CENTRAL THEME                                                                                                     

The central theme of “CHRISTIAN FORMATION PROJECT” (Mud To Majesty) is Christian maturity.  Who wants to be like Jesus and become a mature son of God?  Jesus walked through the processes of becoming the Fully Mature One (Heb. 5:8, Lk. 2:40).  He showed us the way as the Son of Man (Jn. 14:6).  Although all things were created by Him, he became an embryo, a baby (Phil. 2:8), a toddler, a child, a teenager, the Son of Man, and the example of a mature Son of God.  If we believe Him, admire Him and love Him we will passionately want to be like Him.  We will emulate His manner of life, because the Son of Man was actually a son of man (100% human) which totally qualifies Him to be our overcoming Hero.  He grew into His mature sonship as a flesh and blood human to demonstrate His Son of God-ness.  He is the proof that we too can mature as children of God into mature sons and daughters of God.  Every moment of each day provides opportunities to grow up as we grow old.  What a great way to live life to its fullest.     

Who are you becoming?  Giant question!  “You cannot become who you are supposed to be without me.”  My heart was quickened when I heard these words of a wise mother admonishing her daughter.  All of God’s kids need a role model, a real live hero to emulate.  Sometimes it’s mom.  It’s always Jesus and often mature Christians who walk out their faith!  

It’s a curious phenomenon, people who don’t have a lively expectancy to become more like Jesus, often become more like themselves in their fallen character.  Scary!  Visit a nursing home for proof of this.  The elderly tend to grow sweeter or somewhat more bitter with passing years.  

According to God’s original design for your life you are divine.  Divine, because God made man upright from the beginning (Ecc. 7:29).  However, since Adam’s fall you are disgusting because of his inherited sin nature.  Your inherited divinity (giftedness) and your inherited sin nature are your personal givens in this life.  Now what?  “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1Cor. 15:22).  Amen!  Today is the day in which we can live the good life in Christ (2Cor. 6:2).  Today is the first day of the rest of our lives in which we can, by divine grace and our submitted will, move toward the Lord’s goal for our lives; it is unique and an extremely personal maturity! (Eph. 4:15)  Go God!

As the Lord continues His creative process in our lives (Ps. 102:18), He works with these givens (the divine and the disgusting), and ... He involves us.  He continually draws us to Himself.  We are either compliant or resistant to Him every moment of every day.  Our degree of response to Him determines the depth of His character that He is permitted to form in us.  The Lord moves closer to those who respond to His invitations.  Consequently, we either mature or we stagnate.  

Check it out in Scripture (Josh. 24:15, Hos. 10:12, Pr. 22:8, Gal. 6:9).   Every Bible personality lived and died with opportunities, free choices.  For this reason their final days were not always filled with God’s choices - to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).  In the face of grace, God lets us choose Him over every attraction in life.   

The key to abundant life is forward spiritual growth.  You see, once God has drawn us and saved us (Jn. 6:44), He provides daily choices to move on with Him and become progressively more like Him.  

You’ve got to love the following verses, because they illustrate the promises of becoming His disciples, of becoming blameless and of having the life of Christ in us.  Interestingly, every promise hinges on one little word, “if.”  


THEOLOGY OF CHRISTIAN GROWTH & MATURITY                                                                                



“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (Jn. 8:31).  I’m guessing that we are not His disciples if we don’t continue in His word.  “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:  If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven...” (1Cor. 1:23).  I’m guessing this means that we can be holy and unblameable in His sight... only if we continue in the hope of the gospel, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27)  “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father” (1Jn. 2:24). 

At the end of life you will be the result of HIS workmanship and YOUR collaborative workmanship, that is your willingness to walk with Him through His processes of maturing you (Mt. 7:14).  Hence, Christian Formation!  His plan is to conform you to Christ (Rom. 8:29).  What’s your plan? 

THE BIG HUMAN STORY                                    


Looking Forward Today             Looking Backward Tomorrow

From the front cover to the back cover of your Bible you’ll find one huge story, the story of humanity’s journey from Eden to New Jerusalem.  The story of human life on earth begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation.  Where do we find ourselves in this story?  We were born; we live, and we will certainly die.  We’ll return to the clay dust from which we were created.  


