The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Category Archives: Principles of Growth

Why We Shouldn’t Be Trying To Draw People Closer to God

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How do we draw other people closer to God?  We don’t.  He does.  This is one of those simple truths that has a profound impact on how we will attempt to relate to both God and humans.

Now at first, it’s easy to shrug and say, “Well, of course God is the One actually drawing people closer to Him—that’s obvious.”  Christians are quick to agree with statements that sound God honoring, but they rarely stop to really absorb those statements into their theologies.  Take the idea of putting God first in life.  We all know that He’s supposed to be our First Love—the One who we’re living to please.  “Put God first” is a common Sunday School mantra, but saying the words and understanding what they mean are two very different things. Read more of this post

Maturity Priorities: How much does God care about swearing?

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Suppose you have an old, rundown house that you want to majorly fix up.  What do you do first?  Do you fill the rooms with nice new furniture before you start tearing down the ratty wallpaper and ripping up the stained carpet?  No, you start with the foundational issues first.  You upgrade the wiring.  Then you paint.  Then you carpet.  Moving in new furniture is the last step that you only get around to after the core issues have been dealt with.

In your relationship with God, your soul’s attitude towards Him and your understanding of who He is are core issues which God feels are far more important than surface niceties.  Classy, inoffensive speech is a surface nicety—it’s something that makes you more attractive to other humans but it really doesn’t have much to do with your relationship with God.  Just as your house guests neither see nor appreciate all of the pipes and wires that you upgraded inside the walls of your home, other humans don’t notice or celebrate when your soul starts improving its attitude towards God or gains some new insight about how He views you.  As is so often the case, God’s priorities for you differ quite a bit from other humans’ priorities.  The challenge then becomes for you to choose the right set of priorities to focus on. Read more of this post

Spiritual Maturity: Learning From A God Who Loves To Teach

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God always initiates in His relationship with you.  This means that it won’t even occur to you to submit to Him or to change the way you talk to Him until He brings those subjects up with you.  God talks to you in many forms.  Often God talks to us through things that other people write or say.  However God chooses to introduce a new idea to you, you need to realize that He is the One who is inviting you to the next stage of maturity in your relationship with Him.  You also need to realize that God is not the least bit disappointed that you’re not already at that next stage.  Read more of this post

Why We Need to Grow Past the Wishful Thinking of Psalm 1

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Human beings are spiritual beings. You are your soul, not your body, and yet while you’re in this world, your body seems very important to you. In this world, your body, or earthsuit, feels as critical to your survival as a rocket ship does to an astronaut who is orbiting earth. If something goes wrong with the astronaut’s ship, he’s going to feel very stressed and fearful because he needs that ship to survive in outer space. In the same way, when something goes wrong with your earthsuit, you get very stressed and fearful and you start praying for God to fix whatever the problem is. It is because we humans are so focused on our earthsuits that we end up deciding that what our earthsuits want is what matters most. Our earthsuits are amazing machines with minds of their own, and what your earthsuit wants boils down to two basic principles: feeling good, and being safe. A lot of things make your earthsuit feel good: comfy cushions, nice cars, being popular, being rich. A lot of things make your earthsuit feel safe. So as a human, you want these things very much, and it’s very easy to get so consumed by the thought of having them that you totally lose sight of what really matters.

So what really matters? Pleasing your Makers. Why? Because They control the well-being of your soul, and your soul is the only part of you that’s going to go on to eternity. Now you could say, “Hey, I’m not in eternity yet, so why not live for my earthsuit while I’m here?” This would be a fine plan if it weren’t for the fact that your Creators are going to use your soul choices in this world to determine what They’re going to do with you in eternity. It is because your soul’s response to your Creators now is going to have such a major impact on you later on that putting Them off is such a foolish decision. Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit say that now is when you need to be seriously seeking Them, listening to Them, and fully submitting to Them as the Supreme Authorities that They are. Read more of this post

Growing Close to God: The Critical Role of Choice (The Mountain Metaphor)

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If you’re a committed Christian, then at some point you decided that pleasing God was going to be your top priority in life.  This is certainly a fabulous thing, but it’s also just the first step in your personal journey with God.  In this post, we’re going to use a metaphor to understand how God deepens His bond with you after that critical decision point.  The purpose of this metaphor is to help you set realistic expectations in your relationship with God, as well as steer you clear of drawing wrong assumptions about how God responds to your frustrations along the way. Read more of this post

It’s Personal: Understanding the Divine Perspective of Trials

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In life, we experience many kinds of trials, but they don’t all feel like they belong in the same category. There are some trials that seem to just happen to us out of the blue. That flat tire on the road. Our kids falling ill. Then there are the trials that other people stick us with. The jerk who steals your purse, and then starts racking up bills in your name. The boss who is always giving you a hard time at the office. And finally, there are the trials that we seem to bring onto ourselves. You cheat on your man, and he divorces you. You steal from the company and you get caught. These are the three main categories that humans tend to divide their trials into. But how does God see it? Read more of this post

Romans 13: How should Christians respond to governing authorities?

