Sunday, January 20, 2013

Where Our Growth Comes From

A lot of us get preoccupied with finding a perfect church, reading all the highest-rated books on spirituality/Christianity, listening to the most critically-acclaimed worship music, etc.

There is no perfect church. Churches are made up of people -sinners- who are at odds with their physical being. All of us will stumble (yes, even you), and make that once-perfect church come to a painfully realistic light; we're all people. It happens.
But here's something that's kind of hard to imagine: you may very well be the one driving another away. If you're not being pushed around and made uncomfortable by the actions of others, it's probably time you re-examined your own actions.
Above all, find a church where you feel 'home'. Don't just go to a church and decide to agree with the pastor. That's blindness. Instead, listen to the pastor, and test him according to the Word of God.
In fact, here's what Jesus said about preachers:  “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.
Don't be the one to punish them. But be the one to watch, to make sure their fruit represents the vine they're attached to.

Nearly all devotionals are "unlike any other", and will "help you grow" or "get you thinking" or "encourage you" or whatever else it is you want from a devotional. Apparently. I mean . . . All of the ones i've picked up have started off talking about how they're new, fresh, challenging, hopeful, etc.
But basically, they all tell us 5 essentials that we already know.

  1. Focus on God.
  2. Live every day as a Christian, not just Sundays.
  3. Express love.
  4. Meet obstacles with joy and patience.
  5. Let our faith be evident by the way we live.
Do we have to have a book tell us this? If so, maybe it's time you put down devotionals and picked up your Bible.
I've nothing against devotionals, not in the slightest. In fact, i encourage people to read them, and am in the middle of "Tin Soldiers" by Andrew Schwab (the singer/lyricist of Project 86). It's been interesting so far . . . Hopeful. Challenging. Fresh. Typical.
But again, it's but new analogies to impress upon readers what they should already know.
Long story short, no book is going to change you from within. That's something only you can do. It may give you ideas on how to, but the only change of heart that can come about is from within your soul, from a need for God. If a devotional helps establish that need (plants a seed, much like Paul said he had done regarding the Church in Corinth, Apollos having watered it, and God having made it grow), then by all means, read a devotional. But know the planter and the one who waters are nothing, but only God, who makes things grow.

Musically, whatever gets you into a heart of worship is good for you. That doesn't mean it has to be a song that everyone knows, or one on the bestseller list of contemporary Christian music. It's whatever speaks to your heart.
Bestsellers are most often generic lyrics meant to somewhat affect the hearts of many, as opposed to lyrics focused on connecting profoundly with the hearts a select group or type of people.
"For You" by Cool Hand Luke isn't a song that would be very easily related to by people in high positions. For me, however, this song is quite touching. Because i so often feel like a fool, but it's okay so long as i'm a fool for God.
"After The World" by Disciple wouldn't affect people who have a high self-esteem, who've never looked in a mirror and thought "Who could love someone like me?"
"Hands of Grace" by HB could bring to tears anyone who thinks that they'd be better off as someone else, but would be just another bland song to someone happy with who they are.
"Hear Our Prayers" by The Glorious Unseen would reach the heart of someone who feels their prayers have gone without acknowledgement, not someone who feels tremendously blessed in life.
I'm asking you to find out where your heart is, and find music that helps your heart find its place of worship.
Music is far from the only form of worship; anything can be, and should be. We should do everything we do for the glory of God, from the food we eat to the way we drive to the lighting in our homes. Yes, everything can be done for the glory of God.
Soli Deo Gloria.

We should find our growth in Christ alone.
13-13-13 (Nitrogen-Phosphate-Potash) fertilizer is good for any kind of plant. But a flowering/fruit-bearing plant will do better with 12-24-12 because phosphate helps a plant produce flowers. 18-10-5 will do better for fruiting trees. 21-0-0 will make a lawn lush and green.
If you're wanting to help a plant bear fruit, 21-0-0 will make it big, green and pretty, but you'll have no fruit (we had 8ft tall tomato plants without a bloom to speak of because of this). If you use 12-24-12 on a lawn, it'll help some, but you'd be almost as well off having put none down.
These are just generalized fertilizers. There are plant-specific fertilizers that will be substantially better for one type of plant, but will have virtually no effect on another.
Find out what your specific 'fertilizer' (form of worship) is so you can most efficiently grow in Christ.

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