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/

Direction Instead of Destination

Finding Encouragement Along the Way

My new book, Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion, was released this week. It has been a long journey up until this point. There have been some incredible moments along the way, but also plenty of valleys as well.

How It Started

The first words of this book were journal entries. What I was experiencing after leaving my ministry job was so absurdly ridiculous that I thought I must write it down or no one would ever believe that it was true. While chronicling my crazy circumstances in a hallway closet in my mother-in-law’s house I also realized I was learning some things as well. So, I jotted those down too.

Almost two years would go by before I shared any of this publically. I made my first post on my birthday in 2014. I put the embarrassing realities of my life out there on the interwebs and then ingloriously went to Walmart. It was very anticlimactic. I did not check my phone until I returned home. When I did, I could see what I had said struck a nerve with many people.

A New Ministry

I began meeting with people who wanted to talk after reading my blogs. At first, I thought they wanted to meet to hear my advice. After the first few meetings, I was a little perturbed. No one asked for my input. They just wanted to share their story with someone they knew could relate. In these meetings, I had found a new ministry of listening instead of preaching.

I thought if I could get to 52 blog posts I would have enough content to make a book. If my posts helped this many people in my small circle of influence, then how many more people were out there that a book could help? I finished the first draft of the book in 2015. I sent it to an editor who helped me organize the story better. But my writing still needed to develop and I struggled with people possibly misunderstanding why I would want to write this book. More than once I grew discouraged that it would ever be finished.

It Is Finished?

Eventually, the book came to a place where I could say it was ready even though it was not perfect. I do not know that I have ever worked so hard on anything in my life as I have this book. That makes the results of its success personal to me.

Through the pre-launch promotion, the book has not rocketed to best-seller status. People are not near as excited about it as I am. I began to get dismayed that all of my hard work would not lead me to the destination I desired.

An Important Reminder

This weekend, I spoke at a church. Before the message, I saw a man in a Domino’s Pizza uniform. The combination of that outfit and being at church reminded me of the season I spent delivering pizza after first leaving my job in full-time ministry. I write about it in my book and some of the funniest stories are in those chapters.

After talking to that man, I felt God remind me how far I had come. Not too long ago, I was delivering pizza and full of shame over how drastically my life had changed in such a short period of time. I felt unwanted and like a failure. Now I was having the chance to speak at a church and publish a book about what I had learned from that season of life. What I was now experiencing was not about reaching a destination, but rather taking another step in the right direction.

I can suffer from destination disease and seek to find my fulfillment in reaching a certain place instead of the progress I am making along the way. This past Sunday reminded me that my direction is more important than only living for a destination.

Check out my book on Amazon.

Believe Again Launch Day

How You Can Help Spread the Word About My New Book

Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion is now available on Amazon and Kindle.

Click to purchase on Amazon and Kindle.

I am asking you to help me launch this book so it can reach more people. Here are some things you can do.

Buy the book!

I know you will love it. You can get it here on Amazon and Kindle. Click this link to check it out on Amazon

Gift the book to someone you know it will encourage.

This is a raw, refreshing, and funny story about life outside of the church bubble. It is written so that people who need to reconnect to church would enjoy it while also encouraging believers. Did you know you can ship to other people from your Amazon account? Click here to send the book as a gift to a friend or family member. 

Leave a review on Amazon.

This is crucial. New authors cannot survive without reviews. A review on Amazon is like oxygen to this book’s success. You can leave a five-star review right now, even before reading the book. If you know me and would give me five stars, then you can put that review under my book. If you order the book and then leave a review as a verified purchaser, even better! Click here to leave a review.

Post about the book on social media and tag me @joshroberie.

Post and please use a picture of yourself holding the book if you are up for it. I’d love to see you with the book. Sharing my posts will also work. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn… It’s all helpful! Make sure you use a link to Amazon, so it is easy for your followers to get to the book. Here is that link: https://amzn.to/3A9Q2kO

Here are some sample pictures and text to help promote the book: 

“My friend Josh’s new book launches today! I know it will encourage you in your faith and inspire anyone going through a tough time. Get your copy of Believe Again: Finding Faith. You can find it on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3A9Q2kO.” 

“Make sure to get your copy of Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion. In the book, Josh tells his personal fish out of water story to show how a season working outside of full-time ministry made him a better pastor and taught him to relate to God, church, and others in a new grace-filled way. You can find it on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3A9Q2kO.” 

