Formed or Transformed?

 Becoming a Christian opens you up to a whole other world – quite literally as we think about Heaven but also here on earth. Maybe you recently declared that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for you and rose again, and is coming back for his children. Or maybe it’s been a few years, but you are still figuring out what being a Christian means and what it looks like. 

Once you declare Jesus as your Savior, there should be a transformation taking place in every part of your life. 

In Romans 12:2 ESV we read – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

This verse is powerful as it contains very pointed words. Let’s define a couple of them to get a fuller understanding of this verse:

  • Conformed: behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards
  • Transformed: make a dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.
  • Renewal: resume an activity after an interruption, give fresh life or strength to
  • Testing: take measures to check the quality, performance, or reliability of 
  • Discern: distinguish (someone or something) with difficulty by sight or with the other senses.

Let’s plug in these definitions to rethink the verse:

Do not live according to the standards of this world, but make a dramatic change by giving fresh life and strength to your mind, that by checking the quality of the factors in your life you may distinguish what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

When we encounter Jesus, He should interrupt every aspect of who we are. Who you are now is not who you should be a few months after knowing God. Even if you labeled yourself as a good girl or good guy – what you think about, what you say, what you prioritize should look different. The transformation process continues throughout our life until the day we die or Jesus comes back, it is never ending.

If we are called to live transformed lives, there should be a dramatic change in our lives.

Self- growth check:

  • Does my life look like it used to before I knew Jesus? 
  • Am I still struggling with the same thoughts and sins I used to a year ago? 
  • Am I reflecting Jesus through my life? 

If you feel like your growth hasn’t started or is stunted ask yourself this:

Have you checked the quality of what your mind processes?

As much as people try to say oh this or that doesn’t affect me, we need to critically evaluate if removing certain things from our life will impact our growth. 

Matthew 6:22  “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

This verse makes me think about, What am I watching? What am I listening to? Who am I following? Who am I allowing to give me guidance? If the things I’m seeing are pointing towards God and His kingdom, that will grow the light inside of me. If the things I’m allowing into my soul through my eyes and ears are against Him and His kingdom, they are dampening my growth. 

Now this isn’t a call to leave all the music, tv shows, and friends you have been with forever. It’s more of a call to think critically, is this helping my desire to grow closer to God or not? 

I have struggled with lust, I think many of us do. I would love to listen to all the sappy love songs that allowed me to get in my feelings. And then I realized, this isn’t helping me feel fully satisfied in God. So I decided to no longer listen to that type of music. 

In the upcoming weeks I challenge you to test what you allow in your life. Ask yourself the following questions as dramatic, but helpful, guideposts:

  • Would I listen to or watch this at church? 
  • Would I want my younger sibling or children to hear or see what I do? 
  • Does this leave me feeling sad or empty? 
  • Does this make me want to praise God? 

This might lead to you remove certain types of music, shows, social media accounts, books etc. from your life. But you can’t remove these foundational aspects of your life without adding items back in or you might end up feeling bored out of your mind!

I wanted to share some of my favorites with you all, so that you may add content pointing you to God. And trust these aren’t stale hymns and sermons!

Favorite Tools for Reading the Bible:

We believe the Bible is God breathed, meaning the words written are true and were given by God to man to write down for the teaching and encouragement of His children. Romans 15:4 “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” I love this verse, in the Word of God we learn about people who were real that endured trials for their faith and through these words we are encouraged today. The Word of God will always feel new, if you believe it can actually speak to you. It can be hard to understand at times and that is OKAY, talk to a trusted friend, leader, or pastor for guidance.

  1. YouVersion Bible App: I hope you have this downloaded, but if you don’t – this is my favorite. You have a multitude of versions of the bible, devotionals (multi-day meditation passages), audible versions of the word, and different plans to get through the good book. If you are completely new to reading the Bible maybe The Message Translation, Christian Standard Bible or International Children’s Bible would be easiest to read. I personally read the English Standard Version or New Living Translation.
  2. The Bible Project: Tackling the Bible is scary. This is a BIG BOOK y’all and reading the Old Testament makes me feel like I am reading a manual at times. If you are a visual learner this youtube page breaks down how to read the bible, a review of every book, biblical themes, word studies, and much more. They also have a podcast which is a bit lengthier. 
  3. Suggested Books: Any of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, John and Luke) these books detail Jesus’ life. I love Acts because it shows us the early church after Jesus went back to heaven. Some other favorites are Ephesians and Phillipians. But let’s not forget the old testament, Genesis and Exodus are very story-like along with 1&2 Samuel. While Psalms and Proverbs have great one liner wisdom nuggets. 
  4. Bible Hub: As you start reading more, you will realize that there is a lot of repetition and parallels in the Bible. I love this tool to see what other verses related to what you just read.

Favorite Books: 

No book can replace the Bible, yet there are so many books that can help you throughout your relationship to God. 

  1. Battlefield of the Mind: Remember the verse we started with earlier, Romans 12:2 “be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Mental health struggles are at an all time high. Your mind is a sacred place and this book can help you learn biblical truths on how to battle against depression and anxiety with His word.
  2. Crazy Love: In a world where love is misrepresented, learning about the vast love of God is foundational to moving forward in your relationship with Him. 
  3. Mere Christianity: This book allows you to dive into the rationale behind believing in the God Christianity proclaims. 
  4. Screwtape Letters:  A bit twisted but it gets you thinking! The book is written as a compilation of letters from a “tempter,” Screwtape, to his nephew, a “junior tempter” named Wormwoood. In the letters, Screwtape gives Wormwood advice and counsel on how to best tempt his “subject” – a young man who converts to Christianity, and then falls in love with a Christian woman.
  5. Boundaries: The title says it all! You’ll learn about biblical principles in setting boundaries with your loved ones and yourself. 

Favorite Music: 

Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul. – Plato

Christian music has every genre of music under it, if you are willing to do some research you will find something that suits your taste! This is a very short list of what I like – from artists, albums, to playlists.

  1. Maverick City Music
  2. WHATUPRG
  3. GAWVI 
  4. Un Corazon
  5. Forever Amen by Steffany Gretzinger
  6. Not Your Average Christian Music by Logan Kreider 
  7. Latino Christian Pop Playlist

Favorite Podcasts: 

  1. Thirty Minutes with the Perry’s: Love this podcast because it’s short, they typically stay within the 30 min rage. It’s a husband wife duo who are both poets, Jackie and Preston, so their word choice is impeccable. Jackie has a crazy testimony which she shares through Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been.
  2. Conversations with John & Lisa Bevere: This is another husband wife duo podcast. They make me feel like I’m listening to wise grandparents. They are both very accomplished authors and they love empowering women to preach and take their place in the Kingdom!

Favorite IG accounts: 

  1. @churchoflaugh – memes and more memes
  2. @epicchristianmemes – memes and more memes
  3. @honestyouthpastor – memes and more memes
  4. @kingofsolomon – encouraging reflections 
  5. @prochurchmedia – stellar graphics 

As you walk with Christ the above favorites are just add ons and aids. To live a transformed life you must get to know God, as you get to know Him your life cannot help but be changed by Him. You have to read the Bible and just talk to Him – chat Him up like you would a friend and don’t forget you need community to help you through this process. 

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