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What Stirs Genuine Change In Our Hearts?

How do people change, get free and live up to our new identity in Christ Jesus? What is it that motivates us to be less focused on what needs to change in others and more willing to humbly look within and consider how we might change our behavior in order to better serve the needs of others. In a very simple way .... "Love". Love defined and modeled by Jesus' self-sacrificial generosity towards us. Love that seeks not only the good of another, but for loving union with the other.

I'm both drawn to and challenged by this quote from Larry Crabb that I read recently ... "We must face our impact on people. When we see how we harm those we love, our redeemed hearts suffer to the point of repentance. When our impact is good, we sense a joy that makes us long to love even better." (from 'Finding God')

It's good to think about whether we are even conscious of our impact on others. Do we get out of our own headspace enough to notice what is happening around us? Sometimes things can be discerned, but also we can rush to wrong judgments if we are not careful, especially if again, our focus is on the other rather than on ourselves. It can also be helpful to ask for some feedback. Have you ever asked the question, 'what is it like to be around me? Or married to me? Or managed by me? Or parented by me?' In a constructive way, be willing to ask, 'What would you like more of? Less of?'

I recently came across this story from the Desert Fathers: Once a brother committed a sin in Scetis, and the elders assembled and sent for Abba Moses. He, however, did not want to go. Then the priest sent a message to him, saying: “Come, everybody is waiting for you.” So he finally got up to go. And he took a worn-out basket with holes, filled it with sand, and carried it along. The people who came to meet him said: “What is this?” Then the old man said: “My sins are running out behind me, yet I do not see them. And today I have come to judge the sins of someone else.” When they heard this, they said nothing to the brother and pardoned him.

Some useful reflective questions, perhaps explored with someone else you trust, may also be helpful here ...

  • What pattern of destructive behavior do you struggle with on a regular basis?

  • What is temporarily fed or relieved in you by those choices?

  • Is your response primarily discomfort focused on guilt and shame? Pressure to do better? Despair over your sense of powerlessness? Or an urgency to minimize or justify your behavior?

  • How could looking honestly at your decision's impact on others re-shape your desire to relate like Jesus?

With love and prayers,

Pastor Mike.

PS I hope that you will be encouraged to come out for some or all of the Summer Rain Crusade this weekend, but especially that you will be there on Sunday morning to join in with worship alongside other Jesus-followers here in Port Alberni. Consider bringing a friend along (or at least inviting them). I do believe that the Lord is challenging us to step out of our comfort zone when it comes to sharing about Jesus with those who don't come to church (yet!) This is just another step in that journey to help us get beyond the building.

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