Busy and Empty is a book that will cause you to check your loyalties. Many believers today are loyal to churches, spiritual people, and religious organizations, but have missed the purpose for which they were created…intimacy with God.
RELIGION IS NOT THE ANSWER.
Has religion worn you out? Can you be honest enough to admit it? Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Millions of Christians around the world have had their fill of meaningless religious activity, but, what else is there? How can I have an authentic relationship with an invisible God? Does God even want to be intimate with me?
The answer is “YES”. And the relationship will change you forever. Embrace the transition that will occur as you apply the truths found in Busy and Empty.
This book will help you transition from empty religion to a vibrant relationship with God.
A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Glen Whatley presently resides in Pineville, Louisiana with his wife Tylitha and two children, Todd and Mattie. Dr. Whatley is currently serving as senior pastor of The Gathering Place in Pineville, LA.
Face It. We live in a culture that hates religion and all that it stands for. People are tired of being sized up by religious people who claim that Jesus is the answer, but live like He is not. Society doesn’t want what Christians have. It seems that the people in our culture have finally given up on the church and religion.
In addition, people “in the church” are fed up with dead religion. They are tired of packaged programs and meaningless activities. Many are leaving the church and wondering why they ever attended. If they do stay connected to the church, it is usually out of some sort of obligation or desire to perpetuate family tradition.
This is certainly not God’s plan for humanity today. God wants to have an intimate relationship with every person. He wants to reach our culture and revive our churches. He wants us to discover how different He is from modern perceptions… perceptions that have been skewed by religion. He wants to walk with us through life and reveal His awesome character to us as we experience life with Him. In order for this to happen, true believers must release religion and embrace God. Those of us who have chosen to give our lives to Christ must begin to relate to Him differently. We need to know Him first hand and see His glory as He works in us and through us. When we do, our lives will be transformed and the world will begin to see the real Jesus in us.
To better understand the purpose of the coming chapters, let me define what I mean when I use the following terms:
RELIGION – In this text, I typically use the word “religion” to describe the practice of religious activities as an empty habit. These particular activities add very little if any value to our spiritual lives. They keep us busy and empty. Note: I am not in any way saying that all religious activity is useless. A person who becomes intimate with God will find meaning in all that God leads him to do.
INTIMACY – In this text I use the word “intimacy” to describe close personal fellowship with God. It involves hearing God speak, learning about His character, and responding to His love and leading. It is loving God and being loved by God.
I must begin by saying that I am so thankful for the grace of God. I experienced a personal spiritual revival when I finally sifted through the legalistic works-based religion I inherited and discovered the truth about God’s grace. His grace was certainly there all the time, but my religious filters would not let me see the truth of it. God’s grace makes no sense to religion. It doesn’t fit.
Since my own grace discovery, I have found that many, if not most Christians remain bound by legalism and miss the pleasure of living their lives in the realization of God’s grace. These believers strain to follow rules, but miss the relationship. They struggle laboriously to satisfy a righteous God when Christ has already completely satisfied Him on their behalf. They live lives full of guilt and void of peace because they feel they can never please God.
I wish that I could say with integrity that the church as a whole has tried to remedy this problem, but my experience has proven different. In my opinion, churches have made it worse. I have served as a minister in numerous churches that promote a works based righteousness. Many well-intentioned ministers fall into the trap of using works to manipulate people. If a person doesn’t go to Sunday School, three services, and the appropriate age graded ministry group, they forfeit good standing with the Father. People don’t have to be perfect, they just have to work like they are. Sadly, this kind of pressure will produce results, but I have found the results to be counterproductive to the Father’s purposes.
I want to ask you to relax in God’s favor as you read this book. God wants you to choose to have a relationship with Him. He created us with free will so we could choose to love Him and spend time with Him. He wants to show us His glory as we yield our lives to His leadership. He wants to bless us with abundant life. He wants us to be dumbfounded by His unlimited grace and astounded by the depths of His forgiveness. He wants us to know Him so well that we never question His unchanging character. He wants every believer who has reduced the Christian life to a list of duties to perform or doctrines to believe to ultimately relax and warm their souls in the reality of His love. It is not the purpose of this book to lead you on the journey to discover God’s grace. I thank God for Charles Spurgeon, Steve McVey, Jerry Bridges, and Phillip Yancey. They were more than capable guides for my personal “grace trek” and if your appetite has been whet for that journey, I recommend their books. I do, however, see a “grace discovery” as somewhat of a prerequisite to this book. I believe that most Christians will have a difficult time putting obedience into perspective if they do not truly understand the freedom we have in Christ.
The logical question that follows a grace awakening is, “Where does obedience fit in the Christian life?” If it doesn’t make me right, or keep me right with God, what does obedience do?
It is the purpose of this book and the process that it introduces to guide believers to understand obedience in the context of God’s unconditional grace. I have seen that a true understanding of God’s grace initiates a vibrant, personal, intimate relationship with God. It is my hope that you will discover in these pages the wonders of an ongoing intimate relationship with Him. I pray that you will fall in love with God and choose to obey Him out of a sincere heart desire. I hope that you will make a decision to allow God to reveal specific areas of change, and join Him in making the necessary adjustments to your life simply because you are in love with Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
May you discover the joy of obedience out of love.