Transformation Generation

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“Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” (Acts10:15)

God asked Peter to break the rules. This kind of thing is happening throughout the stories in this exciting book of Acts. Acts is all about transformation. It’s about lives, thinking and beliefs going through radical metamorphosis. It’s staggering. It sends you reeling if you try and take it in all at once. But let’s try anyway …

Acts is all about Jews believing Jesus is the Messiah; about the Holy Spirit coming and changing everything (no longer what we do for God, it’s what God does in and through us through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit); about Jews and Gentiles having their lives transformed by the forgiveness of sins by way of the gospel; about Saul going from persecuting Christians to becoming one – and by becoming Paul, the architect of the new body of Christ; and it’s about Peter going from discriminating against non-Jews to embracing Gentiles as equals and heirs of the promise. Father Abraham’s family just got a whole lot bigger!

Changes like this normally don’t happen overnight, but here they do. When Saul came to Jerusalem the people are terrified of him until they heard the story of his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and they met him and bore witness to a changed heart and gentle spirit. “We thought we knew you, but our old assessments and prejudices have all been altered. You are a new person; we can’t wait to find out who you are!” This kind of thing was happening to people from all walks of life, from merchants, business owners and jailers, right down to servants and slaves. Even Roman magistrates were “almost persuaded.”

These are attitudes and beliefs that have been in place for thousands of years and suddenly they are coming down in an instant on the strength of a miraculous encounter with the supernatural, and the evidence of a changed life. This is unheard of. Acts is not a casual read; it’s the lives of people being turned upside down.

This is why we call this study Transformation Generation. We are seeking through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to generate personal transformation in your life and in ours. And we are also acknowledging that periods of transformation are generational. Fifty years ago, many of us were part of a movement that transformed the church by shaking it to its core. We believe it needs to be shaken again, and that the millennial generation is already doing it. Many of them have already joined us. We want to come alongside them, listen to them, and look for where we can partner and learn together. Get ready to hear from some of our favorite millennials next week, and don’t miss our BlogTalkRadio guests where we are asking Jesus Freaks from the 1970s to address transformation then and now.

This is the Transformation Generation. We are in it, and we long for it to happen in us.

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Let the adventure begin!

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Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. So during the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall. (Acts 9:22-25)

So the adventure begins. Being in Christ and having Christ in us is not going to be dull. Not ever. That’s because Jesus Christ is always controversial. He is not nice. He is not prim and proper. He does not support the status quo. He flies in the face of the religious establishment in whatever age we find ourselves. Being in Christ and having Christ in you is going to make you enemies, and your enemies will not be the bad guys; they will be the supposedly good guys. There are Pharisees in every age and the Pharisees will always be the ones in charge with the most to lose should the wind of the Spirit start to blow.

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The transformation of a lifetime

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Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. Acts 9:1

This sounds like more than just religious zeal; it sounds personal. Saul obviously had it in for all Christians. Just putting them in prison wasn’t going to do it for him; he wanted to see them dead. This is the man who is about to become the Apostle to the Gentiles and one of the key leaders of the church.

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The case of the vanishing hitchhiker

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As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. Acts 8:26-27

Have you ever had an unction to tell somebody about Jesus? The Holy Spirit just puts someone on your heart and mind. It might be a total stranger, as it was in this case, or it might be someone you know, but you know you’re supposed to tell that person about Jesus. Better do it. That’s what happened to Phillip in this, one of my favorite stories in the book of Action.

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Counterfeit Christianity

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And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8

This was the way the story of Jesus spread throughout the world, and it happened in a relatively short period of time. First, through the preaching of Peter and John, and the healing of many diseases, large numbers of believers in Jerusalem (at one count, 5,000 people) were added to the church. Then, threatened by the success of the church and the belief that Jesus was not the Messiah and that this was a cult that needed to be quelled before it gained any more ground, the persecution began from the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. Little did they know that they were only stoking the fire, as their persecution scattered believers like burning embers throughout the region, each believer acting as a missionary appointed to spread the good news of Jesus wherever they went. One of those places they went was Samaria, next on the list of God’s agenda for the growing church, and the apostle who first went there to preach was Phillip.

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Going through baseball withdrawals

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If you have a friend or family member who is super into baseball like me, please be advised of treacherous waters ahead starting today. Be ready to encounter some strange attitudes such as mild depression, lack of motivation, or they may just be slightly irritable. If you should catch them eating large quantities of left over Halloween candy, realize it’s a temporary coping mechanism. They will get over it. However, if you can remove all such candy from the house before the victim notices, all the better. If you should catch them staring off at nothing, let them be; they are  going through decompression much like a diver coming up out of the water. If they come up too fast, there can be serious consequences.

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Home for Halloween

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I hear there is a run on fireman suits and police uniforms for Halloween this year. No one seems to be in the mood for gore, blood, or horror, perhaps because our daily lives have already been interrupted too many times with images of these things that we know are real. When each new nightly newscast brings another level of terror, it’s hard to get excited about facing little gremlins at my door. Continue reading

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Church, 2017

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Think about the amount of trust in the Holy Spirit there had to be in the formation of the early church. Especially after the persecution scattered believers all over the region. Groups of believers were springing up everywhere. All of them were preaching the Good News about Jesus (see yesterday’s Catch) and people were being added daily to the faith. It would have been impossible to monitor all those groups. These were not Bible Study Cell Groups with a form of centralized leadership. There was no curriculum. In most cases there wasn’t even a Bible. Later on Paul would write his letters to the young churches, and I’m sure those were copied and passed around, but in the beginning the church was made up of informal groups of people meeting in homes many of them separated from sanctioned leadership.

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