40 days of transformation blog

That ends the submitted devotionals by members of the family of faith, called St. Luke’s Lubbock.

Please do not unsubscribe.  I am working on new, brief daily devotionals to come soon!

Your pastoral staff hopes and prays that you were transformed in some way during the last 51 days.  Please share you story with us!!

mwolfington@stlukeslubbock.org

In Christ!!

Pastor Matt

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40 days of transformation

Matthew 28:19-20   Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

These are the words of our Savior telling us to be disciples and carry his message throughout the Earth. We have learned through the years that the choices are to go, to send, or to disobey these words. We tried to obey, through sending donations to various organizations that responded to people’s needs in the U.S. and abroad, through sending Lisa and Robby on mission projects when they were in St. Luke’s Youth, and by Carol helping on those projects in whatever capacity they needed her.   In May of 2011 Robby came home from Abilene Christian University and had an announcement that brought new meaning to these words. He was attending Vision School, a training course for student missionaries, and felt the call to be a missionary to Israel. He wanted to go on a short term mission trip for two weeks in June. With all the turmoil and unrest in that part of the world, we tried to discourage him from taking that trip. Over the next few weeks and months he remained steadfast in his desire to go and God started changing our hearts about the trip. With a lot of prayer (and trepidation) we gave the trip our blessing and he went over the Christmas holidays. God kept him safe, and he returned with an excitement and passion to go back. After he graduated from ACU, he made plans to go back to Israel for a year. This time it was much easier to see him go.   God had kept him safe for two weeks, so he could keep him safe for a year, right? Not only did he keep Robby safe, he brought Sarah into his life as well.

We always prayed for our children to grow up into happy, healthy, Christian adults. God has certainly granted those prayers and included their happy, healthy, Christian spouses – just because he could!

Dale Wigginton

40 Days of Transformation Day 51

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In Touch With Lepers

Leprosy is beyond most Americans’ realm of experience. Most are shocked this Biblical disease is not eradicated– in this century. Maggie’s college mission team saw it first-hand in July, 2012. They went to “love on kids and help the people of India,” but the leader there wanted them to minister to a nearby leper’s village. After-all, they were trying to be like Jesus and walk where Jesus walked, doing what he did. The group was surprised that leprosy and its social stigma still exist in central India, where lepers “live together and cobble together begging.”

James and I were unnerved to realize she was visiting lepers, scared for her.  James already lectured her about getting some deadly, life-altering disease and returning with it. He thought she was too naïve, not aware of the possibilities. Her travel doctor talked of various diseases and prescribed medicine, but leprosy wasn’t mentioned.

Maggie did not know that visiting lepers was planned, either, and she was afraid, too but said, “As we were assigned to individuals, we saw people, just wasting away, barely surviving, missing fingers, toes, or whole limbs, and some were blind.”

She knew something was not right and asked herself what Jesus would do. “And it just came to me that He touched people.”

She served a blind lady, asking someone to explain to her that her father back in America, was born blind. “She started making gestures surrounding my head and face, meaning, ‘bless you!’” Maggie told us the blind in that area sometimes live at leper colonies which is the only place they can go, and some get leprosy because of it. Others become blind from leprosy.  James was touched by that and grateful to be living here.

She was also told that the disease is curable with the right medicine given in an orderly regimen, but this is not usually attainable or affordable, and no one will go to administer it.  She met a pastor/doctor who treats lepers.  He said he converted from Islam to Christianity partly to treat lepers as his previous community did not.

A New York Times website entry on Rare Diseases/Leprosy revealed, to our surprise, the disease is “not very contagious; approximately 95% of people have natural immunity to the disease.” The fact sheet said “those who are long-treated with medication are not contagious and do not need to be isolated from society.”   Nor do they need to be “sent to leper colonies on remote islands or in special hospitals.” (And as they were in this part of India)

We prayed throughout our daughter’s trip as she stepped out in willingness and faith to “go into all the world to preach the gospel” Mark 16:5. May her call be our call in the days after these 50 days!

