So as we anticipate Jesus' 2nd arrival we look into the rearview mirror of history and remember his 1st arrival. That's the season we are in right now. We are preparing as we remember.
We believe that God wants us to prepare during this season intentionally. As a church community, we believe that one of the best habits to create to adjust is showing kindness. A couple of weeks ago as we prepare for this season, we gave each family unit an envelope. Inside this envelope was a set amount of money. We asked families to add at least $5 to whatever was in the envelope and show kindness to someone using that envelope. It's been enjoyable to hear the stories of how God is working through our people and those envelopes to share kindness.
We also created a Christmas in the 'Ville Framily Guide. This document is a resource we want our people to use to create some intentional memories as a group of friends or as a family.
As we prepare this season, music is crucial for us. We created an Advent Spotify playlist for you to listen to on your own. Enjoy.
Remember this is all to help us remember Jesus' first arrival as we look forward to His second arrival that is to come. His prior arrival brought hope and a glimpse of what is to be. His second arrival will be the completion of that hope that glimpse.
So technically speaking we are in the Advent season, not Christmas season. I know small technicality who cares right? Christmas season starts 25th; Advent season is the season leading up to Christmas, it ends December 24th on Christmas Eve.
In our previous installment on our mini-series, we mentioned that Advent is the season of anticipation of Christ arrival. Jesus arrived once on this earth. Some people who had been waiting for generations missed this arrival. Others, however, saw the coming and traveled to encounter Jesus.
Jesus lived 33 years on this earth; history recorded only about 10% of His lives events. 90% of His lives events are undocumented. Think of an iceberg. 90% of this massive structure in the ocean is underneath the water unseen. Around 10% of that iceberg is above the water. These icebergs are unmovable. The Titanic was taken down because of the hidden parts of the ice underneath the water.
Foundation of Jesus' live was solid. Yes, He is 100% God and 100% man. That 100% man portion, however, had to be developed it had to be matured. Jesus grew in wisdom & stature (Luke 2:52).
I think there is something to be said about the amount of documentation we put into our own lives. We live in a day and age of Instagram Stories, IGTV, Facebook Live, Snaps, Tweets among so many others documenting around 90% of our live events. What would happen if we decided to follow Jesus' example and build a foundation in the unseen parts of our lives that was solid, lifegiving and world-changing?
Jesus is undoubtedly the most influential human in the history of humanity. His example the decisions he made in His lifetime changed the course of humanity.
During His lifetime He was arrested, falsely accused, humiliated, hung on a cross to pay the sins of the world. He was buried in a tomb. Three days later he rose from that grave. Forty days later he met with His disciples and told them He was returning at some point.
2,000+ years later we are waiting. We are still waiting. Some of us might have given up on the His second arrival. Some of us might not even believe Him. I'd encourage you, however, to take a glance in the rearview mirror of history to move forward into the future.
History, science, art, among so many other fields, point to God and the existence of God. Take a look at books like Problem of God by Mark Clark, read through or Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel. These authors unpack this topic in surprising ways.
Jesus' second arrival will be the completion of what He started on this earth on His first arrival. What we see now is only a glimpse of what is to come.
So it's here, have you noticed the cold weather, some snow, Christmas lights are up, things are getting busy. We're in the midst of Christmas Season! Some of us love it, some of us not so much.
As we enter the remaining portion of this Christmas Season, I want to encourage you to pause and intentionally move forward with your limited time, limited resources. As a church community, we are asking the people of RE.THINK to be Jesus centered, and others focused.
To move forward intentionally, however, we should take a lesson from driving. Some of you are decent drivers; some struggle to drive at least the speed limit, I struggle to stay under the speed limit. No matter how fast or slow you drive, however, to make an informed, intentional decision moving forward you must at least glance into the rearview mirrors. As a driver, you can't fixate on the rearview mirror, or you'll crash and struggle to move forward. You also can't ignore the rearview mirror, or you'll hit something near you. To move forward as a family, individual or a group of friends this season let's look in the rearview mirrors of our lives and for some of us our faith.
The season we are in is referred to as the Advent Season in the church world. Advent is a Latin word that reminds us of anticipation, a longing for an expected arrival.
