Reputation – What Do I Want to Be Remembered For

One of the most valuable things we can obtain is a good reputation. Call me a little crazy, but sometimes I wonder what people will say in memory of me, when I am dead and gone. Perhaps it is a good thing to keep in mind while I’m still alive and have an opportunity to make life-style adjustments.

Awhile back, I attended a funeral that had been entirely pre-orchestrated by the deceased, from the floral arrangements, to the pictorial history, right down to the obituary and eulogy. This concerned person wasn’t leaving anything to chance.

I don’t enjoy going to funerals, but I do enjoy listening to the revelations of those who knew the individual the best. Usually a person’s life is abbreviated into a few short paragraphs of humorous stories, positive attributes, and outstanding accomplishments.

Amazing, isn’t it? Decades of living condensed into a “Reader’s Digest” version. What is even more interesting is that within a few short years, we begin to remember loved ones not by paragraphs but in single sentences.

“She was a stubborn as the day is long!”
“He was the best teacher I ever had.”
“That man could make anything work.”
“I felt sorry for anyone who tried to stand in her way!”

Oddly enough even the one liners quickly evaporate into single words that capture an entire lifetime: kind or mean, generous or cheap, caring or selfish, thankful or complaining.

Reputation

Reputation deserves more thought than we perhaps give it.

“Choose a good reputation over great riches;
being held in high esteem
is better than silver and gold.”
Proverbs 22:1

It is often the daily things, the little things, in life that blend the colours forming the full picture of our character. From front row seats, our spouse and family witness it all. They watch us navigate the highs and lows of life. They know how we respond when the kids are sick, we hit our thumb with a hammer, get cut off in traffic or stress pulls us like an elastic band to breaking point.

Solomon points out that reputation matters. How God evaluates our life, however, counts the most.

Paul advised Timothy to carefully examine the lives of people before choosing his leadership team. Positive attributes like “faithful … temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, and able to teach” started the long list. Negative qualities to be avoided included “not violent, not quarrelsome” and “not a lover of money.

“He must also have a good reputation with outsiders,
so that he will not fall into disgrace
and into the devil’s trap.”
1 Timothy 3:7

God is looking for the evidence of exemplary character at home, church, work and in the community.

“You can fool all the people some of the time,
and some of the people all the time,
but you cannot fool all the people all of the time.”
– Abraham Lincoln.

God’s View

I must admit I have trouble with God’s viewpoint on a few biblical personalities. But then, a broad gap separates human perspective and God’s.

The church in Sardis had “a reputation of being alive,” but God called them dead. (Rev 3:1) How is that for differing viewpoints?

When a worshipper decided to break an expensive flask of perfume and dump it on Jesus head, everyone in the room turned on her in anger and screamed, “Why this waste?”  Jesus saw the gesture as beautiful.

“Truly I tell you,
whereever this gospel is preached
throughout the world,
what she has done will also be told,
in memory of her.”
Matthew 26:13

Did you catch that? Her act of worship would never, ever, be reduced to a single line or word. Her reputation as a lavish worshipper would be told, in full, throughout time.

God says, “Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.” (1 Kings 4:30) Anyone who thinks he needs 1000 wives and concubines (who by the way turned him away from God) isn’t all that wise, to my way of thinking. Anybody could predict trouble in that scenario. Actually God and I agree on that one!

Too quickly, we summarize King David’s life to a single word — adultery. God expands it to

“…I have found David son of Jesse,
a man after my own heart;
he will do everything I want him to do.”
Acts 13:22

The Challenge

So here is my challenge. People have identified me with some surprisingly good attributes and many equally not-so-good ones. You probably have experienced the same. How do we live in a consistently honouring and godly way to develop a reputation that is above reproach with God and man?

I know it is possible.

“And the boy Samuel continued to grow
in stature and in favor with
the LORD and with people.”
1 Samuel 2:26

Jesus also “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52) I don’t know about you, but I consider Jesus in a class all His own, even though he was fully man.

Solomon offeres concrete advise for us, however.

“My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.”
Proverbs 3:1-4 

In one of Solomon’s smarter seasons, he recognized the connection between following not just the “commands” but also the heart of God. This reproduces a godly character that wins “favor and a good name” on earth and in heaven.

In Memory

Those who diminish the bible to a long list of “dos” and “don’ts” miss the mark. The bible reveals God and His great love for people. Yet, reality exists. In our own ability, we are powerless to create good and godly reputations. We need help!

As we commit our lives to Jesus Christ and cooperate with Holy Spirit to re-form us, change happens. The Word of God is powerful to transform lives. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is redemptive, creates hope and opens our destiny to lives well lived.

We identify Peter as the “rock” who helped establish the fledgling church. Rarely do we remember him for his betrayal of Jesus. We remember Paul for being the great apostle to the Gentiles and writer of much of the New Testament, not his persecution of the church. Everyone remembers John as “the beloved”, not as a son of thunder.

By the grace of God, a reputation can change! Perhaps Paul said it best,

“But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me
was not without effect.”
1 Corinthians 15:10

I know that I have a long way to go to build that godly reputation. I also know God is improving on the original version of who I once was. If there is hope for me, honestly, there is hope for everyone.

God is an amazing Master Builder, Redeemer, Re-Creator, and Restorer. He is ready and willing to lead us into that new reputation.

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Qualified for God’s Service: The Grace of Serving God

What qualifies a person for God’s service?  Confidently stepping into opportunities within our gifts and calling is a work of God’s grace. Many tools are available to help us identify our spiritual gifts, but how can we know for sure the specific calling God has placed over our lives?

Christ has established us in His kingdom and “freed us” as “priests to serve” God, the Father. Priests fulfilled the highest level of God’s service.

To him who loves us and has freed us
from our sins by his blood,
and has made us to be a kingdom
and priests to serve his God and Father —
to him be glory and power
for ever and ever! Amen.”
Revelation 1:5-6

Satan, our accuser, relentlessly heaps guilt and shame upon us for past failures. With expertise, he convinces us we neither fit, belong nor quality.

Equipped and ready

Only the descendants of Levi could serve in the temple. However, any “defect” nullified that opportunity and disqualified many from God’s service.

Blemishes

The term “blemish” refers to physical “defects” and “defects” of conduct resulting from sin.

