Spiritual Growth

obstacle courseSecond period was blue.  Dark blue.  That was the color of our gym shorts in seventh grade.  Well, at least for those who sailed down the steps at Azalea Road Junior High to greet the red shorts brigade who was returning from Coach Crenshaw and Coach Perkins’ gym class.

Always anxious for coming attractions, we’d ask the boys from first period, “What are we doing?”  Sometimes it was something awesome like battle ball or football.  Sometimes it was something exotic like gymnastics.  But one thing was sure to send a chill up my adolescent spine:

The Obstacle Course.

I should probably mention here that my athletic ability was legendary.  In my own mind.  But running headlong into a class of 60 or so peers left little doubt that my gateway to glory wasn’t through athletics.

And if there was any doubt – if there was any shred of athletic dignity left in me – the Obstacle Course loomed as a reminder of the inglories that awaited. [click to continue…]

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collection

I enjoy taking pictures the same way an 8-year-old “artist” enjoys sidewalk chalk.  But as long as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with old cameras. They remind me of some of my own heritage, and they fascinate me as I imagine where they have traveled and what they have captured on film, or lately on disk.  I’ve often said to myself, maybe one day I’d like to add a few to my own old camera collection.

Well.  This weekend the motive, means and opportunity all converged as we travelled to my son’s house for Easter weekend, and I came home with these 23 treasures.  Most of them are in the “junk” category.  But I did pick up a really old (still working) movie projector, a circa-1900 Conley wooden box camera, and a couple of Kodaks from the 1950s. [click to continue…]

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PuzzleKnow what’s always messed me up with New Year’s resolutions?  New Year’s Day is a holiday.  So all those goals and new beginnings typically start around January 2 and I’m already a day behind.  Then I need to put up Christmas stuff and I’m two days behind.  I’m getting tired just thinking about it.  So I need some mental rest from the holidays.  Three days behind.

So this year I brightened up and decided that this will take a bit more planning and thought. And yes, I’m talking slap-dab in the middle of the Christmas holidays.

So I’m writing this to myself, but inviting you to come along for the fun.  Here are ten suggestions to prepare for the coming year – do all these by December 31, and you can have New Year’s Day off.  I know, I know!  You’re welcome! Click here to get started

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Time to let you in on a little secret weakness.  Sometimes I hate being reminded.  Especially when I’m already doing the thing I am being reminded of, or I’m already aware of it.  Now let me hasten to say that when somebody reminds me of something I have totally forgotten, I’m usually very grateful.  But the obvious?  The no-brainers?  The already-doings?  That’s another story.

Does this ever happen to you?  You’re locking the doors before retiring at night and a voice from the other room hollers, “Don’t forget to lock the doors!”

Or maybe you’re buckled into that airplane seat, starting to get lost in whatever you’re reading, and they start that handy demonstration explaining how to use a seat belt?

I had a little visit with the Lord about this the other day.  Not airline safety demonstrations, but this issue of hating to be reminded.  Let’s just say it was His idea. [click to continue…]

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Looking for ways to kick-start your spiritual growth this year? Or perhaps gather ideas and resources for leading others in their spiritual growth?  Check out some of the sites listed here.

I had some help with this one.  Recently a group of students I was working with searched the Web to evaluate and identify their favorite websites for spiritual growth and discipleship. They evaluated the overall effectiveness of the sites they selected and considered how they could use the site in the future.

I was so delighted with the variety and enthusiasm they brought to the project, I thought I’d put together a master list and share it with you.  The brief, edited comments about the sites are mostly from one or more of the students.

Okay, here’s the official disclaimer:  I haven’t evaluated all these sites in detail.

Here’s official disclaimer #2:  While these are presumed to be doctrinally sound, you won’t have to look far to find people from different traditions, theological stripes, or whatever on the same list.  Use your Bible and your brain (in that order).

For lack of a better plan, I’m listing these in alphabetical order.  Let me know what you think.  And PLEASE let me know if you have other suggestions.  All of these sites were the result of someone doing a web search for “Christian discipleship.”  There are plenty more where these came from.  But check these out first: [click to continue…]

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Jason meant well.  But his efforts to help the butterfly-to-be only ended in disaster.  For days he had watched the cocoon and wondered what it would produce.  Finally he noticed a tiny opening in the cocoon’s wall.  On the other side, the new life form was struggling furiously – desperately – to be free of its self-designed prison.  Feeling compassion for the little creature, the boy found a sharp knife and carefully cut the cocoon’s wall in order to relieve it from its struggle.

