Tag Archives: Spiritual Growth

A Beautiful Struggle for the More

There’s a saying that we have within my church community where we want people to be able to “struggle well” in their life with God.  None of us are blind to the fact that this life is filled with obstacles and difficulties that come our way.  Because of the battles we face and all the obstacles in our way, we have to be alert and aware of them.  We are warned to stay alert.  Warfare and attack is a very real thing that is in front of those that choose to walk with God.  The Enemy is always out to take us out in someway to get us to not trust the heart of God and choose our false-self.  This is reality, this is fact.

Now, that being said, John Eldredge and the Ransomed Heart team, recently put out a podcast series they called “What’s Going On?” (Click here to go their Podcast page) They opened up something to me that was frontier to me and yet, also was right in front of me and but I never could name it.  To give a quick summary, the thought is that all of the struggles that we all face as believers quite possibly, something more than we think.  Often times, the quick answer for a believer is, this is warfare.  This is spiritual attack.

The conversation in this podcast, however, opened my eyes to something.  That is the idea and belief that many of the struggles we face is God pressing on the accelerator, if you will, to grow us and train us.  That God is hastening our spiritual growth and maturity and uses the struggles and battles for that purpose.  This really got me thinking to all of the things so many of those around me are facing and the struggles I have personally faced.  Then when I look back, I can see how growth has happened as a result.20180718_113930_0001.png

So think about this.  Think about the things you’re facing right now.  What do you think God is doing in that?  Can you see how He is actually trying to grow and mature you?  In the book I’m currently reading, The Heart of a Warrior by Michael Thompson, he talks about the God training us up as warriors into a deeper life with Him.  So in reading that and listening to this conversation, this idea of training keeps resurfacing.  I think there’s something to this.

Let’s take a look at Scripture.  All through the Bible you see training taking place.  Look at the life of Paul.  Following his conversion, he is put through the ringer all in the process of growing more Christ like and ready to reach more and more of the the Gentile world with the Gospel.  Richard Rohr paraphrase what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:12-13.  We all know verse 13, which is often quoted, “I can do all things in Christ, who gives me strength.

Richard Rohr’s paraphrase goes as follows, “Now that I have been through my initiation, I am ready. For anything. Anywhere.”  Paul when through significant initiation.  He was shipwrecked, stoned, jailed, and so much more.  All of his struggles were a beautiful part of his growth and initiation.

Today, we are faced with a great deal of struggle and suffering in our lives from number of angles.  In our careers, our family lives, with friends, the loss of loved ones, and so much more.  I want you to do some introspective in your life and look at some of your toughest battles.  Things that seemed to derail you in the moment.  Then look at how you may have grown from that situation.  Ask God to show you what He was or is doing in that?

1Timothy4-8There’s no doubt that the enemy is waiting for his next opportunity to pounce.  When trouble comes, that is the moment of testing of whether we will press further into God or open the doorway for greater destruction.  So take some time to think about this, in your own life.  The with God life brings with it, so much beauty and at the same time there is still a great deal of struggle in it.   But the struggle is beautiful when we allow it to lead to a deeper life with God.

As we are warned, watch-out and be alert.  Also, learn at the same time, what God may be up to when he allows the difficulty and trials to come.  Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:8, ““Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”  Remember that God is still training us.  We’re not finished yet.  This training takes a lifetime, but the hope and glory beyond that in the Kingdom is going to be well worth it.

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What is Your Frontier?

As this next year begins and I continue diving into what this whole idea of deeper intimacy looks like, I was struck by something during my reading.  Morgan Snyder, with Ransomed Heart, who spearheads Become Good Soil, recently wrote a blog called Anything, Anywhere – The Four Primary Questions of Masculine Initiation.   In this post, Morgan writes about Paul, and the initiation he went through, many of those years hidden from our site, to become the Apostle is winds up penning the majority of the New Testament.  A very good read, and I encourage you to take the time do so.

One of the four questions that Morgan refers mentions is, “What is my frontier?”  This question really struck me as I began to ponder this.  I’ve talked about things, in conversation, that were frontier to me, but I don’t know how much I really every processed what it meant to my spiritual life and my walk with God.  Morgan quotes Howard Macey is that “the spiritual life cannot be made suburban, it is always frontier.  Those who choose to live in it must not only accept it, but even rejoice that it remain untamed.

I’ve been meditating on this for several days and I believe that God has been showing that this is an area that is very important to remember.  Understanding where I am in God’s story, doing introspection on my own spiritual maturity, and then looking at where I still need to grow and mature.  It’s a part of how we are initiated as the men and women that God desires to restore us to, but can only happen by our willingness to step into the journey.

Paul writes in Ephesians 4 that our continued growth and maturation will not be done until “we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ” (v. 13).  So back to Howard Macey’s quote and what Morgan was getting at, we must continue to step into the new and unknown territories of our faith and in learning the fullness of who God is (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

This is a significant area of my journey in really trying to do introspective on what is my frontier.  Essentially, what areas of my life and heart have I not yet yielded to God to allow him to continue maturing those parts of me.  This is that progressive sanctification.  It is lifetime journey of continuing to desire to know more of God and wanting to walk closer to him in such a way that he now becomes a part of your everyday life and is brought into everything that you do.

Am I there?…No, by no means.  We all have a long way to go.  I stand as a man, just about 3 years since driving the stake in the ground, and wow, something new keeps getting thrown my way that God is using to continue to mature and grow me.  I often times, feel like such an infant in this, but it’s a journey where there is no such thing as maybe, which pushes me deeper and deeper into this.

MountainRoadSo I want to challenge you to look at your life. Look at your walk with God, if you’ve started to walk with him.  If not yet, that’s okay right now, but begin to understand why.  If you’re still holding on to life as is, especially a life apart from God that does not allow for continued growth, you have to ask yourself, why?  Why do I hold on to a life in the false self that is not yielded?  Who have I allowed God to be in my life, if you’ve allowed him in at all?  Am I willing to follow him into another unknown?

Now, if you’ve been walking with God and have surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus, whether recently or years ago, what is your frontier?  Where in your life have you yet allowed God to mature and grow you into the fullness of Christ?  What training and development is still needed in my life to become more spiritually mature?  Is it in prayer, your knowledge of God as Father, Son, and/or Holy Spirit?  Is it in the way you engage with other believers?  Is it in disciplines such as solitude, silence, fasting, celebration, etc?  Is it in learning to slowdown from the busyness of life and building greater intimacy with God?  Those are just some areas for example.

We have to begin to do introspection in this way.  What is your plan for growth?  What is your frontier?  Starting a new year, this is a great time to begin to assess this in your life.  Spend time with God and ask him where your frontier is now.  Where does he want you to focus?  What words does he have for you in this?

Take these questions to trusted peers and mentors as well.  Others that are on the journey with you or have walked the ancient road ahead of you.  This question of frontier does not end now. Your frontier now, may not be your frontier next year or 5 years from now.  The point is, be willing to continue moving deeper, but always assessing this part of your life and where growth and maturation is still needed.

What’s beautiful about it all, is that God, through different ways will continue to take you down new roads you’ve never thought and you won’t see coming.  It’s a beautiful risk and adventure, and believe me, just from what I’ve experienced so far, it is so worth it.