In the first century Roman-ruled country most Israelites were found not waiting, not anticipating. Since before the beginning of the history of the nation their prophets and been prophesying that the Messiah would arrive, the Messiah would save them from their sins, the Messiah would establish His kingdom on this earth.
1,000's of miles away a group of non-Israelite people saw the evidence of something unusual they had been anticipating the arrival of the Messiah for almost 600 years, they noticed the evidence of the event of the one born king of the Jews and moved. That's right they saw the proof of the thing they had hoped for, they had longed for and adjusted their schedules and calendars and moved.
So how could the Israelites miss it? How could the magi from the east see it?
I think the Israelites missed it because they spent generations anticipating, and waiting for the Messiah, and it seemed that God ran late. God didn't show up the manner they expected, or in the timeline, they hoped.
I can't be the only person who has missed out on a meeting because I was running late. So late that other party left the designated place to meet. I think that's what happened with the Israelites. I think they assumed God was running late and they gave up. Yes, they still went through the religious motions and hoped for the Messiah's arrival. The Messiah didn't arrive in the manner they expected or in the timeline they hoped.
God wasn't late. However, God was on His timeline. One of the earlier church leaders writing to a group of Christ followers reminds the Galatian church in Galatians 4:4 "But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship."
God arrived when He intended to. The 1st-century people just missed it. They look at their current realities of being ruled by a foreign empire, their lack of economic status. They kept looking at their existence, not realizing that God arrived to be with them.
No matter what our current realities might be, God will show up when He intends to. Let's not be caught missing out because we didn't take time to see God show up. This season reminds us to anticipate the 2nd arrival of Jesus. Jesus arrived on this earth once. He told us that he would come again. Humanity has been in 2,000+ years of advent awaiting His second arrival.
Photo by Gareth Harper on Unsplash
How do you know you’re successful at this whole life thing? I’ll be honest. I’m tempted to gauge my success based on my bank account. I’m also tempted to gauge my success at how well my sons behave. We have the same questions as a church.
How do church leaders know if they are successful or not?
When I was a kid, I played baseball --kind of. I assumed I knew what it meant to keep score because I knew that the team with the most runs scored won the game. Then I attended a game with my friend and his dad. Gary handed me a scorecard. I was lost. I had no clue what to do with it. Now, to be honest, I’ve forgotten most of what he taught me that day. What I do remember from that day, however, was that there are so many leading indicators that help us predict who will have the most runs scored at the end of nine innings. The number of strikeouts, the number of walks, hits and RBI’s etc all help to indicate what team will have the most runs scored at the end.
Our church started thinking how we could discover whether we are successful or not as a church using this same idea. If so, then what’s the scoreboard? We don’t have runs scored. We don’t have touchdowns or points. We have some obvious items to track such as the number of people attending our church and the number of people who have made the decision to trust and follow Jesus and His ways. But beyond those items, what else could we measure?
We decided to develop a scorecard. Kind of like baseball, we track all potential next steps people could take. We track everything from liking and following us on social media platforms to baptism to leading a small group. We believe that God wants to do something in and through each person. There is Kingdom Potential in all of us and we hope to help anyone unlock that Kingdom Potential.
We’ve assigned each potential next steps for people at RE.THINK a set amount of points. Our August score total was 3998 September score total was 4803 and so far in October with 2 weeks to go at the time I’m writing this is 3061. We are building a baseline to understand how easily people can take their next steps at RE.THINK Church as each person matures in their relationship with Jesus.
So if we were to personalize this, could there be leading indicators in your life that would help you understand if you’re being successful or maturing as a person? The author of the letter of Galatians wrote these words, But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
So how do you and I know if we are maturing in our relationship with Jesus? How patient are you? How loving are you? When you walk into a room, do people know you as a person of peace or not? Are you kind?
Now to be completely honest, you’re not going to become more peaceful, more loving, kinder and more gentle on your own. It’s only as a result of living connected to the Holy Spirit. These are the products of being connected. So how do you and I stay connected to the Holy Spirit?
I think this is where the leading indicators help us determine if we are maturing or not.
