A curious fact of the heart is that it can believe in the Way, yet remain convinced it must know every step upon it.

Thought about doubt.

Ecclesiastes Prayer.

Lord,

I give my days to you.

I give you all the times I say yes and no.

I give you all the strengths you develop in me along with all the weaknesses and insecurities that lurk within my heart.

I give you all my worries and doubts.

I give you all my work.

I give you reign in all of the relationships in my life.

I give you the rightful place as the third cord in the weaving of my friendships.

I give you the ability to draw people near and let them fall away.

I give you the moments when all seems meaningless.

I give you the moments when all seems hopeless.

I give everything because it is all yours anyway.

I give everything because it is all temporary.  

I give everything because only you provide meaning.

I give everything because you are my God, which is the only thing that matters.

Amen.

I recently turned my life back over to Christ and it has been constant struggles and I just know the enemy is attacking my life. I don't have the passion I did when I got back from a really powerful youth conference. It's been really hard to not go back to how I was living. Do you have any advice? I've been writing alot and so many people are talking about how what I write speaks to them.. But I don't really know how much it's speaking to me. If that makes sense.
Asked by hisgracioustempest

I think you’re experiencing what a lot of younger Christians (myself included) tend to feel as we mature in faith.  I like to call the experience “peak and valley” spirituality.  

A lot of times, you’ll attend a conference or have an experience that absolutely shakes your understanding of God and causes you to “feel” God more clearly.  These experiences are the peak moments where you feel closer to God and ready to take action for his kingdom.  

As time passes, you become distanced from the peaks and the reality of living your faith becomes more complicated.  You begin to lose the sensitivity you felt on the peak and eventually slip into a spiritual valley.  In the valley, God feels distant.  It’s hard to keep yourself dedicated and inspired because you wish you had some other big event like the last peak to nourish your soul.  Naturally, it’s easy to bow to living in your old ways when you’re in the valley.

I don’t know what’s more dangerous in “peak and valley” spirituality.  On the one hand, you legitimately grow during a peak and it’s nice to have experiences that embolden your faith and shake your presuppositions.  On the other hand, peaks can create false expectations for the Christian life.  In some instances, the valleys are dangerous because you can end up falling from faith or resigning yourself to a form of spiritual life support (doing all the “Christian” things without any heart).  Curiously, the valleys can also be more beneficial than peaks because you learn about yourself and analyze your beliefs in detail.

Here’s my advice about your situation: Keep searching for a way to climb out of the valley, but don’t look for the quick fix of a peak.  Ask yourself what your biggest doubt about God is at the moment, what’s the real conflict in your heart that manifests as external behavior you wish leave behind for good, dig into Scripture and resources to help yourself answer your questions, and talk to other believers in your life for insight into the matter (which you’re already doing by messaging me).  In all of these activities, pray consistently and share your thoughts with God.  The goal of faith is to know God for who he is every day, not waiting for the epiphanies that provide glimpses of his nature.  If you keep searching, you’ll know God more, the peaks will just become accents in the journey of faith rather than dizzying exceptions to the norm, and valleys will become tests to be endured rather than struggles to be survived.

Thanks and I hope this helps!

Have you ever gotten the feeling where you can’t wait to have a genuine conversation where you explore another person’s mind as he/she explores yours? I wish I felt like that about prayer.

Recent thought about relationships and God.

Preaching to myself.

elliekatelawler:

Don’t be afraid to love too much. Don’t be bothered if/when people think you’re being too dramatic by walking around and falling in love with everything you see. Just don’t be bothered, because isn’t life a little bit too short to hold back? Don’t be boring. Be extravagant with your love. Talk about it, let others know how much you love them. Don’t hold back. Let the way you love define you.

There’s no better way to be.

Until we get to the point where God is the only need in our lives, we will continue to search and struggle to fulfill the realities of a life lived for Christ.

Reminder to self.

How do you confirm a calling to the ministry? What if you are just talented and have those skills, is it enough to lead others because you're capable?
Asked by babycharlie323

Hi! Sorry to be so delayed in response, but you questions required quite a bit of thought.

