What does it mean when you find yourself saying or thinking—”I cannot take this anymore?”
All of us have been there, yet these words do not mean the same thing to everyone. People reach their breaking point in different ways and if you dig deep enough, you will discover how stress plays an important role in getting us to our breaking point. Stress is a part of life. If you do not have any stress in your life, I would like to suggest that you are probably dead.
Let me be honest with you…the desert IS NOT a fun place. It’s dry, lonely, and HOT!
Everyone goes through dry seasons. Be honest, you can recall times when you didn’t feel “spiritually high,” You attend church weekly, go to Sunday School or Bible Study, perhaps you even study your Bible, but God feels a lot more like a distant relative than somebody you’re connected to. The toughest season, and one that so many Christians seem to fight through, is the dry season–the desert months. During this season our relationship with God feels distant but lifeless. Again I repeat, everyone goes through desert seasons.
When I sense God is distant, I cringe when people tell me to “pray more” or “have more faith.” Really? That’s the best you have when you see I’m thirsty! When you go through your desert season, here are 3 key truths you can hold on to:
Two weeks ago I beta tested Digging Deeper ONLINE featuring The Book of Nehemiah for over 150 people from six different states – what an exciting time! I conducted a survey to see how we could make the experience more engaging and life-changing. If you’d like to review the survey, you can click HERE.
Judging from the result of the surveys, many desire a more interactive Bible study experience. In other words, be able to engage in active participation, discussion, and ask questions (I don’t blame you one bit). In order to do this and make Digging Deeper ONLINE more meaningful, we decided to reduce the class sizes (25 or less), offer multiple sessions, and focus on quality teaching and personal interaction.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been praying about how to make our online learning experiences more meaningful. Although online learning, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites cannot and will not replace actual face-to-face gatherings, technology is a tool to support, strengthen, and enhance live gatherings.
Therefore, I’d like to introduce our proposed schedule…
Wednesday, February 9, 2011 was the first day of many FUTURE online Bible studies. In my humble opinion and judging from the opinions of others, Digging Deeper Online was a HUGE SUCCESS. Of course not everyone will embrace the concept of “Digital Discipleship” but, I’ve decided to leverage technology to help people take their next steps towards maturity.
Thank you for taking time to take the survey. I sincerely appreciate the time you spent answering the questions and recommending strategies for improvement. Your advice was very helpful and gave me a new perspective on how to make Digging Deeper Online better.
I especially appreciate your offer to help spread the word and invite others to attend. I promise I will follow up with contacts you email to me right away (firstname.lastname@example.org). Any additional suggestions you may have would be welcomed and I will keep you posted on future online Webinars/Training.
HERE ARE THE SURVEY RESULTS:
A few weeks ago I invited Trevor, my atheist friend to attend our worship services and share his experiences. What he shared was mind-blowing, eye opening, & enlightening. His words rocked the very core of my essence and caused me many sleepless nights.
Here’s what Trevor shared:
“Clarence, many Christians (including many of your members) are my first cousins. I’m currently an Atheist and most Christians are Practical Atheists (1st Cousin).” Trevor had my undivided attention and I ask him to explain his statement. He went on to elaborate and share how most Christians he knows, know enough about God to keep them out of hell and enough to get them into heaven. However, many are unwilling to change the way they live. “Clarence, where I come from, that’s called practical atheism.
At this point, I’m dazed, intrigued, and curious.
So, I ask Trevor, “do you mind sharing your definition of a practical atheist?” “Of course, a practical atheist is someone who believes in God but lives as if He does not exist.”
So, do you know any practical atheists?
FYI: At the Atheist Alliance International Convention, members we were asked to pick an atheist symbol from a select list. They chose this symbol – the new symbol of Atheism.
The Preacher & The Atheist
Trevor (not his actual name) says that he is “currently” an atheist. However, he says “he is open to the possibility that he may learn something that will change his mind.” Trevor and I currently work out together and he calls me the only “Christian” he likes. “Why,” I ask? His reply: “You walk the walk, you’re down to earth, you’re funny, a cool person, and your goal is not to convert me, but to be friends with me. That’s what I like about you.” For the record, Atheism is the view that God does not exist and it is not a new development. Psalm 14:1, written by David in around 1000 B.C., mentions atheism: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” Recent statistics show an increasing number of people becoming atheists, with up to 10% of people worldwide declaring themselves to be adherents of atheism. Trevor is an associate professor at the University of Chicago (whose workload includes classes on comparative religion, anthropology, and philosophy), a husband, and the father of three children. He is also a poet and an author. Trevor’s father is a retired professor who is also an atheist. His mother is a classically trained violinist and a lifelong seeker of truth. Last week I asked Trevor to attend one of our worship services and he did (I’ll post what he said about attending Mars Hill – EYE OPENING). In turn, he asked that I attend a lecture with him at the University (I’ll share my experience – EYE OPENING). Of course, I agreed. Before we agreed to attend each other’s events, we made an agreement:
We will do this only if we remain open minded with each other. We both agreed.
