As many of you know, I do a weekly video podcast for the communities of Garretson, Dell Rapids, and Pipestone. Each week I sit down with a community member or business owner to get them a free platform to share what they are passionate about and to make each of these communities a better place to live.
I have recently launched a website to take the podcast to the next level. My hope is to begin monetizing the podcast in order to pay for some of the regular expenses. I travel to each person’s place of work and have invested close to $5,000 into the podcast. For the past three years, I have done this on a volunteer basis.
This may change, but my hope is to continue to do the podcast free of charge with those that I meet and to not rely on ad revenue. Instead, if you feel that the podcast has been beneficial to you or your community, you can donate to offset some of these expenses on the website.
So, do me a favor – explore the website and share it on social media. Thank you!
I am currently reading through the book “Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures” by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. Martin Lloyd-Jones lived from 1899 to 1981. He started his career as a medical doctor but ended up spending over thirty years in pastoral ministry. All of his writing – but this book in particular – do an excellent job of diagnosing conditions of the soul with the care and expertise of a medical doctor.
Chapter fourteen addresses spiritual depression that is the result of being “weary in well doing.” The text that grounds this chapter is Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” In modern terminology, Martin Lloyd-Jones is addressing the topic of burnout – especially in regards to one’s faith and Christian life. I thought his observations were so excellent I wanted to distill the major aspects of the chapter on my blog – both for my own reminder and hopefully to help you as the reader.
First, Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones begins by providing three “negatives” – three things NOT to do when weary and spiritually exhausted:
1. Do Not Give Up! “There is a great temptation that comes at this point. You say: ‘I am weary and tired, the thing is too much for me.’ And there is nothing to say at this point but this negative – do not listen. You always have to start with these ‘don’ts’ on the very lowest level; and that is the lowest level. You must say to yourself: ‘Whatever happens I am going on’. You do not give in or give way.
2. Do Not Resign Yourself/Lose Hope! “While there are people who hand in their resignations and say, ‘I am quitting’, that is not so with the majority. The danger of the majority at this point is just to resign themselves to it and to lose heart and to lose hope. They will go on, but they go on in this hopeless, dragging condition.”
3. Do Not Self-Medicate! “Many a man has ended a drunkard who started by taking a little alcohol to help him to carry on; and people take to drugs and various other things in precisely the same way… I have seen people in the church dealing with this general spiritual weariness in that very way. They work up some kind of excitement or they adopt new methods… Can you not think of certain churches that are always putting out some fresh announcements or finding some new attraction? Such churches are obviously living on artificial stimulants and it’s all being done with this idea in mind.”
In the next blog post, we will look at the 5 activities the doctor prescribes to bring about healing and rest from this type of spiritual exhaustion. As always, if there is something I can be praying about for you, or if you simply need to talk, please reach out. You can leave a comment or send me an e-mail at email@example.com
As many of you know, I have the opportunity to teach verse-by-verse through the Bible ever Sunday at Renovation Church. These messages are recorded and then posted to our Facebook page and church website for others to benefit from. I decided it may be helpful to also post them on my personal blog – My prayer is that they help you understand the depth of God’s love for you a more.
(If you are reading this in your e-mail, you will need to go to the actual page to see the video of the message).
Acts 4:13-22 (CSB) 13 When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 After they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign has been done through them, clear to everyone living in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that this does not spread any further among the people, let’s threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again.” 18 So they called for them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
19 Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; 20 for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
21 After threatening them further, they released them. They found no way to punish them because the people were all giving glory to God over what had been done. 22 For this sign of healing had been performed on a man over forty years old.
In our American culture we are obsessed with size and outward success. This has infiltrated the church and encouraged pastors to use any means necessary to pursue numerical growth for the church. In many ways this is a good thing – more people getting connected to the body of Christ is always positive. Unfortunately, the means that we have used for many years for this growth has caused more people to attend but less people to be disciples. I would even argue that the American way of doing church has given people a false hope of salvation for they have trusted in a false Jesus.
Before you leave an angry comment, let me explain.
This past Sunday I had the honor of teaching through the miraculous healing of a man who had been unable to walk since he was born – over four decades. His livelihood consisted of being carried to the temple each day so that he could beg for money from those coming to worship. On a seemingly ordinary day, he encounters two leaders in the early church – Peter and John.
These men have likely seen this beggar numerous times – the text says he was at the temple daily asking for alms. According to Acts 3:3, when he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple, he asked for money. This is how Peter responds to this man’s request, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”
Peter offered the man what he needed – not what he wanted.
If we could sit down with this beggar in the first century and ask him what his greatest need on that day was, he would have said it was money. He needed money to purchase food, he needed money to pay rent, and he needed money to simply survive.
What if Peter and John simply gave this man what he wanted? What if they did a fundraiser or a GoFundMe page to raise money for the poor beggar outside of the temple? It would have been a great marketing move; displaying to the Jewish world the generosity of Jesus’ followers. It would have made the poor beggar happy – his monetary needs would have been met and he could have taken a vacation from begging outside of the temple.
