Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Power of the Truth

My spiritual life is dead. I've lost contact with God. I feel like I'm running on empty." I knew Larry was serious about his problem. He had waited four months for an appointment, and then he and his wife drove six hours to reach our office. After I opened the session with prayer, those were the first words out of his mouth. Larry could not understand why his spiritual life felt so empty. He began telling me about all the "right" things he was doing: "I get up at 4:30 A.M. I power walk six miles, shower, pray for an hour, spend time with my wife and children, go to work, come home, pray with my family after the evening meal, spend time with my wife and family, and go to bed." He went on to explain how he was a trustee at church, did mechanical work on church equipment, drove the bus to pick up elderly people, and so forth. I almost got worn out just listening to him. I thought to myself, "There is nothing like a good example. With discipline like this he is going to ruin it for the rest of us! After all, God doesn't grade on a curve." (the fact is, God doesn't grade at all, but at that point I was too stunned by this man's obvious spiritual prowess to think about that.) But he had not mentioned one element, so I decided to ask a question. "Larry, do you ever read the Bible?" He gave me that "deer in the car headlights" stare. After what seemed several minutes, he said, "No, I don't." His frantic life included hours in prayer but no time in the Word of God. I explained to Larry the dangers of all prayer and no Word. "Larry, prayer apart from the Word can lead to mysticism." I went on to show how the Scriptures are foundational to our relationship with the Lord. "My brother, without the nourishment of the Word, you are starving spiritually," I explained. "No wonder I have dried up spiritually," he replied. "I have been deceived." I further explained how the Word and prayer can't be separated. I warned him of the danger of getting out of balance. Reading only the Word is one way the enemy keeps us off center. Reading the Word without prayer often leads to legalism and its offspring, coldness of heart. Praying without spending time in the Word leads to a reliance on "spiritual" feelings. Larry had fallen into the second trap. Larry is now reading the Scriptures, praying the Word, and growing in Christ's likeness. He still get up at 4:30 A.M., and when I'm around him I'm still a little worried that if God looks too hard at him and then me, I might be in trouble. But I'm still glad he has restored balance to his life by reading and reflecting on God's truth, the Scriptures. Spiritual warfare can be best understood as God's truth against Satan's lie. As believers we have the written truth, God's holy Word, and the living truth, Jesus Christ. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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