I want to talk today about breaking out of a “Spiritual Slump”. If you follow baseball or football, some important games are going on right now. In baseball, they will sometimes talk about a hitter that is experiencing a “slump”. I was watching football over the weekend and they were talking about one particular quarterback who is apparently going through a slump.
There are not only athletic slumps but there are business slumps, economic slumps – called a recession and there are marriage slumps. “The Seven Year Slump” in a marriage is where you are just going through the motions. Then there are Spiritual Slumps. It may feel like we have reached a plateau and it seems like nothing is happening or going your way.
Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs but he had struck out 1,330 times. If he was in a batting slump, he didn’t let it discourage him. An interviewer asked him “How do you keep from being discouraged?” He replied” I realized the law of averages will catch up if I keep swinging. In fact, if I’m in a slump, I feel sorry for the pitcher because I know that sooner or later he’s gonna pay for it.” That’s the attitude we should have. In baseball, if you have a batting average of 300, you’re really good. You know what that means, though? 70% of the time you are striking out. That means, 7 out of 10 times that you step up to that plate, you aren’t getting on base. And yet, with that kind of an average, you are considered really good. No one bats a thousand.
I think sometimes when we get in a slump and discouraged because we have the wrong perspective about our life and what God expects from each of us. Think about it, if Babe Ruth stayed in the dugout, he never would have broken a home run record. I think so many people get stuck in the “dugout of life”. I hope you aren’t stuck there. I think the lesson is to get out of a spiritual slump or marriage slump, or financial slump or whatever the slump may be is to keep swinging. Don’t give up.
I want to give you four ways to break out of a Spiritual Slump:
1) Think – think differently. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Feelings follow thoughts. If you change your thoughts, you can change the way you feel. Replace those negative thoughts that keep bombarding you. Batters that are in a hitting slump, they begin to over think and over question themselves. A sports psychologist can help them break through that spiritual slump because it’s more of a mental issue than a physical one. Think thoughts such as “God loves me, He’s for me, He’s on my side. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
2) Act – There’s power in action. Act as if you have more faith than you do right now. Begin to imitate others whose faith you admire, who inspire you. There were those in the Bible who went through slumps and rose again. Acting changes how you feel as well. By doing some positive things you enjoy helps you break out of the slump.
3) Share – reach out to help others. The Dead Sea is the way it is because nothing flows out, it only flows in. When you are in one of those slumps, everything, and everyone is pouring into us but we aren’t sharing and giving what we have had come into our lives. Find those in need and help them or volunteer and lend a helping hand. If we don’t do some of this, we become stagnant or ingrown and that isn’t healthy. Go out and brighten someone else’s day. Engage someone else in conversation and be interested in what is happening in their world.
4) Return – return to your first love. Rev. 2:4-5 (AMP) “4 But I have this [charge] against you, that you have left your first love [you have lost the depth of love that you first had for Me].” Sometimes we have found that we have lost our passion for Christ. Jesus said to think how far you have fallen, turn from your sins and do what you were doing first. Go back to when you were engaged in a passionate, committed relationship with Christ. You will see that you begin to pull out of that spiritual slump.
Get out of the “Dugout of Life”, step up to the plate and keep on swinging! You may miss 70% of the time but when you do connect, that’s going to get you on the base of life and bring you home.
I hope you have a fantastic week!
The message today is titled “It Takes Time” It’s time and it takes time. So what takes time? It was on my heart over the last couple of weeks about these two friends that I have who both went through a very difficult time. One lost his marriage by way of death and the other lost his marriage by way of divorce. These two guys are strong men. They both love God, very talented, gifted, successful and they both went through a difficult time. I was up close and personal with the struggle they had in both cases. It almost took them out. They went as far down as you can get with depressions and brokenness. It was an extremely difficult time for them. I prayed for them and did what I could do to encourage them but as I watched, it was amazing to see what was about to transpire in their lives. (after a few years). That’s when it hit me; it takes time.
