5 Ways You Are Growing Spiritually

Woman hand in jail

Upon finishing an hour of women’s bible study at the local county jail, I got in my car, rested my forehead on my steering wheel and reminded myself to breathe. My heart was heavy as my mind replayed all of the conversations from the past hour and each woman’s face returned to my mind. With a huge sigh I silently prayed, “Lord, let them have ears to hear what You needed them to hear.”

Then my thoughts shift to, “Did I say the right thing?”, “I should have told them…”, and “Oh no! I completely forgot to say…”.

“STOP! What am I doing?” I then realized that I am pridefully limiting God. It’s like I have a Doctor Jekyll – Mr. Hyde conversation quarreling in my head. Regardless of what I should have, could have and might have said, God can use it; I have a confident faith that he will use it, but Satan certainly wants me to feel defeated and stop this jail ministry non-sense, trying to convince me that it’s a fruitless waste of time.

It’s a battle of the mind and I consciously have to take my thoughts captive and cancel out negativity, redirecting my critical heart to prayer, “Lord, I know you were there and whatever I did right use it for your glory, whatever I inadvertently excluded, give them a hunger and a thirst for your truth.”

Why is this a big deal? To be transparent, my love language is affirmation. If there is one place on this earth that you won’t get a pat on the back or an “Atta girl” for doing a good job – it’s jail. As I drove away, continuing to mentally duke it out, I felt a peace come over me; a peace in the confidence that God’s word spoken in that hour were seeds that God can use to grow. Claiming victory in this head conversation made me realize that I have grown Spiritually and I thought I would share this and other observable spiritual growth examples with you.

  1. God Fills The Gaps

This is progress for me. For so many years I gave myself a report card on my performance (for everything) and I inevitably came up short every time. Sure it earned me an impressive resume, some level of popularity and a cocky confidence that all of my combined achievements would somehow impress God because I was diligently using all the talents that He gave me and achieved certain levels of success. I now know that it was unimpressive to God. God created me a workman for His good works (Ephesians 2:10), not the other way around. When I was in achievement, advancement and self-improvement mode, what I was really doing was idolizing the world; chasing after false gods and ultimately building a pedestal that only esteemed me, not God. Oh how I used all of this ambition and missed the whole point. Yet, he used these things (success, achievement, accolades and rewards) as a way to show me that my way only reaps discontentment, burn-out and defeat. There is a gap between my ability and His and I now recognize that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:30)

2. It’s Not About Me

Any control freaks out there? I’m a recovering control freak thanks to Christ. I have come to realize that not only can’t I control everything, but when I do try I am just getting in God’s way. God gave us His Word with instructions on how to live. If I try to create an outcome or impose what I think is best for the situation, that now sends me a red flag. If I force my kids to play a certain sport, instrument or take certain classes because I think it will help them get better grades, earn scholarships or help them get admitted to a better college – I’m causing interference in God’s plan. He knows what is best for them and if I trust Him (like I tell Him and others that I do), then I need to pray for my kids, but I shouldn’t tell God what “I think” is best for them. In the end, I don’t know God’s big and mighty and sovereign plan for their lives and chances are whatever He’s up to is going to be 10x better than I could ever ask for or imagine.

3. God uses ordinary people

If we collected the resumes of the twelve disciples we would realize they didn’t “qualify” to be in Jesus’ inner circle. Truth is, neither are we. That is what is so beautiful. If we bring Him our whole heart and let Him do the work; on us, in us and through us. What has truly baffled me lately is how many people and situations God has placed me in now that I surrender my will. I see ways to serve people EVERYWHERE. At the grocery store, at church, at work, on the streets and in my neighborhood. I just have to make myself available for Him to do His work. John MacArthur, in his 6/26/2017 sermon titled, “The Necessary Components of Saving Faith”, he says, “The longer I’ve been a Christian the more I realize that I don’t do anything for the Lord. I not only don’t do anything for the Lord, but I can’t do anything for the Lord and the wonder of wonders is that the Lord can do what he does through ME!” Me! That statement completely turns my idea of service for God upside down, or should I say right side up?

4. Stop the Stinkin’ Thinkin’

God’s plans are not our plans (Isaiah 55:8) and sometimes I find myself feeling a bit defeated when outcomes don’t happen the way I expect them to or (maybe worst) has fast as I expect them to happen. I am a happy person by nature, but I have to admit, if you could spend even an hour in my head you would be shocked at the negativity. It’s grumbling mostly. Thoughts of hating my clothes, wishing the kids would put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher, or questions like, “Why can’t they… [fill in the blank].” Because of scripture, I can re-think these thoughts and put them into a healthier, more positive, perspective. Thoughts of blessings for the roof over my head, clothes in my closet and a wash machine to keep them clean. Instead of wishing for my kids to be responsible enough to clean up after themselves, praising God for good health, the ability to serve them and knowing I’m honoring God by not nagging and complaining about it. Then the question elimination. If I find myself asking why questions for things that are not done, are inconvenient for me or causes me to search for answers that only God really knows, I just submit and accept that the why comes back to why I would want it or expect it to be another way. If they don’t want a clean house, but I do, guess who can take the steps to keep a clean house? Me! So if it’s important to me, I can just do it and feel like it’s my act of service, demonstrating my love for them.

5. I’m Not a Prisoner to Satan

He made me perfect. What artist shows up to an easel an plans to do a mediocre job? Not one. Artists show up to create a masterpiece and that is exactly what God did when he created us, but Satan doesn’t want us to believe that. He fills our minds with self-doubt and plants lies. Those ladies in the jail that I minister to may be behind bars, but the devil entraps us in a prison cell of our own. Bondage to never having enough, being enough, making enough or anything enough. BUT WE ARE! God says that he knows every hair on our head and in Ephesians 1:11-12 Paul writes, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.”