The butterfly soon died.  Its wings were grossly deformed, and it was unable to fly.  What appeared to be a struggle was actually the process by which the animal’s wings are formed.  Jason had short-circuited the process, and the results, though unintentional, were tragic.

You and I are very much like the butterfly.  We are often wrapped up in our own kinds of cocoons – alone, stifled, limited, longing to be free.  Sometimes these are prisons of our own doing – addictions, bondage to sin, broken relationships, stupid decisions.   At other times our cocoons are thrust upon us in the form of disappointments, losses of loved ones, extended illnesses, or the abuse of others.  Either way, the results are the same.  Why do we feel so alone?  What in the world is God up to?  Where will we ever find relief?  When will we be “free to fly” again?  How will we make it through another day? [click to continue…]

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Constantly in motion, ever-aware, always alert both night and day, an unseen force is shaping your life in ways you can’t imagine.

Ever-learning.

Ever-revealing.

The algorithms behind this crawler make Google look, in comparison, like a nearsighted man searching for a haystack in a needle factory.

He sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake.  But I’m not referring to the jolly old elf.  I’m talking about the Ultimate Search Engine.  But it’s not an “it” – it’s a Person. [click to continue…]

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Cohen is an expert crawler. 

He can cross a room lickety-split on his hands and knees. 

He’s an awful walker. 

He’s learning.  But why risk injury when he can get there safely on all fours?

His parents don’t treat his crawling ability as a special gift, however. 

It’s just a skill that helps him until the greater abilities arrive.

Same goes for you and God.  [click to continue…]

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“It’s going to be fun to watch and see how long the meek can keep the earth once they inherit it”  -Kin Hubbard.

“The meek shall inherit the earth – if that’s okay with everybody” (Motto of the Dependent Organization of Really Meek and Timid Souls, or D.O.O.R.M.A.T).  -J. Upton Dickson

“He leads the humble in what is right, teaching them his way. The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all those who keep his covenant and obey his decrees.”  -Psalm 25:9-10, NLT

It’s quiet on this Monday morning, except for the sound of a rooster and a fiddle, an infant’s grunts from his swing, and a toddler’s delighted dancing as she watches – again – the Baby Einstein “Life on the Farm” video.  Watching the two of them – especially with scenes from an abundant earth passing by – reminds me from the last post how we were wired from creation and birth. 

We were created to inherit the earth.  It’s in our DNA.  But in the wisdom of God, He knew we would need help.  His help.  Without it, we have the capacity to do – well, what we’ve pretty much done with the planet.

That’s why Jesus – quoting Psalm 37 – said that the delighted happiness that comes from inheriting the earth is reserved for a specific kind of person.  Yep – the meek.

So He Reserves It for Sissies?

Not exactly.  [click to continue…]

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Seven or eight years ago, I was taking a shuttle from the Founders Inn Hotel on the edge of Regent University down to the shoreline in Virginia Beach.  It was just the driver and me, and to make conversation, I asked him, “Do you know where London Bridge Baptist Church is?”

“Sure,” he said.  It’s not far from here.  You know somebody there?

“No.  But I went there on my very first mission trip.”

“Why would anybody,” he wanted to know, “come to Virginia Beach on a mission trip?”

That night I didn’t know how to answer him – this man who lives in the shadow of Pat Robertson and CBN, Rock Church, and a host of other citadels of Evangelicalism.  Today I think I do.  It was the Perfect Form.

The Proposition

“Mission ‘73” it was called.  I caught a glimpse of an announcement in our church bulletin.  A youth choir mission trip to Virginia Beach, VA, for students who had completed the ninth grade or older.  Hey, I loved to travel and barely made the age cutoff, so I was sold!  I was still a spiritual newbie, and didn’t really know very many people.  But I was undeterred.

Mark Stone, the pastor of London Bridge at the time, was an old friend of my pastor.  We would go to this crossroads of vacationers, military personnel, and growing suburbanites and conduct Backyard Bible Clubs, help lead out in a church revival, and witness along the Boardwalk and beach along the Atlantic.

The Cast

I was among the youngest – and spiritually greenest –of the 64 or so to go on this adventure.  I was surrounded by people who were older, more established, and way more sure of themselves.  I certainly can’t remember them all, but the list included: [click to continue…]

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