How is God Shaping You?

Brian Tate, Guest Writer

When I was growing up, my grandfather always made things out of wood.  He wasn’t a carpenter by trade, but enjoyed doing it as a hobby.  He has always been very good at this.  I remember, as a boy, going into his workshop and looking at all his tools.  There were so many of them.  They were always in their special places.  He always knew exactly what tools to use to accomplish his goal.  I would make birdhouses, cabinets, and toys.  Now fast forward to the present, I have my own tools and enjoy trying to make things.  I look at my set of tools and realize that I have three hammers, two levels, and numerous screwdrivers.  I have a new hammer, my go-to hammer, and a hammer that my dad used.  I use these hammers at different times.  I use my go-to hammer all the time because it’s the one I am familiar with.  I use my new hammer when I hang out with people or want to show it off.  When my family is around, I may pull out the old hammer my dad used.  I have used all the hammers at one point.

Just like those hammers, God uses each of us in different ways.  I think of what Paul has said in 1 Corinthians and Ephesians.  In both letters, Paul describes the believers as the body of Christ.  He writes, “27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12).  He also writes, “4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.” (Ephesians 4).

Just like my grandfather with his tools, God has a goal for humanity.  His goal is to provide a way for all mankind to be reconciled with Him, through belief in His Son.  He also expects to be glorified through it all.  God’s goal is going to be completed by God using believers.  Just like my grandfather used his tools, God knows which believer to use, at the right time to come closer to His goal.  God has given each of us abilities to show others His glory.  So how can God use me with the abilities that He has given me?  What is something that I do daily that I can use for the glory of God?  Paul writes that each member of the body is just important as the other.  So where do I fall into all of this?  If I want to find out which sport I like, I try one.  If I don’t like it, I try another one.  I keep doing this until I find one that I enjoy playing and feel like I am decent at it.

If you have no idea what ability God has blessed you with, then try something.  First and foremost, try serving.  What better place to grow your abilities than within the church?  We should always be patient and willing to help others grow and understand their abilities that God has given them.  So sign up for serving somewhere.  If you serve in one area and just do not enjoy it, then look for another area.  Keep trying it until you find that one area where God can use you and your ability to bring Him glory.  Seek to honor God and learn how to use your ability to help others in their relationship with Christ, as well as reaching others for Christ.

Keepin’ Football and Faith Simple

Image

Jeff Brown, Guest Writer

I’ve been a fan of college football my entire life, and, being a former high school football coach myself, there was no individual in the coaching profession that I held in higher esteem during my younger days than the former coach of the University of Alabama, Paul W. (Bear) Bryant. By the time he retired in 1981, he had won more college football games than any coach in history up to that point. As a child, though, he did not even know what a football was until he was in 8th grade, when the coach at his school in Fordyce, Arkansas, impressed with the young man’s size, asked if he’d like to play. According to his autobiography, Bryant replied, “I guess so, but I don’t know how to play.” The coach then responded, “Well, you see this football right here? When you see someone with this ball in their hands, you run as fast as you can and hit him as hard as you can.” Bear Bryant’s football philosophy never went too far beyond this simple premise – “Go as hard as you can, and hit them as hard as you can.” Over my 20-odd years as a football coach, I have seen how we have taken a very simple game and made it pretty complicated. The game still basically boils down to blocking and tackling, a very simple concept that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of schemes, game-planning, and terminology.

In our Spiritual lives, I often see a parallel in the way we approach our daily walk with Christ. We have taken a very simple concept and made it into something that is either too complicated, or something that is so rehearsed and so memorized that we can do it by habit rather than by allowing the Spirit to guide us daily. Many times, it seems, we do things simply because that is the way we have always done them, or because that was the way our parents, or grandparents even, used to do them. Even into my thirties, I never questioned why. But in looking at the simple gift of salvation, whether viewing the simplicity of John 3:16 to the Scriptures of the Romans road (Romans 5:12, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:9-13) or on through to Revelation 3:20, we have often allowed ourselves to become slaves to the complexities of the traditions of religion, or simply to be led to being concerned with the world’s view of our worship rather than true spirituality and the true worship of God. In other words, we’ve taken our relationship with God, a very rich and special and simple one-on-one relationship and allowed it to become complicated with the traditions and ways of the world. It has gotten lost in the shuffle of schemes, game-planning and terminology. Wouldn’t ours be a much better walk, a much more personally-satisfying and God-pleasing walk, if we would all simply model the instructions of our spiritual journey with God on the simplicity of those instructions that Bryant’s football coach gave to him nearly a century ago? “I’d like to be a better Christian, but I don’t know how. How do I do it?”

