Sunday, November 21, 2010

What's New?

Change is a constant in all of our lives.  Do we want that change to occur with God or without Him?

The sad truth is that we are a part of a culture that likes to pick and choose everything. We even like to choose what version of God we want.  It’s as if we go into a God Shop and start shopping for a deity.  Not finding what we want exactly we begin to borrow from this philosophy and that TV show and this economic perspective and that political idedology (there are shelves and shelves of such stuff in the God Shop) and before you know it we have enough ingredients to mix ourselves up a little god.  And when that god is fully formed it's comfortable and cuddly. It looks amazingly like us if truth be known. But it’s really just a trinket god with no power to transform our lives.  It does however look nice on the mantel.

But  then there’s a real God.  People walk right by Him in the god shop.  He’s on the lower shelf, fairly non descript. Mother Theresa described Him as wearing the' most distressing of disguises'. As Lucy discovers in Narnia this God, who is the King, is never safe but always good.  And this God on the lower shelf doesn’t always say the most politically correct things.  This God won’t settle for sitting on the mantel.  He’s an active God who will challenge both our lifestyle and our thinking.  He is quite determined and inflexible in his notions of holiness.  And he’s crazy in love with us. 

And a whole lot of people don’t want this real God. He is not convenient or tame. Some find him embarrassing and far too demanding.  He is the God, however, who is.  He’s different from the god we conjure up.  The real God is a bit more inclined to mess with our lives and isn’t particularly impressed with those things we’re obsessive about.

As followers of Jesus it’s our job to make sure our life is being shaped and changed by the God who really is, not the god of our imagination, shaped by our own personality and our lack of discovery.  Our job is to be in search for the God of the bible.

I believe that God will change your life.  And as part of that process He wants to give us a new identity and a new name.

I remember once a teacher in grade school told me that I didn’t have what it takes. She said, “You’ll never go to college. Just not bright enough.”  Kind of shocking someone would say that to a little kid.  I knew instinctively that she was wrong and that I was more than 'not bright enough' but her words hit me hard and knocked me back. She had given me a name and it wasn't good.  It was one of those times when I realized that the old playground taunt is wrong …”Just as sticks and stones can break our bones words can hurt us”.

The Bible tells us in the Book of Revelations that God is going to do something for all of us who live victoriously. “And I will give to each one a white stone (a sign of victory in ancient times), and on that stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.”  (that secret name is a sign of great intimacy …given by a God who knows us to our innermost being).

What do you think is going to be written on your stone?  It’s not going to be Stinky or Thuderthighs, or Fat Bob, or Wiener. It’s not going to be Weird Al, or You're an idiot.  It's not going to say 'you’re the one who disappoints me’.  It’s not going to say divorced, dropout, sinner or unable to pay your bills. It’s going to be a name that builds you up, not tear you down. Mine isn’t going to say ‘not bright enough’.  That’s not my name.  Another teacher gave me a foretaste of what God is going to write on my stone.  She called me a talented student.  And I was able to finally trade in ‘not bright enough’ for a new name that helped me forge a more noble new identity. 

The God of the Bible is all about giving us a new identity.  Check out 2 Corninthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 

I don’t know what you believe about yourself but I know that the identity God wants us to live into is has power and purpose attached to it. Here’s the identity of the new person in Christ.  

I am a child of God. One in whom Christ dwells.  I am an inhabitant of a joy filled eternity.  I have been bought by the blood of Christ. I am infused with God’s power and presence. I do not have to live a sad, fearful or defeated life.  I am a new creation. I was designed to have the fullness of God inhabit me.  I am an ambassador of the Creator of the World.  I am somebody.  I belong to God. I am free from condemnation.  I cannot be separated from God’s love.  I am being transformed into the image of Christ. 

Our identity comes from being clear about what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do in our life.  And that identity can change the trajectory of our life.  When I decided not to buy into an identity of being stupid and instead saw myself as having potential my life changed.   Just as our life can change when we begin to live within the framework of a new God given identity.

So, is faith just about thinking about positively about ourselves.? No, but it doesn’t hurt.  Scripture does tell us that we will “be transformed by the renewing of our mind”.  I have no problem thinking positively about a God place identity.  Neither should you.

The tag line on this blog says this.  “Live like God is real and He will transform your life.”

Somebody might be saying: “Living like God is real can be hard. And I might not like the path the transformation takes me on.” And if you’re saying that …well, you’re right. But life  is difficult and hard no matter what. Would I rather walk through life with a good God who gives me new identity and renewed purpose or trust only in what the counterfeit god I’ve invented can do for me? 

I choose to go through it with  the God of the Bible.  Our job is to live into our new identity by holding onto the God that gives it to us. And we do it in a world that still carries far too much of the remnants of sin in it …a world that can defeat us at times unless we’re clinging hard and fast to a good God. 

When I used to coach I’d ask my players to trust me.  To trust that I knew what I was doing, how I was preparing them, and to trust me especially when crunch time came.  But they’d have to believe that my way was the good way even if, at times, my methods and my tactics seemed unorthodox.  Most players bought into it. A few didn’t.  The teams that bought into it did a whole lot better than those that didn’t. It wasn’t always easy.  But at crunch time, in the final seconds of  an overtime, when we had time for only one more play I loved looking into the eyes of my players.  They came to me as individual players.  Now they were a team and a band of brothers. They had succeeded in creating a new identity.  And as a team they were ready for the moment at hand.

And at times like that I could easily give them new names. I could look Darnell in the eyes and say ‘your new name is Sky Walker for no one jumps like you do, and I could say to Andrew …youre name is Stud Defender and I could look at Ricky and say ‘your name is Captain and Leader. To Michael I could say You’re our warrior.  To Jermaine I could say you’re The Glue that holds this team together.  To each …a new name added to a new identity. 

So it is with the Christian faith.  God says trust me. I know you’re not going to always understand why I’m doing what I’m doing.  For  “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.  .”   He says, “Buy into what I’m saying. I am a good God. I’m a loving God. I paid a deep price for you.  You are a new creation.  I love you like crazy.  I have a new name for you. Trust me. Forever we’ll be together.  I am the God who is. I am the God who changes lives.  And I want to transform yours.  May it be so.

80 comments:

Ruthanne said...

This was a great message this morning, Mike. I had tears in my eyes a few times. I don't remember ever hearing about the white stone and/or the name before. I've been thinking all day about that name.

Mike said...

Thanks Ruthsanne. Means a lot to get feedback like this. Blessings, Mike

Deb said...

Thank you for the message, I'm listening Mike and I starting to understand a little at a time. It was a peaceful message to me. Happy Thanksgiving

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