Spiritual Intimacy

“We must remember that God will never drag us along the path of true-hearted discipleship. This would greatly lack the moral excellency which characterizes all the ways of God. He does not drag, but draws us along the path which leads to ineffable blessedness in Himself; and if we do see that it is for our real advantage to break through all the barriers of nature, in order to respond to Gods’ call, we forsake our own mercies. But alas! our hearts little enter into this. We begin to calculate about the sacrifices, the hindrances, and the difficulties, instead of bounding along the path, in eagerness of soul, as knowing and loving the One whose call has sounded in our ears”.   C H Macintosh

I want to take you back to last week's blog, because I believe the topic is crucial to those of us who have given our lives to serve as ministers of the Gospel.  At the risk of being redundant, I want to remind you of some essential ingredients to spiritual Intimacy.  
   III.          Know Yourself: Many pastors struggle knowing who they really are.  This often is rooted in fear and insecurity as we struggle to believe that God can really us.  We put a lot of effort into being like other leaders and as a result begin to loose who we really are.  This applies to our preaching, our intellectual abilities and our way of relating. We end up acting like we have more knowledge than we do, and pretend to be a different personality than we are.  If you get caught in that trap, it will kill you!  I hope to write more about this at a later date, but in the meantime consider these two quotes    
  •  "How can you draw close to God when you are far from yourself . . .  Grant, Lord that I may know myself that I may know thee” (Augustine).
  •  "Our wisdom. . .  consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.  But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes or gives birth to the other.” (Calvin)[2]

  IV.          Know the Gospel
A.    Recognize your sin – repentance for what you have done.
B.    Admit what you cannot do – repentance for self-sufficiency.
C.    Realize why you don’t do it – repentance for being self-serving
D.    Remember Who did it for you.
1.        Jesus has purchased your righteousness.
2.        The same temptation you are facing and failing to overcome, Jesus faced and overcame on your behalf.
E.     Remember that through Christ you can do it - you can keep coming to Him, through ongoing repentance and faith in order to keep tapping into that power source to be transformed into His image.  

     II.          Know the symptoms of being spiritually sick[1].
A.    Using God to run from God.
B.    Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness, and fear.
C.    Dying to the wrong things.
D.    Denying the past’s impact on the present.
E.     Dividing our lives in “Sacred” and “Secular.”
F.     Doing for God rather than being with God.
G.    Spiritualizing away conflict
H.    Hiding your brokenness, weakness and failure.
I.       Living without limits.
J.      Judging other peoples spiritual journey. 


    V.         And as review and reminder from my last blog, as a pastor or leader remember this. 

A.    Undivided Worship/Reflective Living.
1.     Make time for extended personal worship.
2.     Take regular breaks from worship and preaching responsibilities.
3.     Learn to give up a measure of control over worship services to others.

B.    Re-Establishing and Maintaining Spiritual Disciplines – Personal Piety.
1.     Spiritual Disciplines are activities intended to deepen our relationship with Christ.   They include:
a.      Primarily the Means of Grace – Prayer, Scripture, and the Sacraments.
b.     Also, fasting, solitude, tithing, evangelism etc.
2.     Invest in guilt free times of spiritual disciplines.
3.     Resist the temptation to give into the “tyranny of the urgent[3]

C.    Accountable Relationships for Spiritual Direction – Find trusted companions.
1.     Let the person who person who cannot be alone beware of community. Let the person who is not in community beware of being alone.” [4]
2.     These are trusted relationships where spiritual growth occurs.
3.     They know who we REALLY are and keep ups from living a false life.
4.     To grow in our spiritual intimacy is tough and we face two critical challenges “First the pressure of others to keep us living lives that are not our own is enormous.  And second our own stubborn self-will is much deeper and more insidious than we think. The possibility of self-deception is so great that without mature companions we can easily fall into the trap of living in illusions” (Scazzero, p. 87).

[1] Scazzero, Peter, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006,
[2] Calvin, John, Institutes of Christian Religion, Volume I, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 37.
[3] Hummel, Hummel, The tyranny of the Urgent, rev. ed. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1994.
[4] Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, Life Together, New York: HarperCollins, 1954, 57.

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