Many Christians underestimate the presence and power of indwelling sin. They don’t see how easily entrapped they are in this world full of snares (Galatians 6:1). They don’t grasp the comprehensive nature of the war that is always raging within the heart of every believer (Romans 7). They’re not aware of how prone they are to run after God replacements. They fail to see that their greatest problems exist within them, not outside them.
Yesterday I was in Phoenix with some other Acts 29 pastors and we had a fascinating conversation on what changes at the point of salvation. Does who we are change? Is it just our behavior? Our hearts? Souls? Minds? What does that mean?
I believe the gospel should change everything about us.
Think about, when we aren’t a Christian, we strive to please the flesh, we are children of wrath, we think in selfish ways, we look to please ourselves, we look to our goals. When we make plans, we are at the center of them. We do what we want.
When we are changed by the gospel, we need to re-ask all the questions we have “always known.” We have to re-ask what it means to be a man, a woman, a wife, a husband, a boss, an employee, a student. We have to re-ask the questions when it comes to money, sex, power, leadership, submission, goals, career, relationships. We have to re-ask the questions about what we watch, read and listen to.
Does our personality change? Does our whole life change?
If the gospel has changed us, we should be more patient, more gracious, more generous, less prone to fly off the handle, gossip and be stingy (just to name a few). The gospel changes everything, including who we are. It doesn’t just change us, it makes us better, it takes us to a new place.
As a husband, when you are changed by the gospel you want to fulfill what God calls a husband to be. You want to lovingly lead your family and take the responsibility that God has called you to have. Up until this point, as a man separated from God by sin you have been selfish, not leading your family, not laying your life down for your wife. You have now changed. Everything about you has changed.
As a wife, when you are changed by the gospel, you want to fulfill what God has called you to be. You want to respond to your husband’s leadership, you re-think leadership and submission in your home and marriage. You re-think your goals and identity in terms of what a woman is. You are looking to him for leadership, giving pushback when needed but you now look at life differently and live differently.
The gospel changes everything about you. It doesn’t leave you as you are.
Just read Chip and Dan Heath’s book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. After reading it, if are leading change of any kind or will at any time in the future, you need to read this book.
The Heath brothers look at the idea of an elephant and a rider to show how change happens, how it is reacted to and why it is reacted to that way. The rider represents our analytical side or analytical people. They are interested in data, the why behind change and how it will play out, the plan. The elephant is the emotional side, the feelings, the impulsiveness to a change. The elephant asks, “How will this change affect me?”
What they pointed out that was really interesting was the idea that people often react to change and the problem is not a people problem but a situation problem, an environment problem. What they showed through a variety of studies and examples is that often to make change happen, you need to change the environment that people reside in.
One of the leadership principles that often gets overlooked that they talked about was looking for bright spots. Often leaders, especially in churches, we look for what is not working and try to change that, and that is the focus of our change. What if instead, we looked for what is working, the bright spots and look at how to replicate that. As the Heath brothers said, “Anytime you have a bright spot, your mission is to clone it.”
In the midst of change, uncertainty will arise at some point. In those moments, that is when the people in your church or organization will retreat to what they know. That is why clarity is so important. That is why you need to appeal to the head (the rider) and the heart (the elephant) to keep them on track, to keep them on the path as the writers point out.
What was probably the most helpful was the idea of scripting moves. When making a change, changing a culture, adding something to a church, tell people what is expected, what will the new world look like once the change is complete. The authors pointed out, “The details is where people get hung up and fall off track.” Ambiguity is the enemy of change. Or the flip side, “Clarity dissolves resistance.” Describe for people what your church will be like when the change is complete. Paint a picture. Tell them how you will get there, what it will feel like on the way. Sometimes, prepare them for failure or what will seem like failure. Often, change efforts use the sequence of analyze-think-change, which rarely works. Instead, use see-feel-change.
Often what trips up leaders in making changes is the herd, the crowd. If you get the crowd, you win the change because people follow the crowd, as behavior is contagious. The authors point out “We imitate the behaviors of others, whether consciously or not.”
Here are a few other things that jumped out:
- For anything to change, someone has to start acting differently.
- What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.
- If you want people to change, you must provide crystal clear direction.
