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February 13, 2007

A Spiritual Kick in the Pants



kick_in_the_pants.jpgNot long ago, after agreeing to address an audience of Christian leaders on the topic of staying connected to God, I immediately regretted my decision. My deep-seated misgivings did not stem from normal issues of over-commitment but from an insatiable realization that something was wrong with the idea that mature believers needed to know how to stay fresh spiritually. What gnawed at my soul was that we don't need fresh how-to's, but rather a proverbial kick in the pants to do the hard work of practicing spiritual disciplines. Although we cry out for more information, what we really need is more application of what we already know.

I liken it to the multi-billion dollar dieting industry, regularly promoting yet the newest fad in weight loss. Those of us who struggle with unwanted pounds are always on the lookout for some new strategy, breakthrough method, or even the ever-hoped-for magic pill that will melt the pounds away and somehow eliminate the hard work of denying ourselves and hitting the gym. In truth, there is no easy way and no one can do it for us.

The same is true in my spiritual life. I know what is required of me to stay spiritually fit, connected to God and in step with the Spirit. But I harbor a hidden hope that a fresh idea or new approach will somehow make following God easier or more appealing. Bottom line: There are no shortcuts to spiritual intimacy with God.

What gets in the way? We do. We don't want to work that hard. We feel significant when we over-schedule our lives. We don't want to sacrifice that much. We convince ourselves that serving is a sufficient pathway to God. We substitute experience and intuition for prayerful wisdom. We count teaching preparation as our week's (or month's) worth of time with God. We listen to the songs of our favorite "American idols": entitlement, image, pride, financial security, materialism, relationships, power, comfort, homes, entertainment, and even our children.

It's not a fresh idea that we need; it's a fresh start. So, where do we begin? We need to humble ourselves before God and admit that ministry not fueled by intimacy with him is self-serving and powerless. Let's encourage each other to do the hard work of staying connected with God and remember that the rewards are out of this world.

Comments

You are right on. We want the quick fix, the drive by relationship and the instant filling. Relationships with God or people don't work that way. It takes time, honesty, authenticity and a fair amount of hard work. I've looked for the new ideas too. This year I'm back to doing it one day at a time and making the sacrifice. I can't do it alone so a friend is holding me accountable. I call her daily, just after I get up--early. If I don't call, she calls me and wakes the rest of my family. My times with God are now more consistent because someone is partnering with me. My relationship with God is much improved. It's worth the hard work!

You're not kidding people aren't willing to do the work.

I'm teaching a class on Purpose. I'm a trained Life Purpose Coach. People have paid money to take the course. They all came saying they are looking for life purpose. But are they really?

If they really were, don't you think they would at least do the homework and take it seriously? Well, week after week I call upon individuals who haven't got the answers filled in. It pains me, especially when I spent most of the summer preparing this indepth workbook as a guide to reinforce the concepts that would be life changing.

I'm afraid that the women who are looking won't find if they don't search with their whole heart.
Spiritual disciplines, homework disciplines...

So true, and look at what we sacrifice. We lose on our relationship with God, his guidance, being filled with his holy spirit. How can we be serving effectively when we are going on our own power and not his?
I am working hard on daily being in the word and praying. They say if you do something 21 days in a row, it becomes habit. How sad I have to make an effort, that because of my relationship and wanting to spend time with my Lord is not enough.

Thanks Laurie!
Thanks for the kick in the pants that I needed! Truth be told, I'd rather be busy that sit in silence and wait on God. Busyness "seems" to validate my existence but in all actuality, it does nothing more than drain the reserves of my soul. But, the thought of being "still" and knowing God; if that was all I ever did, would I feel like I was "worthy enough"? According to theology, there is nothing we can bring to the table that would cause Him to love and accept us any more than He already does. But, my heart condemns me so. It overrules my theology and searches for the "quick fix" of busyness in ministry so my flesh can "feel" validated yet again.... YUCK! Please kick me again with the truth! Do I need to soul search to find out my I'm not faithful in my quiet-time? No! I just simply need to put my flesh to death and walk the path of the disciplines! They are the unseen lifeblood to my soul!

Good post. As an alcoholic in recovery, I always was trying to find an "easy" way to stop drinking. It is still in my nature to look for easy ways out. But most of the time, having discipline spiritually leads to a life much, much greater than my wildest expectations.

Thank you! That is exactly what I needed to hear!

Thank You for putting words to my feelings. As Women's Ministry Director I hear so many women cry for the lack of relationship they have with Christ. Yet, when given various opportunities for growth such as attending Bible Study and digging into the Word they often complain that they do not have time.
As I begin teaching a new study, I tell the women to leave that day clear for the rest of the semster. Repairmen will come other days, cars can be inspected, errands can be done after class, yet a few still allow the world to rob them of their discussion time.
We run from book to book looking for the "one thing" to set us right.
As you have said, it is His Spiritual wisdom that our hearts seek.
To help me with my discipline, I have made it a point to do what I call"last minute fasting". For example, Right before arriving at our Fri night fellowship, I choose not have anything to eat. We do not often have food unless it is a designated dinner night. Don't you know that that is the day, all the other families brought great looking deserts and treats as a surprise?
This discipline has allowed for me to better keep on track with what God has called me to complete and be more self disciplined. I hope this makes sense.
I recently adviced a woman with marital problems asking me for another book to read, that she did not need another book, she just needed to do what she knew already.
May we continue to embrace spiritual disciplines as readily as the things the world offers and may it be more.


