Your Invitation to Live IV

YOUR INVITATION TO LIVE ON THE GROWING EDGE

John 10:10; Romans 12:1-2; Romans 3:23; Romans 5:1-5; Romans 6:23; Romans 8:29; Philippians 4;13

Living on the Edge? If you’re not living on the edge then you are taking up too much room. People get involved in extreme sports to experience the adrenalin rush. This is an invitation to experience the deep-seated JOY of knowing God’s involvement in your live each day. Rather than the adrenalin rush that comes through DOING or HAVING it is a deep down joy that comes from BEING!

Living on the Growing Edge is the title of a book I read some years ago. The author, Bruce Larson, recalls meeting a remarkable teacher,

“…one of those gifted people who realises that she is not teaching subjects but persons. In her classroom young people not only mastered learning skills, but began to understand themselves and life. This teacher was able to consistently encourage her students and help them excel.

Her method, a concept common in education, was to discover the ‘growing edge’ of each of her students, where the student is ready and able to learn. Beyond that the student is not able to cope, and behind that the student is easily bored.[1]

Since launching into a consulting career in 1993 after many years of secure employment I have been acutely aware of my ‘growing edge’. From the outset I handed over this new career to God for Him to take it and use it to His glory. He has been my ‘teacher.’ It’s definitely never been boring; although at times I have thought I have extended myself beyond my ‘growing edge’ and have wondered how I would cope.

I have coped and more than that my professional practice has benefited. I never cease to be amazed by the events that transpire to bring me home.[2]

Romans 12:1-2 NIV is a Growing Edge passage.

We will examine this passage using the questions WHO? WHAT? WHERE & WHEN, HOW? and WHY?

WHO?

The Apostle Paul, Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy…

Paul was well aware of the depth of God’s mercy.

Throughout his ministry of reconciliation, spreading the Good News of Jesus he faced hardship and suffering and now his intention is to visit Rome and so he writes to prepare the Christians for his visit. At this stage the church hadn’t received the teaching of an Apostle. He wants them to know and to be secure in God’s plan of salvation and righteousness that is available to everyone.

In Romans 3:23 he states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

In Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It’s Paul’s deepest desire that believers go on with their faith and experience the abundance of life that is available to them.

Jesus in John 10:10 states, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

It’s Paul’s desire that believers experience the fullness of life in Christ, not for it to be snatched away by circumstances, misunderstanding and misconceptions.

More than the suffering and hardship Paul was aware of the depths of God’s mercy when he came face to face with the living Christ on the road to Damascus. Paul, who was known as Saul at the time, was carrying papers of approval to arrest and imprison the followers of Jesus. Brought up in the traditions and teachings of the Pharisees was a vigorous persecutor of the followers of the Way. However, from that time on the PERSECUTOR BECAME THE PREACHER. He knew the TRANSFORMING LOVE of God in Christ.

And thus began a life of following Jesus, Living on the Growing Edge.

It’s out of this experience that Paul writes, Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy…

WHAT?

to offer your bodies as LIVING sacrifices holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship

What is involved in living on the growing edge? We need to put away, sacrifice old ways, old views of looking at things, old habits…

OFFER YOUR BODIES – put ourselves in the service of God, all the separate capacities of our being, our HEARTS, MINDS and the WILL

LIVING sacrifices – as opposed to DEAD.

SACRIFICE…As a result of what God has done in Christ…

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as LIVING sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

It involves CHOICE. Choosing to live on the growing edge, deciding to be involved..

WHEN and WHERE

Eugene Peterson in The Message puts it this way,

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life

Our everyday circumstances at home, at work, on the sporting field, at college, at university, at church—wherever we find ourselves everyday. There is an urgency about Paul’s plea. This is a dynamic action prompted by the Spirit of God, a deliberate action day-by-day. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Paul is saying TODAY!

Roger Ross, an announcer with Good News radio, during a press conference with Jars of Clay, one of the overseas groups that played at the recent Easterfest in Toowoomba, asked about the dynamics in the group after being together for 15 years…

It would have been easy to say, OK guys, we’ve had a good run, let’s call a halt…We have learned to lean into the pain rather than let it hit us in the head unexpectedly.

The experience the Apostle Paul is taking about here is to be found in our relationships with others, ourselves and God and through the circumstances or events we find ourselves in at HOME, WORK, in our CHURCH, with ourselves and GOD.

In wrapping up the response to Rogers’ question, one of the band members said, “We have come to the place where we realise we need each other.”

HOW?

