Maturity

 

happy and motivated old people 3dWhen I hear the word mature, I think of an older person – usually older than me! This word means fully developed, ripe & complete in growth. I also think of wisdom, discernment and insight as I ponder the word maturity. I learned a long time ago that maturity is not always connected with age. I’ve met lots of very young people who were mature in many areas of their lives. I’ve also met lots of older people (mature in age) who were very immature and reckless in many areas of their lives. Maturity is somewhat subjective, objective and relative. I can “appear” mature, and in some areas of my life, I might display immaturity.

The Hebrew writer speaks about spiritual immaturity. I want to keep growing spiritually. I want to know the Lord more intimately. I want to grow in my trust of Him. Check this out…

11 We have a great deal to say about this, and it is difficult to explain, since you have become too lazy to understand. 12 Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food. 13 Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil. (Hebrews 5:11-14 CSB)

In the past couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of being around my grandchildren. These little ones just melt my heart for sure. I was reminded of my own kids when they were small and started out with a milk only diet. They moved to cereal, then vegetables and then later added meat to their diet. It was a process of preparing the digestive system for the different levels of food. The spiritual analogy of the Hebrew writer is simple; I ought to be on a mature spiritual diet, but I’m often back to the basics of baby food.

My journey through the Word of God has built me in so many areas of my spiritual journey. The Word provides wisdom and discernment by the truckloads. The Word of God reminds me to guard the words that come from my mouth. The Word of God calls out my weaknesses and turns them into strengths. I want to become mature before I get old. I want to be full of wisdom and discernment that comes from The Lord. I don’t want to be mature to draw attention to me, but to point to Him. I’m simply a follower of the Lord who wants to finish well.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

My Life Verse

My StoryI have learned to love many passages in scripture that really speak to my heart and encourage me in my life journey. When I was a junior in college at Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University Tennessee), I began a student ministry in Crab Orchard Tennessee. It was a small church and my wife and I started meeting with the young people on Sunday afternoons. I really enjoyed this part of my weekend ministry and I was given the opportunity to start full time upon graduation at First Christian Church in Maryville, TN as their youth minister. I loved students and enjoyed hanging out with them and helping them grow in their faith. Somewhere along the way in my youth ministry I came across what became my life verse for my student ministry – I still am moved by this verse today. Check this out…

27 God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me. (Colossians 1:27-29 CSB)

I felt like my calling was to teach and counsel students to know who Jesus was and why He came to earth in the first place. Paul articulates that very well. I wanted students in my ministry to mature in Christ. I look back at my journey and realize just how immature I was back then. I sometimes wish I knew then what I know now about life and my journey with the Lord. He has been faithful with me even when I was unfaithful to Him. He has never given up on me even where there were times I had given up on Him.

I’m a bet more mature that I was back in 1982 – my first year in ministry. I was in ministry for 20 years before becoming a REALTOR in 2003. In this profession, I feel like my life verse hasn’t changed all that much. I want my faith to be obvious without even having to speak of it. I’m always happy to talk about my faith, but I would rather others notice my faith before I ever speak a word. I’m still praying for maturity. I’m still growing in my faith. I still enjoy teaching about Him and sharing from my journey with Him. I want to live my life for His call and His purpose for me. I feel like I’m right where He wants me to be. I still lean into Colossians 1:28 to keep me on purpose and on track!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Maturity

happy and motivated old people 3dOne of these days I feel like I will grow up. I have officially been placed on the AARP mailing list and that makes me feel old. There are some days when I feel old, yet I’m a good 20 years younger than others who consider themselves old. Being old and mature is somewhat a state of mind. It is interesting to see how some people age more quickly than others. I used to subscribe to the theory of a friend of mine that says, “since I’m a bit overweight, my skin is stretched out and I look younger than I am”. I watched a television documentary on ESPN about the rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers and the players on those teams were 30 years older and some looked quite different. I realize that as I enter the AARP stage of life that I will look “mature” even if I’m not.

Paul gives some final words of encouragement to the church at Corinth in his last letter to them. Check this out…

11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice. Become mature, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11 CSB)

I’ve certainly met people who are older, but are not mature. They are whiny and self-centered to the point that I don’t enjoy being around them. I’ve also met other older people who are kind and gracious, realizing that life doesn’t revolve around them. They have learned to love deeply and help others along the way.

Here are a few other characteristics of mature people:

Control their tongue

Show patience with others

Encourage others, especially younger people

Accepting their role in the lives of others

Self-less love

Peace makers

Trusted confidant

Consistently kind

Faithful

Honest

I could make a long list, but I’ll stop there. I want to grow old with grace and truth at the top of mind. I want to be an “old person” that younger people will enjoy being around. I won’t take myself so seriously. I want to finish this life strong with my walk with the Lord obvious to those who live, work and fellowship with me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Birth Order

 

Family tree, relatives, people silhouettesI grew up as the eldest son of my family. There were three sons and three daughters born to my parents. The first daughter was stillborn. I have a sister older than me. There were situations that arose all the time where it was great being up at the top of the birth order because we got to go first. There were times when I really wanted to go last. My older sis and I ended up being the de-facto leaders among our siblings.

The Lord gave instructions to the leaders of Israel about how to camp around the tent of meeting (aka Tabernacle). He put the leaders of the families in four sections to surround the four sides of the tent. Check this out….

1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 2 ‘The Israelites are to camp round the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family.’ (Numbers 2:1-2 NIV)

As I read through the rest of the text in chapter two I noticed that the Lord actually didn’t use birth order to line up the Israelites. I’m not sure of His criteria, but He actually chose a lead family and added two of the tribes to that so that North, South, East & West were covered. The tent of meeting was surrounded. Joseph who was sold in to slavery and later saved his family from famine actually had two sons and they were counted as two of the sons of Israel. The Levite family were not counted or treated as a regular family group as they were responsible for the spiritual leadership of the tent of meeting. They were responsible for setting it up and tearing it down when they traveled. The Levite family was also responsible for sacrifices and the day-to-day spiritual leadership serving the priests.

I know that birth order is significant in some family and less important in others. I realized that birth order in God’s family is totally different. For example, I know people who have been Christ followers for years but they look and act like spiritual babies. Quite frankly they wear the name Christian, but are not in actual daily pursuit of God’s heart. I do believe it’s a choice that they made to remain a “baby”. The Word speaks of believers starting out on the “milk of the word” and then advancing to the “meat of the word”. (Hebrews 5:11-14) I remember as a student pastor this was actually very noticeable as some of the older students in my minister were more spiritually strong than people who had been in church for years. Serving in church is not synonymous with spiritual growth. It seems like churches make leaders from the people who’ve been there the longest with little concern over spiritual depth. I believe that God looks at birth order way different. He knows the heart of a person. He knows if their heart is good or bad. Behavior usually reveals the heart, but not always. Some do the right thing for the wrong reasons.

God’s birth order is based largely on the obedience found deep in my heart. He is also not about power and authority as much as He is about serving in humility. His birth order is quite different than a regular family birth order. I’m not going to worry about who’s first in the family; I just want to be obedient when He calls me to action.

Pressing On!

Dwayne