Ever Been Gibbs Slapped By God?

soldier-917964_640The God Challenge.

I read this title on the first page of Jerry (Chip) MacGregor’s book, 40 Ways to Get Closer to God, and I was hooked.

I love a challenge.

Closer to God is exactly where I want to be. Being close to God seems like job one for a Christian writer (any Christian, for that matter.)

And, when I saw that the book was broken up into one short assignment a day for forty days, I figured I could do two a day and get there even faster!

Then God Gibbs slapped me in the back of the head and MacGregor agreed with Him in his foreward when he explained that there’s no shortcut to growing closer to God.


I’ll do one a day but I’m going to start right now. (eye roll)

Of course, right now I’m exhausted from attending a writer’s conference and feeling blue from a big rejection and struggling to maintain my footing as a writer but I can be kind of stupid when someone presents a challenge so, I decided to jump right in, exhausted or not.

I planned to read the first chapter and do the first assignment. But first I thought, why don’t I write about doing this?

And then, I thought, don’t be that stupid. You like being transparent but seriously not THAT transparent.

And what if the book is lame? (not likely, since, you know, he’s Chip MacGregor – the man’s got serious game in the Christian publishing world – with a capitol C.)

Or what if, more likely, the book is brilliant but I’m lame at executing the challenge?

Or what if, like other times, before the forty days is up, I’ve gotten distracted by – oh, something shiny – and I forget I was doing this but you don’t and you realize I’m not really as spiritually mature as you thought I was? (Just a hint: You might want to get over that now.)

Then, I read it again: The God Challenge. That’s cool. I have to take that. I want that. I need that. I’m going for it and writing about it will keep me accountable.

I’m not going to tell you what each day’s assignment is. For that, you’ll have to buy the book (see link below). But I will tell you the results of my attempts at the assignment. (Let’s see if I can pull that off.)

So, having only thought this far before even reading assignment one, I was pretty excited.

Then I read it. Day One.

Ugh. Seriously?

How mundane. How pedestrian. (Not the writing. The writing is straightforward and smart.) But the assignment – ugh. Piece of cake. Give me something hard, MacGregor, not this. This is – well – boring.

You, dear reader, will not think the assignment is boring. You are better people than I am. Trust me on this. You are normal Christians and the assignment for Day One is one that normal Christians will love.

But, I confess, my spiritually stunted brain said “boring.”

I hate boring. I hate boring more than I hate hard.

I’m not boring. I’m brilliant. I’m gifted. I’m talented. I’m . . . wow . . . really arrogant. I feel another Gibbs slap coming on so I try to dodge it but God is quick. Suddenly, I think this assignment seems perfect for me right now.

I hate it.

Despite a lot of encouragement at the conference, I’m feeling low. Afraid I’ll be sitting on the bench forever just watching others play on the field. Or, maybe I won’t even make the team. Maybe I’ll just be the waterboy, the one who serves the ones who really get to play.

And this assignment presses a thumb right into that nerve – that very nerve.

Now, I’m annoyed with God. Why does He do that? Why come directly at the soft underbelly of my faith? I thought He’d see me buying this book, all revved up about getting closer to Him, and be so excited He’d, I’d don’t know, give me a special little pick me up. (Ever tried to impress God with an intention? He waits you out.)

But, noooooo.

I’m supposed to think about other people right now. Seriously, this assignment isn’t even something I can just accomplish alone in my room where I’m sipping my cup of self-pity. Noooooooo. This assignment involves getting up off my chair and engaging with other humans.


I wasn’t prepared for that. Other books on growing closer to God start readers off in nice comfy chairs having quiet time. Now I’m a little annoyed with MacGregor. It always annoys me when I meet someone smarter than me . . . (than I). Whatever.

So, I do it.

It wasn’t hard and there was no brilliant flash of light in the sky when it was over. I didn’t get all goose-bumpy. It didn’t even cure my blues.

But, it did reveal something important: I need work, man, like serious work. After over 48 years of following Jesus, there is still a lot of “what about me?” in this disciple’s head. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to know that that ain’t Christ-like.

So, my original enthusiasm about The God Challenge is a little tarnished but my conviction that God led me to this book has deepened.

I’d like to believe I’m the kind of Christian who would lay my life down for another person but today I see I can barely lay my agenda down, my ambition, my to-do list without whining.