“No man who has any defect may come near:
no man who is blind or lame,
disfigured or deformed;
no man with a crippled foot or hand,
or who is a hunchback or a dwarf,
or who has any eye defect or
who has festering or running sores
or damaged testicles.
Leviticus 21:18-20

Let’s examine these disqualifying factors more closely:

  • Blindness, either total or partial, also figuratively referred to the blinding of officials eyes to injustice through bribes.
  • Being lame, resulted from injury to the leg or foot, causing hindrance to the priest’s walk. Metaphorically, it refers to anything that quenches a person’s faithful devotion to God.
  • Disfigured literally means “blunt nose” — one rebelling against God, doomed to complete destruction or severe judgment of God.
  • Deformed referred to an overextension or “stretched out” part or purposeone member stretched out of proportion, overdeveloped, or a sixth finger or toe.
  • Broken-handed or broken-footed was a badly cured fracture — also crushing, ruin, affliction, or breach. It implied an ability to “grasp” the word of God or walk in obedience to it.
  • Hunched back also means “eyebrows descending over one’s eyes.” Unable to face forward, vision was obscured by a person’s own eyebrows while bent over.

Pencils - defects and blemishes

  • A dwarf represents failure to grow to mature stature. It also indicates weakness, malnourishment, gauntness or leanness.
  • Eye defects were cataracts or fusions of the white and black of the eye, symbolizing confusion or obscurity.
  • Running sores include scabs, festering wounds, and eruptions of the skin, representing unhealed wounds of the past.
  • Finally, damaged testicles refers to unfruitfulness, or inability to reproduce, because of crushing or breaking.

Jesus Christ

Such defects did not limit a person from the provision and blessing of the priestly office, but restricted their ability to approach the Presence of God.

“…he must not come near
to offer the good of his God.
He may eat the most holy food
of His God,
as well as the holy food.”
Leviticus 21:21-22

When I am honest, I clearly see spiritual parallels in my own life. I identify with each “defect” in one way or another.

So how do we get from disqualified to qualified? How do we move from the select few in the Old Covenant to an entire “kingdom and priests” in the New Covenant?

In modern day terms, under these restrictions worship and prayer would be off limits. It is difficult to imagine such an isolated spiritual experience watching others participate in an intimacy with the Father, while being banned from entry yourself.

Broken pencils

Our hope is Jesus! He miraculously heals and delivers people completely from these same ailments — then and now.

“Great crowds came to him,
bringing the lame, the blind,
the crippled, the mute and many others,
and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.”
Matthew 15:30

There was the woman bend over for eighteen years (Luke 13:10-17), the man with shriveled hand, (Matt12:9-14), and those with leprosy (Mark 1:40). Whether a result of birth, accident or sin, He approached each with mercy and grace. He also forgave their sins (Mark2:5).  He forgives ours, too!

Forgiveness is part of God’s complete benefit package.

“Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases.”
Psalm 103:2-3

Every disqualification removed! Through Christ, we become qualified for God’s service.

Qualified

Paul prayed that the new believers in Colosse would fully grasp this amazing truth.

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”
Colossians 1:9-12

The “Father…has qualified you!” By grace we are saved. By grace we are qualified. God made a way over every barrier, past every offence, through every hindrance.

Qualified for service

“Qualified” means to be “sufficient, able and competent.” Every dis-“able”-ity reversed through Christ’s death and ressurrection. Qualified to now enter freely into His Presence and into God’s service!

Grace

Believing God for salvation is the first “grace” step. The second “grace” step recognizes He also qualifies us.

  “For by grace are ye saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained
that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:8-10

By God’s grace, we experience the privilege of His Presence and the equal privilege of “good works.”

Colour the world

But there is one more point we don’t want to miss. The final qualification comes by the Holy Spirit. We dare not yield to pride or presumption like Aaron and Miriam did,

“Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked.
“Hasn’t he also spoken through us?”
Numbers 12:2

Holy Spirit

Though Aaron and Miriam were called, anointed and set apart for high levels of leadership, there were not qualified to serve like Moses. Wisdom and humility help us to recognize God-ordained boundaries.

Jesus commanded the disciples,

“Do not leave Jerusalem,
but wait for the gift my Father promised,
which you have heard me speak about.
For John baptized with water,
but in a few days you will be baptized
with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 1:4-5

Jesus Himself trained, equipped, and commissioned these men to lead His church. However, even they could not proceed without the seal of the Holy Spirit.

Set apart for God's service

After their first missionary thrust, Barnabas and Saul returned to the teachers and prophets at Antioch.

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting,
the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul
for the work to which I have called them.”
Acts 13:2

These first century labourers for Christ constantly surrendered to the will of God through Holy Spirit, even though they were already powerful, active servants.

The seal of qualification comes through the entire Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are all called to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” (Mark 16:15) By God’s grace, He equips and sends us into this vast mission field. God alone chooses the capacity. He also chooses the timing.

Let’s face it! Most of us feel “blemished” in some area of our lives. But the truth stands — by grace alone we are qualified for God’s service.

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Forgiven: The Freedom of Forgiveness

To know you are forgiven is one of the greatest gifts this side of heaven. Yet few people experience the fullness of forgiveness toward themselves or others.

A question I often hear repeated is, “How can I counsel others to godliness when I fail so miserably myself?”

The answer is, “We are people of promise not prisoners of our past. The past neither defines nor limits us.”

Like most people, forgiving others and receiving forgiveness is a recurring pattern. I can go through the process of forgiving and think I have overcome, until …

I see the offender,
rehearse injustice mentally or verbally,
or a sadness infects
random moments
with recurring pain.

Have I really forgiven? Am I forgiven?

Justice and mercy

Necessary

Jesus taught the disciples to pray,

“And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Matthew 6:12

Forgiveness is a pivotal piece! To be forgiven, first we must forgive!

“For if you forgive other people
when they sin against you,
your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not
forgive others their sins,
your Father will not forgive your sins
Matthew 6:14-15

To forgive and be forgiven is not optional! God explicitly states, “To be forgiven, one must be forgiving!” Our willingness to show mercy, opens the gate to receive mercy.

Forgivenss Corrie Ten Boom

Forgiveness removes the invisible but powerful bondage of past hurts. Setting others free releases us to live unhindered.

Neil Anderson in his book “The Bondage Breaker” defines forgiveness as a “crisis of the will.” Rightly so!

