Monday, September 26, 2016

7 Reasons We Struggle with Spiritual Vertigo - Part 2

Last week I gave you the first 3 of 7 reasons for spiritual vertigo. Here are the remaining 4 things that can cause us to struggle with spiritual vertigo.

4. Gratitude for past blessings. Oz Guinness says that faith stands between the no longer and the not yet. He claims there is a tension between the two. We look at the no longer and exercise gratitude for what God has done in our lives. As we are grateful, faith builds within our hearts and we are able to move forward to the not yet. For example, in the Old Testament, the problem of the nation of Israel was that they never stopped to bask in the miracles performed by God—the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, manna falling from heaven—did nothing to increase their faith in God. They let each miracle stand on its own, never connecting the dots between the no longer and the not yet. I challenge you to reach back and reflect on God’s blessings in your past. It will help you overcome your spiritual vertigo.

5. Our past performance. Oftentimes, we feel God will not deliver because we do not deserve it. Scripture teaches that Satan is the accuser of the brethren. Often, when we don’t feel blessed we think it is our fault—we are not living close enough or holy enough. If it’s my fault, why should God help? Please know that God loved you so much that Christ came to die for your sins. You may think, “Yes but that was before I became a Christian. What about the sins I have committed since I became a believer?” When Jesus died on the cross 2,000 years ago, all your sins were in the future. God says, “I will remember your sins (against you) no more.” God erased your past at the cross—you need to put it behind you as well.

6. Spiritual warfare. Our faith will always face opposition. Our greatest battles are with Satan. He tempts us to sin, steals God’s Word from our hearts, places guilt over forgiven sins, leads us into sinful habits in our lives, and discourages us. Satan’s battleground is your mind. That’s why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” The key to battling Satan is to fill your mind with Scripture and resist his thoughts of defeat, discouragement, and despair the moment they enter your mind.

7. Loss of hope. In Scripture, hope is not merely wishful thinking; rather it is trusting in the promises of God. Biblical hope is knowing God has something for you in the future and you are looking forward to receiving it. Sometimes we struggle because we have allowed failure, delays, and trials to discourage us—circumstances surrounding us seem hopeless. In his book, When the Gods are Silent, Kornelis Miscotte wrote about the horrors of Auschwitz. In it, he poses the chilling question, “One can still believe in the God who permitted to happen what did happen, but can one still speak to Him?” There is still hope. Hope that God will do His will in your life; hope that God will rescue you from bondage, that He will answer your prayers; that He will deliver. The greatest gold strike in history was discovered two inches from where the last man stopped digging. God loves you and He does have a plan for you. Don’t give up!


Monday, September 19, 2016

7 Reasons We Struggle with Spiritual Vertigo

We are in a struggling world. We witness attacks in Orlando, Dallas, Paris, and London and we fear for our safety. We fear for our jobs. We are anxious about the influence of friends on our children. Often our hearts break with the disappointments in life. Our hearts are filled with doubt and our faith is challenged. Will God intervene? Does He still care? We are experiencing spiritual vertigo.

Physical vertigo is a condition where your brain cannot process what your eyes see. Spiritual vertigo happens when our faith cannot process what we see, hear, or experience. We become spiritually disconnected, off balance, and doubt our faith in God. What are the causes of spiritual vertigo?

1. Self-dependence. We have been taught to believe in ourselves, but what happens when the circumstances of life go beyond our talent, intellect or skills? We turn to God, but we are not in the habit of depending on Him. How do we pray? How do we express faith in Him in a crisis? When our children face problems or trouble, when finances are tight, when we face physical afflictions, it is difficult for us to change gears. It is foreign to us to depend on Christ. The key is to humble ourselves before the Lord. Colossians 2:6 says, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” How did we receive Christ? We humbled ourselves at the cross, realizing that we can do nothing to save ourselves. We depend totally on Christ to save us from our sins. Now, as believers, we need to humble ourselves at the feet of Christ every day, depend on Him and receive daily grace.

2. Expectations of God. We have a tendency to map out our lives, at least subconsciously. If life deviates from what we expect, we perceive God has let us down. When we have this outlook we are really saying that we know what is best for our lives. We have dreams and plans of living a certain lifestyle—a good job, plenty of money, ample free time, happy children, good health, and success. When our plans do not work out, we think God has let us down. The question is—who is in charge of your life? Who is really on the throne?

