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Podcast: Living a Godless Christian Life

Join Josh and Kit this week as they discuss when we experience a lack of the presence of God in our lives and some practical next steps on coming closer to Him. Are we living a Godless Christian Life?

Highlights:

We want to help our daughters learn…

I didn’t expect that he would be present, I didn’t think he wanted to be…

…He is always with us, we are not always present to Him…

…let me remember in this moment the goodness and presence of God…

Mentions:

Centering Prayer

Click for Full Podcast Transcription

Josh 0:04
regeneration is the action or process of being reformed regrown or created again, restoring lost or injured aspects of oneself. Join Josh and Kitt each week as they discuss what it looks like to seek and define Jesus in the areas of identity, intimacy and sexuality. If you’d like to discover God’s design for your life, and how to live it out, this podcast is definitely for you.

Kit 0:29
Have you ever had an experience where you just became overwhelmed in a conversation with someone you care deeply about? And you were seeing things completely differently? And there was seemed like, there was no peace? No answer, and you became emotionally flooded and overwhelmed. And you just didn’t know what to say? Or do and you just had to walk away? Has that ever happened to you? And today we’re going to talk about what is it like to be in situations where we can’t find God? We can’t sense him. We don’t experience them. And what do we do? Yeah,

Josh 1:04
yeah, I mean, we so we, we are speaking primarily to people who are Christ followers. But we have found in our own lives and lives, a lot of other people, that even as Christians, we live a lot of our lives as though God is not there. And whether it’s the what we’re experiencing, or just kind of our were checked out to them, we don’t really necessarily sense feel, or even maybe we’re just not attentive to the reality of he is with us right now, in this moment. So we thought we’d, that that kind of scenario you just painted is one example of that, and there are others. And then we’re going to try to talk about what’s some different examples of times we find ourselves living godless lives, godless Christian lives?

Kit 1:44
about it, we were finding that between the two of us we had those experiences and that we talked with people all the time, who are like, I forget about God. And and I, I don’t know how to handle situations like that, because I feel far from God. And so what do we do? So how do we bring God into those situations?

Josh 2:04
Yeah. So I wanted to start with one that was really big for me, in what brought me into regeneration in the first place in the times where I was really, really struggling sexual sin, and I would have a sexual fall of some kind, be so flooded with shame, and guilt, and maybe fear of being found out. And Mike, and I was a devout Christian and just felt like the of these two parallel tracks, this is what I was doing on the one hand, on the other hand, I was, you know, I love Jesus, and they just didn’t, those things did not seem to come together. And so many times, after acting out, sending sexually, I just felt like God was nowhere around like, he pulled way back from me. And it was really, really painful not. And here’s the thing, I don’t mean that it was painful in the sense of like, my feelings were hurt the counter pull away. I didn’t expect that he would be present. I didn’t think that he wanted to be and I thought, you know, in his anger, in his judgment, and His righteousness, he would, he would turn away from me. And it actually took a good friend and mentor to begin pressing into that and asking me questions like, well, how long is long enough for him to turn away from you before? You’re good enough for him to be with again, which kind of was a logical question that made me think, really to get me into examine my, this kind of heart presupposition that he really was turning away from me.

Kit 3:28
The assumptions that we have about God that he would have, Okay, I’m done with you. Yeah, that those those moments tell us a lot about how we really see God and kind of encouraged us to be like, well, is that true? wouldn’t he be there all the time? If he’s the loving God that, you know, we believe him to be that he is, and we and we just forget, and we lose that and that changes? That changes? How we then live?

Josh 3:57
Yeah. So when one practical for me that was really important back then, and still important to me today. But it was a it was a new It was a learning curve thing back then was just the the real importance of confession, because my theology told me that God was still there, my head theology, but it was my heart. So it wasn’t that I forgot the truth of the Christian message that God is with us. It was that my experience my sense was, it’s not true for me right now. Confession was a really important bridge for me. And not just confessing to God but confessing to another person. And the the process of experiencing that person’s grace and love for me over times, I would confess again, and again and again. And it began to reshape in an experiential way. It was not this was not a mental exercise. It was an experiential way of beginning to experience. This person still loves me. Could it be that that God actually loves me like that too, and I began to experience His love through the other person in those moments. Have where it felt like he had walked away.

