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Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. –Romans 12:1-2

"The issue is not whether you are being formed, it is who is forming you and what you are being formed into," began Revered Dr. Garret Smith (Zach, Daliya) in Wednesday morning's Chapel.

Pastor Smith played a clip of a conformity study done in the 1960's, which showcased the pressure to conform to what others are doing/saying. The word "conform" in the above passage refers to schematic design – a picture of a basic concept, or taking on the appearance of something. "World" means "age" or the time period one lives in. "What characterizes this age?" he asked. He challenged the students to think about why these words from the Apostle Paul to the Roman Christians were even necessary. Why would a believer want to take on the form of the world? "We are caused to doubt," he said. Many people buy into the concept that the latest thinking or idea – whatever that is – is the best. "Ideas come and go," Pastor Smith said. "As Christians, we are able to take eternal truths and impress them into our culture. We are not to resist our culture, but influence it."

We are not to conform, we are to be transformed. "Transform" is a metamorphosis – the changing of a caterpillar into a butterfly. We are changing on the inside; as we become like Jesus we will see things the way He sees them. "We get to wear 'Jesus glasses' as we walk around," Pastor Smith encouraged.

In closing, Pastor Smith offered three ways to take off the mask of conformity and be who God made us to be:

1) Remember the pull and the foolishness of conforming to the world. We are pressed to conform to worldly thinking, but this is foolish.

2) Find allies. "The pressure of conformity can often be erased by having just one other person 'on your side'," Pastor Smith said. "Proverbs 13:20 says Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. You become like the people you hang around with."

3) Be transformed. Pastor Smith warned the students to beware of trying only to look like a church person. "Jesus wants to change us," he said. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. –2 Corinthians 3:18

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We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else's territory. But, "Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord."For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. –2 Corinthians 10:12-18

 But he [the Lord] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Pastor Andy Ober, church planter in residence of High Rock Southwest Boston Church, spoke Wednesday afternoon to students about a topic no one wants to hear: failure. A popular catch phrase is 'Failure is not an option,' but Pastor Ober told the students they will all experience it at some point in their lives. He told them everyone gets caught in the trap of 'I need to try harder because I can't fail at _______.'

"God ultimately doesn't care about our success," Pastor Ober said. "He wants us to do well, but He is more concerned about our faithfulness. What really matters is how faithful we are with what we've been given."

Using the Apostle Paul as an example, Pastor Ober said Paul knew what it was like to not feel good enough. It is easy to feel like a failure in the face of criticism, but Paul did not fall into the trap of feeling like a failure. He did not look for approval from people, but looked to God for approval. He didn't worry about what others thought, but trusted God and what God made him to be.

"You are going to fail in your life," he said. "What matters is how faithful you are in the journey. It is doing the right thing whether it brings you success or not. It is doing the best you can with what God has given you."

Pastor Ober closed by exhorting the students to ask themselves, when they have failed in something: Have I been faithful? "I want to invite you to focus on being faithful," he said. "Focus on faithfulness and don't worry about failure."

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Mr. Zeke Smith of FOCUS Boston spoke to students Wednesday morning about asking for help. "We don't like to think of ourselves as needing help," he said. "We want to feel like we can 'do it all ourselves'. We want to be perceived as self-reliant."

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