#1. Do you recognize the difference between going to church and being the church? We recently kicked off one of our favorite message series, Stop Going to Church, with a message that explains the difference. Here’s the link. STOP GOING TO CHURCH WK 1
#2. Prayer. Prayer doesn’t have to be strange and full of confusion. It’s a conversation between you and God. If you’re new to this whole faith concept and don’t really understand prayer (You’re not alone. I still don’t understand it completely.) here’s a blog series we wrote about earlier this year. Prayer Blog
#3. Reading the Bible with a group of people helps you build community and understand the Bible. This next one could be considered two separate indicators but at RE.THINK Church we believe the best way to do these two steps is together. Each Wednesday night we have groups of men, women, and students that gather and discuss what we call our S.O.A.P. journals for the week. Each person reads the previously scheduled reading schedule and follows S.O.A.P. We make these groups open to everyone. We invite skeptics who don’t follow Jesus yet. We invite questions and doubts. We don’t shy away from the tension that this could create. We believe that an appropriate amount of tension is a good thing.
So how could you personally apply this? Start by answering honestly. Are you going to church or are you connected? Are you looking for a way to contribute or are you more concerned with what you get out of attending church?
Are you God and the power of God directly through prayer? We don’t need to pray through someone or ritualistically. We can access God’s directly through prayer. Are you? How often are you praying?
Are you applying the truths we find in the Bible? Are you connected with others who are reading and applying the Bible as well? Do you support each other WHEN life throws you curveballs?
Following these steps might help you understand if you’re putting yourself in position to mature. It’s kind of like a sailor having to adjust the sails to catch the wind and gain momentum. We have to position ourselves and our habits and routines to capture the wind of the Holy Spirit to gain momentum in the maturing process.
Photo by Blake Guidry on Unsplash
Let’s play a game. For whatever reason, you’ve made the decision to attend church again for the first time in a very long time, maybe ever. Perhaps you’ve fallen on some rough times and are seeking some encouraging advice. Maybe you've recently had a child and you believe that faith is an important aspect for children. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to start looking for a church to attend.
The important question you may ask yourself is “HOW DO I KNOW I FOUND THE RIGHT CHURCH?”
I grew up attending church every week and even went to college to become a pastor. I served as a pastor for five years until I simply gave up on going to church. I was frustrated beyond explanation with the hypocrisy of the leaders. I was frustrated with how irrelevant the churches I served in were. They seemingly didn’t care about the community we lived in. So in 2006, I walked away from the church. I found it easier to love God and love others and not attend church. I would listen to messages online and that seemed to be great for me.
Eventually, my wife and I decided we should attend church for the sake of our children. So we started the process of looking for a new church. We really didn’t know what we actually wanted, but we definitely knew what we didn’t want.
During that time, I remember thinking “this is a nightmare”. It was so difficult to find a place where we felt like we belonged and wanted to be a part of.
So, in this blog, I want to address what to look for when you’re searching for a church. I asked for some help from friends and people I know who recently searched for a new church to attend.
I hope this helps.
Mike and Tammy looked for a church where the mission of the church was Christ-focused and outreach was a theme. They wanted opportunities to connect with others outside the Sunday morning experience as well.
In the weekend service itself, they were seeking engaging speakers who were theologically sound with quality music as part of the worship experience. Their children are grown adults, but they still understood that healthy, quality children’s programming that involved parents and families throughout the week was crucial.
Mike and Tammy also wanted to feel at home when they walked in.
The church they decided to attend and to get involved with checked all of the boxes.
This particular church is one of the most influential churches in America.
My friend, Tristen, was invited to attend a church by a friend of hers. It was important to have an outlet of hope. Being in the LGBT community, she previously felt unwelcome in church. The church she attends now offers hope. She told me, “This church breaks the Bible down into nuggets of information that I can literally walk out of the door with and apply to my life that day. They also talk about real stuff...depression, substance abuse, insecurities, loneliness, family issues, etc. They just make you feel like you are accepted and welcome. It pumps you up so much on a Sunday that is carried for the entire week.
Prior to this church, Christianity always interested me but the environment of the church I grew up in didn’t ignite anything inside of me to feel passionate about Jesus. It was an environment of a vengeful God where things were very black and white (right/wrong) versus an environment that celebrated a loving, forgiving and fatherly God.”