3. Misunderstanding faith. Archie Bunker once said, “Faith is believing what nobody would believe if it were not in the Bible.” When tragedy strikes our friends tell us, “Just trust God.” What does that mean? Have your friends ever experienced real problems? Sometimes we think that if we want something enough and just believe, God will deliver. It’s like we are treating God as a genie and how much we desire is the criteria for receiving. Faith, however, is simply trusting God and His Word. If God has not revealed anything through His Word or in your heart, there is no promise to claim. In order to know God’s promises and have our faith grown, we must study the Bible. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) then claim the promises of God.

Join me next week for the remaining four reasons we struggle with spiritual vertigo.


Friday, September 2, 2016

Book Signing!

I will be signing copies of my new book, Overcoming Spiritual Vertigo, at LifeWay Christian Bookstore in Orlando...stop by and chat with me!

Saturday, September 10 - 1:00 - 3:00 p.m..
Lifeway Christian Bookstore
Colonial Plaza
2522 E Colonial Drive, Orlando

Follow this link for more information:

Sometimes doubt, fear and disappointment cause Christians to lose confidence in God’s ability to work through their faith.  In Overcoming Spiritual Vertigo, Dwayne Mercer teaches how to move past disappointments and see them through God’s eyes. Mercer uses biblical examples of faith to provide practical tools for the disheartened… this book will show you how to live courageously in the light of God’s character.


Dr.Dwayne Mercer is the Lead Pastor at CrossLife Church in Oviedo, FL. In addition to Overcoming Spiritual Vertigo he has published a book on prayer, When God Says Yes. Mercer is a contributing author to several books including The Pathway to Discipleship, Living the Life, and Walk through the Word, and has written numerous articles for magazines and periodicals.

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Christian Response to a Changing Culture

Forty years ago, theologian Francis Schaeffer, said, “Whatever the world is doing today, the church will be doing seven years from now.” This statement speaks to our culture as though it were written yesterday. These are changing times. That which was considered wrong a few years ago is accepted and applauded today. Many Christians say we need to love the sinner and hate the sin. Others say we need to love the sinner and hate our own sin. However, those pithy statements do not deal with the serious matter of how Christians are to respond to the changing values in their world. I believe there is a biblical, four-step response.

A.  Stand in truth. Surrendering truth for peace or to avoid confrontation is compromising our witness. If people do not act in truth, they are at a disadvantage in life. We are to be the bearers of that truth. Trying to change the meaning of Scripture may help people feel better in the moment, but, in the long run it will hurt the ones who are walking in sin. We owe it to those we love to tell them the truth.

B.  Offer grace. Jesus came to us in truth and grace (John 1:17). When we look down on others because of their sin, we are saying that we somehow contributed to our own salvation. We come to think, “Jesus died for me but it really helps that I am a good person, born to a good family, and not involved in great sin.” When we operate in grace, we are acknowledging our own sin and our need for a Savior. This helps us to relate to others in that same grace. Grace, however, is not about ignoring sin. Grace in the New Testament does not change the way God feels about sin, only how He deals with it.

C.  Expect rejection. As Christians we will be rejected by those who feel we are judgmental. We will be called intolerant and be viewed as unreasonable or foolish. We must be prepared for this rejection or persecution.

D.  Endure. We must be willing to be misunderstood. Jesus was misunderstood and He was killed for it. But in His death He brought forth redemption. We may be persecuted and suffer for our faith, but we must have faith that God is going to bring about redemption through our circumstances. All of us want to be loved, but if being loved or accepted becomes more important than our ability to witness, we will never be able to lead people in our culture to the truth.

I hope these thoughts help.

What do you think?








Friday, August 5, 2016

Going the Distance

A remarkable thing happened at the 1968 Olympics. While competing in the marathon in Mexico City, John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania suffered cramps due to the high altitude of the city. At the nineteen-kilometer point, during the forty-two-kilometer race, Akhwari fell after being hit by some other runners while jockeying for position, cutting and dislocating his knee and severely wounding his shoulder as he hit the hard pavement. But Akhwari continued running and finished the race in great pain—and in last place.

When he finally crossed the finish line, a full hour after the winner, a cheer came from the small crowd that remained. When later interviewed, a reporter asked him, “Why did you continue? You were hurt. No one would have blamed you if you had quit.” Akhwari replied, “My country did not send me five thousand miles to start the race. They sent me five thousand miles to finish the race.”