Yes and amen! I had almost talked myself into saying that my time at a meeting tonight could count as time with Him...

I really do wish there was a magic pill. There is so much that one can do to make a difference, but if I am not filled to begin with, then I am not giving from the overflow, I am giving from the dregs of the vat. The dregs of a gas tank eventually ruin the car engine. What are those dregs doing to those I think I'm helping??

Very well stated!! Another Amen!

In responce to:
lu allison's comment above:

I find this scripture helps me let go and let god be ALMIGHTY.

Psalm 46:10
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”

What does that mean, you say? “Know that I am God.” It means we need to realize and meditate upon how great He is, how merciful He is, how majestic He is, how blessed we are. AMEN

This is a response to Sally's comment.
"Yes and amen! I had almost talked myself into saying that my time at a meeting tonight could count as time with Him..."

..As i thought about your words, a few thoughts came to mind. First, you are right in the sense that we need.. need to take time out of our day to just spend with God. A time of quiet.. where He has all of our attention. But i think that we can also spend time with God in our "meetings" or workplace.. or school.. etc. God has really been teaching me that He is present all the time. Beside us as we drive, as we work, as we interact with others. However, i find that i dont always acknowledge Him throughout the day, in my daily routine.. why? God is always present.. we need to acknowledge that He is there. In doing this.. we can share those moments with Him and include Him in every aspect of our lives.. not just in the "quiet" or when we are alone.
:) just a thought!

I agree with all the comments. I have found that if I don't spend time with God, filling myself with His words, His wisdom, that I will lack in giving to others. My husband and I run a youth center and we also help out in our church. We seem to be on the go. I noticed that if we don't spend time with our "Heavenly Father" we will be giving out of ourselves and not from the Holy Spirit. That is when burn out can take place. Daily time with God Is a necessity. It should be our daily spiritual food. I still have to remind myself to keep spiritually feed. "Pray for me and I will Pray for you"

Great comments. It is in the stillness of intimacy with God that deep waters are found. In passing quickly by the shore in our hurry we only barely "dip" our toes into the pool of intimacy with God. We brush and bristle against the initial coolness of the water. Often, we don't stay in His presence long enough to learn of the warmth of His loving embrace as we tarry. As we wade out into the depths of deeper waters...as we go ankle deep and then pull up our skirts or roll up our pants to the knee that we begin to become aware of His overcoming us with the river of His presence. At first, I am cautious and want to stay dry! HA! Imagine that. Imagine me trying to control the power of God in my life. However, what joy when with utter abandonment I take a leap of faith and plunge under the water and know the true depths of submersion into His presence. Overflow. A deep encounter. Downpour. Wow. I become weightless in His presence as "I am transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from degree of glory to another" (2 Cor. 3:18)

I really agree with you when you stated, "What we need is more application to what we already know." This is something I have been thinking about a lot recently and especially with the truth that is in God's Word about who He says we are in Him. We can read these verses which should empower us, and we know many of these verses by heart, but we do not apply them to our lives and live our lives truly believing them. We just seem to know them.

Sometimes a "kick in the pants" is exactly what we don't need to keep going in ministry. Sometimes what we need is a break from all the kicking and screaming. Taking time out, relaxing, rejuvinating...this is what gets us back into a place where we can focus on God. Once our minds and hearts are humbled and in the right place we can begin to minister with the right focus.

I completely agree with the statement concerning the need for a "kick in the pants." Many times ministry workers can forget the real reason why they are doing ministry in the first place while the schedule fills and time with God dwindles. Spending time with the Lord should be done early because as the day wanes, it is so much harder to spend time with Him (at least for me). Thanks for the thoughts

Wow, thank you for this article. I am the one you are talking about. Thank you Holy Spirit for me open the email and link for this. Out of all the things I do,I find myself too tired, too drained to spend time with God like I once did. Thanks for the kick in the pants to apply what my heart is aking at my spirit to do. Even the weight issue hit home for me. I ask for pray and the confidence I need to pray and read my word to find the strength to apply and achieve. In Jesus Name

Yes and amen! Sometimes our renewal and refreshing comes from simply doing what we already know we should do, and finding joy in His presence.

Great post. Ours is certainly a culture of instant gratification. While the corporate ethos of maximum efficiency, speed, ease, and convenience with regards to goods and services can be great for business, we've got to keep ourselves in check and remember that staying connected spiritually isn't a commodity. We're in relationship and relationships are messy, inconvenient, costly, and hard. You're right to remind us that staying connected with God isn't about a quick fix - it's a lifetime of relating.

I'm ashamed to say that I am one of the people that you are talking about. Reminds me of a scripture- "For a dream comes through much activity, And a fool's voice is known by his many words" Ecc 5:3. Talking is easy but walking and applying is so hard but i believe it is possible. I guess part of the Christian journey is about discipline. There are simply moments in life that you just get going with something because its the rite thing to do.

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