Believe Again Podcast Launch

I am excited to launch a new podcast called Believe Again. This interview-style podcast aims to tell real-life stories that inspire people to exchange exhausting religion for refreshing faith, discover hope to keep going when things seem impossible and realize each day is a new opportunity to trust and “believe again” in God’s promises.

I would love for you to listen, review and subscribe. If you are up for it, I have also included some promotional images you can use to spread the word on your Instagram feed and story. 

Episode one with the one and only Amy Roberie is out now, and you can listen or watch at the links below!

Audio link: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/believe-again/id1637368624

YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz5_EreWPZilljGpuiHUckA

Promotional Images for Instagram feed and story: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/i59urjhk0svylp8/AADBBaSnEtKZ3RYY4bF9iZ_Na?dl=0

Along with the podcast, I am launching a new site that will host a new blog and provide information about my book and the podcast. You can check it out here: believeagain.co.

What Does it Mean to Take Up Your Cross?

The Dangers of Follow at a Distance

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” – Jesus, Matthew 16:24 NLT

What did Jesus mean when He said, “take up your cross, and follow me?” This statement is more than just religious symbolism. It is a call to a radical new way of living your life.

Going to the Electric Chair

To fully understand the gravity of how Jesus is defining what it means to be one of his followers, we must bring the idea of the cross into modern language. In Jesus’ time, crucifixion was used for execution and humiliation. That means we could rephrase this verse to say, “If you want to be a Christian, you must give up the self-centered way of living that has become normal in society, go to the electric chair, and die just as Jesus also gave up His life.”

Seeing Jesus’s statement in this light changes how most people define being a Christian – a good person who goes to church. Instead, a Christian is defined as someone who follows Jesus so closely that even though they may never have to die for their faith physically, they are willing to die to their self-centered desires and reputation (living a life that meets the approval of others).

Following at a Distance

Defining a Christian as a good person who goes to church permits us to follow Jesus at a distance. Before Peter denied Jesus and the rooster famously crowed three times, the Bible says he “was following [Jesus] at a distance.” I do not want to become someone who follows Jesus at a distance. If Jesus is worth following, then He is worth following closely, even if that means “taking up my cross,” aka dying to my will and reputation, to do so.

This leaves us with the question, when was the last time you took up your cross to follow Jesus? When did you last die to having things your way in favor of being led by the Holy Spirit to defer to others or God’s commands? When was the last time you lost your reputation for the sake of the gospel?

The Way of the Cross

Following Jesus closely does not only mean death, but it also leads to abundant life. Not just eternal life in heaven, but a new life on earth where we enjoy intimacy with God and the blessings that follow obedience to the way of the Cross.

When Not to Slap

What to Do When You Want to Smack Back

Have you ever had a road rage moment? I recently ran into a situation that made me glad not to have a “Jesus is my Co-Pilot” bumper sticker on my car. 

Someone pulled out in front of me on a busy street. Which is annoying by itself, but then the person continued down the road 20 miles an hour below the speed limit with no sign of speeding up in sight. I am not proud of what I did next, but sometimes life gives you a reason to want to smack back. Instead of slowing down for them, I kept going and waited until the last second to go around the driver. When I passed him, he gave me the one-finger salute.

In my book, I think you get one “off.” You can have the cut-off or the flip-off, but you don’t get both. To cut someone off and then flip them off seems a little greedy. So when that person got behind me, I slowed down to the same speed he was when he cut me off. I know. That took it too far. 

Immediately after doing this, I felt horrible. I realized that I had let a wrong done to me produce a wrong response from me. I cannot control other people, but why did I lose control of myself?

The next day, I was praying and believe God gave me a phrase to use in situations like this to help keep calm. Here it is:

“I have too much to lose to sweat the small stuff and too much to gain from moving on to more important things.”

We all experience annoyances, disrespect, and people not doing the right thing, negatively impacting us. Most of these situations are resolved by just moving on. It is a mark of wisdom to overlook a fault, according to Proverbs 19:11:

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” English Standard Version

If you are like me, then you can sometimes become easily frustrated. Life’s agitations can be sandpaper that smooths out your character or sand in your shoes that irritate your journey. What I feel like I learned from my situation is that minor frustrations become big problems when we do not let them go. It is best to remember that we have more to gain from overlooking an offense than we can hope to achieve by trying to smack back.

