It is amazing what is being preached and proclaimed from the pulpit these days in North America – at least the ones I am aware of or in touch with on a regular basis. It is not greatly different in other nations where I either work (Ukraine) or have contacts. Afterall, they are all trying to be so much like their North American brothers and sisters in the Lord. They look at our prosperity, our buildings, our technology and the many other blessings that we enjoy and desire to see the same situation arise in their nations. However, often they absorb a great deal of the cultural side to the Christian message and lose the pure gospel – not to mention the joy of finding their own cultural expression of the good news of Jesus Christ. Read more
“(The Church is) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20
The word “build” means to construct, to assemble, to join together, to mold, to form, to create, and to erect … by following a master design or a blueprint. And, it is good to recognize that the most important part of that building process is the foundation. As I am fond of saying: “You can’t build a skyscraper on a chicken coop foundation.” Read more
Maybe it is my age but I am concerned that the world end up being a better place for others due to the fact that I have been on the planet for a certain number of years. I don’t want to be known as a consumer – I want to be a contributor. I don’t want to live my life and then die having not made some contribution to the planet and those who live on it.
Some of this, I am sure, is the switch that happens for men when they reach their late forties or early fifties. No, not a mid-life crisis. I decided many years ago that I was too busy to have a mid-life crisis. Instead, I think I caused others a great deal of suffering as I went through a mid-life shuffle. I shuffled some values and changed some priorities, shuffled some activities and stopped doing a great number of things so I could focus on doing a select few things well. I even dropped some relationships with people who were turning out to be VDPs (Very Draining People) and picked up a select few new relationships with people wo appreciated me and added value to my life.
We need to make sure that the world has been a better place for us having been here. That we have contributed and added value to the planet. I’m not talking carbon footprints here. I’m talking about helping others, adding value to others and in their particular circumstances, blessing others because God has blessed you, using who you are to help others be better.
The most common approach – for believers and non-believers – is to look for a need and meet it. A long-time mentor of mine use to tell me that. “You can never go wrong if you find a need and meet it.” Sounds good. But, I’m not sure I believe it any more.
I’m not sure where I read it but I wrote this quote down a few months back…
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thruman
Now, that makes sense. God has created me a certain way. He has wired me with certain talents and abilities; likes and dislikes. He has graced me with certain natural, spiritual, and supernatural gifts. So, I need to find out what makes me tick and pushes my buttons – ‘floats my boat’ as a friend of mine says – and then focus on that.
When I am functioning in my “come alive zone” then I can touch other people’s lives for good. When I am functioning in my strengths and focused on what I like to do and can do well – it is beneficial to be around me as I add something to others when I am in that personal “come alive zone”. When I am using my gifts and talents – expressing the real me – then I don’t take from those around me but add to the life that is around me.
There are too many people who take from and suck life out of others. Christians need to sit down in a quiet place and find out who they are and how God has wired them. Then they need to make a quality decision to focus on these strengths – these hot buttons – and use them to benefit others. Life is more than making a living and paying the bills or accumulating a fortune to prove you can be successful … It was meant to be lived in a signifigant way so that others will be glad that you passed by their way and inhabited the planet for a short period of time. This is more than writing checks and giving money to worthy causes – it is personal, hands-on involvement in the lives of other people wherever the Lord may take you.
I like what George Eliot said:
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
Christianity has become a religion of activity, commotion and constant activity. Just read the lawn signs of those assemblies that have buildings and it is one event after another, one program after another, one guest speaker after another… I get tired just reading the signs.
In some of my better moments I wonder what is really under the kilt? What kind of life exists under all that activity – involvements, contacts, fellowshipping, attendance at specials, worship services and committees and …?
What is under the kilt?
Many years ago when my local church was still fairly young we were running events and activities seven days a week almost year-round. We were an active, growing, and dynamic young congregation with our first building and enjoying a moderate measure of success. However, I felt the whole thing was missing substance and that we were all too busy – me included.
Now, that may be because I love my time alone (with God and with just me). I am an introvert – extreme. I think a good time is being by myself and being reflective. My favourite words are silence, stillness, solitude and Spirit. But, I really felt this time it was a leading of the Lord and that He was telling us that something was wrong. He was asking me to look under the kilt!
So, for a number of months I spoke with people about this issue – and talked from the pulpit about it. I observed people, their activities, their behaviour, their involvements. Then one day I announced that, for a season, we were going to slow events down – have fewer services, fewer meetings, fewer Bible studies, fewer socials, simply fewer events… And about 1/4 of my people left the Church and joined other churches who were not doing “such a stupid thing”. Worse – 1/2 my leadership left as well.
