Compassion Fatigue


July 13th, 2016


Apathy may be the greatest dilemma facing the church today. Apathy is always a threat when narcissism and hedonism permeate the culture. The political season we are presently in, coupled with the leftward, pro-homosexual, anti-God agenda of the media and society in general, makes us all feel helpless and hopeless. It sure is easy to get apathetic when you genuinely believe there is little you can do to effect change.


A little closer to home, apathy creeps into all of our hearts when we are discouraged by the actions of others. When Christians that could be and should be active and involved in church seem to find every excuse and alibi to be habitually absent from worship, and whose service for God long ago became irrelevant, it is tempting to let a spirit of apathy overwhelm you. It’s hard to care when people that should know better no longer seem to care.  


You console yourself into believing that they are just going through personal struggles and life circumstances, and that they will one day soon get back in the race. But each week and each month that the unfaithfulness of these once committed believers becomes the norm, it’s so tempting to start believing you’re in this thing all alone, and that they will never regain their spiritual passion. Such discouraging realities are a breeding ground for spiritual apathy.


Maybe the single greatest manifestation of apathy is what I call Compassion Fatigue, which is a nice way of saying you simply refuse to care anymore. We all face the dangerous temptation to yield to Compassion Fatigue. It may seem a natural progression from spiritual apathy to Compassion Fatigue. This is not as simple, however, as it appears – It is really an emotional and spiritual disease of heart that results in full blown irresponsibility and indifference. When we yield to Compassion Fatigue, any hope of us ever being genuinely Christ like ever again becomes highly improbable.

How then can we recover from, or better yet, prevent this spiritually debilitating contagion called Compassion Fatigue? Remember when it seemed like living for others and glorifying the Lord was your daily passion? It is possible, maybe even probable, that that high spiritual plane can be obtained again with some simple yet serious course corrections.


1. Schedule Compassion.

No truth is any more profound than this simple fact – You reap a harvest where you place an emphasis. Maybe all that stands between you and returning to a soft, tender, caring heart is a refusal to remain cold, careless and calloused with your time, talents and treasures. Set aside a half hour, an hour or at least some legitimate time each week to make a call, write a note, send a text, or maybe even stop by someone’s home to show some old fashioned, heart felt concern.  Most of us fail to regularly touch the lives of others because we fail to plan to do so. Good intentions do no good if they are never put into action. Stop deceiving yourself with feelings of compassion that never materialize into actions of compassions.


2. Budget Compassion.


Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” One of the quickest remedies for Compassion Fatigue is opening your wallet or writing out a check and putting your money where your mouth is. Any time you give, you not only unleash Heaven's blessings upon your life, but you also unlock your Heart’s selfishness and smallness. The tighter you grip your possessions, the harder you galvanize your heart.

Charles Spurgeon once said, “Beware of growing covetousness, for of all sins, this is one of the most insidious. It is like the silting up of a river. As the stream comes down from the land, it brings with it sand and earth and deposits all these at its mouth, so that by degrees, unless the conservators watch it carefully, it will block itself up and leave no channel for ships of great burden, which is dangerous to navigation. Many a man, when he begins to accumulate wealth, commences at the same moment to ruin his soul, and the more he acquires, the more closely he blocks up his liberality, which is, so to speak, the very mouth of spiritual life. Instead of doing more for God he does less. The more he saves the more he wants, and the more he wants of this world the less he cares for the world to come.”


3. Risk Compassion.


Risk taking is a necessary ingredient to success. This is not only true when making an investment or pursuing a goal, it is also an ingredient to recovering lost ground. To get your heart tender again toward the needs of others and ultimately the leadership of God, you have to be willing to take some risk. Sure, getting hurt and being disappointed in people may have fueled your Compassion Fatigue, but putting your heart back out there and being vulnerable again is also the only pathway back to Christlikeness.


4. Reap Compassion.


One of the most profound of all of God’s Laws is the principle of “Sowing & Reaping”. You have got to put seed in the ground if you hope to reap a harvest. Without realizing it, most folks, because they have been overwhelmed by problems and disappointed in people, have gotten selfish and small and as a result have fallen into the deep, dark, ditch of Compassion Fatigue. They now believe the lie that they are protecting themselves from further hurts, when in reality they are protecting themselves from future joy.


