How to Keep Your Fire for God from Fizzling Out!

Mentor Mama:

Today we are going to be talking about igniting our faith and keeping that fire for God alive every day. Have you ever been absolutely fired up for God one day only to have that thrilling and energizing feeling fizzle out a short time later? Perhaps it’s an impassioned church service that made us want to shout to the world our love and loyalty to God or serve others with a glad heart, but then a few days of living our everyday lives go by and we wonder to ourselves, what happened to that fire? Our guest today, Jonni Parsons, author of the new book Ignited: A Fresh Approach to Getting—and Staying—on Fire for God will be talking about what we need to change in our quest for a sustainable passionate faith using Scripture and her own personal journey.

Mentor Mama:

Jonni Nicole Parsons is an author and founder of the digital marketing company Sunday Morning Marketing, where she offers customized services to help clients build their unique brands. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications. Jonni and her husband make their home on the East Coast, where she can often be found hanging out with friends, drinking coffee, or reading a theology book. Please welcome Jonni.

Jonni Parsons:

Thank you so much for having me. I’m so glad to be here.

Mentor Mama:

We’re so excited to have you here at Coffee Bible Time. So, your book came out and I just love your enthusiasm and your own fire for the Lord. Tell us about the title of your book, Ignited, and why you chose it.

Jonni Parsons:

To be honest, I got saved about 10 years ago now—August 31st, 2012, and that first year of my faith I always referred to after I would go to a very exciting church service or I’d go to a conference I’d always refer to, I’m so ignited for God, I’d always say that. But then again, a couple of days later, it would just fade into the background and I’d wind up living as I did before. So it wasn’t always sustainable. I was really relying on external circumstances, like those conferences and those books that I was reading, and those hype services to keep me ignited for God. So, 10 years later now, over the last two years, I really wanted to dig into what ignited really meant for God, because I feel like I had gotten that wrong for a lot of my walk with the Lord. I felt like I thought I knew what ignited really meant. I thought it was all these emotions and jumping up and down for God at a church service or going on a crazy mission trip or putting my faith out into the public on social media. All of that stuff is fine, but it’s all extra, and I wanted to get down to the foundation of what ignited really meant for God because I knew that it couldn’t just be being ignited sometimes and being lukewarm other times. I knew that God had to have a better way because it said so in his Word, so, Ignited really was chosen for the title because I think with all the Scriptures that I was reading and just getting into the Word, I finally figured out what that meaning really was.

Mentor Mama:

Well, your story is amazing. You told us about becoming a believer 10 years ago. What was the process of accepting Christ? How did that look in your life?

Jonni Parsons:

I was 16 when I gave my life to Jesus. And, before that, I didn’t know God at all. I was a Catholic, kind of, you know, a “C & E” Catholic, Christmas and Easter, so I’d only go those times, but I gave my life to the Lord because of a series of events. So, I was actually born out of an affair, so my dad had been married his whole life and had an affair with my mom and I was born. I found that out later in the game, and that really shifted my worth and my identity and my purpose, and I just felt very worthless after I found that out and so, I was on this quest to fill this emptiness in my heart and in my soul and I remember before I knew anything about God, my mom would come into my room and I would say, “I have an emptiness right here,” and I would point to my stomach and I’d say, “I have this emptiness. I don’t know how to fill it.” She brought me to therapy and she tried so hard, but the only thing that was missing was the Lord. And, so many people kind of told me the Gospel on and off, and I remember laughing in their faces and rolling my eyes and saying, “there’s no way that God is real; that’s crazy.” But the Lord, he doesn’t start something that he doesn’t finish and I winded up giving up everything that I had been chasing after, and long story short, I had actually been signed to a record label. I was really determined to make it in the music world and get my name known and nothing was fulfilling me. And even though my efforts were, kind of, working in a secular sense, it still wasn’t fulfilling me. I was making money for my shows, singing and songwriting, and all of that stuff, but I’d come home and I’d still be empty. So there had to be more. So, I wind up trying Jesus, and on August 31st, 2012, I gave my life to him on my bathroom floor and I never turned back and that emptiness has never come back either. So that emptiness that I felt for so many years, it’s been 10 years, and I’ve never felt that again. Not that I haven’t had struggles, but I’ve never felt that initial emptiness where you don’t know the Lord. I don’t know how people do it without Jesus, I just don’t know, but it’s been the best 10 years ever.

