Christianity 201

July 7, 2017

Knowing Your Spiritual Weak Links

So the one who thinks he is standing firm should be careful not to fall.” – 1 Cor. 10:12 Berean Study Bible.

Note: Some may find this article is built on a rather pessimistic or negative premise, but I hope you’ll buy in and see the lesson in this.

If you’ve read The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel you’ve seen a reference in the first chapter to Charles Templeton, once a leading Canadian pastor whose faith was suddenly shattered and he spent his prime years in agnosticism. There is a story that Billy Graham was once asked about his calling and said something to the effect, ‘I’m only doing what Charles Templeton started and didn’t finish.’

My father was a big part of the music ministry surrounding Templeton’s work, and said he felt that the trigger for Templeton’s atheism was a massive fire that took place at his Toronto church. (Parenthetically, my father was constantly reminding me that you can’t fix your eyes on an individual leader; the focus has to be on Christ.)

As I started thinking about that, I realized that a fire is a rather superficial reason for abandoning the faith, though I can’t say what bitterness could steal my heart in similar circumstances. I have often said to close friends that I become an atheist every night around 4:00 AM when after several hours of tossing and turning I can’t get into some deep sleep. I hope they know what I’m saying and don’t take it too literally. Again, superficial things.

Last month I started thinking what superficial factors could plunge me into a cycle of questioning the reality of the Christ story. I don’t mean this in the sense that I’m having a faith crisis, or that any such factors would be successful in knocking my faith off its moorings, but I wanted to better understand my own vulnerabilities. Here are two I came up with.

1. Natural disasters. This is of course a reason often used by non-believers for not embracing the idea of deity. “How could a loving God allow this to happen?” But as I watch World News Tonight with David Muir each evening and see peoples’ homes washed away, it does seem a great moment for divine intervention that didn’t take place. (Remember, we’re talking about potential vulnerabilities here.)

2. The actions of fellow Christians. This was the one C.S. Lewis said could prevent just about anyone from becoming a Christian. When I think of the hurt I’ve endured at the hands of fellow believers, I can very easily imagine a person of weaker faith abandoning ship.

So…what about you? Have you ever looked toward the horizon and imagined the proverbial straw that could break the proverbial camel’s back. As I said at the outset, some of you are perhaps reading this at the outset of the workday and it may seem like a very negative thing to consider, but I think it’s important to be aware of our vulnerabilities. I think it’s implicit in the warning of Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (NLT)

What personal circumstances or things in your life have the potential to eat at your core faith? What is the weak link in your faith chain?

December 20, 2013

Spiritual Distractions

You would think the celebration of Jesus’ birth would be a highly focused time for Christ-followers, but in reality, we are just as distracted by the busy-ness of the season. I typed  “spiritual distractions” into a search engine, and one of the first posts I saw was from Real Life Student Ministries.  I liked the approach and thought I would share it. You can also pass this on to any students who are in your life. To read at source click here for Worldly Distractions from God by Amber Ginter.

How many of you get on Facebook, Instagram, twitter, snapchat, check our email, Skype, facetime, read a magazine, or watch T.V. every day. Now keep your hand up if you get on these things more than once a day. More than 5 times a day? What about more than 10?

Do you find it a challenge to go even a day without checking up on your online site, or watching that favorite show of yours every week?

What if every time we wanted to get on Facebook, Instagram, twitter, snapchat, check our email, Skype, facetime, read a magazine, or watch T.V. we opened our Bible to read it instead? We would all for the most part have had the entire Bible read long long ago. Now I’m not saying that I don’t get on some of these networking sites, and things; because I do. I watch that favorite T.V. show every week, and update my status once in a while. Our world just needs to realize that we have the power to say NO against what it promotes we should be a part of.

Pick up your phone and text someone. How long does it take you? 5 seconds, 10? Now pick up your Bible. How long does it take you to find the book of Malachi? Longer than that? Now I admit, I’m not the smartest person about the Bible, but I try to learn more each and every day. This world is full of distractions that pull us away from God, and it can be very difficult to stay focused on him.

