Reflections – My Life-Long Fixer Upper

Day Five

One thing I find most fascinating about watching home renovation shows is seeing the complete transformation of a house from start to finish.

At first glance, the rundown, outdated appearance seems hopeless. It’s hard to imagine any hidden potential beneath the worn, neglected surface.

But then, miraculously over the course of just thirty minutes, a beautiful transformation occurs. The finished product is stunning and it’s hard to believe the beauty that lies hidden within the walls.

God desires to do a similar work of transformation in our lives. He’s committed to a life-long renovation project to make us look more and more like his Son, Jesus. It’s not something we can do for ourselves, nor does it happen overnight. We are God’s life-long, never-ending fixer-upper. And it’s a project He delights in doing!

Check out how Paul describes this work to the church in Corinth,

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same

 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV

Freedom is found in Jesus! God loves you so much He provided a way for you to be truly free – free from the hurts and habits of our past, free from the guilt of previous mistakes and free from the shame luring us to us to hide and withdraw.

When we place our trust in Jesus, the Spirit of God begins a work of inward transformation. It’s not, try harder, work harder, do more, learn more; it’s a freedom we receive from the Spirit of God. What great news!

This verse describes a transformation occurring as we “behold the glory of the Lord”. When my children were born and the doctor placed them in my arms for the very first time, I couldn’t stop looking at them.

I beheld them.

They captivated my attention and captured my affection. I fixed my eyes on them to observe all of their little features and mannerisms. I didn’t casually glance at them; I continuously gazed upon them. In a moment, my life, my attention, my priorities forever changed once I beheld them.

When God captures our heart, our passion, desires and focus should change as well. There are adjustments we make to our life because our heart is in a different place with different priorities driving us. We want to be with him and we want to be like him. As we behold his glory, his Spirit works in us and changes us.

The word transformed, in the Greek, is metamorphóo, meaning to transfigure or to change one’s form.Perhaps you’re familiar with this word as it’s the process caterpillars go through when they transform into butterflies. When the caterpillar surrounds itself with a cocoon and later emerges as a beautiful butterfly no resemblance of the caterpillar remains—it is a complete transformation.

God is at work to completely transform you as well, and you won’t look or act the same when He is finished. Christ wants his character and likeness to be expressed in your whole being.

Sin has muddied the waters and clouded the mirror by which we can perfectly reflect God’s image. The voices of accusation and lies deafen the still, quiet voice of God’s spirit affirming us and shaping us. But by his abundant grace and forgiveness, as we allow him to unclutter our souls and shine the truth of his word into our hearts, He changes and transforms us to be more like him.

God loves you too much to leave you the same. He knows that a little pain, a little inconvenience, a little discomfort in time will produce a better you—one that is more like him.

I figure as long as I’m heading in the right direction, every day I’m one tiny step closer to being the woman God created me to be. While I realize I still have a long way to go in my journey to be like Jesus, I’m thankful I’m not where I used to be!

My friend, you can live with the confidence God loves you, security that your relationship with him doesn’t change, and hope that his transforming power can set you free.

Just take a tiny step towards him – everyday.

Stormie Omartian wrote that it is “when you look into the mirror and see the excellence of Jesus reflected back, that’s when you will have a sense of your true worth. The actual transformation takes place every time you worship the Lord for his perfection.”2

Think about it…

  • What area of your life do you desire for God to transform, but feel hopeless in seeing it become a reality?
  • How have you seen how beholding the Lord can over time transform your life?

 

 

1 Spiros Zodhaites, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 1992) p. 968.

2 Stormie Omartian, Lord, I Want to Be Whole(Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000) p. 78.

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Reflections – Time to Go Shopping!

Day Three

 

Everyone in our family loves the beach. Thankfully, we live just a few blocks away and have the opportunity to go a lot. In fact, during the summer my boys will go surfing almost every day. They practically live in their board shorts wearing them to the beach, to school, hanging out with friends and even occasionally to bed!

I have to remind them that just because their shorts got wet in the ocean doesn’t mean they’re clean. In fact, there have been times when the salty stench on their shorts was unbearable!

Paul, writing to the church in Colossae, ties our identity in Christ to the type of clothing we should wear. No, Paul’s not giving us fashion advice. Nor is he advocating a certain style of dress. Let’s look at what he says to them starting in verse 8 of Chapter 3,

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Paul intimates to those who are following Christ they need to change their clothes. They must take off the smelly, stinky, dirty clothes of their “old self” and put on some fresh ones – clothes that reflect their new identity in Christ.

Paul doesn’t give this as a suggestion; he emphasizes the urgency by telling them to do this now. Don’t wait for a more convenient time or a better opportunity. Don’t justify the stink or try to cover it up by spraying yourself down with Febreeze (yup, I must admit I’ve done that on occasion).

Rid yourself of those behaviors – change your clothes! Don’t live like the people around you. Instead, put on a new outfit, a beautiful one purchased with the blood of Jesus as you strive to look more and more like him every day.

Paul continues with this thought and draws a conclusion in verse 12,

Therefore, as God_s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3_12

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

“Chosen, holy and dearly loved.” Right now. As is. This is how God sees you. The real issue, for us then is this: are we living as if this is true?