There is something admirable and special about a person who refuses to quit amidst great adversity. We admire someone who keeps getting up after falling down time and time again. All of us go through circumstances in our lives when we’re tempted to quit, and the Akhwaris in life inspire us to keep going. We become tempted to give up in tough times because we feel hopeless. We think quitting would be the greatest feeling we could imagine, because it would rescue us from our stress and discouragement.

However, there is a high cost for quitting before our race is over.

1. Quitting damages our faith. Faith grows when we have to use it. Quitting causes us to give up before our faith can develop and produce.

2. Quitting stunts our spiritual growth. Romans 5:3-5 teaches that the trials we experience help us to mature in Christ.

3. Quitting robs God. It robs God of His glory in the world. We demonstrate with our life that there is little benefit in trusting Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

4. Quitting keeps us from receiving God’s blessing. “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)

So, how do we endure in the midst of adversity?

First, we must look behind us—remembering what God has done in our past. Hebrews 11 is filled with testimonies of those who faced trials and endured. Nothing builds faith faster than to remember with gratitude what God has already done for us.

Then we must look up. Hebrews 12:2 says, “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Keep looking to Jesus who has all power to help in every situation.

Finally, we must look ahead. Hebrews 12:3 teaches, “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Once we remember what God has done in our past, we then make Jesus the focal point of our present, so that we can more easily place our hope in Him for the future.

Remember, God did not send us here to start the race—but to finish the race!

Wanting more information about endurance? Read my new book Overcoming Spiritual Vertigo.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dealing with the Dark Side

As I have grown to understand the ways of God, I’ve found that my greatest personal battles have been with Satan. I feel the warfare when I prepare a sermon. I feel the pressure when I pray or try to minister to someone. When I face spiritual vertigo, I engage in spiritual warfare. Satan is trying to throw me off my spiritual balance.

When we think of the devil, we often think of a little red man with horns and a pitchfork. Those of the Western world generally feel reluctant when they talk about evil and Satan. If a person’s head spins around and he vomits all over the place, we might say that it’s demonic. Otherwise, we find talk of demons and devils uncomfortable and, at times, offensive.

Mass murderers and terrorism are on the rise in the world. Most recently, the killing of 5 policemen in Dallas and the eighty-six killed in Nice. These attacks followed shootings in schools, movie theaters, and the Boston Marathon bombing. We usually place the blame on bad parenting, social rejection or mental illness.

In his book The Death of Satan, Andrew Delbanco—a secular liberal—states that our society hates the word “evil” because it places a value judgment on someone else. However, he says, a gulf is opening in our intellectual center enabling us to explain evil in emotional and sociological terms.

In the movie, Silence of the Lambs, Officer Clarice Starling meets serial killer Hannibal Lecter for the first time.

Starling: “I think you can provide some insight and advance this study.

Lecter: “And what possible reason could I have to do that? 
Starling: “Curiosity.”
Lecter: “About what?”

Starling: “About why you’re here. About what happened to you?”

Lecter: “Nothing happened to me, Officer Starling. I happened. You can’t reduce me to a set of influences. You’ve given up good and evil for behaviorism, Officer Starling. You’ve got everyone in moral dignity pants—nothing is ever anybody’s fault. Look at me, Officer Starling. Can you stand to say I’m evil? Am I evil, Officer Starling?”

Our society has difficulty answering the monster’s question. The challenge is to be consistent in our thinking. Do we believe in a supernatural God? If so, why can’t we, in turn, believe in a supernatural evil?

Spiritual warfare is not only real in the church and our personal lives, but also real on a national and world scale. Are the terrorists who attack us, or the criminals who kill us, any different than Hannibal Lecter? Terrorism and murder may be the face of evil, but the real evil is supernaturally lurking behind the door.

Satan attacks a nation in order to cripple any potential for spreading the gospel, and to promote the general misery of God’s creation. When a nation turns toward evil, the church instinctively pushes back. Often, as a consequent, Christians are portrayed as intolerant, phobic, and foolish. Satan tries to turn the tables on us, so that society looks at us as the problem, not the solution. This results in the proliferation of evil and the obstruction of the gospel message. 1 Peter 5:8 teaches, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

As believers, we must pray, knowing we are in a spiritual battle for our nation, the world, and more importantly, people’s souls.

