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52 Churches

Acts 2 Church

Today’s destination is a charismatic church. We’ve not been to many so I’m excited for the experience.

Consider these four discussion questions about Church #34

1. We arrive ten minutes early. With only two cars in the lot, my anticipation sags. We walk in, surprising six people who aren’t expecting visitors—or anyone else. Yet Jesus says he will be there when two or more gather. 

How can we better embrace this teaching of Jesus?

2. “We’re in a rebuilding phase,” says one man. This seems like a positive spin on a dire situation. I don’t know what to say. 

How do we know when to push on and when to give up? What role does God play in this?

3. Though not dynamic in delivery, our speaker’s words resonate with me as he teaches about the Acts 2 church. 

How can we turn our attention from wanting to hear an eloquent speaker to remaining open to God’s leading, regardless of his messenger’s skill?

4. From a human standpoint, the future of this church is bleak, but with the Holy Spirit anything can happen, just as it did in Acts 2. 

How must we shift our focus from what we can do to what God can do?

Though this isn’t an Acts 2 church, I appreciate their teaching about the Holy Spirit and acknowledging his power to supernaturally make things happen and grow the church.

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

13 Reasons Why I Love the Bible

The Holy Scriptures Are So Much More than a Sacred Icon or Guidebook for Living

I revere the Bible. Every morning I reserve time to read its words and study its meaning. It informs who I am and reforms what I do. It exposes me to God and his ways. This is why I love the Bible.

Yes, I cherish the Bible. Here are thirteen reasons why I love it so much.

Why I Love the Bible

  1. Supplies Us with a Greater Authority
  2. Reveals God the Father to Us
  3. Points Us to Jesus
  4. Shows Us the Holy Spirit
  5. Reminds Us of Our Heritage
  6. Informs Our Understanding of God
  7. Provides Direction for Our Lives
  8. Teaches How to Live With One Another
  9. Offers Us Hope for the Future
  10. Unveils Rich Literature to Us
  11. Gives Us Daily Inspiration
  12. Presents Us with a Narrative to Inform Our Lives
  13. Uncovers the Spiritual Realm for Us

These are some of the reasons why I love the Bible.

Paul writes to Timothy that all parts of the Bible have value. It can teach us, rebuke us, correct us, and train us for right living. This prepares us to do good (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

'All Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in right living' (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Click To Tweet

Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Timothy 1-4, and today’s post is on 2 Timothy 3:16-17.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
52 Churches

Growing Deeper, Not Wider

Discussing Church 2

The church is three years old and meets in a strip mall. Their goal is to “grow deeper, not wider.” Everything about this church is the opposite of last week.

Consider these four church discussion questions for Church #2:

1. I park near the door. I later realize they leave the prime spaces for guests, with the regulars parking further away.

When you arrive at church, where do you park and why?

2. Scores of people mill about, all engaged in conversation. We mosey in, giving time for someone to notice us. No one does. We sit and squirm in silence.

Who do you talk to before church: friends, regulars you don’t know well, or visitors? Why? What needs to change?

3. Despite singing and hearing a message, most of the service relates to church business.

How can you address church business and still make it meaningful for new people? Should Sunday mornings have an external focus, saving internal discussions for a different time?

4. Although they ignored us after we walked in, the overall atmosphere and service was much more welcoming than last week. I want to come back.

What can you do to make it easy for people to engage in your service and want to return?

Grow Deeper

I applaud this church for their desire to grow deeper. From what I can tell, they’re doing a fantastic job. And in the process, they are growing numerically as well.

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Tips in Selecting Sermon Podcasts

Carefully Choose the Messages You Hear

I listen to a lot of podcasts each week. Since I work at home and my wife doesn’t, I often eat lunch by myself. This is an ideal time to listen to podcasts. I also listen when I take my daily walk—at least each day when the weather is nice enough to go out. I once subscribed to many sermon podcasts, hearing over fifteen each week.