My dear friend – get out of your comfort zone and try to care again. What you will really be doing is starting to live again. The more like Christ we become, the less Compassion Fatigue we will experience.  The sainted songwriter said it best in the words to the beloved Hymn – O To Be Like Thee:


“O to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer;
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.”


“O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee!
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.”


“O to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wand’ring sinners to find.”


“O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee!
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.”

What Is My Purpose?

January 19th, 2016

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”


Psalm 139:14–17 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.  How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!”


You and I were not only Created On Purpose, but we were Created For A Purpose. You are not an accident or an incident. You and I have divine purpose. That, my friend, may be one of the single most important discoveries in your lifetime. Understanding your purpose is priceless, while not understanding your purpose is very costly, not only to you, but also to God.


The root of purposelessness is spelled out by the Psalmist. Psalm 14:1 says, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God…” If there is no God, there is no purpose or for that matter, any real meaning to life. A life without God means that I can do my own thing, go my own way and live my own life. To divorce myself from the reality of a Creator, a Master Designer who has a purpose for each one of us is truly the attitude and the actions of a fool. If the created is without a Creator, then life has no other purpose than one’s own immediate happiness. If there is No God, then there are no constants and therefore, no need for constraints.  My life is mine and that’s all that really matters.


The narcissism and hedonism of our day certainly stems from a culture that does not understand purpose. What is my purpose? Certainly, we have all been given a host of life’s responsibilities that we need to do and do well. I am a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a pastor, a preacher, a counselor, a mentor, a friend, a church member.  I not only need to strive to be the best of each of these I can possibly be, but I need to do it with all of my strength (Ecclesiastes 9:10). But none of these life responsibilities is my purpose!


What is my purpose?


Revelation 4:11 “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”


Romans 11:36 “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”


I Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”


My purpose is so simple – to Please God and to Glorify God! Anyone or Anything that distracts me from this simple and yet sacred purpose is Distraction At The Least and an Idol At The Worst. Do you know why I faithfully attend church, why I tithe weekly, why I regularly witness to others about the saving Grace of God, why I daily read and study my Bible, why I try to seek God and walk with God every moment of my life? Because all of this greatly Pleases and Glorifies God.


Don’t get so Focused On Your Responsibilities that you Forfeit Your Purpose! May God give us all the passion and purpose to Please Him and Glorify Him today!


Running From Reality!

November 23th, 2015


People handle Discouragement, Difficulty and Disappointment in different ways. I have listed several common responses to these emotional hurdles that we all face in this life:

The First Response Is To Be An Insulator.


According to 1 Samuel 10:22, when Israel had come together to anoint their first king they could not find Saul. The verse says, “Therefore they enquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come thither. And the LORD answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.” Shortly after Adam and Eve had sinned in the garden, the Bible says in Genesis 3:8, “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.”

When struggling with a disappointment or a setback, the common response of an Insulator is to wrap himself or herself up in such a disguise that no one can access his or her heart and hurt them again. Just like Saul and Adam and Eve, they believe the lie that it is easier to hide than it is to face their responsibilities. The Insulators hide within layers of emotional armor in an attempt to prevent anyone from ever seeing who they really are. They go to great lengths to wrap themselves in insulation. They refuse to risk emotional intimacy because of the pain of past hurts.


The Second Response Is To Be An Isolator.

This group of hurt people break my heart the most because the Bible says in Genesis 2:18, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Relationship and fellowship is not a luxury; it is a necessity.

The common response of an Isolator when they are struggling with emotional darkness and difficulty is to Isolate themselves to avoid the possibility of rejection! Unlike the Insulators who engage in relationship, but beneath layers of protective padding, the Isolator may stand before you, but it is clear that they are not with you.

The Isolators have left their battered heart at home, removed from their daily routine, protected from interaction. Like a patient in the intensive care unit, the Isolator’s emotional health may be so fragile that they do not want to risk taking their pain off of life support. Isolators feel safest in a perpetual state of suspended dislocation. They have the misconception that Isolation and solitariness is freedom, when it is actually their prison cell! Their Isolation protects them from
What They Fear but it also Isolates them from What They Need. This dangerous response to life’s difficulties is really people phobia.


The Third Response Is To Be An Inhibitors.

Ruth 1:19-21, “So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi ?” And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?”

