Saturday, July 13, 2019

How Linda and I Grow Spiritually


In the early 1970s I taught guitar at Nielsen's Music Studio in Rockford, Illinois. The store was owned by Ralph Nielsen. His son was Rick Nielsen, who eventually gained fame in the band Cheap Trick. 

Nielsen's was an amped-up environment. A lot of really good musicians taught there. It was an inspirational  guitarist gathering place. Rick was the best of all.

I began finger-picking at age five, on the steel guitar, with my teacher, the legendary Kay Koster. I taught finger style technique - three and four-finger picking patterns, plus acoustic strumming technique. 

I had students who were committed to practicing and learning. This made my time as a teacher enjoyable.

I taught the way I learned to flat pick and finger pick. If they chose not to follow my instruction, then I am not their teacher. 

There are similarities between guitar mentoring and spiritual coaching and counseling. When someone comes to me for spiritual growth, I show them how I have done this. Then, I expect them to do the same.


When I became a follower of Jesus forty-nine years ago I was an undergraduate at Northern Illinois University. I began to attend a campus ministry. I was asked if I wanted to be in a Small Group for Bible study and prayer. I was told this experience would be one of the keys to my spiritual vitality and growth.

That proved true. I've been in a Small Group all forty-nine years of my Christian life. Linda and I have been in a Small Group Community all forty-six years of our marriage.

The early Jesus-followers met in small groups; in homes, in upper rooms, wherever they could find a gathering place. Small Group Community was essential to the explosive spiritual and numerical growth of the early church. It's also essential to our spiritual life and growth.
Linda anad I were taught that we needed to meet with the larger community. We learned Hebrews 10:25, which reads (Passion Translation):
This is not the time to pull away 
and neglect meeting together, 
as some have formed the habit of doing, 
because we need each other! 
In fact, 
we should come together even more frequently, 
eager to encourage and urge each other onward 
as we anticipate that day dawning.



Linda and I have taken this verse to heart. It is our practice, essential to our spiritual well-being. We have never missed gathering with the Jesus-community on Sunday mornings. We never participated in secular, Sunday activities for our kids. We need the body and the body needs us. This is about a Movement, not another activity.
And, we have learned the importance of meeting alone with God, to pray. I have written about this in my book Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.
The rhythm of our spiritual lives looks like this:
We meet alone with God. 
We spend time with God in "the secret place." 
This is the Very Small Group (VSG) - God and I.

We meet weekly in a Home Group 
to study scripture and pray together. 
This is the Small Group (SG) - 6-12 people.

We meet Sunday mornings to worship and listen to the preached Word on Sunday mornings and other times.
This is the Large Group (LG)

Linda and I grow spiritually by doing these. We counsel others to do the same. If someone comes to us for spiritual help but does not do the same, then we cannot help them.
Image result for john piippo wheel
(The never-ending wheel of spiritual growth.)