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A Long, Hard Look in the Mirror

James 1:22-25 – “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

Happy 2018!

I hope that your Christmas was lovely and your New Years was fun. We had a great time visiting with family and sharing memories together. 

One of the presents that I got this year was a vanity mirror – you know the ones that light up and magnify to show every imperfection on your face. I love it! Now I can really see time marching across my face! No, seriously, I really wanted one. I was practically sitting on my bathroom counter trying to put on eyeliner. This is going to be a great help.

But it made me consider another type of glass – the one mentioned here in James. Oh, this glass shows way more imperfections that my magnifying mirror will show. And these imperfections hurt. The ones I see in my mirror just remind me that I’m not 20 anymore. 

The imperfections I see in myself that are reflected by the Perfect Law of Liberty remind me that I’m not done growing yet. I have faults, failures and shortcomings that need to be addressed. I see opportunities missed and conversations squandered. But I also see successes and accomplishments. I see places where I have been obedient. I see times when Jesus was smiling on me.

Today is the first day of 2018. It is a time for goals and/or resolutions. It is a time for reflection and thinking ahead. Today is the perfect day to sit down and take a good, hard look in the mirror…of God’s Word. It is the perfect day to start a Bible study, begin reading through the Bible, start that journal you have been thinking about, begin that prayer time that has been convicting your heart – whatever the burden God has laid upon your heart to begin doing, do it today!

And when you get up to do the other things that this day is bringing, don’t forget what you saw in the mirror of God’s Word. Let it penetrate and change you. Let it open you up to His will for your life. Let Him have control this year. Live like you believe.

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Transforming vs. Conforming

Romans 12:2- “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

I enjoy cooking. I enjoy taking parts and pieces and creating something that my family and friends can enjoy. There is a sense of satisfaction in hearing your loved ones make those yummy noises. 

I also enjoy sewing, when I get the chance. Creating something wonderful out of essentially nothing is very fulfilling. Not too long ago, I took several feet of fabric and made gigantic bean bags for the teen room at church. I love walking by the room and seeing our young people lounging in their room, just enjoying the peace.

So what does sewing and cooking have to do with Romans 12:2? When one cooks and/or sews, they are transforming something. They are taking a raw material and making it into something new and useable. Now, the alternative to cooking and sewing is going out and buying it. That’s what the rest of the world does, right? Those bean bags I made would have cost several hundreds of dollars to purchase.  I made two for approximately $200. Going out to eat is fun sometimes, but man, it is expensive for a family of four! Right now, my husband is making beef jerky. He is transforming ground beef into jerky for us all to enjoy. And trust me, it is way cheaper than the stuff you get at the store, and much better tasting too.

When you transform raw materials into something different, it takes work and effort. It takes time and dedication. Going out and buying it would be a lot easier. But you save money by doing it yourself and you get a real sense of satisfaction in a job well done.

Our spiritual life is no different. We are called to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind” on a daily basis. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes time. It takes dedication. But we don’t have to be concerned with transforming ourself. No, God is the One who does all the transforming. We just need to be willing subjects to His transformation.

The other option is conforming. Everyday there are people who wake up and live like everyone else around them – and they “went to church yesterday.” Some people are afraid of transformation. It might make them different. People might think they are weird. It is much easier to be like everyone else.

The transformed individual is unique. This person is ready and willing to make the necessary choices to follow Christ. They know the path will be a challenge. They know the way will be hard. But they know that transformation to being more and more like Christ is within His “good, and acceptable, and perfect will”.

So today, you have a choice to make – will you allow God to transform you or will you just be conformed to the world one more day? No time like the present. Make the change today.

Fingerprints 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

It’s a season of change at my house. Summer vacation has started. That means the grade transition has taken place. I now have two high school students. Friends have transitioned to non-high school life. People are moving from our everyday life to our text occasionally life. It is hard. It is sad. It is exciting. 

And as we look back over the last year, I see some heartache. I see laughter. I see adventure. I see success and I see failure. It’s the way of life. The ebb and flow of all things created. 

Yet as I see the page of a chapter in our life turning, I try to see God’s fingerprint. I see it in our continued love for one another. I see it in our attitudes. I see it in our tears for the change because we care so much. But I also see hope. I see the hope He gives in the promise that He will always be there. I see hope in the opportunity for new friends with new ideas and new dreams and new stories. 

Change happens in life just as surely as we know that the sun will come up tomorrow. Change can be scary. Change can be exciting. Change can be difficult. But in the midst of change, I encourage you to find hope. Solomon understood that “To everything there is a season”. We need to remember that as well. We need to accept that things don’t always keep us in our comfort zone. Growing doesn’t happen in that place. Growing happens when things are stressed and bothered. And that is exactly what God is doing in my house right now. Changing and growing with hope while reminding me of His fingerprints all over my life. 

Roller coasters

Psalm 37:25 – “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

Well, I feel like I may have crossed over into new territory. I sat out a ride at a theme park. 

As I sat watching the roller coaster smoothly travel along the tracks, I recall the last time I rode it. I felt like my brain was being sloshed around in my head like a milkshake! I remember the days I could take on something like this time and time again. I remember waiting 4 hours for a 75 second roller coaster that boasted the highest and steepest drop. I remember spending hours and hours riding one roller coaster after another with hardly a slow down for food. Those were fun days. 

But now, I’m content to stay seated by the support pole and watch as my children are turned this way and that and loving every minute of it. 

So what does this have to do with spiritual issues? God hasn’t let me down through it all. He has seen me through the seemingly smooth times of my life. He has seen me through the times when life has thrown me for a loop. He has held me together when I have been jostled like a milkshake. He has kept me from physical hunger and provided me with spiritual food when I ask. You see, He has been there and provided for it all. 

