Why is "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" the number one movie in America for two weeks in a row? Critics hated it! The Turtles received a dismal 20% rating on movie critic site Rotten Tomatoes. But now these green martial arts experts have become an international mega-hit. What in the world is going on?
Simply put: Nostalgia. If you're like me, favorites from your childhood reach deep into your emotional reservoirs - at least deep enough to make you "shell" out (sorry, couldn't resist) $9 to watch overgrown amphibians navigate nunchucks. There's just something pure in the recesses of the past that we want to try and experience again.
Sometimes I get nostalgic about my faith. I remember back to when I first got serious about following Jesus when I was 15. It was awesome. I felt great. I was absolutely floored that I was so loved by such a great Savior. I was telling people how much I loved Jesus. I couldn't get enough of reading God's Word. People told me they wondered what was up because I was always smiling.
Now, at 42? Sometimes my faith feels anything but scintillating. It's not because my great Savior is any less awesome. It's because I let my response to Him get lost in my work, taking care of kids, TV, even "serving" Him. When I find myself in this cycle, there are five things I try to do to get my relationship back on track:
1) Have a conversation with Jesus. I'm not just talking about "reading the Bible". I mean opening that love letter from God up somewhere where I won't be distracted and literally talking with God through what I encounter. Like any other relationship, there's no closeness without conversation.
2) Lose the iPhone. I love me some Apple products! As cool as they are, they just scream for me to constantly pick them up and check sports scores and articles. Next thing I know, I've given more time to my favorite team than I have to the Almighty.
3) Get a notebook. There's something about journaling what God and I are discussing that makes me go deeper and think longer about what He's trying to communicate to me. Try it if you haven't! You'll be surprised.
4) Ask for help. I ask my lovely wife, Anna, to ask me how the Lord and I are doing. Because I can answer her honestly without feeling judged, it's a nice accountability nudge.
5) Mow your neighbor's lawn. It never fails: my faith re-ignites when I focus outside of myself and become more like Jesus by spending money and myself on others. Surprise a struggling family with some groceries. Pay for the person's food behind you in the drive-thru. Whatever it takes to get past yourself.
In Revelation chapter 2, Jesus told some believers "You don't love Me or each other as you did at first! Turn back to Me." Hopefully these 5 steps will be a good start.