A couple of weeks ago we hosted a baptism service. Several young men were baptized and we interviewed them on stage. They shared something stunning. They said, “I grew up in the church.” They continued to tell us that they felt like their lives fell apart. Life handed them unfair blows and wounded them. They ended up in drugs or alcohol or loneliness and two of them tried to take their own lives. So here is my question for you, “How does that even happen?” How does it happen that someone who grows up in church, around God, around all the beautiful stories, they have all the knowledge of God, and later in life, they try to kill themselves? These men grew up in church. How does that happen? I will answer that later today.

I want to ask you a question. I want to ask you; do you feel stuck? What I mean is, do you feel like who you are on the outside, the part people see, aligns with how you feel on the inside? Do you pretend when you are around people to cover what is really on the inside? Do you feel like, who you are on the outside is different than how you feel on the inside? And, do you feel like you have no idea how to change that? You’re stuck. Most people do feel stuck. And, most people who attend church don’t want you to know; but they feel stuck too.

I want to talk to you today about feeling stuck and what the solution is. I need to warn you though, the solution to feeling stuck is so simple, you will be tempted to ignore it.

Here is why we feel stuck. Our hearts are a mess. Another way to say it is, our souls are mess. To take care of our heart or soul is called being spiritual. It’s not a physical or material thing, it’s a spiritual thing. That means we know something is off on our inside and we need something to fix it.

You must understand, people, every day, are searching to fix their spiritual problem. Again, that feeling that says, “I need to fix my heart.” It’s why some people pursue success and stuff and accomplishment. Success isn’t wrong, actually I hope you would want to be the best at what you do. But, success doesn’t fix a heart problem.

It’s why some are rebellious, angry, and want revenge. It’s why some are feeding their appetites and addictions. It’s why some are gossips, jealous, easily hurt and on and on. It’s why some join churches, biker gangs, community groups and on and on. Everyone, every day, are searching to fix their spiritual problem. We are busy looking for answers in this world to fix our heart problem. This is an everybody problem, a human problem. Let me ask you, “Do you connect with this? Do you see this about yourself?”

Our lives are busy – right? You are busy changing diapers or getting kids to sports fields or watching your grand kids go all over the place. There are bills to pay, bosses to keep happy, marriages to work on, and church stuff to maintain. In all of it, your heart becomes dried up and beaten up. You just feel tired. You are on Facebook or Instagram and everyone’s life looks awesome. You compare your life with their life and you feel like you are falling behind. You may even have concluded that you are a failure or a disappointment, otherwise your life would be great. You struggle to engage your spouse or family or people.

This can result in two extremes. You would rather stay inside, drink wine and be numb. You’re stuck. Maybe you would rather be so busy, you would never have time to deal with the real issues of your heart. You’re stuck. We call that kind of living, a double life. What people see of you doesn’t align or match with who you are on the inside. It’s like an iceberg. 10% of the iceberg is seen by everyone but 90% of the iceberg is never seen. That’s us isn’t? People only see 10% of us; the good parts of us. The cleaned up part of us. But our hearts and souls however, go unseen. The junk in our hearts are still deep inside us. Untouched.

What makes it even worse is that church activity doesn’t seem to make it better. Church activity just makes us – busier. We think that we need more bible study, better worship, deeper teaching, new information on spiritual warfare, new ways to serve the poor, new church friends. We think, we need to hop and shop churches, whatever is new and exciting. Church activity might be nice, but none of it seems to transform us. Our hearts, our souls, our spirituality remains stuck. That junk in our hearts is still deep inside us. Then years later at a baptism service, we hear real people’s stories. They tell us that they grew up in church and they tried to take their own lives. What happened?

Do you feel stuck? Have you wondered why someone growing up in Church wants to kill themselves later? Do you connect with what I am saying? It’s okay to say yes because it’s a human problem. We all walk through this. I walk through this.

The problem with feeling stuck is that it shows up in our lives. That means our spiritual problem shows up into our physical reality. I want to give you 12 characteristics of being stuck. 12 ways to know you are stuck and you need spiritual transformation. 12 ways to know your heart condition is showing up in your real life.

Having little joy, feeling unhappy, frustrated, wanting to just disengage and feel numb. What makes it worse, maybe you grew up in church. So you have all the information and knowledge but it just hasn’t transformed you and you know it. You are 20, 30, 40, 50 years old and you are still stuck.

Maybe you need spiritual transformation.

You tend to be reactionary to what others do or say or think about you. As you walk through life, you find yourself reacting to what’s wrong or what people are saying. There isn’t a centeredness that allows you to be clam, instead you feel like a prisoner as you have to react and solve endless problem that pop up. What do you tell people when they talk to you about this? “I have to do it, if I don’t, who will take care of it?”

Maybe you need spiritual transformation.

Consistent feelings of being depressed, bitter or angry. Someone hurt or disappointed you so you carry that with you. That extra weight you are carrying around is tiring and wearing you out. But, you won’t let it go because you want them to feel the pain you feel.

Maybe you need spiritual transformation.

