Friday, May 31, 2013

Focus on Relationships #12.




Some of my friends rightly pointed out that the busy families of today do not show up very often for training. That is true and will not get any easier in the future but the internet can assist us. Here is a simple idea. Keep the main thing the main thing.

If the most important things are relationships, and I think that is obvious, then keep focusing every sermon, every class, every group and every meeting on building and releasing people with superior interpersonal skills. Here is my quick brainstorm about developing a cycle of training/preaching/teaching, etc.

101.201. 301.401. Relationship with God. (Honoring God, Resting in God, Prayer and Contemplation, Worship, etc)
102. 202.302.402. Relationships with Family. (Honoring fathers and mothers, Spouse, Children, In-Laws, etc.)
103.203.303.403.  Relationships with neighbors/workers/community. (Caring and Evangelism, Peace Making, etc)
104. 204.304.404. Relationship with self. (Identity and Inheritance, Self Respect, Humility, etc)

What think ye?



Get my book Healing Release of the Holy Spirit for more on Theology Into Practical Service.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mature Enough to Lead #11.




I Timothy 3:1-7 It is quite true to say that a man who sets his heart on holding office has laudable ambition. Well, for the office of a bishop a man must be of blameless reputation, he must be married to one wife only, and be a man of self-control and discretion. He must be a man of disciplined life; he must be hospitable and have the gift of teaching. He must be neither intemperate nor violent, but gentle. He must not be a controversialist nor must he be fond of money-grabbing. 

He must have reared his children to interact with respect. (For if a man cannot oversee his own house how can he look after the Church of God?). He must not be a beginner in the faith, for fear of his becoming conceited and sharing Satan’s downfall. He should, in addition to the above qualifications, have a good reputation with the outside world, in case his good name is attacked and he is caught by the devil that way. J.B. Phillips Version

The marks of maturity to be found in a Bishop/Overseer/Senior Pastor were key in the day that Paul was writing to his follower Timothy. In the following summary we can see that the they are:

1. Good reputation at church, home, work and community.  One reason why slavery continued around the Christian world was because the Pastors and Bishops of various churches did not practice this. Black Christians would rarely hold their slave holding masters in respect.

2. Have only one wife. Polygamy was clearly church culture. common in the culture of that day. Polygamists were welcomed into membership but not into leadership. 

3.  The fruit of the Spirit as proven by self-control and self discipline.

4. Hospital and welcome guests and others into his life.

5. Have the gift of teaching.

6. Gentle to others and his own family not engaging in controversies and temper tantrums.

7. Generous with his money.

If we were to scale ourselves from Zero to Ten on each item, how would we fare? Want to try it?


You can get our materials on growth and healing at the web page.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Luther on Holiness #10.






 Luther at Wittenberg starts a Revolution

"The Law of Christ is the Law of Love. Christ gave us no other law than this law of mutual love: 'A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another.' To love means to bear another's burdens. Christians must have strong shoulders to bear the burdens of their fellow Christians. 

Faithful pastors recognize many errors and offenses in the church, which they oversee. In civil affairs an official has to overlook much if he is fit to rule. If we can overlook our own shortcomings and wrong-doings, we ought to overlook the shortcomings of others in accordance with the words, 'Bear ye one another's burdens.'" - Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians 6

Friday, May 24, 2013

Marks of Maturity #9.


My post today has a chart from Listening for Heaven's Sake, a book we wrote many years ago as a result of my Doctoral Dissertation. Equipping Ministries International (EMI) published it in 1993 and it has sold several hundred thousand copies all over the planet in many languages. It is a great book that facilitates growth in the Fruit of the Spirit. Order it today and take one of the EMI classes.


 Good News!! We Christians have the Holy Spirit with us and in us to help us grow up. The Holy Spirit is the source of the vitamins we need to grow a healthy mind, spirit, souls and body. 

The Holy Spirit also shows us how to deal with Sin (Bondage) and sins (Rebellion). God has provided us with the ability to effectively stop the destructive thoughts, feelings and behaviors arising from Sin and sins. We can remove a Guilty conscience and irrational Shame. 

The healing grace of the Holy Spirit is released in;
the Truth of Scripture;
the Fruit of Love;
the Power of God and;
the Gifts of Ministry. 