Both of these men are happily remarried. Their lives are flourishing, bearing fruit, experiencing success in every area of their lives. So, it dawned on me – it takes time. Maybe you’re going through something right now. A lot of the times, when we find our backs up against the “proverbial wall” so to speak, we don’t enjoy it. Maybe a setback or tragedy happened in your life and it’s tough right now. You are going through a difficult time. I think God’s word to ALL of us is that “It takes time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 “God makes all things beautiful in its time.” Everything becomes beautiful in its time. It takes time for something ugly to become beautiful or something bad to become good in our life.
As I was thinking about my two friends, it took a few difficult years, but they didn’t throw in the towel, (I’m sure they felt like it more than once) but they had loving support from others. People were praying for them. As they plowed through the difficult months of recovering, it was like “BOOM!”; things turned around after a 3-year cycle.
I’m here to encourage you. Never underestimate what God can do if you’ll be patient and give Him time to work in your situation. It does take time. I was thinking about how it takes time to heal from a wound. It takes time to rebound from a failure. It takes time to recover from an addiction. It takes time to work on your marriage and to restore your marriage as opposed to just giving up on it. It takes time to bounce back from a setback. It takes time to reap your harvest. The Bible talks about seed time and the harvest time. You have to plow, plant and you have to wait. It takes time. Reaching your spiritual goals is not going to happen overnight. For those that are in a dating relationship, getting to know someone takes time. Don’t be in a rush. The Bible says that love is patient. I know we live in a culture where we want everything quick, upfront and right now. We don’t like to wait. But again, the Bible says that everything becomes beautiful in its time. You are becoming beautiful in God’s timing. I’m not talking about outward beauty, I’m talking about inward beauty.
I was looking through some of my study notes with this Bible software I have and I’m able to plug a phrase into it. I searched for “it takes time” and out of the hundreds and hundreds of digital books in this software, over 200 instances where found. The majority of these instances related to holiness. If we want to become holy and more like Christ then it’s going to take time. We should always take God’s word seriously, take our faith seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Lighten up! God loves you and is patient with you. That’s not an excuse to take it slow but know that anything good in your life takes time.
I came across a quote from Benjamin Franklin “One today is worth two tomorrow.” The Bible says redeem the time because the days are evil. In other words, make the most of your time and of every opportunity. Don’t waste time. Don’t waste time in unforgiveness, in jealousy, envy, bitterness and living in the past. Today is the only time that you have. Use it well and invest it. Make the most of it. Don’t be discouraged because all things become beautiful in their time.
I hope you have an awesome rest of your day!
Who likes messes? We are getting ready to make some changes in our kitchen and I don’t know if any of you have ever had remodeling work done, but we are getting ready to make some small changes. With changes, comes a mess.
Sometimes, in our own life, we can go through a mess. But, if we know anything about God, we know he can take a mess and make a message. At best, a miracle can come from it. In Proverbs 14:4 “Where there are no oxen, the stall is clean but much increase comes from the strength of an ox.” That Proverb is telling us that if you want to have a clean stall, don’t put any oxen in it because if you do, it’s going to get messy. If we want to have a neat and tidy life, then it’s not going to be a life of faith, not a life of taking risks, not moving forward with God because when we do, things don’t always turn out the way we would like. Sometimes with the great strength of an ox comes production and there’s a mess you need to clean up.
Getting involved in a friendship at times is going to get messy. Starting a new job will tend to get messy. When you get married and you’re learning how to love that person God has placed in your life it can get messy. When you start having children, it’s really going to get messy! Ha! BUT, it’s a happy mess. When you get involved in the church (not just attending but becoming a member and become a minister and get involved) you start serving, start “doing life” with other people and there will be opportunities for some tension in those relationships and it could get a little messy.
We need to have the attitude of Mike Rowe, who does the TV show – “Dirty Jobs”. He gets involved with people who have really messy jobs. Out of the mess comes something beautiful – a service or a product that helps make our world a better place.
Following Jesus can be like Mike Rowe – it’s a dirty job because we’re getting involved with people that have issues in their life that they’re trying to work through. That’s why we need to be patient and loving with one another in our churches, our homes, our work environment and even our country right now.