My friends, Gary and Kim, wanted to go to a church that made them feel welcome and RE.THINK Church was it. Kim said, “RE.THINK is our home now. I love Marc and Heather for everything they have taught me and have done. I feel that everyone should experience what RE.THINK has to offer at least once.”
Let’s go back to the game we mentioned at the beginning, “HOW DO I KNOW I FOUND THE RIGHT CHURCH?” What should you look for?
We as humans need to feel welcomed and accepted. We should attend a church that makes us feel welcomed and accepted as we are.
The message, preaching or teaching portion of the service should help us understand the Bible (The Bible is the collection of ancient writings that are God inspired. Followers of Jesus read the Bible to determine truth). The person giving the message should also help with the application part of the Bible. It’s important that clarity and application be part of the message. It’s through the message that God moves people to a point of changing their desires. A true transformation that happens is a result of God changing the desires we as humans have. This happens when a person understands the clarity of the Bible and how to apply the Bible to their own lives. All three churches mentioned are churches that have goals to clearly teach the Bible and help people apply the truths found in the Bible.
Find a church that you’re able to ask questions even the tough questions. The leadership of the church should be able to answer what the mission and vision of the church is, what are the values of the church. Church Leadership shouldn't shy away from tough conversations, or uncomfortable topics. You should have an avenue to ask the questions about faith, life, and purpose.
Lastly, the importance of ‘outward and next’ should be a focus of the church leadership. People who aren’t part of the church should benefit from the mission and ministries of the church. Emerging generations such as toddlers, elementary students and all the way through high school should be a focus. How do you know this is a focus? Every church might say these are important, but there’s a way to find out. Like most things, if money and energy are spent on emerging generation ministries such as children and students ministries, the church values emerging generations. If time and resources are allocated to serve in the community, the church has an outward focus.
If you know anyone who is looking to reconnect with their faith or connect with faith for the first time in their life, pass this along. They might just need a safe place to explore their faith.
Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash
I grew up attending a local church most of my life. Every Sunday we would wake up, get dressed, walk into the church building, attend a Sunday School class and then attend a normal service. Everyone that was there carried their Bible like badges of honor. The larger the Bible and the more worn out the Bible appeared, the holier the person must be.
Large Bibles were in, like really in. Someone even made a music video...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTYr3JuueF4
There is nothing wrong with having a giant Bible, but shortly after that video was made, technology made some amazing advancements. I’ll admit, I may have resisted the technology advancements that allowed me to read my Bible on my phone when it first started.
At the time, I was a student ministries pastor. I was leading a group of tenth-grade guys. One of the guys asked me this question, “is it ok for me to read my Bible on my phone?” I responded quickly and said something like “it’s ok at times, but you should read the Bible on a real Bible…”
A few months after that conversation, I found myself needing to look something up. I realized I didn’t have my ‘real’ Bible but I did have my iPhone in my pocket. So, I downloaded the You Version Bible App and looked something up. I found it so convenient to read the Word of God on my cell phone. I went back to the group of students and told them I changed my mind. I believe that I screwed up and made a mistake when I judgmentally told them to read the Bible on a real Bible.
I’ve been asked several times if it’s ok to read God’s Word on a mobile device. It’s made me think through this whole process of how we ended up with the Word of God in our hands.
I think it’s crucial we realize that the Bible isn’t actually one book. It’s a library of books that have been collected over thousands of years. God spoke through several men (and possibly 1 lady... the author of Hebrews, who knows). The Bible is God’s mega-narrative love story between Him and humanity. While it’s tempting and even possible to try and read the Bible from page one to the last page, that’s not how it’s designed. The Hebrew Rabbis describe reading the Bible and its passages like looking at a diamond. Every time you look at it, the viewer will discover something new.
The early church didn’t have the Bible (in any form that was usable and portable like a book) for several hundreds of years. It amazes me when I think through how these individuals matured and grew into the potential God had for them from the beginning without the Bible.
They learned about Jesus through other humans telling the story of what their lives were like before they knew or met Jesus, how they encountered Jesus and what their lives are like now after meeting Jesus. In spite of not having an official Bible or proper training, Paul, Peter and other church leaders discipled other people and those people discipled others. Eventually, the Bible as we know it was formed, but not for several hundreds of years in a painstaking process.
