Tag Archives: spiritual maturity

Review: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, by Peter Scazzero

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, by Peter ScazzeroEmotionally Healthy Spirituality, by Peter Scazzero (Zondervan, 2006; paperback version 2014)

The subtitle says, “It’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” The book implies that this may be the key reason for lack of growth in our churches, and for people drifting away from church. While I think there’s more to the issue than that, there’s no denying that emotional immaturity will be the root of the problem for some or many believers.

In alerting readers to areas of our lives that haven’t grown well, the author offers the chance to allow God to “re-parent” us so we develop according to the ways of His Kingdom instead of perpetuating the behaviours and attitudes we learned in our formative years.

The first three chapters reveal “The Problem of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality,” and the rest of the book addresses “The Pathway to Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.” Part of that pathway is recognizing the impact of our family history, choosing what we want to keep, and choosing to grow away from what’s unhealthy.

The author advises adopting more of a contemplative approach to faith, listening to God and to our emotions, and establishing daily rhythms of prayer and devotional times. He encourages us to “practice the presence of God and to practice the presence of people” [page 180].

We do come into Christianity with assumptions and attitudes formed by our families and by the world around us – and we don’t often apply our spiritual regeneration to these areas because we don’t even see them. It makes sense that we need to discover and grow into our true identity in Christ, and I found some helpful insights in the book.

For more about Peter and Geri Scazzero’s ministry, visit emotionallyhealthy.org.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Growing and Building

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6-7, NLT*

If we truly accept Jesus as Lord and Messiah (Christ), it’s more than a head thing. By definition, Lord is someone in authority. And Messiah is our Saviour, rescuing us from the destructive power of sin.

That makes belonging to Jesus different than belonging to a club we may never attend or to an ethnic group that may not influence how we live.

We’ve escaped sin’s domination by coming into His kingdom and putting ourselves into His care. We’re under His authority, and we need to live His way. As Paul says in today’s verse, we accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour of our lives, and now we need to follow Him.

Following Him means obeying what He says. It also means following His example of living surrendered to God the Father.

Deep roots and a strong foundation are images of strength, and our strength is found in Jesus. The deeper we root, the more securely we’re built on His foundation, the stronger we’ll be.

Our faith will mature. And our gratitude will abound. This is the rich and satisfying life Jesus promised. (John 10:10, NLT*) And it has nothing to do with our circumstances. It’s available to all believers, even if it’ll take a lifetime of practice to grow into it. The investment is worthwhile. It’s what we were made for.

God, thank You for saving us from sin – and from ourselves. Please help us to stay close to You and to cooperate as You grow us to be more like Your Son Jesus. Thank You for this new chance at life.

We can’t do this life on our own – but we were never intended to! I love this adaptation of the classic hymn, “I Need The Every Hour” – “Lord, I Need You,” sung here by Chris Tomlin.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Spiritual Check-up

But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.
1 Timothy 2:15, NLT* (emphasis mine)

I hesitated to use this verse, so let’s get the obstacle out of the way first. The “childbearing” part has been misused and has caused great pain to single or infertile women. Footnotes for this verse in the NLT say it can also mean “will be saved by accepting their role as mothers, or will be saved by the birth of the Child.” Me, I like the latter one.

That’s not what I wanted to share today, but I didn’t want to lose anyone because of it.

“Saved … assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness and modesty.”

That’s what I want to talk about.

Not that the way women (and men) live will earn our salvation, but that this is what the working out of our salvation will look like.

Remember the way it’s said “I am saved, I am being saved, I will be saved”? How it’s all reflecting a different aspect of the same process?

Spiritual check-up time:

  • Faith: how often do I forget faith and live by sight, in anxiety and stress?
  • Love: how much of God’s love grows in me for those outside my family and friendships?
  • Holiness: is it the “rules” type, or the inner glow of the Holy Spirit?
  • Modesty: not just do I dress in non-provocative clothing, but do I draw attention to myself instead of to God?

These are attributes that resonate with me, that I’d like to develop as I find my identity as a child of God. They describe the women of faith in my life, the ones I want to “be like when I grow up.”

God our Saviour and our Shepherd, thank You for the grace to grow in our salvation. Thank You for those in the faith who have been our examples and our role models, and for Jesus Christ who demonstrated a life fully pleasing to You. Please help us to live in faith, love, holiness and modesty – to live in You.

Here’s a song I loved from years ago: “Growing Up to be a Child” by Sheila Walsh. May God grow this trusting heart in us.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

 

When Faith Affects Our Lives

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
James 2:18, NLT*

James talks about loyalty to God—faith—and about how that looks in the Christian’s life. He gives practical examples (don’t practice favouritism, actually help your friend instead of just wishing him well) and I think that’s so we’ll realize our faith isn’t something we compartmentalize. It’s meant to affect everything we do, say and think.