They asked her
Who she was, but she answered How she was. She let what she went through change and redefine her identity. An Inhibitor’s common response to the disappointments of life or the wounding of others is a sense of pessimistic frustration that is unparalleled. Enough is never enough to make up for what they have lost, what they have endured, and what they continue to carry around inside of their wounded soul. They live trapped in a perpetual state of frustration, regardless of what they attain or accomplish.

Like pouring water into a rusty bucket, there is no compliment or encouragement that stays with them because they leak out through the holes of
Human Hurts and Difficult Disappointments that have never been healed in their soul! They tend to try and find solace by Making Money, Achieving Another Promotion, Reinventing Their Appearance, Hiding In Hobbies or Avoiding Relationships.

These are not bad people, just people responding badly to life’s
Discouragements , Difficulties and Disappointments. These kind of people will eventually end up divorced, out of church, or at the very least, never satisfied as they continue looking in vain for a way to escape their unpleasant reality. Let me give all the Insulators, Isolators and Inhibitors some candid advice:


1. Please understand that your absence increases the load and burdens of all those left behind by your emotional withdrawal.

2. Please realize that your method of escaping from life’s responsibilities and relationships breaks ties that may never be repairable.

3. Please recognize that escapism, while appearing to offer relief for your emotional hurts, is in reality robbing your soul of God’s sufficient grace. Only God’s grace can heal your hurts.

4. Please return to your friends of a lifetime and the fellowship of God’s people – you're needed and loved.









History Or Destiny?



November 6th, 2015




On Sunday evening, October 25th, I preached on one of the greatest life principles ever discovered that was spoken by the Apostle Paul and inspired by the Holy Ghost in the New Testament book of Philippians. In two familiar verses the Apostle reveals this life principle.

Philippians 3:13-14  “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do,  forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

The Apostle Paul is not just talking about the bad things in his past being forgotten, but the good things as well. In Philippians 3:7, the Apostle writes,But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” The word Loss in this verse means detriment. In verses 5-6 the Apostle lists seven religious credentials that were now viewed as liabilities.

God wants you and I to understand – we have a limited amount of both Life and Energy. This sounds simple, but it may be the one of the most serious of all life principles. Consider these observations:

1. Everyone and Everything has a History and a Destiny! This is true of every individual
    Christian and every local Church.

2. Each of us have Good History and Bad History. Your past and my past is called
    History (His - Story). It is our story – all you and I can do is read it, but we cannot
    change it.

3. All you can do with your Good History and Bad History is Learn From It and Leave It!
    We must make our History a launching pad for our Destiny! Those who cannot let go
    of Their Past will never embrace Their Potential!

4. You cannot live for Your History and Your Destiny! Rejoice over your Good History,
    and Reject your Bad History. You cannot change the past; all you can do is change  
    the future! You are not limited by Your History; you are only limited by Your Destiny!

5. To reach forth unto Your Destiny, you must first volitionally, purposefully, and
    consciously forget those things in the past, even the ones you once counted as gain!
    You might stop right here and ask the question, “Why is it such a big deal?”

6. Because we only have a limited amount of both Life & Energy! If I use 40%, 50%, or  
    60% of my Energy to focus on My History, then that exact amount is no longer
    available to help me reach My Destiny.

7. Individual people, marriage partners, and church families that focus on Their Past Or
    Their Legacy will rarely reach Their Potential Or Their Destiny, because you can only
    use your Energy to look back or to reach forth. You cannot do both!

8. How do we deal with our past? Financial obligations – make them right; Emotional  
    hurts – forgive them; Personal accomplishments – thank God for them; Wrongs that
    have not been made right – make the necessary restitutions, apologies, or amends.  
    That is putting Your History in proper perspective and reaching forth for Your
    Destiny. 

You and I had better develop the ability to forgive and move on, or we will stay Crippled, Conflicted and Critical all of our lives. Survival necessitates that we develop the ability to forgive and move on. I don’t just move on because I am nice – I move on because it costs me too much energy to stay angry, and I need my energy to get to where I am trying to go. If I give My History too much Energy, I won’t have the Energy I need to get to My Destiny! How many times have we missed Our Destiny because we kept putting too much Energy into Our History? Put the past to bed and get up and go on today with your Life. I don’t have, and neither do you have the resources to feed both Our Past and Our Potential, Our History and Our Destiny! Our Life is too short and our Energy is too limited.




