Titus Email Volume 11, Number 10
Greetings. If you have been a Christian for any period of time, you will go through times of spiritual drought or dryness. Be encouraged. God is right with you during those times and will not move from you. May you keep your eyes on Jesus whether in good or difficult times. Mike
In 1934, 34 United States were experiencing terrible droughts. There was one day the following year known as “Black Sunday (April 14), where wind whipped across dry farmland and blew dust into gigantic dust storms taking away enormous amounts of topsoil. Some people in other countries have experienced droughts like that in their lands. Unfortunately, drought-like conditions can and for some, have developed in our spiritual lives.
Perhaps you are spiritually parched right now. Sure you teach your Sunday School and group Bible study or preach the passage of scripture but if people truly knew your condition, your spiritual bones are as dry as Ezekiel experienced. There is nothing in your spiritual tank and you feel trapped. Who can or even wants to know how you feel? You are trapped and feel like you are suffocating. BUT, you are the spiritual leader. That is never supposed to happen to “godly” spiritual leaders.
Your internal drought is a secret and you are exhausted. This scares you because this is not the way spiritual growth is to occur. Go the Master Vinedresser. Be honest with Him and know He understands. Isaiah 58:11 is a promise for you. “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Go to some trust godly adults who will keep you current and active in their prayers, and get them to pray for you.
If you do not have anyone you can confide in that is part of your church or leadership team, contact Christians outside your inner sphere whom you can trust and open up to them. If a Christian leader is worth anything, he or she will bathe you in prayer and be the sounding board you need to share your burdens because chances are they have gone through spiritual droughts themselves and also needed help.
Go to the Master Vinedresser and let Him love you. Get away for a day or if possible, longer from a few days to several weeks. In some cases, a drought-stricken spiritual person may need several months to regain the spiritual fervor they once possessed. Abide in the Father (John 15:1-8), allow yourself to be still and silent, rest physically and spiritually, lay aside ministry responsibilities for at least a few days. Read the Bible and simply ask the Master to speak to you.
If you do not sense hearing from Him, make sure sin is not separating you in your relationship with Him. If sin is not the issue, ask a few trusted Christians to pray specifically for you to reconnect with Him. You do not do anything to please Him. You please Him because He created you and you are His because He chose to love you first.
If you are angry and hurt by others and cannot get to the place to forgive, your spiritual resources are being depleted. Confess to God you are angry and do not want to forgive. Ask and seek the heart of forgiveness. Allow God to work in your heart, to break a hardened heart because it is not easy to change.
Spiritual droughts are terrible places but growing places in our lives. Seek God. Read your Bible even though you do not want to. Let God into the places of your life where you struggle. This all takes time and may not change as quickly as you want things to change. Get refreshed by slowing down to let God (and others) to minister to you.
YOUTH MINISTRY – REAL FRIENDS…JONATHAN AND DAVID
Your friend tells you another dirty joke. Whenever the two of you are together, your friend tells dirty jokes. Here is the problem; you are not sure what to do and you honestly do not like listening to them. Sometimes you cannot help but laugh when the joke is funny. Your youth leader said Christians should not listen to crude jokes and walk away. What should you do; tell your friend not to tell such jokes or walk away?
Do you have a friend who truly cares for you and looks out for your best interests? Is this friend someone who will hold you accountable to keep doing the right things, not encouraging or “remaining silent” when you have the opportunity to get in trouble or do something demeaning? True friends are willing to help you do the right things and some would even be willing to put their life on the line for you.
This is not a fairy tale dream. People have placed their friends above their own needs and security. Two young men in the Bible were found to have that kind of friendship. Jonathan and David had bonded so well that Jonathan risked his life and the throne for his love for his friend David. Jonathan’s father King Saul grew to despise David and wanted him dead. In a well-designed plan, Jonathan was able to let David know that Saul intended to kill David (1 Samuel 20) and let David escape.
The reality of the whole story was David had been anointed as the next king because of the sins of King Saul. Jonathan was heir to the throne. Their friendship had become so deep that their relationship was thicker than blood or the royal throne. They truly looked out for the best interests of the other.
In fact, Jonathan gave David his robe and tunic (armor) he was wearing along with his sword, bow, and belt (1 Samuel 18:1-4 – After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David. From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home. And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David because he loved him as he loved himself. Jonathan sealed the pact by taking off his robe and giving it to David, together with his tunic, sword, bow, and belt.”) According to Old Testament customs, it was considered a special mark of respect to be given by a prince some of the garments he had for his own wearing. The gift of the belt was a token of the greatest confidence and affection and was highly prized. In a symbolic sense, Jonathan was handing over the throne to David even though Jonathan most likely did not know for sure that David would be the next king.
It has been said that a real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out. Both Jonathan and David lived the strong words Jesus gave in Matthew 22:39 to love your neighbor (friend) as you would love yourself.
What kind of friend are you? One who use “friends” for your own purposes and they remain, friends until you have no more use for them. You can impress people from far away but to impact and make a difference in someone’s life, you have to be up close, they have to see the real you. If you are a Christian, you represent Jesus. What are you saying to friends about who Jesus is?
ILLUSTRATION OF BEING AGGRESSIVE AGAINST SPIRITUAL DROUGHT
Pastoral Rule of Life (by Peter Scazzero) – This “Rule of Life” is on the pastoral staff at New Life Fellowship. The purpose of these guidelines is to keep God at the center of everything we do, to see the “love of Christ” above all else. In a culture that does not respect God’s rhythms for life, we seek to live out a balance of prayer, rest, work, and community. We are called to be contemplatives, out of which God calls us to a level of intensity to bring Jesus Christ to our city and world.
- Scripture. Our lives are built on the Word of God. It is our food and primary means of revelation from Him. We spend time each day in Scripture, seeking God’s face, dwelling in His presence and praying out of His Word.
- Silence and Solitude. We spend at least one full day a month in silence with God. (Each person goes to a place outside their home, whether a beach, a local retreat center, or a park, to be alone with God for the day. The one requirement is not to do the work of church on that day, but to be with God.)
- Daily Office. We pause two to three times a day to spend time in communion with God, preferably with Scripture, silence, meditation, and prayer.
- Study. We are taking steps to keep learning.
- Sabbath. Each week, we set aside a 24-hour period to keep Sabbath to the Lord, structuring our time around four characteristics of biblical Sabbaths: Stop, Rest, Delight, and Contemplate.
- Simplicity. We model percentage giving (using the tithe as a minimal guideline) in giving to God’s work here at New Life Fellowship.
- Play and Recreation. We have a life outside of New Life Fellowship for balance and health.
- Service and Mission. A critical issue for healthy service is clear and realistic expectations. Together with our supervisors and the elder board, we regularly update job descriptions and goals in order to meet these challenges.
- Care for the Physical Body. We seek to regularly care for our physical temples through healthy eating habits, consistent exercise, and sufficient amounts of sleep, respecting our God-given limits.
- Emotional Health. We embrace emotionally healthy skills and behaviors that put feet on our theology to love well (1 Corinthians 13).
- Family. We believe in the equal value of God’s call to both singleness and marriage. We affirm with Scripture the gift of singleness for leadership (1 Corinthians 7:25-40). We desire high-quality marriages, out of which we are able to minister to others.
12. Community. We encourage all staff members to be in relationships with mature people outside New Life Fellowship; these relationships might be with a spiritual director, a mentor, a counselor, or a mature friend, depending on each person’s unique needs and seasons in God.
Image Attributes: http://www.freebibleimages.org