What Makes Spiritual Maturity?

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[Based on a letter to my cousin-in-law, who runs a seminary in Chicago.]

Most seminaries focus on:

  • Pastoral vision and skills
  • Theological knowledge
  • Community and relationships

Those are all good things. But are they the right things?

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An Ode to My Personal Trainer

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For Steve Hernandez.

One day after the first workout:

I hate you.

You make me do things I don’t want to do.

My muscles ache.  My joints creak.  My steps are slow.

I feel ten years older.

One month after the first workout:

I feel ten years younger.

My muscles are stronger.  My joints flex.  My steps are springy.

You make me do things I don’t want to do.

I love you.

 

Meet the Dragons of Knight Club

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The great challenge of manhood is learning to harness our emotions to serve a good purpose. As I mentioned earlier, I believe we need to harness (not slay) these Four Dragons of Manhood: Desire, Fear, Anger & Pride.  Here’s a more comprehensive summary of my current understanding:

Dragons The Green Dragon of Desire The Yellow Dragon of Fear The Red Dragon of Anger The Blue Dragon of Pride
Color Green Yellow Red Blue
Emotion Desire Fear Anger Pride/Glory
Breathes Vines Light Fire Water
Says “Mine!” “I’m Scared” “Not Fair!” “By Myself!”
Verse: Psalm 37:4 1 Peter 1:17 Ephesians 4:26 Galatians 6:4
Nurtured By: Hope Wisdom Love Faith
Reined In By: Patience Responsibility Gentleness Obedience
Experience God’s: Generosity Justice Mercy Predictability

Therefore I urge you who have been chosen by God to live up to the life to which God called you. Always be humble, gentle, and patient, accepting each other in love. — Ephesians 4:1a-2

LEAD! C.5 Studying Scripture

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boIn Which Diligently Searching God’s Word Leads Us to Truth

Few disciplines are as essential — or as dangerous! — as studying the words and works of God. Used in the wrong spirit, theology can become a heavy burden or a useless distraction (cf. Matthew 23:4). But when taught by the Holy Spirit, God’s word becomes the very source of life itself (cf. Luke 4:4). The challenge to us, as to Timothy, is whether we will apply God’s word rightly

Memory Verse: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • 5. Study
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • 2. Bible Intake (Part I)
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • 6. Help: “Oh, Blessed Be God! He Didn’t Go Off & Leave Us!”
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • 3. Scripture: Encountering God Through Lectio Divina

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LEAD! C.1 Desire and Discipline

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In Which Our Desire For God’s Name Inspires Us to Submit To His Discipline

In Part A of this class we began by studying the theological foundations of Christianity, with a focus on what it means to be baptized into the “name” of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Part B we explored what it looks like to appropriate that “name” — God’s character — through the pursuit of wisdom, as contrasted with the simple, mockers, and fools. For Part C, our final module, we will be focusing on Skills for Servant Leaders — the spiritual disciplines necessary to cultivate those virtues in our lives without falling into pride or will-worship.

Our primary text will be Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster, which you are encouraged to supplement with one of the other books listed below. In addition, you are encouraged to actively practice the disciplines as we work through these studies, using tools like the memory verse (below).

However, it is essential to remember that the disciplines are only effective if they are not ends in themselves, but means to our greatest desire, which is Christ Himself…

Memory Verse: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • Introduction
    • 1. The Spiritual Disciplines: Door to Liberation
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • Introduction
    • 1. The Spiritual Disciplines… for the Purpose of Godliness
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • Preface
    • 1. Discipleship: “What Makes You Think You Can Race Against Horses?”
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • Introduction
    • 1. Longing for More: An Invitation to Spiritual Transformation

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