Monday, November 9, 2009

Change

I filled in for our associate pastor last night teaching the "Equip U" class. I was a hair resistant about the whole thing, but I agreed to fill in. The topic of the class has been "How We Change." The entire class has been an uncomfortable and convicting yet very challenging experience for me as I sat and learned. And this time - as is the case many times when we say "yes" to something that we do not want to do but we know is the right thing to do - I was convicted, moved, and challenged. The central message last night was that we change by placing ourselves in a position to receive God's gifts of grace which help us grow. We don't cause the growth. We just "show up" and receive God's gifts of grace.

Five gifts of Grace in the life of a believer that provide growth and change are:

The Bible - When we interact with the Bible, God directs our hearts, minds and actions toward Jesus Christ. His sacrifice motivates and inspires us to change. We desire to please God through change as a way to say "Thank you".

The disciplines - Dicsiplines include fasting, meditating, prayer and worship. These are all delivery systems where humans gain a Godly perspective.

Other Christians - This is a significant way in which God introduces change into our lives. Others (an outside force) help us in areas where we are weak. There strengths are passed along to us via modeling, instruction, and accountability. (Yes, that means that the person that you may find to be just a little annoying may be God's gift to you to bring growth and change in your life.)

The Holy Spirit - The Spirit of God indwells the believer. As we experience life, we are convicted, taught, and directed by him. When we yield (we call this filling) to His voice, major changes transpire. We no longer medicate our hurts with what makes us feel good but rather are comforted by His presence.

Time - God does not expect us to change overnight. In fact change is a process - a process through which God demonstrates great patience to us. We are weak, sinful and self-centered beings. These characteristics don't just fall off of us at the time of salvation but rather are torn away through grace. We call this sanctification.

So why is this important? I often find my self falling into the same old hole, walking back to the same old vomit (what a picture in Proverbs 26:11), and failing in the same old ways. When I surround myself with the works of grace in my life, I BEGIN to see some real and measureable change. Last night I placed myself in a position to receive God's grace and today I'm seeing slow (ever so slow) change.

So let the work begin!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Facebook Friends

Facebook is a cool thing! I have reconnected with so many friends from the past. The list of people who are my "facebook friends" extends all the way back to elementary school. There are people from junior high, high school, college, seminary, and people I have ministered to and with. The time I have known these people extends to just under 44 years. (My sister Leigh is now on Facebook and I have known her all my life..ha). As of 1:45 today, I officially have 234 of those friends. I THINK that is a badge for some people.

Some "facebook friends" I barely remember and others were as close as a brother or sister at one point in my life. At one time I rubbed shoulders with these people everyday and now I get a peek into their world. It is interesting to read all the posts. You see people in love and out of love, people who are parenting, people with busy schedules, and people with interesting hobbies or games.

If you take a step back and observe for a minute, you can really see parts of what you saw in someone 5, 10, 20, and 40 years ago. It is amazing to see what people are doing with their lives and how it often mirrors their past interests and passions. Seeing the good parenting skills of some and the success and contribution others are making to God's plan motivates me and makes me so proud to be there friend.

One last comment about Facebook... Rarely do we see the pain, toil, and difficulty that people may be going through. I have discovered on more than one occasion recently total devastation in the life of a facebook friend. Divorce, death, disease are always around us. Be sensitive enough to observe and ask the people from your past the real questions. Life's not all about the latest sports score, weather reports, or activities in a person's life. Don't miss the heart and soul behind that status update - that's where life is lived.