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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual growth’

Question of the day:

January 4, 2010 Leave a comment

“Why should God reveal new truth to you when you don’t embrace the truth he gives you?” (Dr. Johnny Hunt in his sermon dated January 3rd, 2010 http://www.fbcw.org/).

Some final thoughts

January 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Some final thoughts on the chapter “Velcroed for Growth” from the book Contrarians Guide to Knowing God: Spirituality for the Rest of Us by Larry Osborne…

Osborne wraps up this chapter writing,

It’s imperative that we somehow find a place where our reality speaks louder than our image, where the upside of positive peer pressure spurs us on to greater heights, and where we’re positioned to receive the help we need the moment we need it. (p. 69)

It is in small groups that we have the best opportunity to develop and cultivate the close and transparent relationships necessary for this to happen. It’s not something that happens overnight; in fact, it may take a long time. But we are talking about eternity, are we not?

Speaking from the perspective of a man, I find these types of relationships very difficult to find. Friends like those that Osborne describes are the ones you can pick up the phone and call anytime. They are the friends you can talk to about anything; no matter how difficult the subject.

I remember a day when I was sitting with my wife talking (probably over a fine cigar and a cup of coffee) and I confessed to her that I don’t have many friends. I had even fewer that I would consider close. People who know me would find this hard to believe with my charming and winning personality; but Beth knows me well enough to know this was absolutely the case.

As we continued talking, I recalled the many friends I had in the Army. Unfortunately, relationships in the military are short-lived. Just as you get close to someone, one of you rotates to a new assignment. Even so, these relationships were strong because we depended on each other in order to accomplish our mission. Even after ten years, I still long for the camaraderie of the Army.

…On a side note, I was recently contacted by one of my army buddies. He called me out of the blue after more than 15 years. He now lives in another part of the country. It was great to hear from him, and we continue to talk every now and again. Anyway, back to what I was saying. What was I saying? Oh yeah, I don’t have many friends…

A few years ago I had a few friends like the type of relationship we are discussing; but, as you may have read in a previous blog, I lost contact with most of them. I am currently working to reestablish connection with them.

My point is it takes time to develop the kind of relationships we need to grow spiritually. With all of the commitments we have, we simply don’t have the time. Or is it that we don’t prioritize our time in order to make time? That’s what I think it is. We only have so many hours a day and we have lots to do. We have to make choices.

Drawing from my time in the army, perhaps we need to look at our spiritual growth as a mission. Do I dare say, “A mission from God”? We need the camaraderie of other Christians in order to accomplish the mission He has given us. Perhaps if we depended on each other as I used to depend on my teammates in the army, we would develop the life depending relationships we need.

I shared this with my wife, and she brought up a good thought. We talk a lot about missions overseas, and other things of that magnitude, but we don’t talk much about our mission right here in our homes and neighborhood. We have a mission to raise our families in a Godly manner. We have a mission to love our neighbors as we do ourselves. We have a mission to continue to grow spiritually. Small groups are the best way to accomplish these missions. Perhaps we need to be a bit more diligent in accomplishing the mission close to home.

And those are my words… Or in this case, those are our words…

Honesty

January 14, 2009 2 comments

Continuing with our series on the chapter “Velcroed for Growth” from the book Contrarians Guide to Knowing God: Spirituality for the Rest of Us by Larry Osborne…

The third accelerator Osborne refers to when discussing the purpose of small groups is honesty. Osborne writes,

If I want to grow spiritually, I must be honest enough to let people in on the issues I’m facing and the reality behind the image I portray. I also need friends who are honest enough to tell me the truth—even when I don’t want to know it, or it hurts to hear. (p. 67)

He goes on to say this type of honesty is hard to come by. Of the three accelerators, it’s my opinion that this is by far the hardest to accomplish.

The kind of honesty we need is the kind we can only get from close and transparent relationships. We need brothers and sisters in Christ who know us well enough ask those difficult questions; the things other people may find offensive. We need brothers and sisters that love us enough to be honest.

Typically, we don’t find these kind of relationships in a once a week visit to church. When we see people in church, the common greeting is “How are you?” Our typical response is “I’m good!” Is that the honest truth? Perhaps. When we ask others how they are doing, do we really want to know or are we just being sociable? I would venture to say most of the time we are just being sociable. In a public setting where we see people only occasionally, this is appropriate. But if we are serious about our spiritual growth, we need more than just casual relationships. We need relationships with people we can be honest with.

We find this kind of relationship in small groups. Over time, people in a small group come to know each other intimately. They develop close and transparent relationships; one in which people have trust and love for each other. In these relationships, people really do want to know how the people in their group are doing. In order for us to have this type of relationship, we must be vulnerable and transparent; and in this world, that goes against the norm. Paul teaches, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” Romans 12:2 (English Standard Version). There comes a time when we need to ignore what the world thinks and focus on what God thinks.

Honesty is not easy; it means being vulnerable and transparent. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what we need to continue to grow spiritually.

Next time, I’ll wrap up this look at “Velcroed for Growth.” Until then…

Velcroed for Growth

January 10, 2009 2 comments
Over the next few days I want to review a chapter from the book Contrarians Guide to Knowing God: Spirituality for the Rest of Us by Larry Osborne. He wrote a chapter titled “Velcroed for Growth” that is very appropriate for Real Life Connections.

As a way of introduction, Osborne writes how people who isolate themselves find it difficult to get help when they need it. The reason? Because no one knows about it. “But those who have close and transparent relationships experience a completely different reality. When a crisis hits, they usually find people quick, even eager, to help” (p. 61). Osborne continues on writing “Developing close and transparent relationships is an important part of preparing for life’s inevitable calamities.” How do we develop these kinds of relationships?

Most people assume church is the answer to close relationships. Osborne disagrees because churches have become too big. He asserts that churches are primarily for teaching and encouraging spiritual growth; small groups are the best answer to developing close relationships. He compares small groups to the “house churches” of the New Testament; a small group of people gathering on a regular basis, building transparent relationships with each other.

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” Acts 2:46-47 (NIV).

In accordance with the title of his book, Osborne says it’s contrarian to be part of a small group. He says only a small percentage of people who regularly attend church are part of a small group. Sadly, most people only have one or two close friends who know them well enough to be transparent. Moreover, in most cases, our spouse is one of those two! Why is this the case? According to Osborne it’s because small groups are pushed and advertised by churches to provide a benefit we never fully realize. We attend small groups to study the Bible or for some other purpose, when all along we miss the main point of a small group.

Osborne says the greatest value small groups can provide is “accelerators of spiritual growth.” The accelerators are connectedness, peer pressure, and honesty. Over the next few days I want to spend some time reflecting on these three accelerators. They seem to go hand in hand with the purpose of Real Life Connections. Until then…