I know what you’re thinking: that’s too many. I agree. Over time, I fell behind, grew overwhelmed at my backlog of not-listened-to messages, and began unsubscribing from the less beneficial ones. Yes, not all sermons are equally valuable.

I culled the number of sermon podcast feeds I was following. I now listen to just two, though I may up the number to three. (Most of the other podcasts I now follow relate to writing and publishing, but some of those have stopped producing content, giving me the space to add another to my list of sermon podcasts.)

When I began cutting back on my sermon podcasts habit, I scrutinized the value of each one.

Merely Entertaining

The first to go were the messages that were more entertaining than educational. Though they tickled my mind with intriguing soundbites or had a compelling delivery, they did little to challenge me or provide spiritual enlightenment.

Nothing New

Next to go were the sermon podcasts that told me what I already knew. With so many better options out there, I saw no point to persist in repetition.

Knowledge Without Application

Third on my list of sermon podcasts I unsubscribed from were the ones that only gave information with no application. Though my mind expanded from this new-to-me insight, my life didn’t change. There was no point in continuing. As Paul wrote, “knowledge puffs up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). I didn’t want to be a puffy follower of Jesus.

Life-Changing Insight

I ended up with two podcasts that challenged my thinking. They provided me with fresh insights. These messages enhanced my comprehension of God, expanded my understanding of how I could best fit in his world, and provided actionable challenge. In short, these podcasts produced life change. And that’s the point.

Which Sermon Podcasts?

You may want to know which messages I now listen to. Not to be mean, but I won’t tell you. This is for two reasons.

The first is that the list of podcasts I subscribe to will surely change in the future, so what I post today will not be accurate tomorrow.

Select sermon podcasts that produce life change. Click To Tweet

The second, and more important, reason is the podcasts impactful to me may not be meaningful to you. That is, the sermons that give me new insights or fresh perspectives may be things you’ve already heard. You don’t need to hear them again. On the other hand, podcasts that may repeat information for me may be exactly what you need.

This means we each need to carefully make our own list of sermon podcasts and online messages to listen too. May we choose wisely.

Categories
Christian Living

Seek Positive Influences

Be Careful Who You Invite into Your Life

Who influences you? Who are the people that guide your decisions and inform your perspectives? We must be careful who we let into this most critical mental space of our lives, for if we are unwise in who we let shape our sensibilities, we risk letting others guide us down the wrong path. That’s why we must seek positive influences.

You may have heard the thought-provoking quote, often attributed to Jim Rohn, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” The corollary to this is “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” My take on this concept is, “Who you hang out with will shape who you become.”

The Ripple Effect

If we’re influenced by the five people closest to us, then we must acknowledge that each one of them faces the impact of the five people closest to them. That means we’re directly affected by five people and indirectly affected, albeit not to the same degree, by twenty-five more, some of whom we may not even know.

Allow this ripple of interpersonal impact to expand one more level and we find 125 more who influence the people who influence the people who influence us. If this seems far-fetched, studies confirm a connection.

While some may quibble with the details, few will dismiss the impact that others have on our lives, be it positive influences or negative. We must be careful who we let in, who we keep at a distance, and who we need to avoid.

This doesn’t mean we should ignore people with struggles or who focus on what is contrary to our life’s mission, but we should exercise restraint and how much access we provide to them.

Scrutinize Who Impacts Your Life

This is one reason I stopped listening to the news and scaled way back on social media. Read more about this in my post on toxic environments. There’s so much negativity in both these destinations, which I don’t want in my life. I’m wise to push those influences aside.

That’s why we should look for who we can invite into our life. We can start by considering people with traits we respect. Beyond that we should evaluate our entertainment choices: the books we read, the shows we watch, and the places we go.

Who influences you spiritually? Does anything need to change? Click To Tweet

This idea of influence also applies to the church we attend. Are the people there uplifting, or do they pull us down? If we leave church discouraged or need time to mentally decompress from the experience, we may be better off to seek an alternate Sunday destination.