Our books from Sweeten Life Bookstore are all in eBook form on pdf. files that can be easily downloaded.



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Building Mature Christians in the Church #8.





Here is the big question: What is the very best way to develop a church into a healing community? That is a question I pursued on my Doctorate after I heard a famous agnostic Psychologist say something so profound I have never forgotten it. The early Christian Churches were the most powerful healing communities that the world has ever seen. (O.H. Mowrer, 1969)

I returned from the University of Illinois conference dedicated to do everything I could to help contemporary churches once again become healing communities. The following comes from our book, Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty that is available from the Sweeten Life Bookstore.



We are committed to the necessity of equipping and releasing the gifts of all the people into a supernaturally natural environment of healing and growth. We have seen several churches develop communities of love, power and truth so it can be done. Lay members with different gifts of helps, healing, teaching, etc were equipped to care, pray and counsel. Each congregation grew to be greater than the sum of the parts and built itself up in love. Eph 4:16



            There are two aspects of a healing community. The first is called grace and truth to outsiders and the second, healing flow for insiders. Both point to the importance of our attitudes and behavior toward people in pain. An attitude of grace and truth toward all persons outside the group is the first essential. In Alcoholics Anonymous, it is the attitude of the sober members toward those who have not yet reached or sought sobriety. In church it is the attitude of the saints toward sinners, the insiders' view of those outside the fold. It is the counselor's view of those unable to help themselves that offers grace to the people most in need of it. Healing congregations do not hoard their grace but lavish it on people in the world.



            When those who have been touched by God's grace extend it to those outside, the fellowship is prepared to care and cure. When those who have been personally loved with an everlasting love, show the same kind of acceptance to the undeserving, there is movement toward becoming a source of health.  When sinners are accepted, as they are, warts, struggles and failures intact, we can see a family that will heal the broken hearted and set the captives free. This is the grace-applied part of a healing community.



             There is a second and important aspect of entering the fellowship. Along with an attitude that accepts people with grace is an expectation that the wounded, sinful, powerless person will not stay that way. A good hospital accepts sick and hopeless patients but is never satisfied to leave them that way. Its health care team has a better way. The doctors, nurses, aides and leaders are fully committed to wellness but accomplish it by accepting the dying. If they succeed only in acceptance but fail as healers their promises are empty lies.



            The same is true for the church. Acceptance is essential but not enough.  Many loving congregations fail to fully restore those who come. Love alone does bring some healing. However, when we add His truth and power the healing is greater and lasts longer.  A church is different from a club that requires standards of wealth, dress, and status to join. While attending the Master's Golf Tournament in 1999, we found that entry to some of the venues was open to only a few who wore specially colored badges. Only the well connected were welcome. Scripture expressly prohibits that in church for to make such distinctions violates the law of love as described in James 2:12.



On the other hand, we are not to be so naive as to believe that all that come to our fellowship are without weakness, sin, problems and immaturity. St. Paul makes it plain that spiritual leaders are to restore those who are caught up in trespasses and sins (Gal 6:14) and equip those who are immature (Eph 4:11-25). For the church to refuse to mend the broken and restore sinners would be like physicians and nurses who refuse medicine to the sick or teachers who withhold knowledge from unlearned students. The most natural act of the church is equipping the saints who are not yet “sainted”.


The other major dimension is releasing God's healing flow in the congregation. The care and cure of souls that comes from simply being with other ordinary Christians cannot be overemphasized. We need to train the laity to interact with health. Then the whole body, with its varied gifts, talents, skills, and experiences, gives strength, power, and love to each member. This alone brings about healing and growth for God designed the church to work as a body that mends itself.


From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Eph. 4:16


In a healthy fellowship, broken members will become part of the healing flow. Every leader was formerly a broken, immature member. This is one difference between Lifeskills and the medical model. Valerie ministers to Nancy at one meeting and Nancy ministers to Valerie at the next. Good care and counsel do not come from filling a role based on credentials, education and position. These vital church functions occur most effectively by allowing the Spirit of God to flow through us to others. Pastors need the prayer, advice and wisdom of members; and members need the teaching and leadership of pastors.

