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I’m Moving Out

No, no, I’m not leaving Parkview.

I’ve taken my blog to a new home – http://www.caseytygrett.com – where I have more flexibility and will have more opportunities to enhance the blog so you (the dedicated reader) have a better experience.

I’ll leave this site up for another few weeks, and then close it down and move completely to the other site. I only have one post so far on the new site, but feel free to hop on and tell me what you think!

peace

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Attention Parents!

Are you a parenting looking for a way to raise your kids that’s healthy, balanced, and built to bring them up to love God? Check out Parkview’s “Parenting Beyond Your Capacity” conference:

 

Parkview has an incredible Kidz staff and this is also a great chance to interact with them. You can register here.

Also, keep an eye out for an upgrade to this blog. Should be awesome!

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Seasons Change

And no, I don’t mean this.

Although who doesn’t like an ’80s ballad now and then?

I’m talking about life, and especially life in Jesus, going through seasons. Like any relationship, our interaction with God goes through electric, exciting moments of engagement as well as dry, seemingly negative valleys where we feel like God isn’t near. Here are the seasons of the spiritual life as I see them.

1. Spring

Everything is new. You are in a period where either you’ve just begun your relationship with God or God has brought you through a tremendous amount of trial and pain. Every passage of Scripture, every prayer, every song, every conversation is bursting with God’s presence and you can’t imagine thing ever being any different. Keeping up conversation with God and resisting distraction is second nature at this point.

2. Summer

The heat of summer becomes a time where you rest in the sun, soaking in the goodness of God and the electricity of spring develops into a contentment and trust in God’s grace. Conversations with God come easily here, but they are changing as we become familiar with the feeling of God’s presence in everything and soon begin to assume God is near and working in us and through us. Prayer, Scripture, and worship in community become familiar places – like your comfortable chair or the living room you grew up in and/or celebrate holidays in.

3. Autumn

The contentment of summer turns to action. The energy gained from resting in God’s love and grace through the summer creates a surge of desire to do – to pursue new spiritual disciplines, ministries within the local church, or projects outside the local church (such as workplace conversations). The focus is mainly external, leaning on less internal work (meditative prayer, etc.) and letting the energy of the summer flow through us as we work and move.

4. Winter

The natural turn is that we become discouraged through spiritual warfare in our external quests and we become too familiar with our conversational pattern with God. What emerges is a time when we are “struggling” spiritually – a term that troubles most people – but in all actuality simply means that one’s relationship with God has come to a point of transition. It’s a place where we begin to feel that God is distant when in fact He’s simply so close but the “tingle” of Spring is gone. Also present is the discouragement of Satan as we pursue new places of growth – ideas come to mind that we can’t truly be transformed, we can’t grow, and our efforts to help bring restoration to our world are futile. Winter is when we retreat internally, become discouraged, and where some people walk away from the faith.

All four of the seasons above are normal and perfectly acceptable  – they are normal ways that our relationship with God changes. What we need to do is embrace and identify what season we feel we are in and live through it.

Perhaps we alter our habits and pathways to God during the winter. If I’m an intellectual pathway person, what if I embraced more praise and worship music in my routine during Winter? What if I simply stay the course through the Winter even if the “warm and fuzzies” aren’t there?

Are there descriptions you’d add to these seasons? How has God led you through these seasons in the past?

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We had to quickly address something with my daughter when she started interacting with other kids.

It was that famous screaming of the word “Mine” which was always accompanied by ripping, tugging, pulling, or stealing something from someone else.

And frankly it was rarely justified. Usually that situation happens when the toy in question is someone else’s at the time.

I of course never did this as a child.

There is some value to this as we grow in our relationship with God, much of it was revealed to me by a dear friend’s project during college. More on that in a moment…

When we use the word “mine” we are saying something huge. We are saying that we are the sole owner, possessor, and user of a particular item or resource. It is uniquely ours and totally under our control to give or retain. But Scripture offers us a poetic thought on this:

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters. (Ps. 24:1)

So, where does this put the word “mine”? Can we honestly, with our consciences bared before God, say “This is mine”?

