Thursday, 24 September 2020

I Interviews

Interview: Dr. Dwayne Mercer

Author of “Overcoming Spiritual Vertigo”

Q. Talk about what inspired you to write the new book.

A. Our greatest struggles are often the struggles we have with God. There is a disconnect between what we believe and how God seems to be involved in our lives. We may desire to do great things for God, but often find ourselves not having enough faith for even the everyday challenges of life. These thoughts came to fruition for me when I listened to a friend describe the overwhelming problems he was experiencing. He said, “I know God is my heavenly Father, but I believe I treat my kids a lot better than He treats His.” He was simply voicing what many others in the church are thinking. Because of this lingering doubt, some are dropping out of church and some are even turning away from their faith altogether. The title for the book originated with my personal experience of physical vertigo. Physical vertigo is a condition where your brain cannot process what your eyes are seeing. Spiritual vertigo is a state where your faith cannot process what you see, hear, or experience. You know what the Bible says, but real life seems to contradict what you believe.

Q. What would you say are the top issues people struggle with when it comes to their faith?

A. Our struggles with God are not as much about God as they are about how God relates to us. In our daily lives, we experience health issues, loss, family problems, or temporary setbacks. When we feel overwhelmed with problems and become discouraged, the difficulty is usually grounded in one of two things: 1) we do not understand how God relates to us or 2) we do not understand the biblical concept of faith. My book addresses these issues with the goal of developing a courageous, everyday faith.

Q. You list some specific circumstances that cause people to truly change. What are those?

A. Change is difficult for most people. However, if we are going to become more like Christ, change is essential. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29) There are several things that contribute to people experiencing true transformation in their lives. One, when we hurt enough from difficulties in life, we feel forced to change. Trials get our attention in a powerful way. Two, when we are overwhelmed with problems, we often become introspective. The pain of changing becomes less than the pain of remaining where we are. Three, we change when we see God at work in our lives and remember His work in us. We learn to become grateful and see the value of change. And lastly, when we experience Christ enough, we desire to change. Early on in my college years, I was challenged to read the Bible. Through my reading, I drew close to God and Him to me. A change of desire and dedication took root in my life, and I have never looked back. The change is still effective in my life today.

Q. You talk about spiritual warfare in the book, something many pastors speak little about anymore. Why did you feel that was important to include?

A. When we engage in spiritual vertigo, we are engaged in spiritual warfare. I know we often find the subject of Satan and demons uncomfortable. In his book, The Death of Satan, secular liberal, Andrew Delbanco, states that our society hates the word evil because it places a value judgment on someone else. However, in recent times, we have seen the evil of terrorism, mass killings in schools, theaters and churches. Delbanco states that we can no longer hide from the concept of evil. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”         (1 Peter 5:8) Spiritual warfare is not only seen in society, but also in our personal lives. Satan’s place of attack is our minds. Each time we doubt God, every time we become angry with God, the original thoughts are placed in our minds by our enemy. When we face adversity, Satan reinterprets the incident to cause doubt. He leads us to remember past hurts and problems and places fear in our hearts about the future. In fear, we lose our perspective of God. To consistently overcome spiritual vertigo and move forward with courageous faith, we must deal with the issue of Satan and spiritual warfare.

Q. You dive a bit into apologetics as you discuss the inerrancy of Scripture. Why is understanding biblical truths so important in today’s society?

A. Our faith is not designed to be dualistic. When we do not receive all of the Bible as God’s perfect Word, we have great difficulty believing any of it when we go through difficult times. Even the parts of the Bible we choose to believe become doubtful because we have failed to trust God completely. Not believing His Word is “without error” is saying that God is either not powerful enough, or He does not care enough to give us a reliable handbook for life. The need to believe in something does not make it necessarily true. Therefore, I used apologetics to discuss the reliability of Scripture. I look at its source, its integrity, and how Christ’s resurrection authenticates what we read.

Q. How can this book help Christians renew and reestablish their understanding of their faith?

A. I believe the reader will be helped, knowing that it is permissible to question. It is freeing to know that others are often experiencing the same doubt and desperation you are feeling. Secondly, understanding what faith is and how to increase our faith is crucial. Faith stands between the no longer and the not yet. The key to building faith in Scripture is realizing the heroes of faith consistently remembered how God worked in their lives in the past and were grateful. A thankful heart becomes the first step to future faith. Additionally, I feel the reader will reach a better understanding of their relationship with God. Since our greatest struggle is how He relates to us, a better understanding of how He is working in our lives, and His purpose for that work, will help us in our faith journey. Lastly, by seeing that our circumstances, although true, are not the whole truth, we will ultimately be inspired to embrace our faith and endure till the end—waiting for God to bless us and fulfill His promises.

Q. What can Christians do to become better disciples in a society that is becoming more hostile toward the things of God?

A. There are four steps we can take:

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.

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 begin to erroneously 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.

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 the rejection or persecution.

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.

About Dr. Dwayne Mercer:

A native of Georgia, Dwayne Mercer is a graduate of Toccoa Falls College, Southwestern Baptist, and Mid-America Baptist Theological seminaries. He is the contributing author to seven devotionals, including “The Pathway to Discipleship and “Walk through the Word.” Dr. Mercer has served as pastor of CrossLife Church in Oviedo, Florida since 1993. During that time, the church has grown from 650 to 5000 members, and over 4000 new believers have been baptized. He and his wife, Pam, have three adult children and six adorable grandchildren. For more information, visit or

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