Ch-Ch-Changes

Anyone remember that old David Bowie song? Anyone? He somehow managed to make a catchy chorus by simply repeating consonants. Genius some would say. But with a soaring voice, some acting chops and a penchant for outlandish make-up, ol’ Ziggy saw many phases to his rather prolific career. He may have understood something about change. The truth is, we all have our experience with the new. New locations to live, to jobs to work, new developments in our physique. Yes, not all changes are good ones. But time marches on and as I like to say, “All of life is nothing but transitions.” Every morning marks a new transition: new opportunities, new interactions, new perspectives. As we head into the coming school year, many of us face yet another transition. Our family will have a brand-new middle schooler, a brand-new high schooler and one starting kindergarten. At home, we will be down to one child during the day. In an overarching sense, it’s more of the same…a suburban family gearing up for another school year. But for each of us, these transitions fill us with excitement, nervousness, a little stress, and various other emotions. In the song, Bowie admits, “Time may change me.” It’s an undeniable truth. It applies to everything from the glorious oak tree to the inanimate skyscraper downtown. But as we all fall prey to the ongoing transitions of time, my prayer is that we don’t allow time to be the only thing that changes us. God is at work. He sent his Son into our frame of time. The infinite God took on a finite life and though Jesus experienced changes, he remains changeless. This process of incarnation, death and resurrection was not some interesting cosmic experiment. Through Jesus, the entire universe underwent a big change! Our death could now be changed into eternal life! Moreover, we have been gifted with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit: the infinite God dwelling within us. Again, this is not just a fun way for God to pass the time, but rather the means by which we can be changed. From sinner to saint, from unrighteous to holy, from dead to alive. Don’t let time be the only thing that changes you.

“All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:18



Are You Sailing, Floating or Sinking?

The summer before my senior year, I was at Red Rock Camp. At that time we had a large catamaran (think flat large sailboat). One of the fun things to do while out on the boat was to hang from the bottom bar of the boat. The rest of the group took their turn and had a blast getting splashed by the lake. I was so excited for my turn. I climbed off the edge and grabbed hold of the bar. See back then I was about the size of my daughter here. As the boat turned towards the wind the pressure of the water was so strong and I couldn’t pull myself up above the bar and waves. I knew that I was in trouble. You see we hadn’t paid attention to the increased winds on the lake.
 
Life is like that, and in many ways our faith is like that. If you don’t look around and see where you are you will quickly find yourself sinking or floating instead sailing in your spiritual life.
 
So today I want to ask “Are you Sinking/Floating/Sailing?”
I’m going to start with sailing: Some of us are sailing. You’re relationship with God is going good, time with Jesus comes natural. You are serving. Matthew 7:16-17 ” You will know these people because of what they do. Good things don’t come from people who are bad, just as grapes don’t come from thorn-bushes, and figs don’t come from thorny weeds. In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, and bad trees produce bad fruit.”
 
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things.”
 
You probably want to be here. You desire it, but I’ll be honest in saying that it is tough to get there and even tougher to stay there. Many times we will bounce between the three. How to know you are sailing: You see fruit. If you are not, go back to what you were doing the last time you were sailing. It might not work, and you might have to try something new, but go back to listening, and go back to serving.
 
Some of us are floating.
How do you know if you are floating: You don’t even feel guilt for your sin, you go to church, you make no effort to change, you are content with where you are, there is no fruit in what you do. The key word for this is apathy. You exist, God exists, but that is it. You believe Him, You believe in Jesus, but you there is no movement.
 
Revelation 3:15 “I know what you do. You are not hot or cold. I wish that you were hot or cold! But you are only warm—not hot, not cold. So I am ready to spit you out of my mouth.”
 
This is why we talk so much about serving. Being mobilized on your campus, at your church, and in your community. Spiritual maturity has nothing to do with what you know, and everything to do with how quickly you react to God.
 
Steve Callahan set out sailing on a trip that would take a month years ago, and he set out alone. He said that he wanted some solitude, he wanted to get away, and that he was excited to be alone on the sea. A little over a week into his trip something hits his boat. He doesn’t know what, but it punctured the hull of the ship and the ship began to sink in the middle of the night. He quickly grabbed some stuff, got on a life raft and was stuck on it for 76 days. 76 days of struggling for food, water. 76 days of laying in a raft, of trying to get by. He said what got him through was the fact that he realized he had done nothing with his life but waste it. He doesn’t say this, but he obviously had enough money to get a boat, obviously had enough money to not work for a month to go sailing, yet he said he wasted his life because he had never given anything back to anyone.
 
I’ve floated. I know that at times it feels good. You like it because it’s easy, it takes little effort, and I convince myself that I can change when I want. But in reality I’m either lazy, or hoping something magical happens. The key is that you’re waiting.
 
Proverbs 14:8 “It takes wisdom for the clever to understand the path they are on, but the fool is deceived by his own foolishness.”
 
I know there are some of us that are sinking. Some signs that you are sinking: You are stressed constantly, you feel overwhelmed, doubt is overpowering you, you dread getting up in the morning at times, many times you lack transparency.
 
There are 3 major groups of people that are sinking:
  1. Those that have no idea they are sinking- They believe in God and say they love Jesus, but then brag about their sin. They don’t even know how far off they are.
  2. Those that realize and don’t want to be rescued: You feel your faith being sucked out, you know things aren’t right, you know that the life is being squeezed out and to be honest you don’t care. Mostly because you either convince yourself it is a season, or because you like the way you feel.
  3. Those that realize they are sinking and want to be rescued: You’ve felt like it for a while, you’ve been hurt by it, you might have even cried out for help to God, but have been met with silence. It breaks your heart.
 
I want you to know that if you are sinking you are not alone. In the Bible the disciples had many moments like this. This one might be my favorite and it could be found in the book of Mark. Jesus has the disciples going across a lake and in the middle of crossing a storm comes up. Huge waves break on the boat and they begin to yell that the boat is going to sink. In the meantime, Jesus is asleep. They go and get Him yelling:
 
Mark 4:38-40 “Jesus, Master, don’t You care that we’re going to die? He got up, shouted words into the wind, and commanded the waves. That’s enough! Be still! And immediately the wind died down to nothing, the waves stopped. How can you be so afraid? After all you’ve seen, where is your faith?”
 
When those waves started crashing over me, I was like those disciples panicked and scared. Suddenly, from above a hand came down and grabbed the front of my life-vest and pulled me above the waves. Later, I was told he had been trying to get my attention so I would reach out to him to pull me up, but I was too focused on the waves and not looking up. We can be so focused on not drowning, on keeping ourselves a float that we can forget that our rescue is on God. Maybe you are sailing but you know someone who is sinking, reach out and pull them above the waves.
 
Cassi B
Director of Youth Ministries



 

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