Christian Growth

Barna: 56% of Christians Feel Their Spiritual Life Is Entirely Private

"This majority of Christians is less likely to say it is very important to see progress in their spiritual life (30% say progress is important vs. 54% of those who don’t consider their faith private), less likely to say their faith is very important in their life today (45% vs. 66% agree strongly) and less likely to have weekly time with God (51% vs. 66%)." - Barna

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Abiding in Christ & Bearing Fruit

By M.R. Conrad. Reposted from Rooted Thinking.

When I was just a little guy, my parents planted a peach tree in our back yard. The tree grew as I grew. By the time I turned seven, the first few peaches appeared on that tree. I was so excited. However, the next year, we moved from that home. I never got to enjoy the fruit from that tree again, but someone did because that tree kept on bearing fruit.

  • If you plant a peach tree, you have failed if the tree does not produce peaches.
  • If you plant of field of wheat, you have failed if heads of grain do not appear.
  • If you plant a grape vine, you have failed if it does not bear grapes.

In John 15, Jesus is about to leave His disciples. They will carry on Jesus’ work in His absence. As He walks from Jerusalem to the garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal, Jesus guides the disciples past the grape vines. He uses the scene around them to teach His people the key to bearing fruit—we must abide in Christ.

In this passage, Jesus provides a logical progression:

  • To glorify God and demonstrate that you are Jesus’ disciple, you must bear fruit. (15:8)
  • To bear fruit, you must abide in Christ (15:4–5).
  • To abide in Christ, you must keep in ongoing communication with Him (15:7–8).

In my next few posts, I will address each of these items. Here, we will begin with fruit.

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How To Have a Glorious New Year

Would you like to have a glorious year in 2022?

The Biblical data regarding the issue of glory says that you can—indeed, it commands that you must!

What is the source of any glory that we hope to obtain? Is it to be found in achievements, investments, promotions, windfalls, victories or some other form of worldly success? Does its inspiration come from the sparks that flare from the fireplace on a cold January afternoon?

Of course, we know the answers to those questions. The only glory that you or I will ever manifest will be reflected from “the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8)1—Jesus Christ.

The New Testament uses the term glory a total of 154 times. Following His ascension back to heaven, Jesus returned to “the glory which (He) had with (the Father) before the world was” (John 17:5).

Thus, when Christ was unveiled to the exiled Apostle John, His appearance was very different than it had been when He last showed Himself to “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20). His post-resurrection, exalted glory is described in Revelation 1:12-16 (note the correlation to Daniel 10:5-6). John’s reaction was to “(fall) at His feet as dead” (Rev. 1:17).

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New Year’s Resolutions: Some Guidance from Psalm 119:59

Many Americans have welcomed 2022 by making New Year’s Resolutions. “A new year resolution,” according to one dictionary, “is a commitment that an individual makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit. This lifestyle change is generally interpreted as advantageous, and it’s done to improve [a person’s] wellbeing.”1 According to a recent study by Statista,2 the 10 most popular New Year’s resolutions are as follows (which I’ll list in reverse order):

  • #10: Cut down on alcohol (15%)
  • #9: Quit smoking (19%)
  • #8: Reduce stress on the job (20%)
  • #7: Improve job performance (23%)
  • #6: Spend less time on social media (24%) [relatively new]
  • #5: Live more economically (30%)
  • #4: Lose weight (31%) [Top on some lists]
  • #3: Spend more time with family/friends (34%) [big since COVID]
  • #2: Eat healthier (42%)
  • #1: Exercise more (44%)

If you search the Internet for “10 most popular,” you’ll find some variation. But there’s one thing all the lists have in common: they all leave God out of the picture! To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with reducing stress, getting our finances in order, and doing things that promote good health. But Jesus told his followers, “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you” (Matt 6:33). In other words, Christ is calling us to keep our priorities straight.

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Fading Joy: Am I Seeking an Experience or a Relationship?

By M.R. Conrad. Reposted from Rooted Thinking.

The lights dim as the music begins to play. The energy in the crowd seems to almost crackle audibly. You feel a surge of anticipation for the songs you know, the empowering words you always hear, and the inspirational, larger-than-life people you see standing before you. At a well-designed worship service, Bible conference, or summer camp, God seems real, close, and exciting.

Then, you go home and open your Bible alone. You know the Scriptures are filled with life-giving words and powerful examples, but somehow, it’s not the same. The atmosphere is gone. You struggle to maintain your interest. Spiritual dryness sets in. What is wrong with you? Where has the joy gone?

The Joy Is Gone

In Psalm 16:11, David speaks of the joy that you now are missing: “You [God] will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” What is this joy? Joy is a positive mindset that expresses our satisfaction and pleasure in things we value. We find joy in what is most important to us. What do we value most?

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Review: God in the Dark: Why doubt should encourage our faith

"Guinness sets out to show 'a healthy understanding of doubt should go hand in hand with a healthy understanding of faith.' He is very careful not to encourage doubt but goes out of his way to show that wrestling with doubt is not wrong because it is not the same as unbelief." - Brad Paulsey

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