Spiritual Growth

Spiritual Growth

  • How I Study the Bible

    How I study the Bible with a tablet and a digital pen.

  • Redeeming Tragedy

    Constructive criticism is important! If there were no negative feedback in our lives we would never know our weaknesses and learn where we need to grow.

    Two years ago today, Jenny and I posted about the greatest tragedy of our lives.

  • Agile 3: We Engage in Ministry Frequently

    Constructive criticism is important! If there were no negative feedback in our lives we would never know our weaknesses and learn where we need to grow.

    We engage in ministry frequently, preferring regular activity and connection with people to large, occasional events.

  • Agile 2: We Welcome Change

    Constructive criticism is important! If there were no negative feedback in our lives we would never know our weaknesses and learn where we need to grow.

    We welcome changes in ministry practices and plans because we will never reach perfection on this earth.

  • Agile 1: Our Highest Priority

    Constructive criticism is important! If there were no negative feedback in our lives we would never know our weaknesses and learn where we need to grow.

    Our highest priority is to glorify God by loving Him, interacting with Him, and serving Him.

  • Agile for Ministry: Overview

    Constructive criticism is important! If there were no negative feedback in our lives we would never know our weaknesses and learn where we need to grow.

    12 powerful ministry principles adapted from software developers.

  • Leadership Pipeline Conference

    Constructive criticism is important! If there were no negative feedback in our lives we would never know our weaknesses and learn where we need to grow.

    Notes from the Leadership Pipeline Conference in 2016.

  • How to Give Constructive Criticism Without Being a Jerk

    Constructive criticism is important! If there were no negative feedback in our lives we would never know our weaknesses and learn where we need to grow.

    Constructive criticism is important! If there were no negative feedback in our lives we would never know our weaknesses and learn where we need to grow.

  • How to Respond Unjust Criticism

    We can’t control what other people say to us but we can control our response.

    We can’t control what other people say to us but we can control our response.

  • How to Receive Criticism

    Some opinions are worth listening to and seriously considering. Some are worth about what they cost to share.

    Some opinions are worth listening to and seriously considering. Some are worth about what they cost to share.

  • Three Reasons to Speed Read the Bible

    Word Runner has been my primary Bible reading tool for the last few days and I’ve noticed three distinct benefits...

  • I'm Experimenting with a New Way to Read the Bible

    Yesterday I had an idea and I’ve now changed the way I’m reading the Bible each day - at least, temporarily.

  • Questions to Ask When Prioritizing Your Beliefs

     

    The follow up conversations to the Undivided message have been encouraging! It is neat to see God working in people's hearts to recognize places of miscategorized beliefs and have open conversations about disagreements over convictions and preferences.

     

    One thing I did not have time to share in the message is a series of questions that help identify where a certain belief should fall in the categories. In the last week, many people have brought up various issues to ask where they should fall among the four buckets. This video is a way to share those questions a bit of context for each one that I hope will be a helpful follow up to the message on beliefs.

  • 10 Negative Thoughts and Scripture to Correct Them

    This week in The Bridge (our Adult Bible Fellowship at church) I taught from Phil. 4:4-9 about stopping negative thinking, turning worries into prayer requests, thinking instead about positive things, and doing what we know we ought to do from Scripture. Today I'm posting 10 negative thoughts and the Scriptures that correct them. Perhaps you have some to add; I would love to see them in the comments below.

    #1 - When you think "no one loves me" God says "I love you so much I sacrificed everything for you." - Rom 5:8

    #2 - When you think "I'll never forgive myself" God says "there is no condemnation in Christ, I forgive you." - Rom 8:1; 1 John 1:9

    #3 - When you think "I am completely alone" God says "I will never fail you and I will never abandon you." Heb 13:5

    #4 - When you think "I just cannot go on" God says "My grace is what you need, My power works through your weakness." - 1 Cor 12:9

    #5 - When you think "I'll never be smart enough" God says "ask and I will give you wisdom generously." - James 1:5

    #6 - When you think "I just can't do it." God says "You can do all things through me." - Phil 4:13

    #7 - When you think "I don't know where to go in life" God says "Trust me with all your heart and I will guide you." - Prov 3:5-6

    #8 - When you think "This is impossible!" God says "All things are possible with Me." - Luke 18:27

    #9 - When you think "How am I ever going to make ends meet?" God says "I will supply all your NEEDS." - Phil 4:19

    #10 - When you think "I'm so worried and frustrated all the time" God says "cast your cares on Me." - 1 Pet 5:7
  • When You Are Absolutely Miserable

    Ever feel that way? Ever feel like everything is going wrong at once? 
     
    I did this week. Monday I came down with something really nasty. I had a painful swollen throat, fever, and numerous other symptoms I will leave to your imagination. 

    Yesterday, everything got worse. When I woke up, I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t eat either. As I prepared to leave for a trip to the doctor, my knee froze in a bent position due to some previous sports injuries so I couldn’t extend my leg to walk. This has only happened three or four times in the last several years, but it is incredibly painful.

    I needed to get to the doctor so I crawled to the front door and, after checking to make sure no neighbors were watching, I got into a football crouch and waddled to the car. Yes, I’m sure it looked hilarious. On my way to the doctor I called ahead about a dozen times to see if they could bring out crutches or a wheel chair but there was no response. 

