The pastor at First United Methodist Church was on fire. "We are in this world, but not of it.€ He was calling me peculiar, but I don’t know if he realized it yet. I’m not supposed to be normal. I’m designed to stand out - to point to a better way. He recently took a sabbatical, and the fire and passion and the heart he returned with, to help the congregation find their uniqueness in Christ, it really showing through. Last week he talked about how God wants me to experience the fullness of HIS joy. This week, he had the steps to get me there.
1. Jesus must be the authority in my life. The pastor was talking about becoming a Christian - the moment when you turn your life over to Christ. The day of rebirth. As he spoke, I wondered if I truly accept His authority. Some days (and for most situations) I would say definitively yes. There are those times when I want to be in charge - regardless of what it might cost. I think I still have a ways to go before I can honestly answer that Jesus is the authority in my life.
2. With new life comes new purpose and direction. The pastor asked me to examine my life and see what has changed. Eight years ago, I would probably say not much. I have been trying to find God’s place for me and God’s way of doing things. I’m reaching for that new purpose - most days.
3. Things lose their importance. The more I change, the more my idea of what is important changed. I keep a list of my needs, wants, and desires tucked away in my journal. Every month (or every couple of months) I rewrite my list. It seems that the more I grow, the more things shift from needs all the way down to desires.
4. People grow in importance. I was a stubborn child (some might even suggest that streak still runs through me - although I would argue with that). As my life continues to switch, my need to control and always be right diminishes - and the feelings and life of the people around become the important things.
5. Money becomes away to help. Instead of looking at what I want or need, I begin to look beyond myself. Money becomes a way to help others and expand the purpose and direction that I have been guided in.
6. Peace and joy come from a focus beyond self. As I see the purpose and direction, and I put people above things, I find a sense of peace and joy that can no longer be disturbed by circumstance.
7. A new life requires new ways. Old habits will have to die (some times a slow and painful death). New habits will be formed to take their place. I’m finally beginning to see that this is one of those processes that will be ongoing.
8. To know the purpose and direction, I have to know the Person. The only way to know anyone is to spend time with Him. I need to have time each day for prayer (talking with God) and study (learning His word).
9. The more I know the map, the more I will use it. The Word of God must become so ingrained in my heart and mind that it becomes the default direction.
10. Last, and most certainly not least, I have to have a firm understanding and grasp on where I am headed - in an eternal sense. (I can’t help but imagine how blessed my life would be if I could come to this firm of an understanding for all the promises of God).
The pastor was using his own guideline based on John Wesley‘s 10 things that happen in your life at the point of regeneration. I think it’s a good start, and one of those sermons that I will be referring to again and again. There is so much that I need to do and learn to live the life that God desires for me. One thing is certain, God’s ultimate goal for me is that I live a life that complete reflects who HE is.