Oct 22, 2007

Relevant Teaching part 4 in what makes you grow

If you are going to mature and reach your potential you have to expose yourself to relevant teaching of the scripture. It needs to be presented to you in a way that is meaningful and useful to the present day you live in. Jesus was a master in this type of teaching. He always presented truth but did it in a way that considered how best to make it meaningful to the people listening.

Let me illustrated this way, if you were on the side of the road with a flat tire and someone jumped out with jumper cables and said, "these are important to have and I want to show you how to use them"...what would be your response? You would not argue that what they were saying isn't true, but it doesn't seem relevant to where you are at that moment. It is the job of very teacher and preacher to ask if they are communicating the truth not only correctly, but are they considering where the listener is and how do I express truth so that they can see its relevance. This is a very difficult task and takes time, something that most teachers/preachers don't want to do.

Here is one IMPORTANT thing to remember when it comes to your growth and knowledge. Knowledge doesn't not produce growth alone. Today it seems that the approach to growth is totally based on getting you knowledgeable of the scripture. So we have every kind of Bible study, on Sundays we give you a message and then we send you to a "school" where we teach you some more, and of course we have several Bible studies through out the week. We even in many churches hire Ministers of Education to educate us. All because we tend to think that if you can get you knowing enough correct information, you will mature.

The problem with this is that all you have to do is look at the Pharisees and see that knowledge alone does not produce maturity. These guys knew the scripture like no one else and yet they did not recognize God when he stood right before them. Knowledge is important, but it is one of the five things need for growth, not the only one needed.

Oct 15, 2007

Challenging Relationships part 3 in what makes you grow

Number two on our list of 5 things needed for growth...challenging relationships. If you are going to grow you have to be intentional about the relationships that you value, cultivate, and nurture. I often tell people that it is hard to fly like an eagle if you walk with turkeys. I think that is far more funny than the people I tell it to, but you get the picture.

If you want to be a "professional Christian," then hang around people that are more concern that they look like they are pursuing Christ then that they actually pursue Christ. The likelihood is that you will become like them. Hang around materialistic people and guess what, your credit card is going to be worn out. Then again if you want to really know Christ, ask God to direct you to friends that value and pursue a real relationship with Christ.

Never, never, never underestimate the power of influence, especially the influence that those you are with the most have on you. To ignore this is to give your growth over to someone else.

Here is a question to ask yourself, "Are the people I am with the most fostering my pursuit of Christ?" Do they inspire me to be better, to think better, to seek to know him better? Its time to get serious on this matter. Pick your friends carefully.

In doing so you just might be setting yourself up to grow. This is why at Piedmont community groups (coming in 2008) are going to play a very important part. We want to create the environments that foster people building the kind of relationships where they push each other past the pool of mediocrity to something better, deeper, and life changing.

So the people we are around the most are going to effect what "version" of Christianity we adopt ( the real deal or Jesus lite). The people you choose to spend most of your time with are going to influence your beliefs, your values, and your priorities. So, pick your friends carefully. Just because they say they are a Christian and they go to church doesn't mean they are going to influence you to "go all the way" when it comes to following Christ. I'll say it again...pick your closest friends carefully.

Proverbs 13:20
He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

Oct 3, 2007

Unpredictable circumstances part 2 in what makes you grow

As we look at the five things needed for spiritual growth it is very important to understand that you need all five in order to grow. I believe that the central issue of people not growing today is that we are not understanding the need for all five. For many Christians the thought is that growth comes from knowledge. That is one of the five, but only one. So today churches offer more Bible Study at every conceivable time. We do have so much more Bible knowledge than the disciples, but do you sense that our faith is stronger than those guys? I don't. Knowledge is important, but the mere acquisition of information does not produce real, sustained growth. I will talk more on that later.

One of the five is Unpredictable Circumstances. This is the part of your growth that you really can not be proactive in. God will bring circumstances into your life (easy ones, difficult ones, confusing ones, enlightening ones) that will challenge and force your to decided to trust yourself or to trust God. You will find that you will not be able to control or manipulate the situation, all you can do is trust him...or not.

This is like the weightlifting part of fitness. For muscles to grow there has to be resistance, and that is pain sometimes. For you to internally grow there has to be resistance to what you believe. These are not usually fun times, but needed to grow you. God understands this and he will allow and sometimes even orchestrate these type of circumstances. He will take you there or let your walk there on your own, but either way he never lets us walk into painful, growing circumstances alone.

Oct 2, 2007

growth - part 1 in what makes you grow

I am a pastor that is a little cynical of church. Is that possible? YES!

You see I am not skeptical of what it can do and how awesome it can be. I have just become cynical of what it has become in many cases. I think it was Erwin McManus or Louie Giglio that said that the greatest danger to the movement of Jesus Christ is modern Christianity. Whoever said it, I think that they are on to something.

This blog is not intended to give you a reason to not go to church. That is not the answer. That is like saying that in those third world countries where the water is contaminate, the solution is that everyone stop drinking. No, the solution is to get better water.

This blog is intended to challenge you to demand more from your church. Not to demand more programing but to demand them to challenge you and equip you to grow. We have turned church into a club that you come to and that is really all your are responsible to do...just show up.

The idea is that if you just show up then we (the church) will grow you. It doesn't work that way. That is like saying just show up to your gym and the staff there will make you fit. No, it is up to you to take ownership of your physical development, get in there, and do the hard work of getting fit. If you are going to have forward movement in your relationship with Christ, you can not give ownership of your growth to your church or anyone else. It doesn't work that way.

To grow you have to take ownership of your growth. With that said, it is important to understand that growth comes primarily from five avenues. They are:

Unpredictable circumstances
Challenging relationships
Relevant teaching
Living beyond yourself
Personal pursuit

I will define these in my next blog.