Steve Wyatt is the lead pastor of Christ’s Church at the Crossroads in Phoenix, Arizona. “The Crossroads” was launched on January 9, 2005, and is already averaging almost 600 in Sunday attendance. Steve’s new book, Trading Places: Allowing God to Renovate Your Life, has just been released by Standard Publishing.
Once you had the assignment from Standard in hand, how did you tackle the concept?
IÂ don’t know that there was a “lightbulb moment.” I started thumbing through various passages of Scripture that meant a great deal to me, and it became clear that God has a specific plan for making change.
What does it mean to “renovate your life?”
It’s making true, lasting, internal change. Not just window dressing. The first step is to make the “great exchange,” which means I trade places with God. He will replace our weakness with his strength.
How in the world do you “trade places” with God?
I draw that principal from Isaiah 40:31: “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” I’m going to put my hope and trust in the Lord by waiting on him to wrap his enormous strength around my weakness. That’s what causes me to run and not grow weary.
So there is a decision that needs to be made on my part.
That’s the essential response. I love Ephesians 4 where it says you use that strength to put off bad behavior and to put on a different behavior. Paul goes through a whole laundry list of changes you need to make in order to complete the change. Steal no longer, but work instead. Put off falsehood, but speak the truth. God never asks us to put something off without something better to put on!
People make that decision, but it’s easy to fall right back into the patterns of sin, isn’t it?
The X Factor, as I call it, is what glues the whole package together, so that it’s a lasting change, not a temporary one. It’s about changing your mind “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Gluing yourself to Jesus: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit” (John 15:5). If you want to bear fruit you’ve got to stay connected to the vine. Most of us try to make change apart from that connection with Jesus because we believe we can do it. Then we operate under huge loads of guilt. It’s not our job to struggle and strain. Our job is to stay connected to the vine. That’s how change takes place.
So am I relying on God, or is he relying on me?
All of it is partnership God has set up our world so that he cannot effect change in my life without my permission and I cannot change my life apart from his empowerment.
Your ultimate point in the book is the trade Jesus made with us.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). I’m responsible, yet unharmed. That crown was mine to wear, yet he took it in my place. The Wednesday night right after I completed writing the final chapter two of the men in our church were installing lights in the ceiling for our Easter services and they took a bad tumble they fell more than 20 feet to a hard surface. One of the men was hospitalized. I wished for all the world that I had been up on the lift. I went right to guilt because two men were suffering for me. I saw their sacrifice in my place. That’s when I went to those verses and realized that’s what Jesus did for me, too.
Brad Dupray is director of public relations and advertising with Provision Ministry Group, Irvine, California.