In summary, the best way to heal hurting hearts is to equip the church members to love, care and encourage each other. More healing and growth come from family and friends who love and care for each other than from counseling and miracles. 

We can call it Psycho/Spiritual/Relational equipping. It includes both Theory and Practice. Our books and video tapes were written to serve as equipping manuals at church. When we raise the level of healthy relationships at home, work and church the weak will become stronger ad the sick will be released from bondage.(See the free You Tube video by Steve Griebling on relating with the GREW Skills and my You Tube videos at Sweeten Life.)




Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Evidence of the Resurrection-Growth #7

How do we know if I am growing into a solid Christian? Are there sign posts along the road?



I think there are indeed sign posts and I am going to suggest some of them. By sign posts, I mean the mile markers we find at the side of the interstates in America. While driving to Florida recently I would watch carefully as the mile markers passed by because I could judge withe some accuracy how far I had gone toward my short term goals. If it was 32 miles until the next Rest Stop I would look at the current mile marker and calculate what it would be when I reached that wonderful destination-a rest stop.

What were the markers your church used when you were young? I don't mean the "official" markers but the unwritten ones. For me the most important markers about being a "godly man" had to do with knowing the Bible and being able to speak well in front of groups without notes. We had a husband and wife team come to the church to train youth leaders and at the end they told the Pastor in front of all the kids that I should be the official youth leader. All the kids, including me, were astounded because I was living like the devil not the Lord. However, I knew and quoted the Bible effortlessly so the visitors were fooled by my superficial abilities.

For some groups, the ability to show a strong evidence of spiritual gifts is the right way to judge one's maturity. The movie Apostle shows this view when it has "Boy Preachers" strut their stuff and add to biblical knowledge and preaching skills the gifts of tongues and healing.  The film shows, however, that the depth of faith of these young ones was not capable of carrying the load of a true ministry.

What do you nominate as the best way to mark growth? there are no "right answers" but I would like to read your views. I will offer my views later.

See my books, video tapes and free downloads at the web. 

Gary Sweeten


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Spiritual Stages of Growth #6.







We have covered very briefly the beginning of the Christian walk. In fact, we describe what precedes knowing Christ as Babes which is the state of every person until he/she comes to faith. We also described what it means to be a Child in Christ. 

We indicated that it is almost impossible for a Christian to achieve a place of real influence and leadership unless he/she has allowed God to heal the heart and restore the soul. Any major areas of unresolved shock, trauma, abuse and neglect from childhood that is suppressed or repressed will arise from the shadows later in life and sabotage the people of God. Moral failures are the evidence of that issue.

Now for the time when we start to really become mature in faith, God's truth, His love and His power. We call this the Disciple stage. Discipleship in this model means that the person is ready mentally, emotionally, spiritually and relationally to chew the meat and gristle of integrating Christian truth into the culture without being defensive, reactive, arrogant or aggressive. 

Disciples are the men and women who have matured in the Wisdom of the Spirit enough to be secure in Christ. They know their lives are hidden in Christ and start to abide in the vine. They can take on and apply the tougher aspects of God's word by hearing the Lord. They discerning the truth on their own.  Paul in the passage above describes them as being "spiritual" and that term is "teleios" or "mature in Christ". 

Becoming a Disciple always requires inner healing. Conservative Christians focus primarily on getting theology straight. Knowing God's word is essential, but applying God's word every day in relationship with God, self, family and others is a sure sign of where we are on the growth scale.

Thus, healing hurting hearts and generational dysfunctions are critically important early in the believer's life in the Spirit. Helping new Christians clean up painful brokenness with parents and siblings, for example, can unlock the door to speedy spiritual and emotional release and the development of the Fruit of the Spirit. If we fail to "Honor our father and mother" we cannot have a long, prosperous and healthy life. (See Exodus 20:12) Moral failures of Christians can almost always be traced back to early childhood wounds that have never been healed leaving scars that block our honor and respect toward our parents and result in conflicts at home and church.
 
In James 3 Paul says, 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. 18 And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

We have many great materials and books at our online bookstore. Some are free and some are for sale. Get them now!

