Resource Round-up | Cynicism

This week we began examining the fourth enemy to our spiritual health: cynicism. We are defining cynicism as a posture of skepticism that leads us to doubt God’s presence and activity in our lives. We hope these additional resources will be helpful as you fight cynicism in your life.

Video: Are You Cynical About Prayer? by Paul Miller

In this quick two-minute video, Paul Miller (author of A Praying Life) explains how an undercurrent of cynicism in our culture negatively affects our prayer lives.

Book: A Praying Life by Paul Miller

In his book, Miller goes in heavily on cynicism as a hindrance to our prayer lives. He has a lot of insight into how we identify cynicism and overcome it through trusting Jesus.

Article: Putting Off Cynicism by Paul Maxwell

This article defines cynicism and looks at some of its biggest hidden dangers. Maxwell identifies the five components of cynicism (including its connection to apathy) and then offers five things that Christ provides to help the cynic.

Book: Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves

During this portion of the series, we will be covering how the Holy Spirit battles our cynicism by continually pointing us to trust and put our hope in Jesus. This book provides a wonderfully compelling vision of God as Trinity and how He works in our lives. Reeves calls us out of our cynicism and invites us to delight in God and in knowing Him.

Article: Warm Yourself at the Fires of Meditation by David Mathis

David Mathis makes the case for how meditating on God and His Word is a central means of grace and healing in the Christian life.

Sermon Series: “Crisis of Faith

If in the midst of your cynicism you find yourself wrestling with tough questions and doubts, we recommend checking out this sermon series by Midtown. This series takes a look at six questions or issues that hinder people from following or trusting Jesus. For more resources on these topics, check out the blogs posted for this series here.

Article: The Sin in Our Cynicism by Jonathan Parnell

This piece looks at the sinful roots that often lie underneath our cynical attitudes towards God and others. Parnell argues that cynicism is a problem, and more than that, it is sin. He challenges readers to fight cynicism by beginning to see things as they are—as God has told us they are in His Word.

Member Spotlight | Fighting Apathy


Throughout our “Personal Liturgy” series, we’re interviewing members of our church family
to hear how they are impacted by and actively fighting against the “joy killers” in their lives. This week we sat down with Vision and Teaching Pastor Adam Gibson as he shared with us how the gospel motivates him to repent against the natural drift toward apathy.

How does apathy show up in your life? 

I see apathy the most when the day is almost over and I am tired. My work day is full of thinking, reading and talking to people and my kids are young, loud and tiring. So once the kids are in bed, on most days I am exhausted. That's the place where I feel my indifference the most. At that point, I don't want to talk to anyone or have to think about anything at all. I just want to lie on the couch and turn my brain off. 

How has your understanding of the gospel specifically impacted how you deal with apathy? 

I love Jesus’ word for people stuck in apathy in Revelation 3. He describes them as being "lukewarm", neither hot nor cold. Then says: Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

Apathy often feels unavoidable to me. When I don't care, I don't care. And there is nothing I can do about it. Even if there was something I could do about it, I don't care enough to actually do it. But the truth is, Jesus has redeemed me, given me His spirit, and promised that I now have all that need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Because of this, I am able to "be zealous and repent" when I otherwise would've been stuck in my apathy. In other words, because of what Jesus has done for me, I am never a helpless victim of my own apathy. There is always something I can do about it. And in moving towards God and being honest with Him through prayer, I usually find my apathy lifting. 

What are practical steps or habits you practice to fight apathy in your life? 

Planning ahead helps with my evenings. If I can decide in advance that my evening, once the kids are in bed, will be spent on something productive, I am usually less inclined to feel like it's killing me to do anything other than lay on the couch. The problem seems to come when I have already attempted to "shut it down" for the night. From that point forward I perceive everything as a nuisance that prevents me from being able to shut off my mind. 

Where have you seen personal growth or victory in this area?

Prayer has always been an apathy killer for me. I find that talking to God about the things going on in my life helps me to have the appropriate amount of concern, neither worrying nor being apathetically indifferent.

For another great resource on apathy with lots of practical application, check out the Apathy sermon from our “What’s Killing Me” series. 

Resource Round-up | Apathy


Over the last three weeks, we’ve been examining how apathy is one of the biggest obstacles in our lives that keeps us from living the abundant life that God offers us. We hope that the sermons and “Personal Liturgy” journal challenges have been helpful in making you aware of where apathy may be stealing your joy as you begin to take steps to shift habits and practices from the “it depends” category of life to the “Spirit” category. If you’d like to dig deeper, here are a few resources specifically related to Apathy that we’d recommend. 

Book: Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren

Framed around one ordinary day, this book explores daily life through the lens of liturgy, small practices, and habits that form us. Warren sets out to show that every area of our lives is designed for communion and engagement with God. 

Book: A Theology of the Ordinary by Julie Canlis

This short booklet is comprised of three lectures that Canlis first presented to Whitworth University’s Academy of Christian Discipleship. After returning to America, Canlis was struck by how much emphasis many American Christians placed on being “radical” or “extraordinary” for God. In her lectures, Canlis meditates on the goodness (and challenge) of living our “normal” lives for God.

