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Uche Anizor: Hope When You’re Struggling to Care

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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July 22, 2022 2:00 am

Uche Anizor: Hope When You’re Struggling to Care

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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July 22, 2022 2:00 am

Confused by your own lack of passion, your apathy when it comes to faith? Author Uche Anizor offers ideas to rekindle your first love's persistent flame.

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I know you have a lot of favorite verses in the Bible.

What would you, if you had to say top two, or even top one, what's one of them? Well, yeah, I mean, when you say it that way, my, one of my favorites is Ephesians 3.20. You know, God will do beyond what we can even imagine. The measure will be more.

According to his power in the Holy Spirit. So that would be probably my number one, but there's a verse in the, in the Book of Revelation. You know, even when you just say that, people go, oh, you know, there's so many metaphors. It's the end of the world and end times and eschatology.

But there's one that sort of scares me. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson. And you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on our Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. It's in the second chapter of the Book of Revelation when the angel is revealing what he says to the seven churches. And to one of the churches, he said, you've lost your first love. That scares me.

Yeah, I'll read it. You know, it's in Revelation 2, 4, and 5, which says, yet I hold this against you. You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen. Don't read anymore. Oh, okay. Because, you know, the question is, when you've lost your first love, what do you do?

And I don't think most people would go where this Revelation passage goes as the next thing. Here's what you do. So we want to talk about today. We got Uche Anasor back in the studio with us, theology professor from Biola.

He's come a long way from Los Angeles to Orlando to be on Family Life Today. Welcome back. It's great to be here. Yeah, so you're over there smiling a little bit. I'm guessing you've sort of looked at this passage and thought about it because you wrote a book about overcoming apathy. And we spent, you know, a day talking about just losing your zeal for God, and you've been there, I've been there, I think everybody's been there, and how do we dig out of that? But when you hear that passage, because it's really like you've lost your first love, which can be obviously with our walk with God, it could be in our marriage. You know what it says next.

That's probably why you're smiling. But I think, you know, what is revealed, you know, in the book of Revelation about what to do when you've lost your zeal, is that the right answer? Tell us what it says. Yeah, if I remember correctly, it says, repent and remember the things you did at first.

Yes. Which is powerful, because the solution is not this sort of radical mystifying solution. Christ is saying, all right, you had an intensity of love before. What did you do during that time when you had this intensity of love? Revisit that. And for that church, it may have been basic spiritual practices, it may have been them just doing better at owning their sin and repenting, it may have been them doing fellowship with one another, it could have been a number of things.

Right. And Christ is saying, don't just sit there perplexed, engage with the things that you did at first, and you may actually find that you've regained that first love. Yeah, and I think, you know, often when we think of our own spiritual walk, when we hear I've lost my first love, I don't think that's where we would go. We'd be like, I got to get my love back. It's almost like a marriage. It's like, I've got to just fall back in love.

It's like, how do you do that? Well, what did you do when you were dating? What did you do when you were engaged? Those activities gave you an appreciation of love.

So think about, at least in my mind, in marriage, if you go back to those early days, what did you do? You sat, you talked, which means spiritually you're in the Word, you're listening to God, you're talking to God, you're getting to know God. You see things and attributes about God that you've never seen before and you're like, oh, my goodness, that this is who you are. It stokes a fire in your heart. So that works in a marriage. Does it work that way in a spiritual walk?

It can. I think one of the complicating things that we have to just be really honest about with our spiritual lives is familiarity breeds contempt. So the more that we're familiar with these enormous realities of the Christian faith, sadly, we grow numb to them. So the average Christian, imagine they go to 40 services a year, 45, 50 services a year, and they're hearing church services. And they're hearing stuff about Jesus, stuff about the gospel, and then they listen to Christian radio, and then they have Christian songs. They listen to family life today. They listen to family life today.

Imagine that. And they're just inundated with the good news. And as much as we want to say you should always be excited about the good news, the reality of being human, not to mention the sinful reality of being human, we're going to grow numb to things that are familiar. And so it really is a battle that we're engaged in to stay excited and passionate about very familiar things. Well, not only that, but we live in a world where it's competing for our affection and our time.

So if we do get a little bored in the spiritual aspect, we have something over here in the world that can fill us up and bring us pleasure. And so then we kind of walk away, or maybe not even walk away, we drift a little bit without realizing it. And yesterday we even talked about apathy, of what that means.

