This past weekend, our tiny church had the pleasure of hosting a conference called “Cultivating a Discipleship Community in the Church.” Rick Thomas blessed us with his teaching on several topics. It was such a great time of learning and fellowship and I thought I would share a few of the things that I am taking away from it.
The actual conference was great. He taught 5 sessions but most of what I am taking away is from his sermon on Sunday morning.
A couple things Rick said on Saturday that have stuck with me are, “Our biggest problem in the world has been resolved on the cross but we don’t act like it. We are a grumbling people.” How often we allow our sin to blur the picture of Christ on the cross.We get caught up with ourselves, attempt to be self reliant and forget that the anxieties of this world are not our biggest problem. They are trials that God uses to sanctify us and transform us into the image of Jesus. When we focus our minds on the work of Jesus on the cross, it keeps us grateful and we remember that the little things are just that, little.
The second thing that Rick talked about on Saturday was the worship structure. As human beings, we are made to worship. Unfortunately, we worship ourselves, the creation, rather than the Creator. As we dig deep into ourselves and realize our self reliance, our man centered worship structure will begin to crumble. There are 2 primary things that happen to us during this time. The first is anger. The definition that Rick gave for anger is this, “Anger is a manipulative tactic used by an insecure person who is trying to regain control of their universe”. When I am angry, or my child is angry, I want to remember this definition so that I can ask myself what it is that I am trying to gain control over. Is it something that I am responsible for or something God is responsible for? Another question that I want to ask myself during those times is, “What is it I want so badly that I am willing to sin for it?” Asking myself this question and remembering the definition of anger will help me to diffuse my anger and focus on Jesus and God’s purposes for me.
On Sunday morning, Rick preached a sermon titled, ‘How to Motivate Someone to Change’. This sermon was so simple, yet powerful and impactful. He first gave several common but unsuccessful tactics used to help people change. I am guilty of using every single one of them. But then, he gave a simple and gospel centered tactic to use.
Romans 2:4, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus says “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgement.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
Jesus equates our anger, frustration and impatience with murder. God sees our hearts, he knows what our intentions are and when we are angry, frustrated, irritated, or impatient, he sees it as murder. How easy it is to respond to someones mistakes or sin with anger and irritation. Does God respond to us that way? No! He responded to our sin with love. He put Jesus on the cross to save us from the penalty that we deserve. His kindness to us leads us to repentance and encourages us to change.
So what is the answer to the question of, How do I motivate someone to change? Kindness! Be kind to that person. Now this doesn’t mean that we overlook sin, but we address it with kindness. I am the biggest sinner in the room. I hung Jesus on the cross. Keeping this mindset helps to treat others with the kindness that the Heavenly Father treats me.
I was so convicted by this sermon. God was revealing to me how unkind I have been to those that I love the most. I had some repenting to do after this and I am so grateful for God’s kindness and willingness to forgive me. I am also thankful that he doesn’t just forgive but he empowers me to change. He continues to transform me to be more like Jesus.