[reprinted from our recent newsletter]
This year will mark my fortieth year of deliberately walking with Jesus. (God has always been walking with me, but I was not always walking with Him.) In some ways I am utterly amazed at how much God has changed me, and I give all the thanks to Him. I have so much more self-esteem, confidence, love for people, freedom from past sins, faith, peace, joy and more. However, I can also say that I am very disappointed in how far I’ve come. I am still so far from being just like Jesus. Of course, when I began this journey, becoming like Jesus was not my focus or my goal. I just wanted to go to heaven.
Fortunately, God knew exactly what He wanted to do with me, and how to get me there. His purpose for all of us is to conform us to the character likeness of Jesus Christ – to think like Him, talk like Him and to act like Him at all times in every situation. I’d say that half of my Christian life I stumbled in and out of the activities God uses to transform a human soul. For that reason, I’m not anywhere near as far as I wish I was. However, now that I know God’s goal for my life and how He wants me to participate in His life-transforming work, I can move proactively and decisively together with Him with hope and great expectations.
Let me remind you of the six activities of life transformation:
- Exposure to and assimilation of truth
- Inner healing through the practice of all aspects of God’s forgiveness
- Deliverance from demonic influences
- Personal experiences with God (dating God)
- Making protective choices
- Creating nurturing environments (physically, mentally, spiritually, relationally, etc.)
For me personally, I am feeling led to focus on deepening my personal experiences with God this year. For this reason, I will be deliberately working to practice the variety of spiritual disciplines men and women have practiced over the centuries to meet with God: fasting, prayer, silence, solitude, giving, service, meditation, the Bible, etc.
Some people do these things to earn “points” with God, or to stay out of trouble. I do these things to experience the living God. I believe we can experience something of God in hunger, when our stomachs have been empty for a few days, that we would never experience on a full stomach. We can experience something of God in silence that we would never experience while bombarded with noise. We can experience something of God in giving our money away that we would never experience by saving and spending it on ourselves. This is true of all the spiritual disciplines.
I don’t know what God might be leading you to focus on this year. If you have not yet discerned it, perhaps you’d like to join me in a focus on deepening your personal experiences with God. Whatever you do, be decisive, be deliberate, and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).