The summary of the big Bible story is this:

  God made man out of the dust of the earth.  He places the eternal treasure of truth in His human mud pots (2Cor. 4:7). 

  Man gets himself into mud pits of sin, and God graciously delivers him (Ps. 40:2).

  God has a perfect plan to liberate people from their personal mud pits.  He involves man’s ability to make choices (Josh. 24:15).

  Humans are called to be God’s glory-pots, but some become wrath-pots instead (Rom. 9:22-23).

Within the big Bible story, we find the synoptic typology of Israel’s journey from the mud pits of Egypt to the fertile soil of the Promised Land.  Their journey parallels our individual journeys.  Likewise, the Lord’s provision to them parallels His provision to us: 

  In Egypt God provided a lamb who’s blood kept back the death angel.  Now that’s Jesus!

  In Egypt God provided forgiveness through sacrifice.  God has given His Son to pay the penalty of our sin and to literally take the sin nature out of our personalities.  

  God provided a Moses to lead Israel out of bondage.  God provides the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth (Jn. 16:19).

  God’s people wanted to return to the mud pits like dogs return their vomit, (Acts 7:39, Pr. 26:11).

  God led them into a Promised Land.  We’ve become citizens of Heaven. 

  God fed them with bread from Heaven.  Jesus is the true Manna.  He’s the Living Bread of Life! (Jn. 6:32)

  God gave them the Law, the Ten Commandments as a pattern of good behavior.  God provides the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ by which the He writes His law of love in our hearts (Rom. 8:2, Jer. 31:33). 

  God gave them a new form of government, a theocracy.  We are governed by the Lord as our Savior, our Master and King.

  God gave them water from the rock.  Jesus is the Rock of Living Water (1Cor. 10:4).

  God provided the pillar of fire.  God sends the fire of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 3:11). 

  God provided Moses, a teacher.  God provides the Holy Spirit as our Teacher (1Jn. 2:27)

God gave words of faith and some believed, but most of them did not (Heb. 4:6).  Joshua and Caleb and the children, who were born in the wilderness, believed the Word.  

The Hebrews were delivered out of Egypt with mighty signs and wonders.  Yet, some of these folks remained unbelievers; therefore, they died in the wilderness.  Complainers always die in a wilderness of some sort (Num. 11:1).  However, their faith-filled children, along with Joshua and Caleb (Num. 14:24), entered the Promises of the Lord.  God is never impressed with complainers.  They turn Him off.  Contrariwise, those who thank Him and praise Him turn Him on.  He inhabits their lives, because they express appreciation and love.  Go figure!  It makes perfect sense!

THE MESSAGE IN MUD                                    

We can learn many applicable lessons by studying the Journey of Israel.  They were the seed of the First Adam, who was made from the dust (mud).  God heard the cry of Israel from the mud pits of Egypt, and He delivered them.  However, their end was not good.  Even though God was for them, they opposed God and forsook God’s blessings.  They thought they knew better, thinking that Egypt was better than the wilderness journey to “a land flowing with milk and money.”  Sorry... honey!

They did not become God’s vessels (mud-pots) of glory.  They should have been fashioned into vessels of honor fit for the King’s use.  Instead, they died, because they refused to grow up.  They refused to go up into the mountain and meet with God for themselves; and, they refused to shut up and stop complaining about the Lord’s means of deliverance.  They ended up delivered out of Egypt, but Egypt was not delivered out of them.  The died in a nomadic old folks home ... more bitter than when they crossed the Red Sea.  Sad.  

Within the “cover-to-cover” story there are many personal stories of real people who experienced growth transformations.  They matured from mud to majesty.  Day by day they journeyed from their personal “Egypt's” to their personal “New Jerusalems” in very real and spiritual adventures.  

For example, Joseph, the son of Jacob, had a dream (Ps. 105:19).  Joseph journeyed from his dad’s home to Egypt, to Potipher’s house, then to prison and then to the palace.  Along his way he matured; his dream became a reality because he yielded to the Lord’s formation process.  He grew into the dream that God had given him.  What are your dreams? 


If you are not dead, God’s not finished with you, 
and you are not finished with Him....... yet!  Yeah!

YOUR JOURNEY FROM MUD TO MAJESTY                        

This unfolding 6,000-year drama continues.  You and I are called to become the New Testament mud-pots of honor, filled with the glory and character of the Son of Man.  He promised that we’d be like Him in our intimate relationship with Him, the Father and the Holy Spirit.

He said that IF we obey Him that He, the Holy Spirit and the Father will make their home in our hearts.  That’s three of them in each one of us.  We are outnumbered by the Trinity (Jn. 14:21-26).  Yeah!  When He moves in, He wins over our old sinful nature, and we win too!

God is quite the bookkeeper!  You want your name written in His Lamb’s Book of Life.  He has books loaded with information about your life.  Right... He knows how many hairs on your head and the plans He has for your life (Jer. 29:11).  He hopes that you agree with Him about these plans of His.   

Amazingly, God allows us to write part of our very own story ... within His limitations.  He’s built us to make life and death choices (Duet. 30:19).  At one point in Israel’s journey, God told them to choose between serving their fathers’ god or Him (Josh. 24:15).  Indeed, they wrote their very own history that day.  

How about you and me?  Do we make daily decisions that fill the pages of God’s records of our lives?  I think so.  Yes, the Bible is filled with decision-making people who chose God and people who chose otherwise. 

Your Beginning          Your Ending

You’ve had a beginning of life, and you will surely have an end of life.  What happens from today until the day of your passing is somewhat in our hands.  Although we are the Lord’s handiwork (Eh. 2:10), He involves us in a very personal way, just as He did the child Jesus, who learned obedience by the things he suffered (Heb. 5:8).  At age 12 Jesus knew that God was His Father.  This Man-God allowed His human side to submit to the Father’s leading.  “Not my will, but thy will be done.”  That’s exactly what He said; that’s exactly how He lived and died, and how He resurrected according the Father’s will!  It’s the only way - not my will, but God’s will be done.  What a picture of a God-centered existence! 

This sort of lifestyle leads to resurrection power.  It raised Jesus from the dead and will likewise pave the way for resurrection power to work in your life.  You and I choose every moment of every day what gets written in God’s journal of our lives.  There’s no escaping making choices.  It’s unavoidable, and it’s ramifications are eternal! 
Is your story God-centered or self-centered?  Will your godly and ungodly givens be formed and transformed into a vessel of honor and glory?  Marry your will with the Lord’s will; be one with Him to be more like Him.  Compatibility is everything to the Bride of Christ and her Groom!  

Are you content to have fun dating Jesus, 
or are you ready for commitment?


Talents & Iniquities                  Spirit-led and/or Self-led                Eternal Judgement 
Mud                                         The Potter & The Clay (Is. 64:8)    The Fire 1Cor. 3:15




Growth and maturity happen in blended stages.  In 1Corinthians 13:11 Paul speaks of his Christian maturity.  The Apostle Paul speaks of an earlier stage of his life when he spoke, thought and understood as a child.  Under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit he “put away childish things.”  We also see a natural and spiritual progression in Christ’s relationship with the disciples, when He recognized that they had graduated from being His servants into becoming His friends (Jn. 15:15).  That’s awesome!  We should “... grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eh. 4:15).  

A Christian can be born-again and yet not mature.  How unpleasant would it be for you to have a newborn that never grew.  At age 15 he still needed others to care for him as a demanding infant.  This is a sad and ugly picture of what a Christian can look like in the spirit.  It’s natural and healthy for a child to love growing up and experimenting with the privileges that come with maturation, like driving, having a job, dating and eventually marriage.  

Babies don’t marry.  Get it!  This natural illustration has a spiritual flip side.  How old are you in the spirit?  You see, a maturing son or daughter is entrusted with exciting privileges and responsibilities that please the Father.  It’s all to common for children, teens in particular, to want the privileges of adulthood before they’ve developed the maturity and responsibility that should accompany natural maturation.  Sorry... it’s an ugly truth about all of us.


Esther is a perfect example.  She was a young captive in the Persian Empire.  She was unavoidably cute, and therefore selected to candidate to be the King’s next wife.  He had chopped the head off his former spouse for her lack of submission.  It was time for a new girl.  

“Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh (bitter) and six with perfumes and cosmetics” (Est. 2:12).  

Her first six months of purification with the oil of myrrh was period of cleansing, healing and purification.  Myrrh offered antiseptic and anti-fungal properties.  The Aramaic word “myrrh” means “bitter.”  Interestingly, myrrh is collected by repeatedly wounding deep into the bark of a particular thorny tree and allowing it to bleed its resin.  We see a parallel in Esther’s experience.  Her parents died; she was living in a foreign land with her uncle, and then she’s taken captive to the palace of a pagan and brutal king.  Worst yet, she could be forced to marry him.  Her first six months of purification involved deep piercings, wounds (spiritually speaking) that emitted the sweet fragrance of myrrh in her character.  She faced a potentially bitter (myrrh) situation that made her inwardly beautiful.  Our preparations of heart, our maturation likewise involves such experiences.  This is not exclusively true in Esther’s life, but in every Bible hero who qualified for intimacy with the Lord.  Search it out.   

Her last six months of purification entailed outward beautification with fine clothing and cosmetics.  The end of the story - She pleased the King and they were married.  Many girls in Persian were called to “try out,” but only Esther matured with inward and outward degrees of perfection that qualified her to become the Bride.  She was chosen. 



Her story is our story.  It’s a story about qualifying to become the Bride of Christ.  The Lord meets with us in every aspect of our painful and pleasant experiences.  Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; forsake not the works of thine own hands."  

We are His workmanship as long as we, like Esther, allow the valleys and hilltop victories, the poverty and plenty to not detour us from our true love for Christlikeness.  Those who grow an intimate relationship with the Lord go through both painful and pleasant transformational experiences on their ways to maturity.    

We have no authority over the time of our births; we have authority over the time of our departure.  However, the time in between is our time to willfully embrace.  We should take advantage of the painful and the pleasurable events of life that will inevitably shape us.  We are like clay on the Potter’s wheel.  Everyday is an opportunity to conform to the image of Christ, as we allow His hands to press, squeeze and lift us into the form of His beautiful Bride.  Unfortunately, it’s a limited time offer.

                                                                                                                                                        Birth       Our Limited Time of Spiritual Gestation          Death                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Pain & Pleasure                                                                                                                                                                                                        
Victories & Valleys
Maturing Christlikeness or Stagnation or Degradation 
Embracing The Potter’s Hands or Resisting The Potter’s Hands

Ecclesiastics 11:3 lays out a rather profound truth about death: “... if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.”  A tree falls when it’s dead.  That’s it; time’s up.  Wherever you land (spiritually) at the time of your death is your finish line, even if you have not run the full length into God’s plan for your perfecting.  It’s possible to die at any age and hit God’s goal, and it’s also possible to live to a ripe old age and still not hit His goal for your life.  For this reason, it’s imperative to consciously live a healthy and vivacious life in constant relationship with the Lord moment by moment.



The following list of Scriptures are just a few that support the principle of Christian growth. The original meaning of the word perfect or perfection embodies the idea of becoming complete.  With our compliance, Christ’s character develops in us.  We invite Him to overcome fallen areas of our hearts.  This means that we forsake our old character, family iniquities, sins and sin nature, and live in the resurrection power of Jesus.  He lives in us and we live through Him.  Our old man dies off.  “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).  It’s definitely a process of dying to live the new life and living to die to self.  “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” 2Cor. 4:16).  That makes me jump for joy and shout .... “I love you Jesus! Thank you for such a great way of living a continually fresh walk!” 

  2Sam. 22:33 “God is my strength and power; and he maketh my way perfect.”  It’s God’s passion to perfect us and it’s our passion to comply.  One of the most important things we can is to stay out of God’s way.  

  Gen. 6:9 “...Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God.”  God looks from heaven searching for those whose hearts are right toward him.  One day as He looked to earth in a day when most men’s thoughts were continually wicked, God spotted Noah, “...a just man and perfect in his generation.”  This verse lets us know that God sees a person in the context of his generation.  How perfectly fair and just is our Lord.  It’s just right to evaluate people in relationship to the culture in which they live.  He so get us!

  Mat. 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Was Jesus kidding?  Don’t think so. 