Kit 5:04
And so there’s moments when you feel like he’s walked away because of our sin and the shame. And there’s other moments when we are just so emotionally flooded, that we forget that he’s there. And so we are no longer depending on his spirit to be present when we when we really need them the most. And so for me, a good tool. And this really happened to me later in life where I figured out how to do this. And, and I still, I’m still learning, but when I get overwhelmed that for me, I need to walk, I need to walk away, I need to breathe, I need to say, I need a few more, a few minutes just to get my emotions under control. And I sit with God and say, God, I need you to help me think about this right now I breathe. I asked him What am I thinking and believing that’s getting me in this state? And could you speak truth to me God, and so it changes everything? Because before I’m so flooded that I the gods, I’m not I’m not accessing his spirit, even though he’s with me, I am not accessing him where this allows me to be like, Okay, how does him being here and talking to me and being with me change this? And it does.

Josh 6:21
Let me push into that with you for a minute. Because I I think this is an experience of a lot of people. I certainly relate with that. I think for a lot of people like the pulling away, it’s still a very frenetic kind of godless time. It’s like, you know, I gotta can’t see you, I can’t feel you like, Where are you in this? It can be kind of almost this desperate, frantic thing, but what you’re describing is breathing and being with like, how do you do that? How do you get to a place where you can be still with God, when your emotions are flooding you like that?

Kit 6:51
I think at some point, I just decide just realized that I had to that it staying in that moment was would be disastrous. So I finally just removed myself and then I would find A calm place to be sometimes it was just sitting on my bed. Other times it was in the backyard where it was peaceful. And I I mean, I did learn through centering prayer and things like that to breathe. And there is something of intentional breathing that does bring remarkable, calm. And then somewhere along the line, God just, you know, encouraged me to talk to him about it, and to say, Lord, what am I thinking? Because I know that what I’m thinking is affecting these feelings, and my feelings are overwhelming me. So can you speak truth to me? So it’s been something I’ve just kind of continued to learn about.

Josh 7:41
Yeah. So go back to the centering prayer, what is centering prayer for our listeners who don’t know what that is?

Kit 7:45
So centering prayer is, it’s a meditative silent, quiet prayer where you choose a sacred word, it doesn’t have to be anything, you know, unusual, it’s just a word that you choose, that makes you have a sense of God could be God, it can be Jesus can be love, it can be rest can be peace, and you allow yourself to breathe and to be quiet. And when your mind wanders, you don’t The point is that you aren’t trying to quiet your mind. The point is that when your mind wanders, it’s another opportunity to bring it back to your sacred word and focusing on God. So you, it’s a very calming, quieting, silent prayer

Josh 8:35
reminds me of what an old youth pastor of ours taught us to do what he called breath prayers, which was we typically find but maybe a psalm or rephrase somewhere in Scripture, like, you know, I will never leave you or forsake you. And and to turn that into a breath prayer were kind of in our minds, as we breathe in. We go through the words, I will never leave you breathe out, I will never forsake you, then

Kit 9:02
yeah, similar, similar, that could be very helpful in those moments too.

Josh 9:07
And the assumption behind these, just so as you’re listening, you know, like, the assumption is, we’re not, this isn’t about beckoning God. Our assumption is, God is present, he is always with us. We are not always present to him, we are not always able to open ourselves to be receptive. And so get when you talk about pulling away, you basically, I mean, you’re basically saying there’s situations where for whatever reason, it’s too much for me and I need to get some space to reconnect with God, who is present to me. So I can go back and be in that situation again.

Kit 9:40
And it’s important to to say that I, I try to say, if it’s a conversation that’s overwhelming, and say, you know, I need a few minutes, I’m not rejecting you. I’m not stopping you know, stopping away in anger. I’m just really saying I need I need some time. And then and then come back.

Josh 10:02
And I don’t think it like, the example to me is you’re talking about the emotional flooding, which can be in the midst of a tense conversation, it can be, you know, I’m, I got a pile of papers on my desk at work and, and it’s almost five o’clock. I just heard some really, really bad news about something that’s deeply going to impact my life and those that I love.

