Try Growing Up

Instead of chasing every new teaching, try a little scripture reading.

Instead of seething with anger, try forgiveness.

Instead of cunning and scheming, try speaking the truth in love.

Instead of finding ways to divide, try finding unity in the faith.

Instead of seeking only individual health, try seeking the health of the group or community.

Instead of making yourself head over your spiritual life, try letting Jesus be CEO.


Instead of just working on one aspect of life with God, the same one you have focused on for years, try letting Jesus transform all of you.

Instead of embracing futile thinking, try renewing your mind by discovering first the Kingdom of God.

Instead of hardening your heart, try humbling your sensitivities for the sake of Christ.

Instead of money, sex, and power, try fasting, simplicity, and silence.

Instead of considering the validity of every falsehood, try embracing the truth with equal intention.

Instead of complaining, try service for God.

Instead of tearing something down, try finding a need and fix it.

Instead of finding what is in it for you, try finding the benefit for others.

Instead of giving the devil a foothold, try repenting of your former way of doing things and accept your new life in Christ.

Note: inspired by Ephesians 4.

When Your Good News Is Not Good Enough

Scot McKnight says that, “If the gospel isn’t about transformation, it isn’t the gospel of the Bible.”

The gospel I see the most in churches is a reduction to mere statements of belief. Words are important and our beliefs need to be verbalized and stated confidently and with conviction. But, what we truly believe is demonstrated by how we live. That is the true test of our belief.

How we live is the part that needs to be transformed and mere statements of belief are not enough. When Jesus encountered people in need he expected and planned on transformation occurring. Zacchaeus was so taken by Jesus’ generosity and care for him, he decided to give half of his possessions to the poor and to pay back four times the amount to the people he had swindled. The woman caught in adultery, after being rescued from execution, was told to go and sin no more. Transformation was expected not a bullet list of new beliefs.


Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

The rich young ruler had all of his beliefs down to the letter but he didn’t have the transformation that comes from making Jesus his Lord. He wanted to have Jesus without the transformation. It doesn’t work that way.

What is your life saying about your beliefs? Are you satisfied with your beliefs and patting yourself on the back for them but go on living with bitterness, lazy thinking, anger, worry, and longing? Let Christ transform you from the inside out, let him take residence in your self from top to bottom and change your mind and heart. That is the gospel, the good news of a life transformed by the power of Christ.


Satan’s Role In Hindering My Spiritual Growth

Here is one thing I think but have not said:

That Satan possesses people for small moments to disrupt my spiritual growth. I have learned to see this a part of the process of Growing Up but early on, I wasn’t always able to handle this.

What will happen is that I will have a really rich time with God, usually in the mornings, and my whole perspective will change as I see God’s work in my life. My desire in these moments is to live a transformed, Christ-filled existence, and in the joy of those times, I see and have faith that it will happen, even that morning.

Then, sometime during the day, I am met with such difficulty and frustration coming from other people that it doesn’t just make me doubt the progress that I have made but makes me want to abandon it altogether. The people involved have seemed to be directed to point out and state the one thing that day that would send me reeling away from the progress I have made. It is almost like clockwork. But now, I have learned to expect it and prepare for it  and see it for what it is – a strategy by Satan to counter my growth.

So, if you are just dabbling in Growing Up and are just starting to make progress, let me warn you of these moments. May you be prepared for them and know that you have done nothing wrong unless you let these people or these moments get the best of you. Start to see them, not as trying moments, but as badges of honor to demonstrate to you that you must be doing something right.

Keep Growing Up. Satan doesn’t like it and wants to hinder any progress towards Growth. Trust me, you can withstand these attacks and be stronger when you do.

Look at this passage and see what comes after perseverance. Godliness is possible, through the power of Christ, but it is essential that we find our way through these attacks in order to reach our goal of Growing Up.


You Have a Unique Spiritual Personality

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God knows the number of every hair on your head. Before you were born God shaped you.

We know as a fact that no two people have the same finger print. Our individuality and uniqueness is often on display for all to see.

If you are so unique, then why would you think that a cookie-cutter, one size fits-all approach to Growing Up would suffice? My wife doesn’t like to read as much as I do. Do you think me throwing a book at her and telling her to just read this is going to be the best approach? No, she responds to words and actions and a chance to serve others.


I have a friend who says,”I am a geek, God speaks to me in geek.”God touches him, inspires him, and challenges him in a way that works exactly with his personality, learning style, and preferences. He is not ashamed of the fact that his relationship with God may look different from yours. He has come to embrace it.