Let me read the definition that you put in your book. Apathy is a psychological and spiritual sickness in which we experience a prolonged dampening of motivation, effort, and emotion, as well as a resistance to do things that would bring flourishing in ourselves and others. I think that's really good to think through.

Hmm. Like, how am I doing? Am I apathy? I mean, when I hear that, even when I read it in your book, I thought, wow, there's a lot of apathy in me.

I mean, I'd love to sit here and say, I'm the most zealous, passionate Christ follower in this room right now. But it's often when I read that definition, like, whoa, there's a loss of first love that can creep in, and it's subtle. But then, Dave, Uche says this, and you're right here, but you say, It's a sin that expresses itself as restlessness, aimlessness, laziness, and joylessness toward the things of God. I think a lot of us are like, ooh, that just hit hard. Yeah.

I think we think of apathetic people as just sort of like lazy couch potatoes, you know, just lounging with Ben and Jerry's, watching Netflix every day, you know, and that may be the case. But I think it's what I try to do in the book is I try to identify it as it's a spiritual thing. We're actually engaged in a spiritual battle, and there's a real enemy that wants to keep us engaged with things that are trivial and meaningless and wants us to feel sort of blah about the things that are life-giving and things that help me flourish and other people flourish. And so it's a real spiritual battle that we're actually engaged in. And so how do we engage in a spiritual battle? We, going back to Revelation, we remember the things we did at first.

That's going to be the baseline. We have to re-engage with the things we did at first. Yeah, and repent, which means I've got to be honest and say, you know what? That is me. Amen. Yeah. It isn't just, you know, my wife.

Of course it's my wife. But no, I think that's what we do. We point out others. That's right. And some of the most judgmental people probably have the hardest, coldest, apathetic hearts.

That's exactly right. There is. I know I've been there at times.

And it's somewhat scary. It's like, how do I dig out of that? So repent would mean own up to your own sin. That's right.

This is wrong. This is who I am. I'm going to turn away from that and do the things I did at first, which is going to re-stoke some. I think one of the best things I learned as a new follower of Christ, I was a college kid, a junior in college.

I got involved with CREW. But my mentor, who was actually another student, he was a married student, told me early, taught me what a quiet time was, a daily time to sit with God's word and pray and study and even worship. One of the things he told me, and I didn't know, not a lot of people ever heard this. He said, you need to change this up. It shouldn't look the same every month, every year. Like, it isn't always going to be this six months later from now. You may emphasize this more.

That's good advice. It was just like, I call it now like cross training. You know, we're all in the cross training.

It's like, now you're going to train differently because some things will get rote and they just won't have any impact. Well, then move on from that. It doesn't mean don't read the word anymore. Just read it different ways and everything.

Is that helpful? No, I think that's really well said. And so when I think about why is it that I can get excited about a new Netflix show versus the Bible or something like that, part of the reason is it's new. And when it's new, it's engaging, even though there are only so many plot lines you can have in a movie and whatever, especially if you're watching a Marvel movie or something.

But at the same time, it's just new. And we have to recognize that we have a hunger for new things or for things to be expressed in new ways. And so we just need to own that and change things up, find different ways to engage God's word. So for the last couple of years, my primary way of engaging with God's word is through listening. I've never done that for the entirety of my Christian life. But now I do it through like, you know, Bible app or whatever.

I listen to listen to scripture. That's my way of sort of just changing things up, adding a little bit of spice, for lack of a better term, to my relationship with the Lord. And I think we just need to be honest with ourselves and say we crave novelty.

Novelty is not good in and of itself, but we need it every now and again. I think that is really reassuring because we think, oh, I'm not as consistent as this other person that does the same thing for the last 10 years. Lately, when I've been walking, I'll listen to these amazing sermons. And then this week I just thought, I'm going to leave all of that at home. I'm going to leave my phone at home and I'm just going to pray and I'm going to listen and I'm going to think. Because sometimes I fill my head so much with so much stuff that I don't feel and experience God's presence, his pleasure, his promptings in the Spirit and just talking to him and then giving myself space. For me, that's really important.

Do you ever do that? Well, I remember, I was just thinking when you were saying that a few years ago, well, it's been almost a decade now. One of our sons went to Passion Conference in the Georgia Dome and there were 60,000, 70,000 college kids there. So, you know, as a parent, you're so excited.

