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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
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Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
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There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
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Thursday, July 31, 2008
What's My Passion?
Whether it has always been this way, or whether this is some innovation peculiar to my generation, or my locale (or both), yet I see few believers who actually have a faith that does anything.

My passion is to see immature believers mature into productive, fruitful, and dare I say it, overflowing-with-joy, believers.

One would think that maturity is a natural and inevitable by-product of time spent as a believer. If you have been a Christian for twenty years - you are mature, and if you have been a Christian for 20 months, you are immature. But this is a flawed model.

To understand how spiritual maturity comes about, let's examine briefly physical maturity.

First let's set the clock back an hundred years. Why? Because an hundred years ago there was no such category as "teenager" in our thinking. You were either a child, or an adult - there was no group of people who were unilaterally recognized as being in between childhood and adulthood - that category is a very recent innovation, and it has to do with the unforeseen fallout of a good idea.

Let me 'splain.

Not too long ago, underprivileged children were often made to work in the most deplorable conditions, while privileged children were sent to schools etc. This deplorable state could not long be tolerated by a gentle society, and so public education was made a "right" for all children - in fact, it was against the law to not go to school.

The problem with this setup was that children were legislated to remain in school even after they had passed through puberty. Their parents were required to continue supporting them in this endeavor, and suddenly we have a new class of people - adults (physically) who are denied the expectations and responsibilities of adulthood.

This unnatural, protracted childhood really is a very new thing - though it is so universal, most of us don't realize how novel it is. In our generation, our first few years of (physical) adulthood are spent being trained and brainwashed to believe that we are simply not mature enough to be adults yet - which is why we see so many twenty and thirty somethings emotionally trapped in adolescence - they learned to accept what was being fed to them as true (you are not ready yet!), and the scar of that is with them to this day. Yes, I am over simplifying it, because that isn't my main point. It is enough to say that the first years of our adulthood are formative years, these were the years where formerly men and woman would be introduced to the mantles they were to wear and carry for the rest of their lives - it was the time when young adults took on full adult responsibilities and under the weight of those responsibilities - through trial and error, failure and success - grew in maturity.

The plain truth is that expectations and responsibilities --produce-- maturity. Just as a muscle that is constantly stressed gains strength. Do you want to see your children grow into responsible people? Don't say - you can't do that, you're not old enough - instead give them a responsibility that you are sure they can't handle (nothing dangerous though - good gravy!), and watch them grow. Monitor them and you will be amazed that rather than prove your assessment of their inability correct, these little ones will rise to the challenge, and become responsible!

Not that I am offering parenting advice here. But take it as needed.

What I am trying to show however is the link between expectation and maturity. If we tell a person that they are too immature to do a thing, they will never mature enough to do the thing. We might think of that as a self-fulfilling prophesy, but really it is more than that - it isn't merely that they hear the same thing over and over and start to have a psychological complex about the thing so that they need a self esteem boost to correct their self doubt; allow me to sneer at that... Pffffft! I say. No, it is that they have no meat on the muscle, and by long standing habit they no longer care to even bother exercising it. They have learned to cope with their lack.

Let's move the discussion back to the spiritual now.

The worst thing in the Christian world is a believer who has never had any serious expectations placed on him (or her), and in the absence of such expectation has lived a rather immature Christian life - and worse, has done so for so long, that Christianity has become a thing they cope with
. They know something is wrong, but they have come to terms with the idea that it'll probably never be fixed, and really, why bother? I mean, they are old dogs, and why bother with new tricks...

When was the last time your church practiced church discipline? When was the last time your pastor preached on the "hard sayings" of Christ? When was the last time you heard from the pulpit that God actually expects something more from you than showing up on Sunday? When was the last time that you heard that unless you love your church more than your life there is something terminally wrong with your faith? When was the last time you heard anyone tell you that unless you get up and run the race, you are going to get kicked out of the assembly?

You see, not to many people like the idea of a winnowing fan. You know, you pour the grain, chaff and all, out on the winnowing floor, and the one with the winnowing fan whips that fan up and down, creating the draft that blows the chaff away from the falling grain, so that only the grain lands in the pile, and the chaff is removed? Who wants a pastor or a preacher who is going to preach a sermon that winnows the chaff?

We want to hear messages on how to be happy and how to have joy, and we want to have nice meals with pleasant company - we don't want to do anything as believers that would make us uncomfortable, because we don't understand that being uncomfortable is the only way you grow. We think you grow by hearing sermons - by educating yourself. We think of growth as an academic by-product, and we think of those who can present theological truths accurately as being spiritually elevated, and those who can't as being spiritually normative.

My passion, my deep passion, is to see Christians mature, and maturity comes not from teaching, but from doing. Take up the mantle of expectations, and however poorly you fail to carry it - get yourself under it. So what if you stagger, and seem a fool to yourself not knowing which direction to carry the load, or how to balance it, or if you are carrying it as efficiently as possible - just get under it, and start for goodness sake!

