Posts Tagged spiritual growth
LOVED this post by John Piper. Loved it so much that I’m just reposting it in its entirety below:
Are apps a threat to God-focus? Yes. But it works both ways. Fight fire with fire.
If you are reading your Bible on your computer or your smartphone or your iPad, the presence of the email app and the news apps and the Facebook app threaten every moment to drag your attention away from the word of God.
True. Fight that. If your finger offends you, cut it off. Or use any other virtuous violence (Matthew 11:12) that sets you free to rivet your soul on God.
But don’t take mainly a defensive posture. Fight fire with fire.
Why should we think of the Facebook app threatening the Bible app? Why not the Bible app threatening the Facebook app, and the email app, and the RSS feeder, and the news?
Resolve that today you will press the Bible app three times during the day. No five times. Ten times! Maybe you will lose control and become addicted to Bible! Again and again get a two-minute dose of life-giving Food. Man shall not live by Facebook alone.
I’m serious. Never has God’s voice been so easily accessible. The ESV app is free. TheOliveTree BibleReader app is free (Android users can get any version they want with the free YouVersion app). And so are lots of others. Let the Bible threaten your focus. Or better: Let the Bible bring you back to reality over and over during the day.
NOTE: MPOW stands for Ministry Passage of the Week, and contains a verse that comes from Bible Boot Camp, an intensive leadership development course that I am teaching this fall to about 20 growing leaders. Click here for other MPOWs.
Hosea 13:6 — Complacency With Abundance
 But I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.  It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought;  but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me.
Hosea 13 is a passage that most followers of Christ have lived and experienced, much to our regret. When things are comfortable and easy, we get proud and walk away from God.
Though we are quick to criticize the Israelites of the Old Testament for their faithlessness, we are prone to the same cycle.
Here’s how it went in the book of Judges, and it’s the same challenge we face today:
- Sin — the people sin against God.
- Servitude — they experience the enslavement and pain of their sin.
- Supplication — they cry out to God for help and deliverance.
- Salvation — God rescues them.
- Silence — they get complacent and stop trusting God. The leads back to #1.
This is why our current cultural climate can be so spiritually refreshing. Many of our comforts and things we place our security in have been and are being stripped away. It makes many people ripe for the gospel. And it makes us see our need for God.
But how will we keep our relationship with God passionate even when we’re experiencing blessing and seasons of comfort?
First, I’ve found it helpful to, as much as possible, never let yourself get to a place where everything is easy for you. Keep putting yourself in environments of risk–places where you’ll have to depend on God’s grace for what you need. It’s this process of stretching ourselves that is what makes us grow. Put yourself in a new place of service. Invest yourself in a set of relationships that will stretch you. Try something that is impossible without God’s help.
Also, do constant battle with your pride. Have a godly friend or two who will call you on your sin and point out when you’re getting a little too comfortable with yourself.
Question: What have you done to overcome this tendency towards complacency during times of blessing?
One of the most exciting, but difficult aspects of leading a growing new church is keeping the momentum of our mission going at full throttle. It’s a rare church that keeps momentum and energy going at a strong, healthy pace. In his article, “A hole in the fuel tank?” Marcus Honeysett gives ten reasons why churches stall.
Tim Chester summarizes the article like this:
1. The church forgets who we are and what we are for … When we forget that we are the community of disciples for declaring God’s greatness and making disciples, mission quickly becomes just one among many activities rather than the defining vision of who we are as a community.
2. The majority of believers are no longer thrilled with the Lord and what he is doing in their lives. When questions like ‘What is God doing with you at the moment?’ cease to be common currency, it is a sure sign of creeping spiritual mediocrity.
3. … In my view, the single biggest cause of stalled churches…is the belief that material comfort can be normative for Christians. It is the opposite of radical commitment to Christ.
4. When [Christians] see church as one among many leisure activities, usually low down the priority list. They are unlikely to see the Christian community as God’s great hope for the world and unlikely to put commitment above self-interest.
5. … Where people take no personal responsibility for their own spiritual growth a stalled church becomes more likely.
6. … When preaching, teaching and Bible study become ends in themselves rather than means to an end, something is badly wrong.
7. A church becomes afraid to ask radical questions … The danger is that people start to equate serving the church with living out the gospel. Few churches regularly evaluate every aspect of church life against their core vision.
8. Confusing Christian activities with discipleship …
9. Not understanding how to release and encourage everyone in the church to use their spiritual gifts for the building up of the church … There are two types of DNA in churches. One type of church says ‘we exist to have our personal spiritual needs met’, the other ‘we exist to impact our locality and the world with the gospel of the grace of God in Christ’. The first type is a stalled church.
10. … No church was stalled at the point that it was founded. At the beginning all churches were adventures in faith and daring risk for God. No one actively decided for comfort over risk, but at some point the mindset shifted from uncomfortable faith and daring passion for the Lord to comfortable mediocrity … The mantra of the maintenance mindset is ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. But just like buying shoes for growing children, if structures don’t take account of future growth then fellowships end up stunted and deformed.
Which of these have you seen in yourself? Which of these concern you as you think about Second Mile?
Next Saturday, a good chunk of us will be going through a seminar on How to Read and Understand the Bible. As I prepare for it, I’m trying to get a clearer grasp on what challenges we face in reading and understanding Scripture. Can you help by taking the poll below?
Today’s Spiritual Growth Principle: Develop spiritual friendships for encouragement and accountability.
Lone-ranger Christians are defeated Christians. You need people in your life. Otherwise, the Bible makes it clear that you will be in danger of falling prey to the deceitfulness of sin:
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12-13)
How have you seen God work in your life through other people?
Today’s Spiritual Growth Principle: Repent.
One major thing that prevents spiritual growth is sin that we don’t deal with. Wayne Grudem defines repentance as “A heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.” Are you harboring some kind of sin in your life? Is there an area of disobedience that you are unwilling to deal with? David describes the life-sapping nature of holding onto sin:
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknow¬ledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:2-5)
How have you seen repentance be a catalyst to spiritual growth?
Today’s Spiritual Growth Principle: Increase your spiritual risk level.
People who put themselves in more spiritually challenging situations often find that they are more aware of their need for God and his work in their life. Do you need to start serving on a Ministry Team at church where you’ll have to sacrifice and rely on God’s help to use you? Do you need to start serving needy people outside the church? Do you need to share your faith with more non-Christians who will ask you tough questions? Do you need to give more financially in a way that causes you to be increasingly dependent? Do you need to take a role where you are leading or teaching others? People who put themselves in risky, uncomfortable, and sacrificial situations often find that it is a significant catalyst for growth.
How have you seen God work in your life through risk? What risks could you take for the kingdom?