The legs of my faith are seriously out of shape. If I don’t move these muscles, they’ll atrophy so that when I’m called on to make a serious sacrifice, I’ll more likely fall on my face than rise to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

No more Gibbs slaps. I’m all over this challenge. Maybe I’ll even do Day One assignment again tomorrow along with Day Two’s assignment.

Wait a minute.

I just peeked ahead a little, glanced, really, at the first page of Day Two and I spotted the words “obesity” and “Weight Watchers.” Man, if that’s a challenge about fasting, I am really going to be . . .

well, challenged.

What about you? What aspect of our faithwalk are you avoiding? Where do you NOT want to grow? Where is God challenging you today?

“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Hebrews 12:5-6

*Note to readers, probably not every new post in the coming days will be about this book (since it’s a 40 day challenge and I don’t post every day) but if you want to follow along and take your own journey to Get Closer to God, here’s the link for the Kindle download – only $8.69 at Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Ways-Get-Closer-God-ebook/dp/B005OYUI3Q/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338150301&sr=1-1

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    The Conversation

  1. You had me at Gibbs slap. 🙂 I know you didn’t know that I was sitting here this morning feeling like a fraud (and extra wimpy). Off to Amazon I go.

  2. You’re on, Scarecrow! You try blogging about doing this challenge! We’ll swap stories.

  3. Well, you know how i feel about competition! Except my download to pc got lost somewhere, argh. You sure know how to stir stuff up tho, Lori

  4. Well find it, do it, and blog about it, baby! And, Christians don’t compete, (ah-hem) we “spur one another on to love and good deeds.” You, yourself, have quite a set of spurs, my friend. Let’s ride a ways together! 🙂

  5. I read the first challenge and , Ahem, today? Yipes, I may be awhile getting on to day 2!

  6. Well, okay, but I did Day One ON day one. No challenge to you, or anything, I’m just sayin’.

    (Of course, I should probably continue to do day one every day throughout because, for such a basic of the faith, I shouldn’t find the assignment to be such an “event.”)

  7. I’m in. Book, blog, and all.

  8. Chip says:

    Glad you liked the book, Lori. – Chip (Jerry) MacGregor

  9. Go for it, Bethany! Looking forward to your response!

    Kind of you to drop by the blog, Mr. MacGregor.

  10. Lynn Morrissey says:

    Any friend of Chip’s….wow, what a wonderful person, author, editor, and agent. Day One, alone, is a powerful challenge. With God’s help, I want to try. Thanks for letting us know about Chip’s book, Lori. And BTW, you are an insightful, authentic, and gifted writer whose book I feel will be published. God will bring the dream He’s planted in your heart to fruition. Be encouraged. God is your publisher, and He opens doors no one can close.

  11. Lynn, thanks for commenting so faithfully. I look forward to hearing your adventure with the assignments from Mr. MacGregor’s book.

    I’m certain, however, that Chip wouldn’t consider us friends. I attended two of his workshops at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference (well worth the time) and if he remembers me at all, it’s as “the woman from RI who risks her kidneys by drinking Diet Coke.” I just spotted in his book in the conference bookstore. I was weary of all the books on writing and noticing some ragged edges in my heart attitude at the conference so it seemed a wise investment.

    Thank you for the blessing of your words on my writing. I will take it as a balm to my heart.

  12. Lynn Morrissey says:

    And thank you for *your* kind words, Lori, and moreover, for your faithful, regular writing about not-so-regular topics. You are such an inspiration and example. I tend to write in spurts, so your near-daily devotion to write is extremely encouraging. Like you, I recall a writers conference, where I, too, didn’t gravitate to one more how-to tome (how to write, how to get published, how to take rejection). Like your “Chip book,” the book that drew me (though about writing) was more about the writer’s heart. It was Marlene Bagnull’s Write His Answer. It was a lifechanger for me.

    Thank you for your encouragement to take the plunge for some heart surgery via Chip’s book. Can we ever get enough?!Blessings to you on all your endeavors to touch hearts, change hearts (including yours), and to write from the heart. It will be exciting to see what God will do!

  13. This sounds like a great book. I’ll look forward to hearing your report.

    And if it’s any consolation, I think we all feel a certain degree of let down after a conference. So…let’s just admit it and toss back a cold one (sweet tea, that is!) 🙂