Sunday, November 10, 2019

Change is beautiful!

“Change is the only constant in life.”

  Autumn is my favorite time of year. While I love spring with the flowers blooming and green coming back to the trees and grass, I love God’s wonderful palette of colors in the fall. I’ve always been just a tad envious of folk who are able to go on a fall color tour.
  Recently, when we visited Jane’s Mom in northern Michigan the trees were on fire with their many colors. I love the cooler nights and the crispness in the air. There’s nothing like a warm fire, hot chocolate, snuggling up and gazing into the dying embers. It all brings back fond memories for me. In the south, we rarely raked leaves but would rake together huge piles of pine straw. I remember leaping into those piles and pinecone battles with my friends.
  The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, was right – change is inevitable. To quote the Borg from Star Trek, “Resistance is futile.” Yes, some changes aren’t good or moral, yet God’s grace is sufficient and we can trust Him even as we sail into new unchartered cultural waters. Our Heavenly Father is never surprised by any of the cultural changes, even the evil ones.
  Yet, I am so thankful that God does not leave me in spiritual comfort and what too often can devolve spiritually into stagnation. The Christian life is to be one of constant change and forward movement. There is to be no plateauing and settling for the status quo.
  Recently, I shared with our leaders God has worked in my heart and changed my commitment and dependency on prayer over the years. Please understand I have light years to go yet. If you’re looking for a “prayer warrior,” I’m not your guy. Yet my dependency and internal default setting have drastically changed. During my first years of ministry, I was a doer and program focused. I’ve learned though and am continuing to learn that if God is not in it and He’s not doing it, it’s a waste of time and effort.
  Then, God has changed my outlook on trials and difficulties. This may surprise you, but there are folk that I tick off (sometimes I think that I’m a “Professional Ticker Offer”). I don’t like to upset people. I certainly don’t like trials or deep waters, yet I’ve learned more and more that it is in the trials that my loving Heavenly Father burns away the dross from my life. In the past, I’d chafe in the fire, or moan and groan…or even become angry. God has worked in my heart (I haven’t arrived), where more often I ask Him to burn away the dross that He needs to in my life and teach me the lessons that I need to learn from the heat. I want to grow and be more like Jesus. I know that means that He has to do some pruning of my heart and life. As the Lord Jesus said in John 15, “every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit” (vs. 2).
  Then, I’m so thankful for the changes in my marriage. Jane and I are more in love, closer and more honest with each other today than when we got married…sometime back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. It’s very hard for me to watch couples who grow apart overtime when the Lord wants us to grow closer together as we grow closer to Him. That’s the key – growing closer to Him. As both husband and wife become more like Jesus and draw closer to Him, a wonderful outcome is growing closer to each other. Jane and I truly enjoy pleasing each other and making each other happy. Personally, I think that a healthy Christian marriage is one of the greatest witnesses for the power of the gospel. Only His grace can take two selfish sinners and make them more loving, selfless and sacrificial.
  Now that all three of our children are adults, I’m so thankful for the changes in our relationship. We’ve moved from parent and child to friends. All three of them are unique and God uses them to challenge me and be a blessing in my life. And I am so thankful that in the goodness of God (not because they had great parenting, especial a great Dad), that all three love Jesus, want to serve Him and others. Their spiritual maturity and compassion often challenge me to try to keep up with them.
  Then, I’m so thankful for the changes that God has and continues to bring about in our church. We have more and more who are committed to serving the Lord and reaching those who don’t yet know our Savior. I have the best job in the world, I have the privilege of sharing with folk how they can be forgiven, how their life can make an eternal difference and count for all eternity. I have the privilege of sharing biblical truth of how they can walk with Jesus, know His love, joy, and peace…be a better spouse, parent, employee, etc. Rarely do I hear moaning or groaning at church.
  I’m so thankful that God is working and changing in our church family. We’re more and more committed to not being some religious social club but a lighthouse of God’s love, grace and kindness to our community!
  As I’m aging, I’m even thankful for a few aches and pains. I know that may sound weird. Yet, as the writer of Ecclesiastes powerfully unpacks in his poetic description of aging and deterioration in chapter 12, it’s a constant reminder that the best is yet to come! I have a new body awaiting me! I  can’t wait to pitch my glasses once and for all. And I get to see the Savior who knew all about me and what a mess I was, yet chose to love me and die for me. As I grow older, I understand more and more what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1. Read it for yourself in verses 21-25. It’s summarized though in verse 21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” I long and pray for that to be true in my life!
  As a believer, the best is always ahead. The Christian life is to be one of constant godly change! I want to embrace and love change if it means that I’m becoming more like Jesus and one step closer to Home!

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