Posted tagged ‘Spiritual’

Spiritually-Addicted Christians

December 14, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                         December 14, 2018

                  

“It’s spiritually dead here!” explains the middle-aged woman to me.

“How so?”

“Nothing ever happens here!” she says, using her hands to exaggerate the point.

“Nothing of God ever happens here. Is that what you’re saying?”

“Yes, Pastor! It’s dead!”

“I’d beg to differ with you.”

“You’re the pastor. I would expect you to disagree!”

“Like last Saturday morning when the men’s bible study group prayed for a problem that Bobby was dealing with, and then we gathered around him and hugged him, and gave him encouragement! Or last week when I was out changing the letters on the church sign, and I got into a conversation with an 84 year old lady who lives a block away from our church. A few of us are going to walk up to her house and trim her bushes and fix her screen door next Saturday! Or last Sunday when Patty brought out something from the scripture story we were studying that caused a light bulb to go on in the minds of a few of us. I’m not sure what criteria you’re using to determine whether God’s involved or not, but those were all signs to me.”

She looked at me and bit her lip.

“Say it!” I urged her.

“Those things just aren’t very exciting, pastor! I’m looking for miracles and people who love the Lord, and I’m just not seeing much of that here.”

“So…have you been to see Widow Samuels? Because, even though she is in a care center now, whenever I go to visit her I experience a spiritual blessing and marvel at her love for the Lord.”

“I don’t really like those kind of places.”

“And last week I was sitting beside Joe Skinner’s bed and talking about the end of his life, his looking forward to experiencing the glory of the Lord in heaven, and how God has walked with him through a multitude of life valleys.”

“Those aren’t the things I’m talking about, Pastor. I’m talking about spiritual highs!”

“So you’re an addict?”

“Excuse me!”

“You’re a spiritual addict, whose addiction can only be satisfied by an experience that is high energy and high emotion.”

“I knew you’d blame me!”

“I’m not blaming you for anything. I’m just stating what the situation is. You don’t seem to see God working in our midst unless something awesome happens. What is awesome, however, has to be defined by your standards. Am I right?”

“No, you aren’t right!”

“Then we will just agree to disagree. The spiritual life I’m seeing is different than what you’re looking for. I mean no disrespect in saying this but there are some people who go to an amusement park and define its impact by how many roller coasters it has and how thrilling they are. When I go to an amusement park I evaluate it on being able to ride the merry-go-round with my grandkids. Different perspectives, neither which is wrong.”

“I’m not addicted, though!”

“And I’m not spiritually bored! So, I guess we’re both where we need to be!”

She smirks, starts to say something, but then turns and walks away. She has moved on to the next church down the road. 

Five years after the conversation she has moved on three other times. Sometimes, it seems, we minimize the power of God by not allowing him to be involved in our rhythms of life. There is a hunger- an addiction, if you will- to wanting to see smoke on the mountaintop while missing the nearness of His presence.

Spiritually-hungry Adults In Kids’ Bodies

October 22, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         October 22, 2013

 

                      “Spiritually-hungry Grown-ups in Kid’s Bodies”

 

Understatement that is about to be made. Kids like to have fun!

Nothing like a good game of “Red Light, Green Light!”

Kid’s birthday parties are celebrations of delight with icing!

A neighborhood gathering of children for a game of “hide-and-go-seek” still gives me goosebumps!

I love watching my grandson have fun playing soccer on a small-sided field with other five year olds. He hasn’t learned that you’re suppose to keep score yet, even though most of the adults watching are keeping track of that. He’s just having fun…and regardless of whether his team scores twenty goals or zippo the post-game snack will be be the same and taste just as good.

Kids often have a great perspective on things.

What I’ve been noticing lately in our church is that there are a number of spiritually hungry kids. I’ll call them “spiritually-hungry adults in kid’s bodies”, because a lot of them are asking deeper questions than how many loaves and fishes did the little boy give Jesus?

One young man, just a tee shirt size past being a kid, asks me questions of depth each week. He’s looking for substance in this thing we call “walking with Jesus.” He’s figuring things out in his heart and in his mind. His mom has told me that he’s thinking about being a pastor. What do you say to a “Samuel?”

