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Nine Fifty News: Issue One February 2021

With the coming of a New Year, traditionally we think about changes we would like to see happen in our lives. We talk of ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ – a fitness regime, a weight-loss programme, devotional commitments, financial goals, family changes etc, etc.

I suspect, due to bitter experience, most of us are also aware that making commitments and seeing them come to fruition are two very different things. Change doesn’t come magically – it actually means doing different things than we have done previously.

I’m reminded of a story I heard once:

Two hunters chartered a float plane out into their favourite hunting spot in the wilderness.They landed on the far side of the lake and arranged with the pilot to pick them up in a week. They shot several large deer during the week and when the pilot picked them up at the arranged place they had the deer carcasses ready to take back with them. 

The pilot informed them that they couldn’t take carcasses that large as it would make the plane too heavy for lift off. The hunters complained that the pilot last year had managed to take off with a similar load on board. Not wanting to be outdone, or thought a whimp, the pilot loaded them all on board and taxied out onto the lake. He opened up the throttles and gunned the motor for all it was worth.

The plane slowly lifted off the waters, but they ran out of room and it clipped the tree tops, flipped and crashed into the undergrowth. After a period the two hunters came to about the same time and one said to the other, “Where are we?” His companion replied, “About 50 meters from where we crashed last year!”
 
We have all heard the well-worn wisdom of, “If you always do what you have always done you will always get what you’ve always got!’ The irony of this for believers in Jesus is that, of all people, we should be most available for, and disposed to, change. The very first word of the Gospel is a call to change -- ‘Repent,’ -- which means ‘a change of mind which issues in a change of direction.’ From that moment on change is to be our normal experience:
2 Corinthians 4:16 “The inward man is being renewed {changed} every day.”
Ephesians 4:23 “Renewed {changed} in the spirit of your mind.”
A Christian who isn’t being changed is an oxymoron. We aren’t left alone to create change – God’s Spirit, God’s Word and God’s Grace come to enable us, and it, BUT we are called to cooperate.

Dallas Willard comments,

“Spiritual formation [read ‘change’] in Christ is therefore not a mysterious, irrational – possibly hysterical – process: something that strikes like lightning, whenever and wherever it will, if at all; or something that is magically conferred upon us. Spiritual experiences [Paul on the Damascus Road and so on] do not constitute spiritual formation, [change] though they could be a meaningful part thereof and sometimes are.

Spiritual formation is something we human beings can and must undertake. While it is simultaneously a profound manifestation of God’s gracious action through His word and His Spirit, it is also something for which we are responsible for before God.”
 
I’m inviting you and hoping you’ll join me, in a journey of change in 2021.


Love and Blessings,

Don

Don and Karen Barry are Senior Leaders at Gateway