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Posts Tagged ‘growth’

In Genesis 1:14, 15, God creates “lights in the firmament of the heavens” for “signs and seasons, and for days and years”.

In agricultural societies, seasons are an important part of life. With industrialization, though, these natural rhythms are lost, and we rush from one day to the next, not understanding that life was never meant to be lived at the same pace year in and year out. But no matter how attuned to the seasons (or not) our society is, they still exist. If you look closely, you will find them everywhere, even in your spiritual life.

Winter is a season of rest, but can also be a season of harsh storms, cold winds, and isolation. Some winters are harsher than others, but all are times to draw closer to Father God, to send our roots deeper into Him, in preparation for the coming spring. Some plants – apple trees, for instance – require a period of very cold temperatures in order to produce fruit the following spring.

In fact, a fruit tree planted in the fall will produce fruit a whole year earlier than one planted the following spring, because during those cold months of winter, the tree is using no energy for growth, so it can put all its energy into sending its roots down deeper into the soil. So when blossom-time comes, the tree planted in the fall is stronger, and has a better root system to gather water and nutrients. The tree just planted in the spring has to spend the summer growing, so it can’t expend the energy to deepen its roots until winter finally comes.

Spring comes with a burst of life and color, sometimes overwhelming us with vibrant change and an abundance of new growth. Spiritual or emotional spring is like that, too. All of a sudden, new ideas/beliefs/activities are bubbling up inside. We are restless, eager for change, so full of life we don’t know where to start.

Once those ideas and changes settle in, though, we edge into summer. Ah, lazy summer. This is actually the quietest season. Things are growing, but slowly, silently, almost invisibly. This is the season when we sometimes feel that nothing is happening, that all that spring blossom has died, that we’ve missed the boat or been left behind.

But wait! Don’t give up on your spiritual garden just yet. One day it looks hopeless, and the next, it’s full of ripe fruit, just waiting to bring life and health and joy to those you share it with. At last – autumn! Harvest time!

As we reap the rewards of this season, things begin to quiet down, and we gradually move into winter again.

And so the seasons change, over and over again, our whole lives long.This can feel like we are ‘doing laps’ or ‘going around the mountain again’. But in reality, we have grown since the last time we were in this season, so it is not the same.

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If we understand which season we are in, we can optimize our time there. We can learn what we need to learn, do what we need to do, rest when we need to rest, go deeper in Him when it’s time for that.

When we learn to recognize our own seasons, and learn to live in them properly, instead of trying to rush through this one to get to the next, we may find that our lives are richer, more satisfying, and much less stressful. Our roots go deeper and deeper, our branches grow stronger and stronger, and our fruit becomes more abundant, sweeter, and more nutritious (because it’s less stressed). We become the ‘trees planted by the river’ of Jeremiah 17:8.

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The better you understand your own seasons, and how to live in them, the more you will be able to understand another’s seasons. And this is important; because, while we all live in the same climatic season, our personal, internal, seasons are individual. I may be in spring while you are in autumn, and another is in winter.

If we demand others to be in the same season we are, we can do much damage to their spiritual life and growth. Each season has its own tasks and changes, and each is valuable, so we should not denigrate the season another is in. In fact, we can often be more helpful to our siblings in Christ if we are not in the same season they are in. We can see more clearly what they are going through, understand it because we’ve recently gone through it ourselves, or just be able to be there for them because we are not currently in that season.

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May you be blessed with His understanding of your personal seasons, wisdom to know how to live in the season you are in now, and the love and understanding to extend grace to others in their seasons.

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or not!

I don’t know about you, but I like to be comfortable. I like comfortable clothes, and comfortable books, and a comfortable life. Some people are armchair quarterbacks; for most of my life, I’ve been an armchair adventurer. I like best to sit on a winter’s night before a cozy fire, snuggled up with a good book or two, a cup of hot chocolate, and somebody I love.

But I’ve been discovering that being comfortable doesn’t help you in the long run.

For instance, if you are pregnant, and lie around the house the whole pregnancy, yes, it feels good. When you can’t see your feet any more, and your balance is so off that it takes major shifting and the help of at least one other person just to stand up, the idea of just staying in bed until the baby comes looks pretty good.

