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Are You Stagnant in your Faith?




Jared:

I wanted to ask what advice you would give to somebody who feels like they've been in and out of their relationship with God. Or, it feels like they haven't been able to ever quite like commit and just really fall into their salvation and their sanctification. Or, somebody that maybe has been away from the faith for a long time. In your experience, what has been the best things to keep doing that's created success in that area? Does that make sense?


Pastor David:

I think so. Most people will use the word backslide.


Pastor David:

Okay. That's a biblical word. In other words, they're moving in relationship with God, and then all of a sudden they're not. And they're either not moving in the relationship. They become stagnant. Usually when they get stagnant, then they start withdrawing. So, and then ultimately they get cold and next thing you know, they're not engaging God at any significant level. It's a dangerous place, to be honest. So most people backslide usually because of an event, something has happened in their life. Usually in relationship with their faith, but not always.


Pastor David:

Now what I mean by that is that something happened in a church. Somebody didn't talk to them nice. Or, something happened where they felt disregarded, not loved, not appreciated, not valued. Maybe somebody lied about them, lied to them. I mean, it could be an array of things. But sometimes an event happens in life that creates a real God question. Death. A divorce. Some tragic something is usually the real shove, something dynamic like that. So, how do we get them back? Maybe they know in their heart of hearts, "I know God's my answer here, but I just can't get there because it's incongruent with maybe my experience." And I just don't know how to marry the two. And it creates a real problem for ongoing relationship with God.


Pastor David:

So for me, I think that the key to that is being honest with God and yourself. I find that most people that are falling away from God, aren't honest with themselves and they're not honest with God. And what I mean by that is God already knows. So you're not going to tell Him something. He doesn't know. You're not going to surprise him with a feeling or a struggle you're having. Whether it's a sin struggle or a faith struggle, whatever it is.


Pastor David:

You're not going to surprise Him with your issue. Whatever your issue is. And being honest about it, just being real transparent and honest. I find out when you pray honestly about that stuff, it helps your heart open up to healing and open up to solutions.


Pastor David:

You're not always going to get your solution. It's not going to always come in the form of a five word answer or a five sentence answer. It's not always going to come that way because if it did, it would never require faith on our part. And our relationship with God is based on a thing called faith. It's not based on a thing called knowledge. Not that knowledge is not important, but faith is what is important. And that means there's some things we just have to trust God with, even when it seems incongruent-


Jared:

So good.


Pastor David:

... with how we feel about something or what our experience has been. Whatever it might be. So I think that's where you start. I like to have a God conversation about how honest are you about your relationship with God. And about how you feel and your disappointment. So best thing I can maybe share with you is my own personal experience. So when I was 26 years old, pastoring my first church at 26. Certainly not prepared for it, but I thought I was. I got into an automobile accident. Not by my fault, this guy was driving in his car, I was driving with him, it was a passenger. And hydroplane on the road, rolled down a mountain and broke my back. The result of that was I lost my business that I had. I lost my church. Basically, lost everything. We had a new baby, Charity. We found out, not long after that, we had a second one coming, Tony. And my life was on hold and I was in a brace and basically was going to go through rehab for a year and blah, blah, blah. So, it really threw me sideways with God. Because, everything in my life up to that point was about serving Him, doing for Him. And, it was all about that. And this didn't seem fair to me. And I thought, I was serving God, why would He allow this to happen. So, it developed an offense with God. I had an offense with God. And this is where most people fall away. They get offended with God because they would've done it differently had they been God. If I was, God, I wouldn't let this happen.


