Monday, June 02, 2008

Spiritual Growth

Pastor John Siebeling from Life Church Memphis came to visit us at Celebration this weekend. He gave an amazing message on Spiritual Growth. I wanted to share with you all that God spoke to me through Pastor John. It seemed to be perfect timing (like everything). I know I will never stop growing and maturing, but it was a great summary of the past 3 years of my life with God. The myths of what I thought a Christian was, the expectations I thought I needed to attain (when really they were made by man, and finally when I heard God's voice, I learned His expectations for my life), and the simplicity (yet always a battle worth fighting) is takes to follow Him.

This is what really spoke to me:

1. Spiritual Growth is automatic when you become a Christian. Did you feel this way when you became a new believer? This was hilarious to me....I knew I needed to read the Word and go to church-but man, it wasn't until someone challenged me in my faith did I know I wasn't automatically mature. I was realizing that (like Pastor John had mentioned) I was patient and kind, possessing all the spiritual fruit of the spirit, by MYSELF, but man once someone came into my world-all that maturity and growth had to be put to the test, and I noticed that to truly be MATURE in Christ, i needed to control my natural self....ha
2. Spiritual growth is mystical and is attainable only by a select few.
This one is hilarious to me. When I first got saved, i was like a deer in headlights. I was afriad to pray in a group or ask questions. Other people had so much more knowledge and experience. I knew I wasn't like any of them or on their LEVEL...which kind of set me back for a while. But during that time of staying quiet and watching, i was given the opportunity to observe. I saw people not practice what they always preached. I heard prayers that didn't line up with God's word. I saw seeds of unforgiveness and confusion grow and flourish in people's lives....people who were so ahead of me in their walk with God. I learned that we all are human, all have our own battle, and none of us, Christian for 20 years, or brand new creation are perfect. Christianity isn't equivilant to perfection nor only for the "I've been a Christian forever" type. Beth Moore did a great bible study called "When Godly People Do Ungodly Things". I was given it during my first encounter with one of these type of Christians. It really freed me and allowed me to see myself as imperfect.
3. Spiritual Maturity can occur instantly if you find the right key. Do you hope for a quick route or magic formula to spiritual matruity?
Did you know if you read all the books in the Christian book store and listen to every message on TV, podcast on ITUNES, and complete 6 bible studies a year, it still doesn't always guarantee growth? Did you know there isn't a magical way to grow closer with God? Man I must have spent a fortune on Christian resources. I grew in knowledge, but it didn't necessarily change my heart on certain issues. God had to strip me of doing, doing, doing...and really force me to be still and wait. Strategically, and intentionally I had to choose to make the right choices regardless of feelings, hurt, or being misunderstood. I just had to spend time with Him. Grow past what I thought it meant to be close, and do what God said it took to be close with Him.
4. Spiritual growth is a personal, private matter. Why is connection to other believers so important to spiritual growth? What is likely to happen when we attempt to "go it alone?" What should we be doing as "the Day" approaches?
This was a big thing for me when I got married. I took Gary's discipline as a way to find a reason to seperate us spiritually. I needed to catch up with him, and I wanted to do in alone. Basically, it was just my pride. Things Gary had overcome, such as self control (with my mouth), communication, and patience were things I was struggling with the most. Remember when I said that I was SOOO MATURE BY MYSELF? Yeah, I totally was, until he challenged me...called me out...kept me real. It makes me laugh...I can see how far I've come. But man for a while, he must have really wanted to give up. God used him to show me how persistant God is with me as well. And that leads me to the next revie-
as we mature, we need to bring others along with us. once we over come something, we truly need to display Jesus' character to others who struggle with the same thing. let that person encounter Jesus while they talk with you...just like someone else did for you. my parents who are growing spiritually are always looking at gary and I for help and guidance. we all learn from eachother. we all are in it together. we can't let the myths of spiritual growth stop us from helping others.
anyways, this message was great, i'm sure its on our church website under resources...check it out!