What I Need the Most

One sunny day several years ago, we piled the surfboards in the car and headed to the North Shore for a family day at the beach.

Towards the end of the day, we stopped at one last beach. The waves were perfect for my young kids who were learning to surf.

This particular beach consisted of two breaks: a small, gentle, inside break and an outside break which was a little more challenging to navigate. What we didn’t know was an invisible channel, known to have a very strong current, existed between these two breaks.

It was after 4pm when our three oldest children journeyed into the ocean. They were laughing, splashing and having a lot of fun, that is until the conditions changed.

Without warning, the skies quickly turned from sunny and serene to overcast and ominous. And as the sun began to set, the waves that had been gentle just minutes before, transformed into powerful waves with a potent current.

In fact, the current was so strong it quickly sucked my kids towards a dangerous rocky area. I watched from the shore as the waves and current battered them, dragging them further and further from shore!

I leaped into action, doing what I do very well – panic and freak out.

However, yelling at them from the shore, while creating a lot of attention and drama, wasn’t very productive. My kids were stuck and unable to break away from the powerful surf on their own strength.

So I enlisted the help of the lifeguards.

While the lifeguards saw the threat and acted quickly to help, my kids were so busy having a great time, they were completely unaware of the imminent danger facing them.

As the lifeguards paddled out to save them, my kids were incredulous that I would send someone to rescue them. In their opinion, they were perfectly fine and had everything under control.

Even today, if you were to ask my kids, they would ALL tell you the lifeguards were a nuisance that day.

They would tell you the lifeguards were ruining their fun.

They would tell you that the lifeguards were an inconvenience, interrupting their day at the beach.

They would tell you they didn’t need to be rescued.

Because they didn’t see their need to be saved.

When you don’t think you need to be rescued, the idea of a savior is a big “yawn”… a “sigh”… or maybe even boooooring.

For many people (perhaps this may even be your perspective), this is how they view God. They don’t see their need for him.

The whole idea of Christianity and following Jesus is inconvenient, interfering with their lives and ruining their fun.

But for those of us who have experienced the pull of life’s current…

For those of us who have been beaten by the swell of the waves…

For those of us who have been pulled under and tossed around on the ocean shore until we’re exhausted and sinking –

We understand the Story differently. We respond to the Savior with gratitude and sobering humility.

Because God came to do for us what we are powerless to do for ourselves.

He sent Jesus, to rescue us.

I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2_10-11

I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

God sent a Savior. Not a helper, not a life coach, not more rules or rigid expectations.

A Savior.

But until you come to grips with the fact that you need to be rescued, the idea of a Savior is an inconvenience, a “yawn”, or someone who’s just trying to ruin your good time.

But for those who have truly embraced their brokenness and are conscious of what Jesus truly did for them, our response is much different.

It’s not, “I have to…” or “I need to…”

When we think of Jesus we experience an unfiltered joy and unsolicited devotion. There is an appreciation and gratitude that extends beyond obligation because…

He saved me.

And that, my friend, is really good news for all people.

Talk it over…

  • Do you see your need for a Savior? Why or why not?
  • Why is a Savior waht we need the most?
  • How has your life been transformed by Jesus? If you haven’t taken this step, what’s hindering you from making peace with God?

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.

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