If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal,persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless……
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus……
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law,but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ.
~ The Apostle Paul
The Bible gives us a remarkable example of transformation through the man named Saul as he finds his true identity in Christ and becomes the Apostle Paul. He would become one of the greatest missionaries to the Gentiles and Jews and many of his writings are canonized as part of the New Testament. Saul was a man possessed with defining who he was through a skewed belief system. His life was polarized by who he kept company with and who he disassociated himself from.
Until one day when Christ stepped into the picture and redefined what his Identity was in truth and how that would clarify his mission and community. This would not be an overnight transformation for the man formerly known as Saul. His own words tell us that he had to spend some time in Arabia away from those who he would ultimately serve. I believe he had some soul searching to do in order to work through some pain of what he had been and done. He would need to be prepared to endure some of the hardest tests of his new identity and that took preparedness.
My friend and pastor, Chis McAlister, just released a book on Amazon yesterday which is titled SightShift. Chris details in his book how he had to go through a time of transformation, an Arabia if you will, in order to understand what healthy and true identity looks like. He also provides the reader with actions that can help them through this process and how to understand the triggers that come about which would challenge or skew the identity that we have in Christ. He is so passionate about this teaching that he is providing the book free in Kindle format for a few days. So hurry and get a copy before the time elapses but before you take off from here, I wanted you to read a few words from Chris about his book and teachings. So I asked him provide answers to three questions that I would have liked to ask so many authors that I have read before. Please take a few moments and see the heart of this man through the answers he provided.
Me: How do you respond to the reader who is thinking about reading your book and thinks, ‘Wow, another Christian self-help book’? (Especially non-Christians)
Chris: I tire of the message that says, “Try harder” or “You should live your life like mine”. SightShift isn’t a discovery of new information but a re-discovery of what is true. The truth is that your journey may look very different than mine. And it isn’t about trying harder. Instead it’s learning who you are uniquely in Jesus and how to embrace the uniqueness of your journey.
Me: How does your book help the reader navigate the tensions found in the American Christian Heritage (Fundamentalism vs Christian Liberty)?
Chris: When you learn to experience a secure identity in Jesus you are empowered. One of the implications of that empowerment is you get to think for yourself. Rather than respond to pressure from others you learn to follow where Jesus is leading you. This isn’t hyper-individualism either. It is acknowledging systematic approaches reduce God to what we can figure out. Legalism reduces God to a task master. But learning who God is in truth and who we are liberates us to embrace mystery and relationship. In this framework theological systems aren’t cup-de-sacs but stepping stones in our journey with God.
Me: What is your greatest hope for the message in your book?
Chris: My biggest hope is for the freedom of my brothers and sisters in Jesus. A wave of leadership went through the church and now people for the most part recognize inactive and passive leadership. What if a wave went through the church where we learned to recognize shame and guilt with the same accuracy? What if we made the church about people discovering who they are, the uniqueness of their mission, and how to build healthy community rather than completing a checklist to build a machine disguised a church?
Get over to Amazon and get your free Kindle copy before they are gone at http://www.amazon.com/SightShift-Identity-Chris-McAlister-ebook/dp/B00GIQ7U8A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384645487&sr=8-1&keywords=sightshift
Back in January I went through a period of dealing with kidney stones. Docs had me try to pass it naturally the first couple of weeks and eventually went after it via surgery and couldn’t see it. I spent 5 days on the mend only to find out that it went back to the same place it was stuck before the surgery. I switched doctors and tried some new medicines and it eventually passed. I have to tell you that those were three long weeks that I hope to never repeat.
Since then I have been trying to catch up with life – work, family, and other responsibilities. It seems I have very little time to write anymore but I am trying to work on that. I am hoping by summer to have more freedom in my ‘non-work’ hours.
Some fun things to mention:
- My wife and I have started a small study group on Sunday nights and we are working through the book of Ruth. What a great study. I had begun a similar study about 18 months back but didn’t get to finish it so I am looking forward to getting through the whole book this go around.
- I have been working with the youth pastor of the church we have been attending since September to try to start a youth study on Sunday mornings. Could use your prayers over this as starting anything new can take time.
- I continue to meet with a group of men on Wednesday evenings. It is such an encouragement to see where some of the guys are now compared to where they were just a year ago. God is at work and having the ability to look back and see what He has been accomplishing is such a blessing.
So.. be patient with me as I get my feet under me from a time standpoint and I will finish the series about my daughter’s birth and move on to some other fun things to discuss.
For those of you who have been returning to read the final entries on the birth of our daughter, Lauren, I will finish them soon. I have been working though some issues with kidney stones over the past week which has kept me from finishing those posts.
As soon as everything is clear on that front, I will finalize the series.