“My friend Josh wrote a book that will help anyone who finds themselves feeling discouraged, discarded, or doubting. It is a refreshing and honest take on overcoming obstacles in life and faith. Check out Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion on Amazon and Kindle here: https://amzn.to/3A9Q2kO.”

When Ministry Becomes Your Identity

Saying Goodbye to Full-Time Ministry

Saying Goodbye

What is the hardest thing you have ever had to do? For me, it was stepping away from my position in full-time ministry over 9 years ago. I was the youth and young adults pastor at my church, but there was so much more wrapped up in my church role than just a job title. My entire world revolved around the connection I had with my church, and for a long time, I did not think there was anything for me outside of this comfortable church ecosystem.

But how did this come to be?

As a child, my home life was unstable, but my time at church was filled with encouragement and smiles. I survived four divorces growing up. The constant family crises left me feeling insecure and disappointed. On the other hand, going to church gave me the chance to make a difference in the world. It was where I could be told how incredible I was. One place became an increasing source of pain. The other was a wellspring of security, confidence, and recognition.

Creating a False-Self

In my teenage years, I became a leader in the youth group and got a job at the church café. I would continue working there in college and then full-time after graduating until I was 30 years old. People identified me with my church as much as you would pair Starbucks with coffee or Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls. Except I am not as trendy as coffee or as good at sticking out my tongue and dunking a basketball as Jordan. Everything of significance to me, including my identity, was inside that church bubble. 

It’s a flattering thing to be wanted, but it’s also hypnotic. Serving and working at a church did this for me. I quickly got to a place where I did not want to say no. “What else can I do,” was my attitude. Then one day, I looked up, and I couldn’t say “no” even if I wanted to. 

As I grew in what I thought local church ministry should look like, I was also limited in how I could apply those changes to my current role. I thought being faithful and honoring would open up the opportunity to do things differently down the road. Instead, as I received more responsibility, I was expected to keep doing what I had always done the way I had always done it. And why wouldn’t that be the case? It makes sense that this is the way things would be, but it also helps explain why I had to step away from my job if I genuinely wanted to be the leader God wanted me to be. 

The Harsh Reality of Changing

I needed the space to change, and I could not continue to be faithful to what I was being asked to do as an employee if I knew, ultimately, I would never do things that way if I had a say in it. But this also meant leaving behind the only viable source of income for my family. Without help finding my next place, I would have to work outside of ministry in a position far below my training if I no longer wanted to work at my church.

What started as a process of just wanting to learn a new way of doing ministry became something much more significant for me. I did not realize how wounded and weary I was or how much I gained my identity from my role in full-time ministry. I did not just need to learn some new tips to build on an already strong foundation. How I viewed myself, God, and those around me required a complete overhaul. I needed to believe again. 

In the months after leaving my church job. I began to sell things I could no longer afford. We put a “for sale” sign in our yard. We also sold our luxury car. I am ashamed to say I cried when I parted with my golf clubs. I am not exactly sure what made me tear up after that Craigslist exchange. It could have been I was saying goodbye to the memories I had shared with so many friends while playing golf. It’s possible I was happy for the young guy who was getting a nice Father’s Day present. Maybe it was just my pride. 

The Shiny Tin

Long before I began working on a church staff, I started a process of relating to God, church, and others in an unhealthy way. There were patterns of hurt and shame that went unaddressed. Ultimately though, my desire to succeed and my ability to use accomplishments to cover my weaknesses fueled my cycle of religious performance. I do not blame anyone else for the negative things that took place in my life during this time. I know God was the one in control. Also, if at any point I was willing to let go of my position to more fully pursue healing, my wrong perspectives would not have infected so much of my life. If I did not change then, I would be destined to repeat the same mistakes in the future.

In the book, Where the Red Fern Grows, there is an example that illustrates my situation. The central figure in the story is a young boy who wants to train his dogs for hunting. To teach his pets, he needed to catch a raccoon on his own. Knowing raccoons are curious creatures, he places a piece of shiny tin inside a hole in a log. Then he hammers nails inside the hole with enough room for the raccoon to put its hand into the hole, but not enough to remove it with the piece of tin in his hand. 

