We talk a lot about growing as Christians. Many people become a part of a congregation because they have found a place where they can grow. People leave congregations when they feel they are not growing. While we talk about growth, we often don’t know how to define it. Spiritual growth is the process by which a Christian, in all aspects of his or her life, moves from the beginnings of life in the Spirit to full maturity.
Spiritual growth is first and foremost the work of the Holy Spirit. Growth is SPIRIT – U.A.L. Growth is produced by the “Spirit Using And Leading” us. Colossians 2:18-19 (NASB) states, “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.” Life in the Spirit is characterized by the empowering presence of God at work in our weakness to transform us into the image of Christ.
Spiritual growth involves: crucifying the flesh (Galatians 5:24); walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25); turning troubles into character building opportunities (Romans 5:2-5; James 1:2-4); engaging in spiritual disciplines (1 Peter 2:2, Mark 9:28-29); thriving in church membership (Heb. 10:24-25); taking risks (Matthew 25:20-21), and keeping one’s eye on heaven. (Galatians 6:8-9).
Growing Christians impact the lives of others in a positive way. As we empower one another through loving, exhorting, serving, teaching, admonishing and praying for one another, we grow ourselves. “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (RSV).
In 3 John 13, the apostle John informs Gaius that he had many thing to write him, but did not wish to use pen and paper. The content that he wished to share was content that John thought best presented in person. With so many modes of communication at our disposal, face to face communication is viewed by some as inconvenient. Many people spend more time texting on their cell phones than they do talking. Email and electronic messaging are great time savers in the work place and in our personal communication. However, there are times when face to face communication is the most effective way to communicate. If face-to-face is not possible, consider using your phone to actually make a call.
Remember that the goal of all communication is understanding. When communicating things that are complex, face-to-face communication allows you to see if the other person is following what you are saying. They are able to ask for clarification and the possibility of misunderstanding is reduced. If you sent a text message or email and find yourself having to reply more than twice for clarification, pick up the phone and call the person.
Use face-to-face communication when negotiating on the job. You can confirm what was agreed upon via email. But the initial conversation should be person-to-person.
Communicate in person when you are communicating about sensitive subjects. When you communicate through written word, people often go back and pick apart your words searching for the real meaning behind the words, and making assumptions about what you meant by the words that you used or didn’t use.
Be considerate enough to use face-to-face communication when ending a relationship. People shouldn’t have to find out that their relationship is over via a change in someone’s relationship status on social media. Text messages are not appropriate for breaking up. Treat the person how you would want to be treated.
Communication is about more than just words. It is about meaning. Face-to-face communication allows you to explore the meaning behind the words by observing facial expressions, tone of voice, inflection, and body language. When communicating, remember that there is a great difference between convenient and effective.
Mothers are essential! They raise us, watch out for us, and teach us to follow Jesus. And, if we're being honest, Mother's Day isn't just about traditional "moms". We have birth mothers, some of us have adoptive mothers, and many of us have spiritual mothers: those who dedicated their lives to teaching in the church. Being a mother is not easy. The pay is horrible, but the rewards can be great! Proverbs 23:25 states, “Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her rejoice who gave birth to you.” As children we should seek to give our mothers a reason to rejoice. That is the best Mother’s Day gift ever! Even if your mother is no longer living, you can still honor her memory with your life. We can make our mothers glad by:
Clinging to the teachings of our mothers. Mothers are our first teachers. Their teachings are rooted in love. Rather than being resistant to a mother’s wisdom, embrace it. It will save you a lot of pain. Those who resist the teachings of their mother often confess later that mother was right. Proverbs 6:20-23 (NCV) 20 Keep your father’s commands, and don’t forget your mother’s teaching. 21 Keep their words in mind forever as though you had them tied around your neck. 22 They will guide you when you walk.
They will guard you when you sleep. They will speak to you when you are awake. 23 These commands are like a lamp; this teaching is like a light. And the correction that comes from them will help you have life.
Honoring our mothers. Children should show respect for their mothers, honor them financially, and see that they are cared for when they are unable to care for themselves. Proverbs 23:22 (CEV) Pay attention to your father, and don't neglect your mother when she grows old. Proverbs 20:20 (NASB) He who curses his father or his mother, His lamp will go out in time of darkness.
Serving the Lord. Christian mothers invest in their children in anticipation of their children becoming faithful Christian. 2 Timothy 1:5-7 (NCV) 5 I remember your true faith. That faith first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I know you now have that same faith. 6 This is why I remind you to keep using the gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. Now let it grow, as a small flame grows into a fire. 7 God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control.
This Mother’s Day, in addition to a card and a meal for mom, make your mother glad by making a commitment to please the Lord all the days of your life.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.