The Other Side of Your Comfort Zone

Believe Again Devotional Part 5

Scripture

Genesis. (12:1–3 NLT)

“Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you” 

Devotional Thought

It is the questions that every child asks and every parent has to answer: “Why?”

“Buckle your seatbelt.”

“Why”

“Eat your vegetables.”

“Why”

Have you ever wondered what the “why” is behind the “why”? In other words, why do we ask, “why”? We ask, “”why,” because we want to know what is on the otherside of our obedience. We want to know the reason and the reward for our compliance when we are being asked to sacrifice or make an adjustment that is uncomfortable.

Have you noticed God does not always give us the reason up front? Sometimes we feel like we have to have everything figured out before taking a first step. In, The Grave Robber, Mark Batterson says, “We want God to reveal the second step before we take the first but faith is taking the first step before God reveals the second!”

In my book, Believe Again, I share how I stepped away from my role in full-time ministry because God had told us to go first, and then He would show us what to do next. This rang true to our hearts. We had peace about this being God’s will, but we struggled to accept the risk that came with this new course. We were hoping God would “show” first, and then we could “go.” Our fear of the future created a long season of waffling back and forth until God gave me a dream, that was really more of a memory.

In the dream, I was child playing football. When the ball was kicked to me, instead of picking it up and running with it, I fell on the ball and covered it up. I was afraid of fumbling and my teammates were screaming for me not to pick it up. When I got to the sidelined my coach asked me why I did not pick up the ball and run. 

“What if I fumbled?”  Was my excuse.

My coach replied, “What if you score a touchdown?” 

God does not want you to live your life falling on the ball when He has called you to pick up the ball and run with it.  That dream caused me to realize that I needed to live for an audience of one and obey right away.

We made a lot of sacrifices along the way that I do not know that I would have agreed to if I knew all that it would have cost me up front. I had to mature with each step of the way, and as I did, I saw the value in what I would have to give up next in order to follow God outside of my comfort zone. What I learned is that life truly begins on the otherside of my comfort zone.

Our success in life does not depend on our ability to give God the solutions we want and then believe for that to happen, but by our ability to depend on God as He leads us according to His will.

Reflection

Have you had an experience where God has asked you to leave your comfort zone in the way He was asking Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3? What happened?

How does God ask you to leave your comfort zone on a daily basis?

How would you define your spiritual comfort zone right now and what may be keeping you from not living beyond it?

What role does the fear of man play in our obedience to God? Is there any fear of what other may think that is keeping you from prioritizing what God thinks of you?

Disappointment, Burnout, and Religion

I was recently on the Bridgecast Podcast with Pastor David Lewkowicz. We met an ARC event last year, and he has been a huge blessing to have as a friend. I am so glad he asked me to be on Season 3 of his podcast to talk about Believe Again and church planting.

It was a lot of fun recording this episode. We talked about my favorite superhero (no way you guess who it is), I tell a Boudreaux and Thibodeaux joke, and David does a pretty amazing Coach O impression. You will also hear us talk about disappointment, burnout, and religion. I share some lessons learned from my book, Believe Again, and also include some stories I wish I could have included in the book.

This was a lot of fun, and I think you will enjoy listening. 

You can listen to the podcast by following this link. https://www.podpage.com/the-nook-podcast/going-from-on-fire-to-burned-out-josh-roberie/

What’s Beneath the Surface?

Believe Again Devotional Part 4

Scripture 

Psalm 55:10 (NLT) 

“Its walls are patrolled day and night against invaders, but the real danger is wickedness within the city.”

Galatians 1:13-24 (NIV)

“For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.

Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas[a] and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.

Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.”

Devotional Thought

When was the last time you had a headache or another type of pain in your body that prevented you from the normal activities of your life?  It is hard to think about anything else, until you experience relief. 

I have had headaches for as long as I can remember. Even as a child, I could hear other kids playing outside in the middle of the day, while I remained under the covers of my bed. In college, they would flare up during exams. I made changes that decreased their frequency, but the migraines never completely went away.

As I gained more responsibilities in my church job, the regularity and intensity of my migraines increased. Sometimes in meetings, I would start to see flashes then spots. I would feel lightheaded and nauseous. When this happened, I would abruptly cut my day short and go home. Hours would go by, as I lay in a dark room in agony until I was finally able to come out of the pain. Can you relate to stress impacted your life in a similar way?