Beyond church, who influences you spiritually? Does anything need to change? May we surround ourselves with those who present us with positive influences.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Seven Transformations of Peter DeHaan

A Personal Story of Growing in Faith and Action

[This personal essay first appeared in The Transformation Project: A West Michigan Word Weavers Anthology.]

A caterpillar turns into a butterfly; a tadpole becomes a frog. People can change too. We call it transformation. Here’s my story.

1. The Bible Matters

We moved between fourth and fifth grade. I didn’t learn much at my new school. I was far ahead in most subjects, especially Math. However, I lagged in English, especially grammar, sending me on a lifelong quest to grasp it. Given that I ended up an author, and not a mathematician as planned, this ironic twist amuses me.

How I managed to earn A’s in English remains a mystery.

Teachers give more attention to students on the fringe, both those who struggle and those who shine. Since I stood out in most areas, my teacher gave me more attention. Although I didn’t learn much academically that year, she gave me something more important, something life changing: an enhanced self-image.

Succinctly, I began fifth grade as an above average student who believed he was average. I ended the year as an above average student, convinced he was exceptional. This single readjustment of my self-perception forever altered my life.

No longer did I seek to merely get by in school, to take the easy way out. Learning changed from drudgery to delight. I desired to excel.

My newfound interest in education spilled over into religion, as I devoured faith-friendly books—both fiction and nonfiction. Later, I became intentional about reading Scripture. I loved my pursuit of biblical knowledge.

Soon I read the New Testament, and a couple of years later I covered the entire Bible over summer vacation. This sparked a life-long passion of digging for truth in God’s word.

As strange as it sounds, a secular schoolteacher provided the catalyst for my first transformation: an overall desire to learn, which spilled over to an intellectual pursuit of God.

2. The Vast Diversity of Jesus’s Church

I grew up attending two small, mainline denominational churches, where church was a traditional experience: stoic, reserved—and boring. I had trouble connecting faith with church.

What I read in the Bible didn’t much match what I experienced on Sunday. Perhaps changing churches would solve my dilemma.

After high school, I veered evangelical.

At this new church, aside from seeing young adults my age excited about faith and happy to go to church, two other things astounded me: the music and the sermon. Both were fresh and inviting. This sparked a spiritual rejuvenation in me.

My old church had effectively put God in a box. As I migrated to a different doctrine, I had to escape my old theology. This resulted in a newfound freedom to comprehend God afresh. My faith leapt forward when I came to this church, completing a shift in my focus from an intellectual pursuit of God to a personal relationship with Jesus.

My new church, however, also put God in a box, even smaller and more confining.

Their box, fundamental in construction, lacked love and excelled at judgment. Their idea of godly living existed as rules. Theirs was a heavy load and not freeing. Jesus proclaimed the opposite: a light burden and gentle yoke. He offered rest from the religious regulations of the day—not bondage to them.

This church’s doctrine was narrow, dogmatic to an extreme. Pastoral opinion, uttered as fact, allowed for no disagreement. They isolated themselves from most of Christianity, turning up their religious nose at the unity Jesus prayed for.

At first, I didn’t see their error, but when I did, it became an oppressive weight. A spiritual angst welled up inside. I craved escape.

My second transformation occurred not when I joined this church or when I left it, but in the realization that Jesus’s church is more than one gathering, one denomination, or even one faith perspective (be it mainline, evangelical, or charismatic; Protestant or Catholic).

The church of Jesus, with its many branches, is diverse and wonderful. He prayed we would be one (John 17:20-21)—and I began to embrace that too.

Jesus’s church is huge—and I’m glad I’m part of it.

3. Learning to Feed Myself

I wasn’t being fed spiritually, so I switched churches. My reason sounded so spiritual, but my claim revealed immaturity. Unable to feed myself, I expected my pastor to do it for me. I was a baby Christian, only able to drink milk and not eat solid food (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

Though I read the Bible daily, prayed most days, and had a relationship with Jesus, I expected my pastor to shovel enough spiritual sustenance into me each Sunday to sustain me for the week. I didn’t know how to do this myself.

