Happy New Year

Earlham Advocate

Ramblings on Faith



                Welcome to the New Year. 2009 is the last single digit year that most of us will see assuming that our average life span doesn’t get increased a decade or two. I would love to sit down with someone over 85 and just talk the morning away about all the things in life that they have witnessed and seen change. About the best I can do is point to electronic gadgets, some of which I still don’t own. I still like my music CD’s and haven’t gotten them all burned to my computer. I suspect I will need another 6-7 hours to get that done. Of course, then I would need to move them over to an IPOD or MP3 player, which I still do not own. I do have a fancy mobile phone that can play music, but it already does way more stuff than I need it to now. My three favorite electronic advances are my cell phone, my computer and my TIVO. Once you go TIVO, you never go back!

                There is often a fine line between progress and change. Whereas change comes whether we want it or not, progress isn’t usually as accommodating. I am not suggesting that all change leads to progress but I am saying that progress isn’t possible without change. If you are like me, you might be wincing just thinking about the parts of your life that may need some “progress.” Most of us know what needs to get done and we probably all have a long list. When I start thinking about my list I remember the Apostle Paul’s words to the Romans: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do (Romans 7:15).” I find his words very comforting and very troubling at the same time. Of course, that is where I spend most of my life: in between!

                I want to encourage you pull out your list of progress. I know you have tried more than once in some of those areas and you always failed. I know that it can be discouraging to fail, but rarely ever does progress happen on accident. People succeed everyday and this day may be yours. Do not give up before you even try. And, perhaps, give up the word “try” and just use “will.” As Christians, our burden is light. Why carry more than you have to? There is progress to be made and yes, change is part of it. Keep these words at heart as you set out to live abundantly in Christ in 2009. Romans 8:5-14 says:


                Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

                But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

                So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

About admin

I am currently serving as the Associate Minister at a Church in Earlham, Iowa, population about 1300. There are probably another 1300 folks who live outside the “city limits.” I am married to my lovely wife Heather. We moved from Mesa, AZ in January 2006. We have a dog (Sammy) and a cat (Daphne). We also have a 92 year old house the sucks the life out of me (Rex), and costs a whole lot of money to upgrade, and is generally a pain in my butt…but I am not bitter. So far I have set my arm on fire, broken my wrist, broken my toe, got tendonitis in my foot, fell out of the bucket of skid loader, captured and “removed” 13 bats from my attic, been to the chiropractor dozens of times and have more doctors on my payroll than I care to admit. I am not very handy! Iowa has been so life-changing for me, but I love the pace of life, pace of ministry and the quality of people. I went to college at Atlanta Christian College near Atlanta, GA where I recieved a Bachelors Degree in Christian Ministry/Preaching. I went to Seminary at Emmanuel School of Religion in Johnson City, TN., where I recieved a Master of Divinity degree with a specialization in Christian Care and Counseling. In addition, I have 2800 hours of post-graduate training as a Chaplain specializing in Crisis Care. I have served Churches in GA, KY, NC, AZ and now Iowa. I have also served as a Chaplain at hospitals in AL and AZ in addition to serving as a Corporate Chaplain with several companies in the metro Phoenix area for a short time. I was also blessed with the opportunity to serve as a Chaplain at the in-field hospital at a NASCAR race in Talladega, AL (once) and as a Chaplain to the Mesa Miners professional baseball team (six weeks). Rex L. Stancil Associate Minister Earlham Church of Christ www.earlhamchurch.org pastorex@gmail.com 515.867.8559 mobile 515.758.2020 home 515.758.2787 office
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