I have probably had more discussions, and debates, about spiritual transformation than any other subject I can think of. Why is it that some leaders seem to continue to experience victory and progress and others are perennially stuck and discouraged?
Is spiritual transformation some mysterious thing that magically happens when I am asleep? To hear some talk, they believe it is–it is all of grace with no action on my part required. I have addressed this topic in the past, but feel strongly that I need to deal with it again.
Early in my Christian experience, I was challenged to bathe myself in God’s word. With His help, I have done this in a number of ways:
Regularly reading scripture
Journaling on what I am reading and what Jesus is making clear to me
Meditating on specific verses which the Holy Spirit could use to teach, encourage, challenge and change me
Doing serious Bible study chapter by chapter through books of the Bible
Pursuing an intentional and focused plan of memorization and praying over verses and passages I have memorized.
Over a period of 61 years these habits of the heart, means of grace, spiritual disciplines have created a mind-set and soul-set that have paved the way to personal transformation in me by the Holy Spirit.
I have been taught that either sin will keep me from God’s word or God’s word will keep me from sin. I believe this with all my heart!
Hebrews 4:12 makes it crystal clear that there is enormous power in the word of God to penetrate the deepest part of my being and create change.
I readily admit that there is always the chance that a robust intentional plan of scriptural intake can degenerate into a performance-based way of operating– thinking I am earning God’s favor or love by what I am doing. I am beyond that and see it more as a way to allow the Triune God access to my life so He can transform me.
Labeling such intentional practices as I have described as legalism can be a ploy of the enemy to keep me from the very thing that will facilitate growth and spiritual transformation in my life. I have never heard a person label an accomplished musician or athlete legalistic. Rather, they are admired for their devotion, dedication and discipline. I propose that when we see a leader pursuing a disciplined path of personal growth we give them the benefit of the doubt and thank the Lord that they are dedicated, disciplined and devoted to Jesus enough to take their walk and growth seriously. Please don’t fall into the trap of putting a negative label on them.
Most of the men and women I have read about, who have had a life of fruitfulness for Jesus, have aggressively and passionately pursued such habits I have described above. Many biographies of these men and women populate my book shelves and have enriched my life immensely. They are a constant inspiration for me to passionately pursue Jesus.
“Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him! Then he will respond to us to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of the of rains in early spring” Hosea 6:3 (New Living Translation)
Romans 12:2 is very instructive on this issue. I am told to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed (there’s our word) by the renewal of our mind. The best way I know how to renew my mind is to allow the Holy Spirit to do it through the word of God.
Colossians 3:16 admonishes me to let the word of Christ dwell in me richly. By His grace I intend to do as long as I have breath.
When Jesus was tempted by the Devil in Matthew chapter four, He countered every assault with the word of God.
Psalm 1:2,3 lists the values of meditating on God’s word. I want to be like that fruitful tree for Jesus!
Fifty-nine years ago, Jack Blanch challenged me to begin memorizing the word of God. By His grace, I have been doing so ever since and have no plans to stop. The memorized word of God, coupled with intentional meditation, prayer, confession, repentance and worship over those memorized portions of scripture, have had the single greatest impact on my ongoing spiritual transformation than anything else He has empowered and led me to do.
Why not consider planting the wonderful, inspired and inerrant word of God in your mind and soul and watch what the Holy Spirit does with it? If you want some practical ideas on how to get started, email firstname.lastname@example.org.