Archives For Spiritual Growth

spiritual growthLet’s face it. We all get busy. Too busy. It’s been a while since I wrote my last post. Life has been a little hectic as Carol and I are building our fourth house. And I have finally moved my study into the basement even though it is unfinished. The house is nowhere near complete. But I needed to use my extra time to get the house under roof.

At any rate, I have been busy just like you. Which means that just like you I would like to be able to find simpler ways to do things.

My guess is most believers could not readily identify their spiritual growth plan. While the 7 steps I am offering are not a complete list, this is like Personal Spiritual Growth 101.

But let’s move on to the 7 steps.

  1. Bible reading. With so many plans and ideas available, you should be able to find one you like. What I like may be vastly different from what you like. However, you could simply start by reading two chapters a day from the New Testament.
  2. Prayer. I suggest you start with just 15 minutes a day. Yes, that sounds like a lot. But a very helpful way to pray is use the acrostic, ACTS. A is for adoration, C is for confession, T is for thanksgiving, and S is for supplications or specific requests.
  3. Journal. You may not want to write down your thoughts or prayers every day, but you could journal once a week. Trust me, years later you will enjoy reading what you wrote.
  4. Exercise. Yes, this needs to be a part of your spiritual growth. Your physical fitness will impact your spiritual growth.
  5. Study. This goes beyond reading to observation, interpretation, and ultimately application because we want to DO what the Bible teaches. Perhaps you can study with someone else over a cup of coffee or in a small group. If that’s not possible right now you can also study alone with some good Bible study books. Some authors to check out may be John MacArthur, Charles Stanley, or Kay Arthur.
  6. Fast. Most have never tried fasting. I assure you it will make a difference in your life. You could simply make it a habit to fast at the beginning of every year. The point is you make this a part of your spiritual growth plan.
  7. Read good books. Start with shorter books as most never finish books that are longer than 250 pages. Plus you will feel a sense of accomplishment after you finish your first book. There are many to chose from. Start with a topic or book of the Bible that interests you.

That’s it. Not complicated. But you do have to start.

Why not start today?

iStock_000000084365XSmallIf it’s true that it takes 21 days to create a new habit, then we are getting close to a critical point…that is if a new habit was formed on January 1.

Even if the new habit was formed earlier there will still be a critical point in the life of the habit.

That was the case for Daniel. About 400 years earlier King Solomon had suggested that if anyone was living in exile that they might pray facing Jerusalem. Daniel liked the idea and adopted the habit. So three times a day he opened his window and prayed toward Jerusalem.

So far so good…

Until a conspiracy was formed. Some of his colleagues simply wanted Daniel out of office. Who knows exactly why.

You’ll need to read the entire story in Daniel 6.

The point is Daniel had to decide if he was going to continue the habit. He could have prayed with the windows closed. But no doubt Daniel felt that to not pray as he always had would have been a betrayal against God.

How many of us consider our spiritual habits in a similar light?

Think about some of the basic habits we have:

  • read our Bibles
  • pray
  • attend church
  • give generously

You can add a few more perhaps. But how seriously do we take those habits? Yes, I realize that none of these bring instant gratification. Which can make it easier to let one slide.

But should we abandon those habits, would we consider it an act of betrayal towards God?

Daniel certainly did.

That’s why we read in Daniel 6:10, But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. (NLT)

Your spiritual habits matter.

But those same habits which strengthen you in the tough times, also cause you to betray God if you choose to abandon them.

Are there any spiritual habits you need to reclaim?

How many of us charge into the New Year determined that this year will be different?

So we set off and begin setting goals, some ambitious but unattainable.  Some marginal but uninspiring.  Some too far in the future and unclear.

Nonetheless, we set out writing down how this year will be different.

Weight and physical fitness.  Check.

Get out of debt.  Check.

Date night once a month.  Check.

Stop smoking.  Check.

Now that we are one week into the New Year are we satisfied that we are on track?

Or is it possible that we have overlooked the most important of all?

What about some Soul Resolutions?  Quite simply, these have to do with seemingly intangibles of life.  Although in many respects they are not.

How many of us have addressed our irritability with the proper resolution?  Oh sure, we say things like, “This year I am going to be less irritable.”  And that’s it.  We have done nothing to address the issue other than simply “Say it.”

For the record go ahead and add to the list things like moodiness, pride, obnoxiousness, resentment, and anger.  I can’t tell you how many people I know who will continue to struggle with these unless their soul changes.

All of us will continue to damage our own lives and those around us if we neglect our soul.

With that in mind let me give you five quick hits for your soul.

1. Spend fifteen minutes a day reading your Bible and praying.

2. Pray for people you know who are hurting and serve them in any way you can.  Sometimes all you can do is pray.

3. Connect with others regularly in order to share your burdens and also allow them to share theirs.

4. Give regularly and generously to the church you attend.  Yesterday at New Hope we heard the testimony of a family who began tithing two years ago and how it changed their lives.

5. Pray for those you now who do not attend church and invite them when appropriate. Once again, at New Hope I am starting a series January 12 entitled, Faith in the Midst of Pain and Suffering.  At the core it is a message about the soul.  And it will be very helpful for anyone you know.

Those five things are not hard to do.  They do not take a lot of time.  The downside is you cannot measure the health of your soul in a week’s time or sometime a year.  As I mention earlier, we have a family that now two years later one of their soul resolutions is very visible.

As the New Year gets underway in earnest this week, and you look over your aspirations for 2014, ask Am I Missing Something?

Yellow airbed in the seaFor years our family went to the beach and spent a lot of time in the water.  And of course we spent a lot of time floating on rafts.  And what do rafts do?  They drift.

Before you know it you have drifted so far up or down the beach nothing looks familiar.  Or you have drifted so far out that you begin to panic.

In life it happens all the time.  We tend to think drifting only happens at the beach. Yet that is not the case at all.

One of the most noticeable types of drifting is marital drift.

Ask any crowd of married people who is planning on getting a divorce and few hands go up.

So why is the divorce rate so high?  Because couples drift until they grow so far apart that very little is left to the marriage.  Typically by the time a couple senses that they have drifted, they have drifted so far away from the shore it’s almost impossible to paddle back in.

Let’s use the acrostic D.R.I.F.T. to describe and better understand the deadly affects of drifting.  You may be drifting now and not know it.  Here is what it looks like.

Distraction – Sometimes I feel like the king of distraction.  I’m watching a ball game and get up to go do something.  Then I get caught up in a project and do not return to the game for thirty minutes.  In marriage couples get distracted by work, kids, activities, and television.

Rearrange – Soon our priorities change.  A couple who used to go out for dinner once a week no longer makes it a priority.  Something else has taken its place.  The couple who used to take long walks has allowed time on the computer to take precedence.

Immune – Sadly it no longer bothers us.  No dinner date for six months and no sign of remorse.  Yet it is typically at this point that we live in denial which leads us to the letter f.

Fake it – However, as we venture out into the public eye everyone thinks we have a great marriage.  In fact we so good at it that when a couple breaks up it is not unusual to here, “Wow, I had not idea their marriage was in trouble.”

Top it off – In marriage it may be an affair.  In one spiritual life it may be that he bails on God.

Here’s the question.  Do people have affairs all the sudden?  Do people bail on God overnight?  Do we become obese in a week?  Does our house fall apart over the weekend?

We all know the answer, but how many of us are asking the real question:  Am I D.R.I.F.T.ing in my life, in my marriage, or in my physical health?

Often it is easier to drift than paddle back to shore.  However, it’s time to quit drifting and start paddling!