Do more research on the four models of spiritual growth discussed in How People Grow & give a more detailed explanation & support for each of the models. Then, in light of your research, which model(s) of how people grow would you choose & why? (If the group cannot come to a consensus, feel free to have different group members each express their own opinions.)
Introduction Spiritual growth is an important aspect of every person’s life. According Dr. Henry Cloud’s and Dr. John Townsend’s book How People Grow, four models of spiritual growth: the sin model, the truth model, the experiential model, and the supernatural model. The purpose of this paper is to explore each of these models and to determine the positive and negative aspects of each model.
Sometimes people grow in many different ways. People could grow physically and spiritually. Physical growth is about your height and weight. Spiritual growth about knows the Lord, doing what He commands and seeking to get closer to Him daily. Spiritual growth is not just about reading the Bible and going to church, it’s about learning more about Christ and living according to His will. In this paper, I'm going to talk about the following things: Paradise Lost, The God of Growth, Finding the Best Climate, and The path of Growth.
At times, Christians would seem to be growing very well and then seem to hit a spot where they just stand and don't seem to know where else they should go. They seem to lose the reason to grow and just keep following rules but still can't seem to grow past that point. At that point in life, it seems nothing works the way you want it too. You could follow all the methods but they would not work. It feels like you’ve lost something. That’s when you have to start again. For us to grow spiritually , we have to eat spiritual food and after eating we find out that we have to leave our old life behind and go back to the life that God has plan for us since the beginning.( Leaving old skins behind.http.//www.joyfulhearth.com/maturity/oldskins.htm.) As the book How People Grow says, you need to be born again and again. Growing involves your spiritual life. You have to learn about God and have a relationship with Him. Some people just read their Bible or pray before meals but you have to do much more than that. You have talk to Him; tell Him what’s bothering you, what’s on your mind. Delve into His word and learn more about Him. You also have to grow emotionally. You have to learn how to deal with day to day problems. Everything about growth (spiritual or emotional) is in the Bible. You have to go back to the Bible to figure everything out. Everyone wants to grow in their emotional life and in their relations but they forget one important thing; every growth is linked with spiritual growth. If you can't grow spiritually than you can't grow in any other area of your life. That’s the point where you should go back to your root, or to what you have lost. We must go back in repentance in confess our sinful acts to Him. (Luke 15:20-21)(Return of a rebel.http.//gcl.growingchristians.org/dfgc/rebel.htm) We should go back and follow the paths of faith because Hebrews 11:6 says "and without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."(Finding God pg.25)
We should figure out what we have lost. Sometimes we get so busy about other things that we don’t see what God is doing in our own life let alone other people’s life. We don’t even see the little signs around you that shout about God being real. Most of the time, we look at our problems and forget about what God have to do with our problems and how He can be part of getting out of them. We think of our problems like diseases that need to be treated with specific drugs and not as real life issues that only God could treat. We also forget that we have to let ourselves receive His help and that in order to receive His help we have to go back to his teachings. We also have to go back to the life that He wanted us to live with our family and friends and even ourselves. “We should definitely reconnect with God and our community.” (Connecting pg.32) The answer to everything is God. We walked away from God because we have to be in control and that’s when we lost everything. In order to regain everything that we have lost, we have to go back and let Him be in control of everything.
Having a relationship with God is not all; you have to have a relationship with each other. If you can’t have a relationship with each other then you won’t be able to have a relationship with God. For us to be able to live well with everybody, we have to think about God as a source. Remember that God will provide everything we need. We also have to depend on people. “ Beneath what our culture calls psychological disorder is a soul crying out for what only community can provide.”(Connecting pg.16)The people from our church or our town could help us go through those issues. They can provide the accountability we need. God should be in control and we should be following his path and doing what he wants us to do. He should be the one judging us and telling us what we need in our life. The things that I have just mentioned are the things that we have lost and after regaining them, we could move on to next part of our growth process.
The God of Growth
The second part of growth knows that God is always on your side. God is always there for you but you have to seek Him first. The only way to seek God is to pray. In Luke 11:5-13, Jesus tells his disciples to " ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find.” We need to talk to Jesus and prayer is the way to do it. (Growing in Christ: Habits that help us grow. http://www.wcg.org/lit/church/pamphlet/growing.htm). We always think of God like superman who would come and rescue us when we are in trouble but we never realize that God is always with us. In order to grow, we have to know that God is always there even when we don’t need help. God shows us His grace by being there. You should also let Him be there. By knowing that God is on our side we will also know that other people are also on our side.