  Jn. 1:17 “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” Again, Jesus persists on this topic of human transformation in the process of being made perfect in Him. In other words, we are living in Him and Him in us.  He’s at work in the willing heart with his tool box of perfecting tools.  

  Prov. “The path of the just is as a sining light that shines more and more unto that perfect day.”  The key words here are “more and more.”  This lets us know that perfection requires a process.

  2Tim. 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  Feasting on God’s Word will move us forward in the maturing process. 

  Mat. 19:21 “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.”  Jesus knew exactly what this man needed to sacrifice in order to move forward in his walk.  What will it cost you and me? 

  Heb. 6:1 “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment.”

  Heb. 7:11 “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Mechisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?”  Clearly, perfection cannot be attained by human effort in keeping all of the rules of God.  Perfect is possible through the new priesthood of Jesus Christ.

  Duet. 18:13 “Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.” Cool promise!

  Col. 1:27 “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in, the hope of glory.”  Glory is God’s character.  This is our hope in transformation into Christian maturity.

  Jer. 18:1-2 “This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord; Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.”  While God people were in captivity, expelled from the Promised Land, God tells Jeremiah to see the potter working with a marred pot on the potter’s wheel.  The potter fixes the pot and God asks, “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel” (Jer. 18:6).  

When we mess up, when we don’t maintain our pliability as clay on Our Potter’s wheel, our lives are marred.  We’re messed up; life gets ugly.  God is a faithful Potter and He will complete the work as we respond with repentance.

STUDENT ENGAGEMENT                                    


1.  Research a topic that centers on Christian maturity.  Your topic will focus on the painful aspects (trials) of maturing or on the pleasant aspects of maturing.  
2.  Write a 5-page paper on your topic. You’ll have at least 5 resources. 
3.  Present your project to the class, teaching from personal research and experience.
4.  Work with clay to reinforce the spiritual truth according to Jeremiah 18: We will “go down to the potter's house, and there God will cause us to hear His words” (paraphrased). 

These four experiences foster the in-workings and out-workings of personal Christian growth.  You and I are the Lord’s “handiwork,” His living works of art on a journey to completion, maturity, and His personal standard of perfection for our lives.  We are living through these growth processes just as we pass through infancy, childhood and adolescence to become adults.  Personal engagement is the key that opens the way to personal growth.  Be that person! 

“For we are God’s handiwork, (being) created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).  “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (Jn. 1:2). 


     HEAD                        HEART                        HANDS            

1.  Studying the Truth    Get the Truth              Research the Truth
2.  Handling Truth          Become the Truth       Package the Truth
3.  Practice the Truth     Radiate the Truth        Share the Truth 

The finest education engages our minds, our hearts and our bodies.  We learn best on these three levels, especially when we experience the subject matter, Christian growth.  This is reality education.  Jesus always involved His students in activities, real-world involvements wherein they had to act upon the stuff they were taught.  Educational baptism is a great image of being immersed in our subject and emerging drenched in it.  

Inasmuch as truth (believed in and acted upon) sets us free, our engagement entails personal studies of truths that inspire us and nurture spiritual growth in ourselves and others.  Student projects on the topics of Christian Formation involve research, a short paper, and a class presentation.  Our goal is to avoid the typical educational “brain-dump” of facts, in favor of God’s heart-search of Truth. 

Dr. Cilluffo will engage everyone in followup pottery workshops where we can handle the principles of truth.  God is the Potter and we are His clay.  We see this picturesque theme from throughout the Word.  We will handle the truth with these hands-on experiences.  It enlivens truth about spiritual growth.  “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life ...that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1Jn. 1:1,3).



JOURNEY     SCRIPTURE           CLAY                            
ISRAEL         SCRIPTURE           US                           
Egypt             World                      Clay Conditions - Heart Conditions
Deliverer        Moses                    Jesus Delivers from the muddy/ Sn
Victory           Resurrection           New Formation as a Vessel Life
Provider        Jehovah Jirah         The Master’s Hands
Law               OT & NT                 Surrender & Empowerment
Wandering    God’s Plan              Human Choices
Jordan          Walking                   Momentum in His Will on His Wheel
Jericho          Spiritual Warfare    Victory Over External Enemies    
Ai                  Purging                   Revealing of Internal Enemies