- The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people, and behavior change happens in highly successful situations mostly by speaking to people’s feelings.
- To keep the elephant motivated, people must get a sense of progress. Without progress, people will get demoralized.
- The rider needs direction, the elephant needs motivation.
As I said, this is a book definitely worth picking up. I was able to read it on the plane the other day, so a fast read with a ton of nuggets in it.
Katie shared this with me from the book The Missional Mom: Living with Purpose at Home & in the World and I thought it was worth sharing:
May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace
May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy
May God bless you with foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor
What this book points out and what I could never put into words but agreed with completely was how wrongly we think about grace and freedom when it comes to sin. All Christians look to Jesus for salvation, we see our salvation as coming through the cross, forgiveness and grace of Jesus. So that is all God, but when it comes to following Jesus, we make that all about us. We see Jesus forgiving our sins when we become Christians, but live like we don’t believe he forgives us after following Him or even having the power to help us in that area.
Do we still sin after becoming Christians? Yes, but the power of sin in our lives has been broken. Yet, you and I as followers of Jesus rarely live like we are free from the power of sin. As Chester points out, the question isn’t “if we will sin, but when.”
What was quite possibly worth the price of the book was when he discussed how we think of law and grace after becoming a Christian. He points out that many Christians live like they are still under the law. We “talk about what we shouldn’t do. We say things like, “I shouldn’t do that, I shouldn’t do this.”" That is what law says, according to Chester. Grace says, “I don’t need to do that. I don’t need to do this.”
Here are some things that jumped out to me:
- Does your reputation matter to you more than holiness?
- We often want to stop sinning because of the consequences of sin, not because we hate the actual sin.
- Our sinful heart portrays our actions as inevitable, unavoidable, or appropriate.
- We choose to follow our sinful desires because in that moment we believe they offer more than God.
- The #1 reason people don’t change pride, followed by hating the consequences of sin but still loving the sin itself.
- Desire is at the helm of our lives. It is determines behavior. We always do what we want to do.
- Behind every sin is a lie (easily the best line in the book).
- The real me is revealed when I’m too tired to keep up the pretense.
- Legalism is appealing because it makes holiness manageable & holiness becomes something we do.
- I am a hopeless person, but Jesus Christ died for hopeless people.
- We don’t change so we can prove ourselves to God. We’re accepted by God so we can change.
- When we try to prove ourselves by good works, we’re saying, the cross wasn’t enough.
This is a book definitely worth picking up if you are wrestling with an addiction or a sin that you want freedom from. I can’t recommend this enough.
- Last night was one of those nights that reminds you as a pastor what is at stake whenever you get up to preach
- I was reminded last night of the image one of my mentors uses when he talks about preaching, he said when you preach it is like “reaching down into the road to hell and pulling people back”
- That was how last night felt
- It really reminded me of the joy and weight of what I do
- Last night was all about freedom from sin and addiction and how to change for good
- Too many Christians walk around with this idea that there is nothing I can do about the sin in my life
- Um, the cross conquered the power of sin
- Yes, we will still be tempted
- Yes, we will still sin
- But, we have already won, we can win each day
- I am blown away every week by how God is working
- Seeing people accept Christ, take next steps in their journey, get plugged in
- I sat in my car after the parking lot was empty and thought, “This is so cool”
- This past week I read through Tim Chester’s book You Can Change, this has to be the best book I’ve read on the topic of change and freedom from sin
- Seriously, if last night spoke to you in any way, you need to pick up this book
- I’ll blog some thoughts later this week
- If you missed last night, you can listen to it here
- There are only 2 weeks left in our series on Nehemiah, I’m kind of sad about that
- This series has been one of my favorites, but it is always exciting to start a new series
- Our next series is going to be really cool
- Stay tuned
- Many of you asked about the prayer I read at the end of my sermon last night
- You can check it out here
- Have you joined Revolution on the city yet?
