Nature, nurture and the spiritual life

Nature versus nurture is an ongoing debate in the scientific community but what implications does it have for the spiritual life?

Is our identity, personality and behaviour fixed by our genes or is the raw material of ourselves molded by the environment into which we are born – our family, parenting, experience.

Likewise does a person’s spiritual origin determine what they look like or is it more to do with spiritual environment in which they live?Read More »

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Living a life of action

To some, living a life of action might suggest bungy jumping and skydiving. But according to dynamic-speaking-duo, Jeremy and Catherine Hallett (Eternity, March 28), it runs much deeper than extreme sports.

The ‘why’ of living a life of action is to glorify God and see his kingdom advance.

The ‘what’ is to move from apathy (going through the motions) to action to kingdom by identifying ourselves as followers of Christ and stepping into a new boldness.

The ‘who’ of a life of action is everyone, or more specifically, everyone who makes themselves available. The ‘when’ is now and forever, in season and out of season – providing we have taken time out to hear what God wants us to do.

The ‘where’ of living a life of action is to start at home – our relationships, family, daily lives – and allow God to grow it from there.

Finally, the ‘how’ will be different for everyone but starts with rejecting fear and embracing the truth that God gives us abundant life.

Hear anything good at church today? Add it as a comment! PH

Overcoming walls, discerning calls

‘So how do you know if God is calling you into an area of ministry or service?’ the young person asked as we stirred our flat whites at Deus ex Machina.

It’s a question you are asked many times as a pastor and it is rarely as black and white as people would like.

I told some of my own story of leaving* my ‘calling’ as a journalist to take up a ‘calling’ as a pastor many years earlier. The point being that we serve God in whatever we do when it is submitted to him.

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Growing through serving

Often our greatest growth comes in the act of serving because the act of serving exposes our greatest vulnerabilities.

Whether these are fear, frustration, impatience, weariness, anger, pride or apathy – once exposed, we have a powerful moment of clarity in which to give our weakness to God and allow him to teach and counsel us.

If we hadn’t served – forcing ourselves to be stretched by circumstance, sandpapered by people and sifted by our own emotions – we might have never realised our need, and remained unchanged.

As we approach Easter we recall two friends of Jesus whose vulnerabilities were shockingly exposed as they served and followed their Master. One acknowledged his grief and drew close to his companions, putting himself in reach of resurrected restoration. The other hated himself and withdrew in shame, positioning himself for self-destruction.

Whether sitting in a conference or working on the streets, both moments present an opportunity to take in and give out. If we make it either/or, we have already stalled our growth. PH

No growth without change

Growth is change
              in a positive direction
                         towards Christlikeness
                                we won’t grow if we won’t change.

Change involves continuing to let go of wrongdoing (repentance).
Change involves continuing to let go of hurt and blame (forgiveness).
Change involves continuing to renew our mind with God’s word (learning).
Change involves continuing to enlarge capacity through the Spirit (experiencing).
Change involves continuing to surrender all to the will of God (Lordship).
Change involves continuing to take responsibility for life (self-control).

Obstacles to growth/change include:

  • Failure to decide and commit – we must be intentional about growth
  • Ongoing criticism and judgement – our critical spirit locks us into forced superiority
  • Low self-esteem and pride –   they both say, ‘I can’t be better’ but for different reasons
  • Laziness – we want the benefit but won’t pay the price; we won’t it now or not at all
  • Depression – a loss of the any sense of possibilities. Begin with the small things
  • Being ruled by our emotions – our desire to grow may waiver but the need remains

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. Gal 6:4-5 TMB

The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. 1 Corinthians 2:14 TMB

Learn to depend on me more

The late Canon Jim Glenon went through a severe personal crisis earlier in his life during which he reported hearing the indelible voice of God say: ‘You are to learn to depend on me more’. A ‘transposition’ ocuured in his life: ‘Instead of the previous idea of God helping me with my difficulties, now my difficulties were helping me with God… This meant that, instead of homing in on my problems, my problems were enable me to home in on God. This is what I was to learn; this is what I had to do’. PH

What are you growing this year?

We grow what we feed. We feed what we see. We see what we choose.

Rediscovered roseI have a miniature rose in a pot in the front courtyard of our home. I had paid it little attention in the past 12 months until late October when I decided to move my tomato planting efforts to this same courtyard (inner city vegetable growing is a ‘particular’ art).

Each day as I watered, fertilised and generally yearned over my tomatoes, I would give a similar treatment to the random plants that happened to be in the same location.

The tomatoes plants duly bore fruit but what really surprised me was the literal revival in the other plants, especially the long neglected rose. It grew bushy and is now covered in about a dozen flowers.

Which illustrates well: we grow what we feed; we feed what we see; we see what we choose.

What will you see in 2010? Your choice. You may have something in the courtyard of your life waiting to flourish, but unnoticed.

Having seen it, how will you feed it? Your words, your prayers, your faith, your time, your action.

Having fed it, there is no question – it will grow. So make sure what you focus on and feed is the very will of God.

Strangely, my rose is flowering because I focused on the fruitfulness of my tomatoes and there was enough focus and feeding left over for something beautiful.

Follow the fruitful callings of God in your life and something beautiful will spring up in the midst. PH

Check out my full message on this theme titled “12”.