 Gary Sweeten


Monday, May 20, 2013

Why is Inner Healing Important? #5





So few churches and Christian leaders including Christian Counselors emphasize the Care and Cure of the Soul that it must not be very important. Despite the modern neglect of Soul Care the Early Church was deeply involved in it and focused a great deal of scripture on the importance of healing the hearts of wounded members.

One of the great and most hopeful scripture in the Bible comes from God's instructions to Moses in Exodus  15:26 “If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I put upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord, your healer.”

Then God gave Moses a bunch of instructions about what to do to stay healthy. In almost every case they were instructions on prevention, wellness, stopping the spread of disease and other healthy ideas.  In fact, the Jewish Priests were called to be Community Health Care Officers for the Hebrew Children.

The New Testament also contains many suggestions on how to stay healthy, prevent illnesses and develop a lifestyle of wellness. It also includes passages on healing in a remedial sense but we mostly read about how to get "None of the diseases of the non-believers".

For example, many of the current disease states we face in America and the Western societies stem from poor lifestyle decisions not germs, viruses and chronic illnesses. One of the most disturbing lifestyle issues leading to lowered quality of health is Adverse Childhood Events (ACE). Interviews of thousands of patients by the Kaiser Permanente HMO in California revealed that a high percentage of the patients suffered from serious losses, unresolved grief, trauma and emotional pain.

The chart below shows why it is very important to heal those hurts.



It is my view that the churches can best teach on these issues and develop simple processes so their members can find God's love and peace during the early stages of Christian growth.  Far too often we wait until there is a serious crisis of burn out, marital conflicts, illness or a church split.

 The early years of Christian growth needs to be like Boot Camp in the Navy. A new believer is transferred from an old life to a new way of living. Discipleship, personal mentoring, coaching and  developing new ways to think and feel are all crucial.

Our materials are being used by churches and mission groups all over the world to facilitate healing and growth. I suggest you begin by reading Power Christian Thinking that lays out a plan for "Taking every thought captive to the mind of Christ". I CO 2:15



Sunday, May 19, 2013

Inner Healing for Christian Growth #4.




Why do we need soul care?

Luke 6:39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but every one when he is fully taught will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

As we look at the importance of equipping God's people for inner healing ministry, I need to say a few words about inner healing or healing the scars in the heart. Over they years since 1971 when I first learned about inner healing, we have used various terms to describe the process.

Prayer Therapy
Deliverance
Inner Healing
Prayer Counseling
Renewing the Mind
Care and Cure of the Soul

You may be able to remember other terms. The idea of inner healing derives from the knowledge that many physical, mental, emotional and relational issues arise from childhood scars in the heart and mind. Traditionally this arena was called Care and Cure of the Soul. When I teach in some parts of Europe the term Counseling is usually translated as seelsorge or soul care.

One of my favorite books is by McNeil written long ago. It is on the topic of caring for souls from every era in history. It also covers every religious tradition and especially Jewish and Christian traditions. Thus, despite protestations by some confused Christians it is not a new invention spawned by Freud and modern Psychology. In fact, Freud and his followers drew soul care out of the church and placed it in the Doctor's office.  They intruded on the church not vice versa.

The entire book of Proverbs was used as a text for those involved in care and counseling wounded souls. Psalms and Ecclesiastes were also used. Many of the rituals developed by the early church and written about by St. James and others were tried and perfected first in Pastoral Care. James 5 for example is an essential part of the inner healing ministry.

In the early years of Christian growth it was very important to do inner healing. The inner hurts, non-Christian thinking patterns, neurotic ideas, bad habits and sinful family activities were rampant in young Christians. Unfortunately, the modern church has developed a very unbiblical pattern for raising up mature/teleios believers. Jesus and the leaders of the early church had no formal schools, church buildings, etc. They depended upon raising up new leaders by a simple system of being together in worship, study, serving and eating together.

We currently see a spate of famous Pastors falling into immoral behavior and we are shocked. Shocked!! Why were the fault lines and wounded souls not identified and confronted for healing and change much earlier? How did they rise so high and keep their broken hearts hidden? They did it by attending a formal school with no intimate discipling. In that environment they can hide from reality and play the church game.