.When we become distracted from our faith, we become separated from God. Think of your faith as a drive. Who wants to be in a car with a distracted driver? All kinds of things can happen. You miss your exits. You run off the road. You take a wrong turn. It’s no different in our faith. There are all kinds of spiritual distractions that take us on all kinds of wrong paths and far away from God. Here are some common things that take us away from our faith:


We’re human, and we tend to be very self-focused. It’s easy for us to get lost in our problems and ourselves to a point where we lose sight of God. When we become too focused on ourselves, we are no longer focusing on God. Obviously God loves us, and He wants us to care for ourselves, but he designed us for more than just to take care of ourselves. He also wants us to care for one another and to love Him. Next time you’re in prayer, remember that some of your time with God needs to be other-focused.

Lust and Love

People like to think that lust and love are just adolescent distractions, but they’re not. No matter how old or young you are, lust and love are huge distractions from our faith. We often find ourselves thinking of a crush before we think of God. We find ourselves lost in romantic fantasy or distracted by pornography. We can even get lost in our dating partner to where we no longer focus on our faith, and we only focus on the other person. Breakups can also be a huge distraction as we immerse ourselves in sadness. Christians are very marriage focused, and the desire to get married can also be a huge distraction from God and His purpose for our life.


We like to be entertained. Television, movies, books…they all provide escape from our daily lives. There is nothing that says we cannot provide ourselves a little break from reality by being entertained, but when that entertainment gets in the way of our faith, it becomes a spiritual distraction. We need to prioritize what’s the most important. Should we go see that movie or go to church? If we’re choosing entrainment over God, we have given into our distractions.


Our world is one that promotes having things. Every week there seems to be a new gadget we’re all told we need in our lives. It’s important that we learn the difference between what we need and what we want. When we keep our perspective on needs verses wants, the things in life become far less distracting from our relationship with God. Things in this life are just here for a short time, but God is eternal, and our eternal life with Him needs to be our priority.

School and Work

We all need to go to school and many people need to work. They are an essential part of our lives, but we also need to be careful not to let them distract us from our faith. Now, faith does not give us an excuse to ditch school or not study. To avoid the distractions that school and work can cause, we must be better at managing our time. We have to make sure we get done what we need to do on time so we can devote the time God needs from us. Some spiritual distractions are just caused by poor time management.


Even serving God can provide a spiritual distraction. Sure, we may be working for Him, but sometimes we lose sight of God in the desire to be good servants. A good example of this situation is Martha. She became resentful that her sister, Mary, was not helping her in the kitchen when Jesus came to visit. Yet Jesus reminded her that He needed to come first, not the kitchen work. Her heart wasn’t in a Godly place. When we’re doing God’s work, God needs to be the reason behind what we do.

Luke 10:38-42: Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”


1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God will never give you more than you can handle. Sure with the temptations, and things we all deal with in life it will be a challenge, but God reminds us that with him ALL things are possible.

We need to ask God to help us and stay focused on him. Psalm 119:15: I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.

We need to ask God to help us only want to do things for him. To help us center our lives on what he wants for our lives, and what he wants us to do for him. Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

We need to turn all our attention to God, and truly keep him as our top priority. 1 Corinthians 7:35:I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

By meditating on God’s word we will become stronger and more faithful in him. Psalm 19:14: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Don’t let the things of this world become more important than God. When it comes down to the end of age; what is going to matter? How much time you spent doing what the world told you, or how much time you spent with God? Matthew 6:24-34: No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, …

By meditating on God’s word we can become stronger and more dependent on him. Joshua 1:8: This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success

 Jesus had to endure torturous temptations. With God we can see that he will give us the strength to carry on; no matter what. Matthew 4:1-11: Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple …

If we ask God to turn all of our attention over to him, and help us focus just on HIM; we can become immune to what the world wants us to be; and become who God wants us to. Galatians 5:16-17: But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

We need to go on a spiritual fast to get connected and stay focused on God.  Turn your attention towards him, pray, and believe that if God will bring you to it, God will lead you through it.