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					                       Lodge Forest United Methodist Church Newsletter
                                          May 2004



                          “Become Who You Were Born to Be”
                                  By Alan B. Ward

As some of you know, I participate in a men’s group through Cedar Ridge Community
Church—the church I attended before coming to Lodge Forest. We meet every other
Saturday morning. For the past few months, we have been studying John Eldredge’s book
Wild at Heart. It is a book that is geared toward men but has a message applicable to all
of us. The author’s main emphasis is that all of us need to rediscover and reconnect with
our hearts. The Tuesday night Bible Study recently completed a study of Rick Warren’s
The Purpose Driven Life. Warren talks about discovering our ministry and in that context
he discusses the need to discover our God-given SHAPE—an acronym he uses to
encompass spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, experiences. Many other authors
have said much about the heart including authors of the bible from both the Old and New
Testament. But, there is still much confusion about just what is meant by all of this talk.

So, what is our heart exactly? What does it mean to say that we should “discover our
heart” or “live from our heart?” We might also call refer to it as “discovering our
passion.,” or discovering “a life of passion.” We need to discover the things in life that
make us come alive. We need to discover those things that we can spend hours working
on and yet still feel energized. We need to find those things that get us “riled” up inside
when we think about them and make us want to shout out. We must make intentional
choices to pursue those things above all else. We must all look at our lives and realize
that we often settle for far less than God ever intended us to be. In his book Uprising: A
Revolution of the Soul, Erwin McManus says that sometimes, “The longing to be alive is
drowned out by lesser ambitions. We just want to make it through the day, survive, make
ends meet, go through the routine, and then exist rather than live.” Frankly, sometimes
we’re tired and existing seems sufficient for the time being.

Yet life is meant to be more than just existing. It’s meant to be an adventure, a journey, a
trek filled with uncertainty, excitement and risk. Unfortunately, many of us have been
hurt deeply along the journey and these wounds have caused us to retreat back from life
fearing further pain in our lives. Eldredge describes how we create a false self that
enables us to function in life. We live the safe and rather boring life of Clark Kent
because the heroic life of Superman seems too dangerous and risky. We convince
ourselves that doing “good enough” is about as good as we can hope for. We survive but
we certainly do not thrive.

God certainly wants us to do more than just exist. Our life may be “good enough” for us,
but it is not “good enough” for God, unless we are living to our full potential. Our God
has a different perspective on our lives than we do. He sees not only what we are now,
but also what we can become, and he wants us to achieve all that we can. He knows that
each one of us is capable of more than we think we are, and when we stop short of all we
can be, it grieves God tremendously. God wants us each to discover our full potential so
that we might have what Christ promises in John 10:10, namely, that we might have life
and have it to the full.



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                       Lodge Forest United Methodist Church Newsletter
                                          May 2004



There is a scene from a recent movie that is a wonderful illustration of this. In Lord of
the Rings: Return of the King, there is a scene where the Elven Lord, Elrond, presents
Aragorn with the ancestral sword of his fathers and says, “Become who you were born to
be!” Elrond has realized the reality of all Aragorn is meant to be, and invites him to take
up his ancestor’s sword and lay claim to his true identity. Earlier in the trilogy, Aragorn
was known as Strider the Ranger and was found lurking about in the shadows, hiding
from the Black Riders of Sauron. Strider knew his true identity at the time, but he hid it
from the world; he wasn’t ready to accept it. In this moment, however, he makes the
decision to “go public” and let the world know who he is. He is Aragorn, King of Arnor
and Gondor, and he will lead the men of Middle Earth boldly into battle and ultimately to
victory over the evil forces of Sauron. What a beautiful illustration of what I believe God
wants for us. Christ longs to transform us and give us a new identity. But he doesn’t just
want us to be transformed for own benefit, he wants us to bring the full weight of who we
really are to bear to advance the Kingdom of God.

Very often we too are like Strider the Ranger. We hide out trying to blend in to the world,
afraid to let "the real us" be seen. We're scared of what the world would think if we were
really truthful about who we are—namely disciples of Christ. Sometimes, we even
wonder if our identity is real or if it is just something we made up in our head. We
frankly doubt we have any real power in Christ and fear being exposed as a fraud if we
step out in faith. We take the easier road and blend in and with everybody else—just
another face in the crowd. In the end, it’s more important to us to be comfortable and
accepted by the world (a face in the crowd as it were) than it is to be authentic followers
of Christ and choose to stand apart from the crowd. And in that scenario, the Enemy is
most happy. He is not likely to offer much opposition, because we aren’t much of a threat
to him.

Christ indeed calls us to stand apart from the crowd and that can be a bit uncomfortable
and scary. In Wild at Heart, Eldredge is very clear that we are going to have to fight to
“become what we were born to be”—he even refers to it as a battle. It takes time and
effort to discover who we really are and then, once we do, we have to make a conscious
choice to let our real self loose on the world. We must decide if we will choose to stand
alongside God and our fellow believers or if we will turn tail and run. We must be
aware that making a decision to be authentic (to fight the battle) is the harder road to
travel and that if we do decide to fight our Enemy will fight back. As we assume our true
identity and start living for God, we become a threat to our Enemy and he opposes our
efforts more and more and tries to force us to retreat. The battle is fierce, but we also find
that it is also an exciting adventure that leads to the abundant life Christ promises. Most
of all, we know because of what Christ has already done by his death, resurrection, and
ascension, we can be assured of final victory.

This message not only speaks to us as individuals, but it also speaks to the Church. Think
of what could be unleashed if the Church started letting the full weight of what we really
are (namely, the body of Christ) be felt in the world. Think of how much could be
accomplished for the Kingdom of God if all of us were living to our full potential. As



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                      Lodge Forest United Methodist Church Newsletter
                                         May 2004

McManus states it, “How much would it change the work of the Church if our measure of
effectiveness was not how little sin was being committed, but how much good was being
accomplished?”

So much of what we’ve learned at church over the years has focused on having our sins
forgiven. Certainly, that was a very important part of what Jesus did for us, but it wasn’t
the whole story by far. (Interestingly, the cross didn’t even become the symbol for the
Christian church until several hundred years after Christ died.) We’ve come to believe
that its “good enough” to simply have our own sins forgiven and our own personal needs
met by the church. But having a full life in Christ is about much more than that, it is
about using the gifts and graces God has given us to serve our church and our world.

It is my prayer that we at Lodge Forest United Methodist Church can each work to
become the person that God dreamed of when he created us, and that together, we can
work to become the church that God dreams of when he thinks of the church on the
corner in Edgemere. Just as God leads us to discover our individual identities so that we
can serve Him and serve others, he wants our church to discover our identity not just to
serve ourselves and feel good about ourselves, but so we can better serve the world
outside our doors.

We are fond of saying that we have a great deal of potential here at Lodge Forest, and I
believe its true. But there comes a point when potential needs to be realized. To quote
McManus again, “We’re not supposed to die with our potential.” We must harness our
potential as individuals and as a church so that in time, we become a potent force for
good in our community and in our world.




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