September 4, 2016
First Presbyterian Church – Coeur d’Alene
Message Series: Stages of Faith
Message: Stage 1: Needing Help
Scripture Text: Exodus 2:1-10
1. I see my faith as a living thing, something that grows and develops. I’ve come a long way and learned a lot, and I don’t think I’m
a. In seminary I was introduced to a book written by James Fowler called Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning
In a nutshell, Fowler observed that people’s faith and spirituality developed much the same way as people themselves do: a childlike faith all the way through stages to a mature faith if things goes as they should.
b. What I pray happens is that
studying stages of faith will help you find the place where you are now in your faith and, also as important, see where you’re going next.
2. Stage 1 we’ll call “Childhood,” or the time when we need help; we totally depend on others for our safety, what we learn, where and how we live.
a. Next door to our new house is a family with a young boy. His dad is rebuilding some stairs, cutting boards on his table saw. The boy took the leftover pieces of wood and wanted to build something with them. How cool is that?
But he is dependent on his dad to
teach him how to set a clamp or drive a nail. He has no tools of his own so he has to borrow them from his dad’s toolbox.
If he needs more nails or more pieces he can’t drive to the store and he has no money to buy anything.
So all afternoon all I heard was “Dad!” “Dad!” “Dad!” (His Dad did a great job patiently helping him).
b. The story of Moses in the Old Testament is a great way to test the idea of stages of faith because we get to see him from infancy all the way to the end of his life.
You may have heard this story before
1. Read Exodus 2:1-10.
2. Moses is the definition of a helpless child, completely dependent on
others to feed him, protect him, hide him, rescue him, raise him.
Moses does one thing in this story. He cries.
3. I think we all would say that healthy childhood development is about needing help and getting help. And hopefully, a child learns the importance of seeking help: go from crying to asking lots of questions to soaking up every chance to learn something because there is a lot to learn!
a. Studies show that children whose parents spend time on nurturing their children’s’ faith development along with their personal development tend to stick with that faith into adulthood.
It’s OK to ask questions, have a lot to learn, even cry!
b. There’s a challenge for adults who are either starting at stage 1 of faith development, skipped it, or didn’t spend enough time there.
Adults sometimes resist feeling like they need help, so they don’t seek or receive it when they need it.
Maybe this is why Jesus taught his disciples that the best faith is childlike.
4. I would say that the Key for Stage 1 is Needing and Trusting God
a. Going back to the Moses story: anthropologists have studied how it bears remarkable resemblance to another story called the “Sargon myth.”
Sargon was a famous Mesopotamian king 700 years before Moses who also was put into a basket and set afloat on a river by his mother, rescued by
But the stories have some key differences: Sargon was cast onto the river and left to fate. But Moses always had someone watching over him.
God had a plan for Moses, and never took his eyes off him when he was helpless, adrift, with an uncertain future.
b. Psalm 110 compares God to a soldier who drinks from a stream with his head always raised, watchful, on guard, vigilant.
Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit – the needy and dependent – for theirs is the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 5:3)
c. Stage 1 of Faith Development is knowing that as you discover more and more about the world, God can always be trusted.
5. Beyond understanding your dependence on
God and God’s faithfulness, there are other Stage 1 actions to think about if that’s where you are or you need to double back
a. Keep God’s face in front of you.
An infant first learns trust from the smiling face which appears in front of him or her, delights in seeing that face when it appears.
Likewise, a strong faith seeks
God’s face and wants to keep in God’s line of sight for comfort and strength.
b. Have play time.
Children learn about life through playing with plastic donuts, rattles, dolls, blocks, trucks, puzzles and books.
Faith needs play time to have a sense of discovery and wonder; soak in as many experiences as possible and get hands-on: Bible stories, prayer, worship, serving, community
c. Find some spiritual parents.
God is our perfect parent, but he also provides human spiritual parents who make us
feel safe with our questions and having so much to learn.
People to watch over us, feed us, turn us over to others’ care too.
a. Are you at stage 1? Are you past it? Do you need to double back and work on things you skipped or missed?
b. What are some stage 1 experiences you can have starting this week?