Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Change Me

Earlier today our Executive Pastor, Dave Leestma, shared with me a great article by Richard Foster in this month’s issue of Christianity Today. One line in the piece captured something God has been whispering to me for weeks:

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but where, oh where, are those who think of changing themselves.

It reminded of a prayer that my home church pastor used often at the end of worship:

Lord, let there be peace on earth and let it begin right here, right now, with me.

I can get so caught up in the excitement of “world changing” ministry that I can lose focus that at the very heart of the matter is the heart – and that begins with my heart and then the heart of our leadership and the heart of our community.

Unless hearts, our hearts (my heart), are being changed (transformed) then the most successful, world changing, things we do won’t really matter much.

Five (very familiar) things change my heart:

Prayer. The longer I serve the church the more I realize how dependant I am on prayer. One of my growing places lately has been a realization of how important it is for me to spend time praying with others.

Worship. Last Sunday I had the rare opportunity to come to Grace simply to worship (and not to lead worship). It turned out to be this amazing gift to share in worship with a community of people that I love. While I can easily imagine (and enjoy) a Sunday off from “work,” I can’t imagine missing time spent in worship.

Time spent in God’s Word. John Stott (one of my heroes) reminds us that we are called to be “stewards of the mysteries of God.” Time spent in that sort of stewardship always changes my heart.

Time spent serving others. Whether its part of a church-wide project or a small unnoticed act of kindness – serving someone always expands my heart – especially if it requires some cost from me.

Time spent in community. Increasingly, I am discovering the importance of authentic friendships – places where I can live with an “unveiled face.” These are rare treasures that perhaps rather than change me – simply allow me to be the “real me.”

Practicing the disciplines of prayer, worship, study, service and community has become almost too familiar a recipe and yet they remain the most effective.

I wonder what difference it might make to begin 2009 by replacing a vision of “changing the world” for a vision of changing myself?

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