Misconceptions

There are many misconceptions surrounding forgiveness:

  • Forgiveness is not forgetting. It does begin the healing of wounds, however.
  • The offender is not “let off the hook” through forgiveness. Everyone remains fully accountable to God.
  • Forgiveness is a choice of the will not a feeling. Feelings will follow choice.
  • Forgiveness never approves hurtful conduct.
  • No circumstance is too difficult to forgive. Only after forgiving will you be released from the pain.

Jesus carried every offense to the cross. In the midst of indescribable agony he prayed,

“Father, forgive them,
for they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34

Forgiven - Robertson

Jesus set the example, giving each of us the ability to forgive and be forgiven. Every act of forgiveness demonstrates God’s grace.

We all remember Peter’s sincere confession before the cross,

“Even if all fall away on account of you,
I never will.”
Matthew 26:33

We also know how that scene played out! Jesus knew the frailty of His closest followers. Three times Peter betrayed the Master; each time more vehemently,

“He began to call down curses,
and he swore to them,
‘I don’t know this man
you’re talking about.'”
Mark 14:71

Tears of grief and shame were powerless to wash the agonizing pain of his betrayal! One moment confessing unquestionable allegiance; the next cowering in fear and treachery.

Peter Restored

As Jesus hung on the cross, He spoke words that span all time or circumstance,

“Father forgive them,
for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34

It would take even more than this to penetrate Peter’s wounded heart.

Often the hardest ones to forgive are ourselves. Where is the limit on God’s grace? Does it include my adultery, my lying and deception, my thievery, or shedding of blood  through abortion or even murder? Does forgiveness have limits?

Agonizing questions many have wrestled long and hard over. Can I be forgiven? Is the blood of Christ enough?

Jesus confronts the point of Peter’s deepest pain, his betrayal. Three times Peter rejected Jesus and three times Jesus presses his hand of compassion and grace on that tender spot:

“Simon son of John,
do you love me more than these?…”
“Simon son of John, do you love me?…”
Do you love me?”
John 21:15-19

The painful public reminder of Peter’s personal failure cut deep. Betrayal of Jesus tore every thread of Peter’s resolve. For days he was stuck in the quagmire of guilt and shame, questioning his identity, purpose and calling to “feed my sheep.” 

Like a skilled surgeon, Jesus took the knife of forgiveness cutting away Peter’s failure. Every cancerous source of doubt exposed and removed forever!

Forgiven

In the natural, I view such public confrontation of a man’s failure as bordering on cruel and unjust. Since the offense was public, Jesus knew the restitution also must be public. What to me seems cruel became a powerful turning point in Peter’s life!

How am I so certain forgiveness became personally grasped and possessed in that moment?

Forgivenss has no rights

A few days later, forgiven and free, Peter declared to the Jewish crowd,

“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.
You handed him over to be killed,
and you disowned him before Pilate,
though he had decided to let him go.
You disowned the Holy and Righteous One
and asked that a murderer be released to you.
You killed the author of life
but God raised him from the dead.”
Acts 3:13-15

Peter could never so boldly confront others for disowning Jesus if he remained haunted by personal guilt, condemnation, or self-loathing. “Forgiven” was stamped across every word! By God’s grace alone, he “fed the sheep”!

Refreshing

His words, unmarred by condemnation, were bathed in the compassionate mercy and grace only those fully forgiven can express. From the depths of a heart radically forgiven, Peter grants to others what he so lavishly received.

Repent, then, and turn to God,
so that your sins may be wiped out,
that times of refreshing may come
from the Lord.”
Acts 3:19

The Greek word rendered “refreshing,” means “breathing,” or “refreshment“, after being heated with labor, running, etc. It denotes “any kind of refreshment, rest, or deliverance from evil.” Only here is this word used.

Peter rested forgiven before the Saviour he once denied. He experienced the deep refreshing, strength and energizing promised!

Many Christians who declare Christ as Saviour continue to

live as powerless victims,
prisoners bound by personal sin or
the offense of others,
weaponless warriors worn from fighting
battles long gone and eternally won.

Mark 2:5

Jesus still speaks clearly as He once did to a paraplegic (Mark 2:5), a woman caught in adultery (John 8:11), and a notorious sinner and social outcast (Luke 7:39),

“My child, your sins are forgiven.”
Mark 2:5

Who are we to withhold from others or ourselves, what Christ has freely given?

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Extra Resources:

Steps to Forgiveness:

Neil T. Anderson recommends making a list of every painful memory and the persons involved. Then one by one go through the list with this prayer:

“Lord Jesus, I choose to forgive (name the person)
for (what he or she did or failed to do)
because it made me feel
(Share the painful feelings,
such as rejected, dirty, worthless or inferior).”

After you have forgiven every person for every painful memory, pray this prayer as well.

“Lord Jesus, I choose not to hold on to my resentment.
I relinquish my right to seek revenge,
and I ask You to heal my damaged emotions.
thank You for setting me free from the bondage of bitterness.
I now ask that You bless those who have hurt me.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

(Taken from Interactive Workbook, The Bondage Breaker, Pg 73-74, Harvest House Publishing)

Booklet:

“What Christians Should Know About the Importance of Forgivenessby John Arnott, Sovereign World Limited

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Looking, Seeing, Keeping Eyes Open

Looking without seeing is a blinding condition in more ways that one! I can drive the same road day after day, week after week without noticing the environment around me. Suddenly, I will see something as if for the first time that actually isn’t new. Though I was looking, I wasn’t truly seeing! My eyes were not open to the obvious.

Does anyone else have the same problem?

“Keep your eyes open for God,
watch for his works;
be alert for signs of his presence.”
Psalm 105:4 MSG

By watching closely, we will see evidence of God all around us.

Ezekiel

God brought Ezekiel to the temple court – the place where the priests minister. When Ezekiel looked, he saw a “hole” in the wall.

"I looked and I saw a hole in the wall"

“Then he brought me to the entrance to the court.
I looked, and I saw a hole in the wall.
He said to me, “Son of man, now dig into the wall.”
So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there.”
Ezekiel 8: 7-8

When Ezekiel began digging “into the wall”, a doorway became visible. Looking, seeing and digging wasn’t enough! God asked Ezekiel to go through the doorway to look harder, more intentionally, at the condition of his city.

He challenged Ezekiel, “Look! Observe! Pay attention!

What Ezekiel saw was disturbing!

Looking Personally

I assist hurting people every week as they wade through destructive life circumstances, helping them “look” at the truth of God’s word personally and “see” hope in Christ. My work with others often awakens a fresh awareness of areas needed in my own personal development and healing journey.