This was not because we did something abruptly – we didn’t. This was an 18 month process. This was not because we stop pastoring people – we were still there and still available. We simply told people that for a “season” we were slowing things down so they could spend more time with their spouse and their family.
Ah! Here was the problem. People did not want to have to spend time with their husband or wife – let alone their kids. Things were not good in the marriage and in the family. Never had been in reality. And here I was telling them that I had looked under the kilt and didn’t like what I saw. It was time to fix some basic foundations so that we could then move forward in strength and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It was time for them to look under the kilt (of constant motion and Christian activity).
Those who stayed with us benefited greatly from this time to focus on what was under the kilt -under all the surface activities of church, life, and family. Those that left – most 20+ years later are divorced and not attending any Church regularly.
Well the season of slowing down to allow a look under the kilt has not been as short as we thought. We are now a quarter century into the slowdown – that’s right – 25 years. And it has been great, is great and, I know, will continue to be great.
We are not a large church. We are not a well known church. We are not a church that uses hype to move services along or emotion to make people feel the presence of God was really there in the service today. We worhip and express our hearts; we listen and feed our spirits from the Word of God; we drink coffee and fellowship with one another … But it is real and alive – and families have time to be families and people have time to be people.
St. Athanasius once said (a great Church Father in the early Church) “He became what we are that He might make us what He is.”
For us to take on the very nature and character of Jesus we need quality time with Him and a quantity of time daily. Major activities all the time at the local Church does not allow this. It requires silence, stillness, solitude and the Holy Spirit helping us to look at our own hearts to allow us to become like Jesus. We need time to look under the kilt!
Oswald Chambers is quoted as saying: “It is the unseen and the spiritual in people that determines the outward and the actual.”
In my words – what’s under the kilt? For what is on the inside (under the surface) determines the true value of a life and the true quality of the life lived on the surface where the rubber meets the road.
I don’t like the “outward and the actual” that I see in most Christians and most Churches. It is time to sneak a peek under the kilt. Afterall, the Christian faith is not a religion – it is a relationship (John 17:3) with God and, as a result of that healthy relationship, solid relationships with others in our world.
I read a great number of Christian biographies – ones of men and women from by-gone centuries – D.L. Moody, Charles Finney, Smith Wigglesworth, Norman Grubb…
I read a lot of Christian biographies of believers who are of our generation – Kirk Cameron, Johnny Cash, Jim Bakker, Charles Colson…
I also admit to reading a lot of biographies of people who are not or may not be believers – Sidney Poitier, Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton, Michael J. Fox, Eric Hansen (went through the Borneo rain forest on foot), Aron Ralston (cut his own arm off as it kept him stuck between two rocks after a climbing accident) …
I may as well confess up – I am a book-a-holic.
Just read “The Secret River” by Kate Grenville (about the British convicts that settled Australia and their fight against the elements and the original inhabitants of the country) and am currently reading “The Book of Negroes” by Lawrence Hill (a Canadian) about a young girl in the 1800’s taken as a slave to the new world and her jouney from North Carolina to New Brunswick and then back to her homeland and on to England to help remove the slave trade from the British Empire.
Yes, I read Christian books as well. Texts, Bible commentaries and some of the current books on the market – but only some, as a lot of Christian non-fiction books are simply fluff and fill with little substance and little correct biblical teaching. Books being written for the sake of books being written and to help grease the machine called “my ministry”.
As believers we need to read widely – and work intentionally to stay out of the Christian book ghetto. Too often we immerse ourselves in Christian books – texts, Bible study books, commentaries, and even Christian novels. It would be good, once in a while, to read what the world you are trying to reach is reading. It helps you to stay in touch with the “real world” as much as we, at times, wish we didn’t have to. It helps us to know what people are thinking, what the trends are, where society is going, what the next movies will be about (as many films were once books first – like “The Kite Runner” on life in Afganistan – a great read).
It is not hard to read a book or two (or three or four) a week. Set out the book you want to read the following week on Saturday. Sit down and see how long the book is and find out if it has any natural breaks. Then, divide the book into 7 parts (as equal as possible) based either on the natural divisions or the number of chapters. Then, starting on Sunday (the first day of the week) read 1/7 of the book. By the next Saturday you will have read a book.