Here’s my thoughts on the subject of calling to ministry: everyone is called to ministry, but a person’s specific ministry may not be located within a church organization.  Any job that a believer works can be a means of bringing grace to this world, so labeling some jobs as a “calling to the ministry” and others as “just regular jobs” really obscures what God intends for everyone (which is to live as Christ in every area of life).

As far as figuring out if you are supposed to seek positions within a church organization or elsewhere, I’d say the process definitely involves the steps most people use in discovering any sort of interest or passion. 

Obviously, pray about your calling.  You might be “capable” for leadership, but you also have to have your heart in the right place.  Is your desire for leadership to serve God and others?  Is there any component of selfishness to your desire?  Are you overestimating yourself?  Prayer often functions as a barometer of your character, so bringing your desires to God will reveal where your need his grace.

I also suggest evaluating your skills/talents in relation to the position.  Surprisingly, you might not have all the skills, but it does not mean you should discourage yourself.  Some skills are developed with experience, which leads me to my next recommendation. 

If you’re trying to confirm a calling, get involved in activities related to the calling to see if you will be comfortable in that position.  Volunteer, talk with people in those positions, seek leadership opportunities that use skills/talents related to the positions, and just gain experience in the area you are considering as a calling.  When I was in college, the only way I really figured out that teaching was the right fit for me was through the field experiences I had at local schools and the teaching related activities I pursued outside of my studies (tutoring, being a T. A., and being on club councils).  Basically, look for experiences that will reveal if your desires are actually the best fit for your Kingdom work.

Finally, I suggest looking into available resources about leadership (both for church organizations and for business in general).  Off the top of my head, I know there are a number of books on leadership from pastors and businessmen that you can basically find at most bookstores (or Amazon).  In addition, I know Relevant Magazine has a section of their site dedicated to leadership.  Essentially, my last suggestion is to become educated about leadership.  Regardless of what you end up pursuing, leadership qualities are valuable in any position and allow you to maximize your impact.

If anyone else has suggestions, feel free to leave a reply! Sorry to be so long winded in my response, but it’s a hard question and I have not had a Q&A post in a while.

Sometimes we hear the 40 years the Israelites spent in the desert as wandering or waiting, but I think it’s better thought of as preparation. God wanted the hearts of his people to be in the right place before he led them to where they were meant to be, which is exactly what God does in your life when you’re wandering or waiting.

From the ongoing reflection I’m having about the Old Testament

The story of Abraham begins with God calling the man to follow, then proceeds to involve a myriad of events comprised of wandering, missteps, awaiting the promises of God, and striving to take God at his word. Basically, it’s your story and mine.

Thought about my reading today.

Joy is hiding everywhere- not just in big moments, but in little ones, too. It’s all around you… You don’t need something huge to happen to feel huge levels of joy- inappropriate, illogical levels of it are everywhere, you just have to keep your eyes out.

Pete Holmes

Sometimes the most powerful aspect of God’s nature is that he is here. All too often we speak of God in terms of light and the struggles of life in terms of darkness, but that obscures the truth. He is the God of light, yet it is often that we find him in the darkness.

Paraphrase of Shauna Niequist

Random Thoughts About Random Prayers

At some point, we throw away all formalities and censorship when we’re praying. 

It can happen for any number of reasons, good or bad.  Sometimes thankfulness leads to unrelenting honesty, while other times it’s the trials of life.

There’s been a number of times in my life (some recently) where I’ve just rambled what’s been stirring in my mind and gut in a jumbled up stream of words that happen to have an amen tacked onto the end.  The sentences I serve up run the course of gratitude to assurance to questions to requests to anything else that happens to fall out of my mind.

I used to feel weird about these types of prayers.  These prayers made me feel broken and out of character.  I felt broken by the honesty, confusion, contradictions, and longings that I pour out to God in those times.  The randomness and glaring hypocrisy of my heart made me question what character God has worked in me.

The moment that changed my perspective on prayer was when I finally thought about God’s perspective on my verbal offerings. 

God knows everything, including all of the thoughts that were gushing out in my prayers even before my mental faculties constructed them.

Prayer is nothing God doesn’t already know.  Clearly, he designed it for you and me.