One of the first steps we can make on the way to Growing Up is to find out as much as we can about ourselves. Do a Myers-Briggs assessment. Take a Love Language inventory. Find out your learning style. All of these will inform how God will best interact with you. These inventories bind us to nothing but it demonstrates that God has created us with unique features and characteristics because that is how he wants to work through us and be with us.

Try this: Think about a time when you felt closest to God. What were you doing? What preceded this moment? Was music involved or words of declaration or were you reading scripture? What does this moment tell you about yourself and how God likes to interact with you? What could you do today to cultivate that interaction based on your personality and giftedness?

photo credits: wikicommons

Three Marks Of A Spiritually Mature Leader

The university where I work recently conducted an inauguration service for a new President. It had all that you would expect; dignitaries representing important places and institutions, fancy clothes and regalia, grandiose music, and words of inspiration and acknowledgement.

It also exemplified aspects of Growing Up that can be peculiar attributes of mature Christian leaders. Let me explain:

  • Good memory: Some would say that leadership is all about the future. Where are you taking the organization? What future will the people under you have in 5 or 10 years? What will be your future legacy? But could leadership be enhanced by a keen understanding of the past? Much of the Inauguration service discussed the 28 years that our previous president served and all the ways that God used him to accomplish great things at the University and among its students. As much as Christian leaders want to hear from God in the future they may need to focus at times on what God has already done and draw inspiration from those memories.

Image result for dbu inauguration

  • Humility: After he was invested with the proper accoutrements of the office and he was officially announced as our President, he didn’t stand in the glory of the moment, instead, he and his wife knelt down and prayed and were prayed over by leaders and pastors. Mature Christian leaders know that when they reach their highest achievement, that is the right time to humble themselves and pray and call on God for all of his provisions.
  • Submission: President Wright, in his remarks to the audience, stated that “this is not my University, this is not the faculty’s University, this is not the student’s University, this is God’s University.”He went on to proclaim that his goal was to please God and be a part of God’s will for the University. Throughout scripture, the great call for people of faith, is to submit to the authority and direction of God. Leaders are only placed in leadership by God and they need to recognize that any achievements or successes will come when God is glorified and not themselves.

A leader could certainly lead without a good memory or humility or submission but they would not be an example of a mature Christian leader. These types of leaders have recognized their condition under God and know that their work is God’s work.


photo credits: Dallas Baptist University

The Difference Between Self-Help And Growing Up

In this space, I have intentionally tried to use less religious words to help communicate what we are trying to accomplish in our spiritual life. I have avoided using phrases such as “spiritual formation” and “discipleship” because I fear that these terms have become lost in church-speak and hold little meaning. Or they have been treated as add-ons within churches and most church members just ignore them like they might just ignore the children’s ministry or the homeless ministry or the singles ministry.

Instead, I use some form of Grow Up or Growing Up to express a movement towards Christian maturity. In my attempt to make things more understandable, I hope that I haven’t given you the impression that what we are doing here is just some kind of glorified self-help agenda. Growing Up is so much more than self improvement.

Image result for image of God

One of our readings in the Apprentice Experience training comes from Scot McKnight, a professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary. McKnight, in a chapter called “A Community Called Atonement,” discusses what it means to be made in the image of God. Using the phrase Eikons to represent those made in the image of God, McKnight states, “the goal (of atonement) is for our sinful selves to be set free to be new creations in true divine and human Koinonia.” He later states that “Eikons are made for union with God, communion with others, love of self, and care for the world.”

In other words, God’s plan involves a restoration of his created beings, his Eikons, to be new creations so we can be unified with Him and bonded to each other. This is done through the sending of the perfect Eikon, Jesus.

Spiritual formation, discipleship, Growing Up, maturity are all words used to describe God’s ongoing restoration process that starts with a commitment to Christ but ends with a transformed person in every way.

Don’t let my humble attempts at communication keep you from seeing the seriousness of this transformation process.

I am learning and growing through this training so that I can help you reach your faith goals and achieve your own maturity in Christ. But I can’t help you unless I have the resources to finish the Apprentice Experience training. Donate now and help me finish the program and continue helping others grow to fullness in Christ.

God Speaks To Me Through …

What Spiritual Exercise(s) has had the most impact on your Growing Up?

For me, it has to be reading/studying and solitude with a little bit of small group community to keep me encouraged and accountable.


Whatever activity that benefits you the most in Growing Up, make sure you are including that in your life on a regular basis. If it is prayer, make time for prayer. If it is worship, make time for worship. If it is service, make time for service. If it is scripture memorization, start memorizing.