Even worse, I didn’t realize I was supposed to. Isn’t that what we pay our ministers to do?

The pastor at this church had a different view. He explained I needed to feed myself—and then showed me how. Soon I learned what to do, no longer relying on him to nourish me.

I discovered how to listen to God, hearing his words and direction. I grew as a person of prayer and faith. My intimacy with God deepened, overwhelming me with peace and joy.

Learning to feed myself spiritually marked my third transformation, establishing the basis for the next one.

4. Holy Spirit

I joined with a group of believers who were diligently seeking more from their faith. We immersed ourselves in learning about the Holy Spirit. I was ecstatic about the new truths we learned.

After a time, with my friends gathered, I asked the Holy Spirit to indwell me, to take over my life, and envelop me. They stretched out their hands and prayed for me—and nothing happened.

What went wrong?

Discouraged over this non-event, only later did I realize I’d already done this.

Decades prior, while still in high school, one of the things I read was a little blue booklet called The Four Spiritual Laws. I studied it carefully and eagerly said the prayer they suggested. A few years later came a follow-up booklet that taught about living the spirit-filled life.

I raced through it to reach the end, seeking what I needed to do. With excitement, I invited the Holy Spirit into my life and to fill me. A powerful wave of God’s love engulfed me, a warm supernatural whoosh. Life made sense.

Everything came into focus. God emerged for me as a vibrant, real presence.

After a few days, however, my supernatural bliss evaporated. My spirit-filled euphoria was gone. Dejected, I returned to my tiny booklet to reclaim that feeling but without success. I tossed it aside and soon forgot it.

Though I failed then to comprehend it, the Holy Spirit had been quietly active in my life ever since but without my awareness. I thought supernatural insights and promptings were normal for all Christians.

Now that I understood the scope of his influence, I became intentional about listening to and following the Holy Spirit’s lead. Nowadays we work together as a team—at least most of the time.

My fourth transformation embraced the person of the oft-forgotten member of the Trinity: The Holy Spirit.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

5. Jesus’s Healing Power

The opportunity for another change came when a group of like-minded Jesus followers launched a healing room. This required a bold step forward, both for our group and for us as individuals.

We went to training and we practiced what we learned, initially on each other and eventually applying it to others, timidly at first and then with greater confidence—not in ourselves but in God’s amazing power. Our faith in action moved forward.

This stretched me spiritually, and I savored my new insights into God and the grandeur of who he is.

Jesus, we learned, came to heal and to save. Two thousand years ago, the masses clamored for his healing power, but most missed his saving power. Today, Christians in the Western world see Jesus as savior but dismiss him as healer. I embrace both—and with unapologetic passion.

Each week our team would gather to worship God and listen for his instructions. Then we’d open our doors to offer prayer and healing. There I experienced firsthand what I’d only read about.

God used us to heal people: emotionally, spiritually, and physically—sometimes gradually and sometimes immediately.

As we worked together, we taught and encouraged one another, learning to rely on the Holy Spirit for direction and power. My fifth transformation had begun, never complete but always moving forward.

6. A Mission to Spread the Word

I started college when I was sixteen. Twenty-seven years later, I finally finished—or so I thought—with a PhD in Business Administration. I never went full time but always fit my classes and homework around a full-time job, usually while working forty-five to fifty-five hours a week.

Along the way, I made many sacrifices. To my dismay, this included giving up time with family. When my last diploma arrived, my wife asked, “Are you finally finished?” I assured her I was.

But God had other plans.

A few years later, he whispered to me, “Go back to school.” He didn’t say when, where, or why. He simply said, “Go.” The rest was up to me. Since God was doing the telling, I figured my studies should have a spiritual focus.

Both dismayed and elated at the prospect of more formal education, I moved forward, but my quest was a long one. It took five years, but I graduated with a second PhD, this one in Pastoral Ministry, of all things.

My dissertation explored church unity. The topic drew me in, with increasing fervor. I could not let go of its persistent grasp. The unity of Jesus’s church became my passion.

