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Growing Your Faith: How do you know if you're growing?

If you've ever planted a garden then you know how much work goes into it. It's no small task to turn a patch of dirt into a backyard produce aisle.


Growing with God

Years ago I moved into a house that had a huge backyard and tucked away on the edge was what looked like the place where they used to have a garden. Long since overgrown, you could barely see the remnants of garden rows and tilled-up edges. I got the bright idea that I wanted to put in a garden. Did I start small with just a few things? No, that would be too easy. Having never gardened before, naturally, I planned to put in a huge garden with the full scope and range of all plants a person could ever dream to grow. First things first, all these weeds need to be dealt with. Long before easy internet searches, I dialed up a search in my brain to determine the best course of action. Which, by the way, turned out to be the wrong place to search for answers, having never gardened or grown anything before. My brain decided that the best course of action would be Round-Up. A quick and painless death to all weeds as fast as possible so that I could get to the fun part - Gardening! Fortunately, I had a large jug on hand and without any further thought, or label reading, I mixed up a massive dose of plant poison and sprayed out a lethal dose on what was to be my new garden area.


About a week later, everything looked like a scene from the Chernobyl disaster, and yet somehow I remember feeling this sense of accomplishment. I wanted those weeds dead and look at my fine work. Next up, the soil needed a good tilling. So I rented a massive rototiller and began the arduous task of holding on to a bucking bull that had no desire to break up the hard-packed, weed-filled soil. Not to be dismayed I kept at it and kept at it and kept at it. Eventually with arms that had started to feel like jello, I had finally broken up the soil. Ah, finally ready to get to the fun part, planting. I raked in some hasty rows and dove into seed planting. In no time at all I had forgotten what I planted in half the rows. Unsure of what was in some rows or if they had been planted, I decided that it was better safe than sorry, so I planted more things in the "unsure rows."


Growing your faith - Stunted carrots

Then came the boring part... the watering and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting. After what felt like an eternity things did begin to grow. But in the weeks to come I began to see the results of what most of you probably already knew. Soaking the garden plot with Round-Up before planting a garden was going to have some side effects. My garden plants turned out to look like something from a Frankenstein experiment. Deformed corn stalks. Carrots with large lush green stuff on top giving you the impression that a massive carrot lay just beneath the surface only to be shocked to pull it up and find a 3 cm micro carrot attached below. And on and on it went. All that work and effort and energy didn't produce a single piece of edible produce.



Over the years I've talked with so many people who dive into their Christian walk not a lot unlike my gardening attempt. They discover Jesus, a Christian Community, drawn to God - However the method, they're excited that they found Jesus and are eager to get started!


But getting started following Jesus on your own can often produce discouraging results similar to my failed garden attempt. In the beginning, you just don't know what you don't know. For most, they begin to experience some discouragement when they feel like they've tried to grow as a Christian but they don't really notice much difference. For others (the more stubborn ones) they persevere. Thinking things like, the Bible says you have to stay at it, you'll face opposition, and it will be hard, I must not be feeling any different because I'm experiencing persecution. While that may be the case it's actually pretty unlikely. Most aren't feeling any different or growing because they just don't know how. It's rarely some super spiritual reason. Yes, there's spiritual warfare, but just like it didn't take some nefarious neighbor to wreck my gardening efforts, it doesn't take interference from the Devil to stop you from growing as a Christian if you don't know how to grow to begin with.


Maybe that hits home with you? Maybe not. If it resonates at all please keep reading.



So you want to grow as a Christian and need some help. Great! Imagine how much better my first gardening experience would have been if I would have asked for help from someone with actual gardening growing experience!


As followers of Jesus Christ, it's really important to examine our actions, thoughts, and behaviors to ensure they align with Scripture. This introspective journey of self-reflection and growth is essential for deepening our relationship with God and living a purposeful life as disciples. Here are a few ideas to help you discover the importance of self-examination, indicators of growth, and the consequences of neglecting this crucial aspect of our faith.

  • The Power of Self-Examination: Just as Socrates believed that the unexamined life is not worth living, as disciples of Jesus, we understand the significance of reflecting upon our lives. Self-examination allows us to gain insight into our spiritual progress, identify areas that need improvement, and make course corrections guided by God's Word. It keeps us from drifting through life aimlessly and helps us live with intention and purpose.

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  • Aligning with Scripture: The foundation of our self-examination lies in aligning our actions, thoughts, and behaviors with the teachings of Scripture. God's Word serves as our ultimate guide, providing wisdom, guidance, and principles to shape our lives. By regularly checking ourselves against Scripture, we ensure that our choices and attitudes align with God's will, enabling us to grow as disciples.

  • Indicators of Spiritual Growth: How do we know if we are growing in our faith? Here are some key indicators to consider:


  • Deepening Relationship with God: A growing disciple seeks to cultivate a love relationship with God through prayer, worship, and studying the Bible. Regular communication and intimacy with God become central to daily life.


  • Learning to Follow Jesus: We learn best in community. Engaging in Bible studies, group webinars or local classes, or discipleship groups provides opportunities to learn from others, share insights, and apply God's teachings in practical ways.


  • Generous Giving: Growing disciples understand the importance of stewardship and generously sharing their resources with those in need. Regular giving to support God's work in the local church and the world becomes a priority.


  • Serving Others: As disciples, we are called to embody Christ's love by serving others and working toward justice and compassion. Actively engaging in alleviating suffering and making a positive impact on the world reflects our growth as followers of Jesus.


  • Encouraging Others: Growth in our own faith should also extend to encouraging and inspiring others on their spiritual journey. By inviting others to meet Jesus and supporting them in taking steps closer to God, we participate in the collective growth of the Church.


WHAT HAPPENS IF WE NEGLECT, PROCRASTINATE OR PUT OFF THESE IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF GROWING AS A DISCIPLE OF JESUS?


If we neglect the crucial task of self-examination and fail to align our actions, thoughts, and behaviors with Scripture, several consequences may arise:


  • Stagnation: Without intentional growth, we risk remaining stagnant in our faith, missing out on the transformative power of God's Word and the abundant life He offers.


  • Inconsistency: Neglecting self-examination can lead to inconsistencies between our beliefs and our actions, causing confusion and hindering spiritual progress.


  • Drifting from God's Will: Lack of self-examination can result in unintentionally straying from God's will and purpose for our lives, leading to missed opportunities and unfulfilled potential.


  • Impact on Witness: Our actions, thoughts, and behaviors are a testimony to the world of our faith. Neglecting self-examination can tarnish our witness and hinder our effectiveness in sharing the love of Christ.


I hope my terrible gardening story helps you rethink your approach to growing as a Christian. What stuck out to you as you read through this post? Did anything feel super convicting? Did anything make you mad? Those "gut" kind of internal responses to things are often the Holy Spirit squeezing your "Pause and pay attention" muscles and when you're not used to it you may miss it. I'd encourage you to read through this post again and really pay attention to what God is drawing you to pause on. Then, stop there and start digging in on that idea.


GREAT NEWS! You don't have to "garden alone"! Reach out and let's grow together. We love connecting with people one on one or helping you get plugged into a group.


All it takes is an email or a call. Info@jointhejourneychurch.com or Call us at 509-595-0515


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