Summary: The beginning and introduction of our 2007 theme; Transforming for Heaven in 07. The focus for the year was Rom 8:29 being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. This sermon speaks of the What, why and results of Spiritual growth

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The Antidote for Apatheism!

2 Peter 1:3-8

Intro: Yesterday we had our first Saturday of Upward. In Ft Wayne this year there are over 2,100 kids in Upward basketball at14 different churches.

Basketball is an interesting sport…people from all walks of life play at all levels, from the pick-up game in a park someplace all the way up to the NBA. What is it that separates the player in the pick-up game from the NBA player? Is it talent? Or is it something else It is something called commitment. They have made the commitment to do whatever it takes to achieve that level of play.

The Bible compares the Christian life to sports, but there are some things that make our experience unique. While super talent is rare, believers all get the same treatment; not gifts or talents, but what it takes to achieve the great prize. Those who demonstrate the

Every year I spend October in prayer and meditation on where God would have us go in the New Year. Then by December, or sometimes January, I have a fairly clear vision for the coming year. This year is no exception. I took the static’s from 2005 and compared them to this years just to get a sense of where we are and what stuck out at me was the fact that, looking at just the static’s we have stood still. Our attendance as stayed the same and or giving has remained about the same…in other words we have stood still this past year. So as I prayed I began to whine to God that maybe somehow I had failed Him since I had not been able to build the church this past year. After a day or two of “whining” the Lord began to convict my heart that He had never called me to build a church…according to Matthew 16:18 that was Jesus’ job, to build the church. I then began to get the sense that the Lord was telling me that He had called me to build people. Not just challenge people to go out and invite folks to service – not that, that isn’t an important aspect of building people – but I was to build people to be more like Jesus. Romans 8:29 says “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…” That is what God has called me to do, to help us prepare to fit in up in heaven by conforming us to the image of His Son Jesus Christ. How was I to do that? According to Eph 4:11-12 pastors were given, “…For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”

So this coming year we are going to focus a lot on Spiritual Growth, we are going to be Perfecting for Heaven in 2007.

Spiritual growth is called Sanctification. This sanctification is, according to Paul is why, “…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess 2:13) we are expected to grow. In fact, Paul tells the church in Ephesus that God gave the church pastors and teachers so we would be, “…no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness...but speaking the truth in love, may GROW UP into him in all things which is the head, even Christ” (Eph 4:14-15). Paul says that the very reason we have church is for the purpose of growing spiritually.

Spiritual growth is detailed in 2 Peter 1:3-8

[Stand and read 2 Peter 1:3-8/pray/dismiss Jr. Church}

Do you have a lack of interest in growing spiritually? Do you approach Bible Reading, Prayer and even church attendance with the attitude that, “if there is nothing else to do then I…(Read my Bible, Pray, go to Church, etc)” If that is you then you may be suffering from, what Jonathan Rauch calls Apatheism.

Columnist Jonathan Rauch believes that America has made “a major civilizational advance” in recent years. Rauch, a longtime atheist, is thrilled about a phenomenon he calls “apatheism.”

It’s not that people don’t believe in God anymore, Rauch writes in the ATLANTIC MONTHLY — the majority will still say they believe. But statistics show that they’re going to church less, and when they do go, it’s more to socialize or enjoy a familiar ritual than to worship. And as Rauch observes, they’re refraining from sharing their faith with their friends and neighbors.

On the whole, the people Rauch describes haven’t been putting much thought or effort into their faith. They’re looking for comfort and reassurance, not for a God who asks anything of them. Hence the rise of “apatheism,” which Rauch defines as “a disinclination to care all that much about one’s own religion, and an even stronger disinclination to care about other people’s.”

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