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Jacob Armstrong shares thoughts about book Renovate: Building a Life with God

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

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Rev. Jacob Armstrong presents during the 2018 REACH event held in Sioux Falls. Photo by Dave Stucke, Dakotas Conference.

Renovating a house can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, the act of renovation can often leave the house in a state of disarray, causing stress and frustration. In the same way, God wants to renovate your life by altering the "old you" and creating a "new you" with an improved heart. It's not going to be easy, and your life might experience some disarray, but renovating with God is the opportunity of a lifetime.

The 2019 Lenten video study will feature the cabinet members of the Dakotas Conference and the book, "Renovate: Building a Life with God (The Connected Life),” by Jacob Armstrong.

Using the book of Nehemiah, author and pastor Jacob Armstrong explores the physical and spiritual renovation experienced by the nation of Judah. Nehemiah knew that his plan for renovating the wall and gates of Jerusalem would be hard work. However, equally hard would be the spiritual renovation of the Jewish people as they returned to their homeland.

“For some time, Nehemiah has been my partner in my spiritual journey,” says Armstrong. “I can really relate to his season of feeling called to do something for God, his wrestling and searching in that process, and then his eventual decision to go for it. I saw in Nehemiah a lot that I see in myself. Out of my brokenness, I am called to go and rebuild for God.”

After preaching on Nehemiah several times at his church, Providence Church in Mt. Juliet, TN, Pastor Jacob felt led to share his insights on Nehemiah with a broader audience. “I think everyone can relate to the need for a rebuilding project that leads to doing something for God and God’s people,” he says. 

One message in particular that speaks to Armstrong is the message regarding “crying and building,” he says. “I have found that many great things for God have been borne out of the tears of God’s faithful people.”

In Renovate, the reader is invited to examine how the things they are broken over become the power behind how they serve and live for God. Six chapters explore how we each can rebuild our life with God: chapter one—never too late for renovation, chapter two—crying and building, chapter three—what to know before you build, chapter four–when others don’t like your plans, chapter five—inviting others to come home, and chapter six—the big reveal. Each week, starting on March 6, 2019, one of the six chapters will be highlighted in a video. The weekly video messages, presented by Dakotas Conference cabinet members, are each 5-7 minutes. The video series will begin with an Ash Wednesday message and end with an Easter message from Bishop Ough. Videos will be available here.

Armstrong reports that people have responded to the messages in Renovate. “Most of the feedback that I have heard from people regarding Renovate is that it helps make Nehemiah, an old story in the Bible we don’t talk much about, more accessible and applicable to normal life,” he says. “Many have shared with me how they see their journey in Nehemiah which has given them hope and power to experience renovation in their own lives.”

Join us this Lent. Tell the stories of what happens as you experience and encourage spiritual renovation. Post on social media with the hashtag #DakotasRenovate. Order the book here.

Here is the schedule for the 2019 Lent study "Renovate":

March 4      Ash Wednesday (Study Intro)  (Bishop Bruce Ough)
March 11    Chapter 1. Never Too Late for a Renovation (Rev. Kevin Kloster)
March 18     Chapter 2. It Starts with Tears (Rev. Rebecca Trefz)
March 25     Chapter 3. What to Know Before You Build (Rev. Ben Ingebretson)
April 1        Chapter 4. When Others Don't Like Your Plans (Rev. Randy Cross)
April 8        Chapter 5. Inviting Others to Come Home (Rev. Roger Spahr)
April 15      Chapter 6. The Big Reveal (Rev. Kermit Culver)
April 22      Easter Message (Bishop Bruce Ough)

Pastor Jacob presented at the 2018 REACH event at Embrace Church in Sioux Falls.