Gospel Transformation

A great guy of the Christian faith came up with the term, “gospel transformation.”   The power of the Gospel is to change human life into its full potential, into the life designed by our Creator. 

How does gospel transformation happen?  How does it relate to life on earth? How does the gospel change us?

Jack Miller, the man who coined the term gospel transformation came up with some sayings that help me retain what happens in gospel transformation.   The first is “Cheer up!  The gospel is far greater than you can imagine!”  The gospel of Jesus Christ has His power to transform life and relationships.  It touches and creates communities and even impacts nations.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news we will ever hear!  This gospel gives us a new identity that is not based on race, social class, gender, theology, or a system of rules.  Our identity is based on faith in Jesus.  The gospel gives us an identity that invades every aspect of life.  Because of this, we no longer have to hide from our sin and pretend that we have it all together.  We admit our own brokenness.  We have a new way to live and relate to God and others.  The good news continues to work in us as we continue to believe and visibly expresses itself in love.

“Cheer up! You are worse than you think!”  A great hindrance to Christian growth, healthy relationships, and strong communities is a life of pretense.  We pretend that we don’t struggle with self-righteous attitudes, foul tempers, nagging anxieties, lustful looks, controlling and critical hearts, and a multitude of other sins. We generally believe that we are better than other people.  Part of the good news is that  God knows all this.  He knows us intimately.  He wants to be the one who changes us.  Because sin blocks intimacy with God and others, we need God’s Spirit to show us our many fears and prideful and offensive ways.  We need the insights of others to encourage us and speak into our lives.

These two points work together in a cyclical fashion.  On the one hand, none of us wants to look at our sin without knowing the good news of forgiveness and deliverance from it.  On the other hand, our view of the gospel is severely limited if we do not *continually* see the depths of our sin.  The g o s p e l cannot s o a k deeply into us unless we allow it to address our ongoing need for it. 

“Cheer up!  God’s Spirit works in your weakness!”  We not only have a new identity, but we have been given the Spirit who is more than sufficient to lead, guide, and most importantly empower us in our new life.  The power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in our new lives as well (Eph. 1:19-20).  Nevertheless, the power of the Spirit does not work automatically, but through repentance and faith.  Also, this power is made evident through our weakness (II Cor. 12:9; 13:4).  Along with the Apostle Paul, we delight in our weakness, for then we are strong, and God is glorified.  The result is a wonderful freedom to forget about ourselves and stop wondering whether we have enough ability–we don’t.  But we can rejoice in the knowledge that God uses and empowers the weak.  Because we are weak and we admit our weakness, we have hope!

“Cheer up! God’s kingdom is more wonderful than you can imagine!”   The kingdom of God is the new and final age that began with Jesus’ coming.  It is the age of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17,18).  The kingdom of God is about the renewing of all things, and about the reconciliation of relationships, about the restoration of justice and equality, about freedom from every lord except Jesus, about forgiveness, and about the defeat of Satan.   It is about compassion for the poor and powerless, about helping those who are marginalized and rejected by society, and about using our gifts and resources for the advancement of others.  It is about new communities and the transformation of society and culture.  For Paul, to preach the gospel is to preach the kingdom, and therefore to preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:24-27).

Even If

See YouTube comments on Even If — Heart Warming!!   See Håvard below!

Kenneth     Our 14 year old son passed away last July. It has been blinding, soul crushing, murky dark. He had a lot of medical problems but still nothing prepares you for the loss. I was with him until his final heartbeat. I know with everything in me that God’s mighty hand could have saved him, made him whole, but God said no. It’s a hard no to understand. My son was the sweetest, most loving child I have ever seen. He smiled from the time he woke up until he fell asleep at night. But Even if, Even though, He didn’t answer my prayer the way I wanted, my hope is in him alone. This song has put into words what I could not.
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On Being Insignificant

I lifted this!!! All credit goes to the author. See below.

Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Luke 12:32

If only we actually believed Jesus we would have no fear. As were Jesus’ first disciples, we are often afraid because we are a little presence in the world, few and seemingly under threat. We do not like, in general, to be insignificant, small, and of no appreciable influence. We labor and sacrifice for the exact opposite, to gain power and importance, and to develop relationships with those who promise it. We easily fall into the trap of thinking we would not be afraid if we were many, if we held the reins of power, if we ruled the world. In contrast, Jesus says that the meek will inherit the earth and, here, that the Father gives us the kingdom in our littleness, fewness, and powerlessness in the world.

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The Battle for the Heart is different than most discipleship programs in that it’s not about giving you a formula to change what you’ve been doing (or not doing). The Battle is about discovering who you were created to be, as a man or a woman, in God’s Larger Story.
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Transformation doesn’t happen in isolation. It happens when we link arms and do battle together. That’s why the Battle for the Heart is built to be experienced in teams. Together, you will join the fight for a deeply personal understanding of God and His incredible love and grace. Community is not the end result: it’s the pathway to significant, sustainable, fundamental change.

Stephen Colbert Was an Atheist, Then His Heart Turned

Neil Grabowsky/ Montclair Film

If you’re a fan of Stephen Colbert, you probably know he’s a strong man of faith. What you may not know is that there was a time when he was convinced of his own atheism after losing confidence in God.

“The Late Show” host isn’t uncomfortable talking about his Catholic faith. He grew up in the Catholic Church. While he was taught to respect the church, he was never afraid to challenge and question church doctrine which may come as no surprise given he is one who challenges things that don’t make sense.

In a recent conversation on the talk show “Faith in Focus,” Colbert shared that there was a time when his faith was weak.

He shared how he struggled with doubt in his younger years. He said to the show’s host, Rev. James Martin who is also a Jesuit priest and editor at large at the Catholic magazine America that he was “convinced of my own atheism” in his early 20s.

“I had lost my faith in God, to my own great grief,” Colbert said. “I was sort of convinced that I had been wrong all this time, that I had been taught something that wasn’t true.”

Then something happened that changed everything.

Following graduating from Northwestern University in 1986, Colbert joined a comedy troupe. At the time he was 22. One cold night, he was walking through the streets of Chicago when a stranger handed him a pocket Bible. In it, there were Scriptures including the books of Psalms and Proverbs.

What stands out in his memory is that the pages were frozen stiff, so hard that he had to crack the book open. In the pocket Bible was an index listing verses to read based on the emotions someone might be experiencing.

He was feeling anxious at the time, so he turned to the Bible verses associated with anxiety.

This particular passage was on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? … Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25)

He felt those words were speaking to him directly. Immediately after reading them, he felt lightened, Colbert shared.

“I stood on the street corner in the cold and read the sermon,” he said. “And my life has never been the same.”

Now he tries to carry a copy of the Bible with him wherever he goes.

In a GQ interview, he reflected on tragedies in his life and explained how his faith shapes his outlook, saying, “I am here to know God, love God and serve God.” Can you believe he also teaches Sunday School?

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