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Ok.. so I realize corn is an important commodity in the world of agriculture, but my word people, how much corn do we really need!! I have never seen so much corn in all my life. And then there is the rain. It keeps raining. Which keeps making more corn grow. The people have gone mad in the west over corn. In fact, they are so crazy that they built a Corn Palace.
I am not kidding. A Corn Palace.
So what do you do if you are sick of looking at corn and you find out that there is a palace built in its honor? Well, visit it of course!
As you can see, my youngest and I have ‘corn on the brain’.
In all seriousness, we have had safe travels so far. Last night we stayed in a nice Courtyard-Marriott in Peoria, Illinois. Unfortunately, tonight we are staying in a Best Western Motor Inn in Mitchell, South Dakota. The $50 difference in price is very evident. I have reassured my wife that our budget is sound enough that any more hotels will be like the first hotel and less like the second. 🙂
Tomorrow morning we get up early so that we can visit the Badlands of South Dakota before arriving in Hill City, South Dakota where we will finally visit Mount Rushmore – my wife’s choice National Park for this trip. We hope to get less pictures with corn in them.
I am off for now. Night!
Our church got involved with the Rescue Event this past weekend in order to raise awareness about the Invisible Children (Joseph Kony’s child soldiers). The event started at 3pm at the Ohio State campus and included a march of about 2 to 3 miles to an open field where those involved would spend the night under the stars. This was a symbolic act that represented the forced march that the children abducted by Joseph Kony would have to endure.
When I say our church, I mean our youth in the 7-12 grades and some adults that were necessary to chaperon them. The leadership decided that a more representative march could be realized if we all started from the church and walked to the event. That is an 18 mile walk that had to be completed by 3pm.
We started at about 8:40am which means we had to average close to 3 mph if we were to reach the event in time. That is a tough pace to keep up for 6 hours.
I was very proud of all those involved because they DID it! At a cost. I don’t know if anyone escaped blisters, sun burns(87 degree sunny day), and aching muscles. And that was just in the first 18 miles. We had an hour break to rest up once we got to the actual event before making the last 2-3 mile trek around the campus of Ohio State. That has got to be one of the longest 2-3 miles any of those involved ever walked.
Our ending point was a soccer field where we would all sleep beneath the open sky. I can’t speak for everyone, but that was a rough night of trying to sleep. Imagine waking up lying on wet grass and its cold enough to see your breath. That happened around 1am – after finally falling asleep around midnight. That was kind of depressing because at that point sleep seemed impossible and morning was an eternity away.
This thought kept going through my mind during the walk and during the long sleepless night…
I can check out anytime.
I had access to water and food anytime I needed it. I had adequate clothing and bedding for my 24 hour inconvenience. But the biggest difference between myself and those children in Uganda was that I had the ability to get on my phone and call my wife to come and get me anytime I was fed up with the experience.
I cannot imagine the hopelessness that those abducted children experience or the terror. I kept praying throughout the experience that God would comfort those children and bring hope to their lives that no matter what they had been forced to do that they could always return home.
One last thought before signing off. Here are 6 P’s that I compiled while walking. These P’s can be applied to our Christian walks.
- Purpose: 70 people didn’t show up at 8am on a Saturday morning just out of the blue. They came together for a purpose that provided focus for the hours ahead.
- Preparation: Its great to have purpose but without some preparation it would have been impossible to realize the goal we had set. Imagine trying to make that walk in 87 degree weather without water or a good pair of tennis shoes.
- Participation: I know that there were some people who had good intentions about being part of the event. They were in agreement about the goal and they may have even made some preparations for the walk. But, they never showed up. They checked out before they ever began.
- Partnership: Imagine with me if only one person had showed up that Saturday morning for the long walk expecting that others would be there to share the journey. They may have been so disillusioned that they would have just turned around and gone home. Paul had Barnabas or Luke on his many rough travels. I wonder how he would have fared if he had tried to go it alone.
- Perseverance: I got to admit that there were times I wanted to check out during that long walk. The sun had burned every inch of my exposed skin, each step felt like it was being made barefooted in broken glass, and my muscles were aching from being pushed harder than they had in a long time. Here is the funny thing… it wasn’t the last few miles that were the hardest, it was the middle miles. I kept thinking about how much I hurt and how far I still had to go. It was very disheartening. I could hear Paul exhorting Timothy to continue in the walk, to strive for the prize. There were two miles that were pure torture for me but I wanted to keep going, to keep striving, to keep pushing toward the prize. One. Step. At. A. Time.
- Prayer: This last P was done in conjunction with all the others but it was especially important in persevering. AND… it was done on the behalf of other people.
Have you applied any of these to your life? I would love to hear about it.