Very simply, the best response would be, “Be Christ-like.” Would Mary Magdalene or the woman at the well be welcomed by us if they showed up at our door, or, better yet, showed up and sat beside us at church? Are we willing to wash the feet of our friends, or, even in the case of Judas, our betrayers? Are we patient with our friends and family members, as Christ was throughout his earthly ministry with his disciples, especially Peter? Are we as non-judgmental as Christ was when He walked the earth? Are we willing to suffer, especially through persecution, even though the persecutions we face do not compare to the grievous suffering that He endured hanging on that cross? Galatians 2:20 (NIV) tells us, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Is this walk easy? I would argue that ease of living is not what God promised us, so the answer to that question would be a resounding, “No!” However, the manner in which we approach it can be simple – a basic reminder to ourselves to approach every day and every situation with the resolve that we will be Christ-like in our response to everything, no matter what the secular world and Satan throws at us.

You Make Beautiful Things Out of Us

Amanda Wallace, Stonepoint Member

It seems our society is always in a rush. When we are shopping, we want to check out quickly and we want to be served promptly. We don’t like to wait on the phone for customer service. People are in such a rush to get rich, win big, have the biggest house, the nicest car, and the best job. Think about this, “Is what you are in pursuit of the same as what God wants for your life?”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us that “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”  Often times, we want everything to happen RIGHT NOW; despite the fact that what we want may not be what God wants for us.  However, we still want it right away, without considering the journey God wants to take us on. We often want to skip steps in life that God has in mind for us and do it NOW!  We want to go from being caterpillar eggs to butterflies in an instant!  Caterpillars must go through four stages before their metamorphosis is complete. Starting as eggs, they then hatch as caterpillars. Then they eat…a lot. After some time passes, they become a cocoon before transformation is complete and they emerge as a beautiful butterfly.

As Christians, we can’t rush through life; just like a caterpillar can’t skip stages. You may feel that God is calling you in a certain area, but even caterpillars don’t go from an egg to a butterfly overnight. For some people, waiting for immediate change causes them to grow anxious and weary.  The constant waiting causes life to seem routine and mundane. Boredom sets in and for some it may seem like God has forgotten them. Some may  become dissatisfied because they feel they haven’t accomplished much or it may be a result of trying to pursue something that is a personal goal and not God’s purpose.

In order for anything to be birthed, it must go on a journey. If you aren’t certain what your purpose (or journey) is, then the best way to prepare is to eat and eat from the Word of God.  We need to spend daily time in prayer and worship. We should be preparing and strengthening our spirit so that we can accomplish the things which God has planned for us.

Like the caterpillar, God wants to mold and shape us to prepare us for the plans he has in our lives. Job said in Job 23:10 “For He knows the way that I take, and when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” Unfortunately, sometimes there is pain in the process. The journey may be difficult, but God knows and sees exactly where you are. The cocoon may appear to be ugly from the outside, but God can see the inside.  I believe that God is slowly transforming us into something beautiful. God may just be waiting for our character to catch up with His plans for us.  It is in the long and difficult process of breaking out of the cocoon that the butterfly becomes strong. If the caterpillar breaks its way out of the cocoon too soon, it won’t survive. The butterfly’s wings will not be developed enough to allow him to fly. Just like if we step away from our purpose of loving God and others, our life becomes chaotic. God does not want us to simply arrive to life’s destination, He desires our character to be shaped before we are to be successful in it.

You may also be wondering… “When is it going to happen?” Think about this…..Is it possible that you haven’t yet completed your stages of metamorphosis? If you’re having trouble waiting for the moment that you reach God’s calling, your vision, or your dreams, just remember…. “He has made everything beautiful in HIS time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)