Can I live on the growing edge..

(1) Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,

(2) but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.


The pattern of the world is SELF, the pursuit of happiness through ACQUISITION, POSSESSIONS, DOING, ACTIVITY, BUSYNESS, SUCCESS

The Christian’s JOY is not in what he possesses, nor in what he does, nor in what others do for him. It’s in relationships that abide amid the flux of possession and non-possession, of success and failure, of good treatment and ill treatment. The Christian can do with out anything on earth – even life on earth, for he has a permanent eternal life now which is rooted in eternity.

Joy is the strength of the people of God; it is their glory; it is their characteristic mark. It arise out of life of obedience, a life of service, a life that responds to God’s invitations

My attention has been on the renewing of my mind. My reading of the well known book, The Power of Positive Thinking reinforced this view that I needed to get my thinking right. I’ve since realised that that’s not an easy job. My mind had the capacity to wonder all over the place.

What this passage is suggesting is to take action in accord with God’s direction and transformation will take place AND the mind will be renewed!

Let me explain. I recall travelling to the eastern suburbs of Melbourne to attend a business meeting to review the performance of a training program which I had been conducting for the employees of this particular company. The outcomes for the employees were not as pleasing as expected or desired. I knew the company representatives who would be attending the meeting were SHARKS and not just Bruce the shark in Finding Nemo. I was nervous, anxious and by the time I neared Bacchus Marsh my mind had decided that a picnic would be a desirable alternative to attending the meeting. After all it was a long away across the other side of Melbourne. Anyway why shouldn’t I just go with the steering which clearly wanted to take the off ramp to Bacchus Marsh. I chose to attend. A constant growing edge for me was learning to act responsibly no matter my feelings rather than avoiding the difficult.

The anticipated slanging match didn’t eventuate and a plan was soon hatched to improve the outcomes for the employees

Let me tell you another story. In the middle of last year we moved house to Invermay Park before that we had lived at Brown Hill for 37 years. It takes about an hour to walk from the centre of the city to our home in Gracefield Road, Brown Hill. There have been two occasions over the years where I have made that trek in anger.

One was after an argument with my wife, and I can tell you that while I was extremely angry. I can’t recall the reason for the dispute with my wife. Later this year we will register 40 years of marriage. We need each other.

The second occasion occurred after taking an early exit from an Elders meeting. Again I was extremely angry. On this occasion I can remember, I felt left out of the decision-making. On my arrival it was announced that the then minister was leaving. My impression was that this decision had been arrived behind closed doors !

And after the second occasion… I remain worshipping with the same congregation!

Then I’ve wanted out!

But God has used occasions like these to work out His purposes in my life. Anger is another of my growing edges among many others. May be for you it’s an invitation to learn, to risk, to rest or to change.

Now I want in!

And I find myself working with people in situations where there is dispute, frustration, anger, hurt, stress, and strain. A field of service where under God as a privileged child of His, He allows me and directs me to exercise the gifts He has given me.

My mind has been renewed. I no longer fear these situations rather I see them as God’s opportunities for transformation.

Situations where if people choose to cooperate with God, we can bring about lasting change, TRANSFORMATION!

The pattern of the world suggests that stressful situations, suffering and hardship are the enemy and should be avoided at all costs.

Wherever an event may have come from, by the time its gets to us it has passed the will of God for us AND IS a source of blessing.

The Christian perspective sees theses situations as opportunities for growth and equipping for ministry.

What does this mean for me? What does God want to teach me, about myself, about Himself, about others and their needs? What resources do I have?

Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.


WHY?

Why does God want me living on the growing edge?

Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

God’s will…

(1) JOY

Fullness, abundance of life, GLADNESS rather than GLOOM, WONDER rather than WOE, AWESTRUCK rather than AWFUL

(2) TRANSFORMATION

Romans 5:1-5 NIV

We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us , because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

God’s purpose in the transformation is to shape us into the likeness of Jesus.

Romans 8:29 NIV

God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the very outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son.

(3) RELATIONSHIP

And most of all God wants us to know the security, the goodness, the extent of the relationship we have with Him


Read Romans 12:1 -2 The Message


What are the opportunities that God is placing before you…to live on the GROWING EDGE?


Rather than a North South face step into them with an East West face….


[1] Larson Bruce, 1968, Living on the Growing Edge, Zondervan Publishing House, Michigan

[2] Adapted from the movie, Apollo 13, distributed by Universal Studies, 1995. Words ascribed to Commander Jim Lovell portrayed by Tom Hanks.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s