God is there to help us but we have to need his help. We should also think of God as our example to growth." I'm that good and I still like you. I'm for you. I want you to know it."(Connecting pg.19)The Bible also says that God is very good. The way Jesus live His life is the only example we need. “Furthermore, you should never stop becoming more like Christ as long as you live.”(Growing as a christian.http://www.be-ready.org/growing.html) A part of growth knows that we are the temple of God and that He resides in us. Another way of spiritual growth is reading your Bible to see how Jesus shows us spiritual growth. Another important thing to spiritual growth is understanding suffering. “The suffering in our lives will help us mature emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.”(Why do Christians suffer.http://www.greatcom.org/resourses/why do Christians suffer/). Being able to identify with Jesus also helps us with having authority over the devil and dealing with temptation.
In order to grow, we have to have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is here to begin on growth process. He gave us security and brings us into a relationship with God. The Holy Spirit also gave us advice. As Galatians 5:25 says, “let us keep in step with the spirit” and keeping in step with the Spirit is a sign of growth. Just by having faith is also a sign of growth. We must give the spirit control over us. “If we don’t yield to the Spirit and do what He asks us to do then we aren’t growing.”(Be a growing christian.http://www.believers.org/believe26.htm) We should let the spirit shows us what we need to know. The Spirit is here to lead us into growth and we are supposed to follow. God is a God of growth and He uses different ways to help us grow.
Finding the right climate
Before we find the climate to grow, we should know what God’s first plan was for us, His people. God uses us to help other people in their spiritual growth. “God doesn't just call people- he calls them together. He's creating brothers and sisters.”(Growing in Christ: Habits that help us grow. http://www.wcg.org/lit/church/pamphlet/growing.htm). Everybody has different gifts; God uses the gifts he gives us to help others to grow. You can’t grow alone; you must have a relationship with God and with others in order to experience spiritual growth. God designed relationships as a part of growth. In the beginning, God created two people instead of one. Connecting with other people helps us to deal with our problems, which in turn helps us to grow. We should also look to other people for help when it comes to disciplining ourselves. Accountability is important and we can only get accountability through other people. We can also receive grace and forgiveness through others. When we experience grace our hearts are connected and we are on a path of growth. Other people could also support and strengthen us through our growth. We need the help and support of others when we are dealing with issues that distract us from spiritual growth. There could be specific people or a person who could guide you through difficult decisions you need to make. When you fall down and are hurt, you’re in pain, you might bleed, and eventually a scab will form. Spiritual growth is the same way. You may have been hurt by someone or something, you grieve and then you start to heal. Some people choose to keep “picking their scab” they never completely heal; therefore their spiritual growth is limited. It is in these times you need someone to confront you about what you are doing. We sin, and have to ask God for His forgiveness once again. We need God more than anything or anyone else but we do need people to help us grow.
Sometimes we think we need to work and do busy activities in order to be saved, that is not true. Our spiritual growth can be hindered if we think this way. God already accepts us. We need to accept other people as well. Acceptance is the heart of the growth process and it also helps us not to be under the law of the Old Testament. The only way to trust someone is to get to know them and to build a relationship with them, to do this we must first accept that person. It is much easier to confess to someone we know and trust than to someone we are not familiar with. Sometimes as we grow we do not realize that we need acceptance ourselves. It is God’s job to deal with our needs but we have to know that we need His help. Acceptance is normal. Acceptance is like grace, we can’t earn it we are just given the privilege of receiving it.
We are forgiven by the grace of God and God accepts us. We sometimes have difficult time believing in our heart that we are accepted and forgiven. God sent his only Son to die for each of us, God forgives us for our sins, if we believe in Him we will have eternal life. (John 3:16). We don’t have to be good in order to be forgiven, we only have to believe and confess our sins to God. Sometimes we are like people who are never reassured about the love of God. God loves us and forgives us when we ask, that is all we have to know. Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves. God forgives us when we do not deserve to be forgiven. It was our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross and he forgives us, why then do we find it so hard to forgive ourselves? God forgives the greatest sin any of us could ever commit; all we have to learn to do is to forgive ourselves. When we forgive ourselves, it is then that we experience spiritual growth.
