Why do some people never mature in their faith?

Spiritual maturity happens over time. That’s why most metaphors for spiritual growth in the Bible are gardening metaphors.

And it follows that some people will mature at different rates than others. Some are self-learners and will seek out resources and read and grow at a much faster pace than someone who is less inclined to do so.

But there are still plenty of people who don’t seem to mature spiritually over time. Their lives look no different than their neighbors’ and coworkers’ lives. They’re not getting more generous. They’re not growing in holiness. They’re not praying or reading their Bible.

Why is that? Continue reading “Why do some people never mature in their faith?”

Be doers of the Word

This is a message delivered to group leaders based on James 1:19-27.

I’ve noticed something as I’ve talked to group leaders over the last 12 months or so that I didn’t expect. Many of you, many of us and many of the people in our groups, have this nagging sense that we’re not doing something right. That something’s off.

You meet every week with your group, but it seems like you just do study after study and talk about the same issues over and over again. You’re not sure why it bothers you now when it didn’t before, but you’re scared to bring it up because you think no one feels the same way.

As I’ve leaned in closer to understand more about what they’re feeling, I’ve come to think it’s actually something many of us are feeling as Christ followers, not just as group leaders. It’s more fundamental to our identity as Christians than our role as leaders.

But it’s not something most of us want to raise our hand and talk about, because we feel like admitting it means we’re somehow lower down the spirituality ladder. Since most of you who might feel that sense that something’s off, let me break the ice and just say it:

Many of us are not finding fulfillment in our walks with God.

We’re not sensing His Spirit, we’re not feeling His presence, we’re not more joyful than last year, we’re not loving our families better.

We’re not sure why; we just know that’s how we feel.

But like any good group leader, we think the answer’s just one more curriculum, one more book, one more Bible study away. We think that if we can just hear the right thing, listen to one more thing, that maybe it’ll get us over the hump and we’ll experience deeper spirituality.

I’ve thought a lot about this. I’ve experienced this.

Over a period of about 12 months, God revealed to me what the problem was in my life, and I believe it’s the same problem many of you might be wrestling with today. Continue reading “Be doers of the Word”

A different kind of community

This post is an edited version of a message I gave on 6/26/16. You can listen to the audio here

I read something recently that busted me, see if it gets you too. It’s a typical day in the life of a fictitious family named the Johnson’s, see if you can relate:

Bob and Karen Johnson both rise at 6:00 a.m. On this day, Bob hurries to leave the house at 7:00. He opens the door to the garage, gets in his car, and pulls out of the driveway. He spots his new neighbor taking out the trash and waves to him with a forced smile. As Bob drives down the road, he reminds himself that this neighbor has been in the neighborhood now for 2 years and he still can’t remember his name.

Karen has worked out an arrangement to be at work at 9:00 a.m. so she can drop off her two children at school on time. As Karen is making her way out of the driveway, her son announces that he left his lunch inside.

The easiest move for Karen would be to go back in through the front door, but she sees her next door neighbor, who is retired, beginning her yard work for the day. While Karen would love to catch up with her, she’s afraid if they engage in a conversation the children will be late for school, and then she’ll be late for work.

So, rather than risk being late, Karen makes her way back to the rear-entry garage, opens the door, and goes inside. She grabs the lunch, and off they go.

Fast forward to 6:30. Bob and Karen arrive home after getting the kids from school and heat up dinner. After dinner, the dishes are cleaned up, homework papers are checked, and the children get ready for bed. It is now 9:00 p.m.

At 9:15, Bob and Karen finally sit down. They are too exhausted to talk, so they turn on the TV and watch it until the news is over. Finally, at 11:30, they crawl into bed. A couple of words are exchanged, mostly business-like talk concerning tomorrow’s details.

Sound familiar?

But what busted me more was what came next, which was this:

The Johnsons appear to have a wonderful life. They own a house in a nice suburb with a two-car garage. Their house is surrounded by a six-foot high fence for privacy for their patio and grill. Bob and Karen have two children – a boy and a girl. They each have jobs and everyone is in good health.

Yet, if you could enter the hearts and thoughts of Bob and Karen Johnson, you would discover that they have dreams and fears no one else knows about. While they’ve never voiced it to anyone, there’s an increasing sense of isolation, distress, and powerlessness growing inside them. In a nutshell, the Johnson’s have done a fine job at keeping up with the Jones’s, but they still aren’t happy.

Continue reading “A different kind of community”

Tasting the Gospel

“There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, ‘Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.'”

-Charles Spurgeon on his conversion

Question: Have you ever experienced anything like that? Can you point to a time in your life where the gospel actually made sense and the dark cloud was lifted and your heart longed to do nothing more than to gaze at Christ?

Or did you just pray a prayer?

Interesting questions. But are they necessary? Continue reading “Tasting the Gospel”

What No One Tells You About Your Calling

There’s one dominant formula to discovering your calling today. It goes something like this:

Understand your gifts/personality + Find something your passionate about + Do what fulfills you = Your calling

But there’s a problem with that formula.

It’s not that all the parts are wrong. Most of them are important to discerning your calling. It’s that the whole formula is designed to serve one person – you.

Continue reading “What No One Tells You About Your Calling”