Recently I have been reflecting on the meaning of the word united. To be united means that one person or organization is in agreement with another. The word united is often used in the names of some church denominations. Some may include: United Methodist Church or United Church of Christ. Sadly, sometimes churches are only united in name but not in practice. I have been a part of churches where more time has been spent arguing about a social issue, a theological issue, the color of the carpet, or how long worship should be than on what the primary mission of the church should be. In my opinion, the primary mission of the church is to make disciples for Jesus as it states in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20-“Go & make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” The primary mission of the church is to invite people into a relationship with Jesus. When the church or a group of people does not carry out the church’s primary mission each one is at risk for division. God is not happy with division.
Will you join me in following the primary mission of the church in order to encourage unity?
Change vs. Transformation. Is there a difference? Don’t these two words mean the same thing? The words change & transformation have very similar meanings, but I believe there are very key differences. My understanding of the word change is that it means to make something different. We can change our behavior. We can change our clothes. We can change our appearance. Change happens on the outside. On the other hand, transformation is deeper. Transformation happens on the inside. Transformation is heart work, while change is head work.
Neither change nor transformation is easy. As humans, we like the familiar. We like it when life and people stay the same. We like it when we can predict what will happen or how someone will interact with us. My profession as a therapist means that I am a change agent. I help others make changes in their lives on multiple levels. These multiple levels include mental, emotional, or spiritual. Transformation is a deeper work. One dictionary definition of transformation is: “change in form, appearance, nature, or character.”
Transformation happens in relationship. The primary relationship where transformation takes place is between Jesus and us as human beings. Paul talks about this kind of transformation in Romans 12:2 – “And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].” Transformations helps us to see God’s plan for us more clearly. Our minds, thoughts, and emotions become clear when we surrender them to God’s control.
What changes do you need to make in your life? Are you ready to go beyond change to transformation? Will you allow God to transform you?
Dreams. All throughout our life, we are encouraged to dream about where we see our life going. Sometimes, we have the expectation that our dreams are going to happen just as we would like and when they don’t, we face disappointment.
For many years, my dream was to be a pastor of a church because this is what I believed God was calling me to do. It was also what I believed as “real” ministry. That is what I believed at age 20. At age 20, real ministry was about leading worship, preaching, and visitation in the context of a local church.
At age 40, I’ve learned that “real” ministry is about people. Real ministry is about caring for others. Real ministry is about meeting real needs. What are “real” needs? These may be physical, emotional, or spiritual needs. People in this world are looking for help, and there are those that are called to help with discernment. Some needs are financial, some needs are relating to food, clothing, & shelter, and some needs are met by just offering a listening ear.
Real ministry is about living out what it says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (The Message) Real ministry is also about living out Matthew 25:35-36 – “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me [with help and ministering care]; I was in prison, and you came to Me [ignoring personal danger].’” (Amplified Bible)
Dreams have a way of coming true if we allow God to lead us. I have found this to be true in my life. What are your dreams? How will you live out those dreams?