A New Perspective

I’ll be moving into an apartment in town in a few weeks, and my granddaughters have been less than excited about it. My son and his family are building a new home, and I decided to rent rather than build beside them. We’ve all lived together in a big house for the last two years, and Lilly told me that my new house had to be in walking distance of her new one. She said she liked my house now because she could walk to it inside her house. I like that too, but I’m also looking forward to having my own space.

Lilly will be six in a few months, and I wonder when that little toddler was transformed into a girl who uses words like ‘cool’ and ‘dude!’ I’ll only be a few miles away from their new home, but that seems like a long way to little Mylah. She’s three and said, “Gigi, I already miss you!” They both touch my heart in places no one else ever has or ever will.

Lilly was washing her hands in my bathroom last week and came out grinning from ear to ear. She looked at me and said, “Mommy said I get your room when you move!” She proceeded to do a little happy dance, and I burst out laughing. Suddenly, she was no longer a little lawyer trying to get me to stay. She was a big girl getting her own room! Mylah didn’t look very happy about the new arrangements, but I know she will enjoy the changes once she gets used to them. I know I will too.

Change is never easy, but a shift in perspective helps with the transition. Philippians 3:21 explains the change that comes when I trust God. He has the power to change me, but I must have the courage to let Him.

“He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” (NLT)

God could make me whoever He wants me to be at any given time. He has the power, but He won’t use it until I’m ready. I am ready, and I know little Lilly is too. Mylah will be soon enough 🙂

Lillyann

 

Memorials and Sticky Notes

I can’t imagine seeing Christ transfigured with Moses and Elijah standing next to Him. Peter’s desire to build memorials is a natural response to his being taken completely off guard. Jesus understood his fear and appreciated his desire to honor Him, but I’m sure He was also frustrated by his lack of understanding.

Jesus asked the disciples not to say anything about what they saw. I imagine that wasn’t very hard for them to do. They didn’t understand what they saw, so I don’t think they were anxious to explain it to others.

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus.

Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them.

As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (Mark 9:2-9 NLT)

I’ve build my share of memorials for God and find myself at a loss for words in His presence, but I cannot imagine seeing what the disciples saw. Jesus had told them of His coming death and asked them not to mention His transfiguration until He had risen from the dead. They remembered His words when He rose, but they forgot them when He was arrested.

It’s easy to get lost in the heat of the moment, and the disciples were lost in the transfiguration and the arrest. My senses fail me, and my heart falters in the face of love. I suppose that will only increase when I see God in heaven, but I will be transformed myself by that time. I ramble when I’m nervous and can relate to Peter. I would probably ask Jesus, Moses, and Elijah if I could get them something to eat or drink.

Words are not necessary in God’s presence. I won’t be stuttering and stumbling over what to say because I won’t have to say a thing. God knows I am like a middle-school girl on Valentine’s Day when it comes to expressing my love for Him, and that only makes Him love me all the more. One day, I will come to the place of no words. Until then, I’ll continue to babble and build.

The little girls have been making Valentine’s  with precious hearts and scribbles on them all week. I treasure each and every one. Those sweet pink sticky notes are like my attempts to tell God how much I love Him. I’m learning that words, gifts, cards, flowers, and chocolates are not as powerful as a warm embrace and sweet “I love you.” Being still and taking in His presence is the best way of all to express my love for Him. I think Peter would say, “Amen!” to that sister!

Heart in the Sand

The Face of Jesus

The glory of God can be seen in the face of Jesus, and God makes His Son’s light shines in our hearts so we could know His glory. I love the image Paul paints in his letter to the church at Corinth.

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 4:3-6 NLT)

Having the light of Christ’s love in my heart changes the way I view the world, but it doesn’t necessarily change the way the world views me. If I keep His love hidden behind a veil, others will not see His love in my life. The message may be framed by my story, but I cannot be the story. Jesus is the story, and He always will be. My story is meant to point to God’s glory, and Christ’s love allows me to do that.

Christ’s reflects the glory of God. If I get away from that beautiful truth, His story will be hidden as mine takes the stage. The light God places in my heart is not meant to be hidden, but it also is not meant to be a spotlight for my own story. My witness should be about God’s grace and Christ’s love. Like a witness called to the stand, I need to give testimony that brings a greater understanding of God’s glory. Witnesses who focus upon their stories cloud and cover the true issues. The same is true of those who witness to Christ’s love and God’s glory.

The veil comes off when focus is fixed upon Christ’s face. God’s glory is there, and it connects to the light He placed in my heart when I turn to take in the love that allows me to see God’s glory. Like the moon reflecting the sun’s rays, I can’t look away when faced with His glory. When I see someone looking into God’s glory with love, I find myself stopping and staring too. Looking at God’s glory together is what worship is all about. If we do that as we should, others will find themselves unable to look away. When the face of Jesus is the focus, words about me fade into the background.

Photo Credit: dailymail.com
Photo Credit: dailymail.com

Holy Hierarchies!

Jesus put a child among His disciples to help answer their concerns about leadership. He hears them arguing about who will be in charge and wants them to hear His heart on the subject. It is the way of the world to want to climb up the hierarchy, but Jesus didn’t operate that way. He said the least would be the greatest and the first would be last. That didn’t make any sense to the men who followed Him, and it still doesn’t makes sense to some.

Hierarchies exist in churches and denominations, just as they do in the world of business. Even little family churches have a chain of command. The disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was saying, but they were afraid to ask any more questions. I imagine they were a bit embarrassed by being caught in a conversation about power.

Leaving that region, they traveled through Galilee. Jesus didn’t want anyone to know he was there, for he wanted to spend more time with his disciples and teach them. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead.” They didn’t understand what he was saying, however, and they were afraid to ask him what he meant.

