< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: More from Growing Your Spirituality

Monday, March 05, 2007

More from Growing Your Spirituality

I decided I do want to share a little more from the book Growing Your Soul by Neil B. Wiseman. This is all from a Sunday School lesson I taught using his book as the base.

How to organize life around Christ

God has already placed a compass inside every human magnetically drawn to Jesus. The centering that results offers a unified way of looking at the world. It clarifies our self-understanding and provides us a sense of direction for living. Basically centering our lives on Christ shapes our thoughts, monitors our conversation, questions our attitudes and evaluates our achievements. It helps us sort out the passing from the eternal.

It helps us develop healthy, happy homes, restore relationships, give up destructive habit patterns in both thought and conduct. It takes away our fear of the future. While it won’t keep bad things from happening to us – it will help us deal with those things when they do.

To begin shifting our thoughts from self to Christ we need to pay attention more to our motives and intentions and less to our good appearance and impression. The author says if we do this one thing – the stress will decline in our lives. He says that’s because nothing else in our lives is stable – so if we center our lives on our spouse, our kids, our job, and our money – we will eventually be disappointed.

Here are some of his suggestions for centering our lives:

1. Think small – It’s not all going to be mountain top experiences. Bigger is not always better and louder is not always more true. There is a lot of good to be found in ordinary days and quiet times. We should cherish each day.

2. Make a faith statement with your living. Thomas R. Kelly said that a centered life is a heaven directed life and our way of life advertises what we believe. Our choices either give credibility to our values or undermines them. Our lives catch people’s attention the most when we are spiritually strong dealing with problems.

3. Listen to people and events. God can teach us in a thousand ways, but we need to cultivate a willing receptivity to understand His will and purpose. We need to dig in to Scripture. To ask questions of other Christians who may be further along the journey then we are. We need to ask – What is God saying to me here? We can learn something from every person we cross paths with if we let ourselves. Nature can remind us of God the Creator; lilies can remind us of when Jesus talked about how beautiful they are. We can receive a message from God when bad things happen too. We need to keep our ears, eyes and hearts open to everything around us.

4. Practice God’s presence. This tunes us in to Him. To practice His presence, we may think of Him reading the letter we’re writing to someone, listening to a phone call we make or a conversation we’re having, reading the book we’re reading over our shoulder, etc.

5. Allow God to test our truthfulness. The author says we should speak plainly. We don’t need to try to sound pious or impressive. We don’t need to exaggerate; we don’t need to use words with double meanings. We don’t need to pretend we know something we don’t – we should just say what we mean.

6. Be satisfied with enough. It seems like everyone has a problem with money. They either don’t have enough – they have enough, but want more or they worry about keeping what they’ve got! We can trust God to take care of our needs.

7. Resist distractions – our world is full of airplanes flying over, barking dogs, ringing phones, crying babies, beeping computers and blaring TVs – how can we hear God above all that racket? We need to be still sometimes. One of the ways we can do this is spend some time thinking about the attributes of God, or the different names for Jesus: Savior, Emmanuel, Redeemer, etc. The author shares a list of verses that he says will lower tension and distraction just by reading them:

(Acts 20:35) (John 8:32) (Phil.1:21) (Romans 8:35) (Phil. 4:8-9)

8. Try to act like you think Jesus would in a situation.
Share dreams and spiritual discoveries with others – When we share our spiritual journey with someone else it keeps us from back sliding – it makes us accountable. Spirituality needs relations to really grow and flourish so our faith journey will be strengthened.

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