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Sandra
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Ha! The Homer Simpson cartoons are perfect and made me laugh! :) As far as how the stage theory works into our daily lives, I agree that it is possible and maybe even common for one person to be in several stages at once. For example, one of combinations I've seen more than once are people that are very Stage 4 in their work relationships or at church that are more comfortable as Stage 2 parents. It makes sense to me that we are growing at different rates in the many aspects of our lives. The combinations are endless!
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Jeff, I agree, you are on to something. We have a tendency to make things way too complicated. I'm with Steve... I'll try the easy yoke for awhile! Great post! Thanks!
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Great post! I have two older children which I unfortunately raised from a Stage 2 platform, and God, being the wonderful God that He is, stepped in and they are turning out pretty good anyway, and then He also allowed me another shot at it with our youngest child, now 11, so this is something that I think about a lot. Up to this point with our youngest, I have been trying to focus mostly on love: God's great love for us, all the examples of Jesus extending love to others, basically the Good News that God, the God of the Universe, loves us (which is mind blowing when you really think about it) so we should love each other. The "Golden Rule" is about the only "rule" we focus on. For example, it's not a good idea to cuss because that type of talk can hurt other people's feelings or make them feel uncomfortable, rather than just declaring that cussing is a sin, which tends to make adventurous types crave the thrill of trying it out. Cussing just falls into the same category as calling someone names, no glamour in that. As we approach the middle school years, I'm thinking that we will discuss freedom rather than rules. How Jesus died so we can be free. I'm hoping to deal with the sin issue from a standpoint that it hurts us and steals our freedom and will eventually go on to hurt others. I have a mental picture of a person weighted down with garbage bags representing sin and how it's possible to get so weighted down with baggage to haul around that we are no longer free to live or love others. The idea that Jesus wants to help us so we don't create a lot of garbage and will also take any garbage we do make so we're free to live and can love others instead of walking over them with our stinking garbage. As a parent, it feels less risky to state the rules and draw the lines in the sand, but that approach seems to develop either rebellion or pride depending on which side of the line they choose to stand, both of which create huge disabilities in doing Kingdom work. Love is fuzzier and has the potential to transform children into amazing disciples that can really be involved in what God is doing to further His Kingdom in their world. I'm still working through this... everyday. If anyone has it figured out, please send help! :)
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I believe that all vocations are open to God's blessing and don't really think one is better than another, unless, as Holly mentioned, it's a career that exploits another person. I do think there should be more support and encouragement for people to "bloom where they are planted" and to encourage young people to serve in careers outside the church. I tend to think that the church, meaning the entire collection of believers, would be more effective reaching people if we emphasized serving in our own lane, whatever that is, rather than encouraging all people to get involved in a ministry inside the church building, not that I have anything against the ministries inside the church building, because many of them are very helpful to many people that attend church. The problem is that a lot of people that might be thankful to get to know God don't ever step inside a church building, AND many people that could help those people get to know God are very busy inside the church building. Most people don't have time to work a job, take care of the needs of their family, serve in ministry at the church, and also be a Good Samaritan to those they come across in the course of their everyday life. When we as the church, meaning all of us out there in our jobs, subdivisions, schools, and communities, don't have time to serve those we come across over the course of a regular day, it alienates people from God. Then you add the over zealous street preachers and Bible beaters to the mix and it's not a very good image we present. We are the PR crew and if it seems as if we don't care it's often translated that God doesn't care. Thankfully God is bigger and can reach people in spite of us, but what if most of us were actually in tune with Him during our everyday life outside the church building? I feel like this is what needs to be encouraged, and it IS in encouraged in many churches. The flip side of this is that church business inside the building needs to be done and the pastor can't do it all, so it requires a lot of people and a lot of money. Most people I know are stretched to the limit. We just can't do it all. Do we maybe need to find a new way of doing Church? Is there a way that doesn't require so many people to serve inside the building or so much money to keep it afloat? Is there a way that would encourage life out in the world and free believers up to work and minister out there where people don't yet know how much their Heavenly Father loves them? What would that look like?