For more study on this subject, check out my new book, Overcoming Spiritual Vertigo.”

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Performance Trap

The moment you received Christ into your heart, you were born again. At that moment, God loved you as much as He ever will love you. Because His love is perfect, His love for you will never be any more or any less than at that instant you gave your life to Him. Yet, at times it is difficult to trust His love.

Some time ago, a lady came into my office, brokenhearted over marriage issues. In spite of her prayers, her husband left her for another woman. How could she cope? How could she ever trust another man? She blamed herself. She blamed God--why had He let it happen?

Like her, we have all wrestled with doubt. Often the performance of others, our own past performance, or the performance of God (an uncomfortable concept—but it’s how we often feel), leave us doubting God.

1. Our past performance. Any time adversity strikes we tend to look inward. We ask ourselves, “What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently?” Yes, we have all sinned. Yes, we would have prevented tragedy if we could have seen into the future, but we cannot. We must ask for God’s forgiveness and move on, because when we hold on to past guilt, we actually cheapen the cross. As a result, we begin to live as if the cross was only a down payment for our sins and now we are paying off the balance.
So why should God help us? Because He loves us and His grace is sufficient. Hebrews 8:12 says, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” God will not remember your sins—the past is the past. Our sins are forgiven at a high price, but, know the price has been paid.

2. The performance of others. Many of our problems and prayers center on other people. Perhaps we have to deal with a rebellious child or a difficult supervisor at work. We cannot control what others do, but how can we place our faith in God when the trials we face concern others? Will God infringe on the free will of another person just to answer our prayers? No one can fully answer that question, but I will say He can if He wants to. He is God. I believe He can draw people to repentance and place the desire in people’s hearts that they will know it is better to follow Christ than go their own way. Nothing is impossible with God.

3. God’s performance. Often our greatest struggles are the struggles we have with God. We expect attacks from Satan, but we feel our loving, heavenly Father should always come through for us. Many of our struggles have to do with our perception of God’s past performance in times of trial. Deuteronomy 8:2 teaches us that God humbles us and tests us, to see what is in our heart. “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” 

Whatever God does in our lives is for our good and His glory. As He brings us through trials we are able to humble ourselves anew at the cross, we are able to turn our attention to Christ—depending only on Him.
For more on this subject, check out my book, Overcoming Spiritual Vertigo (click on book on right).

What are your thoughts on this?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Beauty in Imperfection

I am delighted to welcome my wife, Pamela Mercer, as my guest this week. I know you will find her story inspirational.
Several years ago my life as I knew it ended with three little words. "You have cancer." The events that followed were rushed and intense. Suddenly, everything that, by definition made me a woman was taken from me.Within two months time, I lost both breasts and had a radical hysterectomy. These were moments that could define me as someone who lived by faith or who took the easy route.I could have believed I was inadequate. Instead, I made a distinct choice to believe the truth of God’s Word and my relationship with Him. He was my hero when He died for me and He was still my hero when I needed Him in extraordinary ways. He is the beauty in our imperfection both in the ugliness of life and in our humanity.

Through all of this, I realized things:

      1. I never felt like I quite measured up. There was
          always someone prettier, smarter, had more things,
          and seemed to have it easy.

     2. Despite our feelings, we have the ability to choose
         how we think and feel. We can focus on eternal  
         things, or we can focus on temporal.

     3. If we solely follow our feelings, we will live a
         miserable existence. As women, there are not  
         enough emoticons to describe our feelings in a 12-hour
         period. Our feelings run a 100-yard dash with no sense
         of direction. Yet, when we choose to follow the
         principles of God, we recalibrate our hearts toward Him.
         Our life, our relationships, and our feelings follow. Our
         heart choices will dictate our feelings. What we believe
         and who we love will change the way we live and the
         choices we make.

We can believe fleeting feelings, or we can believe all-consuming truths like this:

Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “Because of His great love for us, even when we were dead in our sin made us alive in Christ, so that, by His grace we are saved.” 

Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing."

Psalm 107:8-9 says, “Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love; for His wondrous works to the children of man. For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul, He fills with good things.”

No matter how we may feel, the Lord our God is always in our midst.

He alone can save us from our sin. He rejoices over and loves you (individually) with a never-ending love. He feels a lively or triumphant joy; rejoices exceedingly; is highly elated or jubilant over YOU!!

