The One Sure Mark of Christian Maturity

~ Challies

I suppose we all know that as Christians we are meant to grow up, to mature. We begin as infants in the faith and need to develop into adults. The New Testament writers insist that we must all make this transition from milk to meat, from the children’s table to the grown-up’s feast. And yet even though we are aware that we must go through this maturing process, many of us are prone to measure maturity in the wrong ways. We are easily fooled. This is especially true, I think, in a tradition like the Reformed one which (rightly) places a heavy emphasis on learning and on the facts of the faith.

When Paul writes to Timothy, he talks to him about the nature and purpose of the Bible and says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). That word complete is related to maturity. Paul says that Timothy, and by extension me and you and all of us, is incomplete, unfinished, and immature. The Bible is the means God uses to complete us, to finish us, to bring us to maturity.

There is more at: https://www.challies.com/christian-living/the-one-sure-mark-of-christian-maturity/

Colossal Truths from the Letter to the Colossians! Spiritual Maturation! (1:28-29)

Of the many, many blessings in my life is my friend Frank. We’ve been friends for decades and even though he lives in the pagan land of New Jersey, he seeks to be a shining light in a dark place. [I live in the pagan land of South Carolina, but at least we talk slower, say nice things to strangers, and drink sweet tea]. Frank and I have been doing a kind of online Bible study with each other — and we’ve recently been going through the incredible letter to the Colossians.

There are a number of prominent themes in this four-chapter epistle. The next theme we want to notice is Paul’s commitment to spiritual maturation. We read in Chapter one:

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. (Ch. 1)

Notice Paul’s goal in life: to present everyone fully mature in Christ! Please notice the key to spiritual maturation: the Person of the Lord Jesus! “He is the one we proclaim.” Notice Paul’s commitment to encouraging spiritual maturation in everyone: “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” We are not to sit idly by and watch each other stagnate in spiritual infancy!

What efforts, my friend, are you taking to admonish and teach others to grow in God’s grace? Are you striving to present everyone over whom you have some influence fully mature in Christ? Do you see such a mission as a battle — a strenuous contention to allow Christ’s power to work through you?

A challenge: what younger believer comes to your mind who could greatly benefit from a kind of informal mentoring relationship with you?

Comment at: https://larrydixon.wordpress.com/2019/05/25/colossal-truths-from-the-letter-to-the-colossians-spiritual-maturation/

What Are the Signs of an Emotionally Mature Christian?

Are you a mature Christian? Why are so many Christians judgmental, unaware and defensive? Part of the answer lies in a failure to biblically integrate emotional health and spiritual maturity.

A vast industry exists around emotional intelligence that ignores spirituality. A vast amount of information also exists that defines a “mature” Christian. Rarely are the two integrated.

The following are 11 signs of an emotionally mature Christian:

  1. You anchor your life in the love of Jesus. You don’t divide your life into “secular” and “sacred” compartments. Instead, you rather enjoy communion with Him in all areas of your life—work, recreation, church and parenting. Toward that end, you regularly practice spiritual disciplines (e.g., meditation on Scripture, silence, solitude, community, confession, worship) to position yourself to practice His presence all throughout the day.

There is more at: https://churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/298849-what-are-the-signs-of-an-emotionally-mature-christian-pete-scazzero.html

What Are the Signs of an Emotionally Mature Christian?

What Are the Signs of an Emotionally Mature Christian?

Are you a mature Christian? Why are so many Christians judgmental, unaware and defensive? Part of the answer lies in a failure to biblically integrate emotional health and spiritual maturity.

A vast industry exists around emotional intelligence that ignores spirituality. A vast amount of information also exists that defines a “mature” Christian. Rarely are the two integrated.

The following are 11 signs of an emotionally mature Christian:

  1. You anchor your life in the love of Jesus. You don’t divide your life into “secular” and “sacred” compartments. Instead, you rather enjoy communion with Him in all areas of your life—work, recreation, church and parenting. Toward that end, you regularly practice spiritual disciplines (e.g., meditation on Scripture, silence, solitude, community, confession, worship) to position yourself to practice His presence all throughout the day.

The rest are at: https://churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/298849-what-are-the-signs-of-an-emotionally-mature-christian-pete-scazzero.html

What Research Says About How Self-centeredness Grows in Us

According to research, the more isolated you are the more self-centered you are. And the more self-centered you are, the more likely you are to live isolated. University of Chicago Professor John Cacioppo led a ten-year study on self-centeredness using a scale he called the “Chronic Self Focus Scale.” He concluded that focusing on yourself causes you to feel more isolated which causes you to focus even more on yourself. A vicious cycle of self-centeredness and loneliness ensues. To put it plainly — a focus on ourselves grows when we are continually by ourselves.