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Otto, Great thoughts! I agree that we each have a unique path and we each need freedom to explore who we really are. And also that we don't really know what's going on inside, often even inside ourselves, until the "rubber meets the road", then it becomes pretty clear. Thanks for sharing! :)
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I was one of those parents that sheltered our first two children from the media, and pretty much everything else as advised in women's conferences and other places I now avoid. Since our kids are very bright, and like to think for themselves, they thought all this was silly and our tidy little Christian family got pretty messy for awhile. No, actually, really messy. We figured a few things out the hard way and now we're all patched up with the oldest two and enjoying one another again. We had our third child several years after our second and this youngest child has grown up very differently from the older two. We've been way more relaxed with the media choices in our home and I think it's working out better. While I cringe at some of the junk on Cartoon Network, I try not to forbid any particular shows. I'm certain that MTV will really challenge me in a few years. Just a few weeks ago, I was able to observe a child from a sheltered home (like ours used to be) trying to interact with a group of peers. This group of 5th graders were talking about shows they watch on TV and he couldn't join in except with comments like, "that reminds me of when Curious George..." I felt his pain and I went home and asked our older kids (again) to forgive us.
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Thanks Jeff for putting this into words. I think I've kind of already stumbled through this experience, not that I've "arrived", but I have been on this journey that you've described so perfectly. Beautiful!
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Good stuff! Can't wait for part 2! Bill, I'm on track with your style. I've also found that when you pray for people you need to be willing to be a part of the answer, if that seems to make sense. For example, I'm ashamed of the times I prayed for people for their finances, or healing, or whatever and then just went about my business instead of buying them a sack of groceries, or making their monthly mortgage payment, or cleaning their house, or cooking food for the family, or whatever else might be needed. Now I realize it often goes hand in hand. Makes me want to hide thinking of the messes I've left behind trying to be an "evangelist" after being inspired by some book or speaker!
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It looks to me like somewhere a key element in "evangelism" was left out... the Holy Spirit!? Isn't He the one to woo the "evangelee" to God in the first place? We are simply to make disciples. To disciple someone, aren't they already a believer? I thought making disciples was helping people learn how to navigate this world in a way that honors God and is loving toward others. It gets hard sometimes and we all need encouragement. I think we help attract people to God by loving them well. When we take time to invest in their lives, they see the choices we make and naturally want to learn more. In my (strong and often opposing) opinion, we need to focus on our relationships with others and let the Holy Spirit take care of the evangelism. Only invest in the relationships that you will stick with for the long haul even if the person never wants to discuss Jesus with you, anything less seems to do more harm than good as it turns them off to other Christians that might choose to befriend them just because they are a person made in God's image and therefore worth getting to know. The Holy Spirit can and does reach people in a way we can't, and if we listen to Him, He may show us how to be a part of what He's up to in a person's life. Too often we enter a relationship with an agenda and people just end up feeling used and further away from God. Pray... for others and for yourself and just get involved in what God is already doing. And as for numbers... do you set a goal of how many friends you will have? Sounds weird to me.
Toggle Commented Nov 4, 2010 on The Third Rail at Not The Religious Type
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Consuming art in any form that I connect with (which varies from day to day with my mood) as well as creating art evoke a sense of awe. Kind of the same as when I recognize God's presence. Maybe that's because God is the Creator and any form of creativity from others or ourselves help us connect with God. I have the same experience when I'm observing nature... God's creation!
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This is a post of great interest to me! I have been struggling with having time to minister to the people God puts in my path vs. getting "connected" in a church. Our family has visited a lot of churches trying to find one that fits, but we keep running into the same things: Attend church on Sunday for a couple of weeks, pressure to put grade school kid in kids program, kids program is understaffed so now pressure to serve in kids program, followed by church wide campaign to connect in a small group, pressure to take new members classes and sign up for an area to serve in.... it just keeps coming... host a small group, lead a small group, teach a class, bake for an event.... And all the while we're hidden away in a church building full of people that are already believers and we are missing opportunities to connect with people that don't yet know Jesus. I feel like the very nature of the Church as we know it divides our life into sections. I think our faith life should be our everyday life and I certainly don't believe that I need to be in a church building to experience more of God... some of my most special times with God have been on a walk or doing dishes when I have intentionally been aware of his presence with me. I believe a new way of doing church is going to be necessary and I think it may look something like the faith communities that Adam spoke of springing up in the midst of our everyday lives. We really need a new method for introducing pre-believers to Jesus and what could be more practical than to just BE a follower of Jesus in our everyday life and take a chance on getting involved with people on a deeper level. It's risky and we don't know how to do it... we have to rely on the Holy Spirit. It also takes time to do this. A lot of time. Getting involved in a Church takes a lot of time too. And so many strong believers are tied up serving inside the Church waiting for the non-believers to show up. But I don't think that too many are coming... at least not regularly. But they do go to work regularly and mow their yards regularly, so we need to connect where they/we are and be ready to love them to the best of our ability. Does anyone think this is possible?
