Category Archives: Spiritual Maturity

Classes, Manuscripts, and Radio Interviews, Oh My!

Standard

Navigating_Meme

 

This month, I’ll begin teaching a 5-week course called Navigating Your Spiritual Journey at my alma mater, the Tallahassee Christian College and Training Center. I developed this class based on 13 years of research on the topic of the spiritual journey, which is the topic of my non-fiction manuscript, Girls with Gusto. In the class, students will learn the eight major steps of the spiritual journey and will be able to identify where they are on the map and what they need to do to advance forward.

Every semester, our local Christian radio station, Wave94.1, interviews a faculty member about his or her class. This semester, they picked me! So, for more information on this class, my manuscript, and the college, check out my radio interview. (I added photos and memes I’ve shared on this site or posted on social media to make it more fun.)

 

I hope to see you later this month at TCCTC. If you’re not in the area, or you can’t commit to the 5-week class, don’t worry—I’ll continue to share encouraging posts with you right here at BigSisterKnows. As always, your prayers (as well as your Likes and Shares) are sincerely appreciated!

A Model of Unity

Standard
TCCTC-3

That’s me, second from the right, in front of the new campus for TCCTC. (Credit: SociallyLoved)

The following article was first posted on OneChristianVoice and their subsidiary, TallyChristianVoice. Check out their site for more inspiring stories as well as news that impacts Christians around the world.


UNITY 

Imagine, if you can, a place where Christians of all colors and creeds gather together. Every believer is welcome, regardless of his or her denomination, background, education level, or socio-economic status. Together, they spend hours poring over the Bible in various translations and ancient languages. They focus on God and the Scriptures. They pray together, learn from one another, and encourage one another in their walk with the Lord.

You may think this kind of unity only existed in the first century church. (See Acts 2.) At least, that’s what I thought…until I saw it first hand at the Tallahassee Christian College and Training Center (TCCTC).

 

MODEL

Over the past 12 years, I’ve been connected with TCCTC as a student, volunteer, board member, and faculty member. With each passing year, I become more amazed that such a spirit of unity exists—and even thrives!—within this small college. In a world full of segregated churches, of discord and confusion, TCCTC stands out as a model of unity.

I sat down recently with Jo Anne Arnett, the president and co-founder of TCCTC, and asked her an important question: How does the college achieve such unity?

Below, I’ve compiled a short list of Jo Anne’s responses, as well as suggestions on how we can apply the model of TCCTC to our own churches, youth groups, small groups, and Bible studies. While I’m sure there are more elements we could include, these few items are sufficient to challenge even the most established group of believers. 

 

1 – Diversify – Seek “unity at every level.”

Since its inception in 1990, TCCTC has embraced all manner of diversification (including age, color, background, and denomination) among the board of directors, faculty, and student body. Each semester, the faculty represent 15-20 denominations, while the total student body has come from over 400 congregations. Jo Anne puts it simply: “Everybody’s welcome.”

Application: Unity does not mean sameness. Encourage diversification in your group, then seek unity. 

 

2 – Focus – “We focus on Jesus and the Scriptures.”

Jo Anne is careful to point out that TCCTC focuses on Jesus and the Scriptures. True Christianity includes the study of both, for we are directed to “worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23 NAS).

Over the years, I’ve heard Jo Anne say, “We major in the majors…but we don’t avoid the minors, either.” In other words, the majority of classes are focused on the major topics, such as the books of the Bible, hermeneutics (how to interpret Scripture), and Church history. There are numerous other classes students can explore for personal growth or continuing education, but they are not the major focus of the college.

Application: Focus on Jesus and the Scriptures. However, don’t get sidetracked or bogged down in details to the point that you miss the overarching message of God’s love and redemption.

 

3 – Concentrate – Unity is “not about watering down” the truth.

Too often, we feel that we have to dilute the Gospel to make it more acceptable for a wider audience. However, TCCTC takes a different approach: they face difficult Scriptures or topics head-on. They trust that God’s Word is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness,” and so they search the Scriptures for clarity. (See 2 Timothy 3:16 NAS.)

As for doctrinal conflicts, Jo Anne said there are only a few areas in which real differences of interpretations may appear. For those rare instances, teachers agree up front to give “equal voice and weight” to alternative interpretations. The students can then lean on the Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to interpret the meaning of the passage. Even if students disagree on the interpretation, they can be unified in their whole-hearted approach to seeking God and learning more about His Word.

Application: Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and clarity as you dig into the Scriptures. Concentrate on the Word and don’t shy away from difficult subjects. When differences arise within your group, retain unity as you explore other interpretations of the Word.

 

4 – Appreciate – Unity involves “appreciating each other’s different gifts.”

Most of us are familiar with the metaphor of a single Church Body with many members, as seen in 1 Corinthians 12. During our talk, Jo Anne used the same Scripture in reference to the various denominations within the Church—an analogy I had never considered before.

She said that TCCTC appreciates the different roles of each denomination and the value they bring to the Church Body. Instead of trying to break down denominational walls, the college seeks to “train and equip congregations to better fulfill their purpose within the Body.”

