. They are willing to put work into it. Think back to Hebrews. We have the example of those who have gone before us as well as the sacrifice of Christ which fuels us in the journey.

Recognizing the reality and negative power of acedia helps each of us internally understand how important it is to actively put ourselves in environments to be changed and fueled by the grace of God. When we understand the power listlessness and boredom have in our life it really helps us to think theologically about why we should keep ourselves busy. Don’t let your life get stolen away from you.

If you are bored in life…please hear this one thing.

God doesn’t intend your life to be like this!

Sermon Preview: When Jesus Defines our Abundance

 

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This morning I went in my local Starbucks and ordered my usual grande coffee and a bottle of water. It costs the same thing it costs every morning…4 dollars and some change. 5 bucks. I have spent 5 dollars several times today. I normally don’t blink at anything costing 5 dollars. It’s like the 25cents of a grown up.

Funny thing, when I was a kid, 5 dollars was my weekly allowance. I saved up my 5 dollar bills in a can to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System. It took over a year. It’s funny how what used to be a HUGE amount of money is now pretty small.

Abundance is defined by environment and need. When I was a kid that 5 dollars could do a lot more than it can now. My environment was different and my only need was to try out the Konami Code.

We are continuing our conversation on giving in the church this weekend. Our focus scripture is Luke 5:1-11.

One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”

“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.

Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.

When we define abundance, we look at our environment and need. When Jesus defines our abundance he looks at environment and need as well…but also at possibility. The Holy Spirit has the ability to mobilize our resources in ways we can never imagine.

You see, Jesus can multiply when we can only add.

See you in worship this week. If you missed last week, you can catch the message below as well as download the scripture and discussion guide.

Chad Brooks - Mar 9, 2014

Practicing Prayer

More From "Celebration of Discipline"

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*What is a sermon preview?
Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.

When Clutter Takes Over

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Have you ever had one of those weeks when everything went crazy?

Have you ever looked at an area in your home and wondered how it got to it’s hectic and cluttered state?

I think both of those emotions and environments are related. I had a friend once tell me when her prayer life was off her house looked like a disaster area. Clutter is one of my own personal brown M&M’s. When I start to see clutter in certain areas…I know things are off. My desk at home is one of those places. The backseat of my truck is another.

This week has been wild. That is all I will say.

When I noticed the state of my home office I started taking a mental inventory. I have dropped the ball in several things this week. I haven’t blogged or followed my rhythm of a long read of scripture. I had several other projects that I usually work on in the evenings I have neglected. My motorcycle, the usual instant place of reflection, has stayed parked all week. I haven’t been satisfied with the amount of time I can devote to prayer.

I had let my priorities drop in the middle of things. I had lost my center.

Clutter took over.

Not literal reality TV hording clutter, but distractive clutter. It takes over silently and steals you away from what YOU MUST be doing. God did not make us to hustle non stop. We were made to orbit around the idea of sabbath. And I have fallen into the sin of Israel and ceased to create my own personal jubilee years amidst my weeks and days.

So this is a confession and a call to confess.

Realize the alarms around you that might be screaming “RELAX, BREATHE AND STOP!!!!”

I would encourage you to make a list of what you consider to be life giving. Prioritize that list and realize what you can do daily, weekly and monthly. Think of the things which draw you closer to God, give you more knowledge of the holy. When we truly understand the importance of them we begin to realize we simply are to busy to not be doing them. When we start slipping into the lie they aren’t necessary is when we should realize we haven’t been doing them enough.

Focus on what brings you closer to who God made you to be.

Clean up the clutter.

Keep priorities in line.

 

Sermon Preview: The Awkwardness of Abundance

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I have a little thing I call my movie conscience. It also applies to television shows. When I feel someone is about to make a complete fool of themselves, or if things are going to get really awkward, I have to leave the room. I have never been able to watch many episodes of “The Office” because of my movie conscience. Pretty much any Ben Stiller movie is off the table.

There are few conversations that can cause the awkwardness in church like the money conversation. Let me admit/apologize something to you off the bat. Traditionally most churches (preachers) do a bad job at it. I’m sorry.

So we are going to just call out the awkwardness and have the first honest conversation this week in worship. I will clue you in on this though…we aren’t the primary actors when it comes to conversations of abundance and giving. We are focusing our worship this week around Ephesians 1:3-11, and 17-20

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

See you in worship this Sunday!

Chad Brooks - Mar 9, 2014

Practicing Prayer

More From "Celebration of Discipline"

Powered by Series Engine

*What is a sermon preview?
Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.

How to Reset Your Morning | PP1

How to Reset Your Morning | PP1

In the first full-length episode of The Productive Pastor, we talk about some great stuff! But I want to THANK YOU first for the huge response this podcast has received in the last week. It is amazing how awesome all of y’all have been with sharing with others and engaging in conversation. This is YOUR community, I just drive the truck around.

So let’s get into the first episode.

Many of us would love more time in the morning for many different reason. I share into the easiest way I have ever found more time in the morning (It is time dependent though!!). We have a quick conversation about the importance of prayer and why every ministry leader needs to be making time for it.  I also tell a little more of my backstory about personal productivity.

1. Listener feed back

@EricCrisp and @Revmhj brought up some great points.

2. The most important thing any ministry leader needs to add into their daily schedule.

Quotes on Prayer

3. The Easiest Way to Reset Your Mornings.

Michael Hyatt on Reengineer Your Morning Routine. (podcast)

Thanks for being part of the community. I would absolutely LOVE an iTunes review and rating.