Category Archives: Growth

Growing Pains, Pt. 5 | “Discipleship”

Being Stretched

One of the most difficult things that we as Christians must face is ourselves. For the most part there is no greater barrier to spiritual growth than our own preconceived and long standing beliefs–or misbeliefs. It is hard to get rid of those ideas and thoughts that have guided us throughout our lives. This is more the case for adults than for children because when a child comes to Christ they have not lived too much life. They have not experienced as much or seen as much. A child comes in innocence and through the love and structure of a church and family can learn the faith without having to replace or undo other ideas and feelings and thoughts from outside sources. The child asks this question, “Is what I have been taught the truth?” The adult on the other hand asks a different question. An adult’s question is, “Why should I change what I already believe and hold to be true?” This fundamental difference is what causes the stretching in people’s lives.

For the child it is a struggle to hold on to what he or she has been taught. For the adult it is the process of replacing already held beliefs for Christian ones. And it is through the process of discipleship that the stretching occurs. It is through the struggle of finding the truth and learning to exercise faith that we become more and more like Jesus. Continue reading Growing Pains, Pt. 5 | “Discipleship”

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Growing Pains, Pt. 4 | “Participation (Time)”

What Do You Value?

If looking at your checkbook will give you an idea of where and for what your money is being spent, what will determine where and for what you life is being spent? The simple truth, I believe, is that what we give to most is what, in the end, we value most. This is not a comment of judgment, but a reality. When I look at what I do with these few precious moments that I have been given in and on this world, I have to ask, “What good is coming of my being here?” When the time comes for all of us, and it will, when we will breath our last, will what we remember be memories of a life filled with years or years filled with life?

Being a Christian means that we have made a choice. Whether we understood it completely or not the choice was made. It was a choice to live by a certain code of morals, ethics and values. The choice was to change the way we were living our lives because we had met someone who had a better way. A vote of confidence in Jesus is a vote of no confidence in ourselves-that we cannot find the best way, let alone live that way on our own. I think that it is an injustice to new Christians not to explain this to them. If a plant is not growing or bearing fruit the assumption is that it must be dead. Continue reading Growing Pains, Pt. 4 | “Participation (Time)”

Growing Pains, Pt. 3 | “Service”

Prove It!

Caring for our neighbor is not something that can be passed by and overlooked as unimportant. Of all the things that Jesus said, the love of God and the love of neighbor are the most important. Jesus went so far as to say that upon these two commandments hang, hinge, stand, all of the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:34-40, NKJV). Everything that we, as Christians, believe and hold to be true can be summarized with these two statements. That is significant and should be treated in a way that reflects this.

While other religions in the world want to add more and more things to do, God says, “Here, just try these two.” In Christianity there is a shrinking of the requirements. And yet, the struggles that come from trying to do these two simple commandments are incredible.

As we go through this process of growing in faith we come to a very sharp and unyielding challenge. What are you doing WITH your faith? James, the brother of Jesus, tells us that faith without works is dead. We say you have faith! “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 1:18, NKJV). If nothing has happened since we have professed, confessed and have been baptized, we should be some concern. Our faith was not meant for ourselves, but for those around us. That’s why God gave it to you.

Finding A Place To Serve

Service has a way of healing the one that is doing the work. This experience does not come from watching, but from doing. We must put our hands to the plow if we are going to see the fruit of that labor. We live in a society that tells us that we can have it all-at a very reasonable price. Well, the price that God found reasonable was the blood of His Son Jesus. That means that if we are going to have it all, then we must also pay the price that has been set, and that price is our service. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1, NKJV). What God expects is not unreasonable. We must learn to acknowledge this truth whenever we are tempted to say that “God would not…” followed by something we do not want to do.

To serve is to return to where God intended for us to be from the beginning. He commanded Adam to go and tend to the garden. Adam was not created to just recline on the soft grass and eat grapes and do nothing. Adam had a job and it was to see after the creation of God. The older I get the more I realize that it is in doing the simple things of God that I find the most joy.

What Are You Doing?

If there is anything at all that is hard about being a Christian it is this-we have to do something. To sit back and kick our feet up just will not do. I believe that God demands us to be proactive. It just is not good enough to do nothing because we will not be satisfied if we are not serving.

When we look at our lives do we think that God is pleased? This is not a question meant to bring guilt. If we cannot answer this question in a way the leaves a sense of peace in our hearts, then something has to change, someone is going to have to give. I can assure you of this, God will not be the one doing the moving.

It is true that I may not be able to judge the quantity or quality of faith that you have in your life, but there is one thing that the world can do and that is it can see and consider the effect that our professed faith has had or has not had in our lives. What do they see? The better question is what should they see?

Growing Pains, Pt. 2 | “Ministry”

“Am I A Minister?”

I have had this question asked of me and I would like to say that the answer to this question is yes–and no. It is “yes” because we all have accepted the salvation that Jesus Christ died to provide for us. We all are capable and encouraged to share and speak about the faith that we now profess to live. Peter speaks about the priesthood of believers, which implies to me that there is a shared responsibility to minister.

But the answer to the question is also no. It is “no” because not all who believe in Jesus are called to be pastors, teachers or evangelists. Not everyone is called to preach and to stand in front of the church and proclaim the gospel. Not everyone is called to be a preacher because there must be a desire, a passion for the word and work of Jesus Christ, a willingness to share the Gospel. Ultimately, our willingness to be a part of the process is what God wants from us.

Not being a full-time minister does not relieve any us of our responsibility to model, tell and live the life and death of Christ in our bodies before the world for them to see.

Ministry is not an Option

After Peter denied Christ, Jesus gave him the same number of opportunities to be reconciled (John 21:15-19). Having done so Jesus sent Peter to feed His lambs. While the command to feed the lambs is found within a specific personal and historical context, I believe that it is a much more general command. One that must be listened to by all who love Jesus. To follow Jesus is to walk where He walked, doing what He did, with love and grace.

When we identify with Jesus we buy into the ministry that He came to bring. The great commission shows us this. Jesus, once He had suffered, been crucified, died and was resurrected did not leave this earth without leaving some final instructions. There is work left to be done and that work is the responsibility of all who bear His name. Do you know when we will no longer have to worry about spreading the Gospel? When we are in heaven.

Ministry is not an option for the Christian. Some may feel that they are exempt because they do not know enough or because they have not been Christians long enough. These are not valid reasons for not ministering. The most basic Christian responsibility is to love one to another and this is done through ministry.

The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians tells us that we all have spiritual gifts. So the question that each Christian should ask is why? These gifts that are different and given to all have at the root of them have one purpose–to minister other believers and to the world around us.

Learning To Say, “Yes!”

When we think of the word minister we most often think of someone who is a pastor or who, at the very least, works for a church. The word minister actually means “to serve.” There are some professional ministers that have forgotten this, but that does not give the rest of the body of Christ the right to forget. The Christians in this modern time must come back to what is most important, service. We ought not to dread doing the work of the church.

Many do not serve because they do not know where to serve. Others fail to serve because they do not know how to serve. Still others fear serving because they believe they have nothing to offer. All of these would be incorrect. Allow me one last word of encouragement. Just say “Yes!” to God and the rest will take care of itself.