Here’s what’s on my mind:
“What would you say to Trevor since he’s “open” to the possibility that he may learn something to change his mind?”
Dynamic, Authentic, Life-changing… this is the sort of thing I'm striving for with our online Cyber small groups.
It is my prayer that it becomes a place to connect and
develop meaningful and lasting relationships. It's life-on-life
interaction that should serve to strengthen your relationship with God
and everyone else around you as well.
Furthermore, I envision "Cyber Groups" to be a connection point at the Mars Hill Baptist Church. It is my prayer that you will experience the merge of Shared Passion, Shared
Purpose and Shared Lives.
Finally, It is our hope that everyone who comes to our online community will have the
opportunity to benefit from being a part of this experience.
LET'S GET STARTED!
<CLICK HERE> to review Sunday's message notes and download the discussion questions <HERE>. After you review the questions, please post your comments for all to hear!
Let's begin the discussion…
I would like for you all to say hello to my guest blogger Chandra Ivy-Oliver. Along with others, she took the challenge to offer practical steps to help others struggling with revenge.
Dr. David Hawkins, author of ‘Dealing With the Crazy Makers in Your Life’ says “People come in all shapes and sizes. I have no problem with that. However, when these people are in my life, and they are bona fide, dyed in the wool, Certifiable Crazy Makers, I’m no longer as friendly or hospitable. Click here to read the how he deals with these people.
Dr. David Hawkins
The Relationship Doctor
Chandra’s Response to What if its family that keeps hurting you?
I believe in giving chances, not just a second chance, but chances. God had given us chance after chance when we hurt or do wrong, because I know he has done it for me. But I would start off by telling the person that is doing the hurt, how they act or react is hurting your relationship. The person doing the hurt will always blame it on you, not because it’s really your fault, but because you are the reasonable and considerate person trying to make thing right or easier.
Ex: It’s just like having a toddler with a tantrum, you keep giving in and he or she will keep acting out. Family can be the same way, there is that one person who keeps hurting you, but they only do it in public where they can front on you, then when your home or on the phone, they apologize and want forgiveness. And you accept the apology, because you want to be like Christ and forgive. If it keeps happening you need to talk to God, remain prayerful, calm, firm and clear. Reading your Bible while dealing with this hurt. Colossians 3: 8-25 helps you clearly understand.
Thanks Chandra, you hit the nail on the head!
I would like for you all to say hello to my guest blogger Falana Coleman-Zamora. Along with others, she took the challenge to offer practical steps to help others struggling with revenge.
What if its family that keeps hurting you?
What should you do when your friends continue to “pull the scab” off a hurt that you have forgiven?
“I believe in healthy confrontation. I thinks it’s perfectly appropriate to communicate to friends and loved ones that their behaviors are negatively impacting us. I have found that more times than not they have no idea that their behavior or repeated remarks about the past hurt others. (It’s amazing how self involved humans have managed to become.) If we openly communicate with one another I believe that true healing can begin for all parties involved.”
Nicely done Falana!
I’m in the process of going back through the Bible viewing it through the eyes of a leader. Here are more thoughts from Matthew:
- If we’re not careful, we can end up worshiping traditions instead of following God’s direction. (15:3)
- You can tell a lot about the condition of someone’s heart by how they talk. (15:18)
- The local Church is the one entity guaranteed to withstand the test of time. (16:18)
- I must acknowledge my position in Christ before I can experience my potential in Christ. (16:24-28)
- With faith in Christ, nothing is impossible. That’s where confidence develops. (17:20)
- Greatness begins with humility. (18:2-4)
- Lost people matter to God. (18:14)
- God designed ministry to happen in relationship with other people. (18:19-20)
- Crowds will gather when life change begins to take place. (19:2)
- Success begins with obedience. (19:16-17)
- The worship of money and possessions can get in the way of fulfilling God’s purposes. (19:21-24)
- Jesus promoted servant leadership (20:26-28)
- There are times when it’s appropriate to assert authority and reveal anger. (21:12)
- I need to pray for everything I’m facing as a leader. (21:22)