We have all the heard the phrase, “practice makes perfect,” and that is no different in our spiritual growth as it is in any other area of discipline we are trying to improve, perfect and master.
I’ve been an athlete my whole life, ranging from swimming, to tennis, to being a professional ballet dancer, and now to powerlifting. Particularly with ballet and powerlifting, I have found and do find a lot of joy in repetition.
There is something about being able to just go into the gym, in some sense ‘tune out’ and just start lifting. I always start with a empty bar with no weight, and progress up. I love pushing myself to my absolute limit to see if I can push past my previous goal. Many days yes, some days no.
I recently had a word from the Lord as I was thinking about repetition, teaching and discipleship. The Lord brought my mind to this scripture:
First Corinthians 3:6 “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”
I sensed the Spirit say to me, “‘Many people can get stuck in what type of soil they plant in; is it shallow, rocky or good soil?’ It doesn’t matter what soil you plant in if you don’t water your seed, because unwatered seed in good soil still dies.”
I said, “Yes Lord, that makes sense. What we learn needs to be practiced over and over again, just like I do in the gym.”
The Holy Spirit said, “Yes. The first time you hear something, that is a planting. Someone plants a seed of truth in you; it is your job to receive it, and that is the type of soil it will be planted in. However, you need to water that seed every day, over and over again for weeks, months, or even years if it is grow and become a powerful word of Truth that you don’t just tell someone about, but they can receive the fruit of it.”
I was like, “Woah.”
The Holy Spirit said, “Why do you think I gave you the opportunity to hear LoveWorks so many times over so many years? You were being watered so that you could be strengthened.”
At that I had to repent. You see, I started hearing LoveWorks in 2001, and was around the teaching until 2005. Then I moved with Weyman and Susan to serve them, their family and ministry in the country of Denmark from 2005-2010. During all of those years, I heard the stories of the Howards and others being transformed by the power of God’s love, while at the same time was experiencing the same type of transformation, slowly but profoundly, in my own life. I realised I had been given a great gift of repetition, when many times in the past I became frustrated or bored by hearing the 1 Corinthians 13 message over and over again.
I know now that there is no end to God’s love, mercy and grace over my life. I also know that as much as I’ve grown in how to love, to say that I’m perfect would be far from the truth. I want to be excellent, and if anything, excellence requires practice. Repetition. Yes, even failure. Which means start again. Don’t give up. Keep practicing and you will find the reward you are looking for.
When I met the Howards, I was 29 years old, and had major addiction issues, that stole everything from me, including jobs, my health and almost my life. Eighteen years later, I do not have addictions that control my life. I’m a married man to an amazing woman, with one beautiful nearly two-year old daughter, with a second daughter on the way in several weeks. I’m a dual citizen of the USA and Australia. I own a business. I’ve lived in Europe, as well as have travelled and spoken around the world about God’s amazing and transforming love. How did this all happen?
By spending time day by day, learning two things.
First: How to receiving God’s love for myself.
Second: After being filled with His love, giving it away.
Yes it may sound simplistic, but how many people do you know who love well in a more complex way? I don’t know about you, but for myself, spending years in addiction, and then years trying to get out of addiction, spending lots of money all to know avail, I was desperate. I needed to find something that worked. My life depended on it; my future was at stake. I had heard many messages about a God of love, but never one that showed me with “boots on the ground” type of love. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I was shown that if I focus on loving others, my own healing would break forth. For years, all I was doing was focusing on my own healing, and getting worse. God says it best in his word,
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
This scripture above is the Fast of love, one we are called to do by serving others. I’m still learning how to do this, and my wife and I practice it in our marriage, with family friends and others in our home.
I found it to be a powerful paradox, and often tried to get my head around it: “You mean, God, if I love and serve others and forget about trying to get myself ‘fixed’, my own healing will break forth?”
“YES.” God answered.
Be encouraged. If necessary, stop what you are doing. Turn your heart and mind to God in prayer. Say, “Jesus, I need you in my life. I have focused on the wrong things and now want to focus on only two things: receiving you love, and then giving that love away.” Then, repeat. Every day.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Love can transform lives like it has Thom’s, we’re offering a 20% special offer on our Streaming LoveWorks Seminar. The Seminar is all online and is over 5 1/2 hours of teaching on I Corinthians 13. You will learn how to become more Patient, practice Kindness more effectively, Learn how to receive God’s Belief and Hope for yourself, and MORE! Use the coupon code: lwstream20
GO HERE to see more about the LoveWorks Streaming Seminar.