The Path of Growth
The first path to growth is the Bible. In the Bible God show us what He is thinking and He wants us to think like that too. “The words from the Bible are spoken by men but they are from God.” (Growing in Christ: Habits that helps us Grow.http://www.wcg.org/lit/church/pamphlet/growing.htm). It is the only book that will guide you in your path of spiritual growth. The Bible’s teaching that God is good has had power over people since it was written, and it still has power over us today. “You know you're finding God when you believe that God is good no matter what happens."(Finding God pg.103). The Bible shows us that God is the source of spiritual growth. Last but not least, the Bible gives us resources for our growth. We could read the Bible over and over and probably learn something new about growth each time. The Bible shows us the way to the one who is the master of all growth. The Bible teaches us all we need to know about growth. Some of us have knowledge about spiritual growth yet do not know much about the Bible or the other way around. Some know much about the Bible but do not experience spiritual growth. This can sometimes be an issue. The Bible is the heart of God; God’s words were given to direct our growth. There are many different ways a person can learn about the Bible, the important thing is to learn it and put what you learn into practice. Sometimes in order to grow we have to suffer and as soon as we get past our suffering we can grow. We should also let go and let God take over. Trying to be in control isn’t going to help us with our growth. Grief also helps us to grow. After we let go of our pain then our growth can begin.
Some people seek to be good at all times. Being good is not a step to growth, seeking his kingdom is a step to growth (Matt 6:33). Human beings tend to go after worldly ways instead of going after His Kingdom. That’s why reading the Bible is important because we learn how to seek God’s kingdom. Knowing what God want us to do is not enough. We have to understand them and do them. After understanding it then we could discipline ourselves to find the answer we sought.
Discipline is needed for us to grow but we also need to be honest about our need of discipline. God disciplines us when we need it and because of His discipline we become disciplined. We need to be receptive to discipline and discipline needs to come from an outside source. We need to know what we need discipline for and turn to God and our peers for help instead of denying it.
Spiritually, all of us are poor (Matt 5:3). All of us are in need of some sort of spiritual growth. Our weakness and emotional injuries are a part of our spiritual poverty. Spiritual poverty is important in helping us grow when we realize we are in need of the help and get the help that we need. Everyone who became a Christian admits that there was something wrong with their lives before they were Christians. When we found out that we were living in the wrong path, we decide to seek the right path and learn everything we can about the path. We began to hunger and thirst for God. Being poor in spirit help us to be honest about our lives and to seek for help.
Another path for spiritual growth is obedience. Not obeying God is living apart from God and if we live apart from God then we can’t grow spiritually. Obedience doesn’t mean that you can’t grow spiritually. Obedience doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun. When we obey God, we get good things in return. The Bible is a source of obedience and by following the Bible; we are actually obeying God’s will.
“Everyone sins and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23). We don’t have any power over sin, God does. The only way to help with sinning is repentance and asking god for help. We don’t have any excuses for sinning. We sin because we have a sinful nature (Rom 7:5). Blaming others for our sin just keeps this sin going in circles and we never really do away with that sin. Sin is an internal thing and only god could heal the stuff that is inside us. We have to confront our sin then flee from it. Ask God to help you run form your sin (Matt 6:13). Sin is an act of disobedience and if you love God you wouldn’t want to disobey god.
Knowing the truth helps in our growth process. The Bible is the truth and it provides our path to growth. Then if the Bible is the truth, then truth is the path to growth. The truth is God’s plan for us and that truth will help us prosper. We need to love the truth and then we will grow.
Being active in spiritual growth was God’s plan. God can’t work on our life if we can’t work on our own. We have to initiate the work and ask for God’s help. Spiritual growth is the same as physical growth; you can’t just lie in your bed all day and think that you’re going to grow. We have to search for the parts of our lives that need growth and work on it.
The last part of growth is waiting. You can’t just lift weight and expect your muscles to get big by the next morning. You have to keep on lifting and wait for the muscles to grow. Growth is the same. You have to wait. We don’t know how long growth takes but we have to be patient and wait for God’s timing.
All the four methods of spiritual growth in Cloud and Townsend’s book, How People Grow, are important for our spiritual growth. All the methods that they talked about are in the Bible and if the Bible is the truth then everything He wrote about is truth.
In conclusion, finding what was lost, knowing that god is the God of growth, finding the best place to grow, and the path of growth is essential for spiritual growth.
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