I think we can, but we have to learn to use the word differently. It is “mine” because I am a caretaker of it – I’m holding on to it for someone else. It’s God’s. Not mine.

He made it.

It began, was carefully designed, and put into play in this world by the very Word of His mouth.

I do not control it’s destiny, and if He wants it back then I let it go. Loose grip.

So, my dear friend and a college buddy decided that they would take a shot at a huge experiment. They decided that they would refrain for one day from using the word “Mine.” They would eliminate it from conversation, and they would make every effort to remove it from their minds in reference to the resources they had.

It was, in a word, brutal. They realized how often that language is used and how often it colors interactions.

Can you take the challenge? Can you see yourself as a steward only? What value would this give to your “stuff”? How does the meaning of the word “enough” change when we realize what we currently have is God’s property anyway?

Over this coming week, I challenge you to take one day and eliminate “mine” from your vocabulary. At the same time, pray God would teach you about the things that you’ve been given by Him. Let Him remind you what it means to steward your marriage, your family, your money, your job, your influence, your opportunities…

Comment here and let us know how the experiment goes.

peace

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Here’s a good way to start out 2011 – what distraction do you see coming to your spiritual life and growth this year?

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I used to work at General Nutrition Center –  hocking vitamins and supplements helped me get through college and pay a relatively small car payment.

It also gave me time to rebel against the corporate evil that made me wear a red polo shirt (nay, BUY and then wear…) every day to work. Evil, evil, evil!

More than that, it exposed me to something called “sales goals.” Our store was small, but as a part of the national chain we were required to meet certain goals or else things had to change. I rebelled against goals, mostly because they made me work at my actual job rather than spending my shift studying but also because they seemed, well, so “corporate” and “inhuman.”

So, when I think about 2011 I begin to think about goals and I have one question: Is it possible to make goals regarding how I need to grow as a follower of Jesus? Is it “anti-spiritual” to set goals?

I have had a change of heart – I don’t believe it is evil to set goals, but they need have certain characteristics in order for them to stay out of the “production-only” line of thinking (i.e. I’m only as good as what I’ve done).

Here are four suggestions on what goals must be:

1. Reasonable

“I’m going to fast for an entire month” is not (at least for everyone) a reasonable goal. If you feel called to that, yes, by all means go for it but don’t make it a goal just because it sounds spiritual. You might as well not make one at all if it isn’t reasonable for who you are and what you feel God is pushing you to do. I’m going to fast one day a month/week is more reasonable. With a goal like this, you also need a reasonable motivation for doing it. Fasting helps us reduce our dependence on stuff to keep us happy and also helps us focus our hunger on God.

2. Attainable

There are some really good goals for growth that you’ll never achieve in a year. “I want to forgive my father for…” is a goal that probably has more than a year’s worth of work in it. Start smaller, say, “I’m going to have lunch with my father once a month this year.” If you make a goal that you can’t reach the goal within the next year, you’ll get discouraged and it will leave you worse off than you were before. Also, this will give God a chance to show you that what you thought couldn’t be done in a year actually CAN be done through His guidance and strength.

3. Measurable

This is simple – make a goal so that you can clearly state when it’s done. “I want to be less of a jerk this year” is a tough goal (perhaps because of #1 & #2 but that’s not mine to say) especially because it’s hard to know when you’ve completed it. I’m not saying you have to have concrete data either, and your standard for achieving your goal may be something no one else completely understands (see #4 on this) but ultimately there has to be a moment where you say “Yeah, that’s it.”

4. Accountable

The goal you make needs to be able to be evaluated and someone needs to hold you accountable for it. If you are going to read one book of the Bible a month this year, you need to have someone (preferably not someone who annoys you to the point of rage) who will gently ask you if you’re keeping up with it and if not who will gently whack you in the forehead and say “get on with it.” Okay, that’s more for me but you get the point.

I’d say get away by yourself in the next week or so, take a pad of paper, a Bible, and items to remind you of the pieces of your life (family pictures, your business card, names of your co-workers and neighbors) and ask God “With these pieces in my life, what must I focus on so that you can make me the person you want me to be?”

