Tag Archives: spiritual growth

Speak Truth in Love

Being both honest and kind is how we grow in our faith and mature through Jesus

When Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, he tells them to speak what is true with love. This should be our guide in all that we say. While this makes sense, it’s harder to put into practice.Speak truth in love.

Truth: This phrase, to speak truth in love, starts with a call for honesty. As the saying goes, “Honesty is the best policy.” Better still, the Bible commands us not to lie (Leviticus 19:11).

Yet how often do we tell a tiny fib to protect someone’s feelings? Is this okay? How often do we tell someone an untruth because it is expedient? Or maybe we lie to avoid a confrontation or having a difficult conversation.

While some of these issues may be shades of gray, others are black-and-white. The point is Paul tells us to speak truth.

Love: The guiding principle in how we express ourselves honestly is love. Love should temper what we say and how we say it. We want our words to help and not to hurt. Love is the framework for truth telling.

Yet sometimes out of a desire to love, we hide the truth. We obscure what is real because it is the easier path to take. This is a show of love, but it’s outcome isn’t truth.

We need to speak what is true and to do so with a loving attitude.We need to speak what is true and to do so with a loving attitude. Click To Tweet

Grow: Though speaking the truth in love feels like wise advice, it’s not always the easiest path to take. Being both honest and loving at the same time can be a challenging thing to do. But we must persist in this effort.

When we speak the truth in love, Paul tells us that we will grow in our faith and develop maturity as the group of people—the church—who follow Jesus.

That’s why speaking truth in love is so important. We do it for Jesus.

[Read through the New Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Ephesians 4, and today’s post is on Ephesians 4:15.]

For Many Christians, It’s Time To Grow Up

One of the reasons we learn about God is so we can teach others

In the letter written to the Hebrew people who follow Jesus, there’s a short phrase that’s easy to skip over. The author, who I suspect is Paul, criticizes the people he’s writing to. He says they should be at a point in their faith journey where they can teach others. Instead they are content to be taught. They’re drinking milk, but they should have moved on to solid food.It’s time we start eating solid food.

Notice that the writer doesn’t call out specific people. He makes a general statement to all who receive his letter. That’s everyone. In our Christian society today, most people remain content to have someone teach them. They seldom take time to teach others about God, their faith, and their faith Journey.

Our churches today are filled with people who crave milk. Even though they are mature enough to eat solid food, they haven’t grown enough to take that step. Instead they’re content to suck milk from a bottle.

This is to their shame and to our shame. We expect others to teach us, when we should be doing the teaching ourselves.We expect others to teach us, when we should be doing the teaching ourselves. Click To Tweet

Teaching can take several forms. It might be standing before a group and giving a lesson. It might be sitting in a circle and sharing what God is doing in our life. Or maybe it’s one-on-one interaction when we encourage a friend to move forward in their faith and to make Godly decisions.

Some people delude themselves by claiming they’re not ready to teach. But I think most simply find it’s the most comfortable thing to do. They prefer to go to church and sit passively in their pews so that someone else can give them milk to drink.

Instead we should adopt a new attitude. We should realize we have insights, knowledge, and experiences that can help others. Everyone knows something that will benefit the people we talk to. We need to share what we know. Likewise everyone we encounter knows something that we don’t. We must be ready to hear what they have to say and learn from them.

Our job is to grow in our faith, and then to teach others. It’s time to start doing that.

[Read through the New Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Hebrews 5, and today’s post is on Hebrews 5:12.]


News Release: Read the Bible in 2015

Read the Bible in 2015 by Reading Only a Few Minutes a Day

ABibleADay.com and Peter DeHaan Unveil Comprehensive Bible Reading Schedules for 2015

Dec. 16, 2014Grand Rapids, Mich. Now in its tenth year, ABibleADay.com has released its Bible reading plans for 2015 to encourage regular Bible reading. In addition to the plan to read the entire Bible in 2015, author Peter DeHaan also has two less ambitious Bible reading schedules to cover just the New Testament or just the Old Testament in one year. All three plans are available by a free download from ABibleADay.com. Readers may freely share the Bible reading plans without restriction, as long as it is for a noncommercial use.