Kit 10:22
Yes, absolutely doesn’t have to be a conversation. Yeah,

Josh 10:25
so that conflict is one example where that can happen. But in the midst of like, Oh, my gosh, you know, I just, I just learned that so and so of my family died, or that this person was having an affair, or this or that, right? Like, I can’t, I can’t stop spinning, I need to connect with God. And so I’m going to, I’m going to pull away and take some time to do that. Another example, I think, for me is, is when temptation comes, especially an area of temptation that I’m not willing to give up completely yet, or I can feel that, you know, like, I do, and I don’t want to give this up. Those are moments where God can feel really far away. And And honestly, there, those have been times in my life where I’ve wanted to push God away, I don’t, I don’t want to know that you’re here, I think reveals on some level, my expectation of how God is going to interact with me as though as though he’s surprised that there are temptations in my life that I still want. So you know, he’s, he’s just going to be another person telling me, you know, just stop it, just stop it, stop it. And so he doesn’t have even compassion in the fact that, in my flesh, I wrestle with temptations that I know are not good. And I remember in my journey away from sexual sin, and those were just really, really difficult times to want to connect with God. Even if I did think that he was he was present.

Kit 11:42
I think that’s a really good point. And I think it’s also interesting that there are other times where we can be far from God, that have nothing to do necessarily with pain or conflict they can be when everything’s going really great.

Josh 11:56
Well, let me before you get there. Let me come back to this temptation. Okay. So one practical, I think for people, okay, when we are feeling tempted, and like, I’m not sure I really want to talk to God right now. I’d say we begin where where we are. And so like, we have permission to be completely honest with God about our condition. If it’s Hey, God, I know right now that I am turning away from you. And I, I’m sorry, but this is what I’m doing. That that’s a, it’s a terrible thing to say to the Lord. But it is, in essence, what we say to him every time we do it. And so I think to be overt about it is to is as much as we can to take a step in his direction to practice the realities here.

Kit 12:37
And when you say that I’m recalling those moments when I did was able to do that, when I was like, we’re come and talk to me about this right here in this moment. And it was he didn’t do what I feared he didn’t shame me. In fact, he talked to me like he, he was with me in it. Yeah. And it was like, Oh, you are with me in this. You’re not judging me, or shaming or condemning me, you’re actually with me in it. And I’m finding comfort and strength in that.

Josh 13:05
So the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised the pair clean, the one who comes alongside he’s our advocate. Yeah. And he’s really seriously

Kit 13:13
is, you

Josh 13:14
know, I think sometimes, yeah, sometimes we act like in those moments of temptation, like what he’s wearing, what is God, if he’s present all the time? Well, he’s looking at us angrily shouting at us, you know, waiting to, you know, to hit us or something, as opposed to the reality like, why did Jesus come? Well, in part because we have temptations that we that draw us that aren’t good for us that we, that we want. And I say that even can thinking back to some of those old times. So here’s, I might have heard this story before on the podcast, but such profound thing I part of my journey was visiting adult bookstores. And I remember one of the visits to adult bookstore, coming back to a mentor friend and confessing to him. And he picked up on this reality that as a, as a guy who loved Jesus, it was like I just kind of separated from him and shut him off. So he said this to me, and it was a very gentle admonition. He said, Josh, it was kind of at the end of the conversation, he just just one more thing. The next time you go to an adult bookstore, bring Jesus with you, because he is with you. And I tell the story, don’t misunderstand him, the heart in what he was telling me to do was not because then you’re gonna feel so bad about what you’re doing. You wouldn’t dare do it. That was really not the spirit. It was really, look, Jesus is there advocating for you, obviously, you’re confessing this, this grieves you that you’re doing this. So in those moments, when you find yourself doing what you’ve said, you wouldn’t do and doing that which you hate. Be with Jesus. It was such a profound kind of idea for me. And it was years and years later, it occurred to me, I never went back to notebooks or after that, and there are other pieces, I think, involved that it’s a longer story but but I think that was a powerful idea like Geez, even in my temptation, even in my desire to Turn away from you. You can help me with that. And he wants to. Yeah, astounding. Yeah, that’s sounding scandalous. All right, let’s come back to the every day.