The method that was used to write and read the Bible was handwritten documents that were copied and dispersed out among the followers of Jesus. It wasn’t until the invention of the printing press in 1436 by Johannes Gutenberg that the ‘real’ Bibles were even possible. This one invention revolutionized humanity and empowered regular people to understand truth and God with clarity. Individuals could actually read the Bible in a language they understood and challenge the authorities and ask questions. This seems so strange to us today. It’s crucial we remember Gutenberg, Tyndale, and Luther among so many other reformers.
I honestly don’t see an issue with using technology of any form to put the Word of God in the hands of regular people. The printing press was the latest and greatest form of technology at one time. Mobile cell phones are the technology of our day.
There are some dark sides of technology. I have found a few things to be helpful in avoiding the dark side of using technology to read the Word of God, however.
If there is a dark side of technology, there must be a bright side of it as well.
Here are some of the most practical ways to use technology and it’s ‘bright side” while avoiding the dark side of technology.
To sum it all up, yes a person can use technology to read the Bible. The ‘real’ Word of God isn’t in a platform or method. It is in the actual text and meaning of the text.
Photo by Hannes Wolf on Unsplash
Photo by Jenny Smith on Unsplash
Significance. Who doesn’t want to live a life of significance? Look throughout history and you’ll see men and women who lived significant lives and some who missed the mark. Which do you remember the most? Those who lived significant lives, of course. I think we all strive for significance. The question is, do our actions and our decisions lead us towards living meaningful lives? Our thoughts and words have a purpose, but our choices and actions reveal our true aim in life.
The question has to be raised at some point, what is our aim when it comes to parenting? Is it happiness for our children? Is it success? There are so many potential occupations and possible objects to aim for when it comes to parenting that we may lose sight of what matters.
When I was in middle school, I went on a camping trip in northern Wisconsin. One of the best things I did was archery. I loved the idea of shooting a target. Deep down inside I hoped to become a modern-day Robin Hood fighting off the villainous evil men in my town. The issue, I never actually learned archery. It wasn’t enough for me to just have a bow and some arrows. That didn’t make me successful. During this camping trip, some of our leaders started an archery range. They gave me some basic instructions and feedback.
One of the first things they told me was to stand so that I was in line with the target. They told me that being in line with the target would increase my chances of actually hitting the target.
They taught me how to hold the bow, load the arrows and how to rotate the bow elbow outwards to avoid the string burning my arm. One of the things I remember the clearest was the concept of looking directly at the target. My aim was crucial when it actually came to hitting the target.
Aim matters. It’s crucial. What we aim for is most likely what we’ll end up hitting or accomplishing. So the question is, what are we aiming for while parenting our children? Are we aiming for their happiness, are we aiming for them to be college ready or do we want them to hit a totally different target? What we strive for is most likely what we’ll hit or accomplish.
Instead of sharing my opinion on how you should raise your child, I'd like to encourage you to dream big. Think to the day that you become a grandparent. What kind of parent are you hoping will raise your grandchildren?
Are you hoping for a hardworking, faithful parent? Are you expecting your grandchildren will be raised by maturing adults?
The challenge starts when you start to back engineer the process. Dreaming of what kind of parent will raise your grandchildren is excellent. The reality is, for the most part, we parent as a reaction to how we were parented.
For most people, the most significant thing we'll accomplish will be in who we raise. It's easy to get caught up in believing that what we achieve or how much money we put into our bank accounts will reveal our significance in life. But it's worth repeating, for most people the most significant thing we'll accomplish will be in who we raise.
The reality of life seems so simple. The children we are raising today will get older. It doesn't guarantee they will be mature. Accomplishing a maturity is an option, not a requirement. As parents, we should set our children up for success in the accomplishment of maturity.
If you want your future grandchildren to be raised by faithful, hardworking and maturing parents, that process starts for the most part in how you raise your grandchildren's parent.
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Growing up in Indiana, I’m pretty sure I was brainwashed into thinking that I had to like basketball. I quickly realized that I was not built for basketball, but I really, like REALLY, wanted to be good at basketball. I grew up when some would call the real G.O.A.T., Michael Jordan, still played. We had a basketball hoop in our driveway. I played so many imaginary games where I took the last second shot and won the NBA championship.