Opening the way to see!

God desires for each us to be on a continuing trajectory to health and wholeness. I have come a long way, but have a long way to go.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me was not without effect.”
I Corinthians 15:10

What you see now is not what I used to be! Thankfulness for all God has done is appropriate. Allowing myself to be blinded to the need for continued personal growth, however, is harmful. Change is not optional, but rather mandatory, for Christians!

As a lay minister, it is often in this place of assisting others that my own “gaps” and “holes” become most evident. It is the perfect place for God to reveal points of His unfinished work.

“Stop! Look closer!” I’ll sense Him say.

When I am willing to look, He allows me to see more broken jagged edges!

Taking a closer look at negative life patterns

Holy Spirit reveals hidden places of self-protection, negative thought patterns and recurring destructive behaviours. Blinded by familiarity, these patterns would otherwise go unnoticed.

It amazes me how much of life can be lived without any serious looking or digging!

Only when I am willing to become honest before God and others will the avenue of healing and liberty be exposed to view. Thankful for victories past, I prepare to work on present trouble spots! In the space between past and future I feel the burden of now — fragile, exposed, and vulnerable.

Progress

Looking isn’t easy! The depravity within and without is wearying, even horrifying! My willingness to see, however, precedes any victory to come.

Seeing the best of every circumstance

God will not do the work for me; He waits for my active participation in the process. I must look with intention! Purposefully digging beneath protective layers requires obedience to open the door of my heart and mind to His examination.

In the looking, Christ is with me.
He is enough in the digging.
In the opening, He is present.
The cross has paid the price.
In my groping,
I find “It is finished!

My eyes turn back to the bible, as I continue to read

“In the morning
the word of the LORD came to me…”
Ezekiel 12:8

There is always a morning! A new day! A fresh opportunity!

His Word transcends…
Truth penetrates…
Light overcomes…

His Word transcends… Truth penetrates… Light overcomes…

There must be present a purposeful intention both inwardly and outwardly; never so outwardly focused I am inwardly complacent nor inwardly minded that I am outwardly negligent.

Never so outwardly focused I am inwardly complacent nor inwardly minded that I am outwardly negligent. Click To Tweet

God was the One who directed Ezekiel’s sight-line. He is willing and able to aim my own.

With a Purpose

It is possible to maintain a quiet trust and confidence embedded within a surrendered heart. He turns my gaze, focusing my vision on what He wants me to see and become.

When He is says, “Dig”, I will have the strength to respond! When He says, “Look”, I will have the grace to see. Then, and only then, will He give me the wisdom to open the doorway to the next place of deliverance and freedom.

In it all, we see Christ and His divine purpose:

“We look at this Son and see the God
who cannot be seen.
We look at this Son and see God’s
original purpose in everything created.”
Colossians 1: 15 MSG

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen.

It is astonishing to realize that in everything Christ can be seen, when we are willing to look. Regardless of circumstances, God’s wonder is revealed in every direction, including our common ordinary.

We look
to see,
surrendered,
moving beyond,
ever forward
from strength to strength.

The courage of one, raises the tidal mark of bravery for others. As one person strides forward in victory, others are inspired to take similar fragile steps. Is this not the appearance of faith? Looking and seeing! Keeping our eyes constantly open for the movements of God!

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Personal testimonies worth sharing again:

A Daughter’s Redemption! Dawn Enters a New Day!

The Prodigal Returns, Prayer Answered! Running No More!

Kintsugi – The Beauty of Brokenness

Kintsugi - The beauty of brokenness

Kintsugi is a Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold. Instead of attempting to hide brokenness, the lines are actually accentuated with gold celebrating the pottery’s history. The uniquely fashioned seams glint with gold, bringing beauty from brokenness.

I never realized how many “broken” possessions I value:

my grandfather’s wooden wagon wheel
my great-grandmother’s vase
a favorite pair of jeans
hockey sticks repurposed into garden stakes
a tire rim fire pit
a piece of beach glass art
even a Christmas tree topper.

None of them compare to the beautiful pieces of kintsugi; nonetheless, they are precious even in their brokenness.

I have come to realize lately that God is exposing and actually accentuating my brokenness. He is “kintsuging” me!

I would much prefer that my brokenness remain concealed, masked or hidden from public scrutiny. As a matter of fact, I try my best to do just that. I’m not alone! The cosmetic industry tops $62 billion annually – that is a lot of concealing imperfections and finding new beauty.

Cosmetics -

God recognizes beauty in us, just as we are. It isn’t just women who struggle to grasp this God perspective, we all do.

The Pain of Brokenness

Kintsugi recognizes breakage is part of the history of any object. How do we value and even embrace the beauty while living in the pain of brokenness?

Brokenness can seriously limit our ability to freely choose and presently live to our fullest potential. Pain has the ability to densely cloud our perception of personal identity, worth and purpose.

I can personally testify how the gold of God’s truth can infuse even the most crushing moments and reveal His design and glory in the midst of overbearing tragedy or loss.

“And you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32

The psalms simply say “He sent his word, and healed them and snatching them from the door of death.” The truth of God’s word gently breathes life back into our shattered pieces. His truth sets us free to see brokenness from a higher and eternal vantage point.

At one time I had many delicate and beautiful ornaments; many were gifts. Then we had five sons! Few of these delicate pieces survived! I wish I would have known about kintsugi then.

Brokenness may scar us, but it will never diminish our value! As a matter of fact, after the Master Artist remakes us, we hold even greater distinction!

Scars of Beauty

In Kintsugi, scars actually become the most valuable and beautiful part of the whole.

I honour those who bear their scars well. Scars are the solid evidence of survival and over coming difficulties. They form the beautiful marks of an enduring life!

That Jesus would maintain His scars after the resurrection is a marvel to me. He didn’t need to! He chose to!

“Then he said to Thomas,
“Put your finger here; see my hands.
Reach out your hand and put it into my side.
Stop doubting and believe.”
John 20:27

The scars Jesus bears continue to prove His identity. Scars identify us too! They prove God’s faithfulness to heal and restore our brokenness.

The Beauty of Brokenness

Scars are the marks of our personal journey between birth and death. They are the road map of experiences we have lived through, conquered and overcome leaving us better than before.

“You will either step forward
into growth, or you will step back
into safety.”
Maslow

In Guatemala, a man who had been healed of extremely large stomach cancers revealed his deep scars with pride. They were evidence to Christ’s healing power in his life. The physicians said, “You will die!” Christ spoke the contrary, “You will surely live!” Live is what this man was doing years later!

