5 Hour Energy Faith

“God, please give me faith and help me stay strong.”

How many times have we prayed something similar? When it feels like nothing is going right, you wonder what God’s plan is for your life (or if He has one at all), and life is beating you down – some variation of this prayer seems to be our “go-to” prayer. The problem is, that’s not how faith works. Faith is developed, not given.

Isaiah 7:9 – “Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.”

Did you catch that? God didn’t tell us to ask Him for faith when we are desperate, like some sort of 5 Hour Energy faith boost. He says that unless our faith is firm, He cannot make us stand firm. Our strength in difficult times comes from our faith in God and trusting that He is in control; the deeper and more developed our faith in God is, the more we will be able to endure. We must have faith in God’s promise that He is in control – not that He will give us faith and strength any time we ask.

If we want to have the kind of faith that will help us endure even the most difficult and dark seasons in life, we need to be intentional about developing our faith. You could spend your entire life learning facts about something and why it works and even watch other people experience it, but until you do it yourself, you will only have knowledge, not faith.

It can be inspiring to hear other people tell of how their faith helped them endure difficult seasons or circumstances, but in the end it often leaves us wondering why our faith doesn’t seem as strong as theirs. Faith is developed and strengthened through experience – we will always have more faith in something we are constantly around than something we view from a distance. Faith in God is developed through study, prayer, worship, and a commitment to consistently pursue Him. If you want faith that will see you through the difficult times and inspire others, you have to do the work.

God doesn’t give faith to some people, but not to others like some sort of door prize. He gave everyone the capacity for faith; it’s up to us to grow it. Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. You can’t feel the presence of someone you keep at a distance and you will never feel the embrace of someone that you refuse to let come near you. 

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How Deep Are Your Roots?

Drifting away from God is never something we intend to do; it just kind of happens. We get tired, busy, lazy, or distracted and our relationship with God suffers. Most of the time, it’s not even bad things that keep us from God – it’s too many things. We have a limited amount of time in each day, so every time we add something to our lives or to our schedules, something else gets pushed out. Often, the things that get pushed out are the things we most need to be in.

When we drift away from God, He is willing to let everything that gets in our way of a relationship with Him be stripped from us.

Isaiah 6:13 – “…as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down, so Israel’s stump will be a holy seed.”

Notice what it says – that Israel will be cut down and the stump will be a holy seed. We hear that and think it’s a bad thing, but really it’s what we all need sometimes – a fresh start. It may be difficult for us to view a tree being cut down to its stump as a good thing, but it’s what is under the stump that really matters – the roots. The roots are what sustains the tree; what determines how healthy it is and how high it will grow. A tree with deep, healthy roots will be stronger and better equipped to make it through violent storms than a tree with shallow roots.

Just as the roots are what sustains a tree, our relationship with God is what sustains us. The deeper we are rooted in our relationship with God, the better equipped we will be to endure the storms of life. If we want a faith that is deeply rooted in God we must be intentional about doing the things that will cause our roots to grow deeper.

Sometimes we need to get back to the basics.

When we feel overwhelmed, when life gets so busy and hectic that it feels impossible to focus, and when we can’t feel God’s presence like we once could, the best thing we can do is eliminate every unnecessary thing, get back to the basics of study, prayer, and worship and focus on rooting ourselves deeper into the One who can sustain us.

When Your Church Leaves You Spiritually Unfulfilled

It can be tough to find a good church. The worship services at many churches are either completely irrelevant and old-fashioned or are too much like a show – flashy, loud, and overproduced. Even if we do find a place where we can really worship, it can be hard to really connect with people, build relationships, and be fed spiritually. Sometimes it seems like churches just don’t get it

Or maybe we are focusing on the wrong thing.

The style of worship and culture of our churches isn’t the problem. We tend to focus too much on finding a church that we can “connect with” or that offers what we are looking for and then blame the Church for being out of touch or irrelevant when we can’t find anything that satisfies us or leaves us feeling fulfilled.The problem isn’t the Church or local churches – it’s us. So many of us are too distracted and lazy to read, study, worship, and build relationships on our own, but unwilling to accept responsibility for our lack of spiritual growth. Everything that takes place at churches should be happening every day, but when it only takes place one day a week, of course we’ll feel unfulfilled.