Pastor David:

Or, if I saw things and I was God and I saw what was happening here, I would not let this happen. And well, once again, His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. But that doesn't mean it's easy and that doesn't mean we'll like it. So, I was basically backslid for three plus months. Really got cold in my spirit. Wasn't praying, wasn't reading by Bible. Wasn't wasn't doing anything. And had people begging with me, coming in, talking to me, praying with me. And I just like, "Eh." I was decent, but I just couldn't go there. And I just reached a point where I was like, "I'm miserable. I hate my life. I hate how I feel. I don't like where this is headed." And I knew in my heart of hearts that my destiny and my future wasn't independent of God. It was with God. I knew it. And in my heart of hearts, even though none of what just happened to me made sense. And so I started praying, for first time in a long time, I started praying. And I just had an honest conversation with God in my prayer. It wasn't the classic, "Oh my Heavenly Father, thou art wonderful and God." . It wasn't all that, it was just, come to Jesus, me and He are talking. We're just having a conversation. And I just started unloading.


Pastor David:

If you read the Psalms, a lot of the Psalm are David just unloading.


Jared:

That's what I was thinking about.


Pastor David:

He's like, "Lord, why are you letting the heathen rage? Why are you letting the uneous, and the ungodly, and people that don't love you, people that don't care about the house. Why are they prevailing?" And it's him venting to God, if you read them honestly. And so I was venting to God and God was generous and gracious with me. I wasn't surprising Him with my words. But it was a process for me. And all of a sudden, I heard myself saying some words that seem really problematic.


Pastor David:

I said, I forgive you. Well, first of all, God doesn't need forgiving. So, he didn't do anything wrong. He doesn't need forgiving. So, as soon as I heard myself say that, I was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. What? Now my theology's all screwy. And I'm like, what in the world? And I'm like, "Okay, I'm starting to feel like I'm reconnecting with God and these words are coming out my mouth. What's going on?" And so I started studying on it and I realized that forgiveness is release. So it was me getting rid of the perceived offense I had with God. I had to let it go. And God's big enough to handle that. So I had to let this perceived offense that I had with God, the stuff I didn't understand, why did He, blah, blah, blah. Stuff I might not ever get an answer to, I had to let it go. And the only way I could let it go was by doing that. So I'm going to suggest that's the second piece to this, being honest with God first of all, and yourself. And then secondly, letting go of the thing that you don't understand, the thing that's hurtful, the thing... Even if it's in relationship to God itself.


Pastor David:

You got to let go of it. If you can't do those two things, you will never reconnect with God. You'll always find a barrier between you and Him, because we're looking for a feeling at some level. And you got to understand that it's... You'll never recapture that if you've got these walls in your life and in your heart. And if you start moving towards God, that's why the Bible says, "If you'll move towards me, I'll move towards you." It's this idea that if I start getting honest, and really dealing with the stuff, and letting go of the stuff that I know is a barrier. And trusting Him with the things I don't understand, and giving it to Him, and releasing it to Him. That all of a sudden, I felt Him lifting that load, taking that burden and giving me a fresh hope and a fresh start.


Pastor David:

So those are probably the two things I would just off the top of my head, encourage people.


Jared:

That's so cool. I've never thought of... When you said obviously you forgave God. That made me love the way it probably made you feel weird at the time. It's the same motion that you're doing on your end. You know what I mean? It's like, I've not been forgiven


Pastor David:

It wasn't for his sake. It was mine. And it was a process that God's initiated. Once again, God was not the offender. And it was not just, and I certainly am not holding myself up as superior to God. That's not it at all. It brought me to a place of release and I had to do something with my hurt. I had to do something with my offense. I had to do something with my frustration and my misunderstanding that I had specifically towards God. I get that bad things happen and we live in an unjust world. And it rains on the just and the unjust. So I'm not excluded from difficulty, hardship. I'm not excluded from it because I'm a believer. I process it differently because I'm a believer. And that's the thing that we have to discover. And so, those are the two things that I believe are the most critical.


Pastor David:

Because I can say, "We'll just go to the Bible, just start praying. Or, just make yourself go to church." And not that those things won't help, but then it's a process and you're not dealing with the heart of the thing. And if you can get to the heart of the thing, then God will start giving you a love for his word again, and a love for his house again, and a love for communion with Him. And that's really what you're trying to create.



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