Mentor Mama:

Jonni, I really appreciate your authenticity and sharing that with our readers because I know it’s hard, me being an adopted person, you do have a lot of questions and it does start to affect your sense of identity.

Jonni Parsons:

Now, on August 31st, 2012, because I got saved on that day, I actually celebrate that day more than my own birthday because that’s where I find, again, my fulfillment and that’s where my purpose comes from. My birthday actually used to make me a little sad because of where I came from and the family dynamic that I had, and now I celebrate my re-birthday and we have balloons and we have gifts, all spiritual gifts like I’ll get a new Bible and stuff like that, but it’s just been amazing walking with Jesus. I’m sure that you know exactly what I went through if you had struggles as well.

Mentor Mama:

What does a sustaining faith in God look like for you now from a day-to-day perspective?

Jonni Parsons:

That’s a good question and that’s the question that I wrestled with for two years while writing this book. What does that look like? Because it doesn’t look like just getting excited sometimes at church services and coming back home and living life like before. So, I’m an Enneagram 4, so I’m ‘feelings’ all the time. I feel things and I’m led by my emotions, and I don’t think just any Enneagram 4-person struggles with that, just in this generation we tend to chase after these temporary highs and we chase after instant gratification. And so, I felt like that was defining my faith a lot and it wasn’t sustaining my faith. So, the biggest key that I found in the Word of God was that my feelings couldn’t determine how my walk with God was going, and so, every day, even today, I woke up this morning and I’m super pregnant right now, and I didn’t want to read my Bible, at all. I just didn’t want to, and back in the day when I would be ignited one second and then lukewarm the other second, I just wouldn’t (have read it), my feelings would dictate that and now, in order to be ignited for God in the everyday and to get on fire and stay on fire with God, it’s doing those things out of obedience and feelings will follow. But I couldn’t reconcile those two because feelings are so strong and emotions are so strong and they’re not bad whatsoever, but when they determine your walk with the Lord, they can be used by the enemy, and the enemy was totally using them. So sustaining that faith for me right now looks like doing things for the Lord, even when my flesh is telling me I don’t want to. So, even when I don’t want to read my Word, even when I don’t want to pray, even when I feel like, oh, I’m too exhausted or too busy to put God first—doing it anyway. And that’s not to say that I don’t have days where I totally don’t. I still fall short like everybody else and that’s why Jesus came. But being able to make that a consistent rhythm in my life was the thing that actually ignited my faith and I think, also being ignited for God is not a feeling either and I kept on thinking it was and I was always chasing after that, like, oh, I have to have that passionate feeling and I have to feel those Holy Spirit butterflies that I would always describe them as, but you know, those will come and go. But that obedience to the Lord and staying faithful to him and, Paul even said it in the Word, he beat his body into submission for Jesus. That’s not fun. I’m not saying that following God has to feel like a chore. It’s amazing, but it’s being able to just change your mindset, and that sustaining faith has really come from being obedient even when I don’t want to be if that makes sense.

Mentor Mama:

It makes total sense, and I know from my own perspective, there have been times when you feel like you don’t feel close to God, and I always come back to, am I in God’s Word? Am I being obedient? Because, faith isn’t a feeling, but when you’re constantly in God’s Word, you’re improving that relationship with him and that itself is a joy. What tips would you have for someone about avoiding a lukewarm faith? Because I think there are a lot of people that fall into that category of lukewarm, and I know Jesus’ Word is very clear on lukewarm faith. So, how do we avoid that?