Measuring Church Growth?

 
September 28th, 2015

 
Since my earliest memories, as a child growing up in a pastor’s home, church growth and its importance have been second nature in my mind. It became, without my even realizing it, part of my PK subconscious. Church growth in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s was all the rage. Especially among Baptists, building big Sunday Schools was the mandate of our movement. In the church world, during my growing up years, church growth was the standard of success. If a church was growing, it was the clear evidence that God’s hand was on its pastor, and it was clearly the model to be followed by other churches. All of this was prior to today’s megachurch and emerging church movement. Before I get too deeply into my thought, let me declare that keeping sinners out of Hell and raising up vibrant, growing churches for the glory of God is still our central mission.


Let me declare, as I am fast approaching my thirtieth anniversary as the founding pastor of the Grace Baptist Church in Gaylord, Michigan, that I am still excited about seeing souls saved and the church grow. I still have a vision to reach everyone I can as long as I can with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am still passionate about seeing every area of our local church ministry prosper and expand as we seek to impact our community and region for the glory of God. After three decades of ministry in a small town, God has been incredibly good to us. In these past 30 years we have seen thousands of people saved and have averaged between 700 and 800 in attendance for many years. We have been over 1,000 in attendance many times with a record attendance of 1,573 on one Sunday morning. We have started or had a part in starting 5 other churches and have given over $2,000,000 to Faith Promise Missions.

 
Our passion for church growth and winning souls is unquestioned, but pastoring in a town of 3,500 people and a county with a population of 22,000 has impacted my thinking about church growth in a way that I think qualifies me to make some candid observations that may be a little out of the box. I understand that challenging your thinking in this arena may make me the object of your criticism, but I won’t shy away from the truth just to be politically correct. Let me propose some fresh thinking on the subject of measuring church growth.

 
Although many of the church-growth and church-health principles taught at most pastors’ conferences and expressed in most Bible colleges sound good, they do not always measure up. I am not trying to be cutting edge; rather, I want to be Biblical in every aspect of our church. We are not looking to churches like Saddleback for inspiration, but rather to the churches in the book of Acts. The new catch words for church growth are “Community”, “Small Groups”, “Relevance”, and things like “Community Missions Projects” which are usually feel good events like painting a house, picking up trash for the city, or aiding the community in hosting a festival. These kinds of social gospel methods may be good public relation stunts, but I am not convinced they are the Biblical method of church building.

 
The bold preaching and proclamation of the Word of God and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the main mission of the New Testament church today as it has been for 2000 years. It is refreshing to attend a church and see almost all participants with their Bibles open during the sermon. It is also impressive to hear lively, spirited, and yet conservative music. I am talking about a church with a choir, not a praise team. The song leader may not be a professional, but the people sing with joy. It is even more impressive when the congregation begins to pray, and there is a strong and focused emphasis on prayer. To hear a church pray for real and take legitimate needs to God during the service, sadly is not that commonplace. Unfortunately, what I have just described would never pass the church-growth test because it wasn’t an advertisement for the church or a display of their professional production capabilities.

 
In many big churches today, the service is so dependent on mood lighting, electric instrumentation, sound amplification, and video enhancement that if the power were to go off, they would not be able to have church. Let’s stop trying to have a show, and instead, let’s get back to the Scriptures. We don’t need to use lighting special effects  or any other technology to create an atmosphere if the power of God is at work in the service. Many production-based worship services lean heavily toward manipulation rather than inspiration. I am for persuasion, but not manipulation. The preacher needs to stand before the congregation, filled with the Spirit, with a persuasive argument from the Scripture.


Here Is My Most Provocative Question - Do your church members know their Bible? Can they give a defense of the attacks against it? Can they rightly divide the Word of Truth? Do they have a Biblical Worldview that understands creation (A Young-Earth), Morality (Why Gay Marriage Is Wrong), Eschatology (Pre-Tribulation Rapture), Salvation (Jesus As Our Only Hope), Grace (As Opposed To The Cheap Grace Revolution Misleading Thousands), and so much more? Have you and I developed a church full of believers who know their Bibles and who live it out before their families, co-workers, and community?

