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Feeling Stale, Part 2



. . . Yes, he was concerned that he was stale in his faith and leadership of his men’s group in the later part of 2023.  What did he do?  He did just as Jesus did . . . He went to a remote place for a few days to be alone with his Father.  To pray, to sort things out, to laugh, to cry, to question, to ask for guidance and discernment and most importantly . . .  TO JUST LISTEN.  He came back from his three-day sabbatical refreshed, focused and, most importantly . . . at peace inside to move into 2024 with the boldness and confidence that we can only experience through an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit that filled us the day we believed in the power and majesty of the blood of Jesus and his resurrection.  Yes, he went to be alone with The Father.  Just like Jesus did. 

 

Now . . . I too experienced the same rut and staleness during the end of 2023.  I felt like my cup was nearly empty.  I thought about something else Jesus did as well.  You see, during the past year, my mother passed away after years in an Alzheimer’s journey.  My father was experiencing some trauma as a result.  I started to sour on some ‘religious’ tendencies of others as they disagreed with me.  I began to question some key elements of my faith and vision of our ministry.  I felt overwhelmed in my issues with co-dependency and trying to please everyone and I began to grow a bit distant, even isolating myself on some occasions.  Those type of weapons are used by the deceiver everyday to get into the psyche of a believer in Christ.  I guess the last two months of 2023 were my time for him to aim his arrows at me. 

 

It was about a year ago, that I got the news from my friend, Gary Miracle, that he would be a keynote speaker on a cruise in January of 2024.  The cruise centered around MercyMe and other amazing Christian worship artist and speakers.  I was so excited for Gary.  You might have seen his story in the MercyMe video “Say I Won’t”.  (Please check out Gary’s powerful story in his book “No More Bad Days”).  It wasn’t but a few days later that another person dear to me told me he was speaking on the cruise as well.  John Lynch, who has been a mentor and friend, would be speaking on two of the nights on this cruise.  (If you want another powerful read our two, check out John’s books, “The Cure” and “On My Worst Day”) As a result of these two announcements, Donna and I eagerly decided to book our tickets on the cruise in support of our two friends.  Little did I know a year ago that the timing of this event would be perfect for me. 

 

It's been two weeks now since we were at sea with 800 believers in God’s grace and the power and love given to us through Jesus.  I looked forward to the MercyMe at Sea cruise to have some down time.  To just get away and unplug the devices, read scripture, pray and be alone with the Lord.  I was excited to see my two friends give their stories and perspective on our identity in Christ.  Not to mention, the worship wasn't too bad with MercyMe, 10th Avenue North and Tim Timmons . . . Right?!

 

What I found on this time off was exactly what I had hoped for, plus something so powerful that I’m wiping away a teardrop as I’m typing.  Being surrounded for a week by these brothers and sisters proved magical.  After the worship services and messages from all of the speakers, Donna and I found ourselves immersed with these brothers and sisters in Christ around the breakfast table, pool side, on the tender boats, on the beach and walking around the ports of call.  Yes, IMMERSED, in the Spirit and in each other.  We listened to each other’s stories, learned about their thorns, their healing, their questions, their celebrations, their ministries and their belief in the grace of God through their faith in Jesus.  It reminded me of the original church detailed in the books of Acts where believers just came together at a family dinner table, on the floor of a common room in a house, around a campfire in a clearing in the woods or simply taking a walk.  I thought about how cool it was that the Jesus’s name came out of our mouths freely and that his spirit shined so brightly from every one’s eye as they eagerly shared the reason for their hope.  This was much different than going to a church building and attending a service.  This WAS the church, as God intended church to be.  Not a building, but a gathering, whether only a few or hundreds of believers who come together to learn, grow, share, question, laugh, cry, challenge, pray and praise the true and only Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

 

So, I guess, in my time of being stale and my cup was feeling a bit empty, I also did exactly what Jesus did.  I surrounded myself with amazing people who believed in Him and His grace.  The church, the body with two or three or more stirring each other on, encouraging each other and building one another up.  (Yeah, that's 4 bible verses combined!)  Learning together who we truly are in Christ, who God is and who He says we truly are as His forgiven, holy, justified and righteous children.  Talk about recharging the batteries and resetting the spiritual bar!   

 

So brothers and sisters . . . Do you feel stagnant, stale or like you’re in a rut?   How full is your cup?  If you feel like it's a little low, join me in doing what Jesus did.  Be alone with the Father.  Pray, read and listen.  Then find yourself those special friends and lean on them.  Let them lean into you.  Get with that small group, sit around that table, quote your favorite scripture, share your praises and concerns and simply mention Jesus's name and give Him thanks.  You’ll soon find your cup filling back up and . . . maybe even spilling over a little.  Don't worry, I'll bring a towel. 

 

 

Peace and prayers to you all . . .

Trey Etheridge

Founder - MPACT Men's Ministries

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