Sometimes, especially in Christian circles in the United States, it sounds like we expect God to “miracle up” some success for us. As though he’s a genie in a bottle, who exists to fulfill our every whim. But that’s not what Scripture says and it’s often not our experience, either.
Rather, success requires that you work really hard to become really good at what you do. That’s not to say that relationships and opportunities aren’t important. They are. But you also have to work really hard. That’s just the way it is.
I’m looking for your responses here. I’d like to hear what you do (or don’t do) to grow spiritually.
I’ve blogged about being spiritually effective and growing in relationship with God (one of my most popular posts), about things that inhibit growth, about hearing from God and making decisions, about discipleship and priorities because there’s always too much to do. But after all of that talking I really want to hear from you.
I’d like to know what specific practices you use to:
- Stay connected with God
- Hear from God
- Grow in your relationship with God
- Get out of a rut
So, there you go. Here’s your chance to blow my socks off and share what God’s taught you over the years. Please comment, share, tweet, ask around, and reply to your heart’s content.
Photo credit: Nicholas_T
Do you recognize one of the primary differences between people who are caught up in popular culture and people who are part of the Christian subculture?
Most of the people caught up in popular culture are striving towards goals. While, at the same time, many of the people who are part of the Christian subculture think they’ve arrived – that now that their salvation is secure, there’s nothing left.
I’m sure this doesn’t describe you. But just keep it in mind for that friend of yours who needs to remember that he or she hasn’t “arrived” yet.
It’s a lie
Let’s start there: for a Christian who is still alive and breathing to believe that there’s nothing left to do or accomplish but to wait for final, sweet death is a lie. It’s an abomination. It runs contrary to how God created us and what Jesus taught.
A couple of days ago I wrote this post about a report put out by the Barna Group. I’m still hoping that you’ll go read the report if you haven’t already.
Last week I was discussing some of the findings from this report with Pastor Wayne. One of the interesting things that he mentioned was around findings 3 and 4 (you’ll have to read the report to find out what they were).
You see, if we combine numbers 3 and 4 in an environment where people are already lacking in systematic theology, or really in any theological literacy (number 1 – that’s a freebie), we create an environment where Christians are socially involved because it’s advantageous to them but not because they have a foundation for why they do what they do.
Let’s take environmentalism, for example. I firmly believe that we should be environmentally conscious. We should take care of the Earth. But asking people why it’s important to will lead you to many different answers.
Here is just a sampling of possible answers
- We should take care of the Earth because if we don’t, we’ll melt the ice caps and we’ll all die.
- We should take care of the Earth because we all share it.
- We should take care of the Earth because we shouldn’t ruin it for the animals.
- We should take care of the Earth so that our children will have food and water.
Now, all of these are good answers. They are good reasons that we should take care of the Earth and some are strong motivators. But they fall short of the core reason that we should take care of the Earth.
I’m writing this hoping that you’ll go read this report by the Barna Group. If you’re a a Christian in American culture or, especially, if you’re a spiritual leader, I believe this report is very important to you. But, if you’re not into that sort of thing, just skip right over this post.
I’m an Analyst
In my day job as an analyst, data is very important to me. People can come to me all day long and tell me that they feel like they know what we should do. And, you know what? They might be right. But at the end of the day, we don’t set out to transform our business based solely on how things feel. We make decisions – sometimes multimillion-dollar decisions – based on careful research, insight, and planning.
This is my approach
So, this is often also my approach to living my faith. To living Christianity.
I wonder how often I miss God’s very best for me because I’m worried.
- Worried about what other people might think of me.
- Worried about how I should look like a better Christian.
- Worried about whether I’m living my life faithfully.
- Worried about what I should write in this blog.
- Worried about doing my very best.
Of course, not all of these are bad. The problem is more of whether I take my worries to God. Or whether my worries push God to the edges of my life.
How about you?
What do you worry about?
How do you maintain your perspective?
Sometimes Things Just Don’t Work Out
is a guest post by Aaron Shaver (@shaversrazor
), who blogs at aaronshaver.com
. I’ve known Aaron for several years and I think you’ll enjoy what he has to say. Aaron a youth minister, an actor, a new father, and is really passionate about Jesus
. He and his Elaina wife live in Nashville, TN along with their new son.
Sometimes Things Just Don’t Work Out
Lately, I’ve found most of my day is spent wondering what’s coming next. My wife and I are often fielding our own questions about finances and career choices over the dinner table. And, we see in our own life a lot of uncertainty that may be familiar to many folks during hard economic times.
It’s hard to know –I mean REALLY KNOW – what to do in every life-choice we come across.
- Do we save for a new car or trade in now for what we can get?
- Should one of the parents stay at home and take care of the kids?
- Should I take that new job or go back to school?
Not to mention all the less life altering, though just as tough, choices that bombard us day in and day out.
As Christians, I feel like we are sometimes led to believe that all our tough life-choices simply need to be called in to God and He’ll call back with an unmistakable holy baritone voice (ala Liam Neeson/James Earl Jones) and tell you exactly which choice to make and paint a road map to get you there with as little fuss as possible.
I just don’t think God works this way.
Who would have guessed it? I know I wouldn’t have guessed.
Some new research (see infographic below) indicates that Americans give more to charity than any other nation – and that’s great! But we need to do more. We, the Christians in the United States, need to give more to charity. We need to help the poor be freed from poverty, to provide medical services for those in the US and in other countries, to provide even higher quality education.
We need to understand that poverty is bigger than money and stuff. It’s also brokenness, inability to provide, lack of protection. It’s broken relationships between God, ourselves, others, and all of creation. It’s broken systems that allow one person to take control of many.
We need to give more than our money. We also need to give our time, energy, and passion. We need to do it for ourselves, if not to help the destitute and oppressed – because we need to be invested in the work of the Kingdom of God. Continue reading
We are heading out for a marriage retreat this weekend. While I’m looking forward to learning more about myths of marriage, solid foundations for marriage, and what spouses can do to be good to each other, I’m most looking forward to spending some quality time with Katherine – my amazing wife – and some quality time with God.
We have never been on a marriage retreat before, so this will be a new experience for us. We would certainly appreciate your prayers over the weekend. Without the hand of God, we’ll just be spending time away from our usual weekend.
Today at lunch Curt said something that surprised me. It’s something that I’ve known – and is clear in scripture. But for some reason, it struck me today.
Curt is a former roommate of mine and a friend to me and Katherine. We used to hang out more but today at lunch was the first time in a while. The food was good and the conversation was easily blessed.
He said that when he was praying a few days ago, he was asking God how to help people know what he (God) can do in their lives. And that God just impressed on him that people begin to have faith in what can happen in their lives when we share what God has done in our lives.
God has done amazing things in Curt’s life. I am continually astounded by the grace that God has given him and how much his relationship with God has improved over the last year or so. While Curt has a strong heritage of faith through his mother, he hasn’t always waked in a tight relationship with God.
What God has done in Curt’s life often encourages me and reminds me of what he can do in each of our lives. God is truly amazing and can do absolutely anything. My life is a testimony to his grace and power. So is Curt’s. And so is Katherine’s.
If you need to be reminded of the amazing things God can do in your life, get to know Curt and ask him about his. Or ask me about mine.
And if God has done amazing things in your life, be sure to share them with others.