Application: Appreciate the various roles of individuals as well as denominations and congregations within the Church. When you do, you’ll begin to build bridges and spread unity within the Body.

 

5 – Serve – “Every follower of Jesus Christ is in full-time ministry.”

According to Jo Anne, the goal of TCCTC is to “train and equip believers to fulfill their various roles as followers of Jesus, and to do so in love with a biblical basis.” They believe every Christian—not just pastors—is in full-time ministry, so those roles could be within the home, church, workplace, or community.

Application: Acknowledge that every believer has an important role within the Church Body. Encourage one another to discover that role and develop it. Don’t go it alone, though. Seek appropriate training and equipping from knowledgeable, mature believers.

 


New Semester Fall Ad

(Credit: SociallyLoved)

If you’re in the Tallahassee region, I encourage you to check out TCCTC in person. But, regardless of your location, I challenge you to seek unity in your church, youth group, and Bible study. As Paul said, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3 NAS).

Three Keys to Spiritual Maturity

Standard

Meme_Obedience

Thanks a bunch to CBN.com for posting this blog on their amazing site! Be sure to check out their website for resources, information, and lots of good reads.


It’s easy to love the Lord. He comes to us with arms open wide, taking all of our sins and burdens upon Himself. He offers us life in place of death and freedom from our bondage. He has plans to prosper us and give us a future. What’s not to love?

Unfortunately, many Christians believe in God and love Him, but they don’t live for Him.

The Bible says that our relationship with God should mature over time and that we should “grow up in all aspects into Him….” (Ephesians 4:15 NAS).

So, how do we take our relationship with God to the next level? By developing a spirit of surrender, faith, and obedience.

 

Living in Surrender

According to Webster’s Dictionary, to “surrender” means “to yield (something) to the possession or power of another.” In our independent, Western society, this is the very definition of weakness, but in the Kingdom of God, it is the source of our strength.

Think back to when you first believed in Jesus. You acknowledged your sins and exchanged them for God’s righteousness. You surrendered to God, turning in the “old you” for a “new you.”

So was that just your spiritual life that you surrendered? What about your daily life?

The world separates the spiritual from the daily routine. However, when we split our lives in two, we also divide our hearts.

You may be serving God “half-heartedly” if:

  1. You relegate God to Sunday morning and “live life” the rest of the week.
  2. You’re earnestly trying to obey God’s call on your spiritual life while struggling to maintain control over the day-to-day decisions.
  3. You’re willing to live for the Lord…as long as He doesn’t interfere with your plans.

To grow closer to the Lord, we must serve Him whole-heartedly. For that, we need faith.

 

Blind Faith

We rarely know what God is planning, or what the big picture looks like. That’s because we’re called to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 NAS). With each step, we have to trust that God loves us and wants what is best for us.

A great example of this can be found in Proverbs 31:15 NAS: “She rises while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens.” What’s so amazing about this verse is the spiritual imagery: she gets up while it’s still dark, when she doesn’t know what God is up to or what the future will hold.

It’s not unusual for Christians to feel “in the dark” as they wait for the Lord. Perhaps you’re waiting now for God to give you guidance or direction, or for Him to open doors to new opportunities. If so, be encouraged! As your faith is strengthened, you will grow closer to the Lord.

 

Obedience in Action

Jesus said it’s not enough for us to call ourselves Christians or to do good deeds in His name. We also have to be obedient to His Word and His direction for our lives. (See Matthew 7:21-27.)

You can show obedience to God even as you wait for His guidance, direction, or a new opportunity.

  1. Use the time to develop patience and perseverance. In fact, this may be the main reason why the Lord is delaying.
  2. Resist the urge to get angry or depressed. The Enemy will take advantage of the situation to cultivate fear, pride, or anxiety. Don’t give him any leverage.
  3. Avoid getting ahead of God. Don’t move forward with any new activities until you have His guidance or blessing.
  4. Don’t neglect your daily activities. Like the woman in Proverbs 31, be sure to care for yourself, your family, and those in need around you.

Once the Lord does give you the answer you’re waiting for or the opportunity you need, then it’s time to take action!

  1. If God gives you an answer to a question, write it down. Sometimes, God gives us the whole picture, and sometimes it’s just a piece of the puzzle. Either way, cherish the fact that God is sharing His heart with you.
  2. If God says “go,” then go where He sends you and do what He asks. Don’t delay or waste the opportunity.
  3. If God’s answer is “no,” then be content. Stay where you are, decline the offer, pray about Plan B, etc. Whatever the situation is, honor God’s decision and trust that He has your best interest at heart.

 

Don’t settle for less than a mature, intimate relationship with the Lord! Begin developing a spirit of surrender, faith, and obedience today.

 


I wrote this blog based on a section of my manuscript for Girls with Gusto. I’ve identified eight major steps in the spiritual journey, and this comes from Step Four, “Developing a Disciple’s Disposition.” Unfortunately, many of us falter here—a mere half-way point—and fail to persevere to the next step.

The good news is that you have a choice! Whatever decisions you’ve made in the past, you can decide today to pursue a meaningful, intimate relationship with God.

“I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7 NAS).