As Christmas fades into memory and the new year is upon us let us talk about one of the great gifts that Jesus put under our Christmas trees—transformation.  Unfortunately, this particular gift comes with a label, that as a father of five children, I hate to see on any gift—"some assembly required.”  Jesus saves us not only from something (eternal separation from God) but to something, a new life of holiness, compassion and authenticity.   As author Heath Lambert states, “our sinfulness does not get the final word” (Finally Free, 13).    So how do we cooperate with God as He transforms us?   As spiritual caterpillars, we too are called to eventually emerge as beautiful butterflies, realizing our full potential.  The Apostle Paul says we are “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29).  Simply put, our character will look more and more like Jesus Christ.  How?
      First, live in community.  Let’s be honest, in general people do not change in isolation.  We grow and change in the tensions of community.  We grow when someone asks us the hard questions.  We mature when someone challenges our bad choices.  The recovery community knows this, the church has known it even longer.  We have too many blind spots on our own.  Only another set of eyes on our lives can really show us where we are spiritually.  The Author of Hebrews says we are to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).  Who is someone in your life that you look up to, that could help you move forward?        
      Second, marinate our minds in the scripture.  In a culture of spin and deception finding the truth is powerful.  God’s Word, the Bible, is the best place to stand intellectually.  Lies hold us captive, truth sets us free.  I once read about the legendary Harry Houdini.  When he would come to a town he would have the sheriff lock him in a jail cell.  This stunt created buzz for his upcoming show.  But one Sheriff outsmarted Houdini by turning the key the wrong way, leaving the escape artist in an unlocked cell.  Because Houdini believed a lie he kept locking himself in again and again (Winning The War In Your Mind, Craig Groeschel, 18).  Which lies hold you captive?  Lies like “I am worthless,” or “Compromise just this once, it will not matter” can do massive damage in our lives.  The apostle Paul says we are “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2).   My family will sometimes work on large, complex puzzles.  Biblical truth is like the picture on the box cover.  It gives you a vision for what you are working towards.    
      Finally, invite the Holy Spirit to work in your life.  Self-help is ultimately a dead end.  We need God’s aid for substantial, lasting change.  Through the Holy Spirit applying the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus to our lives, the mastery of sin is broken.  The example of Jesus alone is crushing but the Spirit of Jesus working within us is liberating. The fruit of the Holy Spirit grows in our lives in a natural, organic way, not by gritting our teeth and trying harder.  Connection to Christ through the Holy Spirit is the key.  Prayer is not a meaningless ritual but a true lifeline.    
     With these keys in hand embrace the new year and let the transformation begin.
Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church