The marks on the door-facing leading into the back yard tell of the growth of the children over the years.

The clothing in back of the closet the kids can no longer wear speak of the growth of your young'uns.

The escalating cost of schoolbooks as the kids move into high school and then into college bear eloquent testimony to the maturation of the offspring.

They're growing up.

But how can you tell when spiritual growth is taking place? Where are the markers? How are we to know if one's development as a disciple of Jesus Christ has plateau'ed or is even regressing?

To my knowledge, there is no answer book for this question. There are only indicators.

Here is my list of ten signs--indicators, markers--that we are growing in Christ, that we are getting it right.

10. A Changing Appetite.

My taste for spiritual things is changing. I find myself loving to study the Word of the Lord and looking forward to it. Far from it being a chore, it's literally fun.

Job said, I have esteemed the words of Thy mouth more than my necessary food (Job 23:12).

At the same time this is happening, my thirst for a trashy novel, an entertainment magazine, a sexy movie or a television celebrity expose' is drying up. My appetite for spiritual junk food is diminishing. And that's a good thing!

Radiation for cancer in the early months of 2005 changed my life forever. Since the cancer was under my tongue, the radiation was directed toward key spots in my head and neck. Although the oncological team did everything they could to program the computer to save saliva glands and taste buds, some were zapped and are gone forever. My doctor said, "Food will never taste as good to you again as it used to." He was right. But that is a small price to pay to go on living and loving and ministering. Some foods--especially dry stuff like chips and fries and breads--have almost no taste. On the other hand, my taste for ice cream and sweets came back with a passion! There's probably a spiritual lesson in here somewhere.

9. A Disgust for the Shameful.

The more we become like Christ--and that is God's plan for every believer--the more we will find ourselves turning away in disgust at activities that used to fascinate us.

Paul spoke of certain activities as "shameful even to speak of" (Ephesians 5:12).

On another occasion, Paul spoke of the enemies of the cross of Christ: "Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame." They "set their minds on earthly things," he said (Philippians 3:19).

No dirty jokes for me, thank you. No porn movies or books or magazines. Not even the (ahem) mildly racy stuff.

We just don't need it anymore. We have better things to do and read.

8. A Love for Believers.

There is something almost uncanny about this: the closer we are to Christ, the more we will love His people. Likewise, the further we stray from Him, the less use we have for them and the more critical we become of them.

It is an ironclad principle, one that never fails: love Christ, love His people. Love the world, despise His people.

Remember that the next time you hear some backslidden church member running down church members. By this shall all men know you are my disciples, that you love one another (John 13:35).

So, you find yourself treasuring those believers at church who are genuinely giving their best to the Lord, even though it's small potatoes to the world. Congratulations. You are becoming like Jesus.

7. An Unusual Peace and Quietness.

The latest upheavals in the economy and in the political realm do not unnerve you the way they used to. You are far steadier than previously. You still care about the country, you work at being a good citizen, and you pray for your leaders. But you know that fixing your hope on them is a sure recipe for disappointment.