Guest Blogger : Travis Barnes – The Me I Use To Be
Travis Barnes lives in central Victoria with his wife and two daughters. He is an associate minister with the Churches of Christ denomination. Travis loves to help people find their God-given calling and encourage people to walk with Jesus into the unique adventure he has for each person. His website is here.
Today, I like to again welcome guest blogger, Travis Barnes to my site. He recently wrote this article in regard to keeping your passion for Jesus alive.
The Me I Used To Me
I’ve kept a diary every day for twenty years. This means that I have diaries strewn across my house. I’m not a very good minimalist. Reading my diaries from my teenage years is somewhat cringeworthy; my taste in music was certainly questionable. I’m struck however by how passionate I was to know and serve God. I didn’t necessarily pray or read scripture to a heroic extent. Like many teenagers I had moments of great enthusiasm followed by periods of inconsistency. I was hungry though; hungry for more of God in my life. I was passionate about my Church, my youth group and after my first taste of Scripture Union missions I was fired up to know Christ and make him known. In my early twenties I was someone who would go anywhere and give everything for the sake of God’s kingdom.
Whilst I’ve never experienced walking out on God; like many I’ve experienced low ebbs in my Christian journey. There have been times that I’ve looked back at felt that I’m not the passionate Christian I once was; my diaries become a reminder of the me I used to be. What do we do when we wake up and realise that we lost the passion for Christ that we once had? How do we rekindle the passion that once set our hearts ablaze? Allow me to share two thoughts to help us preserve and rekindle a passionate faith.
Is my faith in Christ alone?
Our faith must rest solely in Jesus. Not in our Church or a ministry we’re excited about or a significant leader that we look up to. Our mentors will eventually disappoint us. Our Churches and its ministries will at some point dishearten us. In my early twenties I was very passionate about building Scripture Union mission teams and many of those teams were thriving at that time. Inevitably though some key people moved on to other things, some of those teams began to struggle and some wound up entirely. I’ve had important mentors who have let me down and some who abandoned the mission of Jesus altogether. I’ve watched Churches surging along doing great things only to see sin and division grind those thriving Churches to a halt. When our Churches, ministries and mentors fail us will your faith rest solely in Jesus?
Jeremiah shows us how
Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet; he spent his difficult life warning his people about the coming destruction of Jerusalem because his people had drifted from God. How did Jeremiah remain strong when his nation was falling apart? Jeremiah said these words:
Jeremiah chapter 17, verses 7 to 8
Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.
Jeremiah doesn’t place his faith in his nation or the Kings who ruled it. Likewise, we should not place our faith in flawed mentors or fallible Church communities. God is the only one who will never fail us. He is the only one who we should put all our hope and trust in. When Churches fail, people sometimes lose their faith in God but that suggests their faith was misplaced. People who experience the failures of the Church will often describe feeling disillusioned. Becoming disillusioned is better than it sounds because it means you’re not longer living under an illusion. I was previously under an illusion that Christians would always do the right thing. I now realise that Churches are communities of flawed people who are on a transformational journey toward becoming like Christ. We should recognise that God is grieved by sin and wrongdoing even when committed by Churches or Christians.
When Christians have hurt me, I’ve held onto offence for far too long. It’s been said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison hoping the other person dies. Holding onto offence was punishing me twice over; I was first mistreated and second by holding onto offence I was becoming bitter and angry. Unforgiveness is an area when many Christians lose their passion because their hearts have become bitter. Forgiveness really is unlocking the door to the cell to discover that the prisoner was you! Paul urges in Colossians chapter 3, verse 13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Rekindling a vibrant faith
How can we rejoice that Christ has forgiven us from the enormity of our sins while we stubbornly hold onto to the sins committed against us? Forgiving others will set us free and help us to rekindle a rich and vibrant walk with God.