Graphed In

Sometimes in Kintsugi, a brand new piece is graphed in.

do not consider yourself to be superior
to those other branches.
If you do, consider this:
You do not support the root,
but the root supports you.”
Romans 11:18

Sometimes Kintsugi is two individual pieces graphed together. They actually create a brand new form, quite different from the original – a delicate and unique work of art.

God has specifically designed each of us to bear both similarities and differences to every other person. Kinsugi reminds me of this truth.

When I hear of the God-stories of others, I am hushed in amazement knowing only God could create such beauty out from horrendous brokenness:

a baby given a name meaning “you shall die”
becomes a light-bearing torch of hope to nations;
a woman poisoned, beaten and left in the bush –
now speechless but speaking life to many other broken;
a young girl abandoned and severely abused
teaching and loving children to life;
refugees escaping, then returning, home to spread the Gospel of Peace;
drug addicts ministering in rehab centers;
former prostitutes delivering hope to the streets
they once walked….

These new lives  bear no resemblance to the old!

Beauty of Brokenness

When hope shatters against the cruel pavement of life, beauty seems impossible to visualize. Impossible that is until The Master, takes each broken piece in His gentle hands and creates a new and beautiful masterpiece.

So I went down to the potter’s house,
and I saw him working at the wheel.

But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands;
so the potter formed it into another pot,
shaping it as seemed best to him.”
Jeremiah 18: 3-4

No matter how marred and broken, God reforms, reshapes and repurposes our lives. As a matter of fact, when He is finished the result appears so perfect, we wonder if this wasn’t His “Plan A” all along.

God is never the one who breaks or harms us. We have an enemy who is bent on stealing, killing and destroying any worth or value we possess. God is THE Ultimate Restorer!

“God, your God, will restore everything you lost;
he’ll have compassion on you;
he’ll come back and pick up the pieces
from all the places where you were scattered.”
Deuteronomy 30:3 

Kintsugi is both a beautiful art form and a fitting illustration of God’s compassionate working in each of our lives. Every place of brokenness is a gold vein of God’s love and mercy. It shouts to all, “God is faithful!”

So the next time we meet, ask, and I just might let you see my scars.

Do not hide your scars. Instead, paint them gold, and let them glow in the sun. For they are the cracks that let your soul breathe. e.m. Click To Tweet

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Further Reading

Gold and Silver – Refined Through Suffering

Never! 8 Things God Will Never Do

The Tomb Raider and Bondage Breaker! Chains no More!

Chains No More

The tomb is meant to be a burial place for the dead; it is not a habitation for the living.  Jesus made a perilous journey to meet a man who was so bound by tormenting spirits, tomb dwelling seemed the only fitting place to be. Until “Jesus stepped ashore”!

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke present the account through almost opposing lenses. Luke calls the region “the Gerasenes” which means “alien, stranger or foreigner”or more specifically “a stranger drawing near.” Matthew, on the other hand terms it the region of “the Gadarenes” which means “rewarded in the end.”

A Stranger Draws Near

Only one person in the entire region came to meet Jesus welcoming Him. Everyone else treated Jesus like an alien, a stranger or a foreigner!

“When Jesus had stepped out on land,
there met him a man from the city who had demons.
For a long time he had worn no clothes,
and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs.”
Luke 8:27

The living among the tombs

This was neither his original home nor his original condition!

We don’t know how long his existence was relegated to the tombs; only that it was “a long time“. A long time

without family or relationship,
crying out night and day,
cutting himself with stones,
naked and exposed to shame,
rejected and ridiculed,
bound and chained.

It is no wonder Jesus was willing to endure the severest of storms to come and to release this man from bondage.

Most of us would have caught one glimpse of his condition and scampered right back into the boat paddling hard in the opposite direction. Not Jesus! Then too, most of us are impressed by crowds. Not Jesus!

For this one man, Jesus came!

Though an entire city was close, only one man welcomed Him!

Among the Tombs

What causes a man to trade a home for a tomb? This isn’t normal human behaviour, after all.

“…(For many a time it had seized him.
He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles,
but he would break the bonds and
be driven by the demon into the desert.)
Luke 8:29

Though no earthly chain could hold him, this poor man was completed bound by the demons that inhabited him. Up until this moment, they had complete control.

When Jesus stepped in, everything changed!

All around us are people “out of control!” Daily we encounter hurting people who hurt people. Our lives and neighbourhoods are affected by those who have long ago forgotten personal worth or identity. Behind closed doors many are driven by drugs, addictions and lust. They appear to be alive, but reside within personal tombs of death.

For these Jesus comes!

The Pigs Nearby

Living among pigs!

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside.
 The demons begged Jesus,
“Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.”

Mark 5:11-12

The imagery is more than symbolic! Jesus allows the demons to enter the pigs who quickly make a suicidal dive into the nearby lake.

The saddest part of the story is about to unfold. The people of the Gerasenes were perfectly comfortable to have a demon possessed man among them, naked and screaming in agony night and day. However, they were totally unprepared to allow Jesus, The Healer, Deliver, Tomb Raider, and Bondage Breaker to stay one moment more.

“…they came to Jesus and found the man
from whom the demons had gone,
sitting at the feet of Jesus,
clothed and in his right mind,
and they were afraid.”
Luke 8:35

As twisted as a living man dwelling in the tombs is, the reaction of the locals was even more so. Rejoicing over the man’s deliverance would seem to be a more appropriate response.

Enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season!

Pigs were considered “unclean”. Their delight in wallowing in “mud” representing the human tendency to enjoy and cling to our pet sins. Jesus came into their region to free everyone who lived there. Only this destitute and demon possessed man responded. The rest preferred to “enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.”

Jesus came to release them all from sin’s cruel bondage! They preferred the swine, instead!

Only One Man

Only one man from the region of “the Gadarenes” was “rewarded in the end.” He was the only one — unnamed but completely changed.

“And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes
begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone,
for a great wave of fear swept over them.
So Jesus returned to the boat and left,
crossing back to the other side of the lake.”
 Luke 8:37 

The evidence of Jesus’ authority and transforming power sat before them, gentle, calm and dressed. Perhaps up until this moment, they could look at him, aiming their pointed fingers while wagging condemning tongues, “We’re not as bad as he is!”