Don’t worry if your exercise or activity isn’t the most commonly practiced. God works on us at an individual level so how he connects with me will look different than how he connects with you. That is the point, to find that sweet spot where you get the most out of your time and life with God and make it a prominent part of your life.

Will there be times when we need to branch out and try an activity that makes us uncomfortable and doesn’t come naturally? Absolutely, but I contend that if we aren’t making room for our best”with God life” then we won’t even understand what other activities and aspects we need to work on. Growing Up in Christ leads to more Growing Up in Christ.

So, be intentional this week in pursuing God by way of the activities that bring you closer to Him and thus, give you the most potential for growth.




If You Do These Two Things, You Are On Your Way To Growing Up

Growing Up doesn’t have to be hard. If you take yourself off the throne of your own life and place Christ there and then you seek the guidance and teaching of Christ inside you, then you are on your way. Those two things will take care of 70 percent of your growth and seem relatively easy.

When I did this, I became hungry for God and that made reading the Bible less of a chore. I wanted to change, so I was eager to try out spiritual disciplines that may have intimidated me before such as fasting, meditation, and lectio divina. I knew the great example of service that Christ showed on earth and I wanted to follow his example. These changes were all a part of my transformation. All of this was relatively easy and progress was attainable.

Sure, you will still have a ways to go and some big spiritual hurdles to cross. I am still struggling with some of the same sins and same hang ups that have haunted me for 30 years but God has brought me so far and most of that growth has been 90 percent God and just a little of myself.

Have you been hesitant to Grow Up because you thought it would be too much work? Are you fearful that you couldn’t change? Does some of what is required seem foreign to you?

I am here to tell you that there is attainable growth when you focus on Christ, quit trying to be King of your own life, and by surrendering to his Lordship and transformation.

We will discuss the hard parts later. Right now, let’s revel in the abundant growth that is already available to us.


photo credit: Jan Tik


Don’t Attempt This On Your Own

Each week, I will be providing a glimpse into the 18-month 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 helpful content so we can all reach true Christian maturity.

In this place, I have presented much of the steps for Growing Up as individual endeavors. This is to the detriment of one of the most essential parts of Growing Up – Community.

We have looked at the Triangle of Transformation recently and discussed the Holy Spirit and Soul-Training Exercises but what about Community? What makes Community essential to Growing Up.

First, according to Smith, the Holy Trinity is a grand community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If God is meant to exist in community, then perhaps we could benefit from it as well.

Second, you need others to encourage and inspire you. It is much easier to love when love is already present and it is much easier to do good when others are already striving for good works.

Third, there is built in accountability (peer pressure). Peer pressure can be a positive thing when there is expectations on you to work on change and to try to improve. Individually, I may talk myself out of trying some spiritual exercise that I find difficult but when I know that others will be trying it too, I don’t want to be left out of the discussion and experience.

Do you have a group that is spurring you on? A group that challenges you? A community that inspires you and encourages you?

I have been guilty of being a Lone Ranger Christian but I was missing out on a fuller, richer opportunity for Growing Up.


photo credit: Troika consulting


Why You Have To Plan To 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 helpful content so we can all reach true Christian maturity.

So, if it is true here and here, why does Growing Up still seem so hard? Why does my spiritual life often seem like one step forward and two steps back.

To have the faith of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t I be making more progress than I am?

Here is where we get to the part of the Growing Up plan that involves our input. In order to cultivate our faith muscles and be obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit we have to participate in Growing Up Exercises (traditionally these are referred to as Spiritual Disciplines or as James Bryan Smith calls them, Soul-Training Exercises).

The concept of Growing Up Exercises is simple – working directly on our spiritual selves so that God can have the largest impact on our lives.

Sure, could God completely change me and turn me from an impatient person to a patient person, from a greedy person to a generous person, from a angry person to a loving person on the spot? He absolutely could and does, on occasion, but his preferred method is to give us his promises and tools and work with us to create change.

Even Paul talks about his need to Grow Up. His life was turned upside down on the Road to Damascus but there were still parts of Paul that needed to Grow Up. So it is with us, and spiritual disciplines allow us to train so that God has the biggest impact.

The list of Growing Up Exercises are vast, you can find the most helpful ones here and here. The issue is not which exercises you are doing but are you in training? Are you working to Grow Up because you know that your call to salvation under Christ is also a call to a mature, transformed, fulfilled life?

God has provided the gifts, tools, and power but there is a part for us to play. So start Growing Up and get training!


photo credit: Robert Hruzek