- The city is our online community and it is also the primary way we are starting to communicate as a church, do sign ups for things and scheduling for our teams
- You can sign up here
- If you have an elementary age child, you need to mark your calendar for July 12 – 16th
- It is Revolution’s first ever Day Camp
- If you need more information, or if you are interested in helping out please email Jennifer Ingram
- I am really, really, really excited for Katie and the kids to get back on Tuesday
- They have been gone visiting family for 15 days and I am really excited about having them back
- Everyone has asked me “I bet it has been great to have a break and be alone?” If being a bachelor was that cool, I would have stayed one. I have lots of friends who love being bachelors and more power to them, I like my family
- On the plus side, I have gotten a lot of work done for upcoming series we are doing over the summer
- We are doing our first ever parenting and family series in July and I had some serious breakthroughs on it this past week
- Speaking of that, this morning I read Family Driven Faith and was really challenged in how I am doing in raising my kids in a Godly way, how I am teaching and training them and passing on my faith
- Definitely a book worth picking up
- If you aren’t a parent, don’t worry, this series might actually be more powerful for you than the parents in the room
- How you ask?
- Find out July 17th
- I feel like right now I am ending one intense, busy season and I know another one awaits at the beginning of July when we get ready to move
- So, I’m looking forward to the next month
- Getting some rest and downtime, a calm before the storm so to speak
- Really, really excited about going to Colorado in June with Katie and the kids
- No phone, computer, email, twitter, facebook
- Can I get an amen
- So excited to unplug
- 3 more weeks
- Tomorrow I am meeting with a church planter who is in town and hopes to move here and start a church
- It is exciting to see God putting Tucson on the hearts of church planters
- Then on Tuesday, I’m meeting with some church planters in Phoenix for a roundtable, rapid fire lunch
- We’re meeting with the pastor of East Valley Bible Church in Phoenix and we can ask him whatever we want over lunch
- I love things like this, not only getting some questions answered, but learning from the questions of others
- Keeps me sharp and growing
- Speaking of church planting, we are in the process of joining Acts 29, which is an international church planting network
- This will give us a great network to be a part of, not only in learning as we grow as a church, but also to gain experience to reach our vision of being a church planting church
- Now, I’m going to take a nap and then watch the Suns game
- Hopefully they will show up and make it a series
- If not, I’ll take a second nap on the couch during the game
Last week at the end of my sermon, we gave people an opportunity to get baptized on the spot, to not wait, but to do it right there in the service. It was a beautiful moment.
We are having our next baptism on May 8th. If you are interested in getting baptized, please email Christe LePeau so we can get you all the information you need.
One of the critical jobs of every leader is problem solving. Often, solving problems means taking very little information and making a decision based on that little information.
One thing that pastors seem to be notorious for (at least I am) is solving problems that aren’t problems. Something doesn’t go right, we start a new ministry and no one shows up, a creative piece falls flat, a marketing tool does not bring in the people we thought, a new direction or vision is laid out and no one is excited.
Are these problems? Potentially.
The problem is that we start to solve them before we know. One night of something not going right does not constitute a problem, it’s one night. We make changes and then when they don’t work once, we quickly make adjustments to them. Now, sometimes adjustments need to be made. Sometimes we are able to see things that we can tweak to make something better.
But often, we solve problems that are not problems. Let something ride a little bit before you decide it is a problem. Let it show itself a problem before solving it.
Revolution is growing. I’ll be honest, I have always dreamed, talked and prayed that Revolution would be a church that would affect the lives of those around Tucson. And God has answerd that prayer. But, it would be a lot easier if we didn’t grow. Because, growth hurts. Growth is hard.
Growth means change. We need to make room for new people, the leadership base expands, roles change, relationships change. Not everybody likes change and sometimes, people feel left behind when change happens. And that hurts.
Growth means more responsibility. God is entrusting more and more people to Revolution. All of the guests that walk through our front door are gifts from God, entrusted to us as a church. We are held accountable to our part in their journey back to God.
Growth is expensive. We need to hire and expand to be prepared for growth. I’ve said this before, “I believe God sends people to churches that are ready to receive them and do something with them.”
Growth is much harder than the status quo. It is easy to be a church that sits on the sidelines and complains about how secular the world is and how everybody is going to hell and we need to sit back and wait for the rapture. But, God calls us and expects His church to grow and He empowers (with the help of the Holy Spirit) the church to grow (Matthew 16:18).
So, I/we will keep changing, accepting the responsibility and paying the price to reach as many people as possible.