Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love
I love the lyrics from Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing. Yes, I still love some hymns, as well as some modern praise and worship songs. This particular line stands out to me every time I hear or sing it. Prone to wander. Yes, Lord, I feel it. Yes, I’m prone to leave this God I love.
They say that all that wander are not lost. I would agree with that. But I think the opposite is true as well. Some that wander are lost. Some are wandering are lost. Let me explain, though, what I mean by lost.
What I don’t mean in this context is salvation. That is the topic for another post. No, what I mean is that feeling of being untethered. The sense of drifting away that can happen to any of us.
It’s nothing that we intend to do. It might start with one simple day. One day leads to another and suddenly we have drifted and wandered away. We have wandered and lost our way.
So, how do we prevent that?
We need an anchor. We need something to hold us close to where we need to be.
We can start with prayer. It’s hard to drift and wander from the Lord if we are actively talking to Him on a daily basis. We may justify skipping a day. Unfortunately, skipping one day leads to a couple and then a week. Before you know it, there is no prayer life. We have to fight for it. Pray. And pray some more.
Next we can be in God’s word. It may be a chapter or two. It doesn’t have to be a lot. It just needs to be something where we can hear from the Lord in what He has already spoken.
Finally, it’s good to know what your focuses in life should be. It might be two or three. It be seven. Call them your values or your personal constitution. It doesn’t matter. Just know them. Write them down. Keep them handy. Use them to help you stay grounded.
Do you ever wander and feel lost?
What I’m going to do today may shock you. It may change your view of me forever.
I love the Bible. I love to read it. I love to teach it and preach it. However, there is one book of the Bible that I don’t like and you won’t believe which one it is.
I don’t like the Psalms.
Ask most people to name their least favorite book in the Bible, you will hear Numbers. Leviticus. Maybe 1 and 2 Chronicles.
Not the Psalms. They are beloved to most people. Not me.
Don’t misunderstand. I read them. I have some that I enjoy.
But as a whole I don’t like them. I don’t enjoy them like others do.
I think it has something to do with poetry. Poetry can be beautiful, but to just sit down and read it is difficult for me. I prefer narratives and letters.
Now, if I got to listen to them put to music, it might be a different. Maybe it I was able to hear them sung by the choirs as they were originally meant to be, I would have a totally different opinion of the Psalms.
So, if you want to know what my favorite book of the Bible is, I’ll let you know that too. It’s the Gospel of John, with Ephesians right on its heels.
What’s your least favorite book of the Bible? What’s your favorite?
I’ve been a runner all of my life. However, I’ve recently had a period of my life where I haven’t been running. I’m trying to rectify that. These four thoughts have come to mind lately that parallel between my running and my spiritual life.
Starting Is The Hardest Part
Getting back into a running program is difficult. It is hard physically. It may be hard mentally. Life adjustments have to be made. Time adjustments have to be made.
It’s the same thing spiritually. It can be difficult. You may have to get earlier to read your Bible and pray. You may give up some things you have been doing. You may add other things like going to a small group. Regardless, it’s a change to your life and it can be difficult to start.
The More I Run, The More I Can Run
The great thing is that the more you run, the more you can run. You can’t jump right back into running a half marathon or marathon after a lengthy layoff. You have to build up. The more you run over several days, the longer you will be able to run. Eventually, your long runs begin to grow longer.
Spiritually, you may be able to read a chapter or two of your Bible. Your prayers may be very short. However, the more you read, the hungrier you become to read more. The more you pray, the richer your prayer life become.
Extra Baggage Slows You Down
After a running layoff, it’s inevitable that my weight has changed. I haven’t been exercising, so my weight has crept up. That slows me down and keeps me running at my normal pace.
You carry extra baggage after a spiritual layoff too. You may have attitudes that you need to be rid of. There may be sin in your life. Set aside those besetting sins and those things that encumber you. Getting back into a “spiritual program” will help you rid yourself of these like a running program will help lower your weight.
