There are two times for year for lots of people to make changes and shifts in their habits or practices. One is January 1 the other is somewhere around mid-August-early September. Summer is wrapping down and it is time to turn a page and start anew.
With that being said, as people that follow Jesus, I think that this time that is upon us is a time that we need to take full advantage of. I want to challenge you with a few things as we start this new season:
1. Understand that God is for you and not against you. He wants you to have life and life to the full. This is not a pipe dream, but He has created us with the capacity to experience life in him. I don’t know what fear, doubt, frustration, confusion, addiction, obsession, or distraction might be hindering you from experiencing God’s love. But know this, Jesus wants you to experience freedom.
2. To experience said freedom, you have to participate in the things that bring life. Yes, God loves without limits, and there is an expectation that we offer ourselves as children to listen and learn, hear and obey. That is is what we are called to do. We can not expect to grow up in Jesus unless we are spending time practicing the things that lead to life. The dog that grows, is the dog that is fed.
3. What are the ways to feed the right things in your life and water the seed that God has planted in you?
First, listen to God’s word daily
Second, pray to God about all things on a daily basis
Third, give of what has been given to you – your time, talent and treasure.
Fourth, act with authentic care to and with those that have the least.
Fifth, gather for worship and celebration consistently and with expectation.
Sixth, connect in homes around tables with food and for friendship
Seventh, journey together with others you deeply know and by whom you are deeply known.
This Sunday at First Fire we will be celebrating this new season:
– we have a lot of baptisms and confirmations to celebrate
– we will hear about a challenge to share life at a deeper level with others starting in the next few weeks.
Please join us. At the end of the day, I want everyone to experience this life that God has for them in Jesus. None of us can do this alone. We need others. That is why we gather on Sundays. We gather to hear from God and we gather to remind ourselves we are not in this alone.
Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. 2 Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, 3 and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. 4 You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.
Footnote that is far from an afterthought:
The violence that spilled out in this world is evil. As I listened to interviews from El Paso and Dayton, I can not help but realize a few things. People were not made to strike down other people. People were not made to act in this way. There are a host of variables that shape people making these irrevocable decisions and there are plenty of systemic pieces that allow people to act in these horrible ways.
I often ask, “what can I do?”
And I often reply in a snarky way, “that is above my pay grade.”
And at one level, it is beyond what I can impact.
And at another level, I can make a difference in the place where I am planted. I can love, help and engage those that live in my family, in my faith community and in my city as a whole. I can do that. I must do that. If the collective inaction of people is one of the variables that lead to evil acts – be it gun violence or any other ways in which violence is enacted upon people – then how am I feeding the inaction.
As people of Jesus, we must answer this question, “God how do you need to use me where I live and where move and where I go about my business?”
So a prayer that can be offered as a starting place, “God, use me as you will, change me if you must.”
We are called to make ourselves available.
We are called to allow God to work through us for the sake of His mission in the world.
We are called to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. And we do this by doing the things that I started this blog post with: Experience God’s love, experience God’s freedom, participate through the 7 practices. That is how we will be transformed.
May this day, you find this peace and place.