Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

                                                                                              Romans 12:1-2

I have heard it said that Christianity is the only religion that claims to be able to transform a person.  I am not certain if that is true, but I do know that the Bible does indeed claim that something fundamental and radical has taken place when a person places their faith in Christ.  There is a move from  death to life, (Ephesians 2:4-5)  darkness to light, (I John 1:5-7)  lies to truth,  (I John 1:8-10)  from slavery to freedom, (Galatians 5:1) for we are no longer under God’s wrath but now in the realm of his grace (Romans 5:1-2).   But what has been declared in principle has to become real in practice.  God has declared us to be his holy people (I Peter 2:9-10) now we have to become what he has said we are.

According to Paul that breaking free from conformity to the world comes by the renewing of our mind. That renewing is needed because a person actions are determined by their fundamental beliefs; you cannot change their actions without changing the beliefs that shape and determine those actions. 

Take the issue of a man who is a workaholic. Endless hours at the job are ruining his family life, taking a toll on his health, and having a deadening effect on his spiritual well-being.  His wife is constantly on him to cut back, his pastor has warned him about the dangers, and he himself knows they are right, and yet, I got to get back to the office.

 What is the problem?  A love of money? No, he doesn’t have time to spend any of it.  Concern that he might lose his job?  His boss is actually encouraging him to take time off.  The real problem, the root cause, is his belief that his value as a man is determined by how hard he works.  His identity isn’t determined by his relationship to Christ, but by his relationship to work. As long as he holds this false belief, though it may be killing him, it remains Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go.

Now the reason we need a renewed mind is because all of us have been shaped by the world’s thinking.  Through the educational system, the media, and popular culture, like Jello poured into a mold, we have been shaped by the world around.  Having grown up in this culture we have to a large extent accepted its norms, values, and expectations.  To use a computer analogy we have been programmed to act in certain ways. What is needed is to be re-programmed (renewing of the mind) through the word of God.  Only as these fundamental false beliefs are replaced by the truths of Scripture do we break free from conformity to the world.

So it matters greatly whether correct doctrine (biblical truth) is taught in church.  A pastor’s greatest responsibility is to accurately teach the word of God.  Nothing is more important than that he preach the word….  (II Timothy 4:1-5)    But that is only half of the equation: people also have to hear the word.  The transformation that take place in the Christian’s life is largely dependent on the amount of truth that comes into his/her life; the more interaction with God’s word, the more growth that comes.  God’s word is to the believer what sunlight is to a plant; health and growth are determined by how much of his light comes into our life. If you want to grow and be transformed you have to have regular interaction with God’s word.

By God’s grace you are in a church where there is an abundance of truth. Your pastors are committed to teaching you what the Bible actually says rather than what people wish it would say. Through verse by verse Sunday morning preaching through whole books of the Bible, along with Sunday school and home Bible studies the Word taught is readily available.

 Pastors are charged to feed the flock but the sheep have to be willing to taste and see that the Lord is good. If you really want to see greater transformation in your life in 2014 increase your time reading and listening to God’s word.  Here are some suggestions:

1) Set aside a regular time for reading your Bible: 15 minutes before you go to  work, 30 before you go to bed.  You will be amazed at the difference this makes.

2)  Be diligent to get to church stay for Sunday school and come to Bible study. not forsaking our own assembling together  as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as we see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25)


  3)  Listen to audio Bibles. Take advantage of the time you spend in your car, or working around home. Listening takes less energy than reading, and yet sometimes you will hear things in the spoken word that you miss reading.  Though I normally read the NASB and have that version on my MP3 player, I also like listening to the NIV dramatized Bible- it puts you right into the story.

3)  Listen to sermons over the internet. Eventually, we will have all of our sermons uploaded so that you can listen to them at any time. You will find that even sermons you have heard before will be a blessing because they will speak to some new circumstances in your life.  Listed below are some of the preachers  who I have been blessed by: 

James Boice - The Bible Study Hour

John MacAurther - Grace to You

Liam Galligher - Tenth Presbyterian Church

Philip Ryken - Every Last Word

God bless you,

Pastor Doug McConnell