Jonni Parsons:

Yes, and I think that’s what convicted me a lot. I kept on reading the Bible and coming across those Scriptures and I would say to myself, you know, I think I might be falling into that category. I’m not really living the way that Jesus is describing in his Word, where we have that come-what-may faith. It was always a faith when I wanted to feel something, or again, when I was inspired by external circumstances, and in order to avoid that lukewarm feeling and that lukewarm faith is being able to have, for me at least, one, being able to follow God even when you don’t want to, so, being able to read your Word, being able to pray, but then also on top of that, it’s being able to get some anchor verses to hold onto and so, a lot of times when I would feel lukewarm, I would even question my salvation and I would say, “Am I even saved, to begin with?” And that was really tough for me. Being lukewarm had this spiraling effect because not only do you feel lukewarm, but then you get further and further from God and the enemy starts implanting those doubts into your head, like, am I really saved, to begin with? And I had to have anchor verses to stand on, like, in John, it says that I could never be plucked out of the Father’s hand. I even wrote them on my mirror at some point because I needed to just constantly remind myself of what the Word of God said. And so again, what I had to do as well to kind of get away from the lukewarm faith that I had, was to get back to the simplicity of the Gospel. I had made it so complicated with all of these external things. So, all of these books and these conferences and these retreats and all this stuff, and those things are not bad, but I needed that stuff to feel like I was following God the right way, and really, it’s the simplicity of the Gospel and preaching it to myself every day. I did a poll on my Instagram actually a couple of months back and I said, “Who do you think the Gospel is for?” And 90% of those people said for unbelievers, but it’s really for the believers. I need the Gospel every single day, and if I don’t get the Gospel, I am a lost puppy and God needs to keep me on a very, very short leash, and that’s just repeating the Gospel and those Scriptures to myself every day, even when my flesh doesn’t want to hear it.

Mentor Mama:

Absolutely. That really is essential and important as we all look at not wanting to be in that state of having a lukewarm faith and really, wholeheartedly, surrendering ourselves to the Lord. You’ve mentioned that many Christians go to conferences or retreats and you have this feel-close-to-God, high that you’re on and it eventually wears off. So, what advice would you have for when we feel this lackluster return to our normal lives?

Jonni Parsons:

I think that’s a really good question. I think one thing that I read in the Bible when I was studying about this stuff was the power of community. When Jesus sent people out to evangelize, he sent them off in pairs because if one person was weak, somebody else was going to bring them up. And what I realized is that I’d come back from these Passion Conferences and I’d come back from a really hyped church service on a Sunday and I didn’t have people in my day-to-day life that were encouraging me to know Jesus and encouraging me to follow him and that was a huge gap for me and that is really what contributed a lot to my lukewarm faith as well. So having even one person that you can talk Jesus with, and not just people on social media, but doing life with them, I think changed the game for me. That was really a key to sustaining that fire for him after those external things that kept me quote unquote on fire or passionate for him, but then coming back, if I didn’t have a person or a mentor or somebody to pour into me, that’s where I really found myself in trouble. I’m an introvert, big time, and I just didn’t want to invest in those relationships because having friendships is really hard. It just really is hard and it takes a lot of intentionality and a lot of effort and I just never wanted to put that in, but I realized just reading the Bible, that that was so important to keeping my faith on fire for God long-term. I needed people to fan that flame with me because if I was doing it by myself, it just wasn’t going to work long-term.

Mentor Mama:

I cannot agree with you more. I’ve been part of this mom’s ministry for 20 years and there’s nothing like the community and the accountability that you have with other people that you’re doing life with. And I tell you what, I feel like being part of that group has expanded my knowledge. Just like when you’re doing a Bible study together, you learn so much from other people, what their insights are, and what they’re learning, as well. So, it’s just so invaluable.

Jonni Parsons:

Totally. I think the last few years though, with the pandemic and everything, it’s been really hard for people to get into that community. Two years ago, when I started this book, I really saw everybody messaging me on Instagram saying, “I have this lukewarm faith, I can’t get on fire for God anymore. I can’t even read my Bible.” And it’s because they weren’t going to church and I don’t blame them because I spent a lot of time watching church online as well, but they were isolated from everybody and it really does wreak havoc on your faith when you don’t have people to do life with.

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Mentor Mama:

Tell us a little bit about how you go about studying God’s Word and how delighting in God’s Word helped ignite your passion for Christ.

