Good Friday to You,
Wednesday night was going to be a normal small group night: casual conversation as everyone arrives, light snacks, discussion of Scripture, sharing and prayer, and a final bit of casual conversation as everyone departs. Then, if they don’t leave in a timely fashion, I usually say to Carol Ann, “We need to go to bed so these fine people can leave.”
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But Wednesday night was not group normal. We read our text for the night. Then after we shared a few thoughts about the surprising truth of the Spirit inside us being preferred to Jesus beside us, it happened…full-blown…God-is-awesome-share-your-God-story night! Every story was dramatic and personal.
Michael started us off. He is 31 and has been a Christ-follower for less than a year. It was about a year and a half ago when he decided he was done living the way he had been living. For the previous 10 years, life had become work, work out, and drink. Monday through Friday was work hard and workout harder. Friday night through Saturday night was all about drinking. Recover on Sunday. Repeat.
Michael was done with the repeat and immediately began making changes. At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, He said, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Sometimes we mistake “repentance” for expressing words of regret. Openly confessing the error of our way is good, but repentance is the actual change of behavior. If you are driving, repentance is not when you express your frustration for being on the wrong road. Repentance is the U-turn.
Michael turned. Before he understood his new heading, he knew continuing down that road of repeat was simply not life. Then he met the girl. She invited him to church. Because he liked her, he decided he liked church. More accurately, he liked being where she was, so if she was at church, he liked being with her…at church. And he came.
He told our group that he doesn’t remember what I preached about that first week (definitely the only bad part of the story!), but he distinctly remembers how when we sang together after I preached he stood there thinking, “Huh, there might be something to this.” Yup…the Holy Spirit was beginning to reveal His work in Michael’s life.
And then “it got real.”
Very early on December 19, Michael found himself on his knees calling out to God. It involved, in his words, “an ugly cry.” He doesn’t remember exactly what he prayed, but he definitely remembers feeling relief from this huge weight he had been carrying! Exactly two months later, Michael publicly declared his faith in Jesus when he was baptized at Cornerstone. 2017 has been a very different year for Michael…the result of so much more than another New Year’s Resolution.
Jesus wasn’t exaggerating when he said, “It is better that I go and the Holy Spirit come, than I stay.” Michael is living proof of what happens when the Spirit brings a person to life. This weekend, we will talk about that work of the Spirit in you and in those around you. Experiencing life transformation may be surprisingly different than what you have been thinking and sharing. It was for Nick! Take a look at Jesus’ shocking conversation with him, and then we’ll talk about it this weekend.
Hope you join us!