Christian Growth

Solitude Improved: understanding the spiritual discipline of meditation

"Meditation stands between the two ordinances of reading and praying, as the grand improver of the former, and the high quickener of the latter, to furnish the mind with choice materials for prayer, and to fill the heart with holy fervency in it." - Ben Ciavolella looks at Nathanael Ranew (d. 1677)

249 reads

“As congregations, we grow in godliness not by hearing one sermon but by hearing a thousand.”

"We need to believe that God really does work and that he really does work over time. Too often we overestimate the growth we can gain in a week, but underestimate the growth we can gain in a year." - Challies

494 reads

"Protestant churchgoers say they can walk with God just fine by themselves, but they also say they need other believers to help them do it."

"A LifeWay Research survey sponsored by the Center for Church Revitalization at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary finds majorities of those who attend U.S. Protestant or non-denominational churches at least monthly agree with the two sentiments that are seemingly in conflict." - Facts & Trends

177 reads

The Blame Game and Spiritual Preparedness

I do a lot of reading, as you probably know. Right now, I am reading a splendid book on the subject of apologetics titled, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes, by Nancy Pearcey.

Unfortunately, despite the amazing nature of this book, the author makes the same mistake I have heard repeated time and time again: the claim that our churches do not prepare our youth with the answers to the questions and challenges they will face in college.

The reason for this lack of preparedness (I would argue) is not necessarily a lack of opportunity. Many students don’t want answers to questions (before they face a crisis), because it takes too much mental effort to think things through. Even if present where the big questions are thoroughly addressed, some may be uninterested and daydream the opportunity away. Such issues do not seem relevant at the time.

It is not until those students are pressured in college that they realize they do not have an answer, or that disturbing questions even exist. In most cases, answers are available—if you know where to find them. But if you haven’t learned at least some of those answers beforehand, it is easy to conclude that there are no answers. (Incidentally, this is why it is crucial for college students to be involved in organizations like Cru/Campus Crusade, Navigators, or Intervarsity; those organizations can often steer inquirers to quick and at-hand resources).

1113 reads

Who Needs Revival?

Some years ago, I was visiting a small rural church in Michigan where a preacher delivered a message on revival. His text was Genesis 26:18.

And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham.

He argued passionately that what we need more than anything else in these times is revival. In fact, revival would solve every significant problem that exists in our nation, our churches, and in the lives of God’s people everywhere. Near the end of his message, he summarized with these words. “Our nation needs revival, God’s people need revival, we here—we all need revival… I need revival.”

The message illustrates a widespread way of thinking about revival and a common pattern in pulpit use of the term. But three problems with this usage call for our attention.

4372 reads

Spring Fever Is Real

The sun is shining, the weather has warmed. Poor Mrs. McSmith cannot keep her pupils in line. They are shooting spitballs, jumping off their desks, and talking out of turn; when they are quiet, they appear to be in a daydream daze. Do the kids need more Ritalin? Probably not. It might merely be a case of “Spring Fever.”

As we say goodbye to Winter and hello to warmer weather, we find a price tag for this transition: Spring Fever. But what is this mystery disease?

An Associated Press article (which appeared in the Kokomo Tribune way back on March 20th of 1987) enlightens us:

1366 reads

SWOT Analysis, the Bible, and Personal Growth

SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The analytical tool has been in use for around fifty years, and while some attribute the origin of the SWOT analysis to Stanford Research Institute’s Albert Humphrey, because he doesn’t take credit for it, the derivation of the device is not clear. Nonetheless, SWOT analysis has been a mainstay of organizational strategy, in part due to its simplicity and exposing power.

The device considers both internal and external factors to help identify areas of improvement and potential areas for emphasis. The SWOT analysis provides a concise snapshot of an organization’s present health as well as uncovering opportunities for refinement and growth. The internal factors considered are strengths and weaknesses. Identifying current strengths and weaknesses within the organization helps leaders assess how well the organization is meeting its mission or how badly it is missing the mark. On the external side, opportunities and threats are examined in order to evaluate climate and environment for that organization’s function. SWOT analysis is a tool that can help organizations monitor past and present performance (strengths and weaknesses) and to identify action points in anticipation of the future (opportunities and threats).

2887 reads

Pages