Now, it’s a little more complicated than that. You will have to set this task as one of your top priorities and make time to read. It might mean turning off the television more often. It might mean saying no to being with others as frequently – and avoiding those coffee shop conversations that often are long on talk and short on substance and somewhat repetitive.
Always carry the book with you (or another one) as you will find you have a few minutes “to kill” while waiting for someone or stuck in traffic. Why waste or ‘kill’ time when you can invest it and become much wiser as a result. The bathroom will gain you 5 minutes … the BBQ, if you put the controls to minimum, will gain you 20 minutes as you cook the meat for supper … take it as you walk the dog and stop half-way (especially if you walk a few miles each time you walk the dog as I do) and read a chapter while you sit under a tree and enjoy summer … Be creative and it won’t be long before you are reading several books a week! More if you are not a fairly slow reader as I am.
While reading – watch for things you are learning and mark the book up. Some of the things I mark (and go back to computerize) include:
1> Something that spoke to me personally (journalling)
2> A new word I did not know (personal dictionary)
3> A reference to a book I, of course, then need to buy (Chapters or Amazon Wishbook)
4> A good illustration for a sermon or teaching -Okay, I’m a preacher – give me a break! (story file)
5> Something I can share with others (you know, at the next dull party or social I attend)
6> A quote that you found hit home
A quote I discovered the other day …
“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that he didn’t trust me so much.” Mother Teresa
I wrote that one in the back of my Bible under – “things to think on when overwhelmed!”
It is not one of those “lazy, hazy days of summer.” It is a wet, stormy, power-interrupted and computer goes off constantly days! Relax – it is one of those “I don’t have any control over” issues of life. So, just go with the flow. Ah! Reading by candlelight. Thank God for everything – God, I am thankful that highlighters don’t need to be plugged in to work.
Maybe it is just that I am getting older but there is really little that gets to me anymore. There is little that I get upset about. Let’s see if I can list what really concerns me these days…
1> Believers who still fool around with sin as if it were nothing and so indirectly call Jesus a fool for dying on the Cross for the sins of the world – including their sin.
2> Believers who live their lives by the thoughts of others (peers, Oprah, Dr. Phil) or simply by what they think God wants or might say … ignoring the Word of God as contained in His book – the Bible.
3> Believers who pick and choose what they want to believe from God’s Word while ignoring the things they don’t agree with or don’t want to be bothered with.
4> Believers who, at least by their action or rather lack of action, apparently have little concern for or compassion towards the lost – either that or they don’t believe people are lost and going
to Hell because of their sin.
5> Believers who think that Jesus is one of a number of options and thus the Christian faith is simply one of many roads that leads to Heaven
6> Believers who do not make attending Sunday worship a priority and so come if they feel like it or there is nothing else to do – no family events are scheduled, no sports events occupying that time slot, or no visitors coming over for a social time.
Yes, there are a few other things about believers that concern me. But, I am running out of space and the rest I can’t express as ‘nicely’. And, I recognize that you could probably add one or two to my list as well.
These things concern me because they all affect more than the individual believer – they affect their children because they will follow their parent’s example. They affect the Church because we are missing a limb when a member of the body stays home. These things affect the spiritual health of the believer and that concerns me as well.
However, I do recognize that there is nothing I can do about any of them. These are choices believers make and thus they must live with the consequences or outcome of these choices – some of which can be quite dire! But, because I am a believer and care I am certainly concerned.
Second instalment regarding the junk food being fed Christians today from the pulpit – in the local Church and on your local television screen and DVD programming…
Many preachers and teachers today are using their authority is a controlling and manipulative way. Apostles, prophets and pastors have declared that they have absolute authority. Iverna Tompkins, in a recent article in Charisma, takes a poke at this saying: “Because I am your leader, you are to respect and obey me without question no matter how I live or what I do.” She was speaking against it, by the way.
The Bible says…
Hebrews 13:7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
Philippians 3:17-19 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.
There are a number of Church structures in North America today where there is what I would call “a serious control issue”. The leadership demands exteme loyality. To question the decisions or comments of anyone in leadership is rebellion and dealt with harshly. Those who want to think through their faith and ask serious questions find it uncomfortable as they are discouarged from doing so and going there. They are taught that “as the leader goes – so go you” without comment or question. And, the key leader is often surrounded by “yes men” and hard to reach if you are not one of the inner circle.
There is, in some cases, a real spirit (demonic force) behind this control feature that often manipulates people. In other cases it is simply a wounded leader protecting themselves from further hurt and ministering out of their hurt. And, I have actually seen it where it is simply a learned leadership style. But no matter what the root – it is simply wrong and is a set up for many to be deeply hurt by the “Church”.