 
Here Is One More Provocative Question - Is your church a house of prayer? Jesus declared loud and clear in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46) when he overthrew the tables of the money changers that the House of God should be a “House of Prayer.” A praying church is a powerful church. The leadership of the early church set the priority of leadership in Acts 6:4, “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” This was the foundation of the church’s numerical growth and spiritual growth. A large church that is weak in prayer is a weak church that is large. There is no pretty way to sugarcoat it. A. W. Tozer said, “Preacher, for every half hour you spend in the pulpit, you should spend three hours in prayer.” He went on to say, “If our preaching matched our praying, we would have a lot shorter sermons.”

  
Here Is A Final Provocative Question - Does your church have an executive or a shepherd as its pastor? Pastor, quit acting like a corporate CEO and get back to your Biblical mandate of shepherding your precious people. The leadership model of the Bible is Servant-Leadership or what I like to call Shepherding-Leadership. In many of our fundamental Bible colleges, the leadership model being espoused is Kingdom Building not Shepherding the Sheep. When we call the pastor the “Lead Pastor”, I fear we are trying to sound corporate rather than Biblical.


The local church is not the Pastor’s Kingdom, and he is not a CEO over a ministry empire. In such a leadership model we tend to set up superstar pastors who have a celebrity image, and their church becomes the basis of their influence. If the church is big, the pastor is viewed as an expert and is in demand.

 
I praise God for the godly pastors of large ministries that have influenced me. My observations are not intended to sound critical or judgmental, just honest.  We need a new generation of humble, anointed shepherds who have devoted their lives to prayer and the ministry of the Word, ministering to the flock under their care. I happen to believe that if people attend a church where they cannot call the Pastor and talk to him, they don’t really have a pastor. Preacher, your people need to know their pastor - not just know who he is, but know him. This puts a lot of added pressure on me as the pastor of a fairly large church, but just because something is difficult to do does not mean it is wrong.


Remember when Peter assured the Lord, “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” Of course we know that Jesus informed Peter that he would not only fail to stand with Jesus in his most difficult hour, but that his would be the most spectacular of failures. In my humble opinion Peter was acting like a King when he made that prideful promise to Jesus.

 
Peter’s colossal failure is touched on in all four gospels, but John alone gives us a glimpse of his restoration after his fall. You’ll remember that Peter  encounters Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He gets asked the same question three times and gives these answers. “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee,” and “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” Do you remember how Jesus responds to Peter’s answers? “Feed my lambs” and “Feed my sheep.” Do you get the point? Jesus is telling Peter, “You used to act like a King, but now you have been humbled enough to allow me to make you into a Shepherd.”

 
Listen to Peter’s last words of counsel to future preachers and pastors in I Peter 5:1–4. “ The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, is revealing to us that the New Testament model of leadership is Shepherding not Kingship.

 
Pastor, while it may be true that larger crowds and greater results in salvations and baptisms may be an indicator of church growth, these alone are not an adequate measure of church growth. True, measurable church growth is far more than numerical and financial; it must also be Biblical and Philosophical.  A healthy church is not just winnings souls; it is also Biblically Led and Biblically Literate. A healthy church is not just Financially Strong; it is also a Fasting and Praying congregation.

What Happened To Them?


April 8th, 2015

 
I have been in church for all but three years of my life. Having grown up in a pastor’s home and having been a pastor now for more than 30 years, I have seen my share of Christians walk out of a church they have attended for years. I have witnessed spouses married for decades walk out on each other. I have seen kids raised in a good and Godly home not only walk out of their parents’ home, but also walk away from their parents’ faith. I’ve seen preachers walk out, deacons walk out, young Christians walk out, and older Christians walk out. “What Happened To Them?”

Any discerning, sincere Christian wants to know why people leave churches, why spouses leave each other, and why people will make a major course change right in the middle of their lives. Our first reaction is to wonder what was wrong, or who disappointed them. Did they have an eye opening experience? Was there something wrong with their spouse, their church or their situation?

I want you to remember one very simple and yet profound word – the word Momentum. The reason many people walk out of their commitments, walk out of a church, or walk out on their life situation is they have lost momentum. Momentum is a commonly used term in Sports, in Business, in Relationships and in Ministry. A team that has momentum is a team that is on the move and is going to take some effort to stop. Momentum is a physics term; it refers to the quantity of motion that an object has. Momentum can be defined as "Mass In Motion."

