The Word of God and Spiritual Growth
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
Dear Prospective Advanced Discipleship Training (ADT) Students,
The aspect of believer’s identity is just as important in the life of a Christian as the issue of spiritual victory. Knowing who we are in Christ is tremendously important in the life and walk with God of any disciple. The spiritual identity of the believer is particularly important because throughout the church history Christians have understood that they are just ‘sinners saved by grace’ who have developed their personal image in the same way as the world. But we must recognize that the believer's self-image must be based on a very solid biblical foundation. If not, Satan will tempt the believer in this crucial area.
My deepest desire and fervent prayer is that every child of God will know by spiritual revelation WHO he or she is in Christ. (See Ephesians 1:15-23).
Come in! Enroll! Partake in this amazing and life-transforming discipleship platform. Welcome aboard! I am looking forward to ministering to you! God bless your decision!
With love in Christ,
Spiritual Mentor / Life Coach
There is power in the Word of God
There is power in the Word of God! There is no question about it. We cannot live without the Word of God. Christ Himself declares: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4). Let’s look in Isaiah 55:10–11. Do you see the connection between what the prophet Isaiah and Jesus are saying? “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth” (Isaiah) and “Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew). The Word of God is living and active. God’s Word doesn’t get dull or old; His Word speaks to us today. This is absolutely essential to remember! When we read the Bible we are not just reading black letters on white pages, we are in communion with the Living Word of God. The author of Hebrews writes:
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
There is no other manuscript or piece of writing out there capable of such deep penetration into the human spirit, soul, heart, mind, and emotions. In fact, when we read the Bible, the Word of God is reading us.
One particular Sunday, I was scheduled to preach from Ephesians 4:11—16. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is one of my favorite books of the New Testament. Unlike other epistles in which Paul addresses some doctrinal errors or church practice deformities, this one is a very balanced book. It includes teachings regarding our: identity, salvation by grace, edification and spiritual growth. This letter gives us specifics in terms of the five ministries of the church: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. It contains instructions for Christian living at the personal and family level and provides guidelines for parents, children, employees and employers. The book of Ephesians is the only letter in which Paul provides specific instructions for spiritual warfare.
The week prior to preparing for my sermon, I decided to listen to the book of Ephesians at least three times. I prayed that the Lord will give me a deeper insight into the topic of spiritual growth and maturity. “Father God, what is the message that Your church needs to hear?” As always, the Holy Spirit comes through with His guidance. The impression that I got was about the connection that exists between the seed of the Word and our spiritual growth. Through various Scriptures, the Lord enriched my understanding of this connection.
The soil produces crops by itself
In the Gospel of Mark 4:26–29, Jesus tells us:
And He was saying, The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself … But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.
The statement: The soil produces crops by itself, captured my attention. Wow! It was as if I read this sentence for the first time. What does it mean? How does the soil produce crops by itself? The real power is in the seed. However, the quality of the soil can either harness or block its power. The seed needs proper soil to grow. If the seed falls into the soil and the soil incorporates the seed then the “the seed sprouts and grows.” The metaphor of the seed and the soil is powerful! Likewise, there is power in the seed of the Word, but it needs the soil of a human heart in which to germinate, to sprout and grow, and produce fruit.
In the gospel of Matthew13:3–9, Jesus shared “The Parable of the Sower.” The sower spread the seeds with the same quality and power inside. What made the difference in the final outcome is not the quality of the seed, but the quality of the soil. According to this parable, the seeds fell on four types of soil:
The first type of soil is beside the road. Due to the proximity of the road, the birds ate the seeds.
The second one is the rocky place. In a rocky terrain, there is not enough fertile soil to allow the plant to deepen its roots. Therefore the plants sprang up quickly and withered just as quickly.
Spiritual Life Coaching and Discipleship Training for Healing of the Wounded Heart and Restoration of the Broken Soul by Experiencing Christ through the Power of the Holy Spirit
The third type is among the thorns. We can easily imagine that these little plants did not stand a chance of survival with the thorns’ obstruction.