In our country right now there’s a mess. But if we look to God, it can be a happy mess. I don’t know what kind of mess you may be trying to clean up for someone you love or someone that loves you is having to clean up a mess but if we want everything neat and tidy, nothing will ever advance or move forward.
Thank God for the people who aren’t discouraged when things get messy because they know that God is the master of making a message out of a mess. A message of hope and redemption. The mess can even bring forth a miracle. Think about all of the messy people in the Bible and all the messes they created.
God is a loving Father and when He comes in; something good can come out of that mess. If we are going to build something new like a new life, new dreams, new hopes, new relationship, a better marriage, better career, you’re going to have to tear some things down in order to build things back up. There’s going to have to be some deconstruction before there can be some new construction.
So, don’t get discouraged during the messy periods of your life because God is in the “clean up” business. I hope you have a great rest of your week!
I wanted to talk today about letting it go.
There was this child playing outside and he ran into the house frantically and he was upset. His mother asked him what was wrong and the little boy said that the neighbor boy was teasing him and called him a bad name. The mother asked if he hurt him in any way or was injured. The boy responded he wasn’t hurt. Then the mother said, “Then let it go.” What advice!
Many things happen to us in life and we do the opposite. We hold on to it. Someone may cut us off in traffic and we can’t let it go. Maybe someone at work made a snide comment and we can’t let it go. Maybe our spouse isn’t having a good day and maybe our words cross and instead of letting it go, we tend to hold on to it. Maybe your boss did or said something and instead of overlooking it, we hold on to it. The Bible says, “Great peace have they which love thy law and nothing shall offend them.” Ps 119:165.
We get offended so easily. Instead of letting it go, we hold on to it. How many of you guys have had your wife hold up this jersey that you use to wear back in high school or in college and tells you that you have to let it go? You tell her no and tell her how long you’ve had it and it really doesn’t look that bad. Then she tells you how terrible it looks on you. There’s things like that in our life, like that old jersey, that we just can’t seem to let go.
I’ve known people during football season whose favorite team is having a losing year or their fantasy football team is flopping and it ruins their day. (Or two or three or their whole week!) They are down in the dumps until next week. Now, if you’re a player on that team or the coach or the owner of that team, I can see how it’ll affect you; but if you’re just a fan, are you kidding me? We have to learn how to let things go.
Here’s the thing that can hinder us if we’re not careful; if we hold onto something we should be letting go, then we aren’t letting “come” into our life (something God wants to bring into our life). Until you let go, you can’t let come. By holding on to the things we shouldn’t be holding on to, we are then not holding on to the things we should be holding on to.
I think the advice to take from this message is: do you have anything in your life right now that you are holding on to? Do you have a grudge, unresolved issues that would be better if you were to just let it go? Maybe you put in for that job promotion and it didn’t happen. Let it go. Maybe you were looking to start a new career and went through the interview process and it didn’t happen. Alright. Learn whatever lesson you need to learn and just let it go.
I want to give you a quote from A.W. Tozer ” In the kingdom of God, the surest way to lose something is to try to protect it and the best way to keep it is to let it go.” That is powerful! Sometimes it seems like a slogan that Christians use but “We got to let go and let God!” I think there’s a deep spiritual truth to that. I think there’s a time when we need to just let go of something and let God come in and work.
I hope this was of some use for you today. Maybe if something happens later in the day, you can think about it and tell yourself to just let it go and not let this fester inside of you. There are more important things that are happening in our lives than being put on pause because of something that occurred that we didn’t enjoy.
As always, if you are in the Lubbock area and don’t already have a home church, come to Trinity Church this weekend! One of the most important messages that I’ve ever preached is going to be this weekend. We are going to be talking about “Partial Victories – How to Avoid the Passivity Trap”. Have an awesome rest of the day. Go out and win for Jesus. Remember, learn the lesson of Letting it Go.