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I think our responses to God's calling must change. Instead of getting fired up for “revival” that starts inside the church building and then flows out, maybe it goes the other way. Could God be calling us to be fired up in our plain old lives? Maybe He doesn't want another church plant or another clever kindness outreach or another awkward small group, maybe He wants us to sacrificially serve the people He has already placed in our lives... like the hard to get along with neighbor, or the co-worker with teenager problems. Maybe we're supposed to get involved with people's messy lives with no promise of recognition or a paycheck, maybe not even a thank you. This, I think is “revival”... people serving the people around them in their everyday lives with enthusiasm, but no agenda. Now that could be contagious and then maybe we'd see an increase in church attendance... or maybe not, people might be too busy worshipping God by loving their neighbor to sit in church for very long!
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Absolutely... but I refrain from using the term "revival" when I pray, even though I know God knows the difference. lol I guess I don't want to get myself confused again! I think Bill Sergott pretty much described the type of "move" I pray for in his second paragraph. :)
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I speak from my less than inspiring personal experience about churches in “revival”. I spent about 14 hours a week in “revival services” at a church during a 6 month period and also see that another church we used to attend also claims to now “be in revival”. To be fair, since I wasn't attending during the birth of the revival, it may not have started out this way, but from what I experienced and observed, if you took away the man made hype and spin there wasn't much left. So, when I hear the word revival now, I automatically think “fake”. I was so hungry for more of God that I was attracted to this type of self proclaimed, radically on fire church. Now, I'm still hungry for God, but my appetite is different. One pastor I know and respect compared revival services to feasting on nothing but dessert, so if you think along those lines, I guess I got burned out on over processed sweets and now have a much healthier and more balanced appetite. The revivals I've personally seen seem to feed off of the leader's intense desire for fame and attention... they want to prove something to the world. And while it seems pretty noble to want to prove to the world that God is great, that goal gets all tangled up with proving to the world that they are great and their church is great, and then the whole thing gets really weird. And when has God ever had a problem proving himself? I think He's capable of letting pretty much anyone on the planet know He's around and you can't take notice of God's presence without realizing His greatness. It seems a better strategy to let God be God and just pay attention to what He is already doing and then get involved in that rather than trying to stir up our own thing. All these revival churches seem to attract desperate people that are in such a state of mind that they can't distinguish between the manipulations of man and God's divine presence. These troubled individuals know instinctively that they need God and so they flock to these places where God's presence is advertised. Instead of finding God's genuine healing love and grace, they are easily persuaded to buy this man made god's favor with their offerings of time and money which are needed to fuel the “revival”. Revivals claim to be producing fruit in the lives of those that attend. What I saw was people actually being coached on how to present their fruit to new comers, I guess they were afraid if it wasn't labeled and presented properly it might not be recognizable. At first I was fooled into thinking that I was seeing fruit, but upon closer examination I found that all the fruit was like fake plastic fruit that couldn't nourish anything. It was like the really cheap kind that totally collapses with pressure. A true revival would be marked by a genuine change in the hearts of the people that are transformed by God from the inside out. This might be evident by seeing people be generous with the needy, by serving others outside of the church building, by getting along with hard to get along with people at work, or maybe even rolling up their sleeves to help some of the desperate people flocking in. What I saw from the so called revivals that I went to was a lot of selfish and desperate people acting really weird and spending more and more time serving inside the church building trying to buy God's favor, and this type of behavior isn't going to attract anyone... particularly anyone outside the church culture. So, to answer a short question with a really long answer, no, I don't ever pray for revival because the term has been tarnished for me and probably also for many others that have experienced this sort of man made phenomenon.
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Oct 12, 2010