For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Novocain and the Life of the Spirit

I don't know anyone who likes going to the dentist. A regular exam or cleaning is not too bad, but then come cavities, crowns, root canals and the pain factor goes through the roof. In fact, it would be completely unbearable if it were not for the wonderful drug called novocain. A shot of novocain in the right place completely numbs the area. Given enough novocain, even things like root canals are almost pain-free. Of course, you cannot feel anything in the area. You can pinch you cheek and not feel it. Drinking a glass of water can become a challenge because of the novocain!

There is a different type of numbing that is all-too-common in the lives of believers today: it is the numbing effect of sin. Sin creates a separation from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). This separation affects our lives of prayer: God does not hear us. Our times of prayer become cold. It seems like we are talking to walls rather than to God.

The Holy Spirit is grieved. The sense of the presence of God is lost and we grope our way in the darkness. But we often keep walking. We are surrounded by believers and we continue to act in ways that are acceptable to the crowd we hang out with, but there is something lacking deep within us: the joy of the Lord. We are faking it. We go through life spiritually numb. And our spiritual weakness grows by the day.

We lack the blessing of God.

Perhaps no one knew this better than David. After sinning against God by committing both adultery and murder, David continued to go about his life as king. He thought that his sin did not matter. He thought that he had covered things up well and it would not affect him or his relationship with God. He was faking it (2 Samuel 11).

He later wrote about what was happening inside of him:

"For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer." 
(Psalm 32:3-4)

He was experiencing numbness in his spiritual life. There was no joy, even though he was king! He continued in this self-delusion until God sent a prophet to confront him. Only then did he repent and turn to God (2 Samuel 12). When he did turn to God and confess his sins in brokenness, the Lord forgave him and his relationship with God was restored (Psalm 32:5). He then boldly proclaimed that the blessing of the Lord is on those whose sins are forgiven and in whose spirit there is no deceit (Psalm 32:1-2).

So today, if you feel spiritually numb, if God feels far away, and you cannot sense his presence, then ask him to show you whether there is sin in your life. Be honest! Are there things in your life that are displeasing to him? Repent and receive forgiveness and the blessings of God will again flow into your life!

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.  
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.  
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
Psalm 32:8-11

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