The focus of a worship service isn’t for us to feel connected and satisfied, it’s to worship God together as one body. We feel frustrated and unfulfilled because of our lack of commitment and inability to accept responsibility – not because the Church isn’t doing a good enough job.

So the next time you are feeling unfulfilled or dissatisfied, don’t blame your church – take a look at yourself and the effort that you are putting in. Until we are willing to take responsibility for our own spiritual growth and stop expecting other people to facilitate it for us, we will always feel frustrated and unfulfilled. Until we are willing to study, worship, pray and build relationships on our own throughout the rest of the week, the study, worship, prayer, and relationships we participate in at church will never be enough.

There is a huge difference between going to church and being the Church. Expecting something we do for 1-2 hours out of a 168 hour week to satisfy all our spiritual needs is like expecting a multivitamin to supply all our dietary needs. When we expect a supplement to supply the majority of what we need to be healthy, we end up feeling weak, sick, and vulnerable. We need to stop whining about not being fed and start feeding ourselves. Only when we have a well-balanced diet will we ever be healthy, growing, and able to reach our full potential.

Is Cynicism A Virtue?

When did cynicism become a virtue?

How did we get to a place where being cynical, jaded, distrustful, and pessimistic is so widely accepted and often embraced as a sign of intelligence and maturity?

Why is a person who trusts others, takes people at their word, and is willing to extend grace seen as naïve, simple, and a pushover?

When did it become so rare to find a person who looks for the good in everyone and truly believes that everyone has something good to offer? Why is it that when we come across a person like Mr. Rogers, Tim Tebow, Joel Osteen, or Tim Sanders, we try so hard to find something negative about them? Why can’t we just accept that although they aren’t perfect, maybe they actually are as nice and positive as they seem?

Why are we so quick to accept as fact the statement “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”? Why are we so slow to accept that maybe some really good things actually do happen? Can’t there be some things that are just really, truly good? Why do we assume that there is always going to be a negative aspect or a let down every time something good happens?

Why do we often have an attitude of “I’ll trust you once you give me a reason to” rather than “I’ll trust you until you give me a reason not to”? Why do we choose to believe the negative until convinced otherwise instead of believing the good until convinced otherwise? When considering a situation or person, shouldn’t it take us more convincing to believe the bad than to believe the good?

It’s easy to justify our cynicism by saying we are just being “realistic” or “discerning”, but I think there is more to it than that. There is a difference between examining situations to find the truth, and being convinced that there is always a negative side to every good situation.

When we get to the point where we assume that the negative side of things is true and have to be convinced beyond a doubt about the positive, we have become cynical. Not only do we become miserable, but we become miserable to be around; I can’t think of many people who are more draining and depressing to be around than someone who is cynical and pessimistic.

By being cynical we are basically choosing to be miserable. It’s like telling ourselves that there has to be something bad in every situation, and I’m going to do whatever I can to find it. There is always something to complain about if you look hard enough, but if you look hard enough, there is always something to be happy about as well. It may be harder to find the good than the bad in some situations, but the feeling you get when you discover something good in a bad situation feels much better than uncovering the bad in a seemingly good situation.

It’s like we get some sort of twisted pleasure when something negative finally comes to light because it justifies our feelings and cynicism. Instead of anticipating someone’s failure, maybe we should try encouraging and supporting them instead. Instead of assuming that everyone will eventually fail, we ought to do what we can to encourage others and help them succeed. It seems like a fairly simple concept, but for some reason we have trouble grasping it.

Maybe sometimes we are just looking for a reason to be miserable because if we are miserable it means that things have to get better eventually, but if we are happy we feel like it’s just a matter of time until something bad happens. Do you want to know why other people seem so happy? It’s because they choose to be happy. Happiness is something you make happen, not something that happens to you.

Let your happiness be determined by what is rather than by what isn’t. Assume the best instead of fearing the worst. Celebrate others’ success instead of rooting for their failure. Believe that people have good intentions instead of assuming there is an ulterior motive. Look for the good in others and do whatever you can to help them develop and utilize what they have to offer. Be positive, not negative. The math is simple – a positive attitude adds happiness, but a negative attitude takes it away.