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“Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.” (Rom. 13:1-2)

In Romans 13, we find a leader of the early Church ordering Christians to obey governing authorities no matter what. How should we be responding to such instruction today? Well, let’s start with a broader question: how seriously should we take any of the commands, guidelines, and viewpoints that are found in the Bible? After all, the Bible is a collection of documents which were penned by human beings, and some of those humans were spiritual dingdongs. Romans was written by the apostle Paul–a man who rejected the Divinity of Christ, made a lot of insulting inferences about Yahweh, and put out a lot of really bad teaching (for specific examples, see The Great Offense of Paul: Rejecting the Divinity of Christ). Rather than own up to these things, the Church teaches you to view “St. Paul” as some icon of spiritual maturity and wisdom. She says that you ought to view Paul as an infallible mouthpiece for God Himself, and assume that anything Paul wrote is beyond question. Well, no, we certainly will not sit back and smile while a man refers to the magnificent Jesus as a mere mortal who only reigns on a temporary basis. Anyone who so shamelessly bashes on Christ can hardly be viewed as a reliable source of truth. And yet the fact remains that God frequently speaks through humans–even spiritual rebels like Paul. So we can’t just blow off everything Paul says as wrong. Like most bad spiritual leaders, Paul is a mixed bag. He puts out a cocktail of truths and lies and if you’re not seeking the wisdom of God in your own soul, you’re going to end up in a muddled mess. Read more of this post

Pursuing A Better You: Methods & Motivations

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Human beings are spiritual beings. This means that you are not the body you see in the mirror. That physical machine is merely the earthsuit which your soul is using while it is in this physical dimension. Your soul did not decide to begin life trapped inside of an earthsuit—God forced this situation upon you. You were born inside your suit, and you have no way of escaping it on your own. When God decides that your time on this earth is over, He will kill you, which means He will separate your soul from your earthsuit. Your death might be instantaneous or it might be some long, drawn out affair. You don’t have a say in that, either, because God does not allow you to decide when your life will begin and end. The popular notion that we can commit suicide whenever we like and thus control when and how we die is a complete scam. The reality is that most suicide attempts get botched by God. Those that do succeed only succeed because the timing and methodology chosen coincide with His will. Read more of this post

Soul Before Earthsuit: Understanding God’s Priorities

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If God was really pleased with you, you’d be happy, healthy, and financially well off. This is a very common belief among both Christians and non-Christians. It’s an absolute lie, yet it’s also an extremely popular idea and one which is aggressively promoted by many very successful Christian leaders. Whenever we find a lie being promoted by folks who know better, it is because they have found a way to profit by doing so.

Prosperity theology—a system of beliefs which is built on the assumption that God wants us to have happy, carefree lives on earth—is a huge moneymaker. It’s rather like teaching Christians that God commands them to tithe: the folks who teach the lie make bank while the people who sincerely believe in the lie end up in a world of hurt. Unfortunately, many of our leaders in the Church today couldn’t care less about how many souls they trash on the way to lining their own pockets. As an individual Christian, you’re just one more chump who they might be able to make some money off of. If you prove to be reasonably easy to manipulate, they’ll spend effort messing with you. If you aren’t, they’ll kick you aside and find someone else. Welcome to the world of false shepherds in the Church: it’s a merciless scene in which there is no real concern for human souls. This is why it’s so important that you not put your trust in human beings to guide you in life. God Himself must be your Guide, because He is the only One you can really trust. But before you are going to develop strong trust in God, you need to grasp that He is for you in life, and before you can understand what that means, you need to learn a few things about how God operates. Read more of this post

Yearning for More Spiritual Fruits: Wrong Focus, Wrong Priorities

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23)

If you really care about pleasing God, then your life will be brimming with the spiritual fruits that we find listed in Galatians 5. If there’s no harvest happening, then obviously you’re some carnal Christian who hasn’t really committed himself and maybe you should start to question the validity of your salvation. This is what we are commonly taught by the Church. It’s not always spelled out so clearly, but there’s a whole lot of hinting going on. Depending on how thick the guilt is being poured on in your particular community, getting together with the brothers can feel like one big fruit contest. Who acts the most loving? Who has the most self-control? Who seems the most joyful? Those who think they have lots of fruits in their baskets like to thrust their shiny gems in everyone’s face while those who feel like they have nothing sit there feeling like failures. Addicts who came to Jesus and weren’t instantly healed of their addictions are ashamed of how withered and barren their self-control tree looks. Souls who are intensely struggling with fear are embarrassed by their lack of peace. Souls who are burdened with chronic depression feel like failures because they have no joy in their basket. By hyper-focusing on fruits, we end up with a lot of unnecessary guilt and discouragement. Read more of this post