Sermon: “What’s Killing Me: Apathy”

In 2015, Midtown went through a series called “What’s Killing Me” which looked at the internal hang-ups and frustrations that most often steal our joy and ensnare us; we then examined how the good news of Jesus frees us from each one. 

An e-book was created to go along with this series and we’d recommend checking out the “Priorities Worksheet” and “Apathy Inventory” found on pages 28-29. There’s also a page of LifeGroup discussion questions that you could work through on your own (or with a friend) after listening to the sermon.  

Sermon: “Proverbs: Wisdom and Sloth”

As part of our “Proverbs” series last May, we examined the characteristics of the sluggard and how his life is in direct contradiction to the life God has intended for us to live. As we’ve dug into how apathy prevents us from caring about the things God calls us to care about, we feel this sermon may be worth a re-listen as you reflect on where you are tempted to fill your life with “mindless consumption.” Perhaps the sermon will expose some “weights” in your life that you need to lay aside. You can check out the study guide questions as well if you’d like to dig a little deeper after listening to the sermon. 

Article: 12 Powerful Habits by Thomas Laurinavicius

This is a non-Christian response to the problem of apathy. In a roundabout way it describes that the things we do do things to us. Laurinavicius gives his best practices for structuring his life to fight agaight drift and apathy. While we would not wholly endorse everything in the article, you may find some helpful practical tips that you can apply to your life. 

Quote: “Shepherding Your Desires” by Skye Jethani

This is a quote from a daily email devotional called “With God” by Skye Jethani. 

Our consumer society has done a remarkable thing. It has convinced us that our desires are immutable and undeniable; that we are defined by longings and are powerless to change or resist them. With some desires this is true. I cannot deny my desire for oxygen—it is hardwired into my brain, but my craving for sugar is a physical and psychological desire that can be heightened or diminished. Our culture and the economic powers that propel it, however, want us to believe that every desire is hardwired; that we are mere victims of our appetites. 

This is important for those who are apathetic toward God. If we have bought into the culture’s message, then we are left hopelessly adrift lamenting our disinterest in God and wishing we could be more “spiritual.” In this condition, the most we can hope for is some divine intervention, a lightning bolt to strike us and awaken a desire for Christ that we are powerless to stir ourselves. 

The truth is, we have far more influence over many of our desires than we want to believe. We can choose to feed or starve them; to awaken or sedate them. When I remove sweets from my diet and eat more protein my craving for sugar diminishes. Likewise, I am more motivated to exercise when I’m part of a community committed to fitness. Learning to control appetites, delay gratification, and acquire new desires is precisely what allows children to mature into adults. We all possess this ability, we’ve just forgotten.

The same applies to our life with God. If you are not motivated to seek him in this season, consider what might awaken this desire. What practices can you add to your life? Which do you need to remove? Is there a community that possesses the qualities you want for yourself? Or consider reading the Gospels again and praying that the Holy Spirit would help you see Jesus more clearly and learn to desire him anew.

A Little Help From Our Friends

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

Each of the following men have been influential in helping our staff honor Jesus in our financial management and grow in generosity to send our wealth ahead by investing in Jesus’ kingdom and mission. Check out their resources for further study, or give them some love for helping us lead and teach you.

Dave Ramsey @DaveRamsey It’s been funny throughout this series how many people have come up to me and asked me, “Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey?! He teaches a lot of the same stuff y'all are teaching in this series!” The simple answer is yes. Although I haven’t been actively listening to or learning a lot from Dave, he was absolutely instrumental in helping me learn a lot of basics of personal finance when I was in college. From nationally syndicated radio shows, to regional classes and online tools, Dave is a great resource to help you start living on a budget and be more wise and generous in giving more of your riches away.

Ronald Blue @KingdomAdvisors Ronald Blue provides clients with biblically sound wisdom on planning, investing and maximizing generosity (i.e. the longest term investment). He has worked for and started multiple successful financial businesses, including Ronald Blue & Co. (personal financial advisors) and Kingdom Advisors (training for biblical financially-minded people to assist others). He also provided the bucket illustration that we gladly stole and adapted for our sermon Wise, Wicked or Lazy. Thanks Ron!

Randy Alcorn @RandyAlcorn Randy is an author who has written many books including two that were particularly helpful for our treasure hunting series. If you’d like to read more to continue growing in your faithful, biblical financial management in light of eternity, read his book Money, Possessions & Eternity, or if you have less time to spare, the shorter version Treasure Principle.

Steve Von Fange Steve is a relatively new missionary member to the Midtown family, and his gracious generosity and wisdom have already been very helpful.  He is about to start leading a LifeGroup, provided a free day of financial training for our staff, is father to one of our resident interns and graciously offered to teach a Personal Finance Seminar for our church family in conjunction with our Treasure Hunting Series. Steve, thanks for graciously giving yourself to our family and being in on Jesus’ mission for our city!

This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.