How The Holy Spirit Helps You Grow Up

Each week, I will be providing a glimpse into the discipleship training program that I have just started. This is a way for me to show you what I am learning and also allow you to progress along with me. For more information, I encourage you to read this. Also, if you like what you are reading, will you consider donating so I can continue with the program and be able to provide more interesting content so we can all reach true Christian maturity.

I often have been confused by the role and responsibility of the  Holy Spirit in Growing Up.

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Last week, we looked at the four essential components of Growing Up presented by James Bryan Smith in his Apprentice book series. The center piece of the Triangle of Transformation is the Holy Spirit. Smith describes the work of the Holy Spirit like this:

The Spirit leads us to Jesus, reveals the Father, exposes falsehood, offers correction, and gives us the needed encouragement that make growth and transformation possible. The Spirit helps us change our narratives by leading us into truth, enlightens us as we practice the disciplines, and binds us together in community. If not for the work of the Holy Spirit, transformation simply will not take place.


The Holy Spirit is so essential to our faith, that scripture says that no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. We need to understand that trying to Grow Up without the Holy Spirit is like trying to nail a board to a wall with a Fischer Price hammer. It might happen but it is unlikely.

So it is our job to work in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to make change possible. We can do this by making ourselves available to the work of the Holy Spirit. Invite the Holy Spirit and acknowledge that any desire I have for growth, any movement towards God, and progress in the spiritual life is coming from the Holy Spirit.

How encouraging to know that my growth doesn’t have to come from my own will power, my own talents and abilities, my own determination. Growing Up is a by product of the Spirit working through my limited capacities and humble attempts at devotion and formation.

What a gift.


photo credit: Chris Sloan

portions of this post were found in a previous entry

AE Journal: Chief Apprentice

Today, I start my chronicle of the Apprentice Experience, the 18-month training in discipleship that I am embarking on. I spoke more about this last week.

AE was started by James Bryan Smith, a professor of theology, author, speaker, and self described Forrest Gump of American Christianity. His background was not in the church, yet, he was picked out by Spiritual Formation maven Richard Foster to be mentored. He never really ran in Christian celebrity circles yet musician Rich Mullins showed up in one of his classes and ended up living in an attic apartment in Smith’s house. He often says that his sermons and messages are basically the same wherever he goes and that they lack sophistication yet he was told by the brilliant and much revered Dallas Willard that he was the one that should develop a Curriculum for Christlikeness. He also had the privilege to be mentored and taught by giants in the field of ministry and the Christian spiritual life – Henri Nouwen and Brennan Manning.

Hopefully, what Smith will be most well known for is his Apprentice book series. I have read these through several times and have used them for Bible studies, small groups, and for mentoring college students.

The first book, The Good and Beautiful God, unpacks the character of God by looking at the way that Jesus described and thought about his Father. The second book, The Good and Beautiful Life, focuses on what makes a good life and takes the reader through a study of the Sermon on the Mount. The third book, The Good and Beautiful Community, works on living the Christian life in a social context of work, family, church, and community.

The framework found in this series is the anchor points for the Apprentice Experience and one that I find insightful, profound, and accessible.

I have found that Smith is not concerned with pushing some gimmicky plan or fad insight to make him look clever or sell more books. He simply wants to teach others ways to know the God he knows.

Through the Apprentice Series, he does just that.

My Journey: The Blessing and Curse Of Long Time Church Attendance

“I grew up in the church.” Countless testimonials begin with this declaration.

I am one of those GUITC people. Over time, and through observation, I have viewed this part of my life as a tremendous blessing. I learned scripture, had tremendous friendships, had a lot of fun, and learned to look at the world with God shaped glasses.

But GUITC has its drawbacks in one particular area. What is reasonable became the norm rather than what is required. Consider that those that come to faith later in life often have a sense of urgency and fervor that the GUITC people lack. For them, the words of Jesus and the example of his followers jump off the pages of the Bible and stir them to action, conviction, or prayer.

For GUITC people, those ideas and concepts have already been heard and everyone else who GUITC seems to not be bothered by it in the slightest and so you fall in line. Reasonable devotion becomes the model of church people and few seem to want to divert from that path.

I rejected the reasonable devotion of GUITC people in 2001. Trust in God’s direction became my goal rather than meeting other’s expectation or Bible belt standards for church and Christian participation. This mentality has led me, along with my wife in most cases, to quit my job to pursue inner city ministry, to become essentially a missionary in residence to an apartment complex, to create small group studies, to start small groups, to write blogs and book proposals, to go on mission trips, and to try to pursue Christ’s presence in everything I do.

I don’t pretend to be better than anyone else, heaven knows. But, I have learned that being willing to Grow Up in my faith can result in some adventurous undertakings and the unexpected.

That willingness has now led me to pursue the Apprentice Experience, an 18-month journey in discipleship and spiritual growth. In order for me to go through this program and then to report back to the blog what I am learning, I need you to partner with me.

Won’t you donate to my journey so that I can continue to pursue, not just reasonable devotion, but a ruthless trust in Christ and his direction in my life. I promise, I will use this experience to help guide you to an urgent, mature, adventurous life with Christ.

In addition to all the great content that this experience will provide on the blog, I am providing donation gifts for all donors who give more than $25. These are really cool gifts that will push you to grow up in your spiritual life. See below.

Donate now.

At least $25 – The Grow Up Playlist full of songs that have helped me in my spiritual life.

At least $50 – A sample chapter of an eBook I worked on a few years ago called More of Christ, Less of Everything Else.

At least $75 – A resource pack full of the list of tools that I use to grow closer to God.

At least $100 – A short eBook that I am creating called the Devotional Lives of Famous Christians.