Transformed

I was born back in the late 70’s.  Folks like me played with He-Man, Star Wars, GI Joe, and Transformers growing up.  I’ve taught a College Bible Study the past 9 years and one of my favorite illustrations is using an Optimus Prime.  I start off by showing the students a brand new never before opened Optimus Prime from the movie Dark Side of the Moon.  I look at the students and I tell them I’ve played with Transformers my entire life, but I’ve never opened this package how fast do you think I could transform it?  The answer of course is it would take a while, I’ve never done it before I would need to read the directions, sometimes you have to youtube it because the directions are confusing.  The parts on the new ones are different so they connect differently.

The second Optimus Prime I pull out looks like the old 80’s Cartoon Prime but it was made in the 2000’s and is made of plastic.  It is not the same one I’ve grown up with even though it looks like it much more than the Dark Side of the Moon Version.  I again ask them how long it would take for me to transform this one.  Unlike the first one this one is lose (out-side of the box)  but it doesn’t have the directions.  Even though I’ve touched it before I have never transformed it.  I just took it out of the box and set it on my office shelf about 7 years ago.  Again the students say it would take me a while, and I admit I like my chances better with this one but it would still take me about 5 or 6 minutes and I wouldn’t know if I had done it correctly because I don’t have the directions to check it against.

The last Optimus Prime I pull out is my Generation 1 (G1) original version that I had as a kid.  I am very familiar with this one even though I don’t play with it other than this one lesson each year.  I ask the students how long do you think it would take me to transform this G1 prime.  One in which I’ve spent many hours with, spending time with, getting to know everything about.  Most students will say “I think you can do it in about 2 minutes”.  Then I add this caveat.  How long do you think it will take if you blindfold me or I close my eyes?  The typical response is three to five minutes.  I then close my eyes and transform the G1 Transformer of Optimus Prime in 7 seconds flat.

You see, I know that Optimus, I’m familiar with that Optimus, I’ve spent many hours transforming him.  I use this to illustrate my relationship with Jesus Christ.  You see having a super cool new Bible is nice, but useless if not taken out of the box (See Dark Side of the Moon), Having a Bible that looks old but that has never been opened or read is also not useful (See the 2000’s 80’s version).  However, spending so much time in your Bible that you know every twist and turn (See G1 version) can be the very thing that transforms you from the person you are today, to the person God wants you to be.  The wonderful part about the sanctification process is is the more time you spend with God’s Word, the more you don’t have to think about being a Christian you begin to react like a Christian.  This is very much like a well trained athlete that doesn’t have to think they just do because of the many hours of practice.  My prayer for the students that have seen this or the readers that read this post is that you would begin reading God’s word and watch how he Transforms you.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 New International Version (NIV)

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

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Your Grace is Too Much!!!!

Christ Your Grace is Too Much!!!

My life is a mess and yet You Bless.

I gave you nothing but sin, and you made me a Friend.

I wanted to act wild, you adopted me as your Child

I am evil and I lie, and for this you decided to die.

I deserve hell, but Your death made me well.

Lord I don’t deserve you and that is what makes it Grace.

Lord Your Grace is Too Much!

But I’ll cling to the Gospel for it has the power to save me….

I’ll cling to the cross because there is nothing good in me…

I’ll call on Your Son’s name… Jesus because nothing else matters…

And on that day that final day my hope is that my Sheppard will bring me home.

Not because I’m good or faithful but because He is good and faithful…

Christ Your Grace is Too Much!  And I thank you for it.

I Love you Lord Jesus.  I pray for those that don’t know your Amazing Grace.

That they would come to know it…

Praise God!

Keep me close Lord.

The Parable of the Wandering Sheep

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. [11] [a]

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

God thank you for perusing me.  For loving me.  For doing all the work of the cross for me.  I deserve none of it but your great love is amazing to me.  That when I am afraid you are there, when I wander off you chase me down.  When I’m near you I’m safe.  Thank you for being my master.

Little Things Count in Large Amounts

One of the first ministries I found myself in after becoming a Christian was Apartment Life.  My wife and I were a CARES team and we would hold pool parties, give welcome visits to new residents, and wrap Christmas presents for folks.  This ministry was very fun and enjoyable and really helped keep Kara (my wife) and I accountable to our mission and calling which is to share the Gospel of Christ and make disciples

As you can imagine the preparation for these events took a bunch of prep work and time. As any hospitable person knows there is a bunch of stress that goes into making everything just right when hosting an event.  And since this was the first ministry that Kara and I served in together since getting married we just had different expectations of what an event should look like.  She thought it needed to be perfect and I was a little bit….a lot more laid back about it.  This as you could imagine could end in conflict if we were not careful.

