How God Grows Us

*Photo credit Hoosier Environmental Council

Donald Miller has a good post on God’s plan to grow us up through our life experiences, and you can read it by clicking here. Sometimes we American Christians, who are used to getting “our way right away,” apply that mentality into how God is supposed to work in our lives. But the God revealed in Scripture is no genie in a bottle.

If we have spiritual goals in our lives (and we should) what role do you think God wants us to play in pursuing those goals? Doesn’t he want us to work hard at them like we do in other areas of life, and at the same time depend on him to be working on us, too?

Remember, fruit takes a long time to grow. About six months ago, I heard a speaker share an insight she’d learned about vineyards: A vine will usually not grow good grapes until the third year after it has been planted. We are to remain in Christ, but that doesn’t mean we curl up in the fetal position and hibernate until he’s done working on us. We are to be proactive and intentional and consistent as we remain in Christ.

Sabbath and Silence

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For most of us in the church, Sabbath is probably the command we take least seriously. But we do so at the expense of our own souls. Keeping the Sabbath is what feeds our souls and fortifies our relationship with Christ.

A recent parenting article in TIME magazine examines the benefits for families choosing to slow down the pace of life and even embrace “boredom.” Author Carl HonorĂ© writes “(Children) need that space not to be entertained or distracted. What boredom does is take away the noise … and leave them with space to think deeply.”

Ironically there is a connection between silence and hearing God speak to us. And as our world gets louder and louder with technology that never leaves our side, I believe we need times of extended silence even more than we used to.

Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, writes about keeping the Sabbath in his book Working the Angles:

Sabbath means quit. Stop. Take a break. Cool it… Quieting the internal noise so we hear the still small voice of our Lord… The two biblical reasons for sabbath-keeping develop into parallel sabbath activities of praying and playing.

As a family, discuss these questions:

1) Can we commit as a family to try this for a month (i.e. four Sundays) and then discuss how we feel about it, what’s working, and what’s not working?

2) Which day of the week and for how long will we keep the Sabbath together?

3) What will be some nonnegotiables for us? What are some things we will do? What are some things we won’t do?

4) How can we creatively incorporate praying and playing into our Sabbath?

The Backwards Life

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This week in youth group we talked about The Backwards Life that Christ calls us to in Mark 8:34-37. We discussed how much about the Christian life is counterintuitive, that at first glance it doesn’t seem to be very smart or safe. In fact, Jesus is literally saying, “What you’ve thought all along is up is actually down, and what you think is down is actually up!”

After watching the video, discuss these questions:

1) Can you identify with the illustration of clinging to the balance beam of life?

2) Do you think a person can be truly happy if they are not using the balance beam for its designed purpose (or if they are not living their life according to its designed purpose)?

3) What are some characteristics of the life Christ calls us to in the Gospels?

4) How is taking risks on a balance beam counterintuitive or backwards?

5) What kinds of risks do you think God might be calling you to as a person? As a family?