Jonni Parsons:

If you just think about it, in the Bible, all these people were so on fire for the Lord. They were just so on fire and they changed the entire world for Christ. And all they had were two things, community, and the Bible. They had not even the entire Bible, as we do, they had the Old Testament. So, they just had the Word of God and they just had community and that was it. That convicted me so much because, for me, I had all these theological books. I had all these podcasts like yours, that I could listen to and grow in, I had all of these books and sermons that I could watch online, and just so much available to me. Yet I was struggling so hard with being able to maintain my faith. It just didn’t make a lot of sense to me at all. I really had to get to the simplicity of it all. The Word of God is just so important, and so, how I study the Word of God now is, I read, R.C. Sproul’s, Reformation Study Bible, it’s my favorite and so, I read a lot of his commentaries in there and that’s a big deal for me. But, a lot of times, back in the day, I used to supplement my Scripture reading, really, I wouldn’t even read the Bible, it would just be on my shelf, but I would read books about the Bible, and that never fulfilled me. It just didn’t. And so, now I have to get into the Word like if I’m doing devotionals, it doesn’t mean I’m reading a book that mentions God, I need to read the Word of God because again, that’s what the early church had and that was enough for them to sustain that faith. And so, that’s what I’m just trying to get back to that simplicity of the Word, getting into the Word. And so, every day I do read the Word even when I don’t want to, but every Saturday I have a date with Jesus. I just block everything out and it’s not even that long, it’s like 45 minutes, but I just make it between him and me and I have a date with him and usually, I’m a big journaler, so I’ll journal my feelings to the Lord and then I read his Word after and it’s like he’s journaling back to me. And it’s always this crazy part because God really speaks to you. I read this Scripture the other day, and I’ve read this Scripture a hundred times and I read it again, and it was a whole new meaning to me. When the Holy Spirit works in that, it’s so awesome. So, I read the Bible every day. Some days I don’t, but you know, that’s why Jesus came, I still fall short totally, but on Saturdays at least once a week, other than, the Sabbath, I need to give him way more of my time and turn off the distractions and kind of reset a little bit. Also, one big thing about my quiet time as well and how to keep the Lord first is daily repentance as well. I thought, in the beginning, that you repent one time in your life and you give your life to the Lord and you say your piece with him and then you just move on and it should be a daily occurrence. So, every time I read my Bible before I even read it, I confess my sins, even confess the sins that I don’t even know are in my heart because I know that there are a lot of them and I just try to get that space between me and God completely closed, to feel close to him when I’m reading his Word again. That’s a really big key part for me.

Mentor Mama:

Yes, that’s essential.

Jonni Parsons:

How about you though? I know I can learn so much from you as well. What does your quiet time look like?

Mentor Mama:

Right now, I’ve been reading through the book of Proverbs and I can’t even tell you how eye-opening it is. It’s getting those little nuggets of wisdom that I think help build more Christ-like character. It talks about how your words should be sweeter than honey. If you study that in the morning, then throughout the day you can be like, you know, think before you speak Ellen. You want your words to be sweeter than honey. And so, right now, that’s what I’m doing. I’m reading through Proverbs and in addition, Moody Publishers has a little devotional and it’s all of the professors from Moody Bible Institute that are giving the commentaries. So, for example, you read one of the Proverbs and then they teach you a more in-depth meaning about one of the verses in there. I will put a link to that. I will also put a link to R.C. Sproul and Ligonier Ministries. I’m so glad you mentioned them because he is one of my favorite Bible teachers of all time. He’s tremendous.

Jonni Parsons:

Every time I read the commentary next to the Scriptures, my mind explodes a little bit.

Mentor Mama:

What advice would you give to a new Christian who longs to be close to God but just doesn’t know how?