Cheryl Duke with Maggie Duke

40 Days of Transformation Day 50

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A Time for Everything

1 There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. 2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. 3 A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to rebuild. 4 A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. 5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. 6 A time to search and a time to lose. A time to keep and a time to throw away. 7 A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak up. 8 A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. 9 What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have thought about this in connection with the various kinds of work God has given people to do. 11 God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to enjoy themselves as long as they can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. 14 And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose in this is that people should fear him. 15 Whatever exists today and whatever will exist in the future has already existed in the past. For God calls each event back in its turn. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-15

I grew up a good ole country girl on a farm in a Christian home. We attended church on a regular basis and walked in the footsteps of parents and grandparents who also taught us that God loved us and had a plan for our lives. I accepted Jesus as a young child of 8 years old and had lots of people to support me in that decision. The most influential person in my walk with Christ growing up was my Grandma “Mom.” I was the oldest child and only girl of 4 children which made my job to set an example very important. Trials and turmoil was not something I was really exposed to unless you count not getting enough rain any given year to make a good crop. As a family we depended on God to provide and I remember us praying frequently for rain and to protect all of Dad’s hard work on the farm. My image of God was that of a friend, provider, comforter & Savior.

In May 2010 in a very short 23 hours I began to question my image of God. On May 10th my 20 year old brother Caleb died from injuries he sustained in a fall while hunting pigeons for our towns Gin manager.  I became very mad at God and all I could ask was…. WHY? Why us? Why him? Why now? Most would describe Caleb as a peacemaker, dare devil, wonderful friend, encourager, joker and many more. He always knew how to make a bad day awesome and put a smile on anyone’s face. He truly was a man of God. Because of these qualities my bargain with God was “Why take someone as good as he is?

Being from a small town anyone would tell you when tragedy strikes everyone comes running. My parent’s house was packed full of food and people lending a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. It was when talking to a very wise woman that day that I quit being mad at God and accepted the mission by which I now live by. Bernita Sheets had lost her 19 year old son Tyler just 5 months earlier. We were discussing Gods plan for people and how it is hard to accept. My comment to her was “Why does God have to take the good people like Caleb & Tyler? Why can’t he take the murders and the bad ones?” Bernita’s answer was “Kara, because the bad ones aren’t ready yet. Caleb & Tyler had fulfilled their mission here on Earth and he needed them. It is our job to be a witness and help “ready” the bad ones!” Those words still speak very loudly to me as a mission to carry out Gods plan in His timing. There truly is a time for everything but it is how we spend that time that is most important. So, next time things aren’t going YOUR way or not going as YOU planned remember that God is the Master of ALL time!

-What trials in your life have made you question God?

-Have you accepted the mission God revealed to you during these trials?

-What can you do to “ready” the lost so they may receive His grace?

Kara Jeffers

40 Days of Transformation Day 49

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A Butterfly With Broken Wings

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.   – Romans 8:6

“Hold on to what you believe in the light when the darkness robbed you of your sight.”

-Mumford and Sons “Hold On To What You Believe”

When the mind is in the muddle of chaos and confusion, set on by the Devil himself, it is hard to break free and grasp the peace of the Holy Spirit.

I lost my peace in college. I gave the Devil an inch, and he’s been fighting and clawing his way in for more ever sense. I knew God would always be there so I skirted the boundaries and played with the proverbial fire a bit. I ended up not only letting myself down, but along the way, I lost the peace in my soul. That peace, that inherent knowledge that got me through the death of my father at such a young age, the awkwardness of growing up, the coming and going of friends, is still not back completely, but God and I are working to shut the door inch by inch. Amazing how a short period of giving the Devil and inch equals a lifetime of trying to close the door.

Early in my marriage the Devil tried to grapple in and take hold of the sanctity of what God had put together. Through working with God, Jeffrey and I began laying the foundation of a fortress that we would need later in our marriage against the difficulties of infertility.

Looking back, I can see the battles God was fighting for me through my life. Now that I am a mother, I pray daily for God to transform me into the example I need to be for my daughter. I pray I can use the battles God and I have fought to help her along in the battles she will inevitably fight. I know God and I have many more battles to win as the Devil will always come knocking, looking for that inch which I gave him long ago.