I hope to share my spiritual growth goals for this year with you, but until then – what are your goals for this year?

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Sex is Spiritual

“Sometimes good sex can be an incredibly spiritual thing.”

I remember saying this to an all-guys small group.

I then remember an older gentleman in the group saying, “Not sure I remember what that is.”

There is a strong movement these days to recapture the “whole-life” kind of spirituality that not only grabs the disciplines of prayer, Scripture, etc. but also the life-balancing every day events such as family, marriage and work as essential growth and worship moments.

Sex is an act of worship. Sex is a spiritual thing, and God is present in it.

Think about it. Adam and Eve were given 3 commands. Take care of the Garden. Be fruitful and multiply. Don’t eat from that tree. Pretty simple really.

So God breathes the life (ru’ach, Hebrew word that’s also used for “spirit”, hmm….) into mankind and these spirit-filled people are basically commanded to be fruitful and multiply. I don’t have to fill that in for you. If you read the passage in context, it’s about having kids but it isn’t as if sex was totally distasteful in the garden and then got exciting once we weren’t “allowed” to engage in it. Sex was even better in the Garden than it is now.

Think about that. But only briefly.

We don’t know that they fulfilled this so much before self-selecting out of the Garden, but what we do know is that sex was intended to exist within the perfection of the Garden. The idea that sex is some obscene and ungodly thing that we all pretend doesn’t happen (so childbirth is done through spores and molting…really?) but in fact is part of the image of God that was wired into humans from the beginning is an incredibly spiritual idea.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, the world is broken. Sex is broken. Porn, adultery, sexual dysfunction have made it something outside the image of God and something that we have to be very careful with.

So why is sex, in our culture today, spiritual?

It reminds us of the creativity of God.

From the anatomy and physiology of it to the way it affects us emotionally, sex is expressive of the fact that God breaks barriers in creativity that we can’t even imagine. Then, if we remember that the God who was creative enough to design sex created us in His image (Gen. 2) we are then reminded of the good and beauty we’re capable of. We grow to appreciate God’s creation when we celebrate the act of sex as part of it, not as a disgusting and shameful secret moving against creation.

It teaches us about contentment.

This is probably harder for guys to hear, but sex is not something anyone is owed. “But, doesn’t the Bible say that the wife’s body belongs to me?” Yep. But yours belongs to her too – 1 Cor. 7:2-3 says that you give up demands and control of your body to your spouse, which means that sex needs to be something that both of you are ready and prepared to engage in. I know this isn’t always possible, but I think sometimes when we force the issue of sex in our marriages we lose the contentment idea that God had in mind. Celebrate sex in such a way that it is amazing and special (sacred even) when you do engage in it. This is even more important in the world we live in, where we are bombarded with skin from every angle and our sensitivity to the sacredness of sex is worn down substantially. Discipleship, abiding in Jesus, and truly loving one another is founded on our ability to choose good, beauty and freedom even against the tide of evil, darkness, and slavery. Sin becomes slavery when it becomes routine and expected rather than celebrated and sanctified (i.e. set apart for good and holy use).

It teaches us about covenant.

I believe that sex outside of marriage(aside from being sin because of its emotionally dangerous and destructive consequences) has the potential to rob us of one particularly beautiful characteristic of God – His covenant and promises to us. This is tricky, in some ways, but when we make a covenant with another person in marriage we are following the example of the covenant we make with God. So, we have a depth and an intimacy (God’s spirit dwelling within us, our physical bodies joining in marriage) that is such a holy thing that when we engage in sex with our husband or wife we’re revisiting the metaphor of God’s relationship with us. I know this is strange sounding, but the more we focus on #1 and #2 the more of a spiritually healthy and constructive act sex can be. God’s covenant is to renew creation – and what shows creation renewed better than the celebration of sex within a marriage relationship?

So, here’s the question that will bring out the “cricket sounds” in my comment area: Where is God in your sex life?

 

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