Kit 15:08
Yeah. So you know, I think we struggle I struggle with when things are going really good. Sometimes I’ll just be like, Oh, I’m good, I’m good, you know, or just ordinary time, we forget about God, and my husband actually wears a ring on his index finger. He’s, he’s, he works in the world of science. And he gets caught up in data. And that ring is there for him to remember that God is with him, that he’s always with them. And even when he forgets about him when he’s, you know, immersed in data. And so, here’s the question is how, when things are going well, or ordinary time? How do we, how do we remember God? How do we honor him by and also, like, just have a fuller life by being aware that God’s with us all the time?

Josh 15:57
Right? So I think I mean, one step back, I think we start with, again, an assumption that the with God life is the better life always. Yeah, I mean, he got his life, he is light, he is loved. And so in the ordinariness of my day, the drudgery of the paperwork or the, you know, the thrill I’m having at the, you know, with this, this great family event, it’s even better with God so much better. Whether it’s, you know, the adventure, he has a waiting, his his ability to celebrate the goodness of the moment with us or to heighten our senses to it, or just the fact that God Himself is his joy. I mean, he’s so I love I love Greg’s idea about that. It reminds me about just the tradition of prayer of ours or Yeah. Or liturgy in our lives, which I think the church fathers and mothers knew wisely enough that we we do get distracted that life is what it is. And, and so these weren’t a matter of like, you know, don’t don’t forget about God, you know, like you, you know, he’s waiting for you, you need to show up for him. But rather, it’s just us showing, showing back up for him, like reminding ourselves, let me remember, in this moment, the goodness of God, the presence of God. We did this for a time on our staff, we stopped, but we met every day, it was noon, or 1230. And we just did a brief prayer that we found that was really good. I think another thing for the ordinary, I think fasting. Yeah. I mean, that that’s not the reason that I’ve typically fast. But hunger when I’m fasting can remind me, oh, like, Wait, let me turn this hunger into a prayer in this moment.

Kit 17:35
I think also, I can get caught up in routine, like getting in my car and driving to work and listening to the radio or listening to you know, NPR, which can be great, informative, but it can also take me away. And so Lately, I’ve been feeling like, I’ve been, you know, spending maybe too much time listening to things on the news or whatever. And so I figured out a way to have my Spotify, my worship music. And so I’m choosing now to put music on. I’m intentionally saying that’s really going to be a part of my day, when I’m driving to work when I’m driving home, because it does really reminds me it centers me and I, I can choose my favorite, you know, music that really does help me to feel close to God. And so that’s been, that’s been helpful to me in ways that I think I might be distracted from God, that kind of helps me

Josh 18:32
nice. Yeah, I like it. Yeah, I long ago, I think I made a habit of not turning my radio on. And I tend to not like a whole lot of background noise in general. But unless I’m intentionally listening to what I’m playing, so that’s become a habit for me too. But I still I can still zone out. So having something to center in on, I think that’s a theme for a lot of these is, whatever we can introduce to help center us back into the reality in the presence of God. Because I have one more

Unknown Speaker 19:01
Yeah. Okay.

Josh 19:03
How do we, because we do this, we live a godless Christian life at church, or when we’re having our quiet times for bible study, or serving the Lord. Yeah. And I think one of the ways that I do it can be going through the motions, and one of the ways I can do it is, I believe, almost like, you know, I’m what I’m supposed to doing right now is paying attention, and listening and learning, as opposed to interacting or during worship. I’m associating when I was singing to God, as opposed to actually worshiping and relating with God in this moment. So how do we make that shift? And it’s a, an important one. Well, it’s,

Kit 19:45
it’s almost like you’re saying, because we do right. Our default is to go to our head to live in our heads. That’s just what we do. And so what I hear you saying is like what’s, how do we respond to the invitation to bring our heart and our spirit in Our bodies and our minds to church.

