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At first glance, the rundown, outdated appearance seems hopeless.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 – Lose the Filter

Day Four

Every year when I was growing up, we’d go to the Puyallup Fair. I looked forward to it all year – early release from school, the yummy fair food, the sketchy rides…all of it!

One of my annual faves was an attraction called the Fun House. Perhaps you’ve experienced it? You enter a building and walk through a maze filled with all sorts of silly things. But what I remember most is the room containing a bunch of crazy mirrors. (It was the old-school equivalent of today’s Snapchat filters.)

I’d run back and forth giggling as I looked at my warped reflection. Some mirrors would make me look tall and skinny; other mirrors would make me look short and stumpy. But all of them were distortions of reality and didn’t accurately reflect how I truly appeared.

If you were to think of your life as a mirror, what do you see reflecting back? Do you think the reflection you see is an accurate one?

Quite possibly, the “mirror” into which you’ve been looking, has been terribly warped, clouded and distorted.

I believe it’s time for you to get out some Windex, change the filter, and do whatever it takes for you to see yourself through the lens of God’s Word – the true, undistorted mirror for your life. Because if we’re going to get an accurate picture of who we truly are in Christ if we’re going to accurately reflect who Jesus is to a broken world, we need to begin painting a picture of ourselves that resembles who God says we are.

You are created in God’s image.

In Genesis 1:27 God provides a “frame” for how we should see ourselves,

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

An image is an accurate representation or reflection of something. So when God says He created us in his image, He means He created us to be like him and to accurately reflect who He is and what He is like.

This is what distinguishes you and me from everything else that God made. While God made flowers to be like flowers, birds to be like birds, fish to be like fish, He made us like himself.

His image is seen in the eyes of the orphaned children in China; his likeness is found among the impoverished in Africa. From the faces of the poor and oppressed to the successful and wealthy, his presence and likeness are found in his children—all of them.

In the movie, The Help, one of the main characters, Aibileen, makes an intentional effort to mold the self-image of a little girl. Daily, she has the little girl repeat, “I is smart. I is kind. I is important.” While the people around her may not affirm the girl’s worth, Aibileen determines to be a positive voice speaking into her heart.

God desires to be this voice in your life. He wants to be the guiding voice shaping your image, molding your character and defining you.

I love how Bob Goff put it in his book, Everybody Always, “God has never looked in your mirror or mine and wished he saw someone else.”1

 If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves investing a lot of energy attempting to be who we think we should be or trying to be who others think we should be.

God knows you intimately. Your birth wasn’t an accident; it didn’t catch God off guard. In fact, He planned your life long before you were formed. Before you even took your first breath, He had a wonderful plan for your life. Before you did anything, accomplished anything, or achieved anything, you had value to God simply because He created you.

As we close, I’d love for you to read Isaiah 44:3-5,

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob… Isaiah 44:3-5

You may be thirsting for significance; your hope may have run dry. Your “mirror” may be warped, distorted or just plain dirty. Time to take off the filters, clean off the mirror and allow the Word of God to wash over your soul, filling you, shaping you, refreshing you and molding you into his image.

An image that gradually comes more and more clearly into focus as you grow in your knowledge of the “Whom” to which you belong.

Think about it…

  • If you were to think of your life as a mirror, what reflection would you see?Do you struggle to see yourself as being created in God’s image?
  • If so, what hinders you?
  • Do you believe that your life has purpose and that God knows you intimately? If not, what hinders you?
  • Can you confidently say, “I belong to the Lord”? Why or why not?

 

1 Bob Goff, Everybody Always(Nelson Books: 2018) p. 66

Issue of Identity – Part two of Your True Selfie

Day Four

Three of my kids head back to school next week and the other two start back at college in a couple of weeks.  As I mourn the end of summer, I’m gearing up for one of my least favorite parenting duties…the seemingly endless stacks of parent forms, class fees and tuition payments.

Don’t even get me started on the cost of college textbooks. I’m incredulous that one used biology textbook that my child will use for just a few months will cost several hundreds of dollars. Really?! These are students surviving on Cup of Noodles! (And with these payments, the parents may be too :).

You discover the value of something when you know the price that was paid for it. While college textbooks may be overpriced, I still pay for them because I see the value of the end product: a college education for my kids.