But if you get up and walk every day of that pregnancy, you will have a better (probably shorter, too) labor and delivery, because your body is in better shape to do what it’s supposed to do.

This holds true for pretty much all the rest of life, too, in all its facets. When we were babies, our parents fed us, changed us, carried us around. But by the time we were toddlers, we should have been doing a lot of that ourselves. Sure, we got carried once in a while, but by the time you’re two, you can and should be walking and feeding yourself. Under adult supervision, of course.

If there is something wrong with the baby, this normal growth might not happen, or happen at a later time. And that is sad. But what if there is nothing wrong? What if the baby just sits there, refusing to learn to sit up, or crawl, or stand, or walk, or run? What if the baby chooses to take the easy way out, and let its parents keep carrying it, feeding it, etc. for the rest of its life?

Spiritually, it’s much the same thing – when we are first saved, Father God wraps us up in the blanket of His love, and takes care of a lot of stuff for us. But eventually we start to grow up, and then we need to learn to handle stuff ourselves. I don’t say ‘by ourselves’, because we are in Him and He is in us, so we are never alone again, and never need to do things by ourselves. But we do need to learn to do things. We need to learn to stand, to walk, to resist the enemy.

Out of all the things God could have called Himself –Creator; Almighty God; Spirit; the uncreated, unending, supreme being; and all the names of God we find in the Old Testament, when Jesus came He revealed God to us as Father. God deliberately chose the concept of physical birth to represent the spiritual life. We really do follow the same growth pattern spiritually (and in the other facets) as we do physically. We are born again (John 3:3), we are children (I John 3:2), we are friends (John 15:15), we are His bride (Eph. 5:25-28). As we learn more of Him, we grow up, until we become the mature man of Eph. 4:13.

But we are capable of stopping this growth process in ourselves spiritually (and in other facets, too, but that’s for another time). Whenever Holy Spirit presents us with an opportunity to grow, to learn more of God and ourselves, to change and become more than we were yesterday, we have the option of saying, “No”.

We can decide that we want to take the easy way out, to become armchair Christians, so to speak – reading of others’ adventures in God: their exploits, victories and defeats – instead of experiencing our own. Watching them play the championship game on TV, or even in the stands, but never suiting up and heading down to the scrimmage line.

Let’s get one thing clear before I go on. There is nothing wrong with watching others in order to learn how to do it yourself. That’s how babies learn to walk, to speak, to do all the things we humans do – they watch us first.

But if you just keep watching, and never try to do it yourself, then you can be, at the end of your life, a 40-year-old spiritual baby. Ugh!

Another thing to consider before you decide to take the easy way out – if the time ever comes when you decide to learn to do a specific thing, or it becomes absolutely necessary, it will be a lot harder to learn! They say the best time to teach children a foreign language is before the age of 5. I didn’t have too hard a time of it learning Spanish in high school, but I’m now trying to learn French, and my brain just isn’t as absorbent!

And, trust me, there will come a time when you have to get up and walk spiritually, or run, or fight. Even though our Father is a gentleman, He is also our Father. What kind of father allows his child to sit in a corner, never learning, never growing?

I need to add here that sometimes, the hard thing is to trust Him by doing nothing in your own power or wisdom. To just wait, trusting, for Him to do it. This can be harder than going and doing. And while it looks the same as doing nothing – on the outside – on the inside we are fighting giants, and wrestling demons. To trust, when everything inside your mind and heart is screaming that He can’t be trusted, is spiritual warfare of an extreme kind. To wait, doing nothing, because if you did something it would be in your strength and not His, is ‘the hard way’ just as much as going out into life’s sewers to kill rats and save homeless, hopeless wanderers.

So the next time you are facing learning something new spiritually, or fighting a bigger battle than you think you can handle (He is with us, remember?), or walking out in faith on to that invisible bridge (I love that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!) and you think you’d rather not, you’d rather take the easy way out, think again. If you put it off, it will be harder to do later.

Aren’t you glad Jesus didn’t do that at Calvary, take the easy way out? He thought about it, even prayed about it (in the garden of Gethsemane), but in the end, He took the hard way, and bought our freedom!  Thank God that He did!