Jonni Parsons:

My advice to that new Christian would be, don’t make it complicated. You need the Word and you need community just like the people in the Bible did. I think when I became a new Christian, I was trying to do all of these things at once and I thought I needed to join YWAM and I thought I needed to delete all my social media and I thought I needed to do all of these things. And yes, you have to give things up for Christ, and yes, you have to do great things for God, all of that is so true, but I feel like we complicate it so much and really just strip it down and go back to the basics. God will tell you what you need to do as you go on with your life and your walk with him, and he’ll strip you of things and he’ll open doors for you to go on amazing adventures and everything, but really just focus on reading your Word and knowing your Word and memorizing your Word and understanding it and having a group of people that you can do life with that can give you new insights or pray with you and pray for you. Those are really the two things that they need and I wish I had somebody to tell me that when I first started because again, I complicated it so much and I wasted a lot of years trying to rely on all of these external circumstances that never really even helped. And again, none of those things are bad. They’re all so good, in the right context, but when you rely on them and when you’re so focused on them, that’s where you can kind of lose it a little bit and then wind up questioning your salvation in the first place. So really, it’s the Word; you have to memorize and dig into it, not just read it, but get out your Bible and get out your highlighters and start going to town. I used to watch these Sermon Jams that John Piper does, the Look at the Book, series and he will just have the words on the screen and be circling them and you know, this whole commentary, but it’s like a live commentary that you’re watching him do it in real-time and just dig into your work. Like just dig into it, print things out, and just focus on the Word of God. I can’t stress enough how important that is, and then just having that community with you as well while you’re doing it.

Mentor Mama:

You mentioned another great one there, John Piper and Desiring God, which we’ll put the link to that as well. He’s another amazing Bible teacher that can help guide you along the way. I know we talked about coming out of the pandemic there was this time when we couldn’t go to church. And I know there are probably a lot of listeners out there who are maybe struggling. They’ve maybe stayed in that stay-at-home mode. Give us a little bit more insight into the importance of actually going to church now that we can and being with other believers.

Jonni Parsons:

Yeah, I think it’s really huge, and I don’t blame anybody that doesn’t want to go back just yet. I did go back for a while, but now I’m pregnant and so, I’m being very careful and so I’m not necessarily going back, and that’s very hard by the way. It’s very hard not to have that constant community, but then again, it’s being intentional with what you do have. So, I try my best to meet with two girls every week for coffee and we just do life and we just talk Jesus. I actually reached out to a friend a couple of weeks ago and we started Lysa TerKeurst’s, 40 Days Through the Bible, so we just started that together. But again, it’s awesome because she texts me and she’s like, “hey, where are you at with this? What did you do for week three?” And so, we talk about that. So, I do encourage the reader that’s not going back to church just yet to reach out to a friend, to reach out to anybody that’s a believer. I always give myself a rule. I want somebody that pours into me and I need somebody that I can pour into. Kind of like, Paul, Timothy, and Silas? So, Silas poured into Paul and then Paul poured into Timothy in the Bible, and that’s what we need as well. I need somebody that’s pouring into me and then I need somebody to pour out into as well. So, if you’re not going back just yet, you need that community still, and it’s harder because you have to be a lot more intentional with it. But if you have the chance to go back, there’s nothing sweeter than watching people worship. My favorite part is the worship, watching people worship the Lord together, it does something to you and you feel the Holy Spirit and being able to serve at church—it’s just huge. So, if you can go back, I plead with you to go back. There is a lot of anxiety surrounding going back. I know that for sure because a lot of people message me about it. But again, being able to trust God more than you’re trusting your feelings and to step out in faith because again, the only thing that matters is the Word and the church.

Mentor Mama:

Yes. I kind of, equate it to watching a TV show in black and white. To me, that was kind of like the stay-at-home version, but going in, you’re seeing the same sort of TV show if you will, but being there is like it going into color. It’s just the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit when there are believers gathered together. And so yes, we definitely encourage meeting with the body. As we wrap things up here, Jonni, what is the overarching takeaway that you want people to know after they’ve read your book?

