spiritual growth

Laying roofing felt

Torching on the mineralized roofing felt . Photo from iStockphotos

Today I am finalizing the appointment of a company to do roof repairs on our block of flats. We have a residents’ committee and, as the secretary, I was responsible for inviting inspections and quotations from several roofing companies.

Cowboy builders

How do we sort out the “cowboys” from the bunch? How do we know what really needs doing? Fortunately, nowadays roof inspectors carry digital cameras. So I and the others on the committee were able to see photos and video of the roof in every part – the good, the bad and the ugly (forgive another cowboy/western reference!).

From our position on terra firma we could never see on the degraded roof felt, broken tiles, loose pointing, ripped flashing and blocked gutters. We needed someone higher than we are  to see the detail of all the work that needs to be done. He recorded it and showed it to us on his laptop.

God’s snapshots

I also need someone higher than me in my spiritual life.  How else will I get the true account of  work that is needed to be done in me? Only God has the full picture.

Whenever my conscience is pricked, then the snapshot has been taken of an area of damage that needs to be attended to. Like the roof, it is dangerous to put off dealing with it. Attitude problems, lack of discipline, selfishness…oh I have seen God’s photos!  I came across them in the album – the Bible.

It is a common saying: “He knows all about us and loves us just the same.” But it is true and it is a comfort. I can put all my trust in my heavenly Father to lovingly and completely deal with my problem areas, if I cooperate with him.

Has God asked you to do something that you have never done before? Is the thought of it a bit scary and is that fear and strangeness of the task holding you back?
Take a look at this video, of a 4th grade (9 or 10 years old) girl who makes her first ski jump. Scary? Yes! Exhilarating? Definitely!

That is what the will of God seems like sometimes. But without letting go and allowing God to bear you along, you will accomplish little for him.
Let go! You can do it, with Christ as your helper! Let the momentum build and then leap forward into God’s perfect will for you. That sure is exhilarating!

 

Safety loose wheel nut indicators

Loose wheel nut indicators. Image from Wikipedia

Out in the car the other day I noticed a massive truck with luminous yellow tags on its wheel nuts.

They are fitted to show immediately if any of the nuts have worked loose.  The points would alter their direction and be very obviously out of line.

I had seen them before, but this time I thought: “How do I know when I am not as “tight” a Christian as I should be? Are there any indicators that flag up to me that I have  eased up in certain areas of life when I should be tight and disciplined? I thought of a few.

  • Grumbling and complaining – Discontentment is a first indicator of a spiritual lack.
  • Not singing – I may not sing out loud much, but usually Christian hymns and songs are going on in my head, with full orchestral accompaniment sometimes! When the music stops, it means I am not living in the spiritual dimension I want to naturally be in. I need to reassess my spiritual life.
  • Worry - There are concerns in life, but trust and reliance on God should deal the with fear and anxiety that erode our peace. When I become unsettled and anxious, I need to get back into tight alignment with God.

If I notice any of these creeping in during a day, then I know that I have something “loose” that needs to be attended to.

What indicators would you add to the list? Are there things that warn you when you are spiritually drifting or becoming slack? Feel free to add them to the comments below.

 

 

Image by Comstock

I once heard of tale of a man who crossed the Atlantic on a great ocean-going liner. He had just enough money to pay for the ticket, but not much else.

A diet that was crackers!

The story relates how he sat in his cabin every night while the other passengers enjoyed sumptuous dining. Each evening he would nibble on a few dry crackers, which he had brought with him, instead of tucking into the oysters, fillet steak and luxurious desserts served above.

What he did not realize was that his fare covered not only his travel, but also all his meals while he was on board!

Heating one room

Recently my blogging kidmin friend Barbara Graves tweeted about an experience she had some time ago.

Barbara and her husband had moved into a new apartment. They were told that there was no domestic heating fuel left in the tank. As Barbara tells it:  ”We lived in one room in front of the fireplace for a month.”

Imagine their surprise when they eventually discovered that there was fuel in the tank after all! They had never tried it!

Living below our privileges

No doubt Barbara and her husband can smile about it now, but tragically, the same can be true of us spiritually. God has made provision for so much grace, help and power to be available to all his children. Everything has already been paid for. Yet, too often, we are inclined to be cracker-eating Christians, existing on a minimum diet.

What a shame if we nibble away at the Bible as if it were a dry ration we are obliged to take each day. Instead, we should be reaching out in trust to the Holy Spirit, our Teacher, and asking him to help us to see the rich diet, the tasty feast, that is within the covers. If you can’t enjoy it, ask God to give you an appetite for his Word.

How tragic to be struggling with sin, phobias, anxieties, burdens or anything that weighs us down and ties us up, when we could be tapping into the “fuel tank” that God has made available to us through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. That is an unending supply of God’s grace (the ability to cope with every situation God allows to touch our lives).

Jesus Christ died, defeated death and went back to heaven, so that he could the release the Holy Spirit to this earth. The “meal” has been paid for, the “fuel tank” is full, just waiting for us to turn the tap by prayer and trust.

If we are God’s children, having received Christ, then let’s not live below our privileges. Let’s reach for and use every good thing that God has made available for us.  Jesus didn’t intend that we live on spiritual emergency rations, but on an abundant and rich supply of all we need to glorify God and be victorious for him.

Is there any area in your life where you feel spiritually lacking?
Why should you wait any longer?
Reach out in simple trust and ask God to open your eyes to see all that he has made available for you.

If you need to be made clean from sin

If you need help to overcome a temptation

If you need to be  effective in prayer

If you need to be able to speak to someone about Jesus

If you need to experience God’s guidance

If you need to grow and exercise your gifts and ministries

If you…

…Well, is there anything you would add to your list? What will you trust God for? Will you claim the privilege Christ has paid to give you?

 

Lavender by Lim Peini

The Christmas meal that had been planned for our church family last year was cancelled. The heavy snow and underlying ice made travel treacherous. So we had our get-together this week instead – complete with Christmas gifts!

On the way back home, as I walked to the car, I spotted some straggly looking plants in the border of the restaurant. In the half-light I could see that they were lavender bushes. Out of a gardener’s habit, rather than hope, I brushed my hands over the somewhat dried foliage and flower stalks. The pungent, unmistakeable fragrance of lavendar rose in the night air and clung to the palm of my hand! It was unbelievable. After almost a month of sitting under 2-3 feet of snow, the flower stalks still stood tall. Though they had been frozen rigid for so long, once rubbed, the little dried lavender flowers were exuding their scent.

How do I react when circumstances leave me cold? Do I simply wither inside when things are not going well for me? Do I turn into myself and give nothing to others?

I believe that God wants us to be like that lavender.

  • We can, with his help, rest in him even when the burden that is weighing on us lingers longer than we would like.
  • We can stand up tall again, and not give in, even when we have been knocked flat. We can be, as JB Philips put it, “…knocked down but not knocked out” (2 Corinthians 4:9)!
  • And we can also exude the fragrance of Christ, especially when someone of something bumps against us, “rubs us up the wrong way”, bruises and wounds us.

I want to live daily in Christ’s presence, growing more like him, absorbing the atmosphere of heaven. Then, when pressures and troubles come, when I am suffering, something of the beauty and fragrance of Christ will be released to those around me.

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SLICES OF MY LIFE are little slivers of my experiences. I have many interests and this blog is my way of keeping track of what I see and learn. Some of it brings a smile to my face, uplifts and encourages me, or makes me think deeply. I hope you enjoy what you read here as much as I enjoy writing it!