mushroomBut grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
II Peter 3:18

On recent walks through the woods of northern Minnesota, my wife Rita and I have contracted a virulent strain of phileomycelium.  As far as I know there is no cure for this “love of mushrooms.”  I don’t mean a love of eating mushrooms, but a love or fondness for finding mushrooms where they weren’t there the day before. They mushroomed up overnight!

But watching these little fungi explode through the ground, and then be gone in a few days, has got me thinking about “mushroom spirituality.”  By mushroom spirituality, I mean the expectation that spiritual growth and maturity can mushroom for us literally overnight.

Yesterday, as we came across a patch of mushrooms that we had not seen the previous day, reminded me of words I had read by theologian, A. H. Strong:

A student asked the president of his school whether he could not take a shorter course than the one prescribed. ‘Oh yes,’ replied the president, ‘but then it depends upon what you want to be. When God wants to make an oak, He takes a hundred years, but when He wants to make a squash, He takes six months.’ (quoted by Miles Stanford, The Green Letters)

Mushroom spirituality leaves an impression that spiritual growth and maturity can happen to us overnight.   That’s the way that many books, DVD’s, workshops, and conferences are promoted.  But John Newton, the great English churchman, author of Amazing Grace, and many other hymns, acknowledged slowness and process in his spiritual transformation:

I have been thirty years forming my own views; and, in the course of this time, some of my hills have sunk, and some of my valleys have risen: but, how unreasonable would it be to expect all this should take place in another person; and that in the course of a year or two.  (Richard Cecil, Memoirs of the Rev. John Newton)

Once, when Chris Webb, then President of Renovare, was leading a conference for Water from Rock, he told me a story I have since found helpful in thinking about my own spiritual life.  Chris is an Englishman whose father was an officer in the Royal Navy.  One week his father took Chris on a sort of “take your child to work” cruise on the H. M. S. Exeter.  One day Chris was allowed to go up on the ship’s bridge, stand alongside the captain, and put his hands on the ship’s wheel.  The captain then directed Chris to turn the ship “one degree to starboard.”  Chris said that he turned the ship “one degree to starboard,” but felt nothing happen.  The captain explained that to keep on going in that one degree change of course would mean the difference between ending up in Havana, Cuba, and Savannah, Georgia.

What Chris’ story meant for me is that I might read my Bible and pray, or reach out to a needy person, and not feel a thing change in me.  But if I will only keep going in that direction, the next day, and the next, it can be for me like the difference between Havana and Savannah!  Make a small change in course of direction and stick with it!  Just as Jesus taught, spiritual growth is a process;   “First the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.”  (Mark 4:28)

Thinking about real spiritual growth versus mushroom spirituality, leads me to at least three considerations:

  • First, I must be patient with others in their growth and transformation. For all my friends seeking to follow Christ, doing ministry, going through counseling, working the Twelve Steps, and trying to get things together, I must be patient with them and love them.
  • Second, I must also be patient with me. I want so much to grow and press on to be like Christ. I want to be all that God created and redeemed me to be! Today! And, I can get pretty down on me when I don’t show more growth, and faster. I must be patient with me, and love me.
  • Third, I need to be patient with God. Yes, patient with God! He knows how much I want to grow and thrive. He knows how much I want to serve Him more effectively, and make a difference in the world. Why doesn’t God help me make it happen faster? I must be patient with God!  He knows the reasons why mushroom spirituality doesn’t work.

Might not the Spirit of God be saying to you today:  “Steady as you go!”  “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  

Grace and peace,



On September 8, 2014 By

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years.’”
Genesis 1:14

“For everything there is a season.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1

“They yield their [...]

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On September 1, 2014 By

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.’”
Genesis 1:26

“Why daddy?” “Why?” “But why?”  It starts early, our quest for purpose and meaning, our longing to understand.  Perhaps it’s the philosopher in my little granddaughter in her daily litany of “why this?” and [...]

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On August 25, 2014 By

One of my brothers, Hanani, came with certain men from Judah; and I asked them about the Jews that survived, those who had escaped the captivity, and about Jerusalem.  They replied, ‘The survivors there in the province who escaped captivity are in great trouble and shame; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, [...]

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Dear Friends,

In place of my weekly eVotional in which I reflect on Scripture and life, I am linking you to our conversation last week in The Living Room: Exploring the Mystery We Call God.  Each week Henry Rojas, Art Brooks and I talk on this Internet radio program about Christian [...]

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On August 11, 2014 By

So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.   For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure,  because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot [...]

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On August 4, 2014 By

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.
Hebrews 13:1-3

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On July 28, 2014 By

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to [...]

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Have you seen the news this past week! Like countless others through the millennia, the horror and heartbreak of world events has driven me to the Book of Psalms. A world running off the rails compels me to cast anchor in the prayerful ponderings of the ancient psalmists. When the world is on [...]

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Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want.
Galatians 5:16-17


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