Abracadabra & Miracle-Gro

Many real-world Christians have embraced the fantasy that all they have to do to change is wave their arms and pronounce the word “abracadabra.”  Or perhaps they think that if they just sprinkle a little “Miracle-Gro” on their faith, great things will accelerate in their life.  We’d all like to think that is how life works. But it’s a sweet lie.  Spiritual formation in the likeness of Jesus offers no Abracadabra or Miracle-Gro formulations.

With the exception of the miracle of regeneration (the “new birth” as Jesus called it) the rest of your life is a series of strenuously working by faith to grow into “fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.” (Ephesians 4, The Message) There are no easy fixes for your character flaws. There are no instant healings for the mind. There are no “Red Sea” miracles of deliverance from the sins of the flesh.  The Christian life is an arduous path of personal crucifixion with Jesus. Recall Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ.”

Drug addictions don’t suddenly disappear.  Character flaws don’t just vanish.  Pet sins don’t get up and walk out of your life. Depression and anxiety seldom just erode with time.  Struggles don’t quietly fade into the background.  “Stinking thinking” doesn’t just clean itself up.  Nor do paralyzing memories relent to incantations, magical or “Biblical” ones.  I spent a lot of years asking God to give me a “mighty deliverance” in my soul.  I lived as a Christian and worked as a pastor, but the lingering nightmare of traumatic abuse in childhood would not yield to all my efforts.  I wanted the shameful memories gone (poof!).  I wanted the staggering guilt to simply fall away.  I believed that the torture of my mind would just stop, if I offered just the right “abracadabra.”   I lived in hope that I would wake up one day and discover that I had magically morphed into the emotionally healthy and spiritually mature man I wished to be. 

What I found instead is that there is a beautiful path of slow, uphill, often painful but genuine change.  Our growth as human beings is gradual and “organic” not instantaneous.  Day by day, as His Word renews my mind and He heals my heart, I learn to live as an overcomer.  Just as an aside, I’ve never thought of myself as a victim because that mindset incapacitates me.  I’ve chosen to see myself empowered by faith to live as He promises.

My understanding of spiritual formation has radically changed.  And I’m much better for it.   There are struggles and victories.  There are breakthroughs and discoveries.  There are seasons when I’m aware that I’ve turned a corner in the pursuit of real holiness, but most of the time spiritual growth is as routine as watching a child grow.  One of my favourite New Testament texts is found in Galatians 4 where Paul writes, “my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!”  Paul parallels the agony of childbirth with the spiritual formation process because we grow emotionally and spiritually at the speed of everyday life. 


One last word, if there was such a magical experience as ABRACADABRA, I’d declare this crazy pandemic OVER.  But since there is no such thing, I’m going to keep asking the Lord to use it for His glory and our good.  This present hard ship is an excellent opportunity to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”  (2 Peter 3:18)   So, thank God there is no “abracadabra” or “Miracle-Gro” in your life.  Accept that there are no easy answers because you are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”   Now GROW by faith into the compelling likeness of Jesus Christ, your Saviour.

Growing with you, church family,
Pastor Deric


There is a guaranteed way to win every argument.  DON’T ARGUE! 

Jesus never argued as it’s commonly experienced today.  He never engaged in heated disagreements.  He clearly established His friendship and respect for people as he engaged them in truth talk.  He maintained self-control and gentleness at all times.  Furthermore, He never spoke derogatorily to those with whom he dialogued.  To be clear, Jesus was a straight shooter about the truth.  He called Herod a “fox” (NOT meant as a compliment).  He called the Pharisees “whitewashed graves” and a “den of snakes.”  He even referred to his own disciples as “foolish ones” for being slow to believe even as they witnessed His death and resurrection.

Jesus would have lived by the wisdom of Solomon who wrote in Proverbs Chapter 20 that “it is an honour for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.”  Jesus did engage in disagreements about truth.  He received probing questions and always had an answer.  But I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume, again, that he employed the strategy of Solomon by offering a “soft answer” that “turns away wrath.”  His intent was never to stir up anger, but to expose the lies that destroy people’s lives. 

I’ve never witnessed a time when Christians have so completely embarrassed themselves to the degree that many are doing on social media.  Social media platforms have become an opportune place to troll for an unwitting audience.  Any old clown can draw a crowd on social media, but it takes a true witness to represent faith in Jesus.  We are not “activists” we are witnesses.  And one can only be His witness when we “so love the world” as God Himself. 

Bryce and I once went shark fishing in the Gulf of Mexico with friends.  It only makes sense that I tell you a fish story from those couple of days.  It’s a true story.  While lazily drifting along on the warm waters of the Gulf, our guide pointed out a school of tarpon.  For those who are unfamiliar, tarpons are among the most exciting fish to lure.  They can run 4 to 8 feet long, and they are amazingly “playful.”  They are famous for “dancing” (skipping) across the water as you try to land them.  As God is my witness, the story I’m telling you is true.  My son “hooked” a tarpon.  The fish had the lure in his mouth creating just enough tension on the line to make Bryce think he had hooked him.  At the right moment, the fish appeared to look in the direction of the boat and spit the lure out of his mouth as if to say, “take that! You puny human.”  That fish knew enough to spit the lure, with its deadly hook, out of its mouth before it was too late. He was in fact baiting us.   

My humble advice, church family.  Don’t take the bait.  But if you find yourself with the lure in your mouth, spit it out.  Keep yourself untangled from the endless arguments on social media.  Stay focused on Jesus and His Gospel.  Remember the instructions of Paul to his pastor friend Timothy, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:23–26)

Keep swimming church family,
Pastor Deric