Thursday, April 24, 2014

Struggling through Acedia

Maybe the one or two of you that happen by this blog from time to time have noticed something recently. Or a lack of something. For about the past month, I have sensed in my heart a growing desire for . . . nothing. And this lack of desire has displayed itself in not many blogs.

Yes, from time to time, I have posted a video or two or three about some song or movie that is coming out. But I haven't really cared much about anything and so I haven't written anything about anything. What once concerned me (keeping fresh content on this blog) hasn't really bothered me at all recently. I missed a day, which turned into two days, which turned into a week . . . then two. You get the point.

But honestly, it's been deeper than fresh content on a blog. There has been something in me that hasn't care much about anything. The best word I have heard that describes this feeling is . . .

Acedia 

It is a word that is foreign to most of our vocabularies. It means apathy or boredom. It is a word I have used and talked about with a few people the past year or so, but it hasn't really meant much to me until recently. I was reading a book the other day by Dr. Larry Crabb in which he describes his dealings with acedia. He described his feelings as . . .
"the inability to care deeply about anything, apathy toward opportunities for both pleasure and ministry that once excited me, boredom that drains the spirit of adventure out of life. Acedia greets me nearly every morning . . . Why do I feel so empty, so passionless? Am I afraid? Has some swamp of terror become the breeding ground for the devouring insects of futility? Does a strange fear that I have nothing to offer extinguish my desire to offer anything?" (Fully Alive, pg. 111)
A few weeks ago when I read those words, they resonated with my soul. That was me. That was my feeling. Apathy. Boredom. Drained of any spirit of life. I used to read all the time, but recently . . . no desire. I loved writing, but during this time . . . nothing. I enjoy studying the Bible, but now . . . not so much.

My guess is that not many people knew anything was wrong with me. I functioned as if nothing was wrong. It's not like I was debilitated with a form of depression that left me on the couch with the shades drawn all day. That's not what I'm talking about. I was able to function, I just didn't have any motivation to do much of anything.

I have no doubt that there are some people that would simply tell me to buck up and be joyful in the Lord. Such good advice. "Choose joy!" they would say. I know that's what some people would say because that's what I would say. I can choose joy. I want to choose joy. It's not like I didn't want it. And I certainly had moments in those weeks that were joyful. I was just drained of any adventure in life. I just didn't care much about anything.

After a few weeks of this feeling in my heart, I had to reach out to a few guys from the church. As I talked to them about it, there was one trigger that kept coming up in the conversation. I couldn't wait until my next week when I didn't have to preach. I began looking ahead and thinking, "three weeks until I don't have to preach; two more sermons and then I get a week off; I can't wait until next week." That is never a good sign. 

As I reflected back, I had preached for sixteen straight weeks. Many preachers excel in this, but it is not good for my soul. It's not good for my heart as the sermon becomes academic. When it becomes academic, it becomes something to do instead of something I am. I simply go through the motions. My recent words of counsel to a friend of mine haunted me as I had encouraged him to take more time out of the pulpit, for the sake of his church and for the good of his soul. Laymen might not get this; I think most preachers will.

And so I had a week off of preaching the week before Easter as our team from Cambodia shared about their trip. And it was amazing how much better I felt. I remember sitting there on Saturday night thinking, "I'm so glad I'm not preaching tomorrow." And since that week off, I have sensed more excitement in my heart to read, to write, to be curious about the lives of others. I have had more of a desire to study for my sermon; not for the sermon, but to learn about God. I have felt more a sense of community with the Lord. 

I know I have sort of rambled through this. But hopefully it will help someone who is struggling with Acedia. I have no doubt that Acedia (a lack of care) can be a direct result of sin in someones life. But I think it also can be a result of burnout. Tiredness. And so whether you need to repent or take some time away from the rigors of life, I pray you find hope. Even if the hope is found in the middle of your hopelessness. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

God's Love & Wrath

I have been reading Thor Ramsey's little book, The Most Encouraging Book On Hell Ever, the past week. I will write a full review of the book when I finish. But for now, I'd like to share a few thoughts he writes on the battle that is often seen in the love of God vs. the wrath of God.
"The love of God detached from the gospel communicates nothing. If God loves everyone just the way they are, what's the point of repenting (turning around and going the other way) and believing the gospel? . . . If God loves you just he way you are, there was no reason for Jesus to die on the cross for you. The point frequently missing from the gospel these days is that God doesn't love you just the way you are. Even if you are a Christian. And I mean a really, really great one. Instead, he loves Christ, and when you are found in Christ, then and only then do you find yourself in the absolute security of God's love. That's the glad tiding of great joy. But this can never happen apart from Christ. Apart from Christ, God's wrath abides on you (see John 3:36). Put that on a coffee mug" (64-66). 
"It would be inconsistent for a holy God to overlook sin in his creatures. That's why he cannot let the guilty go unpunished. And that's why he has a wrath against all unrighteousness and why his wrath upholds the glory of his name. A God who would forgive us without the cross would be a very different God from the one we see in Scripture. The God of the Bible has a love that has nothing to do with vague-ish thoughts of infinite hugs. His love is fierce, holy, and wrathful. The love of God honors his holy character by displaying the only right reaction toward evil: wrath" (73).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

It is Well

I know I have posted several videos recently, but this, my friends, is spectacular. It is a rendition by Jimmy Needham of the classic song, It is Well. While his musical ability is good, what makes this song spectacular is the middle where John Piper retells the story of what moved Horatio Spafford to write this song (make sure and listen past the 3-minute mark). Listen and be moved!

Beautiful Terrible Cross

As I hope you know, it is Passion Week. It is the week the church has traditionally set aside to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. One aspect I love of this week is the array of songs I am introduced to by different people. Beautiful Terrible Cross by Selah is one of them I heard this past week. Read the words and then listen to the song as you prepare your heart for the celebration of the death of Jesus Christ. 

There is a beautiful terrible cross
Where though you committed no sin
Savior you suffer the most wicked fate
On the cruelest creation of me,

Yet on that beautiful terrible cross
You did what only you could
Turning that dark inspired evil of hell
Into our souls greatest good.

We see the love that you showed us
We see the life that you lost
We bow wonder and praise you
At the beautiful terrible cross

There on that beautiful terrible cross
Though darkness was strong on that hill,
You remain sovereign Lord still in control
Your perfect plan was fulfilled

O, we gain the riches of heaven
Jesus, you paid the horrible cost
We stand forgiven and praise you
For the beautiful terrible cross

Friday, April 11, 2014

Heaven Is For Real . . . Thoughts by David Platt

So the movie, Heaven Is For Real, based on the book by the same title, is coming out soon. In honor of this momentous occasion, I thought I would share these wonderful thoughts from David Platt. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Another Cambodia Team Update

As the team makes their way home, check out these other videos that they put together that helps explain their trip. I will try to write more next week once they are home.



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cambodia Team Update

I have not had much time this week to write much on the blog. My wife left last Friday as part of the Cambodia Missions team our church sent to minister to military families of that country. Here are two short videos the team has put together the past few days, highlighting their ministry there.

If you are interested in more of these the rest of this week and other things they are saying about their trip, you can check out their daily blog at our church website.