His love is steadfast. I love the meaning of the word steadfast. His love is loyal, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated, dependable, reliable, steady, true, constant, solid, trustworthy, firm, determined, resolute, relentless, single-minded, unchanging, unwavering, unhesitating, unfaltering, unyielding, unflinching, and uncompromising.

With truth so amazing, why do we feel unloved or inadequate? The key to remember is this: When Satan feeds our heads with lies, our heart follows. Yet, if we fill our hearts with Christ, then Satan has to go. They cannot occupy the same space. The light cancels out the darkness. Darkness must flee.

 C. S. Lewis has said about seizing truth, “We are afraid we will lose something, but we lose nothing; we are the greatest version of ourselves. We fear we will have no more personality, no more distinction. That is so untrue. The truth is, we will never be more ourselves with the fullness of our personalities and the uniqueness of our giftedness as when we wholly give ourselves over to our faithful God.”
Let truth grab hold of your imperfections to replace them with beauty!

About the Author: When Pam came to CrossLife in 1993, God gave her a vision for the women in Oviedo and surrounding areas. This passion led to developing a team from which CrossLife Women’s Ministry was created. Pam currently serves as Director of Women’s Ministry, providing consultation for new and existing women’s ministries, and her ministry has grown significantly as God has changed many lives through retreats, rallies, mentoring, and Bible Studies.


A Note from Dr. Mercer:

I refer to Pam’s story in my new book, Overcoming Spiritual Vertigo. Perhaps you are going through some trying times. Your adversity could be physical infirmity, emotional stress, or family challenges. Maybe these trials cause you to wonder where God is taking you. Let me encourage you to pick up a copy of my book (click on picture in upper right). I believe it will help build your faith and help you understand what God wants to accomplish in your life.


Friday, June 24, 2016

In The Aftermath of Terror

When I received the news of the terrorist attack in Orlando, like the rest of the nation, I was stunned. As the details unfolded, my emotions vacillated between sadness, anger, confusion, and shock. Many churches rose to the occasion with outreach and ministry. Our church led a city-wide prayer vigil for the families who lost loved ones. Other churches led blood drives and offered to help with funeral arrangements. The entire Orlando area was, and remains, very supportive of those who still suffer grief.

Our hearts continue to hurt for the families of the victims. I think we all want to help—we want to reach out to those whose lives are forever changed.  But now, in the aftermath of this horrible event, how are we, as Christians, to respond? We must begin with prayer.

1.  Pray for the victim’s families. We need to pray for those who were deeply affected by this act of violence. I remember when a dam gave way, collapsed, and a flood covered the campus of Toccoa Falls College in 1977. As a student at the college, I recall the nation mourning the loss of the 39 people who were killed. But as the lives of the nation moved on, we continued to mourn for weeks. Though we eventually became “yesterday’s news,” we students still witnessed the aftermath of the devastation and greatly missed our friends who lost their lives. When the time comes that national interest focuses elsewhere, let us remember to continue to pray for the families who will forever grieve the loss of their loved ones.

2.  Pray for our protection. I was reading an article this week concerning the many terrorist attacks that have been averted. This included 77 such would-be attacks in my home state of Florida alone. Let’s thank God that those actions were not successful. Let’s pray that God will supernaturally protect us from those who would hurt us.

3.  Pray for our enemies. In Matthew 5:43-44,  Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’” Love and grace toward those who dislike or hate us comes with difficulty. It is especially challenging when their attacks have a life-changing effect. However, as Christians we must show the same grace toward our enemies as we have received from Christ. To not do so is to testify that we had something to do with our salvation—that we somehow deserve at least a part of the grace and forgiveness that Christ has given us. Those who have truly humbled themselves at the cross, and experienced His marvelous grace, are compelled to share that grace with others.

4.  Pray for God to give you opportunities to share the gospel. Beliefs determine behavior, and behavior can often be hurtful. Jesus came both in grace and truth. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Jesus not only came in grace, but also in truth. Grace does not change how God feels about sin, only how He deals with it. We must be people of integrity—believing and living the truth of the Scriptures. The foundation of our faith is Jesus dying on the cross to save us from our sins. The cure for behavior that destroys lies in the truth of Christ. Let’s pray that God will supernaturally create something positive in the aftermath of tragedy. Pray that God will draw people to Himself (John 6:44) and give us the opportunity to speak the gospel of grace and truth.

What do you think?