But here’s the thing.
If Peter and John offered this man what he wanted, they would have missed out on the wonder-working power of God.
Might I suggest to you that our churches settle far too often for giving people what they want instead of what they need. Here’s what I mean – Most contemporary and outward-focused churches (like Renovation Church) utilize the pulpit to declare self-help messages on parenting skills, marriage tips, financial advice, as well as many other “felt need” topics. The messages generally take the pastor’s ideas or creativity as the starting point and then sprinkle in some Scripture to Christianize it – usually with a vague altar call at the end of the message.
These topics are important but they are secondary to our mission as the Church. The greatest gift we can offer the world is not corny motivational talks but Gospel-centered and expository (i.e. verse-by-verse) preaching of the Bible. If we want to see people truly transformed by the radical message of the Gospel, it begins by introducing people to the richness found in the Scriptures. Life transformation isn’t the result of a 3-week motivational talk on finances and tithing; it’s the result of the Holy Spirit working new birth through the clear exposition and proclamation of God’s Word.
On theologian said it this way, “I don’t go to church to have my needs met, I go to church to figure out what my needs are.”
Pastors, leaders, and church members – quit giving the culture what they want and instead offer them what they need. In the name of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and through the faithful exposition of God’s Word – give them Jesus in all of his beauty, glory, and majesty.
Hey everyone! I decided to start out 2020 by writing, recording, and mastering an original (and free) song about Jesus’ teaching on greatness. The song is below. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. If you enjoy it, do me a favor and share it on social media!
(If you are reading this in your e-mail, you may need to go to the actual page to hear the song).
What comes to mind when you think of the person of God?
For some, the only image that comes to mind is an angry deity determined to cast his enemies into a lake of fire. For others, God is a vague idea that is defined by a human definition of love. For others, especially Christians, God brings forth images and descriptions of supernatural power. God is transcendent, holy, and glorious; the Creator and Sustainer of all creation by the power of His Word.
As I prepare for my Christmas Eve message at Renovation Church, the Holy Spirit highlighted for me a small (but significant) part of the Christmas story – Jesus was born as a baby.
I know you don’t find that amazing and it’s a detail you already know, but hang with me for a minute.
Many Jews in the first century were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Jewish Savior. Before Jesus (and after him) many arose from within the ranks of the Jewish people and proclaimed themselves to be the long-awaited Messiah. The Jewish people were under the control and reign of the marvelous Roman Empire. The Jews were forced to pay extravagant taxes, honor the emperor as the son of the gods, and submit their worship of the God of Israel to the laws of Rome.
But they had hope.
They believed the ancient Scriptures promised that God would send a divine warrior-king to set His people free and set up a theocracy on earth; elevating the Jewish people to a place of power, honor, and glory allowing them to crush those who oppress them. For many ancient rabbis, the belief was that the Messiah would simply show up on the scene, fully grown. The reason for this belief is that the Jewish people in the first century, like us, viewed God as supernatural, powerful, and glorious beyond words (which is all true).
Babies don’t really fit the picture.
But God, through his own sovereign choice, chose to enter into the mess of humanity as a helpless baby born in a manger. The scene was so incredibly ordinary that even the shepherds would have missed the significance of it if the birth wasn’t accompanied by a chorus of angels proclaiming the praises of this unique yet ordinary baby boy.
So… why does all of this matter?
Many of us do not hear the voice of God or behold His glory because we are looking in the wrong places. The majority of God’s people in the first century rejected Jesus because He didn’t fit their expectations. They expected a Savior who would conquer by killing his enemies; instead, they got a Savior who conquered by allowing his enemies to kill him. They expected a warrior-king who would simply “appear” fully grown and ready for war; instead, they received a helpless baby born to two teenage parents in the small town of Bethlehem.
One of my favorite stories from the Old Testament is about the prophet Elijah (whom we named our son after). After an incredible victory over the false prophets of his day, Elijah was beyond depleted and exhausted. He was on the run and fearful of losing his life. In the midst of his spiritual depression, God instructs Elijah to stand on a mountain and wait for the glory of God to be revealed. First, an incredible wind storm shattered parts of the mountain – a terrifying sight for this prophet – but the text says God was not in the wind. After the wind, Elijah felt the earth below his feet begin to move and heave with a great violence; the foundations of the earth trembled from a mighty earth quake – but God was not in the earthquake. Suddenly, out of seemingly thin air, a terrifying and consuming fire appeared before Elijah. Surely, Elijah must have thought, God is in the fire because that’s how he appeared to Moses… but God was not in the fire.
Wind… Earthquakes… Fire… All miraculous, terrifying, and powerful signs of God’s power but God was not found in any of them. Finally, Elijah heard a still small voice – an almost silent whisper; and He discovered God.
As you prepare for Christmas my challenge for you is to wake up to the ordinary whispers of the extraordinary God in your life. Reject the commercialized busyness, slow down, and seek to hear God’s voice through Scripture, nature, family, and silence.