My sixth grade year, I bravely signed up to tryout for basketball. I remember stepping on the court with talented kids who were really good. They were more skilled, taller, faster and most of these kids had actually played basketball on a real basketball court not just in their driveways.
The coaches evaluated everyone’s talent and ability during the next two days. This was rough for me. I vividly remember walking out of the gym the first day realizing there’s no chance I’m making this team. The next day, I remember looking at the cut list. Needless to say, I didn’t make the cut. I was cut the first time around. It was a long time until I even attempted to play basketball beyond my driveway.
This was the beginning of a few long years of my middle school time that seemingly led to being overlooked time and time again. Looking back during those ridiculously long and tedious years of 6th - 8th grade, it did help develop my maturity. I learned that I don’t control what happens to me, but I do control how I respond to life’s events.
This reality isn’t fun, but it’s part of life. We don’t really control anything. We do control how we respond. Being overlooked happens to us all, not making the team, not getting the promotion, not getting the girl or not being chosen. When “Life” happens to us, we can with choose to wallow in our sorrow or we can choose to react differently. We can choose to realize this amazing truth. When others overlook us, God is watching. In fact, God is looking intently at us.
God has plans for us. There is one Bible verse that followers of Jesus love to throw around. It’s Jeremiah 29:11. In this verse, God clearly tells the people of Israel that he has plans for them. God says that He plans to prosper them and give them a hope and a future. Church goers love to throw this verse out when transitions happen such as when a pastor or other people leave the church. The context of this verse however gives us a completely different look at its meaning. The people of Israel could have easily thought that others were overlooking them, including God. Take at look at this link for an overview of the backstory to this verse.
When we are overlooked by others, even those who are supposed to be closest to us or even those people put here on this earth to provide, protect and care for us, God is still here looking at us. God sees you and your life matters to God. You matter to God. Lean into Him and His ways. Don’t buy into the lie that our life’s circumstances somehow reflect God’s love for us. The author of the book of Jeremiah in the Bible predicted that the nation of Israel was going to go through some extremely rough days and they did. The eye opening thing is that Jeremiah, this man that God loved, cared for and spoke with, experienced all those difficult days WITH the nation of Israel. Through all of the difficulty, God was still watching Jeremiah and every other person. God is still looking at you. He sees you.
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As we wrap up this miniseries on Prayer, How to Talk with God, I wanted to share one last thought on prayer. This might be the most difficult, yet important, aspect to talking with God.
When it comes to prayer, God’s opinion is the one that matters most. Our prayers should be genuine, honest and simple. There are moments when it may seem difficult to pray. It might be challenging during those hard times, but realize that you can still pray, hear from God and be heard. Dave Ramsey says about success with personal finances are 80% behavioral and 20% head knowledge. It’s the putting the plan into action that makes it difficult. Praying genuine, honest and simple prayers are 80% doing it, and 20% head knowledge.
Paul, a church leader who wrote a large portion of the Bible, encouraged the followers of Jesus in Thessalonica to pray without ceasing. I remember the first time hearing that statement. I thought it was the stupidest thing I’d heard up that point in my life. Does God really expect me to walk around throwing thee’s and thou’s and hedges of protection around for everyone to hear? Does God really expect me to drive, walk, go to school or work with my eyes closed?
When we have a confused perspective on prayer, it can seem like the wisdom from the Bible is foolishness. Understanding that God is looking for genuine, honest and simple prayers changes our perspective. When Paul is encouraging the followers of Jesus to pray without ceasing, he’s encouraging us to talk with God and listen for God’s voice throughout the day.
There’s a man named Brother Lawrence who wrote a book entitled The Practice of Presence of God. He explained how while doing normal everyday functions we could have a conversation with God as if he was there with us.
Here’s the reality. Humans are spiritual beings wrapped in a physical body. We can’t really touch the spiritual aspect of our lives, but we know it’s there. This is why as humans we hold funerals when someone passes away, saying kind words about the individual. This is also why some of us can have all the material possessions and yet yearn for more. It’s not more materialistic things we actually desire, its purpose and significance that we actually crave. As spiritual beings wrapped in a physical body, understanding that God, another spiritual being, is present with us even in the moments we can’t sense or feel Him. The more we Practice the Presence of God, the clearer we understand God’s voice in our lives.