When you have momentum in a church, in a marriage, in a career, in a business, or in a family, everything seems to go right.  When it comes to achievement, momentum is a leader's best friend. But once momentum is lost, it is nearly impossible to get back. It is more easy to maintain momentum than it is to try and restart it once it is lost.

A study of the life of King Solomon is a classic example of How Momentum Is Built. When God offered Solomon anything he wanted, he humbly asked for leadership wisdom above all else (I Kings 3:9). He made many wise decisions that won him credibility (I Kings 3:28). He maintained the peace (I Kings 4:24). As a leader, he surrounded himself with many wise associates (for example: Azariah, Zadok, Abiathar, Zabud, Jehoshaphat, Benaiah, Adoniram, Ahishar, Zabud).

However, it is more easy to Build Momentum than it is to Sustain Momentum. I’ve learned that momentum does not sustain itself. It all begins with our being willing to accept responsibility for our marriages, our ministries and our own personal spiritual momentum. I have to direct the momentum in my life rather than let it direct me. I cannot become calloused, careless and carnal, or I risk losing my momentum. From time to time we all must fight the temptation to become lazy and fall into a comfort zone. Whenever we begin to coast, it is only a matter of time before we begin to see our momentum start to slip. Often times frustration, failures and the general fatigue of life can cause us to take a sabbatical that is a little too long. Before we know it, our church life, our married life or our family life has become stale and stagnate. Suddenly, we let the hurts, hindrances and hardships of life stop us dead in our tracks. Our momentum is gone, and we start thinking that if we change churches, change addresses, change careers or change spouses we can get our joy and excitement back. But we are never further from the truth than when we get to this place.  The right kind of momentum is never gained by doing the wrong thing.

To rediscover and recreate the momentum that I have lost, I must first admit that I have lost my momentum. I don’t need to quit my job, quit my church, quit my ministry, or quit on my family. The next step I need to take is to identify the Motivating and Demotivating factors in my ministry, my marriage and my own mind and do a Checkup, not a Checkout. I may need to reevaluate my schedule, my priorities and yes, even my commitments. I do not reevaluate so that I can back up, but rather to refocus on what’s really important.

We must also not forget that there is a “Great Falling Away” predicted for the Last Days. Scripture gives every indication that many professing Christians will move in increasing velocity away from the things of God and toward the things of the world. In the days ahead, it will be increasingly difficult to swim against this powerful current. It is hard to maintain spiritual momentum when forces from many directions are trying to pull you away from Christ, away from Church and away from your Convictions.

I found a list recently that is not original with me, but is so powerful and profound that I thought I would share it with you. Many are losing momentum simply because of the ever increasing powers of darkness and deception that are permeating our culture in these Last Days. This list is called the Momentum Test. These are signs that you and I are becoming a part of the Great Apostasy foretold in the Scriptures:

1. Prayer is either nonexistent or at best mechanical.

2. You know the Word of God but you don’t really live it.

3. Earnest thoughts about eternal matters no longer stir and grip your heart.

4. You can indulge in inward and outward sin without feeling devastated.

5. A longing for holiness is no longer a predominant passion of your life

6. You're more focused on your liberty in Christ than you are on your responsibility to Christ.

7. The pursuit of money and possessions is the primary focus of your life.

8. Your main concerns are your temporal, earthly life.

9. You no longer hunger for a deeper life in God.

10. You don’t live with a full and grateful heart.

11. You have little concern for the needs of others, and make little effort to meet them.

12. Your giving is a chore and you justify not tithing.

13. Sports, entertainment and pleasure are important aspects of your life.

14. You are more concerned with your image than with the reality of your life with God.

15. You are full of bitterness, hurt feelings, criticism, and you are not going to take it any more.

16. You have a head full of Biblical knowledge, but your heart has become cold, calloused and hard.

These three tasks are the hardest for someone to perform who has lost their momentum:

1. Admit and discover why you lost momentum.

2. Get your stalled ministry, marriage, relationship or situation started again.

3. Change direction and get  back on course. Without forward progress, it’s  difficult to change. Without forward progress, it is nearly impossible to change.

Sadly, for most folks it is easier to quit than it is to take the correct course and regain lost momentum. May this help us all to have a better understanding the next time we hear someone say, “What Happened To Them?”