Writing my dissertation also sparked something else deep inside my soul. Although I’d been writing most of my life, for the first time my writing intersected with my faith.

Until then, I’d spent decades writing about business and for business. But now, being a wordsmith had a greater purpose. I ceased trying to write quickly for work and began striving to write with quality for God. My words had a higher calling.

My passion to write about godly things exploded into a calling I could not shake. Soon I wondered if my next career would be as a writer. As I studied and practiced and improved, I knew verbalizing my intention was the next step.

At a mere whisper, my words, “I am a writer,” released an inner desire to write for God. Then I spoke, again, this time a little louder, “I am a writer.” Self-doubt retreated. But I needed to make a firm declaration.

“I am a writer!” I bellowed with confidence. And so I was. My sixth transformation, as a writer on a mission for God, was set in motion.

When I die, my spirit, the essential me, will transform into something wonderful, amazing, and everlasting. Click To Tweet

7. The Final Transformation

I don’t know what the future holds or if an additional transformation awaits me. There is one, however, I can be sure of: death.

I will one day die, and my ultimate transformation will take place. My body—where my soul and spirit reside—will cease to function. My essence will find release, no longer imprisoned in the physical realm, no longer bound by time.

My spirit, the essential me, will transform into something wonderful, amazing, and everlasting—not for personal glory or self-aggrandizement, but for eternal communion with my Creator, worshiping and experiencing true spiritual intimacy with the King of Transformation.

Then my transformation will be complete. I will finally be home.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Are You Zealous about Church?

We Must Do Better at Our Religious Meetings

“Why do you so hate the church?”

Shocked, I furrow my eyes and scowl at my friend. “I don’t hate church.”

“But you’re always criticizing it in your blog.”

This gives me pause. True, much of my writing about church doesn’t celebrate what she does well but rebukes her for what she does poorly or doesn’t do at all.

“I don’t hate the church,” I say again, as if trying to convince myself. “I love the church, really I do. I write to challenge her to do better because I know she can.”

My friend nods, but I’m not sure I convinced her.

In truth I’m zealous about church.

Zealous about Church

Over the centuries the church has done much to advance the cause of Jesus, help people find their way to eternal life, and perform acts of generosity that point an unbelieving world to Jesus. Today’s church continues to do that. And I hope church has done that for you.

But lest we feel smug about the church’s achievements, today’s church does only a small fraction of what she could be doing, of what she should be doing. I’m sad to say that the church has lost her way. She’s off track and has missed the mark for much of her existence. This pains me as much as a spike driven into my heart, into my very soul, the core of my being. I mourn what the church is because she’s falling far short of her potential, of her calling.

Hypothetically Speaking

It’s like being a parent of a brilliant, gifted child who muddles her way through school and gets C’s, even though she’s capable of getting A’s in advanced classes. As a loving parent, I would do whatever I could to shake the apathetic inertia out of my child and get her to live up to her potential. But since she won’t, I prod her to do better. I do this through the words I write. It’s the best way I know to help.

Just as I would do this for my child, I do this for my church with the same imperative passion. I metaphorically shake her in hopes that she’ll do better—because she can.

At this point, some of you may be saying “Amen, preach it!,” but others of you—most of you, I suspect—have raised your hackles at my insulting, impertinent words. You’re angry and thinking about clicking the close button. If I were with you in person, you might yell. It might be that you’re screaming right now. That’s okay. I get it. But before you bail on me, I challenge you to stick with me a little bit longer. Give me a chance to explain.

Biblical Church

If asked, most people would say the practices of their church are biblical. They’d say that about every church I’ve been part of. They’d even say this for every church I visited in my book 52 Churches and its sequels.

Let’s run through a typical church service. There’s preaching. That’s in the Bible. Check. There’s singing. Also in the Bible. Check. There’s praying, an offering (or two), and a concluding blessing. All biblical. Check, check, check. We meet every Sunday, just like the Bible says. (More on that later.) Check. We may volunteer, tithe, and respect our pastor. More checkmarks. Yes, today’s church services are biblical—or so they seem.

