Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Transformation Series Post #2

Perspective Matters! My dad used to love to go to yard sales. He consistently said, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." I know that quote isn't original from him, but it seemed like his yard sale "philosophy". He constantly reminded me that you'd never find anything if you didn't look for it. When we'd be out looking through yards and garages, dad would pick up a lot of things, most of which I thought was junk. However, dad would occasionally see something and he'd buy it and take it home. I remember one occasion when he spent time digging through boxes of records. (I'll gladly go on record as acknowledging I know nothing about records, except what they look like and that there's more than one kind.) However, he picked up a couple and decided they had to go home with him. I'm sure this story would be a lot better if I could remember exactly what they were, but I don't remember. Use your imagination and pretend like they were the one's you're still looking for!

What if we viewed our lives in the same way Dad viewed those records. I saw them as only junk: outdated, useless, impractical, uncool, pointless, and a waste of time. Not Dad, he saw them as enjoyable, usable, worth sharing with others and worth spending the time and money on. Sure, they might need to be cleaned and they might skip sometimes, but all in all they were a treasure. Do you only see the problems, frustrations, negatives and want to give up? Or do you see your life as a treasure that God's given you? Sure it'll require some work and some time, but God's doing something big in your life!

Can you see and believe that God is at work? Do you have hope knowing that God is working to change you for his glory? Dad was willing to spend the time on the record because he knew the sound it could make. God's working in your life because he knows, by the Spirit's power, you can and ultimately will glorify Him. He's at work! Have hope!

Here's a couple of additional questions (not in your Life Group questions already) that you can ask yourself. These are taken from the "How People Change" study guide. Read Philippians 1 before answering these questions.

Based on Philippians 1:3-11, what do you think God wants you to see?
As you consider your own life in light of Philippians 1, how is this moment a step toward the destination God has in mind for you?

I'm praying for you as you meet with your Life Group this week!

Transformation Series Post #1

Welcome to the Transformation Series. I'm praying for you as we journey together through the process of Gospel-Centered life change. If you were at the Mid-Week Gathering then you've started the How People Change Study. These posts will supplement those studies and our Life Group Curriculum. I want to give you every tool possible to help you as we go along. These blogs posts will mostly be modified portions of the study guide that goes along with "How People Change." My hope is that these posts will help you as you think through the Life Group questions and begin making application to your life and others. Let's get started with the first thing I want to cover.

Tim Lane and Paul David Tripp write, "Human beings are 'meaning makers.' We are constantly searching for answers and seeking meaning and purpose for the events and activities in our lives." Isn't this true for all of us? It seems like the first questions I ask myself when I don't know what's going on or if something doesn't go the way I planned is "Why did this happen? What's the purpose behind it?" I want to know "why" as quickly as possible. If I can find an answer to the "why" then often I can figure out how to handle the situation. Lane and Tripp say, "The answers we give ourselves--the meanings we give to our thoughts and actions--are what keep us on a certain path or move us in a radically different direction."

If we don't think it has meaning, value or significance, we're quick to discard it from our lives. Many people do this with being involved in community, being a part of a local church. They think that if the pastor's not talking about an interesting enough topic or the music isn't catchy enough, then the church has no significance.   The problem for most of us is that we often look for the wrong purpose in things. If we're honest, we find ourselves being selfish. We're often trying to fix other people and situations instead of seeing that God may be using these things to change our lives.

When we're crying out for an answer about an injustice or a misunderstanding, we're declaring the need for change. We all know things aren't the way they're supposed to be and we all know something should be done differently, yet we don't usually know what to do differently. Here's where we often find ourselves in trouble. We don't recognize that God is using the very things were so frustrated about. God is using the things we want changed in an effort to bring out change in us.

Lane and Tripp correctly acknowledge "it doesn't come naturally to us to connect the ways we think, feel, and act in the midst of struggle with our ultimate destination of life in heaven with Christ. It is a work of the Spirit in our lives." On this journey together, it is my prayer that we would begin to connect that and know that transformation can and will happen in the midst of these life situations. God's grace is able and sufficient to bring about change in your life.

Together, we can pray for and encourage each other along the way. As we move through the next several weeks, prayerfully, we'll see how God is at work in our lives and we will love and trust Him more.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Real Disciples

On Sunday I spoke about the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and talked about God's plan for our church in the coming year. If you weren't there, you can take a listen here. We're the people of God on the mission of God! We're confident in the truth that Jesus has all authority! We're commanded to share the good news, making and teaching disciples, wherever it is that we're going! We're comforted to rest in the promise that our God is with us every step of the journey! Churches are talking a lot about sharing the gospel and making disciples, yet it seems as if many are wondering, how is this supposed to happen?

Thinking about making disciples leaves me pondering one thought: life change. No one can come to faith in Christ without experiencing a changed life. No one can become a follower of Christ, a learner, or disciple, without their life being changed by God. The gospel is not about attracting a crowd. Making disciples is not about getting people to attend classes. Both are grounded in life change. This is what I believe God's desire is for us to focus on this year. Since we launched in 2010, I have consistently encouraged those who attend to love people and build strong relationships for the purpose of sharing the gospel. I know and you know that if we don't have relationships with others we'll never have an avenue to share the life-changing message of Jesus Christ! I want to see God do amazing things through our church (as individuals and as a whole).

I know God desires for those who attend Encounter Life to continue to grow as disciples! As we grow in Christlikeness and have greater love and trust in the Lord, we'll desire His Kingdom, both in the here and now and the then and there. That's why the year of teaching is laid out the way it is. We want to spend most of the first part of the year talking about personal gospel-centered life change and the second half of the year we want to talk about how God desires to use his children as tools to reach and help others. I believe it's going to be a great year and God has great plans to work in our lives. I'm praying many will join us on this journey. If you're not a regular at Encounter Life, I want to invite you to worship with us at 9:30 a.m. each Sunday Morning. We meet at 1006 Oakdale Street in Manchester, TN. It's right next to Westwood Elementary School in the old Westwood Baptist Building.

The new series "Transformation" will kick off January 27. I plan to write another post explaining each part of the study and share with you other exciting things that will happen around the series. As always, let me know if you have any questions. I'm looking forward to hearing from you!