“Every December people email me asking about Bible reading plans for the New Year. Last year we added a plan to read the entire Bible to our perennial plans for the New Testament and the Old Testament,” said Peter DeHaan, PhD. By reading about fifteen minutes a day, an average adult reader can cover the entire Bible in one year, while it takes only twelve minutes a day to read the Old Testament. “It only takes three to four minutes a day, five days a week, to read the New Testament in one year,” added Bible scholar Peter DeHaan, “The New Testament plan is our most popular.” For people who want a less ambitious approach, DeHaan also provides monthly suggestions, which are also available at ABibleADay.com.

DeHaan’s method for all the options is to cover the Bible in sections, reading from only one book each day, completing that book before moving on to the next one. However, the schedule does not make people read the Bible straight through from page one to the end. “It’s too easy to get bogged down by one section of the Bible,” said DeHaan.

In addition to the annual Bible Reading plans, ABibleADay.com also has hundreds of pages of information about the Bible, including Bible FAQs, Bible terms, books of the Bible, and a Bible blog.

Download one of the 2015 Bible reading plans or learn more about the Bible from http://ABibleADay.com – and have a Happy New Year!

Book Review: Heart Speaks to Heart

Heart Speaks to Heart: Three Gospel Meditations on Jesus

By Henri Nouwen (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)
Book Review: Heart Speaks to Heart
Heart Speaks to Heart is three prayers to Jesus from Henri Nouwen.

The prayers were written in the days preceding Easter, with an eye towards Jesus’ death and resurrection. As such, the prayers are suitable for the Easter season, but they are also appropriate for any time.

This book is not a discussion on prayer or about the heart of Jesus, but instead it is a prayer from the author’s heart to Jesus’ heart. As Nouwen asserted, “I simply prayed as I wrote and wrote as I prayed.”

The three prayers are preceded by an introduction, explaining the events that led to their creation. They are followed by an epilogue, detailing how they are shared with the person who gently, yet insistently, prodded Henri to pursue this journey of heart to heart prayer.

[Heart Speaks to Heart: Three Gospel Meditations on Jesus, by Henri Nouwen. Published by Ave Maria Press, 2007, ISBN: 978-1594711169, 61 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.


Book Review: The Ragamuffin Gospel

The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out

By Brennan Manning (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)
Book Review: The Ragamuffin Gospel
This book was not written for people who have their act together, but instead for the “bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out.” It is for me and it is likely for you. A ragamuffin, by the way, is “a shabbily clothed, dirty child.” It may not be an attractive metaphor, but it is revealing.

The Ragamuffin Gospel ask questions — questions you may have thought, but were afraid to voice. It doesn’t provide answers as much as it points the way towards reflection and self-discovering; it is awe-inspiring in the process.

Cleverly thought-provoking, this is not a religious book, but it is highly spiritual. It is a short read, but may not be a quick read as you contemplate the depth, fullness, and richness of the journey on which it takes you.

The “visual edition” of The Ragamuffin Gospel (linked below) is filled with equally stunning and thought-provoking artwork and photos. Let it inspire and encourage you, as you pour over its inviting pages.

[The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out, by Brennan Manning. Published by Multnomah Books, 2005, ISBN: 978-1590525029, 272 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.


Book Review: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

By Phillip Keller (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)
Book Review: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23
The idea of a shepherd overseeing his flock is a powerful metaphor of the relationship between God and his people. Unfortunately, today’s world has largely lost touch with its agrarian roots, missing much of the deeper meaning of a shepherd’s watch and care over his flock.

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 takes an interesting and insightful look at the 23rd Psalm from the perspective of a shepherd, who is also the author. By learning how a good shepherd protects, cares, and provides for his sheep, we can gain a better understanding into how our Good Shepherd cares for us, his sheep.

Furthermore, as we learn about the sacrifices Keller made for his sheep and the ways in which they benefited — generally oblivious to his loving efforts — we gain insight into God’s sacrifices for us to keep us safe from enemies, healthy from maladies, and content in our existence. Sometimes, though, sheep thwart the shepherd’s efforts; in this regard, Keller again shares from his experience, in which we see the loving patience of the Good Shepherd emerge.

Reading this book will appreciably change the way you read Psalm 23.

[A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by W. Phillip Keller. Published by Zondervan, 2007, ISBN: 978-0310274414, 176 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.


Book Review: Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity

By C. S. Lewis (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)
Book Review: Mere Christianity
C. S. Lewis’s book, Mere Christianity, is based on a series of BBC radio broadcasts in the early 1940s. Initially, published as three separate volumes Broadcast Talks (1942), Christian Behaviour (1943), and Beyond Personality (1944), the works were combined in 1952 to result in Mere Christianity, that is to say, merely expounding on Christianity.