Jonni Parsons:

My hope and my prayer, and I’ve prayed so hard through the writing of that book is that this generation wouldn’t rely solely on their feelings to follow God, but to only rely on his Word and what he says. Again, I think this generation just chases after those temporary highs and goes after that instant gratification and that ruins a lot of our faith and it makes us lukewarm because we feel like we have to feel something all the time, and we have to feel something in order to read the Bible, and we have to feel something in order to obey. But your feelings are not everything. They’re not God. Your feelings actually have to bow down at the name of Christ, and I needed to learn that the hard way. Again, that was through obedience, even when I didn’t want to do something, and eventually, it becomes so much easier, it becomes a habit, and you want to do those things. So, my biggest thing for them to take away is to do it anyway, to love God anyway, to obey God anyway, to read the Word anyway, to turn on worship music instead of secular music in the car anyway. I just want them to follow God based on the Word of God and not just what they’re feeling in the moment because those feelings change all the time. And God never wanted us to have this roller coaster relationship with him based on what we’re feeling day to day because my gosh, does that change? Even with our hormones and just everything, it just changes, and so we just need to obey God in everyday things regardless of what we’re feeling.

Mentor Mama:

Absolutely. What a terrific message. Jonni, you are amazing. How can people find out more information about you and your new book?

Jonni Parsons:

I am on Instagram, Jonni Nicole on Instagram, and I always answer my DM’s, so that’s a big thing for me. Once a week I’ll go through all of my DM’s and I’ll make sure to either voice memo somebody back if I don’t have a lot of time. So, definitely, anybody can message me on there and I’d love to just talk Jesus with them. My website is jonninicole.com, and they can find my book there.

Mentor Mama:

Awesome. We will have all the links in our show notes. Before we go, I just want to ask you some of our favorite Bible study questions. What bible do you use and what translation is it?

Jonni Parsons:

It’s the R.C. Sproul Reformation Study Bible. I found that when I wanted to dig into the meat of Scripture. I didn’t want to be reading my teen Bible forever. I was reading the Bible that I had for years and I was like, I need to graduate to the meat of Scripture a little bit and I got the R. C. Sproul Study Bible and I’ve never put it down.

Mentor Mama:

That’s an excellent recommendation. Do you have any favorite journaling supplies or anything that you like to use to enhance your Bible study experience?

Jonni Parsons:

I’m a big journaler, but I work with journaling prompts, so I’ll just Google free journaling prompts and stuff like that for Christians, and I’ll go through those and I’ll answer all those journal prompts. That’s really big for me because if I don’t, I’m like, what am I reading in the Bible today? What am I talking to God about? I just don’t really get focused without these journal prompts to kind of center me. And so, those journal prompts really come in handy. I just find them on Google with a quick search. Also, with my quiet time, I’m obsessed with watching people’s testimonies and people spreading the Gospel on YouTube. So, Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron, it’s called, Way of the Master and they go up to random people on the street and they talk to them about the Lord and I’ll just journal and take notes of how they’re doing that, so sometimes that’s even my quiet time.

Mentor Mama:

Oh, that is so cool. I love that. Lastly, what’s your favorite app or website for bible study tools?

Jonni Parsons:

Desiring God’s Look at the Book is huge for me and being able to watch the Sermon Jams. They are like condensed sermons in like a five- or ten-minute window. It’s like the best lines from a sermon. I love that. And then the Bible App I really enjoy as well and being able to go onto it and do all the weekly Bible studies on there, that’s really very helpful for me. I recently started, New Morning Mercies by Paul Tripp. That’s been a lifeline for me actually, just to center me in the Word and actually, I was just going through something tough with my husband the other day, just like a life decision that we had to make and I opened that book and it just spoke to me so clearly. And so, God has been using that a lot for my quiet time, as well.

Mentor Mama:

Jonni, it’s been a delight to be able to spend this time with you. Thank you so much for being here today to help us see that God really wants to awaken a deep longing for him in our hearts and souls. Your book does that so well. For our readers pick up a copy of Jonni’s book, Ignited. You will find the link here. While you’re here, be sure to share your comments with us on this topic. And finally, head over to the Coffee and Bible Time website for our prayer journals that will help guide and document your prayer life at coffeeandbibletime.com. We also have two new courses available on how to pray using our prayer journal and prayer binder. Thank you so much for joining us today. We love you all. Have a blessed day.

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