After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”

John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.”

“Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me.  Anyone who is not against us is for us. 41 If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded. (Mark 9:30-41 NLT)

John changes the topic in hopes of getting approval from Jesus. He tells Him they stopped someone who was casting out demons in His name. Jesus made it clear to the disciples that whoever is not against us is for us. I so wish the Christian community could get that through their thick heads. His disciples are still arguing over who’s right, who’s wrong, who knows best, and who’s in charge. Some things do not change, and I know that breaks God’s heart.

We are all part of the same body, and I pray that one day we will behave in a manner that doesn’t go against the intentions of Christ to unify and bring peace to His body. Christ came so we could be one as He and His Father are One. That happens when we quit worrying about getting up the ladder, being the leader, and taking charge.

climbing the ladder

 

Love That Listens

Love is on the hearts and minds of many this week as Valentine’s Day approaches. Paul talks about love in his first letter to the Corinthians, but he isn’t talking about Valentine’s Day love. Agape isn’t about romance; it is something much deeper. Valentine’s is more about lust and who gets the biggest bouquet, the best chocolates, the most expensive card. That isn’t the love Paul had in mind.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7 NLT)

Lust is anxious, jealous, boastful, and definitely keeps score. It doesn’t last and offers little hope. There is no shortage when it comes to lust because it depends upon excess. It breeds and spreads like a wildfire when ignited, but agape develops slowly over time and lasts into eternity. There is nothing more precious in this world or the next.

Our world loves lust, and that creates an environment that revolves around wanting what others have. I no longer want just what I want, I want what I think you want too. Many tears and much blood have spilled as a result of the wanting lust inspires. I’ve fallen prey to lust, but I’ve also experienced agape. Feeling the joy of having someone hear my heart and love me no matter what is changing me beautifully. Being embraced and loved as I am is allowing me to become more than I imagined I could be, That’s the power of love that listens.

Love changes my wants, and that was the sweet message God had for me this morning. I used to dread Valentine’s Day and buy myself a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers to help ease the pain of wanting what I thought I was missing. This year, I’m celebrating agape and plan to enjoy the week with my sweet little granddaughters and my loving friends. My heart is filled to overflowing with love that listens, and it doesn’t get any better than that.  I’ll share some chocolate with the girls and help them make cards, but I won’t be pining for what I’m missing because I’m learning that what I have is so much more than what I used to want.

Heart in the Sand

I’m Not My Own

When I read the first two verses of Romans 12, I think of Chris Tomlin’s song “Lay Me Down.” The lyrics remind me that I am not my own, and that makes it easier to give my body to God. I am giving back what already belongs to Him.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 NLT)

Old Testament sacrifices involved killing live offerings. Jesus turns sacrifice on its head by giving life to that which is dead. Metanoia involves a change of life resulting in a spiritual transformation. It is associated with repentance or penitence, but it is simply a change of mind that leads to a change of heart that shows up in the way I live my life.

I can’t know God’s will for me until I let go of the world’s notion of who I am and embrace His vision of who I am. Transformation occurs over a lifetime and isn’t complete until I am in His presence. It begins the moment I put myself into His loving hands and let Him begin His will in my life. I must be willing to lay me down before He can pick me up. The song says that much better than I can.

With this heart open wide
From the depths from the heights
I will bring a sacrifice
With these hands lifted high
Here my song here my cry
I will bring a sacrifice
I will bring a sacrifice

I lay me down
I’m not my own
I belong to you alone
Lay me down
Lay me down
Oh, hand on my heart
This much is true
There’s no life apart from you
Lay me down
Lay me down

Letting go of my pride
Giving up all my rights
Take this life and let it shine, shine, shine
Take this life and let it shine

I lay me down
I’m not my own
I belong to you alone
Lay me down
Lay me down, oh oh oh
Hand on my heart
This much is true
There’s no life apart from you
Lay me down
Lay me down
Oh oh oh
Lay me down
Lay me down

It will be my joy to say
Your will, your way
It will be my joy to say
Your will, your way
It will be my joy to say
Your will, your way, always

It will be my joy to say
Your will, your way
It will be my joy to say
Your will, your way
It will be my joy to say
Your will, your way, always

I lay me down
I’m not my own
I belong to you alone
Lay me down
Lay me down, oh oh oh
Hand on my heart
This much is true
There’s no life apart from you
Lay me down
Lay me down, oh oh oh
Lay me down
Lay me down, oh oh oh
Lay me down
Lay me down

Open the Door!

Christ compared indifference to lukewarm water in His mouth.  It’s a vivid image that makes a powerful point about the dangers of not feeling. Indifference is insidious. It’s gradual and subtle on the outside but deadly when it creeps inside the human heart.

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 3:15-22 NLT)

Christ reminds those who will listen that riches we think we have do not compare to the refined gold of a transformed heart, the freedom of a changed mind, and the clear vision of truth God’s love offers. Christ knocks at the door, offering those riches along with a friendly meal. He makes it clear that He would prefer a hot or cold response to no response at all. I agree because there’s nothing worse than being left standing outside the door when it comes to love.

I can chose how to respond to Christ. I can open the door with delight and welcome Him in; I can tell Him to get lost and never come back, or I can ignore His knock and go about my normal routine. The latter is lukewarm and safe, and that’s what’s so dangerous about it. I don’t know anyone who would be so cold as to tell Christ to leave, but a cold response is better than leaving Him standing on the other side of the door with no response at all. I know Christ is speaking to the churches in this passage, but the clear message to all who refuse to respond when love is offered is, “Open the door!”

jesus-knocking-on-door