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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"Worn Out by Obedience" (Ron Moore)

TITLE: Worn Out by Obedience: Recovering from Spiritual Fatigue
AUTHOR: Ron Moore
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2017, (208 pages).

There is a difference between man and machine. One does repetitive work well but not the other. There is also one similarity: Both suffer from fatigue over time, albeit in different ways. In fact, while doing good works is noble and great, without rest and renewal, people do get jaded. It is only human. For Christians, it is a calling to do good and to live out the purposes of God as stated in Ephesians 2:10. Perhaps, the key is not in non-stop discharging of ourselves but a healthy rhythm of rest, work, and play. This rhythm is not some cyclical pattern that goes nowhere. It has to be guided toward growth in Christ. That's the key thesis in this book. In other words, the main reason why people are worn out is simply because they have gotten further from the Source of all strength and good deeds: God. For author Ron Moore, this book began as a series of sermons preached at his Church for over 25 years. He calls it "being in Ziglag," a phrase that captures the essence of being lonely and worn out in the wilderness of work. Moreover, a majority of Christians have stalled in their spiritual walk at some point in their lives. How do we deal with it? How can we prepare for it when it comes?

Author Ron Moore uses a framework of three kinds of "running" with regard to spiritual fatigue. First, we can press on and and keep running hard. This is perhaps the main focus of this book, as described in the title itself. There are those who serve faithfully but often unappreciated. Many struggle under a cloud of unhealthy expectations, both inner and outer. Many also become discouraged when their efforts do not reap dividends despite the time invested. Under such a depressing mood, it is tempting to run away from it all. Some well-intentioned people decided to take a break but never came back. There is a strong tendency toward self-pity and inner justification for giving up. Doing that brings one into enemy territory. Thankfully, Moore provides a third way, that is, to run toward home. He spends quite a lot of time on this recovery process, which I think is sorely needed. Learn to see crisis as grace. How? One example is transition. Whenever there is a leadership transition, especially when most people liked the retiring pastor, a part of the congregation "retire" as well. The next pastor to take over would have to fill the very large shoes of his predecessor. Instead of seeing ourselves as the center of change and self-importance, learn to let God work His way without us. Crisis may very well be moments in which God is calling us back to Him alone. God's discipline is always one of love and constructive correction. Rely on God's strength. Let God recover us and save us from ourselves.

At the root of it all is the need to discover one's identity that is anchored on being secure in Christ. If we see spiritual fatigue as opportunities to spring toward God, it is a blessing. Otherwise, we may tend to find help in all the wrong places. Discouragement is part and parcel of doing ministry. After all, the Church is imperfect; people are no saints; and the scope of work is relentless. There are never enough people to do the work. Even the few people who are willing will need rest from time to time. What happens when the work is needed but the workers are all stressed out? Work as a team. Take time to help one another rest. Most importantly, let there be joy in service. This is one of the most important motivations for ministry. If there is no joy, there is no way one could ever run the marathon of ministry. Moore has helpfully identified the sources of discouragement and spiritual fatigue. I nod my head about the demands of service, the pressure of expectations, and the reality of disappointments. He is spot on when showing us that the way toward spiritual recovery is to get back to God, just like Jesus. Sadly, many ministry people don't practice that enough. It is time to call the faithful servant back to God, before they clamor for others to do the same. Let their relationship with God lead the way they serve.

Ron Moore is President and Bible Teacher at Back to the Bible ministries, based in Nebraska. He had served as senior pastor of The Bible Chapel for 25 years. He received his Master of Theology and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Moody Publishers and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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