God paid a high price for you and me. He gave his only Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice to pay the price for our sins. The value of paying this high price is God providing a way for us to have a relationship with him.

You have incredible worth to God because of the great lengths He was willing to go and the high price He was willing to pay.

Sadly, we often don’t look to Jesus as our primary source of identity. We go searching…grasping for it in other places. Looking for that thing, that career, that relationship, that job to give us the worth our hearts are desperately longing for.

For years, I derived my worth from what I did. I lived as if my performance was what made me valuable. I would do, do, do…add, add, add wearing myself out to prove my worth and significance. When I did well, I felt good, but when I failed, I was devastated. It was like running on a treadmill – I was working hard and completely wearing myself out, but getting nowhere.

We’ve looked at how the One who created us is the One who has the right to name us. Similarly, the One who created us is the same One who should define our worth. If we’re not allowing the truth of God’s word to define us, something else will.

Three of the areas I find myself repeatedly but insufficiently looking to for affirmation and worth are:

  1. My past.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,… Philippians 3:13

Recounting past failures and disappointments with a liturgy of “if only’s” will wear you out. It is impossible to move forward if we are continually looking back. Instead, we should strain forward to what’s ahead. Your worth is not measured by your past failures, experiences, mistakes or even your past successes and achievements.

While the past makes us who we are today and teaches us valuable lessons, Paul says we are not to dwell on it. Like Paul, we need to “forget” our past and put it where it actually is – behind us if we’re to move forward into all God has for us.

  1. Other people.

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.2 Corinthians 10:12

When we constantly compare ourselves with others, we’ll never be satisfied. If we compare ourselves with people who appear to be more “put together” and successful than us, we’ll feel like we’re constantly failing and falling short. And if we compare ourselves to people who seem to be worse off than us, we’ll be tempted to give in to pride and criticalness. It’s a NO-win situation!

No matter how hard we study, how diligently we work for a promotion, how many hours we spend trying to be the best wife and mom, how many diets we try, or how long we strive to be accepted, somebody will come along sooner or later that will outdo, outperform and “outlook” you.

Resist the pull to conform to be like everyone else. Your worth is not measured by your appearance, performance or the approval that other people give you.

  1. Believing lies.

… When he [the devil] lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

You have an enemy that loves to whisper lies to you. And how easily we can be persuaded to believe them! It’s his native language to spew forth lies and lure us into his web of deception and confusion.

In Revelation 12:10, we see another name for the devil,

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Revelation 12:10

The Hebrew name for satan actually means accuser! One of his primary goals is to beat you down with accusations of fear, shame, insecurity, inadequacy and failure. Satan gains power over us as we begin to listen and believe the lies that are constantly spoken to us.

At times, I have found myself investing more time into reasoning with and embracing the lies in my mind instead of replacing them with the truth of God’s word.

Such. A. Waste. Of. Time.

Slowly, I’m learning.

The apostle Paul, in Philippians, instructs us to live with a different focus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praisewor

God asks us to make a concerted effort to shift our thoughts away from that which will distract and discourage us, to that which is true, pure, right and noble.

It can be so hard, can’t it? Our mind naturally drifts towards our past, other people and lies. Suddenly we find ourselves stuck and can’t even begin to find our way out.

Like a car spinning its wheels in the mud, we expend a lot of energy yet are unable to get any traction to move forward. Moving forward requires us to embrace and focus on things that are true and then discard our old ways of thinking.

The Bible provides us with the foundation of truth on which we can firmly ground our lives. God’s Word gives us the strength and traction to move forward when we feel stuck.

My friend, you are a child of God. Your identity and worth are determined by God not by the people and circumstances surrounding you. Don’t settle for anything less.

By looking to our past we can easily become defeated, by comparing ourselves to others we can be discouraged, and by listening to the devil’s accusations we can become confused, defeated and deceived. Only by looking to Jesus, can we truly become all that God created us to be.

And as a 19th-century philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.”*

Think about it…

Where are some places you go to find and measure your worth?

Which of the three pitfalls do you find yourself falling into most often? Why?

How can you begin to embed your identity in what God says about you and how He created you to live?

How can spending time in God Word increase your understanding of your identity as a child of God? How can this influence your relationships and the effect you have on those around you?

*Soren Kierkegaard, as quoted by John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997, 2002) p. 11