May you be blessed with opportunities to NOT take the easy way out. And may He show you very clearly that He is with you, and will not let you face more than you can handle as long as you let Him be in and with you, helping you and giving you strength and wisdom and power to finish the job.


It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. (C.S. Lewis)

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Life is a journey.

Some parts lie in pleasant valleys,

Some in fearful caves.


Others lead us to glorious heights,

Through dangerous swamps,

Or to the depths of the sea.


Each place we pass is full of beauty,

Of hardship, of growth.

Each is an opportunity to learn.


But the hardest part of each one

Is not what we encounter there.

It’s not our failures, trials, or tears.


The hardest part of all the journey is leaving.

In order to continue,

We must leave one place for the next.


Whether it was a place of triumph or defeat,

Of joy or despair,

Still, the time comes to leave.


And suddenly, we find this place is dear,

It’s familiar, so comfortable.

And we are reluctant to go.


But in leaving this,

I start toward that.

Each departure prepares for an arrival.


All of life is a journey,

Always coming from,

Going to.


Each stop along the way

Has things to teach,

Joys or sorrows to share.


No one escapes the journey,

The hard and the easy,

The high and the low.


No one stops traveling.

The real question is –

Where are you going?


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Okay, that’s not entirely true. We actually can stop our journey. We can love the place we’re in so much that we refuse to leave it. We can decide that the path to the next place looks too scary, too dangerous, too hard, and refuse to go on. We can refuse to learn, to grow, to become who Father God created us to be.

We have that choice. Always.

But our Father loves us, and wants the best for us, so He never stops trying to lead us on to the next leg of the journey. Holy Spirit continues whispering in our ears, encouraging us to pick up our knapsack, and hit the road again. And sometimes, in order to set us free of bondages we often don’t even see, He will cause the place we decided to stop in to become so uncomfortable that the dangers we fear ahead become less hurtful than where we are now.

Thank God for that! Which of us could stand to watch our child or other loved one become tangled in a net and hauled off to be eaten by cannibals? Even if they kept saying, “no, leave me alone! I like the food” – would you? Or would you do everything you could to cut them free, help them escape? Our Heavenly Father loves us more than we love our children, and desires our freedom more than we can imagine. (Something to think about if you’ve taken up residence somewhere, but it’s now getting uncomfortable to stay.)

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The journey’s destination is determined by whether or not you are His child. Once you have accepted His salvation, are adopted in, nothing you do or don’t do will change your ‘final destination’ of eternal life. The only thing you will change is how far you get on the journey into knowing Him. In John 17:3, Jesus says that eternal life is knowing Father God and Jesus Christ. And following Him from place to place along the journey is how we learn to know Him more and better. It would be sad to get to heaven and only know Him well enough to recognize Him on the street.

So don’t be afraid of the road ahead. It might look dark and dreary, but somewhere at the end, He is waiting to welcome you with open arms of love. And He is walking by your side, showing you His heart and mind and self. And He is in you, drawing you to Himself, leading and guiding and teaching you.

Bon Voyage!

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As you continue your journey through this life, may Father God lead you in all ways. And may your trust in Him grow with each step you take, knowing that He is leading you to Himself, and life and peace and grace and goodness, not to destruction and death.


“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.”

Oswald Chambers


“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jer. 29:11

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The time has come, the Spirit says,
To speak of many things . . .
Of facets and of fractals
And living with the King.

(Okay, I personally hate Alice in Wonderland. It’s too scary and too nonsensical for me. In fact, I’ve always wondered what psychotropic drug Carroll was using when he wrote it. But . . .  the time has come!)

Father God has shown me many things over the years, and He has made it clear that I need to start sharing!

So, here goes . . .

Facets

About 18 years ago, give or take, I had just had a revelation of how much I (me!) am totally loved and completely accepted by the Father, which drastically altered my world view, and changed my whole life.  This caused me to revisit a lot of the things I’d always believed about Him, me, life, etc.

One day, I was thinking about trials and tribulations – why do we go through them? Now, being in church all my life, I’d heard a couple different doctrines on this subject. One said that God was so holy, so pure, and we were so vile, that He couldn’t stand to be anywhere near us. So He had to clean us up by putting us through stuff to get rid of the sin/impurity in us.  (Where is ‘we are become the righteousness of Christ’ in that doctrine???)