I have written on my heart the truths of Christ and through the many seasons of this life will hold on to the hope that His love will always overpower my sinfulness.

Betsy Ross

40 Days of Transformation Day 48

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Definition: Random Acts of kindness—a selfless act performed by a person or people wishing either to assist or cheer up an individual person or people.

34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or house sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.   – Acts 4:34-35 (NIV)

I recently read (and re-read and re-read), “Change is Good by Elizabeth Berg in the May 2014 issue of Real Simple magazine.  It was a short article in the sections on life lessons, about a moment of regret that taught the author the importance of giving and the true value of generosity.  It was one of those reads that truly made an impression on me.  Ms. Berg did not give any money to a man asking for a handout, while on a train.  She rationalized her choice to dismiss the request for help, by telling herself that she did not know what that person would do with the money and that lots of people begging for money just spend it on drugs and alcohol.  She secretly thought that if the man had lost his job, then he should “just” find another one.

I have donated to various charities throughout my life and tithe to my church, like most of us do, however, how many of us, myself included, have just looked away and declined to open our wallets because direct, person-to-person giving made us uncomfortable.  Of course, I believe as the author wrote, no one can give money to everyone who asks, every time, but when we see another human being who is struggling, we need to listen to the Holy Spirit and our morale compasses and give what we can.  A friend told her not to worry what they person would do with the money, but rather, to consider how difficult it must have been for him to ask for help.  Giving an extra $10.00 to the person on the corner selling newspapers or spending $15.00 to buy a United or Wal-Mart gift cart to a unsuspecting stranger who appears in need, are ways we can step out of our comfort zones, recognize we are all God’s children and help.  If we all make a commitment to perform a “random act of Kindness” once or twice a week, what an incredible difference that would make to someone in need.

I am blessed! I’ve never had to ask for a handout. When I was younger and saw someone struggling and in need, my dad would often say, “I complained because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet”.  In other words, be grateful for all you have.  There is always someone with less.

I’m making a “list and checking it twice” (a week). I’ll be carrying a $10.oo gift card in my wallet, just to be ready for a random encounter to help someone.  And, I truly believe that the people we help in this way may just “pay it forward”, when able.

Leah Bell

40 Days of Transformation Day 47

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The ABC’s of Life

Listen to me, you wise men. We can choose the sounds we want to listen to; we can choose the taste we want in food, and we can choose to follow what is right. But first of all we must define among ourselves what is good.

– Job 34:2-4

An ATTITUDE is a bodily posture showing or meant to show a mental state, emotion, or mood; a manner of acting, feeling, or thinking that shows ones disposition. Have you ever considered how powerful your thoughts are, how they affect your general attitude, and how your attitude affects the people around you? The type of attitude you carry depends completely upon you, and that in turn has an effect on how you treat others and how others treat you.

In Numbers 13:25-28, we find that Moses sent a scouting team out to scout the Promised Land. The scouts’ report was complete and promising to the people, but they reported that the people living there were very powerful, and the towns and cities were fortified and very large. We need to make certain that we do not let others dictate our attitude and ensure that our attitudes always reflect Christ-like values, not worldly values. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus outlines the traits needed by his followers.

Beatitude (Matthew 5:3-12)                                          How to develop this attitude

  1. REALIZE THE NEED FOR GOD                                               James 4:7-10
  2. MOURN                                                                                   Psalms 51
  3. GENTLE AND LOWLY                                                              Matthew 11:27-30
  4. HUNGER AND THIRST FOR JUSTICE                                     John 16:5-11
  5. MERCIFUL                                                                               Ephesians 5:1-2
  6. PURE OF HEART                                                                     1 John 3:1-3
  7. WORK FOR PEACE                                                                 Romans 12:9-21
  8. PERSECUTED                                                                         2 Timothy 3:12

Be Christ-like, have a good spiritual attitude, and be a good witness in your daily walk. God inspired Paul to list traits for us to meditate upon to see how we measure up to these standards. Let’s check our attitudes in relation to theses virtues and see how we individually measure up.

Philippians 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace be with you.

