New sermon series “The Fruits of the Spirit”
How do others know you are a Christian? Is it because you go to church? Is it because of the beliefs you hold? Because you know the lingo? Or, is it by the way you talk, behave, and treat other people around you? This Sunday, we will begin a new sermon series at Woodmont focusing on the core virtues of the Christian life identified by Paul in Galatians 5:22, known as the “Fruit of the Spirit:” love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. He sets them in contrast to the works of the flesh. I have always viewed this list as a set of behavioral patterns that should be present in the life of somebody who is growing in faith and growing spiritually. Along with this series, I am recommending the following book by Thomas Trask & Wade Goodall
The spiritual life is the most important way to cope with “restlessness” – the concept of never being satisfied and always wanting more. Every human being deals with this on some level. We live in a capitalistic society marked by ongoing consumerism. We are all guilty of wanting more. Growing spiritually is being satisfied and thankful for what we already have and learning to fully live in the present. Many people today are distracted, preoccupied, stressed, worried, and thinking about the past or future which renders them totally unavailable in the present. The present moment is God’s greatest gift. Today is all we have. Spiritual growth happens in the present but is a never ending process. We never fully “arrive” although there are certainly times when we feel the peace of being fully present with God. Everybody does this differently but allow me to share “10 Steps Toward Spiritual Growth” by an author named Ashleigh Frank. I find these very insightful and can be combined with a disciplined study of scripture.
1. Want Change – The first and most important step toward personal spiritual growth is the desire to grow. Spiritual growth and development is a life-long journey that requires time, energy, and dedication.
2. Start Small – Don’t take on too much too soon. It is best to start with one new practice – prayer, meditation, etc.
3. New Adventure – If you never try anything new, your life grows stagnant. Take up an activity that you are curious and passionate about. By embracing people and things that are outside of your ordinary routine, you open yourself to personal and spiritual growth, and you diminish your fear of the unknown.
4. Release the Past – The past is history, and there is nothing you can do to change it. Holding on to past events keeps you from experiencing new ones, and the emotional baggage will only weigh you down.
5. Take Responsibility – Sometimes you cannot control the events that happen to you or the people who do them. But you always have control over how you respond.
6. Pause and Reflect – Life moves so fast that sometimes it is important to stop, take a step back, and really examine yourself and what you are doing. Meditation allows you to quiet your mind and clear your thoughts.
7. Stay Open – Consider the difference between two life philosophies: “Everyone is out to get me,” and “Everyone is doing the best they can.” Allow others to be themselves around you.
8. Appreciate the Present – It is easy to get caught up in the materialistic mindset and focus on wants, needs, and desires. Increase your personal spiritual growth by developing what you already have.
9. Accept Unhappiness – Happiness is a choice. And unhappiness is a natural part of life. Everyone has their good days and their bad days. It’s how you deal with those bad days when they come along that matter.
10. Don’t fear mistakes – Mistakes and bad decisions are some of our greatest teachers. If you never did anything wrong, you would never learn anything new. Think of mistakes as opportunities to grow.
These steps will help enhance the process of spiritual growth. We live in a world where many people call themselves “spiritual but not religious.” It may be possible to become more spiritual and not grow in faith, but I think it is impossible to honestly grow in our faith and not become more spiritual. Also, this Saturday Oct 22, at 9 am, we will welcome Dr. Mike Glenn, Senior Pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church, for our leadership breakfast in the chapel. This is geared specifically for our leaders (elders, board, deacons) but is open to all members. Please RSVP HERE.
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