Archive for the ‘yancey’ Category


Posted: June 19, 2007 in blogs, books, church, words, yancey

Recently, I posted a blog about leaving churches. People leave churches for a host of reasons, but one of the saddest is when folks feel their spiritual vitality fail and fade into distress or nothingness. This happens for a lot of reasons – some legitimate and some illegitimate. I don’t want to go into all that, rather I want to put forth some helpful suggestions of how to remain and gain spiritual vitality (if that’s even a good way to say it) when and if your local church experience leaves you lacking.

1. Don’t Expect the Church to Prop You Up Spiritually. There’s a lot to be said here on many different fronts, but suffice it to say this, “No thing or place can give you what only God can.”

2. Deeply Engage Spiritual Disciplines. If you’re a reader, a book like Marjorie Thompson’s “Soul Feast” is a good place to start to shape spiritual disciplines in your life. In the disciplines we find real spiritual life, rather than the pre-packed notions, assumptions, assertions, interests and agendas of pastors and church leadership structures. Plus, spiritual disciplines always lead back to Scripture.

3. Develop a Rule of Life. Thompson explains this well, but people need an explicit Rule to shape there lives. Hardly anything good happens by accident! If you want spiritual vitality you have to put forth intentional effort.

4. Find 2 or 3 People to Covenant With. Folks have done this through prayer groups, accountability groups and very small study groups. Each of us needs a place and people who will walk with us. This means we have to be fully open to others, sharing our lives and our very selves with them.

5. Find Great Podcasts. This is HUGE for me. There are some pastors and teachers whom God uses to speak to me, so I subscribe to their sermon podcasts. Plus, it’s a good use of traffic-sitting time.

6. Re-imagine Church. Can church be in your home with good friends and seekers? In coffee-shops? Online? If your imagination dictates that church is some place that offers some things, you will likely be frustrated at different points.

7. Read Philip Yancey’s Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church. I hate to suggest books, but this book changed my imagination concerning spiritual life, church and my own holy discontent with church. Here you will be amazed by people who challenged, loved and hated the church all while being the church in the world.

8. Teach Your Children the Great Stories of Scripture. These stories still speak and reveal God in ways that are profound. Plus, you will hear your children bring forth profound truths about Scripture that never occurred to you. These stories are designed to be lived into, not merely to entertain children. You and your kids will be blessed and changed.

9. Bless Your Pastors. Seriously, I mean it. And I’m not angling for free meals or gifts. But most church members don’t know their pastors (A lot of this is the pastors fault. Many of them are disconnected from the church on purpose). People don’t know their pastor’s hearts and what makes them tick on a personal level. If church members asked their pastors about their rearing, their spiritual journey and what God is doing in them, then sermons and classes would make much more sense. Plus, one of the great ways to deepen your spirituality is to be witness to it in another person.

10. Read The Palmer Perspective. I just thought I’d throw this in. Plus, since you’re already doing it, I wanted you to be able to check 1 of 10 off your list.


Pain and Praise

Posted: November 16, 2006 in problem of pain, speaking, yancey

I’m headed out this weekend to speak at a retreat for a church where a good friend of mine works as youth minister. I’m so grateful that the Lord continues to use me and the gifts he’s given me to further His Kingdom and bless those who are trying to walk with Him.

The theme of this retreat is “Praise You In This Storm.” This youth group lost a young woman to murder this past summer. The crime was heinous, brutal and–like all murders–completely unnecessary. Though the retreat was not envisioned with this event in view, the weekend will focus on how to love and worship God in a world that is so enormously fallen.

In preparation for the weekend, I’ve revisited some of the more painful events from my life and how I saw God and discovered Him anew in the midst of them. One of the best resources for me has been the pen of Philip Yancey. Yancey’s work is among the very best of popular Christian literature. I love these words from his book, Disappointment with God:

“Some Christians long for a world well-stocked with miracles and spectacular signs of God’s presence. I hear wistful sermons on the parting if the Red Sea and the ten plagues and the daily manna in the wilderness, as if the speakers yearn for God to unleash his power like that today. But the follow-the-dots journey of the Israelites should give us pause. Would a burst of miracles nourish faith? Not the kind of faith God seems interested in, evidently. The Israelites give ample proof that signs may only addict us to signs, not to God.”

Good words, I think, for people like me who often want the benefits of God more than they actually want God.