My prayer is for you to focus your attitude on The Beatitudes so that you can live a Christ-like life.

Reference: Life Application Study Bible, 1996.

Wayne Perrin

40 Days of Transformation Day 46

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Spiritual transformation may share a likeness to physical growth; you can’t see your growth when you are in the midst of it. It is a slow, gradual process that is occasionally revealed by relatives or friends when they haven’t seen you in a while. My son is at the age when he often hears “My, how you have grown!” If someone says that to me, it means something entirely different, unless he or she kindly reveals that they’re speaking about spiritual growth.

There seem to be two kinds of spiritual growth: involuntary and voluntary. Involuntary spiritual growth occurs simply by interacting with life circumstances that God allows to come before us. You might say it is growing by accident. It is no accident, of course, because God is in control. Yet, from our perspective, it is an uninitiated experience that changes us for the better- growth by accident.

On the other hand, voluntary spiritual growth is growth by intention. It is creating circumstances in our lives that foster spiritual growth. This sounds a bit contrived, and may cause a reaction such as: “We can’t just push a button and make ourselves grow!” Yet, look at what intentional spiritual growth entails: a knowledge of our spiritual limitations, submission to God’s command that we grow, realization of the significance of spiritual growth, and pursuit of the God-supplied tools of spiritual growth. Heart, mind, soul and strength are at work in intentional spiritual growth.

I’ll never forget an experience in college that involved a slight confrontation with a friend just before a prayer meeting. She harshly scolded me in front of everyone for being late. I gently apologized and took my seat. Afterwards, my friend was embarrassed about treating me badly and noted that my gentle answer sharply contrasted to her harsh words. I thought to myself, “Is she talking about me? I answered gently? How did I do that?” While being careful not to pat myself on my back, I reflected on this incident and noticed some spiritual growth in myself. Then I wondered what I did to make that happen. I now look back at this experience and see it as a culmination of many factors, both intentional and accidental (voluntary and involuntary).

Spiritual growth is neither only by accident nor is it only by intention. It is a “both/and” scenario. We grow by accident and intention. We grow by God’s graceful and merciful intervention in our lives and our own active investment of our heart, mind soul and strength. Nowadays, in the midst of the information age, we have access to so much material that can help us grow spiritually: online devotionals, podcasts, printed periodicals, electronic books, real books, YouTube videos, DVDs, streaming video, bible studies, Sunday school classes, and now we have transformation groups for 40 days.

The question is no longer “How can I grow?’ but “How much can I grow?” May God bless all of us as we seek to grow up into the mature Body of Christ.

Andy Coward

40 Days of Transformation Day 45

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Transformation (Option A)

The Lattimore family like so many families has a history with its share of pain and sadness. But, it is not the pain and sadness that defines us, it is the transformation God has had in our lives and in the depths of our hearts that forms us. It would have been easy to fall into the patterns of history, but by God’s transforming grace we are being made stronger.

Aaron and I recently were blessed to attend a retreat at SonScape, an amazing place for those serving in fulltime ministry to go and find renewal. It was there that we became acutely aware of God’s transformation in our lives. We faced the hurts of our past – abuse, betrayal, loss. From the hurts of our childhood to hurts even more recent like that of the loss of a miscarriage, amidst it all God was present. From company downsizing to homelessness, even there, God was present.

Aaron and I came to Lubbock after a company that promised the world failed to thrive. With a truck full of everything we had and a 6 month old baby, we made the long and lonely drive through the uncertainty of what the future would bring. It was in that moment, through the tears of fear and loss, we were able to surrender to God’s plan and his will. We walked through an open door into Lubbock, where a family member offered their master bedroom to us. Every door we walked through took us on a journey to the next door. Not all the doors brought comfort, but they paved the way and strengthened our hearts. We know that where we are today is nothing short of God’s plan for our lives. To get here we had to be willing to surrender and to stop chasing things like success, money, control, and acceptance. God’s plan for us is to serve, to be His hands and feet to those in need of his love. Our transformation was found in surrender, the letting go of our plans, our desires, our regrets, our pain, and accepting that God’s plan and desire for us will provide more then we could ever wish for.