But standing before Jesus, the Truth and Deliverer, they were without excuse. No other man, except this one, was willing to fall on their knees and surrender to Jesus as Lord.

“You are already clean
because of the word I have spoken to you.”
John 15:3

One man received The Word and was cleansed. Every other person treated Jesus as a stranger. rejecting Him. Out of fear, they clung like pigs to their own filth.

When Jesus came, only one received the reward of surrender.

Tomb Raider

Jesus stepped ashore!

He raided the tomb of death, restoring dignity, value and life. He broke the bondage of sin and shame, releasing its prisoner to everlasting freedom.

Grateful the man pleaded with Jesus to allow him to come with along. Jesus lovingly refused.

Tomb Raider and Bondage Breaker! Freedom in Christ!

Jesus did not let him, but said,
Go home to your own people and
tell them how much the Lord has done for you,
and how he has had mercy on you.”
Mark 5:19

Jesus restored him to his home, family and relationships. He sent him back into his community with purpose and value. There is no greater testimony to the mercy and grace of God than a transformed life.

Reluctantly, the man obliged! Though his heart longed to stay with Jesus, his mission was to his world.

Jesus steps into lives again and again, giving opportunity for freedom. What is my response? Will I consider Him a “Stranger drawing near” and refuse? Or will I welcome Him, allowing Him to do whatever He desires in my life, ultimately being “rewarded in the end“?

Jesus never stays where He is not wanted

 “…So he got into the boat and left.”
Luke 8:37

On the other side of the lake
the crowds welcomed Jesus,
because they had been waiting for him.”
Luke 8:40

Today I ask, “Which side of the lake am I on? Which side of the lake are you on?”

Jesus is stepping ashore!

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Resources:

If you need help, there are many organizations that will assist you:

Freedom in Christ

Pure Desire Ministries

or a local bible believing church.

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Before and After! God’s Transformation at Work!

Before and after? You would think my husband and I enjoy renovating and transforming old spaces into new more practical versions. However, what is truly amazing is God’s transformation at work in human lives!

We have several before and after pictures of kitchen, bath, and landscape renovations. The work of transformation is usually a messy process. Our vision of the end result drives us forward! There is always a cost associated with reconstruction. Sometimes it is higher than initial estimates; at other times we have been right on target.

My First Home

My father built our family farm-house from design to finish. It stood the test of time surviving the fury of even a prairie tornado! Four generations lived within its walls creating memories.

Transformation from farm house to cottage!

Now it has been moved to a nearby lake and rests securely as beachfront property. Though it looks much the same, the surrounding landscape is radically different from its original location. I smile when I think of what an avid fisherman my father was. He would be pleased to see his workmanship in this scenic spot.

Today new generations are enjoying my father’s labours.

God’s Choice

God is the Master of transformation! We see His workmanship igniting destiny and bringing purpose into seemingly ordinary people.

As we consider God’s choices for forerunners in the church, we justly scratch our heads in wonder. At the same time, we can take hope from these unlikely candidates! Most of them got off to a rather poor start!

  • Paul bored someone to death by his sermon! Fortunately he was also able to resurrect the poor lad!
  • Peter who often had at least one sandal stuck in his mouth became the apostle to the Jews. You can be sure these scholars examined his every word!
  • Mary, a former prostitute, led the first woman’s ministry to the tomb and became the first to declare Jesus’ resurrection
  • The Sons of Thunder, who were known to fight for “top dog” position, settled into stride promoting others to places of honour and authority!

Diamonds in the Rough - From Rough to Refined!

All of them were diamonds in the rough before God began His work! He had vision to see their potential!

We can find strength and encouragement from even these few examples! Knowing God used murderers, prostitutes, and shepherds, I know He can use anyone! If God deliberately chose the weak and fearful, it is not unreasonable to believe that He can and will use you and me! Because God chose to use the unlikely, ill-equipped, social rejects, and family outcasts, He is perfectly capable of using us!

God’s transformation is so complete in the lives He touches, there is little similarity between the before and after!

Hope

“Remember … that few of you
were wise in the world’s eyes
or powerful or wealthy when God called you.
Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish
in order to shame those who think they are wise.
And he chose things that are powerless
to shame those who are powerful.”
I Corinthians 1:26-28

I’m in the list! Right here is where I do my happy dance! I fit!

Celebrate God's transformation working in us!

Foolish? Weak? Yes! I qualify!
Lowly? Despised? Check! Check!
Things that are not? Yes, that’s me!

Here is where I am filled with awe! When I face the reality of my humanity, I fall helpless and breathless in the wonder of His love, mercy and grace!

God choosing me is too wonderful to understand!

We all possess the need to be known fully and loved unconditionally! Click To Tweet

We all possess the need to be known fully and loved unconditionally! God alone does both, and more! He alone satisfies and fills the deepest craving for absolute acceptance and unconditional love!

Transformation

My question is why! When there is no good thing in and of myself, why would You choose me?

“to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who has become for us wisdom from God—
that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”
I Corinthians 1:28-30

Our weakness and insufficiency amplifies His greatness and goodness!

The first step, my husband and I do in renovation, is take apart what presently exists, removing walls, wiring and plumbing. We go right to the structural elements! Later, we start again replacing faulty materials with new.

God does much the same in us! It is a lifelong process that one day will be perfectly perfect! Some day we will be completely complete! But not here!

It is a lifelong process that one day will be perfectly perfect! Some day we will be completely complete! Click To Tweet

There is only one adequate response, worship!

God is the only One worthy of worship!

Chosen

God has chosen each one of us! Contemplate that for a moment! Every one of us, hand-picked, specifically selected, divinely appointed, highly favoured,  and elected for Him, through Him and by Him!

The Mighty God,
Creator of all things,
Redeemer, Saviour, Friend,
The Anchor of our souls and Hope eternal,
King above all other kings, The Lord of lords,
The One upon the throne,
our Shepherd, Light and Salvation,
who holds all things secure in the palm of His hand,
whose strength flashes like lightning,
and whose voice resounds like thunder,
too big for any box we might want to put Him in,
beyond understanding,
from everlasting to everlasting limitless,
self-existed, omnipresent, all-powerful,
knowing all things and seeing all things,
Love unconditional and undeniable,
wild and holy,
dwelling in irreproachable light,
nothing can stand against Him, no power can limit Him,
His mercies are new every morning
 faithful to all He has promised….

Seeing from heaven's perspective!

