What predicted a believer's growth or plateau?
by Dr. Marcus Warner for ReSermon.com, Marcus@DeeperWalkInternational.org
The following is excerpted and edited from a sermon series, “Living Right In a World Gone Wrong: Deep in the Walk” by Dr. Marcus Warner, President of Deeper Walk International, an Indianapolis-based ministry (http://www.deeperwalkinternational.com). Dr. Warner delivered this sermon on February 14, 2016 at Pathway Community Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. To see or hear Dr. Warner’s sermon in its entirety, click here. For more information about Dr. Warner or Deeper Walk International, click here
Some years ago at a coffee shop in Indianapolis, I was journaling about some recent, painful episodes in my ministry as a senior pastor of a local church. The elder board decided that it was time to part ways, prompting my serious reflection about good and bad decisions, right and wrong outcomes, what I would do over, and so on.
In my journal I wrote across the top of the page the words "deeper walk.” I wondered how many people I could honestly characterize as experiencing a deeper walk with God because of my role as their pastor? As I jotted down names and pondered their changed lives, I began to realize a pattern that had less to do with my preaching than time spent in one-on-one ministry. These people had made quantum leaps in their walks with God because of three main distinctions.
First, they were serious about Bible study. Surveys repeatedly show that a lot of Christians feel stuck, stalled and generally dissatisfied, unsure how to go deeper in their walk. Usually, these people have no regular time in God's word and no regular time in prayer.
Second, they were serious about walking in the Spirit. They deeply understood the difference between walking in the flesh and walking in the spirit. Think about it: if you don't know the difference between living in the flesh and living in the spirit, which one are you going to do? You have to walk in the flesh if you don't know how to walk in the spirit. It's the only option left to you.
Living the Christian life in the flesh is really hard, and doing it becomes simply a performance for men. You're always trying to get it right, and that’s good, but living in the power of one’s own prayerless determination is exhausting, and inevitably leads to shame and fear and wondering if you've done enough.
Some people, on the other hand, go to the opposite extreme. They think, "I got my ticket into heaven now. I can do whatever I want. The box is checked." If you’re living in the flesh, you err toward one extreme. Walking by the spirit, however, avoids both pitfalls.
Third, they addressed their baggage. A lot of people come into the church very wounded, and even wounded by the church itself. As I surveyed my roster of people who had grown spiritually over my tenure as their pastor, I recognized that many of these people had come to the church very wounded but they didn’t stay there. They addressed their issues and struggled through the process of healing and recovery through their baggage.
By English: Cpl Erik Villagran [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons