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Spiritual Growth, part 1

Advance the Vision has given Rejoice some clear priorities:  stewardship, inviting others to church, and spiritual growth.  Spiritual growth can mean different things to each of us.  And it can and should mean something new to us in each stage of our lives.  Spiritual growth is an evolving reality that changes as we age, gain more experience and encounter the joys and agonies of human existence!   As I approach the task of preaching on this theme  I would like to describe spiritual growth like this…

Spiritual growth is:

~ a deepening awareness of God’s presence in our lives, often manifested by wisdom and peace
~ a desire to know Christ and to make him known
~ a power from the Holy Spirit that infuses our lives with grace,  faith, hope and love

Here is a snapshot of how the first Christians grew spiritually:  “They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers” Acts 2:42

What is the distilled essence of this?  These initial disciples gave spiritual  growth the energy it deserved, they were  engaged with each other around the teaching and in the fellowship (i.e. hanging out together and serving with love), and they worshiped together consistently.

If we want to renew our spiritual growth it may be wise to remind ourselves what spiritual growth means to us and ask: are we keen to give the energy, the engagement and the participation in worship that is necessary to grow?

In my next blog I’m going to suggest a time honored way to read the Bible meditatively and to pray responsively to that reading. But for now all I’d like to suggest is to take time for silence each day this week.  Remove all distractions and to simply create a few minutes of quiet.  Just 5 or 10 minutes is a good way to begin.  In that time make yourself available to God and see what happens!  Reflect on the Acts 2:42 passage and ponder what it might be saying to you. Think about the definition I have suggested above and see it that rings true with your desire for spiritual growth.  Conclude with a prayer for yourself, others and Rejoice.

See what happens and enjoy it!!!!

A Sign, a Witness, a Foretaste of the Kingdom

In last Sunday’s message I retold Jesus words:

whoever comes to me, hears my word, and acts on them will be like the person who builds their house on a rock…

Listening is not automatic and it’s not easy.  With the multitude of devices, ubiquitous media, and plentiful distractions, listening to Jesus demands intentionality.  I start my day with prayer, silence, guided reflection and scripture reading.

When that is done I read the New York Times … and that is often a ticket to howling despair.  The serenity of the spiritual moment is rocked by the jarring realities of the world.  The stories in the news, like a giant magnet near a fine watch,  can disturb any sense of peacefulness and twist up the insides.

In the midst of a broken world the church is meant to be a sign, a witness, and a foretaste of the Kingdom!  In our own way the great calling we have is to be a community where love, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit is experienced.  And this takes place in hundreds of ways where people are gathered in Christ’s name.

This week I got calls from people telling me how their lives have been blessed by the way they have been welcomed so warmly by others when they came to Rejoice, and how the ministry of meals to the home meant so much.  In these simple acts in concert with worship, Rejoice becomes who we are: a Place where God is experienced, Community is Shared and Lives are Changed.

Never forget that you have a part to play in making Rejoice a sign, a witness, and a foretaste of the Kingdom.  When you show up with love and energy in ways small and large you have no way of knowing how God will bring blessing!!!!  This week take time to come to Jesus, listen to his word, and put it into practice.