Yet, we read the Bible through the lens of our experience. The things we do in church, we find them mentioned in the Bible. This confirms we’re doing things the biblical way, God’s way. Yet we may be connecting dots we shouldn’t connect.

For example, the Bible tells us to not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:24-25). This is a command to go to church every Sunday. Not really—despite what many preachers claim.

We take our church experiences, then we find justification for them in the Bible, even if this isn’t what the Bible says. This is confirmation bias. We do it all the time. You, me, everyone. But we must stop.

Meeting Together

Back to Hebrews. This passage doesn’t mention church. It says, “meeting together,” hanging out. If you came to my house—which would be way cool and more personal than reading this post—we’d be meeting together, just as the Bible commands.

If we go out to eat each Sunday, that’s meeting together. If we do game night once a month, that’s meeting together. So would be movie night, hanging out at the coffee shop, and working together on a service project. These are all examples of us meeting together. Going to church is just one possibility. But let’s be clear, this passage doesn’t command us to go to church. It merely tells us to meet together. How we meet is up for us to determine. Sort of. (Read more in Why Sunday?)

However—here I go ruffling some more feathers—going to one of today’s churches on Sunday morning may be one of the least significant ways we can meet. At most churches today, we spend the better part of an hour staring at the back of someone’s head as others entertain us. Yes, today’s church is more about a chosen few performing than about the majority present taking part.

Then we go home. This is scarcely a prime example of meeting together. If our church service—even the best ones I’ve ever been to—is us meeting together as the Bible commands, we’re doing a poor job of it. We’re getting C’s (or D’s or even F’s) when we should be getting A’s in advanced classes.

That’s why I mourn for the church I love so much. That’s why I write. I write because I know she’s capable of so much more. I’m zealous about church.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Can You Be a Spiritual Mother to Someone?

Some people don’t have biological offspring, but everyone can have spiritual descendants

Paul wraps up his letter to the church in Rome with a long list of people Most of these names stream past our eyes as unfamiliar. We’re tempted to skim. But slow down.

Consider Rufus (Romans 16:13). That name only appears in one other place in the Bible, and that likely refers to a different guy. So we know little about this Rufus except that Paul greets him by name. Paul shares no reason, offers no encouragement, and gives no backstory—other than to say Rufus is chosen by God.

Oh, and there’s Rufus’s mother. Paul doesn’t even give her name, just her role as Rufus’s mom—who has also been like a mom to Paul. This is huge.

Rufus’s mom has a biological son, Rufus. She also has a spiritual son, Paul.

When you think of mothers, what traits come to mind? I think first of loving. Following that comes nurturing, encouraging, and supportive. Mothers also hope for the best from their children and always believe in them. And most mothers like to feed their kids, too.

I suspect Rufus’s mom is all these things to Paul.

We can all be spiritual mothers to those who need love, nurturing, encouragement, and support. Click To Tweet

Some women have biological children and others do not, either by choice or by circumstance. The ladies in this last category long to have kids but do not. The Bible is replete with longsuffering women who pray earnestly and ache to have children. After decades of waiting, God gives them what their heart desires.

Yet whether a biological mom or not, we can all be spiritual mothers. And this includes guys, too.

Who needs love, nurturing, encouragement, and support? Although the answer is everyone, I’m sure some specific individuals come to mind.

Be a spiritual mother to them. You never know the impact they might grow up to have on others.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Romans 14-16, and today’s post is on Romans 16:13.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Discover How to Grow Spiritually

Our Spiritual Health Should Be Our Most Important Healthcare Concern

Many people today worry about their health. This can relate to their physical health, mental health, or emotional health. They have less concern, however, about their spiritual health—if they give it any consideration at all.

But our spiritual health is the most critical of all our healthcare concerns. It’s important for today and essential for eternity.