It’s A Daily Grind
Here’s the thing. You can’t run one day, then one day again next week and expect to see results. That won’t help you train for a marathon or help you lose weight. It takes a daily grind. I don’t mean that in a negative way. I love running. But it takes a daily commitment to it to see results.
Same thing in your spiritual life. It takes that daily grind. Get up. Read your Bible. Pray. Spend time in fellowship. Worship. It takes a daily commitment to these things to get your spiritual life back on track.
What would you add to these? What have you learned from something in your life that parallels your spiritual life?
When you woke up this morning, you met the Resistance.
Maybe it convinced you to stay inside instead of going outside and running.
Perhaps it told you to leave your Bible laying there instead of picking it up.
It could have told you anything to just slow you down, to keep you where you are instead of moving forward.
How do you beat it?
You create movement.
You create momentum.
You go outside and run, even if you only run 100 yards.
You open your Bible and read, even if it’s only a couple of verses.
Something that is in motion tends to stay in motion.
The hardest part is getting started. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. That first step is the hardest. Don’t think about the thousand miles ahead of you. Think about that single step it takes to get started. Do you know how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
It’s time to beat the Resistance.
Will you do it today?
Do you need to beat the Resistance?
A lot of Christians these days are cool. Not me. I am not a cool Christian. I may even be the king of uncool Christians.
What does that look like?
I don’t wear V-Necks.
My worship pastor is not a metrosexual.
I still don’t drink, even for missional purposes.
I don’t have a tattoo, even though I don’t care if you have one.
I don’t sing with my hands raised.
I don’t really try or care to be relevant.
I’ve never tasted Red Bull.
I’ve never said the Bible is my favorite book.
My kids never played Upward or Outward.
I’ve never been on a prayer walk.
I’m not crazy about Tim Tebow. I wish him well, just not wins.
I don’t take notes during sermons.
I don’t keep a spiritual journal.
I don’t have a goatee.
I’m not bald….well, not completely.
All of that is ok.
It’s ok if you have or do those things.
Those things do not define us as believers in Christ. If they do, we are a pretty sorry lot.
There is only one thing that defines us. Or I should say there is only One who defines us.
Are you a cool Christian? Or not? What defines you?
Yesterday the Gideons showed up at my church. Actually, not all of them were there. Only one of them was there.
This reminded me of when I was in the 5th grade at Alpha Elementary in Morristown, TN. The Gideons were allowed to come into schools then. Each of us were presented with a New Testament. I’m not sure where that Testament is today, but I still remember it to this day.
Most of us are most familiar with the Gideons through the Bibles they place in hotel and motel rooms throughout the country. I wonder how many people have read those Bibles through the years and how many lives have changed because of it.
One of the funnier stories that this particular Gideon told was how one man did not want the Bible presented to him. He threw it across the street onto the roof of a building. It struck a man in the head who was contemplating jumping and committing suicide. He had just asked God to stop him if he didn’t want him to die that day. That man’s life was dramatically changed and today he works in a ministry.
The thing I like most about the Gideons is their commitment to God’s word and their ministry. We could all stand to be as dedicated as the Gideons.
Were you ever presented with a New Testament from the Gideons? Do you know any other stories of what the Gideons have done to further the kingdom of God?
I was listening to Nirvana and Smells Like Teen Spirit the other day. It wasn’t my intention, but I was flipping through the radio. The familiar guitar chords began so I listened. Perhaps like me you have listened to this song countless times and continue to find the words unintelligible. I think that was one of the reasons Weird Al did his parody a couple of years later.
As with most things, I began to have strange and weird thoughts. One was, “Could I get away with writing a Deuceology take on the song and call it Smells Like Holy Spirit?” Like I’ve said before, I’m not good at satire and parody. So I wondered if I could write something like this…..
Smells Like The Bible.
A couple of people are thinking the question, “Alright Larry, where are you going?”
Maybe you have been in a Bible study class with a group that has gone something like this. The teacher reads some scripture. They talk about it for a minute and then begin a round the class discussion.