Maybe prayer is more about myself becoming aware of everything God is doing and has yet to do in my life?

It’s not an original idea nor one of striking unorthodoxy, but the question is certainly true when I look at my life and think of the almost conversation-like qualities of some of the prayers in Scripture.

Naturally, the question implies a lot of other questions.  I could get caught up in trying to decipher the meaning behind prayer, but maybe with this frame of reference my prayers (no matter how unconventional) become a means by which I am prepared for God’s grace to work and I am ready to listen for his voice.

I wonder if when we drop the formalities and censorship, come before God as the broken people shattered by life and being redeemed by his love, and simply say what’s on our minds, God smiles back at us and responds, “Now we’re getting somewhere…”

What I’ve stopped doing…

I think too many times in my life I’ve tried to fulfill certain expectations or live a certain way just to please my incomplete conception of who God is and how he wants me to enjoy his grace.  There was a period during the past four years where I found myself entirely frustrated and spiritually comatose because how I was trying to live did not seem to align with the reality of the God who I claimed to be serving.  There was nothing wrong with my beliefs, but the reason behind this interim was that I was getting caught up in attempting to answer a question held so much weight and applied to so many circumstances…

WHY?

I asked this question for a lot of reasons and when I felt various emotions.   Sometimes the question was out of sincerity and humility, but there were other instances where I asked God this question out of pride and misplaced angst.  I let my mind run circles around this question in reference to my current station in life, my future, my desires, and my failures.  I’m sure you’ve probably done what I did on many occasions, which was finally having the nerve to flat out ask God that question and wait for some sort of response (be it an event, a conversation, or some other act that confirmed an answer that I already had constructed).

Why? Why? Why?

I asked that question over and over again, hoping that at some point I’d finally have some sort of answer that satisfies whatever I happened to asking myself or God at the moment.

There’s a place for asking the question.  There’s a time and place for questioning everything.  The last thing God ever wants is for a person to think that there’s nothing left to investigate and discover about this world and the weaving of his grace in our lives.  The problem that plagued me for so long was that I was asking the question without engaging in the activities God wants to use to create the traces of an answer.  God always answers questions, but all too often I’m blind to the fact that his answers are usually cloaked in the shadows and glimpses of his grace that permeate my life.  Instead of paying attention to what God was doing in my life, I was asking God for answers that were literally right in front of me.

Why?

I’ll never have an answer as long as I ask that question.  What I’ve stopped doing is asking God for an answer and trusting that his grace will surprise me with answers (yes, plural).  The truth I’ve discovered is that God continues to bestow understanding as the infinite of who Christ is collides with the finite that is my life.  I’ll always see in part and never in whole in this life, but at least I know that as long as I am living the infinite-personal God is providing millions of answers to the why questions that twist in my gut and rattle within the core of my being.  

It’s all a matter of knowing that your life is valuable and God truly is there, wherever your there happens to be.

I’m sorry if this post seems a bit disconnected, but I’ve been thinking about how much my approach to uncertainty has changed lately.  I no longer ask, “Why? What? When? How?”  Instead, I just look for God to reveal where his grace is leading me (whatever that may look like is entirely up to him).

If I cannot say with full conviction that the only thing I truly want above all else is to know God for who he is, then I seriously need to rethink my priorities.

Thought about wants and needs.

I don’t need to see a bunch of pretty pictures with quotes and Bible verses written on them. I don’t need to hear phrases such as, “Let go and let God,” or, “God has a plan.” I don’t need to say reminders to myself about how much God loves me. Nothing’s wrong with those things, but they seem disconnected from the story God’s writing in the lives of those who love him. It’s a story of redemption, love, and justice. What I want to see, hear, and share are stories that reveal that God is here, he is active, and he is waiting for a chance to work in every situation.

Reflection on contemporary Christian culture.

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The Complex Life of a Church Janitor. Purpose: Philosophical, theological, creative, and retrospective thoughts from a church janitor. Whether written word, photograph, video, or whatever, you'll get a unique perspective on life and ministry.

A note about originality: With the exception of reblogs and external quotes cited, all posts are the creative work of the author of this blog. Please cite or link any post (in whole or in part) that is shared through any means. Thanks!

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