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how does change happen?

I love a great sermon. I got to church this morning in time to slip into the service and hear a phenomenal preacher, Felicia Hopkins, from El Paso.

She's one of those preachers that you just can't help but say Amen while she is preaching. Her sermon was definitely amazing.

It always cracks me up when a preacher gets up and says "I'm on a schedule so I can't preach for my usual 45 minutes." I knew we were in for a good one when the text was John 5: 1-9 which is always a great passage. In case you don't want to go look it up, it is the story where Jesus goes to the pool at Bethesda and tells the paralytic man to pick up his mat and walk. As we heard in the first line of the sermon, this is one of those stories you hear time and time again in Sunday school, so when you hear it you immediately think... "man, I don't need to listen to this one, I know where she's going with this," and if we thought that, we were going to be wrong.


So the 3 point sermon rundown was this...
To be made whole...

1. Change your surroundings
2. Change your strategy
3. Change your self

Changing your surroundings... you can't get well if you hang out with people who are always bringing you down. The man who has been there for 38 years was just continuing to hang out on the 5 porches with everyone else who is sick. If you surround yourself with people who aren't well, you're probably not going to get any better.

I've been thinking about the Christian martyr lately. You know the kind, the person who just talks all the time about suffering for Jesus. I just don't think that is what God has in mind for us. I mean, how do we show how amazing God is if we are always suffering? Now I'm not saying people don't go through some tough stuff sometimes, I'm saying that negativity can be infectious like a disease. When I was in Tennessee, some horrible stuff happened. I would email and write my prayer partners each week, and even though there were some absolutely crazy things going on, I always tried to end it on a positive note. I remember when I got home, my pastor and I met over lunch and he talked to me about how powerful those emails were to him. Through everything that my staff worked through, each week was a story of God doing amazing things through it all.

So you've got to change your strategy. This piece brought all sorts of different ideas for me. I guess mainly because of my interest with emergent. I guess I see emergent as a change in strategy. We've got to start looking at ways to do things differently. Churches get in these ruts, don't change things up, and just continue to die. Strategy is what it is all about. Whether it is making churches whole or yourself whole, we've got to look at this from a different perspective.

Last, you've got to change yourself. Jesus asks the man one thing... "Do you want to be well?" Then the guy goes and makes excuses as to why he is not. We can't keep doing that. We can't keep saying things that keep us from being made whole. God can do more than we imagine.

I got a lot out of this sermon, probably more than I can begin to express here. It certainly will have me thinking through the next week.

Oh... and final thought... Bears win! :-)
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