To pursue our spiritual health, seeking to maintain the status quo isn’t enough. This will fall short. Instead we must strive for spiritual growth. Here are the main steps we can take to grow spiritually.

Study Scripture

Daily Bible reading is an important aspect of spiritual health. I encourage everyone to do it, whether in short passages or in a grand plan to read the Bible in a year. As we read the Bible each day, we hide it in our hearts (Psalm 119:11) and immerse it in our souls.

Just as we need to eat each day for our physical health, we need regular doses of Scripture for our spiritual well-being.

Bible reading, however, is just the start. As we read scripture, we should meditate on it (Joshua 1:8) and study it (John 5:39 and Acts 17:11). Then we should allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us through the words we read.

Bible reading, study, and meditation is the first step for people who want to grow spiritually.

Talk to God

Next is communicating with God, which we typically call praying. Yet for many people prayer is one way. They tell God what they need or want. Sometimes they thank him or even praise him (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Yet prayer should be bidirectional. It should be a dialogue. We talk to God, and we listen to what he has to say (John 14:26). It takes practice to hear the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit, but learning to hear from God is worth the effort.

Prayer is the second step that helps us grow spiritually.

Engage in Community

Just as God lives in relationship with himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so too does he desire to be in relationship with us. He created us for community. This means spending time with other followers of Jesus.

We should not neglect this (Hebrews 10:24-25). Wherever two or more hang out in his name, he is there (Matthew 18:20). A unique spiritual connection occurs when we do this.

This could happen at church, or it could happen in other places. While Church should be a great place for Christian relationships to develop, many gatherings lack this opportunity for meaningful connection. God created us in his image to thrive in community.

When we engage with intention to connect with other followers of Jesus, we grow spiritually.

Serve Others

These first three elements of spiritual growth prepare us for the last. This is to serve others (Matthew 25:35-40, John 3:1, James 1:27, and James 2:14-17).

There are limitless opportunities for us to help others. These can be to meet the physical needs, emotional needs, or spiritual needs of those around us. Often addressing one of these three areas connects with the other two.

Serving others can occur through giving our money or our time. Either way it’s an investment in their overall physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health. And as we help them, we grow spiritually.

To grow spiritually we must study Scripture, pray, hang out with other Jesus followers, and serve those outside our community. Click To Tweet

Summary of How to Grow Spiritually

The first two elements of spiritual growth—Bible study and prayer—relate to our relationship with God. Our spiritual health starts there.

The third element—intentional Christian community—relates to our relationship with other followers of Jesus. This is essential, but for us to get the most out of our time with other believers, we must first pursue God through Bible study and prayer.

Christian community looks internally at the body of believers.

When we put all three of these steps together the goal is an outward look towards others to serve them and point them to Jesus. This is the purpose of the first three steps: to help others with their own spiritual health.

To grow spiritually we must study Scripture, pray, hang out with other Jesus followers, and serve those outside our community.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Woodpecker Wars: Celebrating the Spirituality of Everyday Life

Are You a Spiritual Person?

What parts of your life are spiritual? Sorry. Trick question.

All parts of our lives are spiritual. Seriously. It’s just that most people don’t know it.

Most people think of church as a spiritual activity and everything else is not, as in secular. They live their life with a spiritual/secular divide. They compartmentalize their spiritual activity, shoving it aside so it doesn’t interfere with the rest of their life.

Woodpecker Wars: Celebrating the Spirituality of Everyday Life, by Peter DeHaan, PhD

It’s time we (re)discover the spirituality of everyday life. It’s time we celebrate the spirituality of living.

  • Our family and our holidays are spiritual.
  • Our work and our passions are spiritual.
  • Our money is spiritual and so is our health.
  • Our existence in God’s creation is spiritual.
  • Yes, every aspect of our life is spiritual.

Let’s explore the spirituality of everyday life. Let’s embrace the spirituality of living. Read Woodpecker Wars to discover more. It’s playful yet profound, quirky yet insightful.

(No woodpeckers were harmed in the writing of this book.)

Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.