Last fall, some of our High School age youth said they wanted to learn more about who God is calling them to be. It didn’t take long for our Christian Education ministry to identify a curriculum written by John Ortberg called “The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You.” Melissa Moody, our CYF Sunday school leader liked the curriculum so much, she passed along the leader’s guide to me and I, in turn, ordered the book for myself. It turns out that “becoming God’s best version of you” is something that speaks to youth and adults. We are all in the process of becoming the people God created us to be.
On March 9th (Ash Wednesday), we begin the 40 day season of Lent in preparation for Easter. Once again we are planning Ash Wednesday services and will be starting a Wednesday evening Bible study on the Gospel of Mark (see front for details). Beginning on Sunday, March 13th we will begin a five Sunday series of sermons called “Becoming the Best You: A Lenten Journey.” Using the stories of Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem as our guide, we will explore how God is also calling us to be the very best version of ourselves.
In the opening chapter of his book, Ortberg writes: “It is humbling that I cannot be anything I want. I don’t get to create myself. I accept myself as God’s gift to me and accept becoming that person as God’s task set before me. Inside your soul there is a battle between a flourishing self – the person you were created to be – and a languishing self.” In the same way Ortberg seeks to show how God works by changing a person from the inside out – overcoming challenges every step of the way – I intend to show how Jesus can be our guide as we seek to do the same.
The five sermons will cover the themes 1) Discovering the Spirit; 2) Renewing My Mind; 3) Redeeming My Time; 4)
Deepening my Relationships; and 5) Transforming my Experiences.
The first Sunday of Lent begins with Matthew’s words “Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the Devil.” (Matthew 4:1) We will likewise explore what it means to discover God’s Spirit – and move with it. Some people describe this as “being in the flow,” or “moving with the Spirit.”
One of the questions you might consider as you prepare for our Lenten journey toward Holy Week and Easter is: “How is your spiritual life going?” John Ortberg says he used to answer this question solely by looking at the state of his devotional activities. In other words, did he pray and read the Bible enough? The problem with this is that by this measure, the Pharisees always win. People can be very disciplined, but remain proud and spiteful. Someone else suggested another way of assessing the well being of our souls – with two simple questions: “Am I growing more easily discouraged these days?”
and “Am I growing more easily irritated these days?” At the core of a flourishing soul are the love and peace of God. Questions about devotional activity don’t always get at the places we really live – which is precisely where the Spirit wants to be! For Jesus, it was into the wilderness and finally to the cross. The Spirit is waiting on you. Are you ready to go??