For all of the events that take place in our lives from day to day, month to month, and year to year, it’s important to take time to reflect, review, and ask God where He was working within these events and what He is doing through them. In the final message of 2017, Greg talks about the discipline of reviewing, and reflects on how God was working through Woodland Hills Church this past year.
Greg kicks off this last sermon of 2017 with an exhortation on the importance of remembering and reflecting. We begin with a look at two key verses. The first comes from James 1:17; “Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading from the Father of Light.” There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. God is pure goodness and pure love. All the time. God looks like Jesus Christ on the cross all the way down to the core of God’s being. The second is Deuteronomy 4:9; “But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life… “
Verses like this are woven throughout the entire biblical narrative – verses that encourage us to remember, to reflect and review God’s faithfulness. We begin this discipline of reviewing through the lens of the individual. When it comes to spiritual matters, we all tend to forget things. If this wasn’t the case, why does the bible repeatedly instruct us to “remember”?! Our mental narrative, the story that we’re telling ourselves to bring cohesion from our past to our present, determines how we respond and interpret our events and our picture of God. But most people aren’t aware that they’re living in a story and therefore our map becomes the territory. Most don’t choose the mental narrative in which they live, it’s a collection of information that comes from their world in which they live. But Kingdom people cannot receive their narrative from the world. Our narrative comes from Christ. Jesus defines our identity, how we view God, how we respond to experience. To make Jesus Lord of our life we are to let him be Lord over our narrative. We have to choose this over and over again. We are to choose to think about whatever is good and pleasing and wise. We must choose this because we so often forget to do it! The challenge, then, is to remember that God is with you and is active all around you. The challenge is to remember who you are in Christ moment-by-moment. All this is why we are exploring the discipline of reviewing.
In all things God is working for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). God is always at work to bring good out of evil. In every event there is a myriad of influences, which is why we cannot ever really understand why things are the way that they are. But we know that God is at work in every event. Does this truth affect our mental narrative? Do we even notice when God is at work in our life? This is why we engage in the discipline of reviewing!
Soul Shaping is a text by Douglas J. Rumford. In this book he summarizes the importance of reflecting in this way: 1.) End each day with 15 minutes dedicated to reflecting on your day. 2.) Write down any events that stand out positively or negatively. 3.) Ask the Spirit to help you notice how God was at work in those events. 4.) Remember how God was present in the events of your day by writing them down in a journal.
Remember that every good gift comes from the Father above. God is present in the negative as well as the positive, for God is at work in bringing positive things out of the negative. As you reflect you’ll grow in awareness that you are living in a Kingdom reality. The more this becomes real, the more this truth will shape you. God is a God of details! Sometimes we find God in the most insignificant things. In order to see this we must dismantle the assumption that God is only present in the big, supernatural ‘wow’s. Chasing after the big, supernatural ‘wow’s’ will not change you from the inside out. Look for the small, second-by-second ways God is present and working in your life. God is in the small stuff, in the details of your life. Look through everyday of your life, looking for God in the small and give thanks for that because that is a gift from the Father above. This is the discipline of review. You can do this reviewing with your family, your Kingdom friends and your community. Have times where you review and reflect on where you’ve seen God.
As we explore the presence of God in our individual lives, we are to look at the ways God has been at work in our faith family of Woodland Hills. This last year there has been an increased anointing on our worship and teaching. There seems to be a greater energy, participation and movement in our worship and preaching. We as a church have made steps forward on the beauty of God more than we have before! People have been seeing the beauty of God as revealed on the cross in new, transformative ways. Additionally, we’ve been blessed to partner with The Lift more than ever before. The Lift employed 13 students at The Plaza this year! We’ve partnered with The TAP, a ministry for folks with different disabilities and celebrating a life without labels. In the last 4 months we’ve had 12 events at Woodland Hills with The TAP! Our partnership with Merrick Foodshelf continues to grow. This year we served an average of 600 families a month! Ramsey County/Catholic Charities continues to be a strong partnership, serving over 700 families this year! Lastly, from the very start of our church family we have sensed a strong calling to tear down the dividing walls that promote segregation. In 2017 we’ve seen significant progress in diversity within our community, celebrating 22% diversity. We pray for more diversity! We give God the glory for all the work and good gifts that we see within our community.
We thank God for all he’s done, but there’s much more Kingdom to grow in. And so we pray for even more in 2018. As Kingdom people, we can’t coast by. We must participate, engage, and sacrifice and in doing so, we see God’s kingdom advance and transform lives.
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