The good deeds he’s asking for are to grow naturally out of applying faith in Jesus to our daily lives. There’s no eternal value in good work without a heart for God. People judge by appearances and actions, but God looks at the heart.

If our faith is growing, it will cause visible changes in our lives. We’ll learn to rely more on God in our daily thoughts, responsibilities and experiences. That’s one reason a daily quiet time with God is so vital.

Remember James’ words on accepting the word of God planted in our hearts? Prayer, listening, reading the Bible are key ingredients in a growing faith.

In our culture of busyness, over-calendaring and of being always “on call” to texts, emails etc, the danger is that there’s no time for God. We’re busy, distracted, and it’s easy to take God for granted. But if we don’t read His word, don’t spend time getting to know Him, how will we know what’s true? How will we know how to live or have the confidence that He can—and wants to—help us? We’ll be the unstable people James warns us about in his first chapter.

God who created us, who knows our hearts, help us be intentional in taking time with You. Give us hearts that long to know You better and to please You. Give us wisdom in how to use our time so we can do what You’ve given us to do and yet grow in relationship with You and with those You’ve given us. Give us faith, and work that faith out in our lives in good works—not for You but because of You.

Casting Crowns‘ song, “Lifesong,” makes a good prayer.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Let God Make it Plain

Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.
Philippians 3:15, NLT*

Perhaps only the Apostle Paul would have the confidence in the soundness of his teaching to be able to say this. Specifically, he’s been talking about counting everything else as worthless compared to gaining Christ, how he hasn’t “arrived” yet but how we all need to press on to grow closer to Jesus. [Read Philippians 3]

It’s the general application of this verse that interests me today, though. There is a spiritually mature view, and those who haven’t reached that level of growth won’t necessarily agree with it.

There are plenty of areas where there’s no “right” answer and Christians can safely hold their own opinions. Some of these areas are a bit dicey and we’re well advised to consider our words and actions so we don’t cause a more vulnerable believer to fall into sin. [Read 1 Corinthians 8:9-12]

There are doctrinal differences among the denominations that God will somehow work out in the end. And there are core truths of the faith which are non-negotiable for those who want to follow Jesus in spirit and in truth.

Paul used his position of authority to call out sin and call for church discipline. But when it came to teaching, he gave the truth and stopped at that. He prayed for believers to grow in understanding [Read Colossians 1:9-14], but he didn’t bully or badger or fret to get people’s agreement.

God has been so patient in bringing me to understand elements of His truth and to learn to live them. I’m sure it’s the same with you. And we still have much to learn—about God and about life in general.

Just as we’re on the journey, so are our brothers and sisters in Christ. So are our family and friends. Paul’s example here is freeing. We can pray, speak when appropriate, and remember that God is even more invested in revealing His truth to each heart.

God who is Truth, in whom is no shadow of lie or deceit, thank You for drawing us to know You and Your ways. Because You know each person so intimately, You know the best way and timing to make Your truth plain to us. Make us receptive so we can learn quickly, and grant us patience with one another in the process. Help us trust You to be about Your work. Nudge us when You have a word or deed for us to contribute, and nudge us even more when we’re to keep our hands and voices out of the way.

Our song this week is an older one from Carolyn Arends: I Can Hear You. Praise God that His voice does break through all the noise in our lives.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Of Tea and Spiritual Maturity

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:1, NIV*

I often read pages of Scripture before something nudges my spirit. Other times the same verse catches me for days.

This is one of those times. Today I’m looking at the “be strong in” segment of this verse.

Hot tea steeps in 3-7 minutes. Sun-brewed tea takes 2 – 5 hours. Refrigerator tea steeps 6 hours or overnight. One starts with boiling water, the others with cold.

If we’re the water, the steeping time depends on our temperature—how much heat we’ve been exposed to before we come to Jesus.

As water that hasn’t been heated enough to boil, I’m drawn to the sun tea image. Not that I can go sit in the sun and relax, but as I go through the day, can I keep that spirit-focus to be held in His Light?

Tea has an optimum strength, depending on the variety and on the taster’s preference. Leave the bags in too long and it’ll get bitter. Not so with us.

Steeping in the Lord’s grace takes a lifetime.

Father, help me rest in You—steep in Your Spirit and Your grace. Let it change and flavour me as I learn to abide in You. Quiet me, remind me, draw me ever nearer to Yourself. Cradle and sustain me until You brew me into that which You’ve designed me to be.

This week’s song is “If I Could Just Sit With You Awhile,” written by Dennis Jernigan. I’m glad I found the version sung by Todd Agnew on one of his early indie CDs. Please ignore the typing issues in the video. I work with what’s available on YouTube.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.