Instructions for Rock Growth

At Youth Group, we have some pretty … interesting … inside jokes. Some are elaborate. Some are “You just had to be there.” Some are pretty dumb. But one of my favorites involves my friend Madi and rocks.

I won’t get into all the details (it’s an inside joke) but for Christmas, Madi got me this:

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It’s a rock some so pretty unique (and funny) instructions on it:

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Instructions for Rock Growth

1. Water Everyday

2. Read 2 Peter 3:18 to it every night.

3. Believe.

It’s one of my favorite Christmas gifts ever and sits on top of my desk where I still get a chuckle from it daily!

As we finished up our latest series on living out our faith, I came back to this rock and the simple title: Instructions for Rock Growth.

Now, what Madi was getting at and what I am going to get to are two different things, but with very similar steps. Madi’s gift (how to grow rocks) is a reminder of how we are called to grow ourselves. Turn with me to Matthew 7:24-27 where Jesus is finishing off the Sermon on the Mount with these words:

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27, ESV)

The Christian is called to build their house on the foundation that is the rock because the rain and storms are coming. Don’t believe a Christian that tries to sell you that when you become a Christian, life is success, wealth, prosperity and 365 days a year of sunshine. Jesus gets done with his sermon and says, “the storms are coming.” [Also, Jesus says “follow me” and he goes to a cross and dies.]

Our foundation is in Jesus Christ himself. He was sent to become personal and real to you and for you. Our foundation is found in our relationship with Jesus and our faith and trust in Him. So, how does our foundation grow? How does our foundation expand and become more secure and stronger?

1. Water everyday. The important part here for step one is everyday. Martin Luther, that guy that people talk about sometimes, once said “To progress is always to begin again.” Real spiritual growth means a daily going back to the heart and foundation of your faith.

My friend Mike (who I call Stink) is a wrestler who just recently competed in the Regional Championships. I asked him how many times he has to practice a half-nelson a day to get better at it and he said “50” and although he can do it right, he doesn’t always do it 100% right 100% of the time.

Our faith/foundation/relationship with the Lord is similar. Christian growth doesn’t happen when we work hard at being better but by continually rediscovering the gospel. To progress in our faith means to believe again and again the gospel of God’s free, justifying grace. The measure of growth for your  faith is not in how many times you go on a mission trip, not in how many O’s you put at the end of the check for offering, how many sandwiches you serve to the homeless, or how better you are getting at not sinningbut rather grasp and trust and belief in grace – God’s unconditionality of God’s love for you. It isn’t just learning the facts like how you memorized the Pledge of Allegiance when you were a kid, but it means “growing in our love for Christ because of what he has already earned and secured for us. 1” 

How do I better understand and grasp the Gospel?

2. Read 2 Peter 3:18 to it every night. And not just 2 Peter 3:18 but all the scripture … and it doesn’t even have to be at night. If you want to grow in your faith, in your foundation and understanding of grace, of God’s unconditional love for you, I know  no other fundamental way of grasping the gospel other than reading the scriptures for yourself. Get in the Word. There will be times when doing that is easier and other times when it is harder, but reading the scriptures for yourself, daily, with a plan and purpose, and reflecting on God’s word – letting in seep into your depths  and grow inside of you – is highly important. I’m constantly worried for those people that don’t because of the tendency to doubt. I’m also worried for people that only go to scripture to feel good about themselves or go to God whenever there is something wrong.

Reading the scriptures with intent, reflecting on God’s Word, grasping the freedom in the Gospel, rejoicing in God’s unconditional love for you is of such importance.

3. Believe. Yes. Believe. Step 3 is simple. Have faith. Trust and believe that God is working in you. Believe and trust that Christianity isn’t “Do Better. Try Harder.” but a proclamation of “It is Finished.”

Get in the Word. Parents, get in the Word with your children. Model it for them. Because you and I need to progress and grow in our faith and be models for the youth and other Christians. And as that one guy once said, “To progress is always to begin again.”

 

 

1 – Tullian Tchividian “Rethinking Progess”

 

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the things they take in, pt 6: even more real student questions

bucket monday

The concept is simple: students provide the questions, everyone gives input, we give an answer. The questions range in topics (as you will see), but we our aim is to give a Biblically-grounded, gospel-driven, Christ-centered answer, one that has application and meaning for each of us.