The One and only God has chosen, called and ordained you and me unto Himself! He is committed to seeing each of us rise to the fullness of our potential.

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely,
and may your whole spirit and soul and body
be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
I Thessalonians 5:23-24

His transformation process continues in each of us! Rejoice in His faithfulness!

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More on Transformation: Meeting God in the Ordinary – From Common to Holy

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Addiction – Hidden Secrets – Flying with the Dragon

Hidden Secrets - Flying with the Dragon

Addiction doesn’t come in single file; it contains multiple elements!  As a result, the life-sucking tentacles of addiction sink deep and hold fiercely. Nonetheless, addictions can be broken.

I see the devastation of addictions on individuals and their families on a weekly basis. The visibly obvious comes in the form of chemical addictions to alcohol or drugs. With increasing regularity however, it is those entangled in the bondage of sexual addiction who sit before me with downward gaze.

Conservative figures record 48% of women and 78% of men battle this dragon. It is a battle originating from hell’s deepest recesses.

Marriage

Addictions create a threefold cord that is difficult to break over the mind, the body and the soul.

Difficult?
Yes!
Impossible?
No!

I have been on this battle ground with sexual addiction in my home, family, church and community for decades. It is a battle worth fighting! It is a battle worth winning!

It is a battle worth fighting! It is a battle worth winning! Click To Tweet

A Parable

In a faraway kingdom a quest was in progress to capture the great dragon that was attacking villages by night with fiery fierceness. The King’s own son was sent out to find and subdue the dragon.

Dragon Hunter

When all alone, the prince came upon the sleeping beast. The prince found it difficult to envision this placid creature as the man-slayer the King described.

The dragon spoke first, “I’m not as fierce as the King has said. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite! I am the one to set you free. Come for one flight with me and I will show you.”

The prince was uncertain and confused. He knew he should be more cautious than he was now feeling.

“Sit upon my back and I will take you to unbelievable places. I will give you your heart’s desire.”

The prince instinctively knew he should not trust the beast. “Just one ride would not hurt!”

The prince dismounted his faithful stead and slipped himself between the spines of the dragons back. One swoop of the dragon’s powerful wings lifted them into the night. Upward they went with exhilarating speed. The dragon was true to his word. Never had the prince experienced such things.

As the prince entered the gates of his city, shame cloaked him. “Why was I so easily deceived? I, a prince, have befriended the enemy?”

Silenced by shame, the prince hid himself. Yet, he thought often of the excitement of the ride. Soon he sought out the dragon. Another ride…another night…then another…and another…

On the way into the city by the moonlight he noticed his hands were beginning to form scales. Quickly he covered them with his gloves concealing how much he was becoming like the deadly dragon.

Addiction Exposed

Each night their journey would take them into more and more grotesque places. The prince rode secure upon the dragon as it breathed its fire into homes and villages. Blood stained the princes armor – the blood of his Father’s people!

Under cover of darkness, the prince attempted to slink back into the city. A crowd of angry villagers surrounded him, “He was there! He was riding on the dragon when it destroyed our homes!”

The King approached his son, “Is it true? Were you with the dragon?”

Shame

The prince’s secret could no longer be hidden. “Yes, Father,” was his hollow response.

He was sure the King would enforce the punishment he deserved – life for life. On his knees he waited for his Father’s angry blow. With the hand of mercy his Father touched his shoulder, removing the cloak covering the ugly spines growing on the prince’s back.

“My son,” the Father spoke tenderly.

Looking around, the Father asked, “Who else has ridden the dragon?”

To the prince’s surprise his older brother slowly stepped forward, then his young sister. One by one, many villagers came and bowed mournfully before the King. Few had escaped the dragon’s subtle lure.

Few had escaped the dragon's subtle lure. Click To Tweet

Princes and Princesses

In a culture like ours with tolerance and acceptance of sexual perversion, the dragon is constantly fed.  As with any addiction a little taste draws one into ever deepening levels of attraction and bondage.

Apart from the grace of God the noose of addiction destroys completely!

Noose of Addiction

The dragon of addiction is overcome through truth and a community of supporters.  Don’t try to fight alone! Fight to win gaining victory over mind, body, and soul!

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible –
and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.”
Ephesians 6:13

It is amazing to watch how those who have overcome “become a light” of help, hope and strength to others in the battle. A necessary but painful part of recovery is coming clean – letting God’s light shine into the secret place. There is no easy way. It will be difficult.

All of us also lived among them at one time,
gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following
its desires and thoughts.”
Ephesians 2:3

“All” is an inclusive word. None of us have room to boast. We each have our own battlegrounds. We all deserve the full weight of punishment for our personal sins. Yet, God has made us for better as His princes and princesses.

First Steps

There is good news!

“But because of his great love for us,
God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ
even when we were dead in transgressions –
…For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God
not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2: 4-10

God’s love and mercy extends to all! To overcome will take work done through His grace alone.

The first step is honesty and transparency. Begin with a visit to a pastor or addictions counselor. There is an army willing to step into the battle with you. You will need to become accountable to others to help you through the process.

Accountability and Freedom

There are no quick fixes. It has taken you years to get to where you are. It will also take years to completely overcome.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more
than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us…”
Ephesians 3:20

Your freedom awaits!

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Parable taken from “Pure Desire – How One Man’s Triumph Can Help Others Break Free

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Beauty Instead of Ashes! Out with the Old! In with the New!

Beauty for Ashes

“Instead of” are powerful words repeated throughout scripture. As we end one year and prepare to enter a new one, may the truth of these words resonate.

  “to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair…
Isaiah 61:3

As Jesus began his earthly ministry he read from the scroll previewing this portion. Then he sat down and declared these incredible words,

 “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:21

Today

From that day on everything changed! The waves may still roll, but Christ is present! He is with us!

God is willing and able to grant an excellent exchange for whatever burden we are carrying.

Shame, disgrace, humiliation
foolish mistakes, failures, or fear,
death of dreams, hopes
or a loved one….

Instead Of

His presence guarantees not only comfort and provision in the midst of struggle, but much more:

  “beauty instead of ashes,
joy instead of mourning,
praise instead of a spirit of despair…

Even a child recognizes a good trade when they see one! However, there is one condition! God is asking us to give Him our ashes, mourning and despair. Are we willing to let them go?

Beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of a spirit of despair! Click To Tweet

Broken

When I yielded my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, I had only brokenness to offer Him. My track record had produced failure and disappointment in multiplied measure. Suicidal thoughts and depression had left me a broken shell, without hope.

But Christ came! Everything changed – some pieces radically and instantly, others slowly and progressively.

He continues to invite me to yield to Him things He never intends me to carry. His offer to replace them with something incredible still stands.

Wasteland to Beauty

Thorn bushes are rough and dangerous; their pointed barbs sink deep. Jesus bore such a painful crown pressed firmly in His brow.

Thorns

Applauded one hour and disdained the next, His beauty and deity were unrecognizable to most earthly eyes.

Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign…
Isaiah 55:13

Junipers in the Middle East are tall willowy bushes growing in desert places. Travelers often find shelter under their bending boughs. The myrtle bares intensely aromatic white blossoms delicately edged in the colour of royalty, purple.

Myrtle

Jesus surrendered His true Kingship and bore the crown of thorns. In so doing, he now gives us ability to be overcomers in our thoughts. He grants us peace instead of the harsh reruns that plague our minds with

words cruelly spoken,
images that cut through innocence,
or paralyzing pain of loss.

Jesus traded an authentic crown for a mocking one. Today, he invites us to exchange every unnecessary weight for the authentic beauty He offers. It is a good trade!

Garbage Can

A few months ago, a friend was struggling to personally receive God’s “instead of.” All her short life, she had been juggled from house to house – unwanted and undervalued.

We set a garbage can in the middle of the room and began to toss crumpled bits of paper into it. Each piece represented an image, thought or message that had been embedded into her belief system shaping how she now saw herself.  When the mark was missed, we walked over and picked up the wad of paper and made sure it landed deep into the metal bucket.

Garbage

I had several wads of my own to toss!

Once the trade is made, no dumpster diving! Click To Tweet

Once tossed, we gave each painful wound into the hands of the only One who can fully erase their weight.

as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Psalm 103:12

Once the trade is made, no dumpster diving!

It is not just our stuff that God is perfectly able to trade. God wants to release us from everything anyone else has done against us. God’s “instead of” applies equally to both!

Eternal Glory

God is a master of transformation – a divine recycling! Out with the old and in with the new!

Though once my mind was racked with dark thoughts of death, now I help others find the light of hope. This is not unusual! God delights in taking what was once our greatest infliction and turning it into a powerful tool of redemption.

Those once bound by chains of chemical addiction now show others the way through the tangle to beautiful fulfilled lives. People once tormented in a variety of ways now lead others into places of health and wholeness. As a matter of fact, your place of greatest struggle is probably the very area God has destined to use you to bring freedom for others and glory to Him.

“For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all.”
2 Corinthians 4:17

We cannot always fully see what God is working out. His “instead of” is always greater and better than the troubles we are are trading in.

Whatever we are going through is working! It is working for His glory! It is working the best in us and for us! God will receive the glory and renown He is worthy of, as we are willing to exchange what we are holding on to.

Before this year ends, trade it in! I am excited to see what new thing God has for each of us  through Christ!

Out with the old! In with the new! What a beautiful exchange! Click To Tweet

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Additional Resources!

Another read: Do it Again Lord! Renew! Restore! Revive!

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Lost to Found! Death to Life! The Prodigal is Coming Home!

Prodigal

I have memories of getting lost in the back woods and coulees of the Qu’Appelle Valley. Many hours were spent exploring and forging new trails where only deer, fox, rabbits, and the like occupy. At times I would be lost and not even know it! In my wandering, I would eventually arrive back at a familiar place and could find my way.

At times I would be lost and not even know it! Click To Tweet

Lost

It is one thing to be unknowingly lost, but quite another to come to the place where you realize how lost you are.

Lost Puppy

Jesus relates a parable of just such a young man. In his immaturity, he prematurely asks and receives more than his share of father’s estate. Off he goes as far away as the cash in his pocket will take him. He leaves more than his father’s home. He discards family values and faith.

Only when he is entirely broken and destitute does he finally see how lost he is. At the bottom of his self-made pit, he looks up, “My father is my only hope!”

 “When he came to his senses, he said,
‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare,
and here I am starving to death!

 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

 I am no longer worthy to be called your son;
make me like one of your hired servants.’

 So he got up and went to his father.
Luke 15: 17-20

Found

Heavier than the stench of the pig pen was the shame and guilt that cloaked him. Each step home was a painful reminder of how he had drifted. Words of repentance could no longer be silenced!

Pig Pen

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

We have no idea how long the father had been watching and waiting; we do know he never forgot or gave up. Compassion never ends! Love never fails!

The day dawned! The day long waited for was now!

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”
Luke 15:21

The son starts his well-rehearsed confession, but never gets to finish it. He is home more than willing to be a servant forever! “Let me work! Let me labour! Don’t call me a son! I’ve gone too far! It has been too long! I’ve done too much! I’m not worthy!”

Father’s Heart

Son-ship has nothing to do with being worthy; it is has everything to do with relationship! My sons are my sons! There is nothing they could do to change that! My DNA is in them. They are loved beyond measure for no other reason  more than being sons. Even if they choose to forget, I cannot and will not forget.

Father Son

“But the father said to his servants,
‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him.
Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.
For this son of mine was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found.
’ So they began to celebrate.”
Luke 15:22-24

Just as he is, the son is welcome. Brokenness of sin, stains or life, cannot stop the Father’s lavish love. Love covers!

The part we see is only the beginning. The relationship once severed now completely renewed. Once lost, now found! The dead is alive! Every day forward would be a reminder of restoration.

Lost at Home

The second son, though faithful to the core, lived with a father he never knew. The character and nature of his father was completely hidden from him.

Stubborn

He saw his father as demanding, stingy, and hard. Neither did he comprehend his own need for grace and forgiveness. The father did not wait for his oldest’s attitude to adjust; he went immediate to him.

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in.
So his father went out and pleaded with him.

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
But we had to celebrate and be glad,
because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found.’”
Luke 15 :28-32

Too often we are not dissimilar to the older son. We settle for working and doing, rather than resting in the shadow of the Father’s love and acceptance. The Father simply wants us to be a son or daughter.

We settle for working and doing, rather than resting. Click To Tweet

We can be in the right place doing all the right things and yet be lost – separated from the Father’s love and character. Prodigals are not always easy to identify. Yet, the Father loves completely and generously, inviting each of us home.

Just like me for so many years, one can be lost and not even knowing it!

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