Taking a spiritual step forward

“How can I take a step forward spiritually from where the book left off?”

The book that you probably read before coming to this site, The Day I Died, is what is often called in the publishing business a “crossover” book. In other words, it is a book written by a Christ-follower to an audience of “not-yet believers.” I purposely made this book very easy to understand for people who were without much knowledge of the Bible. I left out any Christian lingo (which, by the way, drives me crazy in general!). I kept the book plain and simple for people to catch the story.

Deep down, it seems that all of us desire to know God in a personal way. As one voice in history put it, “We all have a God shaped void inside of us.” When we come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that void is filled perfectly.

What will happen in your life:
A transformation process will begin between you and the Holy Spirit. People will try to apply pressure on you to change this or that in your life, but it is only the life changing power of the Holy Spirit that can make real changes that will last, changes that really work, changes that are beautiful! All other changes are what I call “religion.” It’s the outward putting on of a behavior that is in keeping with the expectations of a particular group that you happen to be connected with. Those sorts of changes bring nothing but death in the end.

What won’t happen in your life:
You won’t be transformed overnight or even at any point over the rest of your life. You will spend the rest of your life making little bitty steps toward Christ-likeness.

For example, I am a big fan of Mother Teresa. In my opinion, she brought a whole new credibility to the idea of being a Christ-follower in the later 20th century for millions of people all over the world. She was perhaps the most powerful political personality alive at the point of her death due to her amazing serving lifestyle. I’ve read a number of books about Mother Teresa, the good and the critical. The upside was clear to all. She received countless accolades in her lifetime including the Nobel Peace Prize. Now, just a few years after her death she has been declared an official saint by the Roman Catholic Church in Rome. On the downside, it is clear that she was a very difficult person to work for. I’ve seen her interviewed explaining her philosophy of work and living a life of “poverty.” She insisted that her workers or “sisters” not make use of warm water even when they had hot water heaters in their facilities. She would tear out carpeting in donated facilities so that the sisters slept on either hard wood floors or bare cement. After all, they had all taken vows of poverty. In Mother Teresa’s mind, this lifestyle of a harsh life was all a part of the deal when they all signed up! Few of her detractors understood her approach and accused her of being far too harsh. She was also very demanding – seeing a normal work day as closer to 12 hours than just 8 hours. That’s a lot to ask for. And when people stepped out of line, she wasn’t always patient with them.

In spite of all of that, I still see Mother Teresa as the greatest example of the life of Jesus in our day. Here’s how it works: When people ask me about my spiritual experience I always tell them the same thing. I say something like this: “Some years ago I had a spiritual transformation occur in my life. God became something far more than just an idea to me. (If they seem interested I might tell them more specifics about how that happened to me.) But what I have discovered is that God doesn’t change us all at once. I am in process. There are areas of my life that look great and have really changed, but when it comes to driving, wow, I’m a total heathen! I’ve gotten into 3 wrecks in the past year –all of them have been my fault – basically because I have been driving too aggressively. God hasn’t changed me much in that area after 30+ years of being a Christ follower. He makes big changes in some areas of our lives quickly it seems, but in other areas of our lives, well they seem to go almost untouched for years, even decades. That’s why people who don’t have a relationship with Christ get confused about highly visible people – like those on TV – when they completely flop now and then. An area of their lives that they have kept hidden, an area they have not sought healing in, finally caught up with them. Perhaps they were in a church tradition that encouraged people to hide from brokenness instead of seeking out healing or counseling. But the truth is, all people who follow Christ have an area or two where they have yet to become like Christ – even someone as amazing as Mother Teresa.” (If you want to read a more revealing biography about Mother Teresa pick up a copy of The Missionary Position on Amazon.com.)

 

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