Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New Creatures

Last week I got my hair cut for the first time in months. I feel like a new woman! Speaking of hair, I changed my "no-poo" routine on y'all. I started getting some dandruff, yuck! My scalp was getting too dry, I think due to the baking soda. So I'm trying "CO" (conditioner only) washing. There are a lot more healthy shampoos and conditioners coming out now ... I was able to find this conditioner for less than $5. And I'll admit, I missed the "parfum" ingredients. There's something about sweet smelling hair when you've gone to the trouble to wash it!

Yay for mommy hair!

My choice for conditioner only washing ... For now
Speaking of feeling like a new woman ...

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature ...

If you are anything like me, sometimes hearing that God wants to make you a new creature is offensive. The gospel is offensive to our self-centered and glory seeking hearts. Perhaps especially in America where we celebrate independence and applaud boot-strap strength.

My daughters are evidence of my own little miss independence. There is nothing wrong with "Shelby do it self!" But we must realize we are limited. We all to varying degrees come to a point where we can't. I can't get out of bed. I can't stop reaching for the pills/bottle/needles. I can't stop taking risks. I can't stop looking for approval. And the common denominator of our human can't is that we can't save ourselves. We need God. Some of us run up against things in life that show us that earlier than others. Call us weak ... but our weakness is where God's strength comes bursting through the smoke and dust like a searchlight and miracles happen and the impossible is done without our help. If you are reading this Jesus died to rescue you before you were even born.

So back to this offensive business about your creature being broken. The most beautiful illustration, while somewhat cliché, is the butterfly. Imagine a conversation with that caterpillar. I've got a jillion legs; and haven't you seen me eat? In a few weeks I can eat 27,000 times my body weight and increase my mass by 1000 times! I'm a machine!

But oh, little caterpillar crawling on your belly. Mushy body that may even resemble bird poop. You were meant to float on rainbow shimmering wings and sip nectar from fragrant petal-cups.

An older photo from Nicaragua in 2011

Even a black and white butterfly is a thing of beauty

On the last day of Children of the Day, Beth Moore shared a thought that concisely voices the realization that brought a flood of relief to me.

Page 208 - Speaking on God's grace
In the past I would scream at God ... YOU made me this way, now let me be. How dare you create me then ask me to change. I thought I could accept salvation and then go about my own way. "I'd just keep breaking my new creature anyways" I thought. I'll just stay like this and save the trouble. I don't want to be like "those people."

I thought He was asking me to become an ant ... a mindless minion with no individuality. Misconception! So far from the truth ... another of the enemy's ugly lies. In fact the Bible even talks about how the body (the church) is made of different parts who work together and need one another. I don't ha e to be like someone else in the church's and you certainly don't have to be like me. The only one we are asked to mirror is Christ.

This doesn't mean I'm liscensed to sin. It means I'm freed from sin. I'm freed from comparing myself to others. And worrying about others comparing me to themselves.

Being a new creature is about your heart and soul, the undercurrent of everything you are. Everything doesn't suddenly become Pollyanna prim. If you can rock without sinning, let the echo of "Hey Stoopid" be the voice God uses to stop you in your tracks.

Changing to a new persona isn't what shows how Christ changes us ... it's the miraculous redemption of our personalities ... the cleansing of light ... the shimmer of joy ... the unexplainable outpouring of love that makes the world stop and say "Something is different, and it isn't your hair ..."

To God be the glory for making the old new!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What Does GOD Want to Say?

In continuing to ponder what God wants me to write, since I've established that He wants me to write something ... my study of 1st and 2nd Thessalonians via Beth Moore's "Children of the Day" has brought my thinking around to the great commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

Jesus implicitly instructs that we're to go and make disciples. And while God may use my writing to encourage other believers as well, right now I'm feeling lead to start back at the beginning. Salvation. God's great rescue plan. If you are for whatever reason reading this and do not believe, or have never heard any of this ... know I'm praying for your heart and mind as you read my humble words.

Christianity. Christ. Who is this Christ?

First, one has to understand that God is Holy. He cannot be in relationship with sin.

He is just. He is love. These often seem juxtaposed to one another. If He is love, why doesn't He save everyone so He can be in relationship with them? Because He is just. Sin has to be paid for, and we all sin.

We all sin. From the womb that which makes us human makes us sinful. It doesn't matter what kind. It doesn't matter to what degree. Sin separates us from God no matter how many good things we do. There are two ways to pay for our sin.

Eternal separation from God. Separation from God. The source of all that is good. Any good in us isn't really from us; it is because we were created in His image. Yeah, sometimes that's a tough pill to swallow. But if you seek God ... He promises you will find Him ... and once you begin to fathom Him, humility comes. It is the only posture upon glimpsing even the idea of Who He is.

The only way to restore our relationship with God is death. Christ's death. On the cross. It covers our sin. All of it. There is no sin too ugly. There is no stain on your soul He cannot atone for.

Accepting Christ's death means you have to die to yourself. There's that humility again. You can't do it. You can't attain God's favor. But you don't have to earn His love.

Deep down, your soul (yes, your soul ... you are a soul ... even me, a redhead, I am a soul ... I just have a redheaded body) has a deep need to be united to God. One day face to face; the very definition of heaven ... God's presence.

For now, you can be in relationship with Him like you can be with no one else. Through the Holy Spirit. No only does Jesus Christ, God's son's, death cover your sins but it allows you this gift. A walkie-talkie if you will until we're reunited in person.

THIS is the good news. I would be selfish not to share it. I've complicated yet simplified it. I am no theologian ... I am a child of faith and I want you to share in that. Whoever you are. I don't care what you've done. Even if it was to me. GOD LOVES YOU. He wants to be with you. But He is HOLY. You can't get there on your own. HE SENT HIS OWN SON. HIS OWN SON. TO DIE. FOR YOU.

Test Him in this! Even if you don't pray, do it now ... ask Him to speak to you. To show you. To call you. To knock on the door of your soul's heart.

Set out to prove me wrong. Prove it to yourself. Seek answers. Seek Him. He is mysterious and unfathomable to our finite minds but He is. And when you find Him your faith is that of a child - not like a wizened, wrinkled old man. Like a new thing. A chrysalis crawling butterfly stretching its wings for the first flight. Joy.

I am grieved by how many people have passed through my life without hearing me confess this. This. This most important decision. This whole purpose OF my life.

My faith was stagnant and shaken ... my focus was on myself. But even this can be redeemed, and so I hold onto my hope in Him and have faith that He is the overcomer and my failures have not been His.

My life is His, my writing is His, and I pray He will use me to speak to you. Whatever forms that takes. For His glory.

God made us. Sin entered the world. God made you. You are a sinner. Perhaps even a well intentioned sinner, but a sinner. He loves you. He wants to be with you, but as long as you are carrying the sin guilt His Holiness prevents that.

Because He loves you, He made a way. Yes, you ... He loves you. Go watch a sunset. He made those molecules refract that light in that way that is pleasing and beautiful and can't be captured ... He loves you. He sent his Son to live a perfect life and die on a cross. Death. The only acceptable payment for sin. Instead of your soul's eternal damnation of death His perfect blood spilt and you can accept its covering and regain what you were created for. To be with Him.