When I read the dictionary description of the word transformation I read this: Transformation is a change in form, appearance, nature, or character. When I then reflect on the transformational power of the Lord Jesus Christ in my life, I have to look back several years to remember just what it was from which I've been transformed. It’s been some journey!
Not content with things the way they were in the late 1960’s, I found something that, at least on the surface, made more sense at the time than what I had been exposed to religiously. I thought I had found all that I needed in the religion where members are known as Mormons. I grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints through the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, attended Temple ceremonies, and held various positions, including Branch President (similar to a pastor of a small congregation).
Discontent began to grow when I found I could only offer more rules and regulations to hurting people and those struggling with real life problems. Legalism wasn't the answer, and I began to recognize that more and more. My questions about certain pertinent church dogma and procedures got me labeled as a trouble maker, but resulted in no answers.
I ran across a magazine that included the testimonies of men who had met Jesus and had an instant inner character change. That was the missing segment of what I was experiencing as a Branch President while working with my Branch members.
I read two more issues and attended a meeting of Christian business men to hear testimonies in person. The meeting had life, not regulations. I loved it! Praying in front of my garage one night, while holding a Bible in one hand and a Book of Mormon in the other, the Lord showed me the weight that the LDS church places on their members. He showed me that truth and life are in the real Word of God.
I left my LDS Branch and wrote a letter to the regional authorities asking that I be excommunicated. I accepted Jesus, not Joseph Smith, and my life was immediately transformed. Truly I was a new creation.
Since that time, God has continued to lead me deeper into His Word, where my mind is constantly being renewed. I have found my anchor in Christ. I have a close, intimate relationship with the living God of all Creation who loves me. I operate in grace and love rather than legalism and the faulty traditions of men. If what I hear from “religious” sources doesn't measure up to God’s Word, I just dismiss it.
My life is now one of service to my local church (Sturgis Evangelical Church); to my local community through our church men’s group; and to the world through my position as International Secretary for World Gospel Mission’s Men With Vision.
My wife and I love to lead short-term work teams into the mission field where missionaries often need assistance with projects. My love for the goodness of God grows daily as I interact with missionaries, pastors, and nationals on foreign soil.
What a Savior! Jesus rescued me through the holy discontent placed in my heart by the Holy Spirit. He has become my righteousness, my redeemer, my reconciler, my everything. He continues to lead me deeper into a relationship with my Heavenly Father every day. Through Him I am a better husband, dad, grandpa, and man.
Talk about transformational! Thank You, Jesus, for your transformational power.
Gary Archer, Sturgis, Michigan