So, why do people attend these churches? Why are people attracted to these churches? I have asked myself that many times.
I think it is because it seems safe. You are told what to believe and why you should believe it. You are given a set of rules – what you can do and what you can’t do – which gives you set guidelines to live by. If you live by them then you know you are in good standing with God and with the local church leaders. You are told how to dress, what to wear, where you can go and not go, how long your hair can be, rules for tattoos and piercings (and jewerly) … and on and on. Some people, it seems, simply need all these structures to feel “safe”.
Don’t kid yourself -these kind of churches grow very large and become very powerful. Apparently people really need these types of boundaries and regulations to feel right and content in their faith.
I personally flee such churches and networks. I have seen them come and go in this city (one of the benefits of having been here for 30 years). I have seen them start, grow, shrink and die. I have seen them wound countless people, some of whom have never recovered. I am currently involved in one Church that was like this and has since, under new senior leadership, been moving towards a much more balanced and free approach to spiritual headship and leadership. It has such potential and such health now vibrating through it people and its services.
I believe Christians (sheep) need a shepherd (pastor) who can lovingly guide and direct them. The leader or leaders need to speak truth and preach the Bible expressing God’s guidelines and principles for life. I believe in strong Bible preaching and teaching – setting forth the Word of the Lord. But, the sheep must then decide for themselves what they will do with what the Word says. They can eat or not.
I believe that Christians need to be taught to think for themselves and that they need to wrestle with biblical truths and how they apply to everyday life. Not live by someone else’s set of rules (usually mostly man’s rules).
I believe you cannot spoon feed them forever (control what they eat, when and how) so it is best to teach them how to discern the truth and receive revelation from their Bible and how to build a life on the rock…because otherwise they are building their life on the sand – the word of the leader and this always leads to disaster.
I believe we are to trust our leaders after they have proven themselves. They prove themselves by being in solid, committed relationships over a length of time. Open and honest relationships – not just some “advisory council” set up either of “yes men” or those whose names help you to have greater recognition but who seldom have any quality time with the leader and really don’t know what is happening in that leader’s life.
I believe we are to honor leaders as scripture states we should. But, this does not mean to blindly follow and obey everything they say and agree with everything they teach and do.
There is a lot of junk out there on the leadership level of the life the Church. Careful people – junk food can be and is dangerous to your long-term spiritual health.
Everywhere we turn there is news about food. We have a tomato scare in the U.S.A. (now apparently Mexican peppers are the real culprit). We have concerns about the number of children who are not just overweight but who are obese. We can sign up to have meals come to our door and lose weight like Marie Osmond has – paying a company to control the size of the meal (portion) because you won’t. Now the government of Canada is requiring that Canadian manufacturers list all the ingredients in each product so we can know which ones are really safe for diabetics and celiac patients, for example. This is something the United States government did two years ago.
Of course, one of the main issues in all eating-related stories on the news or the television ads for food products is the junk food we have grown to really like. Food that tastes good but that really has questionable nutritional value. Food loaded with fats, salt, and articifical flavors among other unhealthy ingredients and additives.
But, how many of us are concerned about our spiritual diets and the spiritual food we are feeding our spirit on a regular basis? The material we read, the preachers we watch, the conferences we attend, the CDs we listen to. How many Christians are able to discern between the meat and the mixture? The holy and the profane? That which is biblically correct and that which simply sounds biblical, maybe?
Iverna Tomkins makes an interesting observation: “Many people are so used to mixture that they have lost a taste for what is pure. Lavish displays and methods of presentation have come to be more important than what is being served, and the servers more important than what they serve. Those sitting down at the spiritual “table” reason: If it looks good and multitudes are eating it, then it must be OK.”
Junk food: Because God so loved the world and God is love we must accept all religions in the name of love without insisting their followers repent of sin and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. All religions are good and their teachings right and you can chose which one you believe (or chose items from a number of them) as they all bring you to the same place.
Meat: John 3:17-18 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
This issue is of major concern in the Church today. You would think it is only an issue in the world where other religions are finding acceptance. However, this is not the case. It appears that born again Christians either do not know what the Christian faith teaches or no longer believe that the Christian faith is correct.
The Christian faith is both inclusive and exclusive. It is inclusive because “God wills that all men be saved.” (1 Timothy 2:4) So, the message of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is inclusive.
