Monday, January 2, 2012

2012: Time to Grow

In my previous post I commented on my resolution to experience growth in my relationship with Christ this year. I want to take the picture of our garden, one step further (if you haven't read that post, click here and read it first). There's a few things that I'm responsible for if I want to experience spiritual growth...and let's be real honest here; spiritual growth is never an option for believers in Christ. It's something we should all see in our lives.

Step 1: prepare the soil (my heart). If I want to see growth, I need to make sure the soil is good. This involves both putting things in, fertilizer so to speak, and taking things out. I need to guard my heart above all else. This means "bouncing my eyes" and being careful what I listen to, read, watch and look at. It means investing in things that strengthen my heart. It means an unwillingness to engage in things that poison my heart.

23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

Step 2: plant the seed (God's Word). Obviously if you don't plant anything then nothing will grow except weeds. If you want something good to eat, you have to plant the seeds...and plant them properly. This is one area I need to work on this year. I read my Bible frequently, and completed a 2-year Bible reading plan...however, more often my reading was done simply to check the box. Instead, I need to read with my eyes and ears wide open, listening for God to speak to me while I read. And beyond that, planting God's Word is more than just reading...it's involves study. Asking and answering the simple questions as I read; (who was this written to? what was the context? what is it saying to me today? is there an over-arching principle I need to learn or apply?). It's only as I read in this manner that the seed gets properly planted.

12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Step 3: water the seed (Pray). Prayer involves two distinct things. Talking and Listening. I do a lot of talking, but not much listening. This is where other disciplines such as solitude or fasting come in handy...they force you to slow down and listen. Still, I know many men and women who have tons of knowledge but lack prayer. Prayer is what moves the hand of God. Prayer is what reveals the secrets in His Word. Prayer is what brings peace to my marriage, creativity to my job, energy to my body. Prayer is what settles disputes, protects the vulnerable. Prayer changes things. Prayer leads to peace. And without prayer, your seed will lay beneath the surface and never poke through.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:18)

Step 4: get into the sun (Deeds - DO). Many Christians stop at step 3. They protect their heart, they read and study, they have a deep prayer life, and they stop. They become as I heard one pastor put it, "spiritually constipated." There's no outward expression. Our faith should make a difference in this world. Step out and take a risk. Do something bold for Christ...or just do something. But whatever you do, don't stop at step 3...get out and serve. Consider the words of Christ;

"Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)


Step 5: Hang on for the ride. Once you are growing, you will see God do amazing things...

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