“Be a good little boy for Jesus” does not suffice. I’ve come to realize that spiritually-hungry kids don’t need all the answers in one gorging session. They need questions that lead them to discovering answers, and they need conversations that bring them to certain points where they can hear my answer.

Spiritually-hungry kids want to ask questions that don’t necessarily have one clear answer. “If God created everything, why did he create Satan?”  “If God knows I’m going to tell a lie why doesn’t he stop me before I tell it?” “Why is our worship service on Sunday morning for about an hour? Why not thirty minutes or three hours…and why don’t we have popcorn? Is there something in the Bible that says we can’t have popcorn in church?”

     No question is out-of-bounds for spiritually-hungry adults in kid’s bodies.

And here’s something else that I have no proof of, but just a sense in my spirit about. Kids who ask deep spiritual questions are often borderline threatening to a church. Sometimes it’s because the actual grown-ups aren’t asking deep questions themselves. If the climate is always one where only questions that have easy answers can be asked, deeper questions weigh on people like the after effects of the Sunday potluck.

In other situations kids who ask deep questions create uncomfortableness because it throws the whole system out of whack. Kind of like someone taking college courses he though he’s still in high school. It isn’t the progression we are used to, and yet a whole lot of high school graduates now enter college already with a number of college credits.

Kids asking deep spiritual questions…listen to this…is the hope of the church!

How so? It’s a rescuing of the community of faith from meaningless ritual and superficial spirituality. It’s leading new followers of Jesus beyond the tyranny of the urgent that keeps telling us that everything else is more important than the murmurings of our spirit.

Kids asking deep spiritual questions conveys that THIS really is IMPORTANT, this relationship with Jesus and life amongst the other believers. When kids stop asking questions the church has questions to ask.

I close with a confession! Too often I’m more concerned with the agenda and schedule than I am with the questions. For instance, last Sunday I did a kid’s story in our worship service. It did not go as I planned. The kids had comments and questions that did not fit into my plan. I rushed them to “my finish line”, because there was the adult message to get to. Sometimes that’s how we are…rush the kids to the pre-determined end point and ignore the questions.

And you know something! Kids are more important than that! They need to be seen…and heard, especially while they are still willing to give us “older kids in adult bodies” a hearing!

Spiritually Suspicious

June 3, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    June 2, 2013

 

There is something about our mindset that is strange. We often long for, and pray for, the touch of God upon our lives in such powerful ways, and yet when someone proclaims that he has experienced a powerful encounter with the Lord we are, more often than not, suspicious.

Perhaps it is because we aren’t quite sure God would present himself in such a way.

Or it could be that we are a bit jealous that someone else gets to experience the hand of God instead of us. Kind of like getting new underwear for Christmas while our sibling gets new Legos. Who would be happy about that?

Or perhaps it is because we’ve gotten burned for believing that such things happen too many times. Someone tells us how God has appeared to him, and then we find out a while later that it was all a hoax. We wanted to believe. Believing is risking, but like the boy who cried “Wolf!”, too many false alarms has left us leery of trusting in the real holy moment.

Let’s be honest! Sometimes people use our tendency to be gullible towards spiritual matters to pull the wool over our eyes.

The tragedy is that God still is working, and moving, and healing. He is still the God of the burning bush and closed lions’ mouths.

Facebook and Youtube have made us instant celebrities, but also immediately doubtful. As our culture becomes less familiar with the Bible it becomes prone more to being swayed by the spectacular. What if God, however chooses to be in the calm, the gentle whisper? At that point do we become visually-impaired to his hand?

I’ve witnessed a person be overwhelmed by the singing of a praise song. God was doing something in her life. I’ve also experienced the moving of God in the midst of a conversation with one other person. But I’ve also felt the uneasiness over the sharing of what was perceived as being a great moving of the Spirit.

It is confusing.

When talking to the Corinthian church about their worship issues, Paul said something that applies to this spiritual suspicion we feel. He writes, “When we worship the right way, God doesn’t stir us up into confusion; he brings us into harmony. This goes for all the churches- no exceptions.” (1 Corinthians 14:35, The Message)

If it is confusing, perhaps it needs further inspection, further contemplation and prayer. God is not a God of confusion, but he is the God of people who are quite often confused.