John Beeson

How to Make your Spiritual Life Purposeful, Part I

We need both the habits and the goal. On the one hand, there is a power in developing purposeful habits that we consistently practice over decades. On the other hand, many of our spiritual habits are without purpose or have lost their purpose. We need habits directed toward a finish line.

What plan do you have for your spiritual life? Where do you want to go spiritually? And how are you going to get there?
My hunch is that most of us don’t have a plan for our spiritual life. Most of us live hoping that we’ll drift into a better spiritual life. But that is a faulty assumption. Have you drifted into losing weight? Or becoming a better father? Or into your Master’s degree?
For some reason, we think that even though we make plans for improvement and we set goals in other areas, it’s not necessary or spiritual for us to set out these kinds of plans for our spiritual walk.
Jesus himself lived an incredibly purposeful life. If you pick up the gospel of John, you see that Jesus is very sensitive to discerning and following God’s purpose for his life. His purpose was not about self-fulfillment but self-giving at the cross. In John 17:1, Jesus prays, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.”
How do we live a spiritual life with such purpose and awareness?
Just as we need a plan to study for a business exam, or to lock in our workouts to lose weight, so we need a plan for our spiritual life. So, what’s your plan? What do you want? How are you going to grow in your understanding of God’s Word? Or how are you going to grow in your prayer life? What current habits do you have? Do they need to be changed to grow? Do you need a shock to your system? Or maybe you need to expand what you’re doing?
We need both the habits and the goal. On the one hand, there is a power in developing purposeful habits that we consistently practice over decades. On the other hand, many of our spiritual habits are without purpose or have lost their purpose. We need habits directed toward a finish line.
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Why Satan Wants You to Think You’re Alone

The power of the belief that we’re alone traps us in shame. It sucks us into the belief that we can get ourselves out of our messes. Break the cycle. Cry out to God. Call your pastor. Connect with a trusted Christian friend. Contact a counselor. You are never alone.

“I’m sure no one has ever told you this.”
“It’s so bad. You are going to think terrible things about me.”
“Everyone would hate me if they knew what I was thinking.”
“There is no one who loves me for me.”
I’ve heard each of these helpless words from people who sat in my office. They are raw, vulnerable, heartbreaking. They reveal people’s crippling loneliness and fears that they are destined to remain alone.
I’ve been there. Discouragement spiraled into depression, and I multiplied my angst by entangling myself in sin. I didn’t think anyone would understand. I was too afraid to ask for help. Lies compounded sin.
Satan Lies
Satan traffics in lies. He wants you to believe that God isn’t good, that you are alone, and that your shame can never be removed. Each is a profound deception. In 1 Peter 5:8, we are reminded: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Don’t be deceived, Peter says; you have to fight to stay out of the enemy’s jaws. There is one who intends to destroy you.
How can we fight the enemy’s lies? It’s no accident that Peter’s admonition to be on guard against Satan comes after his encouragement for elders to shepherd the flock, and his subsequent call to humility. For Peter knows that a humble and unified flock is a powerful force against Satan’s wiles: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:6–7).
Isn’t that peculiar advice? What’s the connection between Satan’s attacks, humbling ourselves, and casting our anxieties on God? Peter puts his finger on a particular vulnerability Satan goes after: our anxieties, which drive us from God and community and toward ourselves.
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Why You Shouldn’t Give Up on the Church

The blue screen of death. We’ve all experienced it. You’re plugging away on a paper or trying to load a website and whammo, your computer is toast. A few minutes and a hard restart later, you’re back up and running, but not without consequences. You might have lost your train of thought or part of what you wrote. Ironically, I experienced the blue screen of death writing this post!
Covid-19 was a cultural blue screen of death. Work, school, and church rhythms were all disrupted, and as a result everything changed. People’s connection to church shifted or ended completely. Nearly every pastor I’ve spoken with affirms lower church attendance today than eighteen months ago.
The blue screen of Covid, it seems, made everyone re-think just how important church is.
A Replacement for Church?
More than a handful decided that other spiritual practices can take the place of church. Jen Hatmaker recently shared about a conversation she had with her therapist where she came to the realization that “church for me right now feels like my best friends, my porch bed, my children, and my parents and my siblings. It feels like meditations and all these leaves on my 12 pecan trees. It feels like Ben Rector on repeat. It feels like my kitchen, and my table, and my porch. It feels like Jesus who never asked me to meet him anywhere but in my heart.”
Others have decided to cut themselves off from church due to their frustration with what they perceive the church to be. This thread of tweets between Laura Chastain and Andrew Novell captures the spirit of those who feel disappointed by the church.
Whatever the stated reason, at its core this exodus from the church stems from a lack of understanding of the true heart, function, and mission of the church.

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