These headaches became such an issue that my doctor ordered a CAT scan. Soon, I was back in the doctor’s office looking at images of something beneath the sufance that no one could see from the outside. There was a mass resting between my brain and the tip of my spine. It was an arachnoid cyst. We didn’t know if this was causing my frequent headaches—or what it meant for our future.

The cyst had apparently been there most of my life. It had grown with me through my parent’s divorce, through rejection as a teenager, and even abuse. It was there when I first became a leader in my youth group, as well as when I eventually joined the church staff. 

Allowing myself to fall into a religious routine that created unhealthy amounts of stress in my life did not appear out of anywhere either. I started leading in my church because I loved God and loved what he loved—people. Fifteen years later, I had become a Pharisee, legalist, and avoider of grace. While I was once full of compassion and excitement, over time, I had become judgmental and overbearing. This negatively impacted not only my own life but also those around me. I had no grace for myself, and therefore, none to give anyone else.

There are many things in our lives that appear to be the problem but are really only symptoms of the real issue. My headaches were the symptoms of something going on underneath the surface. The same was true for my overly religious perspective that led to burnout. I had to address the root in my soul if I was going to change the fruit in my life.

Reflection

Have you experience the frustration of a health, emotional, or spiritual issue that you hoped would get better, but only got worse as time went on? What happened?

How does Psalm 55:10 reflect how we can sometimes fail to resolve the issues of our lives?

What issue is just beneath the surface of your daily life that needs to be addressed? This is most likely that one issue connected to fear, shame, or doubt that you will hope that will go away by avoiding it, but continues to resurface.

Can you do the right things for the wrong reasons? Is this something you have ever done? 

Do you sometimes find it hard to say, “No,” even if it is something that can conflict with your priorities? I find this to be especially true for me when it is a good thing that conflicts with the best things. What about you?

How would you know if you have begun to become proud and judgmental instead of humble and grace-filled? What are some warning signs you should be aware of that would point to the need to change?

In Paul’s testimony given to us in Galatians 1:13-24 we see how it was his zeal for God that lead him to do the wrong thing. He needed to believe again in order for God to redirect his passion for the wright thing. Have you had a “believe again” experience after coming to faith and realizing your faith needed a perspective shift? 

Dare to Hope

Believe Again Devotional Part 3

Scriptures

Lamentations 3:19–24 (NLT)

“The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!’”

Romans 5:3-6 (NIV) 

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Devotional Thought

Have you ever felt discarded, overlooked, or forgotten? If so, I want you to know that your story is not finished yet. It is in these valleys, the place between our mountain peaks, that hope can be hard to come by. In situations like this it can be hard to even dare to hope. Can you relate?

In the midst of World War II much of the world was in a bitter time of conflict and suffering. It was in the middle of such hopelessness that Sir Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, gave what would become one of the most famous speeches ever delivered. In it he said, 

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

I know I find it difficult to find this kind of resolve in times of testimony. I am guessing I am not alone in this. The heros of the Bible are not strangers to that feeling as well. In Lamentations the great prophet Jeremiah laments the awful suffering of Isreal. What resonates with me about this passage is that the author does not deny the difficult times. How often we feel less spiritual for wanting to admit things are not going well, and will believe covering up the bad times will make us look more spiritual. This, assuradly, is a lie of the enemy that diverts us from the intimacy and transformation of our souls and character that result from drawing close to God in our suffering.

When all seems lost, you can know two things: this is not the end and your inheritance is in the Lord. You do not need faith strong enough to last until the end of your journey. You just need faith for today. God’s mercies “begin afresh each morning.” They “never cease.”

Orson Wells once said, “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” If you are not at the happy part, then you are probably not at the ending yet. Keep going. 

Reflection

Have you ever felt the pressure to minimalize your pain to be more spiritual? Why do you think that is? 

Is it less spiritual to admit that you are in a difficult situation or have experienced loss in the past even though you prayed for a different outcome? Do things not working out mean you have less faith than someone else? 

Lamentations 3:20 (NLT) says, “I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.” What does this tell you about the spirituality of suffering and grieving?

Why should we glory in our sufferings according to Romans 5:3-5?

Can you recall a time when you experienced God’s faithfulness even when you seem to be at the end of your rope?