I can clearly remember telling Kara to just buy Cheetos and toss them in a bowl for the guest.  I’m an accountant and process manager by trade so I know the quickest most efficient way to get things done.   I do it for a living.  But event after event there was my wife taking time to cut up fruit and stick it in bowls for a bunch of kids at an after school program every week.

One of the kids that came to our event must have been 13-15 years of age, a young man named Richard.  Richard lived at home with his mom, and two half brothers, no dad, & it showed.  Richard was rough, I remember he would write raps with terrible language, talk about things kids shouldn’t watch, and act ways in which a young man should not.

Week after week he would come and week after week we would end our after school program with a Bible study.  Richard would stay because of his two younger brothers but never acted any different.  About 6 months later, after Bible study had ended with the kids club it happened.  Richard walking out with his brothers turned around looked right at me and said “you and Kara really love us don’t you”.  In my head I thought boy I must have just hit a cord with some good preaching during Bible study.  I looked back at him and said “Yes Richard, we do really love you guys.  What made you think that”.  His reply cut me like a knife when he said, “The CARES team before you just but Cheetos in a bowl for snack each week, but you guys cut up fresh fruit.”

As Richard walked out that day; I looked at Kara with a look of “I know you told me”.  Both Kara and I were encouraged but  I had made a mistake, people are not to be managed like a process.  People are people and want to be treated as such.  I think most of my mistakes in ministry have been when I’m “doing a process”.  The little things count in large amounts and the time my wife was putting into preparation was seen by an unbelieving, rough kid as love. To be honest my preaching wasn’t what was teaching him about love, it was my wife’s ability to serve to her best ability even if it wasn’t the easy way.  And in the process of communicating love to Richard, she helped me to learn about love too.

The Book of Romans Chapter 6 (Part 2)

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[b] Christ Jesus our Lord.

This passage is so amazing on so many levels.  First I connect to the obedient slave that obeys out of love because I look at my sons who for no other reason than it is right and holy and that they love me they obey.  Nothing is more honoring than when they obey the first time without an argument.  However, when they do argue or complain and grumble against me I struggle and wonder how much longer must I be patient.  God must wonder the same thing about me when I miss the mark on what he has planned for me, versus my plan for me.

The second part that reaches my hear is “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?  Those things result in death!”  There are many things that I have done in my life that I am ashamed of, sins that at the time looked great but I was looking at them through the eyes of Satan.  The desire I had for sin left me in a place where death is all I had earned.  Alone, separated from Christ I had no hope.  Then through the mercies of God, I was given to the Son!  The Holy Spirit opened my eyes and I was alive.  My bondage was to sin but it was broken and now I am bound with Christ.  So in this I must live apart from sin.  I fall short here daily but my desire is righteousness in the sight of the Lord.  To one day hear “Well done good and faithful servant”.  I stand saddened by the wages of my sin, but stand proudly in the work Christ accomplished on the Cross.  Praise God!!!

The Book of Romans Chapter 6 (Part 1)

Rejoice!  We are to be like Christ!

Romans Chapter 6

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.  6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–  7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.  8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.  11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sinbut alive to God in Christ Jesus.  12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.  13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.  14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
What a great passage for the believer.  That we through the death of Christ can have victory over sin not because of our deeds but the deed of Christ on the Cross, the deed of the Holy Spirit working in our lives, the deed of the Father creating us in the image of himself, and giving us the tools to sanctify us to be like Christ.  The strength that we derive from this passage is amazing.  The reason I am the way I am is because the gospel of Christ has the power to change me.  What amazing love He shows me, what mercies He delights in giving me.  My prayer is that we would all live for God and not ourselves.

The Book of Romans Chapter 5

The beauty of the cross is seen in chapter 5 when Paul discusses how one man (Adam) brought sin into the world.  And because of this we as humans are born a race of sinners.  However, through the cross sin is destroyed by one man (Jesus).  Our justification comes through the faith that Christ has given us, through Him, and Him alone do we have peace.  Not only has Christ given us our salvation, God has given us the Holy Spirit so that we may love Romans 5:5.  Amazingly God didn’t die for those that loved Him, He died for those that were enemy’s with God that sinned against His word.  And through this the Christian realizes how far God had to come to save us.  This death on the cross was no small act.  We would have a hard time dying for a good man or a good cause.  Christ death gave hope to a hopeless cause.  With out Him we would have no life: so we live for Him with love, joy, and commitment.  What we deserved was hell, what we got was love expressed in the most loving act in the history of man.  And that is why we worship Him because He is the rock we stand on, any other conclusion is just vanity.

Follower of Christ – Born Again in 2002