Your kid's going to this. He was a sophomore, I think, in college. And he came home just, you can imagine, on fire. And we've all had those retreats and he's in a stadium with all these college kids. And I'll never forget, we're sitting in our family room and he says, Dad, I just got to play you this worship course that we were singing down there. And he started playing this song. It was just a simple, in fact, you know what? We got a guitar.

Yes! I was hoping this would happen. Get ready, Bruce.

You need to put all the things on there now. I did not even plan to do this. This is impromptu.

I hope I can remember how it goes. Yeah, so, I mean, we're literally sitting in our living room and wasn't there. We're alone. And he puts this on and this is all they were singing. I know.

It starts building, right? And I'm not kidding. Three and a half minutes in, we are both standing up, alone in our home, singing. I mean, we are singing. I mean, it was just this beautiful moment that I'll never forget with my son. And think about the lyrics of that song. You can hardly even call it a song. It's just a simple prayer.

It's an anthem, too. I want fire back in my soul. I don't want to be apathetic. I don't want to be a follower who's lost his first love.

Here's all I'm telling you, Jay. What happened from that day forward for me is that ignited something that had sort of left me at that season of my life. And that was singing worship choruses, hymns. I'm an artist. I'm playing bands, and it was something that was really important to me early in my Christian walk. I'd never even heard of Christian music, so I'm going to meetings on campus and we're singing worship songs, and then I'm in the band and we're singing worship songs. I was at a season in my life where that was just something, well, it's something I did. It's something we do at church.

All I can tell you is this. I started reigniting that part of my spiritual walk. When I would be in the Word in the morning, I would put on a worship song. I'd get my guitar, I'd sing a worship song.

Here's all I can tell you. A zealous fire came back to my walk with God in that season, so much so. I remember, I'll never forget, I'm preaching pretty much every week, and I would start calling my audio guy, basically be texting him and say, hey, I need an acoustic guitar on stage with me. I'm just going to sing this little chorus. And it started happening almost weekly because I'd be like, hey, I just want to sing you a chorus that I've been singing all week.

Just join with me. And it wasn't a whole song. It was just that. And I got the point, like two months in, I remember texting one day and go, dude, I just need a guitar. And he goes, hey, there'll always be a guitar, always plugged in, ready for you. He goes, I don't know what's happening, but your fire is contagious to our congregation. People were coming up to me regularly, and this offended me. I should have been offended, but they'd be like, dude, what happened to you?

I had people coming up to me saying, what happened to Dave? Yeah. And I'd be, what do you mean? It's your sermons. They're better. And I got offended, like they weren't good before.

And they weren't saying that. What they were saying is there's a fire in you that we haven't felt that we're feeling and it's starting to happen in this body. And again, it was like, I look back and I go, what did God do? It was like, he took one of the spiritual disciplines and this one would be worship singing, and he just reignited my soul in that area. And it started something that ended up being contagious for a whole church.

I just thought, isn't that how God does it? It could be worship singing for you. It could be the word. It could be prayer. It could be community, but he'll use something to bring you, to draw you out of apathy.

Am I right? That is massively encouraging to hear. Really?

Yeah. Because even as I think about your story, for both me and my wife, worship music was the thing that we did. We played our guitars a lot, and that was how we engaged with God, especially in harder moments of our lives. And we've regularly looked back on that and said, why don't we play our guitars anymore? They're sitting in our living room.

They're on stands. And you both play. She plays well. I don't play well. But we played enough to be able to sing worship choruses. And that was just the way that we engage with God.

And even as you were talking, I'm like, Lord, do I need to rekindle? Maybe that's what that was for. Yeah, maybe.

Maybe. During the pandemic one day I was up, we're all home. And I remember one day I was just up in my upstairs little studio having a quiet time with God, and I just grabbed my guitar. I'm just there by myself.

As a matter of fact, I got a song about this. Sorry. Here it is. No, I was just doing this. I was, bless the Lord, oh my soul. Oh my soul.

Worship His holy name. Well, I can hear Him. All I know is I'm doing that all by myself. I'm not even singing it any louder than that. And she comes right here.

Come on, run up the stairs. She goes, oh, are we singing? Singing right now.

Yes. Are we singing right now? Because I love it when we do that together.

