We turn to Matthew 28:16-20 to assess the church’s mission and what God has next for LakeView.
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.”Proverbs 22:15 (NIV)
If ever there was a verse that seemed outdated in today’s supposedly “progressive” society, this is it. Most parents of young children I know don’t spank their kids and consider spanking to be borderline abuse. It seems like the popular parenting strategy these days is “empower the child” to make decisions they are unable to make and become ever more entrenched in the belief that the universe really does revolve around their precious little faces.
However, this blog post isn’t about spanking, or even how we should raise our kids. When I read Pr. 22:15, God plucked a string in my soul that harmonized with several other things I’ve recently been learning–but not about parenting.
A few weeks ago I read The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero. His thesis in the book is “it’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” This is a simple, yet profound truth. God is not just interested in my (or your) spiritual growth, but in my growth and development as a whole person. If I only focus on spiritual development, yet remain emotionally immature, I become a Christian full of knowledge with the appearance of being a mature disciple, but I am prideful, petty, selfish, insecure, passive-aggressive, and filled with vain ambition. In many ways, I have only been empowered to think that I’m indispensable and the church bubble really does revolve around my precious little face. I am childish in my faith (childish faith is not the same as childlike faith, but that’s a different post).
While children can be sweet and funny, we all know how embarrassing it is to see a teenager act like a toddler. A little discipline helps our kids learn and grow, and teaches them to make wise decisions. It’s no different with us. Childish Christians abound in churches today, but our Father loves us too much to let us stay the way we are. Unfortunately, this often involves disciplining us to make us aware of the folly bound up in our childish hearts, and to help us mature not just spiritually, but emotionally, intellectually, and socially.
All of us will be disciplined at some point if we are indeed God’s children. My prayer for the week is we will learn and grow, even when it hurts.
They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat (Luke 8:53-55, NIV).
I love this story of how Jesus was interrupted by a woman who’d been sick for 12 years while on His way to heal a very sick little 12-year-old girl (I’ve always thought it interesting that the girl’s age was the same amount of time the woman had been sick–12 years, but it’s probably just a coincidence). The interruption delayed Jesus long enough that the little girl actually died. Undeterred, Jesus went and raised her from the dead.
Wait… He did what?!? Yes, He raised her from the dead! Wow! What an amazing miracle! And then after performing one of the most incredible, miraculous acts in human history… He told them to fix her supper. Jesus is so practical! If I’d just seen my own child raised from the dead, supper would be the last thing I’d be thinking about! But no doubt this little girl was hungry, and Jesus doesn’t just look after supernatural needs, but everyday ones, too.
This brought to my mind the question of how well do I look after my own everyday needs, like, say, sleep! Or rest, or relaxation, or eating healthier, or… exercise (yes, I used the “e-word”). If Jesus cares about me eating supper, maybe I should, too! And if Jesus is concerned for the practical needs of others, so should we be. Sometimes people don’t need a miraculous intervention, they just need a cup of coffee with a friend who will pray for them. My prayer for us this week is that we will remember to eat, sleep, and wrestle with our kids, do the everyday, practical things that Jesus cares about, and have a very normal, “mundane” conversation with someone who just needs a friend.
In order to multiply disciples, we sometimes must value discipleship over friendship.
A Connection Group is a small group, usually around 6 – 14 people, who pursue discipleship together in biblical community.