Theologians throughout history would not be surprised by the results of the research. Augustine wrote that pride is the commencement of all sin – that all sin originates with a focus on ourselves and a desire to exalt ourselves. Pride causes us to run from community, not to community because community inevitably confronts us with our shortcomings.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person.”

As I reflected on Cacioppo’s conclusions, I thought about why groups in a church are so important for the spiritual health of the people in the church. If you are a church leader, you must prioritize groups in your church, so that people can more easily be in community. If you are a Christian, get in a group! Here are three reasons why:

When we are not in biblical community, there are not people to confront us.

The more self-centered we are, the more senseless and stupid we are. When we are not in community with others, our foolishness grows. Community is always sanctifying and not being in community is to invite self-centered foolishness to grow in our lives.

When we are in community, we see God working in others.

We are reminded that life is not about us, that God is doing great things in others, that there is much to learn from others. Being in community helps us take our eyes of ourselves as we grow in awe of God’s handiwork in others and as we seek to encourage and help others.

When we are in community, we are more likely to walk in humility.

Pride grows when we are isolated, and as it grows so does our distaste for community. But the reverse is also true; humility increases when we are in community. We see a bigger picture of our world, a bigger picture of God’s grace, and thus we are more likely to develop an accurate view of ourselves. As we focus on the Lord and others, humility and happiness increase.

Comment at: http://ericgeiger.com/2019/02/what-research-says-about-how-self-centeredness-grows-in-us/

5 Ways to Get Closer to God

1. Admit you can’t do everything on your own.

One of the first steps to getting a closer to God is admitting that you need him in your life. Ironic, yeah? The reality is that we can’t do everything on our own, so admitting this will not only show a sense of humility in your life but it will also show God that are putting your faith in his strength and guidance, rather than your own. As John 3:30 states, “He must increase, I must decrease.” 

2. Remove yourself from harmful relationships.

I believe one of the biggest roadblocks to finding a deeper relationship with God is harmful relationships. Whether these relationships be with family, friends or co-workers, taking yourself out of the equation, or at least giving yourself some healthy distance, will provide you the necessary room and energy needed to first get right in your relationship with God. You must make yourself a priority in regards to your spiritual life. Although this might sound tough to accomplish, you won’t believe the freedom and liberty you will encounter when being able to solely focus on your relationship with God without having toxic relationships getting in your way.

https://churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/340229-closer-god.html

6 Ways to Gauge Your Spiritual Health

Two years ago I began to hit a wall. I was run down and burned out. It wasn’t that I didn’t love the Lord or people anymore. It wasn’t that I’d lost my passion for God’s Word, teaching the Bible, writing or taking mission trips to the Amazon and Moldova with Justice & Mercy International. I simply had no margin. I was so busy that there was little room for anything fresh to come in. Little was growing, and I felt as though all I was giving others were crusty leftovers.

I met with my pastor and he encouraged me to evaluate the way I was using my time. He challenged me to guard the most important tasks the Lord has given me to do and say no to what wasn’t part of that agenda. Since that meeting, I’ve recognized six things that have significantly supported my spiritual and emotional health. I’ve put them in the form of questions so you can think personally and critically about how well you’re covered in each area.

1. Who Is Teaching You?

While it sounds simple, I realized that part of my problem was that I’d stopped learning. Teachers often forget to take time to be taught. Even if you don’t consider yourself a teacher, we all need to be fed and led spiritually. In addition to being involved in a local church that feeds your soul, commit to a Bible study, take an online seminary course, listen to podcasts by teachers who point out truths from God’s Word. Continuing to learn and grow is vital to our personal refreshment.

2. Who Do You Pray With?

In busy seasons we tend to depend on our resources and strength to make it through, meanwhile prayer is the first thing to go. Several years ago I decided I wanted to see God do immeasurably more than I could ever do on my own. I wanted to be an intercessor for others who are hurting, sick or stuck. And because I love what I do, I also wanted to make sure I have a stronger relationship with Jesus than I have with my ministry. Prayer has been the game-changer for me in these areas. Whether it’s praying alone in the mornings or praying with a group, this is where the supernatural happens. So make a commitment to be renewed and encouraged in prayer, and don’t allow it to be edged out by busyness.

More at: https://outreachmagazine.com/features/discipleship/38152-6-ways-to-gauge-your-spiritual-health.html