Instead of making a 10,000 word blog post (which no one would read), I want to break it up for you throughout the week. To catch up on questions, check em out here and  yestedays here

Have a question that you would like answered about faith, church, family, life, struggles, situations, me, jokes, anything, etc.? Send me an email at bucketofquestions@gmail.com. I won’t use your name in the blog and I’ll try and answer as many as I can each week.

As always, these are real questions from real students.

How do you tell your friends to stop cussing? 

My friends has a problem with boys. How do I tell her to stop? 

How do you help friends that sin? 

I lumped all of these questions together because they all tend to deal with the same issue. What do we do when our friend ______? How do we help them?

So, what do we do when our friends are sinning?

Firsts things first – we need to examine our heart. This is always the hardest thing which is usually why it is the most important thing; you and I need to believe that I am a sinner just as much as the other person is a sinner and I need Jesus just as much as the other person needs Jesus. You need to know that you and your friend share the same problem – a sinful heart. Our bad actions come from that sin. So, make sure that you are confessing your sin and repenting of sin before you go and accuse someone else of their sin (Matthew 7:3-5).

Second – You need to pray for that person. Remember! You and your friend both need a Savior and you don’t fit that job description! Only Jesus can wash away sins. Only Jesus can save. My friend David once prayed this prayer, “Lord, you have called us not to make bad people good but to make the dead come to life and we are not able to do it. So Lord we need you and your Spirit to do its work!” This prayer is amazing. It echos a passage of scripture in Ephesians 2 and 2 Corinthians 5 that calls us Christians “Ambassadors” to go into dead places, live there, and bring life there, but that it it God’s work, because he loves people. So, pray for that person, that as you share with them the good news of Jesus, that they would listen and respond.

Third – You should try and have a relationship with that person. Our human default setting is to push people away whenever they confront us. We get defensive and angry when people call us out. We don’t like it. No one lies it. But being friends with people makes it easier (not easy … just easier) to come back and love them.

Fourth – Go talk to that person. Just go right up to them and talk to them about what has been bothering you and talk it out. Talk it through. Don’t gossip, don’t talk behind their back. Just approach them intentionally and talk to them.

Now, like I said, our human default is to push people back and get defensive when we are called out, so don’t push to hard. Be gentile. Make sure to be gracious to them and show them love.

What do you do when a close friend who knows Jesus is having a struggle you aren’t involved in? 

What do you do if you feel like you’re losing your best friend? 

When a person who is really close to us feels like they are slipping away or they are struggling and they won’t tell you what’s going on, what you have to do is be there for them and be intentionally about being their for them. Sometimes, that means speaking. Most of the time, a friend just needs to know that whenever they do need to talk, you will be there. So make that known.

Say, “I am here to listen whenever you need to talk.” Repeat that over and over. And spend some quality time with that person.

Something that will come up: they may tell you about the struggle. They may share with you what has been going on and it may be the most screwed up thing you have ever heard in your entire life …

but to make a difference in your relationship with that person, you can’t be shocked. You need to listen without thinking, “Oh my! This happened? You did this? I can’t believe you … I can’t believe you did this… I can’t believe _________” Here’s why:

Whenever that happens, we, in our hearts, get very self-righteous. We tend to think that we are better than the person confessing the struggles they have been going through. But your sin, no matter how light or fluffy you may think it is, has the same effect on you as it does on other people: separation from God. Our ancestor Adam brought sin into this world and it jacked everything up. People, yourself and myself included, are more messed up than we could ever imagine. Praise the Lord that the grace of God is greater than the worst sin.

So please, for the sake of the kingdom, don’t sit down with a person and say that you are ready to listen if you are going to be shocked and self-righteous in your heart when you hear their struggles. Humbly repent of those things and believe that you are in need of a Savior daily just as much as the person opening up and being vulnerable.

A quickie compared to the others this week. Again, I ask for any other questions that you may be wrestling with. Feel free to email bucketofquestions@gmail.com and I will try and answer your question on the blog.

Tomorrow, we’ll have questions about peer pressure. Enjoy the snow!