That last type is the good soil. This soil incorporates the seed and facilitates its growth. Ultimately this soil yielded various degrees of harvest: “some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matthew 13:8).
The good news is that we don’t have to scratch our heads to understand what this parable means. The Lord Jesus interprets it so the disciples get a proper understating of its meaning. Obviously, the seed is the gospel message and the soil represents the hearts of people.
(1) The birds mentioned in the first type represent evil spirits who quickly pluck away the word from people’s hearts. When the human heart is void of the Word of God there is no growth and no harvest.
(2) The rocky places represent superficiality. People who don't take the Word of God seriously have no firm root to sustain them during life's afflictions and possible persecutions. So when hard times come, they walk away from faith.
(3) The thorny places represent those who think that they can have the best of both worlds: God’s kingdom and this world. Jesus desires loyalty to Him and to the kingdom of God. Matthew writes that people cannot serve two masters: God and wealth (Matthew 6:24). Divided hearts cannot yield fruit for Christ.
(4) The good soil speaks of the people who hear the Word and understand it. They let the Word develop a good foundation in their hearts. As a result, the harvest is plentiful: “some hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matthew 13:23).
Growing up, I remember when my dad bought a small nectarine tree and planted it in our garden. The first year I asked him: “Dad, do you think that this tree is going to bring any nectarines?” Dad explained that the tree needs more time to mature before it is able to bring forth any fruits. The second year I asked him the same question and I got a similar response. The third year my dad spotted some flowers in that young nectarine tree. He said: “This year we have better chances to eat some nectarines from it. Of course we are assuming that nothing else happens and the tree keeps the flowers so the fruit can ripen.” I got excited! I told him: “I cannot wait to taste the fruits of this tree.”
I also remember one fall when my mom placed tomato seeds in soil in a wooden box. She watered the soil regularly and kept the box inside the house throughout the winter. Surprisingly, the next spring, little green plants started coming out from the dark ground. She kept on watering these little plants and they kept on growing. When it was warm enough outside she transferred the tomato plants to the vegetable garden. Guess what? In a few months, we were able to eat delicious tomatoes. It all started with some small seeds buried in soil; there is power in the seed.
It is important to understand that spiritual growth is gradual. According to Mark 4:26–29, reaching the state of fruitfulness requires three stages of growth:
(1) The blade
(2) The head
(3) The mature grain in the head
In conclusion: God is interested in mature sons and daughters who bring a harvest for Christ’s glory.
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With love in Christ,
Spiritual Mentor / Life Coach
PS.: Thank you for your continuous prayers and financial support!
“The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.” (Gal. 6:6).
If you are looking for personal spiritual life coaching sessions or if you desire to have a personalized mentorship plan designed for your spiritual growth please contact me immediately!
June 1, 2018
Dear Partners in Ministry,
It is unbelievable that the first six months of 2018 are almost gone! Elena and I would like to convey our thanks and heartfelt appreciation for your partnership, prayers and financial support during the first half of 2018! May God continue to bless you all!
As we informed you at the beginning of the year, we have several important projects on our desk. Each one has a story; I would like to share how God led us to get involved in these projects. I also would like to share with you the financial needs we need in the next few months.
1. Fullness of Christ is the book I am writing. Please note that I changed the title from Attaining the Fullness of Christ to Fullness of Christ.
Quick story: Over the years, the Holy Spirit guided me to a greater understanding of what it means to experience the fullness of Christ. I share these ideas and impressions I received from the Word of God in the sixteen chapters of the book.
Quick update: I found a good publisher: WestBow Press, a Division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan. I purchased their Pro Format starter publishing package. The regular price was $1,995. I prayed for a discount, and I received 40% off. I ended up paying $1,272. Praise the Lord for His favor with God and with people!