We now both work in places where we serve God through serving others. We have, not just a shelter or a house, but God has provided us with a home. God has blessed us with 2 beautiful children who he uses to remind us of his love and hope. We are aware of what holds significance in our lives and what just distracts us. God reminds us daily that our earthly status holds no weight in his eyes, but that our complete surrender to Him will be how he uses us to make a meaningful impact on the world.

The transforming power of surrender is hard and is a daily prayer in our lives. May each of you find time in these 40 days to reflect on what it might be that God is calling for you to surrender. May you feel the wholeness and transformation that comes from letting go of the things that hold you down. We are each greater than our history. We are the beloved children of God!

Sara Lattimore

40 Days of Transformation Day 44

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Singing Before You Die

My 8 year old granddaughter saw a picture of a young man with dark brown hair and a pleasant smile. Grace said, “Who is that, Meme?”    My wife answered, “That is your Grandy” (Grandy is Grace’s name for me).   “Woo—Wee” she exclaimed; “He sure is handsome. But– not so much anymore.  What Happened?”    After Mary stopped laughing, she said; “Honey, his hair vanished, and he grew a belly.”  And, I thought wives were supposed to be helpful!

Sometimes we ask “What happened?” Life is cruel to us at times.  One of those things that happen is a medical procedure. Mary is recovering from surgery on her toes.  She was frustrated because she could not do things, that she saw needed to done; and I was not getting them done right. I had really tried to help. It just wasn’t working out.  After I helped her to bed on Monday night, I enjoyed the late night talk shows, and I hit upon The Arsenio Hall Show. I was fascinated with my need to watch a T.V. show I had never watched at all.

Arsenio talked about a little boy singing before he was about to die. The 9 year old boy was Willie Myers. The big city newspapers had featured his story. Willie was in his own back yard playing with his dog.  A man abducted Willie from his yard. The man drove Willie around for three hours trying to decide what he was going to do to Willie; and what to do with Willie’s body.  Willie knew that he was going to die, but Willie was not quiet. He sang!

Willie sang for three hours. He sang over and over a song entitled “Every Praise” that he learned in church.   He liked best the refrain that he sang over and over, with feeling: “GOD IS MY SAVIOR….. GOD IS MY HERO….GOD IS MY DELIVER… —-GOD IS MY SAVIOR, YES..HE IS….YES HE IS..; GOD IS MY HERO  …YES HE IS…YES HE IS.   GOD IS MY DELIVERER, YES HE IS, YES HE IS.”  Imagine a nine year old black boy singing his faith, with feeling and rhythm. He knew he would be tortured and killed. Yet he sang: “God is my Deliver….Yes he is!  Yes He is!”

Arsenio asked Willie why did he sang that song, when he could have sang anything, even “God Bless America”? Willie said, “I knew Jesus was going to be with me.  Jesus would take me with Him to be with him.” Willie was different, and he transformed others.

The next morning, I went to Methodist Men’s Breakfast; Arsenio show about Willie, was still in my mind.   Then, discovered I had the program that morning.  So, I shared Willie’s story.   And it transformed several men who told me they were moved by the program. Later that morning, I met a stranger in a book store, and he asked causally, “What have you been doing?   So I dared to tell him of my watching T.V., and the story of Willie.  He asked more questions.  And the stranger started crying as I told Willie’s story. He was crying, right there in the store, with huge tears rolling down.  And his wife standing by him said, “I’m listening hon.” He wiped tears away.  And said, simply, “That really touched me.  That really blessed me.  I am a truck driver, and I will be thinking about what you said on my runs.”

So Willie transformed a murder– the Abductor who let him go free. He transformed me watching late night watching T.V.  And, his story blessed a group of Methodist Men.  Then my telling Willie’s story, blessed a truck driver named Jim.

If you sing before you die, you sing because God has changed you. Your influence is the way you handle difficulties and problems. You bless a lot of other people!

“None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord. If we die, we die to the Lord.  So whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s…..Jesus lived and died that he might be Lord both of the living and the dead.” (Romans 14:7-9)

We sing because God is with us! What was that song you were just singing?

Henry Salley