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Transformation

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The oldest among us have lived through the most change in life.

It’s simply true. My mother-in-law will be 85 on her birthday this October. Being born in 1933, she grew up without microwaves, cell phones, computers, air conditioning in the home or car, or rock music!

Wait. I grew up without those things, too. We had a black, rotary-dial telephone on a party line—which meant we shared the line with two or three other homes, so when you picked up the phone to make a call you might not hear a dial tone, but someone else’s conversation!

Mom pulled the washing machine out of the utility room and hooked up a hose to the kitchen sink to do laundry. The washer had no spin cycle, it had a ringer that was two rollers that squeezed the water out of the clothes. Our dryer was a clothesline.

Sometimes our twin children ask us whether we remember the first something—like a microwave or color TV or CD Player. We tell them about the time beforethose things, including the 8-track tape player we mounted in the dash of the car in the 70’s. They think we’re older than dirt. We tell them we served tables at the last supper to keep up the ruse.

Change is constant, and it is escalating. Something inside many of us longs for something—anything—in life to remain constant. And so, one way we handle change is to resistit. That really doesn’t matter very much in personal choices like whether to have a flip phone or a smart phone. To each their own. But resisting change can be sinfulwhen the agent of change is the Holy Spirit and God is trying to transform our lives to be more like Jesus.

Harboring unforgiveness for a wound that took place years ago resists the transformation God has in mind in setting us free and bringing us peace. Throwing up our hands and claiming, “I just don’t have the time to sit still to read the Bible and pray,” resists the transforming Presence of the Holy Spirit who longs to draw us closer to Jesus and deepen our faith.

One reason I have resisted the transformation of God toward holiness in my own life is discouragement. I’ve triedto keep a hundred New Year’s resolutions and failed to change. In three weeks, I’m back to old habits, so I quit trying—a passive form of resisting transformation.

What I have come to know about myself, and about how God does transformation, is this: My tryingdoes not hold a candle to the Holy Spirit’s transforming. If we could reform ourselvesinto the image of Jesus, He would not have had to die on a Cross for us or send the Holy Spirit to us.

Peter is a prime example. Set in his ways and locked in his thinking, Peter and the other Apostles believed Jesus was the Savior of the Jews. God used a seeking Gentile named Cornelius, and a vision about being commanded to eat unclean animals to change Peter’s mind and heart. In the vision, God told Peter three times, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”(Acts 10:15 NIV) Prompted by the Holy Spirit, Peter went with Cornelius’s servants when they came calling. He went to Cornelius’s house and told him and his family about Jesus. And to Peter’s consternation, the Holy Spirit fell on Gentilesin the very same way He had come to Jews.

Sometimes we have to give up old beliefs to embrace deeper, more mature beliefs. Sometimes we have to give up old understandings of Scripture to understand it with greater maturity and wisdom. All this is to be done under the direction of the Holy Spirit, who transforms.

Is there something in me God is seeking to transform? Am I resisting that transformation for any reason? God is a transforming God. Jesus died to save and sanctify us, not to leave us the way we are. The Holy Spirit came to work transformation into our lives. The process of cooperating with the Holy Spirit to become more like Jesus is simply spiritual growth.And it is to be embraced, not resisted.

So here is a good prayer to pray: Holy Spirit, come do your transforming work in my life. Days and weeks and months and years from now, let me look back in wonder at how you have changed my life. I welcome you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted by Mike Dominick with

Ends of the Earth

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The gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ is not a localized thing. It is not meant just for church people or just for Americans. An old chorus says:

Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Who Jesus is!

The first followers of Jesus were mostly all Jews, and they understood Jesus to be a Jewish Messiah—the Anointed One promised by God to become their King. But Jesus had a wider vision than that.

He told His disciples just after His resurrection, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV). Make disciples of all nations. No localism there!

Then, just as Jesus was about to ascend to heaven, He told his followers, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” To the ends of the earth. Again, the vision of Jesus is that the whole world be told about Him.

That’s why our congregation sends a team on a short-term mission trip every year to Ghana, West Africa, to partner with Joseph and Stella Otsin (a church planter with the Methodist Church of Ghana) to plant two churches and make Jesus known to the ends of the earth! Today in worship (the Sunday after Easter) the Ghana Mission Team will share testimonies of what God did in Ghana! They have been witnesses to the ends of the earth, and they will be witnesses at this end of the earth to us!

That’s also why we are sending a team on a short-term mission trip in June (13-23) to Guatemala to partner with Tim and Candy Weaver in the work of Impact Ministries in bringing the gospel to that corner of the world.

We practice missions and evangelism at Dayton United Methodist Church. We know Jesus, and we seek to make Him known—in Jerusalem (among our own family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and fellow students), in Judea (extending to a wider geographic region), in Samaria (with folks who are nearby, but culturally different) and to the ends of the earth (partnering in Ghana, Guatemala and India).

I believe making Christ known is a both/and, not an either/or. It’s not either right here in our community or in Ghana. It’s not among my own family and neighbors or in Guatemala. It’s both in our workplaces and in India. It’s in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth (Dayton, Indiana, is the end of the earth if you live in India!).

What is my part? To pray for our mission partners. To participate in their ministry as God gives opportunity (Shirley and I are going to Guatemala in June with the team). To make Jesus known at Meijer’s and Cracker Barrel and the Thanksgiving family gathering. To witness to His tangible reality and incredible grace right here, this week. And to participate in making Him known to the ends of the earth. That’s an important, purposeful mission! And it’s up to us to do our part to make it happen!

Posted by Mike Dominick with

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