    Fortunately, I was able to reach another clinic where I was met with a wheelchair, tested, and given prescriptions. 
    Then the car wouldn’t start – it wouldn’t even turn over. Just to recap: I can’t walk, I’m in a lot of pain, I feel miserable and feverish, my throat is swollen, I can’t eat, I can barely drink but it’s painful, … and the car won’t start. Awesome. Oh, and I can’t take the meds yet because I need to drive home!

    I was absolutely miserable.

    Ever feel that way?

    There are two ways to respond. We can get angry and bitter for the way we feel, or we can trust God to do what is best. Given those options, I’m sure it is obvious what I’m going to say next: Trust God to do what is best!

    How predictable. We both know that is the right answer. But even if we are trusting God to do what is best, what are we really trusting Him for? Who determines what is best?

    We tend to think we know what is best. The best thing for me is to get better and be able to walk again today, right? We’ll come back to that in minute.

    This isn’t the first time I’ve been hit by a “perfect storm” of calamities. Each time I’m reminded of Job. Job was a faithful follower to God and a wealthy man with a great family. He lost everything when Satan, with God’s permission, tested Job’s faith. While Job struggled with God over his problems, he remained faithful and was eventually rewarded. God removed Job’s problems and blessed him with more wealth and a large family in his earthly life. 

    We assume that what is “best” is for God to resolve our problems in this earthly life. 

    What if that is simply not best? What if God decides that the most beneficial thing for His glory and the best way to reach more people for His kingdom is for our problems to continue?

    What if God decides that He can better use me in a wheel chair? What if I have to live with awful pains and aches all over my body for the rest of my life? These are experiences that Satan and his demons will use to test our faith, just as they did to Job thousands of years ago. Not that our problems are necessarily caused by evil forces, but they are used as a means to turn the faithful into the bitter.

    James 1:2-4 says:

    My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.


    When you feel absolutely miserable, don’t let evil forces get you down. Trust that God will do what is best. But remember, what is best in God’s eyes may not seem best in yours. He may choose to remove your problem. Or He may react like he did toward the Apostle Paul.

    2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 says:

    A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me – so that I would not become arrogant. I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.  Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.


    There is nothing wrong with asking God to remove a problem from our lives. But we should be aware that God may choose to leave it in place, and this is no reason to become bitter toward God. Our weakness will point to His strength. We may be more useful to God because of our problems.

    Praise God that the car started with a jump from one of our trip staff. When I returned home last night, after nothing but prayer, I could straighten my leg and walk into the house. My other symptoms are still present, but I expect they will disappear within a few days thanks to the medicine.

    Even if they don’t, I trust God to do what is best. Not just for me, but for His glory and kingdom.
  • Share Jesus Without Fear!

    Perhaps the number one reason believers don’t share the Gospel with others is because of fear. Sometimes we fear rejection. Sometimes we fear embarrassment. Sometimes we just fear that we won’t know enough to answer the important questions that may be asked. 
     
    These fears keep us in safe and comfortable places. Instead of sharing Jesus, we just live our “Christian” lives. Maybe if we really understood the plight of the lost, our fears would be less important and we would do more to reach the unsaved. William Fay described our situation this way:
     
    "One night I had a dream. A woman clutched a little girl, struggling to hold her child's head above the water. Nearby, a wave plunged a man into its salty depths. He choked for air as he thrashed his arms against a ceiling of water. All around, the ocean churned with drowning people, gasping for air and desperately trying to push their heads above the surface. Their screams were doused by the roar of the relentless waves. Their cries caught the wind, but only in vain. They were alone in their terror, with no help in sight.
     
    Then a huge rock appeared, and a voice called into the darkness. People began crawling up the rock's craggy sides to safety.
     
    But when they got to safety, something happened that drove me almost goofy. The people who emerged from the waves got busy. They got involved in building rock gardens, rock lives, rock jobs, listening to their rock music, and going to rock meetings where they talked about people who were still drowning in the ocean. But nobody went back to the water's edge to help.
     
    Have you ever tried to run or yell in a dream? In my dreams, I can do neither. Yet I tried to yell at the top of my lungs, "How could you have forgotten you were once in the sea?"
     
    As I watched the "saved" scurry about their rock work as I listened to their rock talk, I realized the rock was the cross of Calvary. The voice they heard was Jesus, calling by the power of the Holy Spirit, inviting them to come join him. He's never high up on the rock where it’s safe; he's calling from the ocean’s edge, where the dead, the diseased, and the lost are found, and as you might recall, that's where he found you.
     
    Did you know that as few as 5 to 10 percent of people in an average church have shared their faith in the past year? That means 90 percent of us have chosen the sin of silence. Just like in my dream, those who were drowning have gotten so busy and involved with the safety of "The Rock," they've forgotten to reach out to those who are still drowning."
     
    Isn’t that sad? We have something that everyone should know about, but at most 10% of believers share their faith in an entire year. Let’s change that statistic! There are lots of great resources out there to better prepare you to share Jesus with unbelievers. One of the best is “Share Jesus Without Fear” by William Fay