You hurt those who are closest to you because you refuse to change your selfish ways of living. Maybe you are married and you realize your spouse does more than you. Or, maybe you know what your spouse needs from you and you can never make it happen. Why is that?

Maybe you need spiritual transformation.

Many teenagers deal with this: having a quick thought or a brief emotion that is not based on reality or fact and that thought or emotion becomes their reality. “I have parents, family, school and I had a brief emotion that I am lonely, therefore, my entire life is miserable!” “I have parents, family, school and I felt a brief emotion of rejection so I have concluded, my entire life is a failure and no one likes me.” A momentary emotion becomes the foundation of my life.

Maybe you need spiritual transformation. Yes, you are in High School and you need to take the truth of scripture and apply it to your life. God is greater than any negative emotion.

Living off of other’s people’s spirituality. “Pastor, I hope you do a great job today, I really need it.”

Maybe you need spiritual transformation.

Feeling scattered, fragmented and uncentered. None stop action. None stop commitments. None stop motion. None stop excuses. Always feeling behind, tired and rushed.

Maybe you need spiritual transformation.

Physically, spiritually, and emotionally tired.

Existing with only one-inch-deep spirituality. “If God loves me then my life will be perfect, if something bad happens, then God doesn’t love me anymore.”

Praying and communing with God very little.

Not very intentional in pursuing Jesus.

Struggling or refusing to stop a ‘life on the run.’

Do you connect with these 12 symptoms? You might be having a heart problem, a spiritual problem. Do you feel stuck? What is the solution? Remember, the answer is so simple, most people ignore it.

27 Why would you ever complain, O Jacob [or put your name here], or, whine, Israel [put your name here], saying, “GOD has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? 28 Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. 29 He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. 30 For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. 31 But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. MSG Isaiah 40:27-31

The answer that seems so simple, most people ignore it, is to wait on God to get fresh strength. What does that even mean? That’s what this entire series is about. This series that we are entering into, teaches us practically, how to allow God to spiritually transform us. We invite you into this series. We will teach every week on each chapter of the book so come every Sunday because each Sunday builds on the one before. The book, 10 chapters slowly explains what it means to be transformed. The DVD series from the author, further explains each chapter. The Day by Day booklet gives you a simple structure to engage God two times a day.

Listen to this in Proverbs.

My child, listen to me and treasure my instructions. 2 Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. 3 Cry out for insight and understanding. 4 Search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure. 5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly. He is their shield, protecting those who walk with integrity. 8 He guards the paths of justice and protects those who are faithful to him. 9 Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will know how to find the right course of action every time. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. 11 Wise planning will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe. NLT Proverbs 2:1-11

Waiting on God for fresh strength is something we need to learn. It’s something we search for. It’s something we look for. It’s something you go after with passion. It’s not a quick and easy add on to your jam packed life. It’s not something you just bump into.

The reason those three men grew up in church and got caught up in the mess of life. The reason two of the three tried to kill themselves is this. They were never taught how to wait on God for fresh strength. They were taught church rules. They were taught religious rules. They were taught how to behave. They were taught church activity. They went to all the youth group pizza parties. They attended all the right Christian concerts. But, they were never taught, how to wait on God for fresh strength.

This past year, a lady contacted us. She was at rock bottom. A ton of stress. One of her kids wasn’t responding well to her. Life was just imploding. Sam and I met with her. She began to explain how her life was devastated. We talked about what it meant to wait on God for fresh strength. She said, I know but I don’t have any time in my life for that. I politely said, “You had time to meet with us.” She wasn’t too happy with me. We prayed together and she promised to start waiting on God. Months later, we get this email.

Hello guys so I just wanted to check in and realized I usually never email unless things are bad… ugh that’s bad! Actually, it has been weighing on my heart to email you guys. For starters “Ken” the last time we really spoke was in your office when I was completely at bottom again in life and couldn’t seem to get myself together- I know that at that moment that day in your office with you and Sam things changed in me, honestly something I never experienced before in my life.

I have had God moments but that day was something incredible to me. I don’t think I ever told you and I just needed you to know that things happened that day deep inside me. I will never forget that experience and I sometimes just can’t explain it but it was so Good!

For starters my inner being just feels at peace – I no longer feel at this time like I’m screaming inside and have no direction. Yes, I know every day and everything isn’t going to be always good and there will be things in life again down the road but having that moment and taking away what you both gave me that day was a change in my life! I have started habits in my life that are very good… having a relationship with God and truly believing he does love me – I’m his daughter! Psalm 139 blows me away, it takes my breath away to even imagine someone can love me that much! Anyway, I will stop with that and say thank you so much for just being there even if I was mad at you at first “Ken”…LOL

What is she saying? Those who wait on the Lord get fresh strength.

I want to be even more clear. If someone doesn’t wait on God, I can’t help them. We can pray for them, love them, teach them and care for them but we can’t give them what only God can give. And truth is, God can’t help them. Now, don’t get me wrong, God can love them and protect them but only as we wait on God do we get fresh strength from God. I’m not trying to be insensitive or edgy, I am being extremely sensitive as I share with you the truth. Are you stuck? The answer is to wait on God for fresh strength. It is so simple; most people ignore it.