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New Year. New Vision. Same Jesus.

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Insanity, they say, is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

And here we are on the cusp of 2020, ushering in a new year and a new decade, and another round of resolutions that can start to feel a bit like “insanity.”

Don’t get me wrong. I like a good resolution. I like this time of year and the idea of a fresh start, a chance to grow and improve.

But the gusto of our new year’s resolutions, in spite of our good intentions, tend to fade and fall flat by the time February gets here…if not sooner. As a pastor, I am intrigued by the human dynamics that unfold within us as we seek to improve ourselves through these annual resolutions. While I’m sure that there are one or two of you (maybe?) out there who can point back to your resolutions of 2019 and see tremendous growth and change, most of us cannot. Most of us find ourselves right back where we started, wondering where we can find the power to grow and change.

Power to grow and change, to be transformed, comes from Jesus. Many of you are familiar with Jesus’ mustard seed exhortation in Matthew 17, “For truly I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Taken out of context, this is a maddening verse, especially at this time of year. It might seem that Jesus is telling us to just try harder, just have a little more faith, and the proverbial mountains of our lives will be moved. But the verses preceding this exhortation are essential. This exhortation comes on the heels of a father’s plea on behalf of his son, whom Jesus’ disciples were unable to heal. Jesus heals the son, leaving the disciples perplexed as to why they were unable to do the same. In brief, it comes down to this: Jesus has the power to transform, and we don’t. We cannot experience transformation without the renewing power of Jesus. To try is, well, insanity.

A desire for genuine transformation is at the heart of the new vision statement that we presented at our Town Hall meeting last October:

“Central Presbyterian Church seeks the transformation of our lives, our communities, and the world through the renewing work of Jesus Christ, for the glory of God.”

By design, this statement is an aspirational reminder of the only source that has the power to transform: the Lord. It paints a picture of what we desire to increasingly experience.

As your pastor, I have a deep desire to see transformation in our lives, our church and the world. I think at some level, we all want those things. Our vision statement is an exhortation to all of us that we can only experience those things through the renewing power of Jesus. It is so tempting to think that we are smart enough to plan transformation on our own. If we just work hard enough, and smart enough, maybe make the right resolutions this year, then we will see transformation occur, right? FALSE!  The real challenge in transformation is remembering that Jesus and Jesus alone has the power to transform. Our best plans from our brightest people will fail every time without Jesus as the power source. This is the foundation of our vision statement and the only hope of a fruitful future for our church.

In the coming weeks, I will be writing more to you about this new vision and our future direction as a church. It’s an exciting time, and I’m so thankful that each of you are a part of it. 

Happy New Year, dear friends. I pray that in 2020 we will continue to see Jesus doing a powerful work of transformation in us, and through us, all to his glory.

Posted by Clay Smith with 6 Comments

6 Comments

Mary Nielsen on 1/2/20 9:32pm

Dear Clay, Neal and I are blessed to have you as our Pastor and we have a hope for a blessed new year for you, your family and your flock

Gary Smith on 1/2/20 11:37pm

Thank you Clay for this new communication vehicle -- more importantly, thank you for the encouraging message and prayer for Jesus work of transform in us - to his glory and service.

Ginny Eades on 1/3/20 1:30am

Loved this first blog. I look forward to seeing how the Lord will transform lives and ultimately our church. It seems seeds are being planted. It’s an exciting time!!!!!!

Lynn Morrissey on 1/3/20 7:21pm

Hi Clay,
I greatly appreciate this blogpost! You are exactly right. Transformation *only* comes through Christ through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Any of our pulled-up-by-our-bootstraps attempts at change can only end up in stretched bootstraps. What I need is a stretching of my heart, spirit, and mind to be filled with His Spirit and to ask His grace and power to obey. We change through obedience, and we can't muster even that on our own. He must give us the power to will to obey and to carry it out. The quotation paraphrase which you made has been attributed widely to Albert Einstein. I'm unsure its attribution is correct, but it sounds good! :) All my best to you as you seek transformation personally and for our congregation, community, and world. In future blogposts, I'd love to know what is involved for you (and us, by extension) in that seeking.

Happy 2020. Yikes! That seems positively futuristic!
Lynni

Jo Durham on 1/4/20 9:49am

Thank you for always pointing us to the renewing power of Jesus.

Barbara Huddleston on 1/9/20 3:47pm

Happy New Year, Pastor Clay. Even though it has been a little while since you have seen me physically sitting in a pew almost directly in front of the pulpit from which you preach, I am still very much a part of Central. I wish I could tell you why you do not "see" me. I really don't think there's one applicable answer. Just know that I am still attending second service every Sunday via live streaming, keeping up with my class, the Gleaners, through Neal's emails, sending my tithes, and thinking of and praying for the church often. But the purpose of this correspondence is to tell you how much I appreciate this particular blog. I have learned that one must be intentional in trusting in and waiting on God's work/transformations in God's time. It's easy to fall into a routine that makes it appear as though I am the the master of my fate and the captain of my soul. I recognize I am not, nor do I want to be. Thank you for this reminder as to who is in charge!

Happy New Decade!
Barbara