It was sort of this beautiful moment now as a couple going vertical together. And again, we're not sitting here saying, and I know you're not saying this, CJ, the only way that you're going to stoke the fire in your soul for Jesus is singing worship songs. But it might be something like that. No, I think that's a brilliant connection you made with Revelation, re-engaging the things that we did at first, and there God met you and He lit a fire.

Okay, let's go to this area. I'm imagining a listener thinking, man, if my teenage son or daughter were so excited and zealous about God and they wanted to show me this worship song, that would be amazing and maybe some have. But others of us, maybe we have someone that's super apathetic, that they had committed their lives to Christ.

We saw a zeal, but now there's a waning of that. And as parents, especially with teenage kids, we're not sure how to address that or what to do. And they're often saying, I don't care about, you know, because they're teenagers, just going through it. Yeah, and Uche, you have a 14-year-old.

What's the best way for parents to interact in that way? That's David Ann Wilson with Uche Anasor on Family Life Today. We'll hear Uche's response in just a minute. You know, one thing we are definitely not apathetic about at Family Life is bringing the clarity of God's Word to a culture that desperately needs it. And we need your help. Will you partner with us financially? All this week, as our thanks for your partnership, we want to send you a copy of Kay Weymah's book, The Peace Project, a 30-day experiment practicing thankfulness, kindness, and mercy.

You can get your copy when you give this week at familylifetoday.com or when you call with your donation at 800-358-6329. That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, now back to David Ann's conversation with Uche Anasor and how parents can best interact with an apathetic teenager.

Well, I am no expert. And my 14-year-old is sort of an odd 14-year-old. She's stellar in every way. And so she's had a sort of steady zeal for God and for God's Word for, I don't know, maybe 10 years now. And so before she was 10, she'd read the Bible and the New Testament twice.

Come on. By the time she was 10. Really? During her nine to 10 year. She's been very committed. And so I'm just saying that as a preface, I didn't do anything there.

That was the Lord. You probably did. But you're also working with college students. Yeah. So again, it's difficult because the causes of apathy are person specific.

And so the last thing I want to do is to say to someone, it's going to be one of these two things. Here's the formula. Because it's just not a formula. What we're trying to do is we're trying to cultivate whole people. And cultivating whole people is something that takes some nuance. It takes some engagement with them. It takes a relationship. It takes you being able to really assess, okay, here are the several factors I think are at play and then just starting somewhere. It might be, as I said earlier, with college students, they may just not be engaging with the things that they know are primary and basic.

That could be. But maybe over the course of time and engaging with a college student, I realized, man, they're struggling with something like grief, for instance. They're mourning either a real loss in terms of a family member or they're mourning just losses in life.

When you're a third culture kid, for instance, I'm just giving an example. You experience the loss of things, the loss of relationships, the loss of familiarity, these kinds of things. And so there are a lot of things that we grieve over. And so for instance, a student may be grieving losses, but they haven't processed the grief. And so one of the outcomes of not dealing with grief or processing grief is we grow numb. And it's sort of a coping mechanism. If that numbness is apathy, then the apathy is tied to grief. But the only way I'm going to know that is by knowing this person and questions, right?

And so- And so you're saying too, don't shame them. No. Because that's probably what I would have done. Like, why aren't you reading your Bible? And where's your zeal?

That doesn't help. No, but it takes a combination of being willing to speak the truth in love, right? So there really has to be love.

And so love means patience and a willingness to sort of like walk with. But at some point, if we're just noticing that there's just a resistance and you don't want to do the basics, then you have to say that because you want to remove whatever sort of like cloud of mystique around apathy. It may not be mysterious at all.

It may just be really straightforward. You don't want to engage with God. So it's actually a sinful lack of desire to engage with God. And it has nothing to do with this sort of like perplexing apathy. It's just, I don't care about God. And that to me is somewhat different. So the apathetic person is, I'm a Christian who really, really knows that God is good. And I really, really know that the missions is wonderful and evangelism is great and the Bible is wonderful and all these kinds of things.

But I just can't get myself there. That's a different person than the person who's kind of like, I just don't care. I really don't care about God.

And I don't want to pursue him. That's not apathy. That's like a strict hard-heartedness toward God. And I think they're subtly different. I think it'd be really interesting if you have kids old enough to have this discussion to talk about apathy.

So you could even share a definition. This is what we heard today. This is what the definition of apathy is.

What do you guys feel about that? Like, have you experienced that? And I would say as a parent, like we all do to normalize it.

