Our Destiny

scepter Darius BBC 615x465I’ve been thinking about change and church a lot lately.  If you’ve been in church for any length of time you will be able to identify things that have changed.  Last week I talked about how things have changed since my childhood, but think about how much has changed since 2000.  When I came to Clear Lake most of the men wore suits and ties to church.  We still had church on Sunday night but were beginning to experiment to see the best way to utilize our time together.

We had recently put up our first church web page and were just beginning to discover the powerful impact a good web site can have.  We would continue to spend money on yellow page advertising for several more years but eventually realized that money spend on our web page was a better way to advertise.  I could go on and on with changes that have taken place both in our worship as well as our church life in general.  All living things are in a constant state of change.  When we stop changing we die!

Why is it then that talking about change is so frightening?  I’ve heard it said that we are losing our identity.   There’s probably some truth to that.  I’ve heard some say that we’ve become more interested in entertainment than worship.  I don’t think so but I’d be open to talking about it.  I’ve heard others complain that we now appeal more to emotions.  My guess is that’s probably true since we have historically been a bit overbalanced in the areas of intellectual reason and rational thinking.

While all these things and more must be examined, the bottom line is the question I asked in the sermon:  Who holds the scepter?  I’m  much more interested in processes that enable us to discern the leading of the Spirit than I am in endless discussions about change.  Change is inevitable!  The questions that remain are: What kinds of changes are needed?  Is the change Spirit led or is it a misguided attempt to accomplish something that perhaps God is not calling us attempt?

We as a church need to discern where we are, how we got here, and thus the direction God is calling us to move into our future.  It is my firm conviction that God is not finished with us.  Thus, he has plans for us today and tomorrow.  May we have the courage and faith to follow his leading.  And may we love one another enough to do it together.

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Byron FikePreaching Minister

Byron has been the preaching minister at Clear Lake since 1999. He and his wife have three grown children, who have also devoted their lives to serving the Lord. In his personal time, Byron likes to read books, watch movies, and play with his little dog Willie. He also is an avid follower of Alabama football, having grown up in Tuscaloosa during the glory days of Bear Bryant.


5 Responses to “Our Destiny”

  1. Well said Byron. I have the same thoughts in this arena. Keep up the good work in challenging people to not get complacent! Change when led by the Spirit is always a good thing. We sure need spiritual discernment while going through changes.

  2. avatar Steve Grzenia says:

    Well said my good friend. I think we often want change because our existence becomes mundane. We follow a routine of daily activities finding a comfort in not having to slip out of our boundaries. I don’t believe the apostles lead a mundane life after meeting Jesus, nor should we. The opportunities in spreading God’s word, our mission, so often lies outside our regular routines, but can be simple and easy changes. It may be perhaps as small as visiting a neighbor, reading to some elderly shut-ins, or as life changing as going into a distant, often scary foreign mission. I don’t think change has to come in our worship service, unless we are not growing (and that is a personal issue), but in our daily lives and activities, reaching out.

    I can’t say that I’m any expert on reaching out, but I know this is my calling and I praying about where God may want me and where He can best use me. So many of our God given gifts go to waste each day do to our fear, our laziness, or our inability to just simply care about our families, friends, neighbors, and enemies. God does often make our paths clear until we make the effort to show him we are willing to take action and make the first step towards faith outside our comfortable boundaries. That is when we will see change, because we will feel it in ourselves.

    I miss you and your wonderful lessons. But I encourage you in your steadfast faith in The Lord as you continue to encourage us. Blessings to you and you family. A passage from Luke 72-75 talking about Zacharia’s prophesy says, “To show mercy toward our fathers, and remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days”.

    Keep up the good work my friend, in God’s love,
    Steve Grzenia

  3. avatar Thomas Clingenpeel says:

    Amen. Thank you Byron for continuing to minister to our church and push us to new places. I know change is scary, but think of the blessings that can come on the otherside. In my 7 years at CLCoC I have seen us grow as a church in so many ways. And the one thing that stands out the most is Impact week, Impat weekend, etc. If we as a church learn from our youth…we will go far in spreading the love of Jesus to our brothers and sisters. Ultimately realizing our true mission in life.

    I do think we have to tackle these issues of music, women’s role, homosexuality, etc. And why? Because they are destracting from our greater purpose. If we could only have the entire congregation at Winter Retreat and learn and see what Love Does…then we would be all be moving with the same purpose to serve Him.

    Thanks for challenging us, teaching us and ministering to us. We are very blessed to have you as our minister!!!!

  4. avatar Ronna says:

    Byron, your words provoke thought and inspiration and I love that. In your comments above you mention that many fear change is causing us to lose our identity. This should instill great fear in us, but not for the reasons we think. It may well be that our identity is greatly flawed. For as long as I have been a part of this tribe (coc) our identity has been tied to what we do and don’t believe/do. This is how the world knows us. The reality of this should terrify us. If our identity is in anything other than Christ, change is imperative. When the world looks at us, they must see Christ. If the world outside our doors cannot discern Christ in everything we are, we must change. We must change so that we look and sound and think and even smell like our shepherd. And the truth is that kind of change is always messy and makes us go places where we have to rely on him. But that is our calling…to follow Him and show the world what he looks like.

    Just my thoughts! Keep up the good work! The Spirit of God is on the move!

  5. avatar Stephen Carman says:

    Thanks for the comments here…looking forward to listening to the sermon.

    The talk of identity reminds me of Jesus’ encouragement; “If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me. (Matthew 10:38, 39 MSG).

    The story of the Jews in exile shows us that our identify is not bound by location, even as location shapes our identity. In a similar way, our traditions inform our identity, but our identity is bigger than our traditions. This may be one reason we see new traditions like the feast of Purim, or adaptations of traditions as their environment changed because of the exile.

    It is FRI morning in Saudi Arabia as I write this. I have had breakfast and working on my coffee as I prepar to go to church here. Tomorrow (SAT) is the first day of our work week. As I said last week, this change takes come getting used to, but seems to make more sense to worship on this day as they understand understand it in their culture than to force a meeting on SUN.

    An excellent book for anyone interested is Stanley Hauewas’ “A Community of Character” (1986). In this work Hauewas hilights how our traditions and history are huge parts of our identity. “We are not free from our narratives, nor can we choose any story” (p. 127). This means that our past has informed our present, and while it points us in a particular direction, our future is not completely at the mercy of our past. I believe Hauewas’ observation earlier in the book is right: “The church is nothing less than that community where we as individuals continue to test and are tested by the particular way those stories live through us” (p. 96).

    I would add to your questions and discernment; “how is the story we are living inform the choices we make in the present day and how does The Story direct what actions we take to further the Message of the Gospel for future generations?”

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