Mere Christianity is divided into four sections:  The first is “Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe,” which aptly serves as a strong foundation on which the rest of the book – and Christianity – is built. The second section, “What Christians Believe,” shows that we have free will to love God or deny Him, but Satan, our enemy, wants us to think we can be like God (which explains all of history). God sent Jesus into the world; his death puts us right with God, yet it evokes a response: change. “Christian Behavior” is the title for part three, which covers practical behavior issues. Doctrine is addressed in the book’s final section.

Lewis concludes with the encouragement to “look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in,” a fitting conclusion to this intellectual treatise on what is merely Christianity.

[Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis. Published by Harper San Francisco, 2009, ISBN: 978-0060652920, 227 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.


Book Review: How People Grow

How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth

By Henry Cloud and John Townsend (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)
Book Review: How People Grow
This book is intended to help people grow and is applicable even when other common approaches have fallen short. The underlying premise is that all growth is spiritual growth, therefore viable growth has a spiritual dimension.

Doctors Cloud and Townsend take the reader down a methodical path towards a deeper understanding of what is required for growth to truly take place. The book is broadly filled with real-life examples and personal anecdotes that help the reader better understand and connect with the authors’ teaching on personal growth.

The book’s nineteen chapters are divided into four progressing sections, with the fourth and final section offering ten practical, yet at times challenging, areas to encourage and facilitate growth.

This book is appropriate for those wishing to fine-tune their lives, as well as those in the midst of crisis.

An optional workbook is available as well as an audio recording.

[How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Published by Zondervan, 2009, ISBN: 978-0310257370, 368 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.


Book Review: Hope for the Flowers

Hope for the Flowers

By Trina Paulus (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)
Book Review: Hope for the Flowers
Hope for the Flowers is a delightful allegory offering messages on multiple levels and applicable to all age groups. It is a short book that can be read in about fifteen minutes and is simply, yet effectively, illustrated by its author Trina Paulus. As such, it can function nicely as a children’s book, as well as a clever and profound teaching tool for teenagers and adults of all ages.

The story chronicles the life pursuits and relationships of two caterpillars, Stripe and Yellow, searching for meaning and purpose in their lives. It is about struggle, yearnings, single-minded focus, diligence, perseverance, making mistakes, enlightenment, letting go, and ultimately…well, let’s not spoil the ending.

This book is a great addition to anyone’s library. Buy two: one to keep and one to give away!

[Hope for the Flowers, by Trina Paulus. Published by Paulist Press, 1973, ISBN: 978-0809117543, 160 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.


Book Review: Crazy Love

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

By Francis Chan with Danae Yankoski (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)
Book Review: Crazy Love
Francis Chan’s Crazy Love opens by bravely stating what is self-obvious to many Christians, but is seldom voiced: “we all know something’s wrong.” Chan unabashedly writes this book “for those who yearn for more Jesus,” for those “bored with what American Christianity offers,” “for those who don’t want to plateau,” and for “those who would rather die before their convictions do.” If that doesn’t stir your heart, then this book is not for you.

The first three chapters of Crazy Love, while new to some and review for others, provide a foundation designed to move us to worship God more fully and passionately. Upon this foundation the remaining seven chapters are built, challenging us to re-examine ourselves and our lives in light of who God is.

Francis Chan’s writing runs counter to the prevalent Christian cultural and is provocative in what he advocates. This is exemplified by the chapter titles, such as “Stop praying,” “You might not finish this chapter,” and “Serving leftovers to God.”

Along the way, Francis talks about selfish living, about succeeding at the wrong things, about Christians who play it safe, about being “lukewarm,” and about loving God and loving others. Overall, it’s about love, God’s crazy love for us and that it’s crazy for us not to love him back, completely and unreservedly.

In chapter eight, Francis provides thirteen convicting characteristics of people who are obsessed with God. He then proceeds to share the stories of some who actually lived that way.

Francis Chan wants our lives to match our talk; he wants us to pursue Jesus; he wants us to be filled with and follow the Holy Spirit. He leaves us thinking about what we want to be found doing when Jesus returns.

[Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, by Francis Chan with Danae Yankoski. Published by David C. Cook, 2008, ISDN: 978-1-4347-6851-3, 205 pages, $14.99]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.