However, the message also declares that there is “no other Name under Heaven whereby a person can be saved.” (Acts 4:12; Romans 10:13). So, we believe that there is only one way into Heaven and His name is Jesus. This means we are being exclusive – we don’t believe that all roads (all religions) lead to Heaven … we believe there is only One Way, One Door, One Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5)
This does not fly well in some nations like my own nation of Canada. We have based our Canadian culture on tolerance and acceptance so we are a mosaic. Unlike our U.S. neighbours where you can be Hispanic American, or Native American or Irish American …. In Canada you are simply of Italian heritage, English heritage, or Scotish decent. We don’t seem to have a Canadian identity and so we simpy accept all cultures as part of the cultural expression but do not attempt to make you “a Canadian” as well. The Americans have fashioned ther nation as a ‘melting pot’ and we have a ‘mosiac’ – a culture that is an expression of many cultures and apparently we are without a single Canadian culture or identity.
This means we are suppose to be very tolerant as a nation. Very accepting. And we are in most cases. We accept people and their cultural and religious expressions … unless you are a born again Christian who believes the Bible. Then, you are fair game to be discriminated against.
A marriage commissioner here in my city has been fighting for several years in the court systems for the right to not officiate at same-sex marriages because of his born again religious convictions – and has lost at every turn. We have a court structure and a Human Rights Commission that seems to defend everyone’s rights except those of the born again believer. In my nation – to preach the Bible and state that homosexuality is a sin and not natural in God’s eyes could bring you before the Human Rights Commision on hate literature charges.
My point – our society today does not encourage the belief that there is only one way to be forgiven and to be right with God. It no longer has the structure that supports the concept that one group is right and so everyone else must be wrong. No, we are an accepting and tolerant society where we accept everything and judge nothing (well almost).
Thus, many Christians have bought into this mosiac approach when it comes to their faith. We simply welcome and accept all faiths into this nation – which is good. However, it goes further than that – we also accept that their beliefs are correct and so simply add them to the already existing mix of religious beliefs declaring that they all speak and teach truth and are all valid expressions of faith. And, there is some truth, I suspect, in all religious structures and doctrines and they are a valid expression of the faith of the adherants of that particular religious belief. But, it does not mean they are right in their understanding of reconciliation and forgiveness, for example.
So, as society goes so goes the Church. Many preachers are no longer declaring that Jesus Christ is the only Way, the Truth, and the Life. Many Christian churches no longer believe that there is a Hell to avoid and a Heaven to gain. Many no longer believe in a literal Devil. Some preach that Jesus was a good man and a moral teacher but not God incarnate. There was no virgin birth. Therefore He is not the Saviour – which again is okay because Adam and Eve were not real people and with no real Devil to tempt them there is no original sin or actual sin – because God does not hold people to harsh standards such as the ten Commandments and He accepts and loves everyone and ….
Thus, we eat spiritual junk food as it is presented by many churches and ordained clergy today. We think everything is okay because there are obviously many ways to Heaven. Afterall, we have accepted these other religions and there is no way that many people can be wrong. So, we believe what we want to and throw out what we don’t like or don’t believe and deceive ourselves into believing that everything is all right with aGod – if there really is a God.
Spiritual junk food is dangerous to your spiritual health, folks!
More on this tomorrow…
Ever had someone be critical of something you have said or done? Are you breathing? Of course you have. Every person alive has had a criticism of one sort or another TODAY!
So, what do you do when someone criticizes you? Well most of us first determine if the criticism was justified – and, if it was, we accept it even if we don’t like it. Well, that was a lie. If we think it was not justified then we dismiss it and sometimes the person who spoke it is written off as well. Ah, closer to the truth! Sometimes we get defensive and lash out with a criticism or two of our own – even if not true and not warranted. We do it to switch the focus off of us and on to them. It usually works – I know because I do it. Now we have it – the truth of the matter.
Many years ago Jamie Buckingham (a wonderful Spirit-filled believer and leader wrote a book on how to handle criticism. He spoke a truth into my life I have never forgotten. He said that in every criticism there is some percentage of truth. And, if we would just take the time to examine the criticism, and not just write it off, we would have much to gain – including someone who could have been an enemy and who turns out to be a true friend.
Recently this was brought back to mind as I was reading a book on … I don’t remember – honest, I just don’t remember (it may be half-timers as I am half way to 120 years old). The author made a similar point 3 decades after I first learned this truth. He said …
“I favour the chewing-gum approach to criticism: chew it and spit it out – don’t swallow it. Take advantage of the criticism by chewing on it, absorbing the 10 percent or so that’s valid, learning from it, and then spitting out the other 90 percent. Don’t swallow it whole, but allow the flavour of criticism to help you grow.”
