Sunday, February 05, 2006


How many times have we heard that before? How many times have we SAID that before? (That's how I know I'm getting old...When I open up my mouth and my Dad pops out.)

When we’re babies, all we can do is baby stuff. We cry, eat, sleep, play and poop. We lead a pretty simple lifestyle. As we grow, we learn to walk. Why? Because we see others doing it. We learn to talk. Eventually, we learn to drive, do algebra, play basketball, and surf the internet. Growing up is difficult at times. But at least we know what growing up is supposed to “look like” because we can look around at others.
But what about spiritually? What does it look like to grow up spiritually? We “get saved”, show up a few Sundays at church, sing some songs, go to camp, but then what? How does growing up affect my daily life? We need a fairly good picture of what spiritual maturity looks like in order for us to work toward that. Where’s the payoff for growing up spiritually? Where’s the reward? Wouldn’t it be easier, and less complicated, to just stay in diapers? So, here are the questions that are bouncing around my head this afternoon.
  1. What does “spiritual growth” mean to you?
  2. What “keeps you going” spiritually?
  3. Which is more important, what you believe or how you behave?
  4. As Christians, what do you think is our number one goal?


At 2:55 PM, Blogger scott m said...

Well, OK. I guess I'll take the quiz, recognizing, of course, that my answers reflect my understand and perspective today. Ask me tomorrow and it may be slightly different. Ask me in a year and it almost certainly will be. :-D

1. What does “spiritual growth” mean to you?

That's actually a pretty tough question. And one I find difficult to answer in less than pages. But I'll spare you (at least in the comments on your blog) and do my best to find a summary that at least hits the high points.

I guess I would start with growing closer to God and seeing that work itself out in the way I then relate to others -- my neighbors. As I do that, I sense I should begin to take on more of the characteristics of Jesus, not some fanciful picture of Jesus, but the Jesus we find in scripture.

For me, that requires the introduction of spiritual disciplines into my life. I find I do not naturally lean in that direction and will only grow as I adopt the disciplines that help in an area I am lacking. And yet I often don't know what to do, yet I find the Spirit always ready to guide and teach.

2. What “keeps you going” spiritually?

Over time I've learned the biggest thing for me is to be aware of God daily. When I do, the rest tends to follow, at least fitfully. When I don't, I drift and fall backwards. Even a quiet time each day is insufficient for me. In this arena, I've found Brother Lawrence's words on The Practice of the Presence of God most helpful, and specifically the spiritual discipline of breath prayers.

3. Which is more important, what you believe or how you behave?

OK. I have a real problem with the presumed dichotomy. I still don't see how you can separate the two. On a daily ongoing basis, what you do shows what you really believe, whatever you espouse or intellectual belief you claim.

4. As Christians, what do you think is our number one goal?

Join God in his work redeeming his creation. It's being aware of God, where he's working, discerning how he would like us to help, and finding in ourselves the willingness to do it that's the real challenge.

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Jimmie W. Kersh said...

1. What does “spiritual growth” mean to you? Shutting up more and sitting at the grown up table with my mouth closed and ears opened. That would require a complete dying to self in areas of needing to be heard.

2. What “keeps you going” spiritually? Daily dying to self. Reading and meditation. Not so much talking to be listening to God.

3. Which is more important, what you believe or how you behave? Yes!

4. As Christians, what do you think is our number one goal? To allow God to accomplish His work through us. I have to die and let Him do His thing. Part of that sitting down at the adult table and shutting up and listening.

At 4:53 PM, Blogger tom cottar said...

Thanks for weighing in. I think #1 and #4 are my struggles. In ministry it's hard to have any measurable outcomes to the spiritual. That's frustrating. Although I know enough about human nature that I realize if there WERE obvious measurable outcomes, we'd be more concerned about those things than being sensitive to the spirit...we'd become even more judgemental than we already are!

1. I think in my own life, I think I've become more grace-full in areas I've grown in. In some areas, I tend to extend grace more readily than I used to. In other areas, I still have much more room for growth and, therefore, room to be more gracious. I know that as God has revealed more to me, the more 'patient' and, dare I say....'tolerant' I've become. (I actually despise that word, for all it's PC implications...). But the fact is that, as I've grown, I seem to tolerate others with differing views, knowing that perhaps (a) they could be wrong, (b)I could be wrong, or [my favorite]...(c) we BOTH could be wrong. In my life, spiritual growth means that I've begun looking past trying to check things off the God list, and trying to commune with Him and love/accept others without agenda.

[#2- solitude, fasting from shiny, electronic things, fishing, and romping with my boys...but that's another post.]

#4- Our number one goal: to proclaim the gospel. In word. In deed. In love. In patience. In grace. In offering ourselves as living sacrifices on a daily basis, not a Sunday basis. It gets practical when I anonymously mow my Jehovah's Witness neighbor's yard while he's at work. And in a thousand other ways. Again, it's hard to nail down---which is my frustration. Maybe that's supposed to be the case...the whole 'love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.' It's living with the Scent of Love that the early church *must* have known. An irresistible community of love and peace and almost giddy grace.

At 3:04 PM, Blogger melody said...

1. What does spiritual growth mean to you? I think that it means that seek God and His will for us daily. We need to turn from our own agendas and step out on blind faith to follow Christ. When we draw closer to Him, we will long for Him more.

2. What keeps you going spiritually? My relationship with Christ keeps me going. I don't want to spend even one day without Him. I enjoy spending time with Him and talking, but more importantly listening for His guidance and will in my life.

3. What is more important what you believe or how you behave? I don't believe that I can separate the two. What I believe affects all of who I am--how I treat others like Romans 15 says, how I choose to live, the decisions I make--they all depend on what I believe about Christ. I also know that the world is watching me. If I don't behave like I believe they will sense that, and my testimony will suffer or be lost. Fast food restaurants worst times of the week are on Sunday mornings when all of the "church-goers" drive through their establishments yelling at their kids and complaining about their orders!! What kind of picture does this paint for the world to see?

4. As Christians, what is our number one goal. I think it is to Love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and mind AND Love our neighbor as ourselves. If we do this, others will be drawn to that love, and we can share the love of Christ to the world.

At 7:36 AM, Blogger tom cottar said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I recently read somewhere (Scot McKnight?) that our job as Christ-followers is to 'enjoy God'. (I'm paraphrasing, but not much).

It's been an insane week, and I'm still chewing on that one, but I like it. If I can simply 'remain in Him', I'll enjoy His presence, His God-ness, and His Fatherhood. Everything else flows from being in that place. I think 'growth' will occur naturally...

Then, like you said, we'll love God with all our heart/soul/strength and exhibit the 'Scent of Love'.

On a different note, I visited your blog (and added the link to my sidebar). I'm praying for you.

At 12:43 PM, Blogger melody said...

Thanks for your prayers. I have learned quite a bit about enjoying being in the presence of God over the last year! I definitely know when I am making things "all about ME and not HIM!" I have learned that God knows my every need even before I do!! HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!! I am also trying to live by Psalm 19:14 "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my ROCK and MY REDEEMER." (Emphasis mine!)


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