The boy continues to check the trap every day until eventually, he finds a raccoon stuck. All the little creature had to do to escape was let go of the tin and pull his hand out. But because he wanted to both escape and keep his prize, he remained trapped until the boy killed him. The next day the boy joyfully explains to his grandfather how he caught his first raccoon. Much to his surprise, the grandfather responds by telling him to never set a trap like that again. It simply wasn’t fair. It was un-sportsman. 

I was a lot like the stuck raccoon. In His goodness, God was allowing me to choose to either hold on to the things I thought I wanted or let go to find the things in Him I really needed. I didn’t need my position, popularity, or special treatment. What I needed most was time away from working in ministry to become a better minister and, honestly, person. I did not like how judgmental and proud I had become. I was frustrated by the fact my fears kept me from being myself. I wanted to be free to pursue the change I knew I needed. 

To let go of that old world would not only mean leaving behind my home, friends, status, identity, church family, and financial security. Making this shift caused me to worry I had brought my family out into a desert with no way out. What I found next was a world much bigger and more welcoming than I could have ever imagined.

You can read what happens next in Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion. It releases on October 4 on Amazon and Kindle. You can pre-order here

Right Ladder, Wrong Building

My Path to Spiritual Burnout

Energizer Bunny for Jesus

I wasn’t your typical teenager or even the average church kid. I was pretty radical about my faith. To avoid distractions, I asked my parents to disconnect the cable in my room. I got rid of my TV completely. Instead of a gaming system for Christmas, I wanted a leather bond NIV Life Application Study Bible. At one point, I took apart my bed and started sleeping on the floor. I didn’t want to be tempted to sleep in and miss praying in the morning before school. I also thought this would be an excellent way to prepare myself in case one day I had to sleep on the ground on the mission field. All of this was done, not out of religious duty, but out of genuine love for God. 

In my senior year of high school, I started a Christian club at my Christian School. Which I know sounds silly. Especially since we already had chapels, daily devotionals, and classes that began with prayer. Our unofficial slogan was, “We put the C in B.C.S. (Bethany Christian School).” That kind of lets you know what our perspective was if you weren’t in our club.

 I also got special permission to miss school during lunchtime to speak at Christian clubs at other high schools in the area. Even sports were just another opportunity for me to share my faith. After pickup basketball games in my neighborhood, I would hold the ball and make everyone wait to play the next game until after I shared my testimony and gave an altar call. This full itinerary doesn’t include the small groups, prayer meetings, retreats, and leadership gatherings I also attended at church. You are probably starting to see that I was a little Energizer Bunny for Jesus. But how long could I keep this up?

University Missionary

I continued this same zealous routine in college. On my first day on campus, the front page of the school newspaper read, “LSU Ranked #1 Party School.” One of my friends posted this in his room like it was a badge of honor. I saw things differently. University wasn’t a place for me to prepare for a career or make memories. It was a mission field that needed to be conquered (The Seashell Message got me). 

Even when my grades suffered, I still made sure I was at church every time the doors were open. I volunteered for our church more than most people work while in college and I still worked full-time. I never stopped to ask myself if something was out of balance. At this point, my family tried to intervene. They asked me to slow down with the church involvement. I just thought they were outsiders who couldn’t understand my passion. 

Was Something Wrong?

I missed out on many typical aspects of the college experience because of the time and energy I devoted to my spiritual pursuits. For example, one weekend, a friend of mine and I decided not to eat until we had read the entire New Testament. Another time I had a ticket to LSU’s first football National Championship game in over 40 years but gave it up to go on yet another retreat.

There were benefits to some of this, but it was also very much out of balance. I limited my class load to the bare minimum to be more involved with church activities. I went to youth services and stayed out late in revival meetings many times the night before an exam. This limited class schedule caused me to go into debt even though I was on scholarship because I had to attend an extra year of school to complete my requirements to graduate. These were all sacrifices I was happy to make at the time. “Onward Christian Soldier!”

When a Good Thing Becomes a Bad Thing

After graduating from LSU, I joined the church staff. Working at the church kept my ministry plans moving forward even though I was becoming increasingly exhausted from years of a demanding religious routine. My weekly schedule had enough church meetings to fill most senior pastor’s month. I was doing good things but had the nagging feeling I wasn’t being true to myself. The busyness could only cover up the restlessness in my soul for so long. 