It doesn’t get any better than that my friends. It doesn’t get any better than that.

His truth produces growth, transformation of character, renewing of our minds and strength to overcome. So read, grow and see that the more you love Jesus, the more clear and content you will be.

Holy Welcoming Committee


Today’s Devotion: Leviticus 22

The lesson for us is that we are not to treat the sacred and holy things of God as if they were commonplace. What do you think of when you think of the Holy things of God? I might need a little help on this one, because I might be thinking of this too simplistically. But I’m going to think of the most Holy place of God that I know… my church.

When I go to church I go because it is an act of worship. I love being somewhat removed from the hustle and bustle of “the world” and having a place that is centered fully on God. One of the many things I love about church is that everyone is welcome. We are all equal at the foot of the cross. Meaning we, the church, should not judge according to social status, martial status, appearance, net worth, etc. We should welcome everyone with open arms and show the love of Christ to all who enter. Not in a phony way either, in a sincere and heart-warming manner.

I used to be the volunteer coordinator for the greeters, users, and parking attendants at our church. I begged them to NOT use the phrase, “How are you,” as they welcomed people at the entrance. I have 2 philosophies on this. 1 – Is that the phrase itself is so frequently used that it is cliche and isn’t a sincere enough, honest enough, greeting at the doors of the church. 2 – Some people arrive at church broken and we, the greeters, may cause our brother to stumble causing them to lie and say, “I’m fine.” They may not be fine and certainly the door of the church is no place they want to vomit their problems. The best thing we can do is make them feel welcome, safe and accepted.

Sure, I may be over thinking it, but is that one of the ways we can treat the sacred common? At the fundamental point of how we welcome people to join our church services? I appreciate that God is holy and His church is a place that I never want to treat commonly.

Window Of Your Heart


Today’s Devotion: Exodus 39.

Today we learn about the exquisite details of Aaron’s robe – one that would give the best dresser on the red carpet at the Grammy Awards a run for their money. There is so much detail, color, gold, and special patterns in the design that I can only imagine what it looks like. This chapter has my imagination running wild so here’s my story:

I remember going to church with my family on Sunday’s and, out of boredom, I would analyze every detail of the church. I would study the slivers of specially cut stained glass in the huge sanctuary windows, I would watch “the man in a dress” parade up and down the stairs to and from the pulpit. I observed the choir in their V-shaped sashes draped over their shoulders responding in a very formal way to the baton of the choir directors wand. I often wondered why human beings acted so different in church. These people would visit our farm and act “normal”, but in church, the transformation in their behavior kind of freaked me out.

I was reminded of this reading Exodus 39. We are coming to the end of the book of Exodus and after reading about the tabernacle and God’s incredible expectations around the conduct that He expected of people using the tabernacle. Now I see why people acted differently – it was out of respect for God.

You see, when I would watch everyone in church doing their thing in an “out of character” sort of way, I thought it was all for show. Fast-forward a few decades and as an adult I now realize that it wasn’t for show at all – it was worship demonstrating respect and honor to God.

So now many of our churches have become less fancy and I see another behavior; our hearts are connected there. I see hands raised, eyes closed, heads down and souls connected. These people aren’t putting on a show for man either – They are connecting their mind, body, and spirit to God.

In the New Testament – the church is the body of Christ and your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. You don’t have to get all ritualistic and formal, yet some still prefer to worship that way. Regardless of the style in which we worship, one thing hasn’t changed – our respect, honor and reverence to a Holy God. As we go to church tomorrow, be reminded that whatever style of worship you participate – its not about the show, it’s about your heart.


Too Generous

Too Generous

Today’s Devotion: Exodus 36

I often wonder what the world would look like if the Government stopped taking care of people and they empowered our churches to do it? I dream of our churches being the primary respite in times of need – from natural disasters to loss of jobs, homeless and hunger, to orphans and widows. Impossible I know, but imagine!

I think of this as I read Exodus 36, specifically verse 6, “Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more,”. Can you imagine if people of today were so generous that we had to be restrained from giving?! My idea of a church empowered model could do exceedingly more than any government could possibly collect enough taxes.

When people have a relationship with God they realize that nothing is their own and as a result, Generosity. Why? Because it’s material and everything in this world will perish so if we have it – give it! It’s not ours to begin with. (Matthew 6:19) Everything is from God and for God, so if it’s not ours to begin with we don’t need to grow emotionally attached to it. It’s only ‘stuff’ and you can’t take it with you.

For this reason I am not a fan of rummage sales. They take a lot of time to prepare and it is such a defeating attempt to recover a meager ROI. Then, I am stuck sitting all day watching people rummage through my ‘rejects’ and barter over mere cents. It’s embarrassing honestly. Instead, each time I pull up to a donation box, I pray that my stuff that God would use it to bless someone in need; that he would see my heart to give it up and desire to provide to those less fortunate. It is so fulfilling to give with this point of view and sincerity of heart.

The message I gleaned from Exodus 36 is to keep that heart for giving and we can give in tangible and intangible ways. Sure, the obvious is money, but there is time and talent as well. Time, to serve in a food pantry, homeless shelter or volunteer at church and then there is talent, using our own respective gifts that God has uniquely given to all of us. Leadership, finance, coordination, organization, teaching, manufacturing, hospitality, etc.

Wouldn’t it be an entire different world if God had to ask us to stop giving these things?