07-12-15 Basic Training: Living, Loving Sacrifices

As I write this, our church family is smack-dab in the middle of this year’s Mount Everest-themed Vacation Bible School.  That means that every day, I’m wearing a parka... on days with heat advisories... in a room filled with active, energetic children.  Suffice it to say that I’ve probably lost about 417 pounds of water weight this week...

But it’s totally worth it.  The kids seem to be really enjoying the week (especially the Ice Cave), and I hope that they’re learning about the Lord and growing closer to Him in the process.  Please continue to keep the whole week in your prayers -- we’ve had a ton of our VBS staff have to deal with issues like computer problems, abdominal pains, broken-down vehicles, detached retinas (!) and other traumas that could work to undermine their ability to keep their focus on VBS and minister as effectively as they want to this week.  So please pray not only that the children (and their families) are reached, but also for protection and strength for everyone involved in leading this week.

Oh, and if you can join us this Friday night for our annual Ice Cream Social, we’d love to have you.  If you could be here around 6:30, that would be great!

In our message this Sunday, we talked about how God calls us to be living, loving sacrifices -- to be willing to give up our lives not in death, but in living the rest of our lives as if what we were before had been sacrificed to the Lord, and everything that we are now, now belongs to Him.

In some ways, it might almost be easier to just make one, big, dramatic act of sacrifice, and die for our faith.  People have had to do that over the centuries, and I don’t mean to lessen the gravitas of their selfless devotion to God -- but it can almost be trickier to have to live that out every day, and to remind ourselves that we need to live out sacrificed lives on Tuesdays when clerks short-change us, or on Fridays when someone cuts us off in traffic.

See, when we’re brought from death to life in Christ, God changes us from the inside-out, and He wants to keep on doing that transformational, metamorphosizing process every day -- change our hearts and change our minds to match our changed spirits.  But at the same time, we still live in a world that keeps turning the way that it always has, surrounded by people who keep thinking and acting the ways that they always have.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to react to things in the world in the exact same ways that everyone else in the world just naturally does.  When someone gets angry at you, you naturally get angry back.  When things seem scary to you, you naturally feel anxious and scared in response.  When the world declares you to be and treats you like their enemy, you naturally view them as your enemy as a reflex.

But we’re not natural creatures any more, and we shouldn’t let the world pound us into its own shape.  We need to be ambassadors of a deeper, richer, better, super-natural place -- and we need to live like that every day.

But we can’t just do that in our own power, by working really hard on it.  That’s what the world would do, so we’d still just end up thinking and acting like the world around us.  Instead, we need to spend time every day letting God work in us to transform us more and more -- spend time reading His Word every day to let our hearts and minds sync up with His; spend time in prayer every day to help ourselves become more and more familiar with His voice; spend time letting God metamorphosize us every day so that we can resist being shaped by the world around us instead.

Make that a priority today -- and every day.