The other, similar idea, was that God was putting us on the fire, ‘burning off the dross’, to make us like Christ. This one (actually, they both) had a lot of scripture to back it up, making it clear that we were not clean, or acceptable, in our human condition, even after salvation.  As I said – similar, but without the disgust/dislike of the first one! The focus here was on recreating us into His image, rather than cleaning us up.

But, with my new understanding of just how much Father God loves and accepts us, I was now questioning God’s supposed motives in these doctrines. (I have gradually been made to see that motive is everything – isn’t that the point of Jesus’ words about looking at a woman to ‘lust after her in your heart’ and the rest of that section of Matthew 5?  What the heart motive is, is what counts with Him (I Sam. 16:7).  So I think we need to understand His heart motives, too.)  We all, mostly unconsciously, absorb the underlying motives of what we are taught, ascribing them to God/parents/whoever the authority is in the situation, whether they are true or not.  So now I had to look at what I had previously believed were God’s motives underlying these doctrines.

The first one made it clear that God couldn’t really stand us the way we are, couldn’t even look at us, we were so filthy.  So He had to change us.  I was left with the belief that we were disgusting at the best of times, even after the work of the cross!  This really made me not believe that He loved us, me in particular.  In fact, this left me with the belief that the only reason He hadn’t squished the whole creation into a ball of clay and started over, was some kind of dislike of being wrong.  So He was gonna fix it, and show ’em all!

The second one was a little more charitable – nothing indicated that He didn’t love us, but I sure was left with the impression that He didn’t like us! After all, He thought we needed to be made over into Christ’s image, which sure sounded like He disliked humanity. This didn’t change my basic belief that He didn’t love me, but I was able, finally, to believe that He could, just possibly, love humans in a sort of overall ‘I made it, so I gotta love it’ kind of way.

But neither of these ideas fit with what He had just shown me about His total love and acceptance of us (me!) ‘while we were yet sinners’! And even after!

So, I asked Him, ‘why do we go through trials and tribulations?’

* * *

And He showed me a huge diamond, maybe two stories tall, with me standing in front of it, looking at this facet that was about two feet wide. He said, “When you get saved, you see this facet of me – Savior. But I want you to know more of me, so I allow situations in your life which cause you to see other facets of Me – Healer, Provider, Father, and more.” here I moved a little to one side, and found myself facing a different facet, then another and another. “Everything that happens in your life is an opportunity for you to know me more fully. The trials and tribulations are not to clean you up so I can stand you, but to show you new facets of Me.”  Wow! Yet another false doctrine bit the dust! Yes, Father allows us to go through stuff, but not because He can’t stand us! Because He loves us, wants to help us, but even more, wants us to know Him.

* * *

I can hear you disagreeing! Lots of chatter about holiness, etc. and I’m not trying to nullify those scriptures which talk about cleaning us up. But what He showed me that day was His underlying motive, which always, always, always, is His great unconditional love for us, and His desire to have an intimate relationship with us.  He hates sin because it hinders that, and because it hurts us! If you love someone, you hate anything that keeps them away from you, or hurts them in any way.

What He showed me with the facets on the diamond, was that I need to start looking at the trials and tribulations in my life as opportunities to learn to know my Father and God better!  Not as punishment or as something motivated by disgust of me.

* * *

Over the years He has added to my understanding of this vision:  I saw that as we get to know a certain facet of God – Healer, for instance – it does change us, making us more like Christ.  Eventually, I also saw that as we are changed by getting to know this or that facet of God, we then begin to reflect that facet of Him to others.

Those are just side effects, though, of the real point, which is to know Him!  The more and better we know Him, the more facets He cleans and polishes in us, and the better we reflect Him to the world. (And, trust me, you can’t clean or polish them yourself! It must be His work, through revelation of Himself to you.)

The point is knowing Him!  Everything in the Christian life is based on that, and flows from that.  If it’s based on anything else, it’s ‘wood, hay and stubble’.

So the next time you are facing a trial, instead of wondering what is wrong with you, ask our Father what He wants to reveal of Himself to you through this. The answer will be amazing! And freeing!

* * *

Be blessed with understanding, wisdom, and revelation of more true facets of Him!

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.    John 17:3

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