Can I take a moment to address a problem?

What Christian do you know that hasn't labored under the burden of trying to see the line between our own carnal effort and God's spiritual provision? Do we try to pick ourselves up by our own bootstraps, work with all our might in the flesh and then tell ourselves at the end of the day that God did it all? Do we instead lay about waiting for God to miraculously impart to us some irresistible foreign desire that suddenly causes us to love doing whatever God asks of us so that no work is unpleasant, and all is done as though we were carried through our Christian walk by a team of angels as we lounge on a bed of eider down? How do we do the Christian life without doing it all in our own strength??

Here is how. Recognize that when you become a believer, it is like entering into adulthood - you now are ready for (and expected to perform) those responsibilities that God has placed upon you. He has prepared good works for you to walk in before you were ever saved - and scripture is not silent on what these are. I mean, seriously, if your neighbor was replacing pavement stones, and God appeared on your lawn as you were watching him and commanded you right there and then to "LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR" - and pointed at the guy... you probably wouldn't have to have it spelled out for you, but you would go over there and start helping. You wouldn't ask God to "give you the strength and wisdom" to go and do it - you would just do it and -trust- that God has a reason for you to do so. It isn't the work that is going to make you grow, it is the trust that God is having you do it for a reason that is going to make you grow.

To be sure, there is a poison to our faith that works like this: I expect there to be some sort of spiritual vibe associated with doing what is expected of me. Yeah, God commands this and that - but I want to -KNOW- if I should be doing this or that, and until I know for sure, I will stay here paralyzed by my own laziness that I have dressed up as an exalted piety. Don't do that. If you don't know what to do, do both.

"But!", someone will object, "I have had a wonderful experience where God has delivered me from such and such, or done some great thing! What you are saying doesn't line up with my experience."

To that I say, I have had some amazing experiences, maybe even more amazing than your own, and I glorify God for what He has done in and through such means - yet God does not want to leads us around by putting a bit of experiences in our equine mouths, he commands us not to be as dumb as donkeys that have to be led around thus - but to learn what His will is and do it.

What I see however is not Christians doing God's will so much as I see Christians doing "church" - they come, they attend, they go to all the special meetings, and they have small, internal cliques for ministries - and they go twenty years without leading a soul to Christ, because "that's not their gift".

Listen: in a church where the winnowing fan is out, those kind don't last - the wind will press the chaff away from the grain - they will be "driven out" by expectations, by responsibility - by the command to grow mature. But the grain will rise flourish, learning little by little - from glory to glory, if you will, to surrender themselves to the life of Christ in practical ways - daily. They may grow weary, but they will not tire out, and there will be refreshing.

When you step into a church where everyone loves you more than they love themselves, it is not the same as stepping into a church where people put on plastic smiles over empty hearts and play their role till the clock strikes noon, and warmly shake your hand as they exit the building and re-enter the life that was momentarily put on hold so that they could perform their religious duty.

Labels: , ,

posted by Daniel @ 11:37 AM  
7 Comments:
  • At 12:52 PM, July 31, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Two posts in the same day... it's almost like old times.

     
  • At 9:21 PM, July 31, 2008, Blogger Even So... said…

    My long comment disappeared...seriously, wahhhhh...anyway excellent stuff...

     
  • At 9:27 PM, July 31, 2008, Blogger Even So... said…

    What? Do you actually expect me to remember and write it all back down here again?

     
  • At 9:33 PM, July 31, 2008, Blogger Even So... said…

    (sigh)...

    Yeah I am tracking with you for sure, it even appears as if that last paragraph is something I have already written...it isn't but in essence it is. What I mean to say is that I will be stealing, er using, some of this right away. It fits very nicely with the sermon I preached this past Sunday from Hebrews 5:11-14, titled, "Back to the Bottle", as in milk instead of maturity. BTW, if you ever have the time, perhaps you might take a listen...you can find it on our new site (we still have the blog)..voiceofvision.org, where we also have our radio show archives and the church website...anyway great post, and I guess I could have emailed you instead of leaving an advertisement, but I figured it would look like I made a really long, insightful comment...real mature, huh?

     
  • At 12:19 AM, August 01, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    I will definitely have to give the series a listen. You know you have a standing invitation to use as much or as little of anything I say (so long as that Spirit within you witnesses to its truth), without having to ask or give credit.

    I wish the long comment hadn't been eaten up. Had I received it in the email I would have posted it for you, or at least emailed it back to you.

     
  • At 7:30 AM, August 01, 2008, Blogger Even So... said…

    It is a pleasure to have materials resonate within you and resound out to others miles from you...

     
  • At 9:44 AM, August 01, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    I agree.

     
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