The Great Enemy Of Spiritual Health

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Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” (Dallas Willard)

I have yet to meet a Christian that does not have a desire to grow spiritually. In fact, I have experienced the exact opposite…they want to grow and they want to know God’s Word more deeply. They desire an authentic and vibrant relationship with the Lord. They want to see it change their lives.

Yet, it seems like such a struggle…

I think the above quote by Dallas Willard is the key to understanding the struggle. It may seem too simplistic but it is reality. The frenetic pace of our lives coupled with a desire for instant gratification hinders spiritual growth and health.

Let me explain:

(1) The frenetic pace of our lives. For whatever reason we have adopted the mentality that we must be doing something every second of every day. We wake up and turn on the news or pull-up our Facebook app. We get in the car to head to work or school and immediately turn on the radio. We have practices to get our kids to and workouts that need to get done. Dinner has to be cooked or picked up. Homework…TV shows…work email…and the list goes on and on. We have all but eliminated any opportunity to spend time in the Word or in prayer. The time is there but we have so scheduled every second of every day with things (some are very good things) that we have no time for the most important thing…cultivating a relationship with our Savior. Hurry is killing us spiritually!

(2) The desire for instant gratification. Growing spiritually takes time. There is no quick fix for spiritual growth in the same way there is no quick fix for weightloss. If you want to lose weight you must burn more calories than you take in over an extended amount of time. The same holds true if we want to grow spiritually…it takes extended time in God’s Word over a number of years. And here is the secret no one may tell you…you never arrive! The Christian life is a journey. It is a race…a race that ends when we meet our Savior face to face (and ultimately, physical death is really just the beginning!). We are not running a 50 yard dash. We are running a marathon and marathons take time to complete. They also take determination…a willingness to put one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles. Our only hope to grow spiritually is to daily put one foot in front of the other with the Spirit’s help. You can’t hurry this process.

 

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There Will Be No Savior In Washington

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I know that title may cause you to scratch your head but it is true. There will be no Savior in Washington regardless of what the political candidates promise.

They do not have all the answers. In fact, they don’t even have all the questions. It is really quite an interesting predicament.The nature of politics is tricky. The name of the game is to over-promise and under-deliver. Truthfully, it doesn’t really matter if they deliver at all. They are salespeople. Every candidate is attempting to sell the American public on a particular vision for the future.

One side is selling a robust economy and strong national defense. The other is selling free college tuition and accessible health care. Neither is telling the truth. Remember, the name of the game is to make promises…not keep them.

I enjoy politics. I will vote in this presidential election and on election night I will be watching the election results with great anticipation. But, my faith does not rest in any particular candidate.

You see, I know that none of these candidates will be America’s Savior. I’m not at all saying that the election does not matter. It does matter and you should vote.

But, I am encouraging you not to get so wrapped up in this election season and lose sight of reality. There is only one Savior. He promised and he delivered on his promises. His name is Jesus.

 

A Heart That Serves (Reading Notes)

“Some time ago I had dinner with a man who was a deacon in his church. With great energy he told me about how he loved to serve the people at his church. He was so enthusiastic that he gestured a lot as he spoke, and I became a little embarrassed because we were in a packed restaurant. Yet nothing could keep this man’s excitement down as he continued to tell me of his passion for serving God. He constantly looked for opportunities throughout the week to serve the needs of fellow church members, and on Sunday he couldn’t  wait to get to church so he could continue his ministry of service. This man’s zeal for service may seem excessive at first glance, but in actuality, he was exhibiting yet another mark of a man after God’s heart – a heart that yearns to serve.

As fleshly humans, our natural (and selfish) tendency is to take care of our own needs first. We like to make sure there is plenty of time for the things we want to do. Then if we have any time or energy left over, we might be willing to use it to serve someone else. But as men after God’s own heart, you and I need to resist these selfish tendencies and strive instead to see ourselves as servants.” (Jim George in A Man After God’s Own Heart)

Casual Christians (Reading Notes)

“We have too many casual Christians who dabble in everything but are not committed to anything. They have a nodding acquaintance with a score of subjects but are sold on nothing. ‘Of course I’m interested in church – but with my club and my lodge and my golf and my bride and my stamp collecting and my ceramics and my African violets, I just can’t get too excited about religion.’ Our Lord had no place in His program for casual disciples. It was all or nothing.” (Vance Havner in Pepper’N Salt)

A Tale Of Two Worship Services

It is a cool, crisp fall day. Everyone is up early this Saturday morning looking forward to the upcoming worship service. This is not just any normal worship service. Thousands of people show up early so that they put up tents and cookout in anticipation. Many drive hundreds of miles and spend hundreds of dollars just to get there. They love to get together, strangers even, to talk about past worship services and dream about what may happen at future ones.

As the time for the worship service draws near people pile in to the worship center. It will hold 80,000-100,000 people and you can be certain that every seat will be filled. Those filling the seats will scream and jump and sing and cheer for the entire three hours during the worship service. What’s even better is when it runs long….they call it overtime. No one complains – they actually love when this happens. When the worship service is over, people linger almost as if they don’t want to leave. They take pictures and talk to strangers, sometimes high-fiving and hugging people they’ve only just met. Interestingly, those who did not make it to the worship service in person watched it on TV with friends. In fact, they say they would “never miss one!”

The other worship service it a bit different. It happens on Sunday mornings and few people are anticipating this gathering. They roll out of bed groggily wishing they could get just a few more minutes of sleep. When they are finally dressed they casually make their way to the service, usually showing up a few minutes late. Few speak to people that they do not know and, unlike the day before, people don’t seem all that excited about this worship service. In fact, it seems like they are ready for it to be over so they can go about their day.

As the worship service starts, the people who were cheering and singing yesterday are subdued. If they do sing, it is with very little emotion. If they do clap, it is done half-heartedly. There are plenty of empty seats but it has come to be expected because there are other more important things that need to be done on Sunday mornings. After the singing, the people sit and listen to someone for a while. Many times they get distracted thinking about other things and they get fidgety if the worship service goes into overtime. At the previous worship service they willingly spent hundreds of dollars for travel, tickets and food but don’t seem to contribute much at this service. When it is over, they bolt out the door instead of mixing and mingling like they did the day before. Those who didn’t make it this week may make it next week but only if nothing else is going on.