Changed for the Better

A few years ago, Neil Thrasher, Gary’s friend and fellow songwriter came out to the LeVox ranch to write and catch up. Neil’s daughter had asked to be baptized on their recent beach vacation. Through the sunset-lit waves and wind, Neil told Gary he heard nothing but these words in his head as his daughter came up from the water.

I came up out of the water
Raised my hands up to the Father
Gave it all to him that day
Felt a new wind kiss my face

In a Billboard interview, Gary described what happened next as, “One of those moments that we felt like we just held the pen, God did all the work.” They began writing Changed together about Neil’s daughter. As they wrote, it became Neil’s story, Gary’s story, Jay’s story, Joe’s story, Tara’s story, your story. It’s all of our stories because it’s a soundtrack for the ultimate story we all share. The Gospel. They went on.

I got off track, I made mistakes
Back slid my way into that place where souls get lost
Lines get crossed
and the pain won’t go away
I hit my knees, now here I stand
There I was, now here I am
Here I am
I’ve changed for the better

Life is a highway. Your heavenly Father has a wish for you. He wants to bless your broken road. He stands ready to change you for the better. Just stop wherever you are, and raise your hands up to the Father.

Pray: God, You’re my Father. I’ve made mistakes, but I trust You. I believe Your Son, Jesus, died and was raised so I could forever be changed for the better. Here is my life. Please bless this broken road. Amen.

Bless the Broken Road

Before GPS and smartphones, it used to be a lot easier to start a road trip only to find out you’d been driving for a while—a long while—in the wrong direction. If life is a highway, then all of us have taken a wrong turn and lost our way at some point. Most of us have experienced life without GPS. Just sort of taking one turn after the next without much direction from God or anyone.

Stop for a moment. Look at your surroundings. Ask yourself, “Is this where I wanted to go?” Am I loving this person the way I said I would? Am I raising this family the way I dreamed? Is this the wish God has for me? Am I on the right path? As you prayerfully look at your life, read these lyrics from Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts.

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
And others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

You know what makes country music work? It’s about real life. We all lose our way. We hit potholes and take pit stops. Yet, God’s plan prevails, and He works all things for the good of those who love Him. Nothing is too broken for Him. Somehow He can take a rusty junker and rebuild a bullet-proof marriage if we’ll let Him. He can take our pain and turn it into purpose. When we lean on Him, He makes our broken roads straight. In our weakness, He is strong. What’s your broken road? God can bless it.

Pray: God, I want to trust You with all my brokenness. I trust You with my relationships. Show me how to go the right way. Amen.

My Wish

If you’re a human, you have a father. Some of you just thought, “Duh!” Others thought fondly of Dad, and some of you went, “Ugh.” We all have fathers, but we don’t all have good dads.

When the Chicago Tribune asked Gary LeVox about fathering two daughters he said, “It’s just awesome to live for somebody else. It made me a man—a better person. It’s my full responsibility to provide for them.” So when Rascal Flatts sings My Wish, and when people play it around the world at graduations and daddy-daughter dances, it’s not just words; it’s a soundtrack for a real life.

My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to
I hope you know somebody loves you and wants the same things too
Yeah, this, is my wish.

Good fathers everywhere have a similar wish for their kids. Sadly, too many kids didn’t feel this from them. But here’s the thing: all of us actually do have a good Dad. We were adopted as sons and daughters when we chose to follow Christ. We have a heavenly Father who makes a way out when we’re carrying more than we can handle, who guides our steps, and who won’t give us a stone when we ask for bread. His wish for you is abundantly more than you could ever ask or imagine. He hopes you know somebody loves you.

Ask Yourself: How has my view of my dad affected my view of God? Do I trust God as a loving Father who always comes through?

Life Is a Highway

If there were a dusty intersection of ordinary life, country music, and faith, Gary LeVox would be sitting there on the back of a pickup singing about it. Gary is an award-winning songwriter and lead singer of Rascal Flatts, the best-selling country vocal group of the past decade. But he’d rather just be the guy who sings the soundtrack to your life’s most memorable scenes.

Thanks to Pixar and computer-animated cars, you’ve almost definitely hummed his hit song, Life Is a Highway.

Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I wanna drive it all night long

Canadian rock star and humanitarian, Tom Cochrane, first penned Life Is a Highway after a trip to Africa which he called mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausting. The experience resulted in an early-morning songwriting session that churned out one of the most upbeat and encouraging songs of the last 25 years.

God does that. He turns our mourning into dancing. That line came from another singer-songwriter, King David, whose life was also full of mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausting scenes. Yet, he wrote the Psalms, arguably the Bible’s soundtrack for life. In Psalm 16, David wrote in the midst of crisis. Yet, in verse 11, you can almost hear him cheer up and belt out something like, “Life is a highway …”

Ask God: If life is a highway, where am I headed?

Changed

Being changed by Christ means understanding who you really are in Him. You are His disciple. Over the next four days, you will read from God’s Word about what a disciple is and explore the various things disciples do.

A great example of a disciple can be found in the early church as they worked towards carrying out the Great Commission of spreading the good news of Christ into all the nations.

Jesus’ parable of the vine and branches offers us a perfect picture of what being a disciple of Christ should look like.

