Posts Tagged transformation

The Glorious Song of the Gospel

In his wonderful book, You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions, Tim Chester beautifully illustrates the difference between fighting sin with rules and legalism and fighting sin with the beauty of the gospel:

In Greek mythology, the Sirens would sing enchanting songs, drawing sailors irresistibly toward the rocks and certain shipwreck. Odysseus filled his crew’s ears with wax and had them tie him to the mast. This is like the approach of legalism. We bind ourselves up with laws and disciplines in a vain attempt to resist temptation. Orpheus, on the other hand, played such beautiful music on his harp that his sailors ignored the seductions of the Sirens’ song. This is the way of faith. The grace of the gospel sings a far more glorious song than the enticements of sin, if only we have the faith to hear its music.

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Warning: This Experience May Cause Intense Spiritual Growth

We believe that there are two things we do together as a church that are catalytic in growing to be more like Christ: 1) Serving, because when we give ourselves for others we become more like Christ, and 2) Community, because it’s not good for man to be alone and we always grow when we’re around the other gifts and strengths of others.

Therefore, at the beginning of each semester, we create an intentional opportunity to connect in these life-changing activities through what we call the “On-Ramp.”

For the next month or so, you can sign up to serve or be in a community group that begins in January. Will you take the challenge?

Click here to get the latest “On-Ramp” information.

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Life-Change: Why we do what we do

People often ask me what I like about being a pastor and what I like about pastoring Second Mile. My usual answer is that I love participating in seeing God change people’s lives. Here’s a video that we showed a few months back in a worship gathering from a baptism we did and it highlights some great stories of change.

We’ll probably be doing another baptism soon, so if you’re interested, be sure to let me know!

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Great Summer Community Groups

I am so excited about the 2009 Summer Community Groups for Second Mile Church. Our leaders have worked really hard to plan ahead and craft what should be a great experience for everybody. Each group has a plan for learning, for mission, and for building community and I trust God will do great things through it. Also, we’re multiplying from 6 groups to 14 and almost every single one has at least one co-leader or apprentice.

Sign-ups for groups begin on Sunday, May 3rd and can be done in person on Sunday or online here.

In the meantime, here’s an advanced look (for the special blog readers) about the various groups being offered (I honestly wish I could participate in every single one — they sound great!):

Knowing Scripture – This group will focus on discovering how to dig out the meaning of Scripture through personal Bible study, and apply it to everyday life.

Gospel Transformation – This group will explore how the gospel changes us from the inside out and propels us into culture with the good news of God’s grace.

The Hurried Family – This group will focus on helping stressed-out, busy families develop calm and rest in their lives, based on the truth of Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Financial Foundations – This group will focus on exploring big-picture biblical teaching on finances, as well as dealing with practical tools to help with budgeting, debt, spending, and giving.

Powerful Prayer – This group will focus on experiencing the powerful work of God through the prayers of ordinary people and will also pray weekly for the needs of people in Second Mile.

International Missions – This group will focus on grasping holistic mission as described in the book of Acts and understanding Second Mile’s ministry partnership among Muslims in Northern India.

The Truth Project – This group will focus on developing a biblical worldview by discovering how the Bible helps us understand theology, science, culture, history, government, work and community involvement.

Death by Love – This group will focus on applying the truth of Jesus’ substitution on the cross to a variety of life issues including fear, forgiveness, suffering, and broken relationships.

Love and Respect – This group will focus on helping couples build stronger marriages by understanding and applying the biblical teaching on marriage in practical ways.

Biblical Hospitality & Basic Cooking – This group will focus demonstrating hospitality, using food to bless those around us, and building relationships at the dinner table.

Respectable Sins – This group will focus on exposing the “respectable sins” that we tolerate (anger, worry, selfishness, impatience, gossip, etc.) and confronting them with the gospel.

Student Ministry – This group will focus on building Jr. High & High School students into disciples who faithfully follow Jesus as they interact with each other as well as with other adult leaders.

Gospel & Mission (Membership) – This group will focus on understanding the doctrine and philosophy that drives Second Mile Church and will give participants the opportunity to partner with the church in membership.

Leadership Development – This group will focus on developing current and potential leaders to grow in character, competence, calling, commitment, and communication.

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God’s Grace at Second Mile

Yesterday was an awesome day for Second Mile. We had a great worship gathering centered on loving God with everything and loving your neighbor as yourself (sermon here). We prayed, sang, and celebrated.

Then we joined together in the afternoon for our first baptism celebration. 13 people were baptized and shared their story of God’s grace. There were stories from people who had been religious and those who hadn’t. It was a great picture of God’s grace and a huge encouragement to the packed house of people who came.

We’re praying for more grace as we anticipate our move to Perry High School in April. God has been so abundantly kind so far. May his grace abound in your life today as well.

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Encounter With Jesus

One of the most exciting things about our series in Mark is that each week we are confronted with the reality of who Jesus is. For me, the preparation and study time has been rich and challenging – it’s always a new encounter with Jesus. This week we’ll be looking at “Kingdom Wholeness” and how Jesus is always working to restore people. A great example of this is the story of his encounter with the Demoniac in Mark 5:1-20. Below is an Anime video that tells this story, as put out by the folks who do the Jesus Film. I think it’s a powerful visual image of the story, especially when you read the passage first.

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Great God-Stories

At Second Mile, we love hearing stories of how God is working in people’s lives. We often share them during our Sunday worship gatherings. I recently came across a new website – www.iamsecond.com – that is filled with stories of how God has worked in people’s lives to help them realize that they come second.

Some would be people you’re familiar with like outfielder Josh Hamilton, American Idol’s Jason Castro, former Korn guitarist Brian Welch, driver Darrell Waltrip, or actor Stephen Baldwin. Others were names I didn’t necessarily recognize, but they are still great stories and well produced.

Check it out.

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The Growing Strength of Jesus

I was reading Wayne Grudem’s section on “The Person of Christ” from his book Bible Doctrine and I came across an amazing quote. Here Grudem is speaking about the how “Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered” (Heb 5:8). He writes:

Apparently as Jesus grew toward maturity he, like all other human children, was able to take on more and more responsibility. The older he became the more demands his father and mother could place on him in terms of obedience and the more difficult the tasks that his heavenly Father could assign to him to carry out in the strength of his human nature. With each increasingly difficult difficult task, even when it involved some suffering (as Heb 5:8 specifies), Jesus’ human moral ability, his ability to obey under more and more difficult circumstances increased. We might say that his “moral backbone” was strengthened by more and more difficult exercise. Yet in all this he never once sinned.

This made me think of two things. First, It’s a reminder of the biblical principle that those who are faithful to God in small things are entrusted with more opportunities of faithfulness. How many people I meet who want a lot of ministry or responsibility yet are not even being faithful in the things God has put in front of them now! May we be faithful in even the smallest and most mundane of life situations.

Second, this made me think about how enduring temptation without sin strengthens you to endure more temptation without sin, just like doing difficult exercise prepares you to do even more difficult exercise. The more we say “no” to ungodliness and sin, the more able to say “no” to those things when the pressure is even greater.

All of this makes me thankful that I have a Savior who was PERFECTLY obedient and never gave in, despite facing temptations much stronger and intense than I ever have. In my moments of weakness I can gather strength from this Savior and, when I fail, I can receive forgiveness and grace.

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We Want God to Attend Second Mile

I read a great blog post by James MacDonald regarding the book he’s writing (tentatively called “When God Goes to Church”). His thesis is that God doesn’t attend many American churches because “His Word is apologized for, His Son is polished and marketed, and His power is not sought in prayer or even anticipated.” I’ve thought about this and realize how devastating it would be if we had church that God wouldn’t want to be part of because we felt like we could do it on our own. May it never be!

MacDonald continues:

I heard a pastor say recently that the past 20 years have been about “church done with excellence in the flesh is better than church done poorly in the flesh.” How insightful! How about church done according to God’s Word and in the power of the Spirit? How about church on fire, led by men on fire, burning a swath of God’s power across our land like a tornado across a Kansas wheat field? Where is the mighty prevailing church (Matthew 16:18) moving with God’s power, seeing lives transformed frequently and totally? Where is the church that sees miraculous answers to prayer and marvelous interventions of grace? I want to spend the rest of my days working to see the true church, the grace and truth church, (John 1:14) the spirit and power church, the overcoming, Christ-adoring, prayerfully dependant, Word-proclaiming church return to prominence. I believe it is only then that God will begin regularly attending the churches of our land. If that were to happen it would make ALL the difference, would it not?

Pray that Second Mile would be a church where God doesn’t just attend, but where he does manifest miraculous answers to prayer and marvelous interventions of grace.

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Joy-killer #2: Idolatry

Click here to submit your answer to the question, “What do you think are things that kill people’s joy?”

The previous post in this series on “Joy-Killers” was about sin. Today we go just a little bit deeper with another big joy-killer: IDOLATRY.

This gets at the question, “Why do we sin?” After all, if sin is a joy-killer, we should just stop it — right? Yes, that is right, but the question remains…”Why can’t I stop sinning?” I think the answer is “Because of idolatry.” Webster defines “idolatry” as “immoderate attachment or devotion to something.” It is our immoderate attachments or our over-desires — sometimes even for good things — that lead us to disobey God with our actions. Sinful behavior is always preceeded by idolatrous desire.

What are the key idols we face? Here is a brief list that has helped me tremendously:

  • People’s approval
  • Comfort
  • Control
  • Security
  • Power or influence

I find that if I ask myself, “Why did I do or say that sinful thing?” the answer is usually found on that list.

This list is helpful because it gets deeper than we normally think. For instance, most people would say that money is an idol. However, when you think about it, you realize that people want money for different reasons. Some want it to impress people, some to have an easy life, and others to be able to influence key people. So, if you are struggling with the love of money, it won’t help to just try to stop loving money. You need to first understand the idol that is gripping your heart and leading you to love money. Only when we repent of these deeper idols with gospel-truth (i.e. “I don’t need people’s approval because in Jesus I have the only person’s approval who really matters”) will we see lasting change and growing joy.

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