Last month, Simmons had a leg quarters sale over by the clinic in Siloam Springs. If you have any doubts about the power of social media, you should have seen what I saw when I looked out of the window of our offices that morning. By 10:30 am, cars were backed up clear onto Hwy 412. Some waited close to an hour to get chicken. I went over and started unloading 40lb boxes of frozen chicken off of the semi in my work clothes.
Around noon, there was a man in a white Chevy truck that seemed to be in a hurry. We loaded his one box (seriously dude, you waited an hour for one box?) and about the time it hit his truck bed, his truck bit the dust. He was out of gas. Embarrassed, he asked for help to push him to the side so he could call his girlfriend to bring up a gas can. A little while passed and I saw his girlfriend bringing the gas can to him and not thinking anything of it, I continued to load boxes of chicken into vehicles. I looked over there about 30 minutes later and the truck was still sitting there. I walked over to ask him if everything was okay, and he said, “She brought me an empty gas can!” You can’t make this stuff up…
That empty can got him absolutely nowhere. As I think about this topic of spiritual formation and this truth that what we put into our hearts will be what comes out of our mouths and our lives, I wonder how many of us are trying to get somewhere in life while carrying an empty gas can. We want to go places, we may even want to grow spiritually, but what we are putting into our tank will never get us there. Especially if the can is already empty.
The apostle Paul continues teaching about spiritual growth in Ephesians 3:14-20. He offers a prayer for these people, and it’s a prayer that I hope is echoed in my life and in yours:
In his book, Renovation of the Heart, Dallas Willard helps us better understand what spiritual transformation can and should look like in our lives.
Spiritual Transformation is…
- “…the process leading to that ideal end, and its result is love of God with all of the heart, soul, mind and strength, and of the neighbor as oneself.”
- “…the Spirit-driven process of forming the inner world of the human self in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself…In the degree to which spiritual formation in Christ is successful, the outer life of the individual becomes a natural expression or outflow of the character and teachings of Jesus.”
- “Christian spiritual formation is focused entirely on Jesus. Its goal is an obedience or conformity to Christ that arises out of an inner transformation accomplished through purposive interaction with the grace of God in Christ.”
- “…rests on this indispensable foundation of death to self and cannot proceed except insofar as that foundation is being firmly laid and sustained.”
- “Christlikeness of the inner being is not a human attainment. It is, finally, a gift of grace.”
For the month of August, we are going to continue the conversation about spiritual formation and transformation and focus on the Spiritual Disciplines (or Means of Grace) and seek to answer some key questions:
What are Means of Grace?
Why are they important?
What kind of impact could they have on my life, relationships, faith, and my work?
I hope you will come back next week as we continue through this 4 week focus on Spiritual Transformation and the Means of Grace.