As a disciple of Christ you will find a need and meet it, find a hurt and heal it, and Jesus will ask you to do a lot of things that won’t fit neatly into a point on a page.

As a disciple of Christ, it’s important that you publicly stand with Him in celebrating your new life, which is why baptism is a great first step for a new follower of Christ. Over the next three days, you will explore what the Bible has to say about the importance of baptism.

There is spiritual power in baptism. This spiritual power is experienced in the fact that you are publicly standing with Christ. You are being baptized into Christ’s death and you are also being raised into new life.

Baptism is a symbol of your being changed by Christ. If you have never been baptized, let these verses serve as encouragement to you in taking that very important next step.

Being changed means reading and studying His Word regularly. Over the next seven days, you are going to explore verses related to understanding what the Bible is, where it came from, the power of the Bible, the reliability of the Bible, and the importance of mastering the text and being mastered by it.

God’s Word is eternal and has and will continue to withstand the test of time. It is absolute and we must submit to His Word in the way the writer of Psalm 119 explains.

Where did the Bible come from and how do we use it? Paul answers these questions in 2 Timothy 3:10-17.

We know the Bible is reliable because it passes the internal test in answering the question do the writers of the Bible claim their writings are true? It also passes the external test in answering the question what does outside evidence say about the Bible? Finally, it passes the bibliographic test by answering the question how well were the original documents translated to today? Today’s scriptures give answers to these questions.

God calls us to master the Bible and to be mastered by the Bible. As a follower of Christ, we must read the Bible regularly so that we can learn what it says, understand what it says, and do what it says. More importantly, we must allow His Word to transform and change us.

In order for God’s Word to change us into what God desires us to be, we must read His word regularly. Today, you will learn what the Bible says about the importance of reading and studying His Word on a regular basis.

There are four things the Word of God brings us: power, healing, direction, and freedom.

Being changed means understanding who God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are and how they interact in your life. This week you will read passages that will help you understand more about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Today you will read about God being your spiritual father.

Not only does the Bible show us that God is our spiritual father, but it also illustrates three characteristics of His fatherhood: He is a patient father, a forgiving father, and an intimate father.

Jesus is Immanuel meaning God with us. God came in the form of His son Jesus to live among us so that He could ultimately provide us eternal life by dying on the cross. Today you will explore what the Bible says about Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.

Jesus is Immanuel, and as Immanuel the Bible tells us that He comforts the afflicted and He afflicts the comfortable.

God sent the Holy Spirit to be our counselor. Being our counselor also means that the Holy Spirit serves as our intercessor, our advocate, comforter, and helper.

The Bible says there are three things the Holy Spirit does for you: He comforts you, counsels you, and convicts you.

You are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit gives you the power to share Christ boldly, gives you power when you are weak, gives you power to have hope in a hopeless world, and gives you power to experience all the fullness of God.

Being changed means you connect with God through prayer. Our relationship with God is like any other relationship we have. We must spend time and connect with God and we do this through prayer. Over the next seven days you will spend time reading what God’s Word has to say about the importance and the power of prayer.

How should we talk to God? The Bible shows us that we should talk to God with gut-level honesty and talk to Him about everything that matters to you.

How should we talk to God? The Bible also says we should talk to God continually and that we should listen for His response.

Not sure how to pray or where to start? Start with Jesus’ example that He shared with His disciples, which is known as The Lord’s Prayer.

What matters to God when you pray? The Bible says your relationships and motives matter.

What matters to God when you pray? The Bible says the way you live matters, your faith matters, and God’s will matters.

Jesus encouraged us to pray without giving up. He illustrated this through the parable of the persistent widow.

Being changed means supporting and regularly attending your local church. Over the next seven days, you will read what the Bible says about what the church is and how you should support the local church through serving and tithing.

The church is not just a building. We are the church and each one of us is called to be ministers.

God has called you to meet the needs in your church.

God has given you both talents and spiritual gifts to use in serving His church and in ministering to others.

We support the local church through the tithe. All throughout the Bible God asks us to give Him a tithe, which is 10 percent of our earnings. In fact, the only time God ask us to test Him in the Bible is related to the tithe in Malachi 3.

Not only does God ask for our tithe, but He also desires us to be cheerful givers beyond the tithe.

During His ministry, Jesus often discussed the importance of tithing and giving generously.

Being changed means engaging in Biblical community. God did not design us to do life on our own, which is why it is vital that we engage in Biblical community with other believers. You will conclude this reading plan over the next six days by reading about the importance of Biblical community from God’s Word.

You’ll never do all God wants you to do without the right people around you. You need people in your life that are with you heart and soul. A great example of this can be seen with Jonathan and the armor-bearer.

One of the benefits of Biblical community is being around other believers that help you grow both spiritually and relationally.

Biblical community comes in many forms, the most common of which is within your local church in the form of regular church attendance and in small groups.

One of the greatest benefits of being in Biblical community with other followers of Christ is having people that support you during difficult times.

Biblical community can occur within a group of believers or between two people. In fact, some of the strongest forms of Biblical community happen between just two people. It’s important that we have believers in our life that can mentor and counsel us, as well as keep us accountable.

On this final day, you will read about the life change that has taken place inside of you as a result of your accepting Christ as your Savior. You have been forever changed as a result of your decision to follow Christ. The old is gone, and the new has come!