So as you enter into a new week of uncertainty and potential loops and insanity- remember where your certainty lies…Jesus Christ. 

Turn the page

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Today is the completion of a two year project – working at the nursing home. I have worked in a nursing home setting consistently for almost 10 years. That is a lot of people and a really long time. I have learned so much from all the people I have come in contact with. Some of them have nearly driven me crazy and some of them have truly touched my heart. 

But today, I am leaving a small group of people that have come to be my adopted grandmas and grandpas. Their antics have made me laugh. Their situations have made me cry. When you work with people the way I do, your heart gets attached to them. And leaving them leaves a hole that is very difficult to fill. I think the hardest part is this – even though I will go back and visit, there will still be some I will never see again. That is hard. 

But in reality, we face that every day. It is just more clear on some days than it is on others. 

I am moving on to another job that will still keep me in contact with new people that need my help and my skills. But these people at this little facility will always hold a special place in my heart. 

And by the way, it isn’t just the older people I will miss. There are fabulous people that I work alongside. They are kind and gentle and thoughtful and dedicated to making the lives of those around them as beautiful as possible. 

I know that the older ones will probably never read this but I want them to know today that I love them. And I want to say thank you for making an imprint on my heart. For the ones that I labor alongside, I want to say thank you for caring with me to hold up this older generation. Your labor is not in vain. 

We all need to remember that Jesus said, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)  I cannot tell you how many times this verse has run through my head over the years. 

So as I turn the page today, I will remember that Solomon reminded us that there is a time for every thing. And today is my time to turn the page. 

Saying Goodbye

Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 – ” To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”

It was about 19 years ago sometime in the summer that I went to pick him up. He was as small as my hand and feisty as could be. How could something so small create so much havoc yet be as sweet as honey? My little cat, Raja, came into our life. We had just been married a year and I really wanted a cat. So, my new husband consented. Little did he know on that day that he had agreed to a 19 year commitment. 

We have been through a lot with Raja. He has lived all over the country, chased an innumerable number of milk rings (you know those little rings around the lid of a gallon of milk), shed a ton of hair, and loved us unconditionally in those 19 years. 

When we got home from all our running around on Monday, one of the kids noticed that he was walking funny. And it went down hill from there. We said goodbye to him yesterday. It was an incredibly hard day. My eyes are still puffy. 

I don’t now what happens to animals when they pass. Some like to believe they go to Heaven.  I’m not so sure about that. Pets can’t accept Jesus as their Savior. But, nonetheless, what is important is my attitude in the situation. God gave me 19 wonderful years with that little guy. The thought of him makes me smile. And believe you me, I was crying out to the Lord yesterday. Not because I was asking Him to change the situation, but rather to give me what I needed to make it through. Raja was important to me and subsequently, he was important to Jesus – and that gives me comfort. 

We also had a church member graduate to Heaven this week and another that we know from another church as well. It has been a sad few days. 

But this is the turning of life and love. We love fiercely and hold on dearly and then the time comes when we have to let go. And it is the letting go that hurts so much. 

But I am reminded of this: John 14:8 – “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Jesus doesn’t leave us to wallow in our sorrow. He doesn’t abandon us when things get tough. He doesn’t leave us to say goodbye all by ourself. No, He is standing right there beside us when the last hug is given, when the last long look is exchanged and when the first tear is shed. 

Accepting the changing of the season can sometimes be tough. It is a growing period that is a long and difficult road. But praise be to God, we don’t walk it alone. 

I pray that if you are in this season that God will comfort you in a mighty way today. And if you are not in this season, be a blessing to someone who is. I’m sure that we all have those who could use a little extra hug today. 

Transformers

  
Romans 12:2 – “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

My son and I were at a stoplight yesterday when he said, “Mom, look! How cool is that?” So, of course, I had to get a picture. 

We are called to be a transformer. Isn’t that what Paul is telling us in this verse?

If you know anything about Transformers, you know that they can change from a car to a robot at will. The old cartoon version had a song that said – “Transformers, more than meets the eye.” How appropriate is that for us today??!! We are supposed to be “more than meets the eye”. We have a Power within us that is beyond human comprehension. We have the Creator of the universe on our side. And that gives you the ability to transform. 

This transformation needs to happen on a daily basis. It should be the first thing you do in the morning. Now, I get that not everyone is a morning person. I have two of those at my house. BUT, just because your body won’t cooperate in the morning doesn’t mean that your mind can’t. In fact, this is where the real transformation occurs – in your heart and your mind. You have to invite Jesus to walk with you through your day. You have to invite Him to transform your thoughts and your actions. You have to allow Him to conform you to Him and not leave yourself open to the ways of the world. 

Did you notice where the cross was at in the picture above? It was on his forehead. For me, that means that I need to allow God access to my mind. My mind is a scary place sometimes. The thoughts that run through it are not always pretty. But when I get out of the way and let Jesus in, amazing things begin to happen. Instead of being frustrated that my kids are running late for school, I see the opportunity to chill for a moment. Instead of being burdened by planning yet another meal for the road, I see an opportunity to serve. God can change perspective. And perspective matters a lot. 

One more thing about the picture – it’s a helmet. In my crazy mind, it’s a helmet of salvation. The purpose is partly two-fold – protection and identification. The helmet protects your mind during battle. It keeps the devil from getting to your thoughts and attempting to control them. It also identifies you as God’s soldier. By wearing your helmet, everyone should know Who you belong to. And it only fits when He gives it to you. 

So, let me encourage you today to be a Transformer. Be more than meets the eye. Wear that helmet with confidence in the One who gave it to you. Allow Jesus to change you from the “everyday Joe” to someone spectacular!