One person says something like, “This verse means this to me.”
The next person says, “Well, it means this to me.” And it is something completely different.
And it goes on and on.
Sometimes they sound like they have Weird Al’s marbles in their mouth because I’m not really sure what they are saying the verse means to them.
Basically, when it comes down to it, they are similar to me when I was when singing along with Nirvana.
I’ve never understood what in the world Kurt Cobain was singing, so I made up my own words.
I wonder if that isn’t what some people do when they read the Bible. They don’t really know what’s going on, so they just kind of make up their own interpretation of what the verses say based on their own experience. Basically, they interpret the scripture based on their own life.
I don’t mean to single anyone out. All of us have done it. I’ve done it plenty of times. I just want to encourage all of us to dig in and try to figure out what the scripture means to the original writer before we state what it means to us. Once we know that, then we can really begin applying it to our lives.
Otherwise, the Bible might Smell Like Teen Spirit.
Have you ever heard someone give a strange interpretation of a Bible verse? Do you remember ever having done it?
One of the excuses that I hear for being dissatisfied in a church is that the person is not being “fed”. They are not happy with the pastor’s sermons. They are not “getting anything” out of the sermons. There are a million ways to say it.
How do I know?
I’ve probably used most of them.
I’ve got a question for you. For all of us. When you have that feeling. When you just don’t think you’re getting anything out of the message anymore.. When you’re not “being fed”.
Is your pastor being fed?
Is your pastor focusing on the things he really needs to focus on? Does he have the opportunity to spend time in the word of God and in prayer so that he can do what he is called to do?
Do you and your church allow him to do the things that are most important for his ministry?
Or is he tied up in tons of meetings?
Do you expect him to make all of the visits?
Do too many people drop in on him at the office because he “doesn’t have anything else going on”?
A friend of mine is a world-class mandolin player. When he was growing up, he would wake up in the morning and play mandolin until it was time to go to school. When he got home, he would pick up his instrument and play and play and play. When he looked up, it would be around 1o pm. He would go to the kitchen where his mother had left him a plate of food.
He neglected everything except what was most important to him.
What a lesson for our pastors.
What a lesson for all of us.
We should expect that our pastors are primarily too busy for most things other than spending time in God’s word and in prayer. Do you want to be fed?
Make sure your pastor is being fed.
What kinds of things do you or your church do to make sure that your pastor is being fed?
Once upon a time, I spent a year in seminary. It was the hardest year of my life.
While there I interviewed to be the pastor of a little church in Kentucky.
The interview seemed to be going ok until I was asked a question. The gentlemen asked me, “Do you believe in election?” Naively, I suppose, I said that since it was found in the Bible I believed in it.
The followup question took me even more by surprise. He said, “Are you a Calvinist?” Given that I had not really given it much thought or really developed any theological positions, I said, “I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it.” I don’t think that answer satisfied him. Even though I preached for the search team, I don’t think they really considered me much further.
A couple of years later I knew the answer to these questions better. I found out that the views I held from reading the Bible matched up fairly well with Calvinism. I didn’t really care one way or another. It was just what I believed.
A pastor of a church I knew of began making it very clear that he was anti-Calvinist. In fact, he was anti anything that he didn’t agree with, whether it was Church of Christ or any other view that varied from his.
Recently, a church in Kentucky was denied admission to a local association of churches because it hold Calvinist views. They wanted to join a group of other churches to support missions, but was excluded because people in that association did not like Calvinists.
You can probably add your own experiences to mine.
Here’s the thing.
You probably hold some views that I don’t agree with.
I probably hold some that you don’t.
We can debate it. We can have a great loving argument about it.
But unless you hold some heretical position that denies the life and work of Christ, I’m not going to sweat it too badly.
We might not worship in the same church.
Why do I have to be known for being against what you believe.
I want to be known for my relationship with Christ.
I thought we were on the same side.
Have you had any similar experiences? Do you know people who are known more for what they are against that the One who they are for?