Crossing Your Red Sea

Believe Again Devotional Part 2

Devotional Thought

How do you know when you need to believe again? It may not be evident at first. You might be like me. I enjoy working hard and giving my all to serve in ministry. Also, considering a different path includes a measure of risk. You could lose all you have worked for if you take the wrong path. Can you imagine what the Israelites must have thought when Moses first introduced the idea of leaving everything in Egypt behind for the uncomfortable unknown that waited for them in the wild, wild, wilderness?

I picture their initial response went something like this: “We are almost finished with the pyramids! I have a house here by the Nile. Have you seen the leeks and onions in my garden? Where will we live out in the wilderness anyway? I’ll keep making bricks. I may not be free, but at least I am safe and secure.”

That was me for a long time. I was unaware of how much I needed to hit the reset button in my spiritual life. I made excuses for my frustration and disappointment for far too long. I do not want you to experience what I did.

Sometimes external factors can bring about a need to believe again. Maybe you experienced a toxic leader that has caused you to give up on church or have encountered unpassable valleys in the form of a shocking disappointment that resulted in you doubting God’s faithfulness.

Everyone faces obstacles once they choose to leave their “Egypt.” When God called the Israelites out of Egypt, they came to the Red Sea. This land barrier caused them to be stuck in between a freedom they had never known and returning to their life of slavery. Your Red Sea is whatever is preventing you from stepping out of your comfort zone and following your heart into the uncomfortable yet satisfying life God promises. That is where real faith and your authentic-self begin.

Scripture

Joshua 2:1-11 (NIV) – 

“Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.

Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea[a] for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.”

Psalm 106:9 (NIV)

“He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led them through the depths as through a desert.”

Reflection

Have you faced a difficult situation recently? What was your spiritual response?

Is facing opposition a sign that you have made a mistake? What should be the result of a Christian facing difficulty or doubts?

How did God provide for the spies in Joshua 2:1-11 even though they faced numerous obstacles? What does this tell you about how God will provide for you (See Psalm 106:9)? 

What was on the other side of the Israelites obedience to leave Egypt? Was it all good or all bad?

Think of a time when God asked you to leave your comfort zone in an act of obedience to Him. What did you leave behind? What happened as a result of your obedience?

Believe Again Devotional

Part 1: Believe Again

Scripture

Romans 12:2 (NIV) 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Devotional Thought

What is your connectioin to church? Has it changed over the years? Is there such a thing as too involved in church? For a long time, my entire life revolved around my connection to my local church. Then, at the age of 30, when I appeared to be successfully leading in ministry, I gave up all that I had worked so hard to achieve to explore life on the other side of my religious comfort zone. The lessons I learned during that time are guiding me today, and will also be helpful to you.

As a kid, I grew up on, and sometimes under, the pews of churches. Once I had a driver’s license, I was at church more than anyone in our family – like, more than everyone else combined.

Eventually, after working at the church part-time in high school and college, volunteering 20 hours a week or more, I was rewarded with a full-time staff position in the youth ministry. I threw myself into my role with abandon. This all came with a price tag I was unaware of at the time. Seven years later, everything appeared fine on the outside, but I was burned out exhausted, and depressed. What went wrong?

Knowing you need to make a change might be clear. I have had countless conversations with people who were once eager beavers of faith that have ended up burned out, hurt, and confused. Others may be unaware of how much you need to make a change. Either way, I want to encourage you to believe again. To believe again means to discover a fresh perspective on the Christian faith, find hope in difficult times, and learn to trust God one day at a time.

I wrote this devotional to help you on that journey. Let’s get started.

Reflection

What does Paul mean in Romans 12:2 when he said to renew your mind? 

Why is it imperative to believe again in light of Romans 12:2?

Where do you think your need to believe again comes from? Is it because you are burned out, zealous but frustrated in some ways, going through a difficult time that raises doubts, have questions about grace, or have been hurt by someone claiming to speak or act on behalf of God?

Believe Again on Amazon and Kindle.

Going From On Fire to Burned Out

This week I am able to be on The Nook Podcast.

In this episode I talked about going from on fire to burned out and how to come back spiritually and emotionally stronger. We also also talk about my book, Believe Again, and I tell parts of our story I have not shared anywhere else

This was a lot of fun, and I think you will enjoy listening.

You can find to the episode wherever you listen to podcasts or by following this link. https://www.podpage.com/the-nook-podcast/going-from-on-fire-to-burned-out-josh-roberie/