Josh 20:03
Yeah. Yeah. So what 111 thing I love about this is, I’m glad you said the word body because I think that we can use our bodies in any moment to help remind us of God’s presence, which feels weird, maybe because God is spirit, we don’t physically feel him all the time. But, but just as we would reach over for a friend, or we would look into the face of our Father, we can, in those moments, use our eyes by looking up reaching our arms up reaching our arms out. When we sing, I think like intentionally voicing our words to God for His ears to hear, and sometimes that means singing louder. Sometimes it might mean, I’m gonna sing quiet enough that nobody else hears me. I think sometimes in a worship service, it can even mean, I’m not going to sing right now. I’m just going to be present. What else? What would you say,

Kit 20:56
Oh, I think about posture too, you know, I do feel like there’s a powerful thing and posture I, a long time ago, a mentor of mine told me that she would get out of bed in the morning and immediately go to her knees. And I always wanted to do that. And I never did until a particular crisis happened. And I found myself on my knees in the morning. And I would just say a simple prayer. And it’s To this day, that’s probably been over well over 10 years, that I just fall onto my knees and say a prayer to God, and that helps center me. So posture, I think, you know, sometimes can really matter what we do with our bodies, even maybe in the middle of the day, there’s a way to, you know, kneel or I don’t know, you know, just use our bodies of connecting to God.

Josh 21:45
Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s fascinating, because, I mean, if you’re ever in conversation with a friend, and they were chatting with you, and you were, you know, looking somewhere else, and kind of leaning back,

Kit 21:54
you know, yeah, your posture would be totally Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 21:57
Are you with me or not?

Josh 21:59
Right, but with God, we kind of, you know, another I think another idea is, is to make physical space, I forgot. Yeah. So, some examples of that would be if you have a prayer closet or prayer place to set it up, so it becomes kind of a sacred place for you, kid, I know that one things that you’ve done with a lot of the women you do coaching with is you light a candle as a as a reminder, a sacred reminder, that God, God’s Holy Spirit is with us. I’ve I’ve had a friend in college who, who had a date with Jesus made a meal set a table. It was just her in this empty seat. But she did it as a way to say I’m with you. And to kind of remind her senses of the presence of God. I’ll do it my car, sometimes I’ll just clear off the seat next to me, God, I really need to talk to you.

Kit 22:49
And you know, I love the winsomeness of that, because I think we can get so caught up in Oh yeah, let’s have a quiet time in my prayer chair. And again, it becomes this numb sort of thing. But if your heart if you bring your heart into that, like that space, I can find that, that that routine, if I’m bringing my heart, it can help center me immediately when I’m like, it’s like, it’s that environment that place that scene reminds me Oh, God is here. This is time. Yeah, yeah. Well, let

Josh 23:19
me conclude with this thought. So this has been a good conversation about inviting God being with God and not sorry, not inviting God, that’s a piece of it, but God is present. And so really trying to do what we need to do and re realign ourselves with him, the reality is present. Let me just kind of change the scene for a moment for us or change the perspective for a moment talk about the same thing. We have an enemy, who very much wants us to believe and to live with the idea that God is not present to us and does not care to be. And he is doing all he can, as much as he can through accusation through guilt, through distraction, through pleasures through dizziness, to get us to live a life that is godless. And and he certainly wants Christ’s followers, those who have Christ to live as though God is not present with them. And to them. These things that we’re talking about today are just a little glimpse of so many ways that we can begin to break free from the matrix of that illusion that God isn’t present. And to come back into the reality of God’s very real present even more, more real than the world we see around us, he he in him we live and move and have our being all this exists because of him. If he were to cease to be all all that we see all the distracts us, we would cease to be as well. So we are really talking about a battle to be present to the ultimate reality who is God Himself. So with that in mind, Lord, we just close by by asking you for forgiveness. For our arrogance, our distraction, or even our arrogance in believing that you would you would leave us after you’ve promised that you wouldn’t. And where we asked you please, would you? ignite our faith, to believe more greatly more fully, more consistently, that you are present to us loving moving, for our sake and for those around us and for Your glory. Thank you, Lord, for your presence. Thank you. In Jesus name, amen. Hey, everybody, thanks for joining us this week on the regeneration podcast. Please make sure to visit our website at regeneration ministries.org, where you can subscribe to the show on Apple or Google podcasts and even Spotify so you’ll never miss another one. While you’re at it. If you found value in the show, we’d appreciate a rating on Apple podcasts or if you’d simply tell a friend about the show that would help us out a lot. Thanks so much for listening. We look forward to being with you again next week.

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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.

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