Something on my heart today is resistance you experience anytime you are moving towards a goal in your life. We all should have goals. Set a goal, revive your soul. I was thinking of the importance of setting goals. By doing this, you can revive your soul. We get to where we are just going through the same cycles and end up just going through the motions in our life, in our work, in our relationships, in our marriages, in our friendships and even in our relationship with God. It’s like we put ourselves and our relationships on “autopilot”.
I was thinking of the importance of setting a goal. A goal can re-energize us. For example, you should have a goal related to your health. Maybe you’re not at the place in life where you can exercise 30-45 minutes per day. Sometimes small goals can lead to bigger goals. But you have to start out with a goal. Where do you want your health to be in the next month, 6 months or a year from now? Sometimes it’s as easy as standing in front of the tv and marching in place for five minutes. Do that every day and work up to 10 minutes; then 15 minutes. It’s kind of like the “snowball effect.”
Do you have any financial goals? Do you want to save towards your future? Do you want to begin practicing generosity more often? Would you like to give to the Lord’s work? Sometimes you have to be willing to work small and work your way up.
How about goals in your career? It’s important that we set goals for our personal careers. The Bible talks about this. The Apostle Paul said to press towards the prize of the high calling of Christ Jesus. He urges us to be more like Christ. It’s good to set goals for your career. I had a goal to be in ministry and I thought how I would achieve that. I knew I would have to attend Bible School. Then, I felt I was called to be a pastor so I had to get involved in a good church and begin to serve. I did this in Albuquerque, NM. I volunteered, I was a home fellowship leader and then became a Singles Pastor for 10 years. My next goal (call it a Holy Ambition – I wasn’t trying to climb the ladder but I knew I had to show myself faithful in different stages of my ministry) was to be an Executive Pastor. I knew I was gaining experience so that one day I could be a Sr. Pastor. Low and behold, 15 years year ago this past weekend I became the Sr. Pastor of this great church, Trinity Church here in Lubbock, TX.
Once you’ve achieved your goal, it doesn’t mean you stop setting goals in your career. Do you have any career goals? Maybe it’s to get through high school, college, or your post grad work. Then what’s your goal? What’s the dream career you want to have and once you get there, you have to continue to set goals. Continue to set goals that challenge you.
For those of us who are blessed to be married or those that one day would like to be married, you set that goal to one day, get married. Then in your relationships you have to set goals. This is so you don’t get stagnant and stay in one spot.
Spiritually we should set goals. Remember, I started out saying – “Set a goal, revive your soul.” There’s something about moving towards your goals in life. It’s important to set spiritual goals; to pray every day, to spend time in God’s word consistently. For some of you, a goal to read through the Bible for the very first time. Maybe it’ll take you two years. Most people have reading plans where you can do this in a year. These are important goals.
Once you’ve set a goal and begin to move towards it, there can begin to be this force that starts working against you of resistance. It seems like the closer you get to achieving your goal, the more resistance you will begin to experience. We see this even in the life of Jesus. The closer He got to His Heavenly goal, which was Jeruselum and dying on that cross for us, the greater the spiritual attacks and resistance He had to push up against. So sometimes if you are facing resistance in your relationships, your marriage, at work, in the pursuit of your career, your educational goals, your financial goals, or generosity goals, you’re going to face resistance. There’s going to be some headwinds. That could be a sign you’re getting closer to fulfilling those goals. Keep in mind the old saying, “Persistence wears down resistance.” I want to encourage you, whatever your goals may be, continue to be persistent because it will wear down the resistance. I was thinking about Nehemiah in the Old Testament, the closer he got to finishing his goal, to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem (completed in 56 days!), the greater the resistance. Greater were the attacks from the people, greater the attacks from within, greater the scandals, but he had to push through the resistance.
I want to encourage you, if you are encountering some resistance in the pursuit of your goals, I want to breathe life into those goals and those dreams. That resistance isn’t a bad thing necessarily. It can be what helps strengthen us and develops character. It can actually better prepare us to step into our bigger self when we actually reach those goals. Once we reach those goals, we begin to set new ones.
So, set a goal and revive your soul! Remember, persistence wears down resistance. I pray God’s best over you.