Getting Help

Most Christians do not face squarely their inner brokenness and pain until there is a crisis at home, work, church, ministry. They can go on no longer. It usually occurs in Mid-Life with a financial, marital, work or physical problem they can no longer hide. The kids rebel, the wife refuses sex, the church board is mad, you find a new "soul mate" in the choir, etc. They have, by that time live in hidden desperation for years. All that can be avoided by getting soul care early in your walk.

To get a comprehensive book on Inner Healing go to my book store and download the eBook pdf. of Breaking Free to be all God Wants Me to Be.  It is a powerful, life changing approach to cleaning up scars in the heart. Power Christian Thinking and How to be Me in My Family Tree are also sources of deep healing.

If you are doing ministries of prayer and care also check out the free downloads of the check lists.

Out of the roots come the Fruits


Lay the Axe to the Roots!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Power of God





Tomorrow is Pentecost! It is a celebration of the time when God released His Holy Spirit on all who believe. It was the promise for which generations had waited. Joel 2:

Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
    for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near,
a day of darkness and gloom,
    a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
    a great and powerful people;
their like has never been from of old,
    nor will be again after them
    through the years of all generations.

28  “And it shall come to pass afterward,
    that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    your old men shall dream dreams,
    and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even upon the menservants and maidservants
    in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

Since that grand and glorious day the Holy Spirit has arisen from women and men, old and young, rich and poor. In no other faith are all people so blessed. It has certainly taken many centuries for God's people to accept His word. For centuries the church discriminated against women and said slavery was acceptable. However,  God's promises have been working to liberate and release His people ever since.

There is also a promise here that everyone will be gifted and called to be messengers of God. The greatest revivals are yet to come, even greater than Pentecost. God spoke to me in 1983 and said, "I am pouring out my Spirit on my people for a New Reformation. In the First Reformation I took my word out of the hands of the few and gave it to everyone. In this Reformation I am taking my works out of the hands of the few and giving them to everyone."

This new way of ministry has been occurring since the 1960's when the Jesus Movement came to us in love and power. It is being replicated in every nation with men and women of all classes and stations in life. It can never be stopped.

QUESTION: What is the best film representation of God's unleashed power on earth? Think about that question and write me what you think.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Spiritual Growth #3.


Today we shall look at the stage that follows All People who do not know Christ and Babes in Christ.
I call them: Children or Continuing in Christ and they include those who have moved beyond Spiritual Milk. Babes need very easily understood materials or they will choke on it and get puffed up with pride. The members who have gotten to the Children's Stage have mastered the Milk and need to move on to soft food that I call Mush because it is easy to chew and easy to digest. 

People at the Babe Stage are dependent on others to teach them the basic truth, fruit, gifts and power. In my experience Children start to learn more on their own perhaps in directed learning. However, they tend to take whatever they are taught as the absolute truth and quote those they consider to be "experts". 

Here it is key to focus on the basics of truth and not get too far ahead of their ability to chew that which they are fed. Teachings about Revelation, miracle gifts, entering the professional ministry, systematic theology, etc and not for Babes or Children for they require an ability to integrate paradoxical aspects of the Bible that stretch the young mind too far.

These folks are described by St. Paul as still unable to eat Meat. The reason is not theological but interpersonal. They have divisive arguments over which "expert" has the most perfect theology. It is obvious that spiritual children are so dependent on mature teachers that they cannot think for themselves. 

I Corinthians 3:  1 But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely men?

We see this quite often today when well meaning Christians argue incessantly over topics such as free will versus the sovereignty of God, when the Lord Jesus will return, modes of baptism, spiritual gifts, etc. Each person is too emotionally and spiritually immature to discuss these issues with the fruit of the Spirit and simply quote their favorite author or speaker. One quotes Calvin and another quotes Wesley. I quote a cessationist and you quote a Pentecostal. Such interpersonal arguments, says the Apostle Paul, indicate immaturity. 

This situation, however, is the fault of the teachers not the students. Teachers that try to pour a seminary education into a young believer in the elementary school will tend to produce a mind that is distorted and confused. Despite that few teachers even consider a grade appropriate way to disciple the flock. As the cartoon above shows, the congregation arrives at church with a variety of needs and desires. Discipleship must include more than just big meetings.

