How Does God Change Me?

How do I change? How does God change me? If God is doing the changing, what am I responsible for?
This gradual transformation is not up to us to do on our own.  The Holy Spirit is the source of change.
This gradual transformation is not something we just sit back and wait to happen.  We have to be willing to follow the Spirit's leading.
Change is like bread dough. We have to have both the yeast and the flour working together in order for it to become bread. In order to be transformed, we also need a couple of ingredients - both the Holy Spirit, and our willingness to follow (even if we don't do it so well). Both kneaded together.

The rising process is lengthy.  It's a lifelong process. It begins when we take the hand of Jesus and choose to follow Him, when we receive His gift of forgiveness through His work on the cross. When we take His hand, we join a lifelong partnership.  The yeast must have the flour.
The flour must have the yeast.  The flour can't become bread all by itself, no matter how hard it works at it.  Gradual transformation is not about trying to be better. It is surrendering. Not a resentful surrendering that says, “whatever, you win,” but rather, a joyful surrendering that says, “what ever, however, I want your way because it’s better than mine." It is about allowing the Holy Spirit to change us.  And it is obedience to Him.   

The Briarpatch Gospel: Fearlessly Following Jesus into the Thorny Places - Book Review

No one would purposefully want to go into a dense thicket of tangled, thorny, prickly shrubs and vines.  But after reading Shayne Wheeler’s The Briarpatch Gospel, that’s exactly where I want to go.  He uses the briarpatch as a metaphor for those places where many people don’t want to venture by choice.  Our potlucks, quiet times, and half-hour sermons are easier than the difficult, scary briapatch.

The briarpatch includes the poor, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised.  It includes the self-centered, the hypocritical, and the greedy.  It includes the lesbian who has been rejected by her church, or the teenager struggling with depression, or the child with leukemia.  Going into the briarpatch is drawing near to someone whose soul is struggling to breathe in a place where the air is thin.  This is where Jesus went. It’s not easy to dwell there, to love there, but the healing grace of Jesus is there if we have the courage to follow.

We are called to conform to the righteousness of Christ, and we are going to fail miserably at times. We are to be willing to walk down the road of life together and enter together into the mess and the mystery of following Jesus.  We must have the courage to love, even when we don’t understand or agree.  Shayne Wheeler shows us how to follow Jesus fearlessly into the thorny places and live out our calling to love.

But this isn’t just an idealistic book of how things should be.  Shayne Wheeler wrestles with the tough issues through life examples of the problems we encounter in the briarpatch, the dangers, what to do when we are there, and how transformation occurs.

I devoured this book! I couldn’t stop reading, couldn’t get enough, because he grappled with so many questions I’ve had about loving others who seems so different and sharing the good news of Jesus with them.  He doesn’t offer simplistic answers. This book is profound and life-changing.  My eyes are opened to the briarpatches around me, and I no longer take the long way around.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Just Like Jesus - Book Review

God loves us exactly the way we are, but He refuses to leave us there.  He loves us enough to live within us, to make our hearts His home.  He loves us enough to want us to become more like Him, little by little.  This is Max Lucado’s theme in his book Just Like Jesus: A Heart Like His.

This book is light reading that reminds us of God’s love and why He wants to transform us. He tackles the issues of forgiveness, compassion, truthfulness, and worship as he shows how God changes our hearts to become more like His. The last quarter of the book includes a study guide that encourages discussion and sharing with a friend or a small group.

This book isn’t deep, but it is good.  And it’s not theoretical; it’s practical.  When I finished this book, what stuck with me most was that every moment of our day is a potential time of communion with God. We can give him the “wasted” moments – sitting at stoplights, waiting in lines.  We can give God our whispering thoughts.  We can turn our commutes into a pilgrimage.  Max shows how to start your day, end your day, and keep Him in it all in between.  As we draw closer to God, He changes us, gradually making us more like Jesus.   

If you are looking for something light and easy to read, this one will draw you closer to God with biblical truth.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for my honest review.