I had to learn that a good thing could become a bad thing when it is taken to an extreme. Healing needs to take place when we are producing out of insecurity or a need to be recognized. I did not know it at the time, but I was manifesting all of the symptoms of codependency (see the 5 attributes in this blog). I was a religious addict who was using spiritual activities to mask insecurity and wounds that needed emotional healing. Without being properly addressed, people like me end up hurting themselves and others. I experienced these consequences first-hand in multiple ways. At the time, my identity was more connected to what I did for God instead of who I was in Christ. It was hard to see that I was speeding towards a cliff of religious disappointment.

Right Ladder, Wrong Building

What started as a passionate love relationship with God had become a high-performance machine of religious production. It provided a way for me to be elevated and achieve my goals, but at what cost? I had become proud, critical, and generally spiritually unhealthy. Eventually, I would reach the top of my ladder only to realize I had leaned it against the wrong building. 

This experience was like a spiritual carbon monoxide poisoning. I wasn’t aware the air I was breathing was becoming toxic. Perhaps I was too busy to notice my first love had been exchanged for the trap of religious performance. I was naturally driven, which made it even easier for me to fall into this pit. Even though the signs were already warning me as I started my adventure in full-time ministry, it would be another seven years before I changed course.

Time to Believe Again

Eventually, I decided to make a U-turn before running into a brick wall that could have ended in disaster. For me, that looked like stepping away from full-time ministry when it appeared everything was going great. The result was over two years of working in the secular world and attending church as a member instead of a staff member or leader. You may wonder why I would make that kind of change like, but that decision forever changed how I view God, church, and people. It is from those experiences that I wrote the book Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion. 

The book is written much like this blog post. Each chapter is a short essay where I share a story from this incredibly uncomfortable but transformative season of life. Believe Again will be a great help for those who have experienced church hurt or spiritual burnout. If you know someone who has gone through something like this then please order a copy of this book and give it to them. They will laugh, identify with the story, and hopefully find inspiration to begin again in their faith.

Use this link to order Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion in paperback or Kindle edition.

What Is Believe Again About?

An Honest and Hopeful Journey to Rediscover Faith

I hope you are not expecting Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion to be a typical “preacher book.” These pages are not filled with outlines and sermons. Instead, you will find a story overflowing with surprising friendships, unconventional mentors, and lessons I never knew I needed to learn. It is one I hope you can even find yourself in as well. If you have ever grown weary in your faith, wanted to give up on going to church, or have been discouraged by the circumstances of life, then I want to encourage you to read on. 

After years on staff at the large church I grew up in, I found myself suddenly working outside of full-time ministry. This transition into the real world was startling for someone who grew up in church and never intended to do anything but work as a pastor. It was the lowest point of my life. The exact rock bottom of this unexpected change was somewhere between asking the guy I used to pay to cut my grass if I could work for him and taking orders from a convict with a knife so I could support my family. But let’s not get nitpicky with the details.

One of the best things that came from this season was the relationships I gained as a result of this unique path. Much of this book focuses on these amazing people. They are the characters in the goofy spiritual journey I was on. Many of these friends came from the new way I was living my life and where I started working. Others came along as I developed the courage to share my story publicly. The things I was experiencing were so outrageous, and such a contrast to the life I lived before, that I started writing them down. Eventually, I decided it would be a good idea to share some of these embarrassing details with a blog.

True to how I was feeling at the time I named the blog, “Fish Out of Church.” I had blogged for a long time before this, but not in a personal and vulnerable way. The more I wrote, the more people would reach out to talk about their own experiences. Connecting over our shared disappointments in life and church as well as our hopes for the future seemed to bring some healing. 

Could maybe others use some encouragement to step out of their religious comfort zone as I had done?  Is it possible you fall into this category as well? I wrote this book to help anyone who was in the same situation I was in and needs to discover a fresh perspective on faith, find hope in trying times, or could use a little help learning to trust God one day at a time.

The circumstances I share in this book made it appear my time in ministry, along with many of my hopes and dreams, were over. I was surprised to find an uncomfortable season working outside of the church would strengthen my faith and teach me to lead more like Jesus. I believe this collection of outlandish stories will help you do the same. Here is how I lost my religion, found authentic faith, and began to believe again.

Believe Again will be available on Amazon on October 4.

Find out more about the book here: https://believeagain.net

Pre-order the book at a discount and check out the Believe Again merch here: https://joshroberie.com/shop/