  Think it over and tell me what you believe. Add your pithy comments. My book on theology Healing Release of the Holy Spirit may help you think about these things.

Shalom,

Gary Sweeten 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Christian Growth Stages #2







In My last post I introduced the notion of putting on the whole armor of God as a way to describe the stages of spiritual growth into maturity. (I am re-posting the chart above.) I realize this may be a new or even unique idea to many of my loyal readers, but it is not new to the Bible. In fact, it is a foundational principle we find throughout the Bible. For example, see the passages below.

I Corinthians 2:1 When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

The basics! Faith in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. 
 
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. 

  None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him,”

10 God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  

12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 

  13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit.

14 The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual Mature man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.  

16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (Mature Christians can eat Meat!)

 As you peruse these verses from St. Paul, how do you think my representation of the growth stages matches up? Are my stages biblical, reasonable and instructive? Or, are they secular, humanistic and unbiblical? A famous Reformed Psychologist once wrote a book on the impossibility of integrating secular psychology with biblical theology. 

He mentioned me in the book and not with affirmation. He called me a "Psycho-babbler" because I have written and spoken often on the integration of science and scripture, including psychology and Evangelical Theology. What say ye? In your opinion do you see heresy or faith in my attempts to integrate educational psychology and scripture? 

Leave your comments and let me know. If you like the idea of integrating faith and science, get my book, Healing Release of the Holy Spirit.

There are several intermediate steps from depending only on the wisdom of humans and hearing the spiritual wisdom of Christ. Yesterday, I covered the first two stages of growth from wisdom of humans to the wisdom of the Spirit. They are, 

All People who do not know Christ. This group cannot possibly discern the Holy Spirit from the "spirit of the age". Although "common grace" allows everyone to do good things, it is occasional and simple.

Babes in Christ are Believers who have just received the Spirit of God in regeneration. They have been born from above just as John relates in Chapter 3. As St. John mentioned in Chapter 14. 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.

  However, they have little ability to understand the deeper things of Christ and the Bible. They need to understand the basics of who God is and what the Holy Spirit has done for them. They will choke on Meat and other food that is harder to digest. That is why they need special classes in Milk with no heavy theology or emphasis on integration of theology and science.

Next we shall explore the following stages of spiritual growth and healing. For a deeper view download the pdf. file of my book Healing Release of the Holy Spirit.



This egg is cracking but the chick has not yet learned to fly and take care of himself.
 

Gary Sweeten

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Full Armor of God and Spiritual Growth Stages #1.

This is a chart I had Lois Dunn draw many years ago. I have used it to teach on the importance of understanding the various stages Christian growth. I am an educator that was an elementary school teacher and coach for five years before getting a Master's Degree in Higher Education. I later became a Christian Educator that was responsible for Discipleship and Equipping Christians at a large church. Everyone gets fed the same food.

Note that the chart shows individuals of all spiritual levels.

All People of the World who are not spiritually alive. They are dead and cannot understand or receive spiritual things. They have not been "Born again from the Spirit" as noted in John 3 and know nothing of godly things. As I Corinthians 2:12-13 states that "We have received not the spirit of man but the Spirit who is from God that we might know the things freely given to us by God".

Babes or Beginners in Christ.  These are brand new Believers and like every baby they need Milk of the Spirit. I Corinthians 3:1 But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh.

There is nothing wrong with being a baby that needs milky teachings and preachings. It is a required way to train a young Christian. However, it is rare for any church to even acknowledge that some people need milk while others need meat. 

In every situation when children were involved we planned our materials, our teaching strategies and our structure to fit the developmental stages of the child. We had easy, simple, digestible teaching for Babes. However, I never read a book, knew of a church or spoke with a Pastor, Equipping Minister or Discipleship Guru that even thought the same thing was needed for adults.  (If you know of one, send its name to me.)

Everywhere I went I saw churches and teachers who put everyone into the same groups as though they were able to receive their lesson, sermon or ideas equally well. The chart above shows clearly that there are people of all spiritual levels and stages in the church. 

This is enough for today. Think these ideas over and challenge me or write some blog comments  to agree. I will not sic the IRS on you if you disagree with me. I love a good debate.If you want to see materials developed to teach different people go to our web and bookstore.

Gary Sweeten