Other costs: As I am writing this fundraising letter, I am done with the entire manuscript. The initial editing price from WestBow Press was $4,680.78. They were willing to give me a discount and reduced the cost to $3,280.78. I felt this price was still too steep for me. So I did not go with them for the editing phase. God directed my steps, so I found an editor who was willing to do the full content and line editing for less than that price. This task has been completed on May 29th. I just reviewed the manuscript and the proposed changes. The next phase is to submit the fully edited manuscript to WestBow Press for the interior design, cover design, and print. God willing, the book will be in print sometime in July. I did a little bit of research and according to the experts, the cost for book promotion ranges from $2,500 to $3,500. My initial cost estimation for this project was about $10,000. So far, I was able to raise $2,000. Praise God! I trust the Lord for the rest.
2. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero is such a good book. It was one of the books required during my Master’s program in Spiritual Formation and Leadership (2008-2011) at Spring Arbor University. It challenged my thinking about discipleship and spiritual growth.
Quick story: One recent Saturday morning, Elena and I were discussing the Platforms for Transformation. Then I said: “It would be so nice to have Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero, translated into the Romanian language.” A week later, a friend of mine, who is enrolled in the Master of Divinity program at Regent University called me out of the blue: “Brother Valy, since you lead a ministry involved in Spiritual Formation you could be my Field Supervisor during my semester at Regent. My school-related homework could even be a translation project.” Then he asked me: “Do you have a translation project for me?” I could not believe my ears! I said: “As a matter of fact I do! I just have to request the copyrights of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and its devotional, entitled, Day by Day from HarperCollins Publishers.” Very long story short, the following week I wrote a letter to the Copyrights Department asking for the license to translate these books. They granted URFM permission for a $1,000 fee. Praise God for this!
Quick update: We completed the translation phase mid-May. I am currently in the process of finding an editor to complete content and line editing. Following editing, I will work with a Publisher to get the books ready for print and then promote and distribute the books.
Project cost: Praise the Lord! God provided the means for the copyrights and for the translation phase. We trust that God is more than capable to provide the necessary funds to bring these books to completion. I am estimating that the entire project will cost approximately $10,000.
3. Platforms for Transformation. This project is near and dear to our hearts.
Quick story: I experienced a lot of physical suffering in 2016. I had two surgeries and the recovery period took longer than I expected. In October and November of 2016, I was depressed. I was not able to do too much that year. I felt sorry for myself! In the middle of those dark days and very dark nights, I had a God-encounter. The Holy Spirit impressed deep into my heart about the need for Integration of Emotional Health and Spiritual Growth. One thought led to another and one idea got connected to another. Then it became clear to Elena and I that we need to build specific Platforms for Transformation. These are (A) Renewal of the Mind, (B) Freedom through Forgiveness, (C) Breaking the Power of the Past and (D) Transformation of the Inner Person. These platforms will be part of the ongoing discipleship, life coaching, spiritual formation, and pastoral-counseling services offered by URFM.
Quick update: At the beginning of 2018, we started with (A) Renewal of the Mind. Our workbook for this platform is The Search for Significance, by Robert McGee (another book that we feel strongly needs to be translated). Renewal of the mind (cf. Romans 12:2) is fundamental to the process of discipleship. This generation needs spiritual mentors. We strongly believe that these platforms will be extremely helpful to all God's children, especially those who desire to make a deeper impact in the lives of others.
Project cost: Building these platforms requires countless hours, energy, creativity, and focus. Elena and I are committed to doing our part in facilitating an environment where healing of the wounded heart and restoration of the broken soul may be experienced. As a result, people may be gradually transformed by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18) and walk in the spiritual freedom (John 8:32, 36) Christ promises to all of us.
Please consider making a donation of $500 or more in these upcoming summer months. Any funds received will be used for the aforementioned projects. If you prefer you can mail us a check, or, you can donate online via PayPal.
Thank you for partnering with us to advance the Kingdom of God. We thank you in advance for your future prayers and donations to URFM during the second half of 2018.
With much appreciation and deep respect,
Spiritual Mentor / Life Coach
Upper Room Fellowship Ministry (URFM) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, fully supported by people like you. Your gift may qualify as a charitable deduction for federal income tax purposes.
With much appreciation and deep respect.