Sometimes I’ve found it easier to believe other people are chosen, holy and dearly loved than to believe that’s how God sees me. We have all fallen short of perfection. We have all blown it. But, the good news is God continues to see you as the person He created you to be.

Your identity doesn’t come from the things you do or the people around you. It’s not earned or worked for. Instead, it’s a gift we receive with gratitude from a loving Father.

Paul is telling the Christians in Colossae their identity in Christ should reflect how they live and the “clothing” they wear. Their “clothing” should be consistent with their identity.

Our outer life is a reflection of our inward life. As a natural outflow of seeing ourselves as chosen, holy and dearly loved, we should “clothe ourselves” with compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

And just like we take off our dirty clothes and put clean ones on, we are to take off attitudes, actions and things inconsistent with this new identity and clothe ourselves with a holy lifestyle that honors God and accurately reflects who He is.

I love how the NIV Study Bible explains this passage in Colossians 3. It reads, Paul is essentially telling the believers “they are called upon to become in daily experience what they are in Christ.”1

When we allow God to shape our lives, we begin to see ourselves as the women He created us to be. This transformation not only affects our lives and how we see ourselves, but it also begins to influence the community of people around us. He begins to use you to display his love to a broken world!

Time to go shopping for a new wardrobe!

 

Think about it…

  • What dirty clothes do you need to discard? What’s holding you back from getting rid of them and embracing your new identity in Christ?
  • Do you see yourself as chosen, holy and dearly loved? Why or why not?
  • Referring to verse 12, what “clothing” (compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience) comes easy for you? Which of these is a stretch?

 

1NIV Study Bible (Zondervan), notes from Colossians 3:1

Reflections – Part Three of Your True Selfie

Reflections

Day One

One of my favorite children’s books is The Ugly Duckling. Do you remember it? Let me briefly refresh your memory by summarizing it for you.

Once upon a time, born into a batch of adorable little ducklings, hatched a large, awkward one. Some might even go so far as to say this little duckling was ugly. Despite his mother’s attempt to protect and defend him, the young duckling endured much heckling and harassment from the other ducks until finally, he couldn’t take it anymore and he ran far, far away.

It was during this time that a beautiful flock of birds captivated his attention. He secretly wished he had been born with even a hint of the beauty these birds gracefully possessed.

The arrival of winter brought with it a cold, miserable, lonely time for the little duckling. Finally spring came and he saw these beautiful birds again and boldly decided to approach them. Anticipating the same rejection he had experienced in the past, much to his amazement, they didn’t run away from him or mock him but instead rushed to welcome him.

At that moment, he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the water. No longer was he an ugly duckling, but through the cold, dark, lonely winter, he had been transformed into a beautiful swan!

The swan was now thankful for his past experiences of pain and suffering because it enabled him to further appreciate the beauty he now enjoyed.

Who would have dreamed that such beauty could have been forged from such ugliness.1

In many ways, I can identify with this little duckling.

Perhaps you can too?

Possibly you’ve admired the beauty, poise and “put-togetherness” you’ve seen in others, but doubted you could experience it for yourself.

Maybe it’s easier for you to believe God can transform the lives of other people, but you’re skeptical He would do it for you.

Possibly, you’ve lived with your “ugliness” for so long, you’re used to it and can’t imagine anything different.

Perhaps the pain of your past is so overwhelming you feel stuck and don’t even know where to begin to experience freedom.

Let me assure you, transformation is what He does best!

As I look back and see how much change and transformation God has brought forth in my life, I am in awe. Areas of my life that I felt completely powerless to change—areas where I felt hopeless—He has lovingly transformed. It’s incredible, really.

It’s a process that God continues to work in my life day after day, year after year. It’s not always easy and it’s not always pain free. I’m not the same person that I was a year ago and, thankfully, I won’t be the same person a year from now.

Although I’m not where I eventually want to be, I thank God that I’m not the person that I used to be.

Sadly from an early age, we begin to believe lies that are subtly sown into our minds and hearts. Even in elementary school, children begin to identify people as “ugly or pretty”,”fat or skinny”, “smart or not smart”, “popular or unpopular”, and “valued or unvaluable”.

As we grow older, these labels continue to shape and mold our identity, influencing the way we see ourselves and other people.

Believing thoughts such as, “I don’t fit in”, “I’m unloved”, “No one understands me”, “No one cares about me”, or “I’ll always be a failure”, over time shape how we see ourselves and affect the way we live.

The way we live is a reflection of how we see ourselves.

Proverbs, a collection of wise sayings in the Old Testament, says it this way…

As water reflects the face, so one_s life reflects the heart. Proverbs 27_19

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. Proverbs 27:19

How do you see yourself? What do you think about yourself? When no one’s around. No one is watching. It’s just you.

How you see yourself is a reflection of what’s going on inside your hearts.

Your heart is your true self – the real you.

How’s your heart? In the heart…that’s where the transformation begins.

 

Think about it…

Can you identify in any way with that little duckling? If so, how?

What present “ugliness” do you see in your life that you would like to change, but struggle to believe that God can transform that part of your life?

What step can you take to invite God to begin his work of transformation in that area of your life?

 

1 Hans Christen Andersen, The Ugly Duckling