And what do you do when you're in that state and what helps you to get out of that, spiritually speaking? I think that'd be great to do with teenage kids, especially. I don't know if I'm right. I was also thinking one of the best things you could do for an apathetic kid or teenager is be on fire yourself.

Yeah, I was going to say model it. Again, you can't fake that because they'll sniff that out faster than anybody. But if they see a mom or dad that is genuinely zealous for God, it's something you can't walk around in your home. You feel it. You smell it.

It's beautiful. That's right. You want it, actually. Yeah, that's right. And so that would be it. I mean, you can tell them what to do, show them what to do.

It's like, man, when they see you live in it, it's sort of caught, not taught, right? And we have to make allowances for different personalities are going to some degree express zeal differently, right? So some folks are, you know, I have a good friend of mine. He's a colleague at Biola who to me is one of the most passionate people I know. Love him to death.

He's influenced me a lot. But he's not like loud, passionate. And he's not like overly expressive, passionate, but like there's a fire and there's a zeal for the glory of God in this guy's life, you know?

So he's not painting himself up at a football game with the different colors, you know, with no shirt on. But he's just as passionate as that guy. But he's passionate. He's passionate for Jesus. And his life is committed here. It's been great for me to see an example of here's zeal.

He's about 10 years older than me and he's zealous. But then there are the other types who are like, you're just a type A cheerleader type. Just rah rah.

And that's legit, too. But there are different ways to be zealous. So we want to be able to hold two things at the same time. We want to be able to say no one's off the hook. Everyone needs to cultivate a zeal for God. We also want to say our zeal for God is going to look different. Yeah, that's good. And we allow for that. Especially with our kids, too, because our kids are so different.

That's so right. We talked about, you know, getting in the word to get zeal, prayer, disciplines, worship. Here's one that just hit me that I think, again, maybe it's personality, but it brings back a zealous fire for God is when you step out in faith and trust him in a scary way. And he shows up. And I'm not saying he always shows up, answers your prayer perfectly. But when he comes through, and often it isn't like I'm watching somebody else's story.

No, I'm the one that wrote the check that is bigger than I'm comfortable with. Or I share faith with somebody, a neighbor, and it's scary. And then you see God just show up. Don't you just find, like, what just happened to my spiritual walk? I'm just excited.

And again, it may not be a cheerleader type excitement, but there's a fire in me that, like, God just did something. That's exactly right. That I was scared to death. He showed up. You go tell somebody. Am I right?

That's exactly right. If doubt is a killer of zeal, what we're doubting is oftentimes God's realness. Like, is God really, really real? And is he real in my day to day?

Is he real for me rather than real for some other dude? And if God actually shows up, then that's going to contribute to my excitement and passion for him. If you're sitting there and you've been feeling the nudge of God to take a risk, whether it's to share Christ with a neighbor or I don't know what it is, step into a conversation, trust God in a great way, do it.

Let's see what happens. or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word Today. Now, I've got the president of Family Life, David Robbins, with me here in the studio. And one of the things I appreciate about you, David, is your heart for winning, building, and sending.

Why don't you talk about that for a minute? Yeah, I even think about the conversation today about overcoming apathy. And one of the things I love about being a part of Family Life, the vision has always been about the world, homes all over the world. The family is a global heart language. Every culture, no matter what culture you live in, any country, the family holds a sacred power. And what I love about the opportunity when it comes to the sanctity of marriage and the value for family worldwide is that it's an opportunity for the gospel to get to people that do not know Jesus. And that really is what we are about at Family Life. Our mission statement says, Effectively developing godly families who change the world one home at a time. Just this past week, I got a message from our leader in Philippines. And Ray, the leader there, was telling me about he was on a phone call with leaders in India and Turkey, helping them know how to launch Ministry to Families in their corner of the world. As you listen to Family Life today and keep impacting your own corner of the world, know as you participate with Family Life by your giving and by your engagement, you are helping a movement of families all over the world change the world one home at a time.

Yeah, I love that specific vision for something so broad as the world. Thanks, David. Have you ever hid from your neighbor just to get out of a conversation?

Maybe I will admit that I have. Now, Don Everts will be joining Dave and Ann to talk about how important those types of conversations actually are. That's coming up next week. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-12 01:13:53 / 2023-01-12 01:26:44 / 13

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