Some of us may have grown up practicing our faith, but as we moved up in years, we may have walked away from that practice of faith. RE.THINK Church is a safe place for anyone to explore their faith or even reconnect with his/ her faith. Our purpose in existing is to help lead people in a maturing relationship with Jesus. We understand that for some people, exploring the faith they once knew might be a starting point. If we can do anything to help with that process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Email me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to pray when God is silent
If you had a chance to share with people what your relationship with God looks like, what would you say? In high school, I was asked to do this up on stage one Sunday morning at our church. I figured I would just be honest with everyone. I got up on stage and without making much eye contact, I shared how God and I used to be close. In the past, I could hear him talking to me when I prayed and I could feel him in my life, but not anymore. God had been silent for what felt like two or more years. So, I went up on stage and told them, “Look, I’m trying as hard as I can to get close again to God. I am reading my Bible, praying, going to church and I just don’t feel like he is here. Things in my life do not seem to be changing and prayer doesn’t seem to matter.” Honest truth. The following week, I was surprised as I started getting notes from people all throughout our church. They all said the same thing. They had been in my situation and there was hope.
It’s not uncommon for Christians to feel this way, even really faithful Christians seeking the Lord every day. Which means this is an important issue to address. Why does God allow us to feel this way? Where is he? And what can I do to get through this season? I’d like to give you guys a few tips on how to survive the season and where I have found God in the midst of the silence.
First off, we need to address the myth that God is silent because we are not doing enough. We do not have to earn his love. Regardless of whether or not you have believed in Christ your whole life or you want nothing to do with him, the Bible says that he is fighting for us and chasing us down. It doesn’t always feel that way though does it? It’s easy to think God is ignoring us when we have been praying for him to show up in our lives for some time and we see no results. Personally, I get so mad at God, but here is what I have learned. God loves us way too much to not want to give us the best life available to us. Our dreams and promotions are not going to be sustainable in our lives without character development. None of our time in the silence is wasted.
If you look in the Bible, you will struggle to find someone that was used by God without first going through a time of struggle, silence or questioning God’s goodness. Don’t waste this time of silence or feel discouraged thinking that God doesn’t care. Silence actually means the opposite. When God is silent, feel encouraged that God loves you enough and that God has such a big plan for your life. Recognize that he is giving you time to work on your character in the silence. In my experience, seasons of silence are always followed by seasons of extreme blessing. Maybe someday I will get to share some of the miraculous things that occurred after my seasons of silence. Today, I want to focus on some tips to get you through those “quiet” seasons.
1. Always remember in the dark seasons what God has spoken to you in the good seasons. When God feels distant and life seems impossible, Satan spreads his lies with great effectiveness. Hold tight to what you know to be true even if your heart does not feel it. The Bible says that the heart is deceitful (Jer 17:9). Trust in truth not your heart.
2. Remind yourself of truth (Phil. 4:8). Read your Bible. Memorize scriptures. Listen to worship music. Listen to sermons online. The more you speak the truth into your life, the firmer you will stand until the silence breaks.
3. When you no longer have the strength to pray because you are discouraged, remember that the Bible promises that in those moments, the Holy Spirit steps in on our behalf and prays for us to the Father (Rom. 8:26-27). Jesus was here too. He felt the same way we so at times and He has compassion for us. When we are weak, He steps up and fights for us. Hold onto that truth.
4. Surround yourself with people who will speak truth to you (Prov. 19:20-21). The best thing you can do for yourself is to surround yourself with Christians who know what the silence is like and yet know how to trust God through it until the season of blessing. They will give you strength.
This process is hard. This process may not always feel worth it while you are in it. When the silence breaks, I promise it is worth it. If you can hold strong in the silence, God will use you in incredible ways. So hold on.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” -Galatians 6:9
Photo by Timothy Barlin (@timbar) on Unsplash
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RE.THINK Church values being a church that is casual. Casual Church goes far beyond the way we dress, it's more about we expect people to take this journey at their own pace. We are here to journey with everyone. So we've created a blog so people can check us out before they show up for a service.