A New Chapter


First Focus

A New Chapter

The New Year offers us a chance to write a new chapter in the story that God is telling through our lives. We don’t try to start over as if we have a blank slate or try to undo the past. Instead, with the breath of God’s spirit and the gift of his mercy, we turn to God and proclaim his presence in our midst.

This month we’re studying Ezekiel to guide our church as a we begin a new chapter together. Ezekiel knew that three things had to change in himself and the people in order for God to move—the mind, heart, and will. They had assumed that their old leaders back home in Jerusalem were the source of their problems. They stopped listening to God and each other. They talked past one another trying to return to a world that would no longer exist and blamed previous generations for their problems. They met with Ezekiel with pre-set goals and objectives that did not fit the community that God had in mind for Nippur.

Ezekiel gave them a vision for God to open their minds, challenging their assumptions. Each person was responsible for his own actions. God transplanted their hearts, changing their stony stubbornness into hearts of flesh listening to him and each other. He made them vulnerable to each other so they could listen to the prophet and plan together. The people changed their will. They stopped behaving the way they lived in Jerusalem and obeyed God in the new place he had planted them. They surrendered their preconceived goals and objectives and saw God’s vision by retelling and sharing his word.

In their book, Leading from the Emerging Future, Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer write that an openness of mind, heart, and will transforms relationships among people. When these open, relationships are reconciled, lives are renewed, and communities are changed. Changing lives is all about transforming relationships—to God and each other. This year, God has planted you in Tallahassee just as the residents of Jerusalem found themselves planted in Nippur. The people, institutions, schools, jobs, and families we have today are gifts from God to us. These places and people are our mission. Is your mind, heart, and will open for God to use you to transform these relationships? Keep reading Ezekiel.