Now, that is great advice. Advice that Christians and non-Christians and anyone in a relationship of any kind (all of us) needs to listen to. Simply chew over what has been said – take the truth (flavour) and enjoy it and simply spit the rest out.
Want to apply it to today’s criticism? Let me know if it helped!
“How does one become a beautiful butterfly?… You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” Trina Paulus
How does one become a beautiful Christian who enables others to see Jesus? You must want to be so different and want it so much that you are willing to give up the unregenerated lifestyle, habits, and thought patterns and do whatever it takes to be radically obedient to God’s Word. You must want to fly – you must want to walk with God and walk as God would walk instead of crawling through the gutters of life like you use to and as many still do.
It appears that many people say a sinner’s prayer and then think everything is okay with ‘the man upstairs’ and they have a free “get out of jail card” and a one-way ticket to Heaven because they have purchased fire insurance. Nothing changes and they are not being transformed. They can’t fly!
Others truly are converted as they come to Jesus with godly sorrow and repentance knowing they were Hell-bound and only Jesus’ death and resurrection and the shedding of His blood allowed them to experience the forgiveness of their sins. Only because of Jesus do they experience new life now and eternal life forever. But, they leave it right there and never go any further. It is as if they think all the rest will just happen and they don’t need to do anything. They don’t fly!
If you want to move on in your spiritual life and enter maturity then you will need to be proactive. If you want to be transformed so you can fly – you will need to apply yourself – it will take work on your part. Paul clearly tells the believers that there are things we have to do – and that we should not be waiting for God to do them for us.
Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Colossians 3:8-10 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
When we are saved or born again we become “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17) changing our heart from “a heart of stone to a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19). Then, we should begin to see steady transformation as we grow and mature “from the inside out”. Our new nature arising out of being a ‘new creature’ will steadily bring change to the true believer. He will find himself dealing with issues – anger, unforgiveness, malice, lying, slander, foul language … and the list could go on and on. Then you will realize “I can fly!”
The point is that change is inevitable as soon as you become born again. And, it is you that has to do the changing (with the help of the Holy Spirit). If you simply sit there thinking that if God wants to change something He will – it will seldom happen. You won’t fly!
So, Colossians 3 said that we are “renewed in knowledge” which means the more we get to know God and His Word the more we will see what needs to be changed, adjusted, removed, tweaked, or strengthened (“renewed”). God will reveal things to us and enable and empower us with the Holy Spirit to make the changes – but we do the changing.
Recently I have noticed how many “believers” still have the habits and behaviour pattern of those without Christ. In fact, I have become very aware of believers referencing other believers – “Oh, I’d be careful, she has quite a temper” and “You can’t believe everything they tell you” being just two of a number of comments heard recently with reference to born again believers. I’m not flying!
If we are truly walking with the Prince of Peace and have experienced a life-changing encounter with the Living God – we should, over the years, be taking on His likeness, a family resemblance. These comments should never be said about people who have been born again for years.
No excuses, no rationalizations, no explaining away the behaviour. Born again believers should take on the nature of Jesus Christ. As we allow this spiritual enounter of meeting God and being forgiven to take root; as we let this implanted new nature begin to take over our soul (mind, will, emotions); as we listen to the Holy Spirit and deal with the things He shows us need to be changed – then we will be growing into the likeness of Jesus Christ and others will notice the difference Jesus is making in our lives. “He can fly!”
Here’s the rub – you have to willingly give up and hand ‘you’ over! Give up your ownership of you and let Jesus be the new owner (Lord). You are not under new management – you are under new ownership. The new owner wants to do major renovations – so, you need to let Him have at it. Renovations can be messy – this one will be, believe me. But, you will go from being an earth-bound caterpillar to a heavenly butterfly in the process.
So, Give Him permission to change anything and everything that needs adjusting or removing. Then, you must work with Him in these renovations – afterall, it is your “home” He is renovating … and embrace the changes – letting go of what is being removed and taking hold of anything that is being added.
Otherwise, unless you recognize the new owner and cooperate with the changes He is making in you – you will never learn to fly. You will always remain a caterpillar.
There is nothing more wonderful to see a new convert to the Christian faith let go and let God and then watch the transformation that takes place. Well, actually there is one thing more exciting than that – it is when the new believer comes to the realization that “I can fly!”