Many years ago a friend said, “I know I’m saved. I put my faith in Christ, gave Him my life and have enjoyed many years of spiritual growth by His grace. But honestly, I have hit the wall. I am not growing. In fact, I feel like my spiritual life is going downhill. I’m saved, but stuck. What’s wrong?”
Does that sound too familiar? You’re a faithful member of a local church. You tithe. You’re in a Bible study group. But something is wrong. You’re stuck! “Saved” – that’s the good part. “Stuck” – that’s not so good.
It’s easy to get stuck. We can get stuck in bad habits that limit our spiritual progress. We get stuck in man-centered living that robs us of God’s ways. We get stuck in spiritual immaturity, never able to fulfill God’s purpose for our life. We develop patterns of self-sufficiency, prayerlessness, indifference and fruitless existence. There is no joy in pretending we have a relationship with Christ when, in reality, we are living in the staleness of religious exercises. That’s a bad place to be stuck.
Not only do individuals get stuck, but classes, churches and organizations encounter the same dilemma. Our friend Brian Upshaw addresses this subject in the Feb. 27 issue of the Biblical Recorder (see below for full text). He shares some excellent advice, worthy of your consideration.
So, how do we get unstuck? That’s the question you want answered as soon as possible.
We can only experience the level of maturity God has designed for us when we are walking in a living relationship with the living Jesus. It cannot merely be a mental relationship, but the personal relationship of one who is a disciple of Jesus.
According to scripture, the normal, healthy pattern for the follower of Christ is to be a disciple and to make disciples. Just as growth is the norm for a healthy physical body, disciple-making is normal for healthy believers. The disciplines of being a disciple will set us free from the quicksand that has trapped us.
I believe the writer of Hebrews had this in mind when he told the Jewish-background believers, “you have become dull of hearing” (Hebrews 5:11). In the next verse he chided them because they should have grown to the place they are teaching others (making disciples), but they were stuck in immaturity. They had returned to a diet of milk and were incapable of handling solid food. He called them infants, and said they were unskilled in handling the “word of righteousness.”
He said solid food is for those who “because of practice,” or constant use, have “trained” their senses to distinguish between what is good and what is not good. So he challenged them to press on to maturity, or to put it frankly, grow up! (Heb. 6:1). Get out of the quicksand of powerless living.
Are you paying attention to the Hebrew writer’s key words – practice, constant use, training, exercise, maturity? These are words that describe disciple-making.
The believers of that day were not obeying their Savior’s final command to “make disciples” and to teach them to obey “all things” that He commanded. That’s why they were stuck!
Have you ever been discipled by a mature believer? Are you now involved in a disciple-making relationship with another believer?
The writer of the Hebrew letter said there was so much rich truth that he wanted to give his audience, but they were not prepared to receive it. It makes me ask, I wonder how many times God has withheld rich truth from me because I was stuck in self-centered immaturity? What have I missed from the Father because I was stuck in prayerlessness and indifference?
The process of getting unstuck begins when we look in the mirror and get honest about our spiritual health. If that is where you now find yourself, pray that God will lead you to an accountability partner – someone who will invest their life in your life. Ask a trusted friend to pray for you in this journey. Also, ask the Father to lead you to someone in whom you can invest your life as an encourager.
Your leaders in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina are clearly on target with the urgency of biblical disciple-making. They are not just talking about it. They are modeling disciple-making and providing opportunities to equip you in biblical patterns.
If you want to get unstuck and learn new, effective patterns of disciple-making, attend the REVEAL disciple-making conference Feb. 29 at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro. The sessions begin at 9 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. For more information visit NCBaptist.org or contact Patti Cardwell at [email protected], (800) 395-5102, ext. 5635.
What to do when you are stuck
By Brian Upshaw
I hate being stuck. Maybe you know the feeling: that project won’t move forward, that relationship seems stagnant, that decision just doesn’t seem clear.
Like a rear-wheel drive car on a muddy road, your wheels keep spinning. It is no fun to be stuck anywhere, but it is dangerous when we get stuck spiritually. That’s where many disciples are living today. They are stuck in a spiritual mud hole and they cannot seem to find traction.
God’s Word has some encouragement for you if you are feeling stuck today. The Lord spoke through Haggai to His people when they were spiritually stuck, too comfortable in their own lives to attend to the mission He had for them.
God wanted them to rebuild His temple in Jerusalem, but the people were focused on rebuilding for their own comfort. In the Lord’s prophecy to them, we find truth for our lives.
Know the time (1:2-4) – The Lord told the people it was time for them to deny their complacency and join Him on His mission. Getting spiritually “unstuck” begins with understanding His purpose for your life, which is always tied to obedience to His mission.
Own your reality (1:5-11) – God said, “Consider your ways.” The people had to acknowledge that in spite of their comfort, their lives were filled with futility, reaping the consequences of their inaction. Likewise, the stuck disciple must consider her ways and take inventory of the behaviors that keep her stuck.
Repent and obey (1:12-15) – The people responded to Haggai’s message and returned to God’s mission to rebuild the temple. Today, you too can find hope in obedience. Lift your eyes to those around you who need to know the love of Christ and join the Lord on His mission.
Rest in God’s power and presence (2:1-9) – God was gracious to the leaders in Jerusalem to remind them that their strength came from His presence. He promised to be with them and accomplish His work through them so His glory would be seen by the world. To get unstuck, you need to surrender. God does not ask you to accomplish His mission through your power. On the contrary, God promises that He is always with us (Matthew 28:20). He desires to display His glory through your life.
So, stop spinning your wheels today. Rest in Christ, and He will carry you out of your stuck condition and empower you to carry out His mission for His glory.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brian Upshaw is the church health and revitalization team leader at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Contact (800) 395-5102, ext. 5632, or [email protected].)