If a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether – the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. All this is Gods doing, for he has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ; and he has made us agents of the reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:1719 (Phillips)
Al, a friend of mine and a dynamic Christian high school science teacher, gave me an acrostic for the word ego, which graphically describes the results of refusing to worship God as the center of our lives. He said that EGO is Edging God Out. When the self is at the center of a life, there is no room for God. When God is edged out of a persons life, there is no place for worship, thus our spiritual formation is checkmated.
The ego-centered lifestyle is the path to absolute defeat, utter frustration, total disappointment, complete havoc in a persons life. Al was the perfect example of Edging God Out. Every time I think about Al, I remember that when I first met him he was an atheist and an evolutionist high school science teacher. I didnt like him because he kept trying to pull our high school band director away from God and church. Then, all of a sudden, I didnt see him again for more than ten years. He and his wife Abby showed up in our church on a Sunday morning. When I first saw him come in, a terrible thought ran across my mind, Whats he doing here?! After the service, Al said, Pastor Sam, do you remember me? Oh, yes, I sure do
! I responded, as my thoughts ran wild for a moment, but they were interrupted when he said, Do you remember, back in 1972 when you had The New Philharmonic Christian Rock Band here at the church? I said, Yes, I do. We had over six hundred kids here that night, and probably half of them came forward to accept Christ into their lives. Al continued, I was here that night, too; I was invited by Mike, the high school band director, who played trombone with the band. I wasnt prepared for his next words: I too came forward that night and accepted Jesus into my life as Savior and Lord, and I changed from being an atheist and evolutionist to becoming a Christian and creationist!
Al was drafted into the U. S. Army and was sent to the war in Viet Nam. After he got out of the army, he and Abby lived in Southern California for a while, and they had just moved back to Madera, where he got his old science teacher job back; but now he was teaching kids about the Creator God!
He became an integral part of our congregation and our dynamic Mens Ministries. One morning, at our mens weekly breakfast Bible study, he gave his testimony and shared the EGO acrostic with us. He had moved from being a critic of God-stuff to being a proclaimer of the life-transforming power of God in Christ. He changed from edging God out to inviting God in! Talk about no longer being defined by the past! Al met the New Definer and received a new definition! Al became a new person altogetherthe past is finished and gone; everything has become fresh and new. Now, thats Transforming Hearts Transforming Lives! Regarding The New Philharmonic Christian Rock Band, when Mike, the band director, and I set up that event, we also had them perform at the high school on Friday and announced to the them that the band would be at our church on Sunday. We had no idea what God had in mind, but we prayed that something awesome would happen, and it did! Al came because he trusted Mike; he saw a new definition of Christianity in him and met the New Definer as his Savior!
Empower me, Lord, to always be a Christ-follower who reflects the new definition of Christianity so that others will meet you,the new definer as their Savior! Help me to be the kind of Christ-follower who brings people into the presence of God and God into the experience of people. Im yours! Amen.
-Dr. Sam Bruce, President, Sam & Sandie Bruce Ministries; Pastor, Hope Point Church, Pearl, Mississippi; Online Instructor, Mid-America Christian University, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma